Away We Go - Again?
November 9, 2016 7:09 AM   Subscribe

Almost three years ago, we asked for suggestions of family-friendly, queer friendly, and senior friendly locales to set down roots. In light of recent events we'd like to revisit the question, but with a specific focus on areas outside the USA - though if you know of/live in a particularly staunch bastion of of our criteria on our native soil, we'd still like to hear about it!

Our needs have evolved a bit:

* Kid Friendly - good public schools, lots of activities, low crime, reliable childcare, etc.
* Queer Friendly - diverse/liberal population, other non-traditional families, etc.
* Senior Friendly - easy to use public transit and/or compact walkability, good hospital/health care system, active senior communities, etc.
* Jewish Friendly - wish we didn't have to add this, but it's become a concern.
* Not Super Expensive - cost of living wise or real estate wise (assume we have an sufficient but not superfluous income and the grandparents have a modest but comfortable one)
* English as a common language - we're willing to learn a new mother tongue, but realistically we'd need to comfortably function for ~1-2 years before we'd be fluent.

It's easy to find hits in our general google searches for any two of our ideals, but there's little overlap for three, and absolutely none above that. So what we'd ask of you (again!), dear Metafilter, is to suggest places you know of that meet at least three of our criteria to help us narrow it down a bit.

We'll take it from there. <3
posted by givennamesurname to Human Relations (13 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Well, Sydney ticks most of those boxes. It's hard to buy, but rent isn't bad compared to equivalently big US cities, esp with the currently favourable exchange rate. I was thinking of the Inner West in particular (me mail me for specifics), but there is a large (fairly Orthodox?) Jewish community in Bondi. I also know of some nice country towns.

The Newtown Police often have pro-pride and very funny messages on the signage outside the police station... I think they're on FB is you need a chuckle.
posted by jrobin276 at 7:31 AM on November 9, 2016 [1 favorite]

I was going to say Singapore because it ticks most of the boxes, but I'm not sure about it being queer friendly. A cursory internet search shows it to be legally not queer friendly, but people said in practice it is. I have a friend who lives in Singapore and can followup with questions if you're still interested in pursuing.
posted by bluecore at 7:35 AM on November 9, 2016

Best answer: Montreal seems to fit all your criteria except the language issue
-Very queer friendly, very Jewish friendly, very kid friendly, very reasonable cost of living
I guess it depends which industry you are hoping to work in. Some people are able to work only in English especially if you are a freelancer or have IT skills
posted by winterportage at 8:23 AM on November 9, 2016 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Legally not queer friendly is a definite no.

Don't want to post too much personal info, but the majority of our income is rental real estate and the grandparents are pensioners - so we have some flexibility on employment considerations.
posted by givennamesurname at 9:18 AM on November 9, 2016 [1 favorite]

Best answer: The cost of living here in Victoria, BC is high but we definitely have the senior and kid-friendly down. My hope is that we can get the cost of housing under control, but I'm not optimistic. Transit, walkable, good schools: not bad! My outsider's impression is that we're queer and Jewish friendly (Congregation Emanu-El is the oldest continuously active synagogue in Canada).
posted by atropos at 9:39 AM on November 9, 2016

Wellington, New Zealand (and also Auckland) would hit #1, 2 and 3 easily. Our local MP is gay and there's a decent queer community here. Equal marriage laws passed easily in Parliament even though we have a supposedly conservative government.

Cost of housing isn't great and is increasing, but you could probably manage something. There's only a small Jewish community, and there's an element here that isn't fond of Israel because of Palestine, but there's not overt racism, AFAIK.

Your main problem with all of this is going to be getting visas for your retired parents, IMO. Good luck.
posted by Pink Frost at 10:27 AM on November 9, 2016 [2 favorites]

Northampton, MA
It hits all of those except maybe C.o.L.
Plus we have weed.
posted by plinth at 10:27 AM on November 9, 2016 [3 favorites]

Best answer: I recently visited Edinburgh, and it definitely ticks all your boxes. I don't think you, in your particular situation, would be affected by Brexit. But I'm not an expert.

Here in Copenhagen, I know several people who have a fine life with English only, to the degree that several shops have only-English speaking staff and even the cleaning lady at the hospital speaks English.
Most of your boxes are tickable, but affordable - not so much. On the other hand, if you have skills needed by one of the international companies, you will earn what is needed. Some have English as their office language. These skills can be within many disciplines.
If you google, you will probably find concern about Jewish-friendliness, but I strongly believe this is political: I live in one of the areas often pointed out as dangerous for Jews and I know several Jewish families and individuals who live here without problems. Because I am half Jewish, my children have characteristically Jewish names, and there has never been one incident with either of them at school or anywhere else.
posted by mumimor at 11:11 AM on November 9, 2016 [2 favorites]

BTW, some smaller Danish cities or even rural communities welcome immigrants. There, life is very affordable. This book might give som insight.
posted by mumimor at 12:01 PM on November 9, 2016 [2 favorites]

