Which city is best for starting a career/family/life these days?
November 1, 2018 11:01 PM   Subscribe

Vancouver BC, Montreal, Seattle, Portland... or somewhere else?

for someone:
• American from the West Coast
• female
• early 30s
• healthy
• mixed race (Asian/White)
• single, but want to get married
• no kids, might want them
• artistic/creative
• likes yoga and meditation
• nonsmoker/nondrinker (don’t crave nightlife)
• nature lover
• not poor
• like to be around smart people (have Mensa-level IQ)
• in school to become a Psychotherapist

thank you!
NS (Nest Seeker)
posted by anonymous to Society & Culture (23 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
If I were young again and just starting out, I would either find a large college town such as Charlottesville, VA, Chapel Hill, NC, or one in the pacific north west or Chicago, IL. I think so much of it is personal preference, but I have found that most large college towns have culture through the university, have a diversity, a have more tolerance towards all and have so many different types of people with such varied interests that most anyone can find their people so to speak.

I lived in Chicago in my 20s and early 39s, met my wife there, had kids there and generally thought the people were friendly and fun. I moved there not knowing a soul.
posted by AugustWest at 11:14 PM on November 1, 2018 [4 favorites]

It hugely depends on your profession/ location of work.

Any one of your proposed locations can be fantastic - or can be fatal.

Are you willing to live in the suburbs of the places you listed?
posted by porpoise at 11:55 PM on November 1, 2018 [1 favorite]

How is your French?

Montreal is a very fun, liveable city, especially if you don’t mind the winters. But it’s very limited if you don’t speak French (I am a francophone married to an anglophone montrealer, we left because his career and social options were too limited).

Several friends have moved to Montreal at a similar stage in life; all have left after a few years because they found their career/dating/social prospects too limited without very strong (native level) French. I’m sure some people can hack it, but don’t underestimate how difficult it can be once you’re no longer an undergrad and your entire friend group has moved to Toronto.
posted by third word on a random page at 12:53 AM on November 2, 2018 [12 favorites]

The cost of living in Vancouver BC is famously outrageously high - think Bay Area housing costs without Bay Area salaries to support them. Unless you're independently wealthy I'd look elsewhere - even if you could find a place to live, the cost of living is driving young people away and I think it's going to be harder and harder to make friends and build networks as more people flee.

Also - disregard if you're Canadian or have status there already - immigrating to Canada is slow (years), expensive, not easy, and not always possible - so you might want to look into the process if you're considering Canada.

I agree with previous posters that college towns will probably have what you're looking for. A good friend of mine found a great community in Eugene, OR - maybe add that to the list to check out?
posted by AV at 3:48 AM on November 2, 2018 [7 favorites]

If "not poor" means you can afford New York, consider New York. I don't know how the job market is for psychotherapy (except anecdotally it seems like everyone I know is in therapy) and depending on what nature lover means you may find an hour on the train too long to get out of the city, but otherwise it checks all your boxes.
posted by meaty shoe puppet at 4:49 AM on November 2, 2018 [2 favorites]

Montreal is incredibly lonely, deeply insular, incestous among the Anglophone community, the winters are terrible, it is snobby for no real reason, and you won't be able to break into any of the social circles. Also, spectacularly xenophobic.
posted by PinkMoose at 4:56 AM on November 2, 2018 [5 favorites]

Boston metro area. Full of smart people who know they are smart and like to be around smart people. Not far outside there is pretty good hiking / nature, especially if you go to New Hampshire / Vermont. Tons of young families and great schools as well, although not cheap. Plenty to do outside of nightlife due to all the smart people.
posted by permiechickie at 5:03 AM on November 2, 2018 [7 favorites]

If you can afford to live in Portland, live in Portland.
posted by rockindata at 5:06 AM on November 2, 2018

I've lived in Boston, Seattle and LA and I would recommend them in that order. Seattle is great, but it is a bit hard to break in to a social scene if you don't already have an inroad. Boston is great and easy to make friends in, but the weather stinks. That said, no place is perfect and I think both cities have can offer you what you're looking for. I left LA in my early 30s looking for just what you are looking for. I went to Boston and made great friends and had a great life there, but moved to Seattle for work and found even more great friends and had an even easier life there -- but it was because I knew a lot of people who had moved to Seattle and had lots of friends already when I arrived.
posted by pazazygeek at 5:23 AM on November 2, 2018 [2 favorites]

If you would consider a blue dot in a red state, Nashville would tick a lot of your preferences. Housing, while becoming more expensive, is not yet to the stratospheric heights of the cities you named. Something like ten universities in and around Nashville. Lots of opportunities to get out into nature, whether in huge in-city parks like Warner Parks or Radnor Lake, or even more things to do 20, 30, 40 minutes outside town. Summers are punishing with heat and humidity, winters routinely mild with occasional ice and snow. Folks moving there from everywhere, lots of single folks. Active music scene, not just country but bluegrass, rock, classical (check out www.nashvillescene.com). Professional sports. It's worth a look.
posted by Ginesthoi at 5:39 AM on November 2, 2018 [4 favorites]

