what to do, what to do?
September 21, 2007 8:53 PM   Subscribe

Should we move and, if so, where?

Boyfriend and I live together in Lawrence, KS. After this semester, we could both be completely done with college. This prompts us to ponder what we should do with our lives. We already have tentative plans to go to France in October 2008 (plans which cannot be moved forward because it is a program that does not start earlier). Right now, we are considering the following options for the months of January through September:

1. Staying in Lawrence, being done with school, lounging around, and working to save money for France.

Pros: No moving, no changing addresses, no finding new job for Boyfriend.
Cons: Bored of Lawrence, student loans kicking in, finding a new job for me since my current job is a cushy on-campus job that goes away when I graduate.

2. Staying in Lawrence, taking an extra semester, working, same as now.

Pros: No moving, no changing addresses, no finding new jobs, no student loans starting, fun classes.
Cons: Bored of Lawrence, disinterest toward prospect of more schooling.

3. Moving to Portland or Asheville or Chicago or [other] and finding a job/internship through idealist.com or something.

Pros: New! Fun! Exciting! No more Kansas!
Cons: Moving costs so much money and is complicated (especially for only nine months), jobs might not be forthcoming, savings would be depleted.

4. WWOOFing somewhere.

Pros: Fun! New! Exciting! No more Kansas! No need to find new apartment, no need to find new real job.
Cons: No address, no income, more difficult in the winter.

5. Something else that we have not thought of.

So, is it worth it to move for just nine months? (Conversely, is it worth it to stay in a place that you want to leave for nine months?) Tell us what to do and we'll do it. We've never been to Portland or Asheville but they seem like our style. Which other cities to consider? Which might be the easiest to move to if we move? Should we do something zany like move to Iceland?

To sum up -- what should we do with our lives (for the next nine months) and how should we do it?
posted by mustcatchmooseandsquirrel to Home & Garden (12 answers total)
I have some experience with Lawrence. I can see wanting to get out of any place that you've been for a while and stretching your legs, but you should know that a lot of the things that are cool about Portland, say, or San Francisco, are the same things that are cool about Lawrence.

What that means is that you'll probably enjoy a bigger city. But you shouldn't make the mistake of thinking that bigger city is inherently hipper or more fun, and you should definitely take into account that the cost of living in many other cities is such that you should just consider it to be an exchange rate, i.e. translating prices into "Portland Dollars" when you're looking at rents, job salaries, the price of milk, etc. I mean, I travel to Lawrence from the Bay Area a couple times a year just for the secondhand stores (and Grandma, of course).

It might be worth looking a little bit long term and thinking about the finances. Moving to a bigger "more exciting" city may cost enough that France becomes more than tentative.

If it were me, I'd stick it out in Lawrence a while longer, get my France on, and then revisit the question. But I may be biased, I really like Lawrence a lot.
posted by padraigin at 9:49 PM on September 21, 2007

If you're a matriculating student, you can get a BUNAC six month work permit to work in Europe. That would allow you to work AND travel in Europe for a couple of months before you actually start the program in France.
posted by HeyAllie at 9:52 PM on September 21, 2007

Response by poster: We like the cool things about Lawrence but it just...isn't big enough sometimes.

Can't do programs in Europe during nine month period because the price of a plane ticket is restrictive and we would have to be in the US to get France paperwork and get visas specific to France program.
posted by mustcatchmooseandsquirrel at 11:15 PM on September 21, 2007

I lived in North Carolina for 9 months between Germany and graduate school. It seemed like a long time, but I also waited a lot of tables and made lots of deposition photocopies. I arrived with no money and left with some. You should be able to take all the expensive things with you in a car and buy everything else on craigslist when you arrive, regardless of where you move. I say move somewhere new for an inevitably unforgettable adventure. Driving west is a lot more fun. Santa Cruz, California, maybe?
posted by billtron at 11:47 PM on September 21, 2007

It really depends upon what your goal is for the upcoming nine months.

If you want to gain work experience and minimize living expenses, you may want to take a quick jaunt up to Omaha, which has more Fortune 500 companies than any other city its size. Plus, you could drive across the river and work for Google!

If you're more the outdoorsy type, I was really impressed with Whitefish MT. It's not as frou-frou as Jackson, WY or Aspen, but it's got a cool vibe goin' on.

St. Louis is cool, too, with a ton of free stuff to do. It all depends on what you want to accomplish during those nine months ... not knowing your specific goals makes it really difficult to answer your question.
posted by Ostara at 11:50 PM on September 21, 2007

I can't give much advice, but I can share my list of websites that have extensive stats for most cities.

sperling's bestplaces
find your spot
city rating
University of Delaware's Places Rated Guide

Listed in order of usefulness to me so far. I'm pretty sure that all of them only include US cities.
posted by philomathoholic at 12:00 AM on September 22, 2007 [1 favorite]

T'were me, I'd take any of the riskier/funner options, simply because once you return from France and eventually settle down into careers, it will be a much bigger deal to pick up and move anywhere. I like the idea of being able to check out one or two of the places that appeal to you while you have the freedom to do that. I'm not saying this is the sensible choice, just the sort of thing I would do in your shoes (and the sort of thing I've done myself).

In case you don't know the lovely melissa may and dashing sleepy pete, they lived in Lawrence before moving to Portland, so you could probably get some perspective from them regarding the differences/difficulties/pros&cons of that idea.
posted by taz at 3:35 AM on September 22, 2007

I live in Asheville and it's getting insanely expensive fast. Rents are high as hell, jobs are hard to come by and don't pay well. So. Other than that, it's paradise. Assuming restaurant experience, you could probably come here and get a job waiting tables pretty quickly - anything else, forget it. Figure on at least $500 a month rent and that's sharing with a bunch of people or a trailer waaay out in the burbs. Depending on the tourist quotient, you probably won't be making much more than that as a server on any given month. It's a great place to live otherwise, though, so if you're not determined to save money, you could give it a shot.
posted by mygothlaundry at 7:32 AM on September 22, 2007

It sounds like there's wonderful specter of debt hanging over your heads. My advice, suck it up for 9 months, get jobs that you can put money towards debts or simply into savings. That way, when you do go off on the French adventurer, you can either worry less about a large debt or have more spending money.

Summary = bunker down for 9 months, go have fun in France.
posted by Atreides at 8:11 AM on September 22, 2007

Lawrence, KS is one of the less expensive places that you can live and still have some kind of a social scene and nightlife. It's also next to impossible to find a place to live for just 9 months - 12 months is the standard residential lease.

So because of that, I'd say just stay where you are. If you don't want to save the money that you would have used to move (to spend in France, maybe?), then just use it to take a few short trips now.
posted by ikkyu2 at 8:53 AM on September 22, 2007

i think i'd stay where you are and take all the french lessons you can. if you can, put your stuff in storage and/or sublet and travel for a month or two, if you can afford it.

if you can find an internship somewhere in your field, that may be an opportunity to go elsewhere for a semester or the summer, but that may mean only one (or maybe no) income.
posted by thinkingwoman at 1:27 PM on September 22, 2007

Oooh, I did BUNAC like HeyAllie suggested, but I think you have to be under 26 to do it. Best six months of my life. (I did it in London, though, so saving money while doing it was out of the question, and even breaking even was hard.)
posted by pyjammy at 10:09 AM on September 25, 2007

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