I think Aus is an ok choice, particularly Sydney because it is very queer friendly, but cost of living is high, houses and rent are expensive, and there is a decided lack of diversity compared to the US. Australia is... weird, honestly. I love it, but it can be awesome and terrible all at once. I also think Melbourne would be a good choice, since Melbourne is quirky and has a great vibe to it. There isn't a huge Jewish community, but it can be found. It's incredibly safe in terms of guns, but there is a rising crime rate (generally due to binge drinking culture). The schools are decent-- they used to be really good but there has been a recent statistical drop in education. Private Schools are now out performing Public Schools by a wide margin, but Private Schools are harder to get a place into and decidedly more expensive. Healthcare is decent, (not as good as UK but a lot better than US) and public transport is great. Keep in mind though, our current PM is actually very right-wing though -- although he is decidedly better than that loon he replaced, but very recently Australia was pretty much in the same boat as you guys politically. And we had no excuse-- voting is mandatory here. I guess what I'm saying is, it's perfectly understandable to want to go for greener pastures, but no-place is perfect.

I actually think New Zealand might be a better choice. Sometimes I've wanted to move. I'm not sure how much of that is grass is greener syndrome though, given I don't know the intricacies of living there, like I do here.

But keep in mind--it is not especially easy to get into Australia or New Zealand any more unless you are specialized and skilled workers, or already have a lot of money, though. In fact, I hear it's really really difficult. I know a few foreigners here, but the only people I know who were accepted to live were both Engineers.

Moreover, you're describing things that are high-standard of living, which often goes hand in hand with high cost of living. Generally the better education, healthcare, transport is, the higher cost of living is. I'm not sure you can really escape that. If you don't mind the expense, I think Sweden or Norway would be fantastic, or even Switzerland.

I'm non-American but I've lived in the US before (my fiance is American), and forgive me if I'm speaking out of turn here but I feel like panic is making things a lot worse for the US-- such as the stock market crash. The election didn't exactly cause the crash -- reactive panic to the result did, and the repercussions of this panic are real and damaging. Yes, this situation really sucks, incredibly so-- but a lot of people (popular vote) didn't vote that way-- and these people are still there. I mean, the real shock is that the Electoral College system has failed you guys. And we shouldn't forget that despite the polarized outcome, there are still a lot of progressive places to live, particularly on the West Coast. Portland would be a great choice, parts of Seattle, also. These places haven't changed overnight. And I don't know... I totally understand your sadness, anger and despair, and I don't blame you if you do leave. But I wish people wouldn't give up just yet. The US kind of needs people like you and your family, now more than ever. It needs people who can hold it together the next four years, it needs people who can keep their heads when all about them are losing theirs. It needs to get rid of that flawed system. I guess despite it all, I still have faith in the old girl, and I wish people wouldn't give up on her just yet. I mean, yes, look into moving, make plans, open your options up-- get all your ducks in a row, but in the meantime the sun will still rise tomorrow and the sky hasn't fallen quite yet.

And whatever you (and others who are deciding the same thing) decide on, I totally don't blame you for wanting to leave, and I wish you all the best in your decision.
posted by Dimes at 12:47 PM on November 9, 2016 [1 favorite]

Sydney ticks most of your boxes but it's one of the most expensive cities in the world real estate wise. (I know lots of locals considering moving out just because they can't afford housing.) There are other cheaper Australian cities you could move to but they might not be as progressive, and as previously mentioned, getting into the country these days is becoming pretty difficult. Doesn't mean I wouldn't try but I think competition is about to get stiff. NZ would also be one to consider, I'm not sure about their immigration policies.
posted by Jubey at 2:52 PM on November 9, 2016

Response by poster: Cost of living/amenities isn't a strict correlation. I used to live in the Philly area, which is more expensive by far than Toronto - but Toronto has better schools, better healthcare and better transit. Same with Montreal and even Vancouver.

Sydney is definitely too expensive though, folks. But seeing as it's one of the top 20 most expensive cities in the world, that's not really a surprise.
posted by givennamesurname at 3:23 PM on November 9, 2016

Australia has some other beautiful cities that are much nicer and way cheaper then Sydney (sydney is in fact my least favorite city). I would however be hesitant to move if you want somewhere that is legally queer friendly. Gay marriage is still not legal in Australia (it is a federal rather then a state issue here). It is also not likely to be legal for a while. There was an attempt to have a plebiscite vote on the issue - but the legislation did not pass our upper house, given concerns by the opposition party that the country could not have a civil debate about the issue. See some of the recent debate around the safe schools policy which supports that concern. Australia is unfortunately still a rather political conservative country. For example we have a horrible human rights record when it comes to the treatment of refugees. Think locking them up in detention centers for years and years and years.

But New Zealand is just over the water and except for their recent flag vote, I can think of nothing to critic them about. Well except for the occasional earthquake.
posted by daffodil at 1:38 PM on November 19, 2016

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