Atlanta. Absolutely!!
posted by pearlybob at 5:55 AM on November 2, 2018

Schools in Seattle and Portland are a very mixed bag.
posted by k8t at 5:59 AM on November 2, 2018 [1 favorite]

If you're pretty sure you want kids, big expensive cities make it challenging to afford them with a good work/life balance, unless by "not poor" you mean "independently wealthy." (I say this as someone who left Seattle for a small affordable city after having a baby.) But if kids are a theoretical distant future maybe, all those places are fun!
posted by metasarah at 7:03 AM on November 2, 2018 [1 favorite]

As a Chicago transplant that as lived around the Midwest and SouthEast, Buffalo, NY is wonderful :)
posted by RhysPenbras at 7:04 AM on November 2, 2018

This is totally out of left field, given what you're considering, but...small towns are traditionally a great place to raise a family, although having access to city stuff is great. A place like Northwest Massachusetts, southern Vermont, or the Troy, NY area could be cool, as you have a true small-town atmosphere with easy access to great museums, etc. Y'know, for kids!

Anecdotally, my husband and I moved from Philly to very rural New England. It's hard for us to make friends, but that's pretty much because we're of the age where everyone but us has kids and we don't. If we had kids, social stuff would be a lot easier -- this is a VERY family-friendly/kid-centric place.
posted by nosila at 7:16 AM on November 2, 2018

If multiculturalism is part of your criteria, I would at least caution against Portland. It is very, very white here, especially in the areas your other criteria would likely land you. A couple who are close friends of ours had to nix Portland off their list of places to raise a family because of the lack of cultural diversity, and the problems that might raise eventually with their own kids.

“Seattle freeze” is real, and extends to Portland as well. It can be tough here to build a network.
posted by furnace.heart at 7:29 AM on November 2, 2018 [4 favorites]

Los Angeles and environs—large creative community, close to nature, large Asian population (from many various parts of Asia), large international population, great food, many people who might want therapy.
It’s expensive, travel can be time-consuming (public transport is getting better), competitive job market (meaning lots of people looking for work.)
posted by Ideefixe at 8:32 AM on November 2, 2018 [4 favorites]

I would advise a second tier city in the US. Not ridiculously large or expensive as Seattle, SF, LA megalopolis, Chicagoland, etc. A university town, a state capitol, etc ., as above, helps with the culture and diversity. Many of these areas are growing rapidly but you can still get into the real estate market at less than nose bleed levels. Of course, faculty and professional schools bring in many younger educated people.

In the West, maybe Olympia, Sacramento, Indianapolis (visit often and like it), Madison, Reno area.

I would include Columbia SC, Raleigh, Tallahassee, etc but I am a Southerner and I prefer hot weather. Charlottesville is an excellent choice (lived there 10 years) and close to DC.
posted by sudogeek at 8:43 AM on November 2, 2018 [2 favorites]

I live in Portland, Oregon, and I would say maybe somewhere else.

I am a nonsmoker/nondrinker and I feel like a unicorn around here. I think it's because we're so far north and the dark gets to people, so there's a drinking culture. As in, professional meetings happen at bars. I came from Davis, California, and smokers here just feel ... rude to me by comparison. The smoking laws here are newer and people don't follow them yet. They smoke everywhere. So if being around smoke bothers you, maybe not here.

I came from a college town and I was used to everyone being intensely focused on learning interesting things. Around here I see a lot less of that intensity. I went to the Bay Area last fall, and I saw that intensity everywhere.

I would recommend SF Bay Area for you, if you're not already from there. Especially if you're into the whole dreary weather thing. I'm not from the east coast, but Boston is famous for being an academic city.
posted by aniola at 9:14 AM on November 2, 2018 [4 favorites]

As much as I love MONTRÉAL, if you’re not Canadian and can’t speak French, I would suggest ruling that out. Vancouver is beautiful but very expensive. Unless you have a particular reason to target Canada (job offer, grad school, spouse), I would focus on staying in the US. Immigration is expensive, slow, and not guaranteed.
posted by exquisite_deluxe at 11:22 AM on November 2, 2018 [2 favorites]

Minneapolis/St Paul, Minnesota
posted by dancing leaves at 11:49 AM on November 2, 2018 [1 favorite]

DC would be perfect for you. I'm a West Coaster with a multicultural background and I've been very happy here. It gels well with all of your criteria.
posted by lecorbeau at 1:28 PM on November 2, 2018 [2 favorites]

Where are you now? I would imagine that if you're in school to become a psychotherapist, your school would be able to help you network in the immediate area. It might be much harder to move across the country and immediately start working there -- I don't think of psychotherapy as being as portable as nursing, though perhaps that's wrong.

Conversely -- if you're looking to move, what is dissatisfying about your current location?
posted by crazy with stars at 3:37 PM on November 2, 2018

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