Would You Consider Relocating To Somewhere Which Could Be Boring?
August 19, 2020 12:28 PM   Subscribe

I've lived in London, LA & (currently) Salt Lake City. I'd like to move on from my current job, but there aren't many positions available in my field. One's just popped up with what looks like a great company in Rock Island, IL, but my research so far shows that there isn't much going on there. Would it be crazy to consider moving there, essentially on the hope that there's more to it/ the area than meets the eye?
posted by my log does not judge to Work & Money (24 answers total)
It really depends on what entertains you/makes you happy. I know nothing about where you mentioned but things that would be important to me: how can I build a social network/is it dépendant on having children, is there good access to nature/hikes/outdoors, how far away is good theater/national tours of broadway shows. Things I wouldn’t care about: major live sports/sports team/arts galleries, fancy restaurants (though hopefully a few good places to eat, music venues.

I think the first step is figuring out what’s important to you.
posted by raccoon409 at 12:33 PM on August 19, 2020 [5 favorites]

I don't think we can answer your question for you. What do you value?

There are reasons to consider living in smaller areas. The cost of living (tends to) be lower. You (tend to) have more opportunities interactions with your neighbors and people around the town. You (tend to) have more opportunities to influence the government of the town. You (tend to) have more space to live in.

There are reasons not to consider living in smaller areas. Prevailing salaries (tend to) be lower. You (tend to) have fewer creative and arts options. You (tend to) have more interactions with people you may not want to interact with, just because you see them more often.

I highly value compensation, and I find that small towns tend not to have commensurately less cost of living compared to the decreased salary. I don't care how much open space my house has - actually, I'd prefer less so I don't need to maintain it. However, I think you should consider your own views rather than mine.
posted by saeculorum at 12:36 PM on August 19, 2020 [4 favorites]

Sure - agreed. I really don't go out much, but (I know this going to sound weird) I still like the idea of having stuff around me. Like, if I go to Vegas, I hardly leave my room, but I really like that there are options and activities going on, even though I know I won't take part in them. If I was to stay in a hotel in the desert though, I'd still hardly leave my room, but I wouldn't like that I knew there was nothing around me, and I think I'd feel isolated, if that makes sense? That is really my primary fear here.

Note: I'm not asking anyone to answer my question for me - just interested in others' take on the matter.
posted by my log does not judge at 12:45 PM on August 19, 2020 [1 favorite]

It really depends. The Quad Cities are still a fairly big metro area, so it's not like you'd be moving to the middle of nowhere. There'd still be bars and restaurants, cultural stuff, minor league sports, and all that. And it's not that far to other cities, notably Chicago. You couldn't, like, pop into Chicago for dinner after work or anything, but you could spend a weekend there. Iowa City is even closer, which is a cool college town.

That's the thing that gives me pause, though: When you look at metro areas of comparable size (Tallahassee, Eugene, Lincoln, Gainesville, Boulder), there tends to be a common theme: large state universities. That's not the case for the Quad Cities. A university is a great driver for smaller cities, because it brings both economic activity and interesting people. I'm by no means saying that it's impossible for a small city to be cool without a university, but it's harder.

But like I said, Iowa City is only an hour away. If you could find a place in between (e.g., West Branch, the birthplace of Herbert Hoover!), you could work in Rock Island but spend your down time in Iowa City, and that could be pretty fun.

Although, ultimately, it really depends on what you're into. If you're married/partnered and kind of a homebody, it would probably be easier for you than if you're 24 and love live music.
posted by kevinbelt at 12:48 PM on August 19, 2020 [2 favorites]

Your updated example still begs the same question: what do you consider "options and activities"? To many people, the desert is fabulously exciting--there are rare birds, cacti, hiking trails, etc. For these people a hotel in the desert may be an actual destination. So, what are your values? What are you into? We can't answer this for you, the value of a place depends on what you're hoping to find there.
posted by epanalepsis at 12:49 PM on August 19, 2020 [1 favorite]

I think everyone should live in flyover country at least once in their life (although this is, as kevinbelt notes, a pretty big metro area and perhaps not flyover country proper).

But it depends on what stage of your life you're in. If you are looking for a longer term home, evaluate carefully and make sure it has whatever you need to be really happy. Make lists, do research, and do not make assumptions.

