Ideal dating city?
September 27, 2016 7:05 PM   Subscribe

So I started dating again recently and have realized I have a "type" that, as far as I can tell, is uncommon in my area. If I could go anywhere in the country, where should I go to increase my dating prospects?

I live in Chicago. Most of the dating pool here (based on my painful scouring of dating apps) seems to be big ten sports fans and straight-laced business professionals. My "type" is sort of the intuitive oddball messy artist bohemian creative type. If you could go anywhere in the U.S., where would be the best place to meet someone like that? Where do creative types, working artists, actors, designers, etc. congregate? If you could throw in some census figures or articles that would be preferred over just straight up anecdata. (For the sake of the exercise please ignore the fact that moving somewhere just to increase one's dating prospects is slightly insane.)
posted by deathpanels to Human Relations (36 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
I think these folks are congregating in Nashville right now.
posted by raisingsand at 7:06 PM on September 27, 2016 [1 favorite]

Don't bother moving anywhere just yet; pop up to Madison for a few weekends and look around a bit.
posted by teremala at 7:14 PM on September 27, 2016 [5 favorites]

Best answer: Portland, Oregon and Austin. New York and LA, obviously. San Francisco still has some of these folks, but they're being pushed out in favor of programmers who largely don't fit your criteria. I don't think Berkeley has that many artistic types anymore. Berkeley seems to me to be made up of students, rich people, poor people and fewer and fewer hippies. I'd maybe throw Santa Cruz in there, but its population is tiny.
posted by cnc at 7:14 PM on September 27, 2016 [11 favorites]

Sorry, anecdotal: I used to live in Chicago and I dated a a few guys who seemed to be your type who all lived in the Logan Square area -- at least two of them later moved to San Francisco.
posted by sm1tten at 7:17 PM on September 27, 2016 [1 favorite]

I think phunniemie live in Chicago (she's mentioned it) and she's mentioned dating a lot, so maybe she'll chime in here- she doesn't seem like a straight-laced sports fan, based on her persona here.

I don't know Chicago that well, but I know it's one of the most diverse places in the nation so I have a hard time believing the dating pool is not diverse as well. U Chicago is full of quirky nerds; there's also a huge art school...(not that you're dating students but schools attract similar faculty, researchers, etc)

So maybe I am wrong but I really find it hard to believe that Chicago is lacking in bohemian types; maybe you're looking in the wrong place. Hopefully someone who knows Chicago well can chime in here.
posted by bearette at 7:27 PM on September 27, 2016 [8 favorites]

Brooklyn, San Francisco, Portland, Seattle, San Antonio.

Keep pushing and I may also suggest parts of Miami. Maybe Minneapolis. And maybe, aware of your current location, Chicago, or at least Wicker Park.
posted by rokusan at 7:29 PM on September 27, 2016

There are plenty of artists/hippie/hipster types in Philadelphia.
posted by bearette at 7:30 PM on September 27, 2016 [3 favorites]

Bellingham or Tacoma, WA. All the hippie, creative types I know (self included) got priced out of Seattle, which, once upon a time, used to be a great place to find the 'type' you describe.
posted by stubbehtail at 7:31 PM on September 27, 2016 [3 favorites]

>moving somewhere just to increase one's dating prospects is slightly insane

It's a good idea, as long as you also like living in the place you move to!

If Canada is an option, Toronto has lots of actors, musicians, and designers; Montreal has a generally artsy vibe (and is an amazing place for a vacation), and Vancouver has a lot of hippies and outdoorsy health food types.

While you're waiting to move, you still might be able to find someone near you- just make a point of going to events where artsy people go- the Fringe Theatre Festival, Improv festivals, artist and design markets, big music festivals and concerts in a genre you like, farmer's markets, etc. Go alone, smile at men, and be chatty when they approach you.

To make the approach even easier, wear a whatsit - something eyecatching that people can ask about for a low-stress conversation starter- maybe a button or T-shirt with a slogan on it, a big piece of jewellery, a scarf, a weird purse, bright shoes- whatever suits your style, just something that would be "the first thing" people would notice about you, so they can easily strike up a convo by saying "wow, that's an interesting bracelet!"

Also- OKCupid usually has a pretty good artsy population, so maybe try that (with some strategic keyword searches) if you haven't already.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 7:41 PM on September 27, 2016 [1 favorite]

Providence is hot- it's got Brown University smarties, Rhode Island School of Design arties, Johnson and Wales culinary school foodies, colorful locals, near enough to Boston, near enough to New York, but with its own creative, energetic local scene, but lower key than a bigger city. It's a fun city!
posted by Queen of Spreadable Fats at 7:46 PM on September 27, 2016 [3 favorites]

There seem to be a lot of people like that in Vermont. Looking for some evidence to back this up, I found this article, which says, "Vermont has one of the highest percentages of artists per capita in the U.S." Of course, if you want a Chicago-sized city or even a Rockford-sized city, you won't find it in Vermont. Burlington is the biggest city and it doesn't even have 50,000 people. Which means the dating pool won't be huge and you could have a hard time finding a job, depending on what you do.
posted by Redstart at 7:51 PM on September 27, 2016

Places where I personally know a community of artsy introverted weirdos:

Asheville, NC (a puddle of blue in a sea of red!)
Oakland, CA (where a lot of the artists moved after getting priced out of SF)
Portland, OR (where the rest of them went)
Nevada City, Ojai, or Shasta, CA. Actually all of NorCal. (they will mostly be hippies, tho)
Boston / Cambridge has several arts colleges, it's not just programming majors at MIT. I know a bunch of awesome working artists in Somerville.
posted by ananci at 7:52 PM on September 27, 2016

Chicago has a bunch of art schools. Maybe go to the bars/coffee shops/etc in the areas around the Chicago art schools?
posted by gregr at 8:13 PM on September 27, 2016 [3 favorites]

Best answer: The majority of people dating in any major US city are going to be whatever the local version of "squares" or "basic people" is. When I lived in NYC we called these guys "finance bros" because they so often worked on Wall Street. Here in L.A. it tends to be more wannabe Hollywood power player types who work at agencies. My guess is that there is totally a Portland version of this, as well. Graphic designers? Who knows.

Your best bet is to find out where the fun artists hang out in Chicago, or which dating app they use. Figuring out particular hobbies or scenes to get involved with helps, too. I found it pretty easy to get dates with likeminded people when I started doing comedy in Los Angeles.
posted by Sara C. at 8:56 PM on September 27, 2016 [28 favorites]

posted by ch3ch2oh at 9:11 PM on September 27, 2016 [2 favorites]

Piggybacking on Detroit, I guess no one's said New Orleans yet? Many elsewhere priced-out folks taking their craft there.

Also, yeah, you might have to find *the app that nonconformists use for dates* or look in meatspace, since dating apps with _algorithms!_ and _convenience!_ will inherently bias towards the square.
posted by batter_my_heart at 9:14 PM on September 27, 2016 [1 favorite]

Dude. Seriously. Sara C. is right - every city everywhere has mostly "normals", but they also have a ton of oddball creatives. That's why people move to "the city", because there's a chance they can actually make a living there as an oddball creative, or at least not get punched the way they would in SmallTown.

You're simply not looking in the right places. Go hang out at the Empty Bottle, go to tiny art gallery openings, check out the Chicago Reader, which is chock full of creative things to do and go do them. That's where the oddball creatives are - creating things.
posted by soundguy99 at 9:15 PM on September 27, 2016 [19 favorites]

There are as many oil industry connected devoutly Catholic arch Trump supporters in New Orleans as there are hipsters, it should be mentioned. And probably plenty who are a little of column A, a little of column B.
posted by Sara C. at 9:18 PM on September 27, 2016

Minneapolis is a great place for these types of folks - it's always had a super-strong creative/arts community, with a LOT of emphasis on homegrown stuff, but it's also one of the few big, creative cities left where artist types can still afford to live. I mean, you will ALSO find plenty of sports-obsessed middle-managers, but if you hang out in dive bars or coffee shops or at house parties in Northeast Minneapolis (or various other similar neighborhoods), you will have no trouble finding what you're looking for.
posted by lunasol at 10:04 PM on September 27, 2016 [1 favorite]

If you want a dude like that who also has a job and his own place I'd say LA, Vancouver, North Carolina, New Orleans and the like as that's where the moderately successful to successful creatives end up. Other than that I'd say small places with either a low cost of living and a reputation for quirkiness or a known arts scene. Upstate NY post industrial towns; Homer, AK; Victoria, BC that kind of place.
posted by fshgrl at 10:50 PM on September 27, 2016

Eugene, Oregon.

It's a lot more laid-back and creative than Portland, and still big enough of a city to find decent work (though it depends on what you do). Portland is starting to get saturated; a lot of my friends there who are creative types are beginning to look elsewhere. Eugene comes up a lot. There's a great scene there for such a small town, in large part because it has a major university.
posted by fraula at 1:12 AM on September 28, 2016

Best answer: Yeah, I mean, I 100% promise you these people exist in Chicago, in substantial numbers. But you will probably have better luck if you immerse yourself in the environments they are likely to be in, rather than trying to dig through dating apps that appeal to the general population. (You may also have better luck filtering through profiles and signaling your own interests effectively on your own profile if you are familiar with the local scenes your target population is affiliated with.)