If you're just looking for the next adventure, heck, why not? I've never personally been to this part of the Midwest, but I think living beside the Mississippi would be super cool. Every part of the country has something to surprise and delight, especially if you cultivate a spirit of curiosity.
posted by toastedcheese at 12:56 PM on August 19, 2020 [3 favorites]

Saw your update after I posted. For reference, I live in a metro area slightly larger than the Quad Cities (417,025 people vs 379,172), and I feel like there's stuff around me. If I want to go out and do something, I generally can. That said, I used to live in a bigger metro area than where you're living now, and the difference between the two is noticeable. There was a lot more around me in Columbus than there is in New Hampshire. That didn't really affect me, though, because I didn't really live in the entire Columbus metro area; I lived in one neighborhood and occasionally visited adjoining neighborhoods, rarely venturing to the other side of town. In some ways, New Hampshire actually feels bigger to me than Columbus, because I can't just stay in my little two-mile radius. Something to consider.
posted by kevinbelt at 12:56 PM on August 19, 2020 [1 favorite]

In some smaller cities and town in what they call the American heartland, it can be useful to know in advance how central Christian churchgoing and childrearing is to social life. Even for introverts, it can be disorienting to feel unseen and unacknowledged in everyday interactions, if one happens not to fit a certain profile. It can take an extended trial to get a feel for this sort of thing; often it is a background offness that does not register until you leave.
posted by dum spiro spero at 1:00 PM on August 19, 2020 [4 favorites]

It definitely depends on your approach to new places.

Years ago, I moved from NYC to small-town Central Pennsylvania and I had a delightful time exploring the historic towns, driving through lush farm-dotted countryside, trying local fare (so much pie!), becoming a regular at nearby restaurants. But my partner at the time had lived in several of the same places I had and found himself incredibly bored by the surroundings. We just approached the place differently. I don't think I would have settled there forever, but my short time there was a fun adventure for me.

Quad Cities is a large area with a little bit of everything, and there's plenty to do if you typically tend to bloom where you're planted. Would this sort of thing be an adventure for you? How would it work into your long-term plans?
posted by mochapickle at 1:12 PM on August 19, 2020 [2 favorites]

@ mochapickle - great point: I'm a nomad - I get an itch and want to move approx every 3 years, so yes I'd be viewing this as an adventure/ no, this wouldn't be with a view to living there long term.
posted by my log does not judge at 1:18 PM on August 19, 2020

Quad cities looks lovely to me, I've only driven through but I may visit it in the next few years. I like that size, it seems sort of like my own 'micro-urban' area. Dense enough to have good variety of goods and services and culture, but sparse and un-hip enough so that not everything is crowded and expensive and noisy and smelly and full of traffic like metropolises.

I've lived in much bigger and smaller places around the country, and it taught me that big cities are not where I want to spend my life after 40, and not conventional suburbs or rural areas either. IWe don't know what you want and value, but consider that the quad cities is an interesting slightly different option than those, and they are the biggest metro area in the region and the urban core for a lot of people. Even though it surely seems sleepy on paper compared to London, it's surely nice enough to spend a few years in. It's much easier to do a short stint than commit to longer term.
posted by SaltySalticid at 1:34 PM on August 19, 2020

For three years, we lived in a place that only had 12,000 people, 75% of whom were students and that was an hour from the nearest city (which was itself as big as the Quad Cities). We now live in one of the 20 largest US metros. I visited the Quad Cities for an academic conference in Spring of 2019. I think you could live there and feel like you were in the middle of things happening, especially if you lived close to the Mississippi River. I was actually impressed with how the place felt more energetic than my expectations. A group of us walked around downtown Davenport in the evening and there were people out walking around, visiting bars and restaurants, and so on.

One thing that was kinda funny in the opposite direction - when I flew back home, I was one of very, very few people in the airport. Like, I was the only person in the security line. My city's airport is one of the largest US hubs, so I am used to pressure and rudeness in my air travel experiences. Flying out of the Quad Cities was... very quiet. I should also state that I am a CISHET white guy who presents as such, so that would certainly influence how people reacted to me.
posted by Slothrop at 1:36 PM on August 19, 2020 [2 favorites]

Not crazy. In some ways, smaller places are much more full of stuff to do, since it is less overwhelming to filter out everything that is going on.

It is important to get some idea of why you want to move there, as that will come up in the interview, however.
posted by sandmanwv at 1:57 PM on August 19, 2020

I grew up in small town IL with relatives in the Quad Cities, and if you’re truly a Twin Peaks fan, those areas get very Lynchian
posted by roger ackroyd at 2:40 PM on August 19, 2020 [2 favorites]

I've spent almost no time in the Quad Cities myself, but from folks I know who have, it sounds like a suburban sprawl minus the urban core. YMMV as to whether that's a good thing.