Are you hanging out at smallish (Empty Bottle, Hideout, Subterranean, Burlington, etc.) or DIY music venues? Going to gallery openings in Pilsen or Logan Square or student shows at the Art Institute? Looking to rent a room in a social loft/warehouse space yourself, or considering simply moving to a neighborhood closer to the artsy/hipster/whatever stuff (Logan Square or Pilsen again, or Ukrainian village, or...)? Volunteering for Chicago Burning Man-related events, or Chiditarod, or other similar creative events? Going to movie showings at Facets or the Siskel theater or the Music Box, or indie comic events at Quimby's, or small events related to whatever your favorite artform is? Joining a makerspace or taking art classes at Sputnik or Lillstreet or the Fire Arts Center? Heading to random events in the Chicago Reader? Adjust accordingly for your particular interests, but these are/were more or less my strategy for meeting weird people in Chicago, and while my efforts have foundered to some extent on work-dictated geographical constraints + my own antisocial tendencies, I've certainly encountered plenty of "intuitive oddball messy artist bohemian creative types" in the process, just as I have in other cities. I find there is sometimes a little less overlap between different subcultures in Chicago than in smaller cities, probably partly because Chicago's big enough for more obscure scenes to sustain themselves without appealing to a broader audience, and partly because it's geographically big enough that some things end up really localized (Northwestern theater kids aren't going to make it all the way to the loop to chill with artists associated with SAIC that often, and few U of C affiliates will put up with the CTA commute from Logan Square, and so on). But still, these people totally exist and are located within 10 miles of you, if you're in Chicago city limits.

Similarly, I also know lots of people that would fit your description in Cambridge/Somerville/elsewhere in Boston, but if you moved to Boston without knowing anyone, you'd probably find lots of businessmen in suits and obnoxious bro-y Red Sox fans on the dating apps there too. While a few people I know have ended up dating people via OK Cupid or what have you, a lot more meet people through work/activities/scenes they are involved in/friends-of-friends/parties/etc. I really think getting involved in creative scenes in the city you're in is generally going to be the most effective strategy.
posted by ubersturm at 1:56 AM on September 28, 2016 [23 favorites]

Seriously, there are a baskrillion people like that in Chicago. There are also plenty of corporate chadbros, but they're mostly concentrated in Lincoln Park and Wrigleyville, and you can have an active social/ dating life without ever having to cross paths with them. If you hadn't specified your location, I would have suggested Chicago as a place where quirky creative types are easy to find.

I think ubersturm's advice is solid; seek out the local arts scenes and explore a few different neighborhoods.
posted by Metroid Baby at 3:57 AM on September 28, 2016 [5 favorites]

There's no way those people aren't in Chicago. Just statistically speaking alone.

But we have TONS AND TONS AND TONS of "intuitive oddball messy artist bohemian creative type" people in Cincinnati if you want to make a road trip. Hang out in the Northside neighborhood for a weekend and you'll be overrun.
posted by cooker girl at 5:37 AM on September 28, 2016

My entire social circle in Chicago consists of those types of people. They are here, and there's some good advice above on where to find them.
posted by smich at 6:19 AM on September 28, 2016 [2 favorites]

I came here to say Philly and found that someone else already did; now I just want to say: lmao at the term 'chadbros'- good work metroid baby.
posted by erattacorrige at 8:06 AM on September 28, 2016 [1 favorite]

Metafilter: corporate chadbros
posted by intermod at 11:22 AM on September 28, 2016 [5 favorites]

Have you tried the art and music community on the south side of Chicago? I hung out largely with messy intuitive bohemian artist types (along with scientists and nerds) when I was a Chicago. Lots of them (by my data from 6 years ago, before I moved away) were in Bridgeport, Pilsen, and Hyde Park. I remember some really awesome open studio events in Bridgeport (maybe Zhou B's or Bridgeport Art Center? and great free/avante-garde jazz around the city (some events listed at I enjoyed hanging at Maria's Bar in Bridgeport, going to live music (and playing shows of my own) at the community space at Trinity Lutheran Church in Bridgeport, and listening to live blues at Jimmy's Woodlawn Tap in Hyde Park.

There are scenes of awesome folks involved in other kinds of art, music, activism, whatever. If you have specific artist/musical/cultural interests, let me know! I can probably recommend where to find those people in Chicago.