Search city-data.com if you haven't already. I've found many of their commenters to be spot-on about the "feel" of places.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 2:49 PM on August 19, 2020

if you're just doing it for an adventure, just do it. chicago is only 3 hours away, so close enough for a long weekend. and, if you have a good job with decent vacation, you can travel a few times a year.
posted by misanthropicsarah at 3:06 PM on August 19, 2020 [1 favorite]

If you're even on the fence, definitely apply for the job. The interview process might involve a visit that would give you very useful information.
posted by gideonfrog at 3:58 PM on August 19, 2020 [2 favorites]

I would definitely consider moving someplace boring if the cost of living/housing stock were such that I could afford an especially pleasant place to live (which for me would mean a quiet and sunny house with some mature trees, with good heating and maybe a hot tub, YM will certainly V.) I used to really want to have stuff around me even if I wasn’t doing anything too, but as I have gotten into my later 30s I feel over the things that come with that sometimes (like noise.)
posted by needs more cowbell at 4:34 PM on August 19, 2020 [1 favorite]

These are all great answers: thank you - I think the interview process is a good next step.
posted by my log does not judge at 5:12 PM on August 19, 2020

Hi, I live in the Quad Cities! (I'm across the river in Davenport, Iowa.)

I am originally from the DC area, so moving to the Quad Cities almost 10 years ago was a change. Landing at the airport: "Is that... corn... growing at the end of the runway?"

- Low cost of living (The price of a studio in Northern Virginia got a 4-bedroom house here)
- Almost no traffic (You can get just about anywhere in 20-25 minutes)
- There is a decent amount of stuff to do (The Quad City visitor center has a good listing for starters)
- The airport is very close and has a direct flight to Chicago which gets you anywhere.
- Very family friendly, though not sure if this matters to you.

- People are friendly but it feels sort of surface if you aren't from here because many people are from here and stay here forever and are still best buds with their high school friends
- The rental market is kind of weird because there are so many houses available to buy/sell
- We can't find good pizza (The local style is floppy and cut into strips and they put the toppings under the cheese. UNDER! Toppings should go on top, duh.)
- Jeopardy! airs at 3:30 in the afternoon, though this is a quirk of the entire Central time zone and not just the Quad Cities.

I got around the "people from here" con by working on the Army post (Rock Island Arsenal), so a good portion of the others working there are moving in/out every few years and are more apt to make wider groups of friends. That said, I've encountered a good number of Army families who started at "We had to Google Rock Island Arsenal because we'd never heard of it" and ended up at "We are going to retire here because this is a great place."

I'll MeMail you in case you'd like to get in touch-- I might be able to give you more personalized pros/cons if you want.
posted by scarnato at 5:21 PM on August 19, 2020 [4 favorites]

As everyone else said, your preferences are not my preferences, but I personally would be wary of flyover country because I’m not American born, not white, not Christian, and I’m vegetarian. I may be biased but I don’t imagine blending in to those towns. However, I did live in a very small college town (with a mostly university affiliated diverse population) for a couple of years and loved it, so I see the advantage of small towns if there’s a culture fit.

The one thing I don’t like about small towns is the lack of proximity to an international airport.

The town I was in happened to have a good hospital but in general, being more than half hour away from a major hospital would also be a deal breaker for me.

I don’t know if any of these criteria are true of Rock Island; I’m admittedly stereotyping.
posted by redlines at 5:42 PM on August 19, 2020 [3 favorites]

As someone who thought living in a smaller city would be okay, I got there and it wasn't. I'm like you in that I want to know there's stuff to do more than necessarily do it - I'm introverted and don't go out a ton, but having the only options to go out be bars was awful, and all the more because in a smaller place if you're not doing whatever the standard-issue thing for your age group is, meeting people will be nearly impossible - for me my age group were getting married and having kids and/or getting trashed at a bar every week, so I spent a lot of time online, talking to friends who were out of the area, and being frustrated at the lack of dating options (this one will not be as intense for you if you're straight, so grain of salt).
posted by bile and syntax at 8:57 AM on August 20, 2020

A lot depends on your definition of "much going on" is. If it's go to huge venues & listen to popular bands then nope not going to happen, or go to the theatre to see the latest musical then also nope, but then that's not happening in big towns at the moment either.

Smaller places are full of things to do you just have to look harder to find them, the entertainment doesn't come to you, you have to talk to people & get to know them & be invited or at least be told things are happening. The events also tend to be smaller & harder to be anonymous in which can be hard for introverts.