There's also a new NASCO co-op house opening in Bronzeville currently that will likely attract the kind of person you are looking for:

I lived at Haymarket House in Hyde Park for two years, and found the co-ops to be a great way to get to know a wide range of awesome people while living happily and cheaply. I was the token college student; other folks tended to be professionals in their 20s, 30s, and 40s. The Qumbya co-ops ( usually welcome folks to be "boarders" who visit for dinner from time to time without moving in; that is a great option for expanding your friend group and meeting folks to date.
posted by cnidaria at 12:01 PM on September 28, 2016 [3 favorites]

The bigger the city, the more likely you'll find who you are looking for. Maybe not on dating sites. But get into the scene and you'll find the people you are looking for. I suggest going to shows and events where folks are going to be that you are interested in meeting more than moving.
posted by Ironmouth at 12:33 PM on September 28, 2016

Also FWIW I live in Portland, OR now, and I find it much harder to date and make friends here than in Chicago. It could be a stage-of-life thing, or it could be cultural differences because I'm from Chicago originally. Or it could be that Chicago is objectively a better place to socialize and date than the geologically-stunning but socially difficult PacNW.
posted by cnidaria at 12:43 PM on September 28, 2016 [1 favorite]

I will echo the chorus of "there's plenty of your type in Chicago!" but also confirm your perception that they really are not crazily abundant on the main dating platforms. Don't know if that's because they're all using some OTHER platform or if they tend to be involved in scenes where the social contact makes apps somewhat unnecessary...?

But another thing to consider before you flee (if indeed you do) is: where do YOU live? Because man, Chicago is second only to Manhattan in its neighborhood, uh, provincialism. It's spread out, people don't have cars (especially your type of person!) and man, if you live in Logan you are just plain not going to date someone in Rogers Park because that's the end of the goddamn earth. And it's cold here. Last thing you wanna be doing in January is taking two buses to go on a date.

FWIW I met my artsy intuitive bohemian type partner on OKC some years back. But we both agree that it wouldn't even have started up if we hadn't lived in roughly the same hood. We had both favorited or whatever each other, but proximity was the factor that nudged us into going on an actual date.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 12:55 PM on September 28, 2016 [1 favorite]

Burlington, VT and Northampton, MA. Although they're both towns.
posted by boghead at 2:11 PM on September 28, 2016

Wow, ok.

So I live in Chicago, and am precisely the type of person you describe. All my friends are exactly the type of person your describe. In a city of 3 million, I can promise you that we're around. We're popping out of the seams. you enjoy the arts, and music, and the other 'boho messy artist' stuff? Do you seek it out, or are you just physically attracted to a certain ideal? I can't help but wonder, because I would assume if you sought it out you'd know about Logan Square, and Pilson, and other enclaves. No one likes to be reduced down to physical markers, so in seeking out people of this nebulous ilk, ask yourself what it is, precisely, about this sort that appeals to you. Manic pixie dream girls/boys aren't a real thing, they're a construct.

As for dating sites, a lot of the single women I know use ok cupid or tinder. But most of them seem to meet people at events and activities, because that's a great way to meet people who have things in common with you.
posted by Windigo at 8:44 AM on September 29, 2016 [5 favorites]

Also, another thought - even if you went to another city, these 'messy artist boho' types just aren't going to fall into your lap. If you cannot find them in Chicago, unless you change your method for meeting them, you won't find them in a smaller city either. Your 'type' is a lifestyle, a collection of interests and projects and activity...not a fashion choice.
posted by Windigo at 9:23 AM on September 29, 2016 [3 favorites]

I suppose I'm that sort of guy and have lived mostly in LA and NY (Brooklyn & Queens). I feel like any major city has enclaves of interesting people. Maybe avoid the apps and spend some time going to shows/film screenings and getting involved in some aspect of off-beat culture.
posted by mattsweaters at 10:15 AM on September 29, 2016

Don't have time to read all the answers, so apologies if I'm duplicating:

If I were you, before moving, I'd try actually going to events and meeting people, rather than scouring dating sites. People can say whatever they want in their profiles, and often people don't seem the same in person as the picture you might create of how they are from reading their profile. You'll probably get a quicker read on whether they're really your type in person. So why not take some classes, or go to some meetups with creative subjects that interest you? Yoga classes? Go to a performance and congratulate the performers afterwards? I sing in a chorale and also played piano in my youth. I guarantee that telling someone you liked their performance will be one of the best ways of making sure you have their attention and they will be predisposed to like you back.

I moved from Seattle not that terribly long ago and I can assure you that Seattle is NOT the best place to find bohemian types. Too expensive. And too polite/fakey of a culture in most circles.

I've always heard Austin is a haven for creative types, though I have no first-hand experience.
posted by mysterious_stranger at 4:38 AM on September 30, 2016

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