Get on all the local notice boards, reddits & facebook groups etc in the area you are thinking of moving to & see what is being promoted by people on a smaller scale, do you like hiking & people are asking for hiking buddies? Quilter looking for a quilting buddy. A Master gardener running a seed starting class for Fall veggie planting online? The local gaming shop having a D&D night on Roll20? Local Makers group offering stained glass ornament courses you can do at home. You don't mention what your interests are but these are a smattering of the ones that have come across my various feeds in the past few of weeks for my area. The things to do are there, you just have to look for them & actively chase them up.
posted by wwax at 10:18 AM on August 20, 2020

I like the Quad Cities a lot! Rock Island and Moline ARE pretty white for an Illinois metro area of their size, but they're also Democratic enough that their county voted Clinton in 2016 despite including a fair amount of red rural area.

My experience, growing up in the Chicago area and moving downstate to Peoria (metro area about 300,000) as an adult was that I never lacked for things to do. For as close as Chicago was, getting downtown from the suburbs was a hassle and everything was expensive. In Peoria, I lived on a leafy street in a just-pre-war streetcar neighborhood where kids played street hockey, and I was 5 minutes from the zoo. 5 minutes from the planetarium. 7 minutes from some very nice restaurants (young chefs who aspire to open fancy places in Chicago sometimes go downstate for 5-10 years to prefect their business model on the cheap). 10 minutes from truly excellent hiking along the river.

But the bigger difference, to me, was that in a big city like Chicago, you consume culture. You go to the symphony, you go to plays, you go to music festivals, whatever. In a little city, like Peoria or the Quad Cities, you make the culture. Like, the managing partner at my husband's lawfirm played violin in the city symphony. I helped found the Children's Museum. One of my work friends arranged all the garden walks in the city, because she loved garden walks and thought we should have them. One of our good friends loved indie bands and Summerfest and things like that, so when he was like 27 or something, he went to the city and said, "We should have a Riverfront concert series of indie bands!" and the city was like, "We have never heard of any of these bands, but okay! Sounds fun and cultural and will draw tourists!" and they assigned a staff person to work with him and gave him a pot of money and he was suddenly a concert sponsor for like all his favorite bands and tons of people were going to his summer concert series!

In a city like Chicago, there's always 400,000 things going on every weekend. In cities like Peoria or the Quad Cities, there may be 3 or 4. So you go to things you might not have considered going to, because it's there and admission is $3 and why not? And when you go, you see EVERYONE YOU KNOW, because everyone goes to everything. It's not like there's a hockey crowd that spends all their time on hockey games and a Ren Faire crowd that's at Ren Faire every weekend all summer. Ren Faire is ONE WEEKEND, and EVERYBODY goes, tons of people who would never be caught dead at a Ren Faire in a big city. Do I know anything about hockey? No! Have I been to see minor-league hockey games because they're cheap and sounded fun? Yes! Did I see 87 people I knew and have nice conversations and a lovely time cheering for the home team? Of course! People who are not into art will go to the art fest because that's what's on this weekend, and you have the most interesting conversations with people who are doing things outside their "thing" and enjoying them. And half the people at your workplace will have gone to whatever the weekend's big event was and everyone will be talking about it.

There were definitely things I missed about The Big City -- it was freaking impossible to buy women's suits or nice shoes, especially with the department store apocalypse -- but as noted Chicago is not that far away, and affinity groups and park districts love to charter buses to go to Chicago, for, like, "Fancy dinner + Hamilton" or "Christmas Shopping + Tea at the Drake." And now that I'm back in the Chicago area, and waited more than 4 hours at the DMV to renew my license, I sure do miss the 10-minute DMV lines in Peoria that everyone complained were "way, way too long." (And they'd get in the car and drive 45 minutes to Roanoke, the nearest rural DMV, because that was better than standing in line ten minutes? So weird.)

And sure, Chicago's zoos are AMAZING. But yearly family membership at the Peoria zoo cost around $85, parking was free, and we went at least twice a month, just for an hour or two. The keepers knew my kids by name. I knew the rhinos by name; we went so often that I could tell them apart. In Chicago we haven't been to either zoo yet since we moved up, since it's a day-long trek and costs a lot! (Yes, even Lincoln Park, you gotta park somewhere.) Adler Planetarium is hugely more fantastic than the little Peoria Planetarium BUT we went to the Peoria one literally twice a week to watch the star show when my preschooler was obsessed with space. In a lot of ways having things that were objectively less-good, but were smaller, closer, and cheaper, meant we took a lot more advantage of the little bitty city than we ever did of the great big one.

"We can't find good pizza (The local style is floppy and cut into strips and they put the toppings under the cheese. UNDER! Toppings should go on top, duh.)"

Casey's? I fucking love Casey's pizza.

posted by Eyebrows McGee at 10:39 PM on August 20, 2020 [4 favorites]

« Older Safe to ride Bay Area Rapid Transit in the...   |   Missed it by that much. Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments