If we live anywhere, where should it be?

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I have to start this post by saying it will probably be a very very long time before Drew and I can actually live somewhere…as opposed to everywhere.

But this SouthWest Companion Pass has gotten me window shopping for homes.  You know, in the same way a 16 year old window shops for a sweet car.  Which is to say…it’s not happening.  Don’t get all excited about this, it’s not happening.  We are still nomads and will be for awhile as far as I can tell.

But we have thought for awhile that it would be cool to do a more extended stay somewhere.  In our world, that means like…a month or two.  And combining Airbnb with our Southwest Companion Pass could totally make a month stay in the states doable.  Or, housesitting resources like www.trustedhousesitters.com could come into play.

All hypothetical for now, but we do have this Companion Pass until the end of 2015 and we’d like to do some fun stays with it.

So folks…I want to hear your suggestions.  Where should we “live” (for a month), if anywhere?

Here’s our criteria…

1.) We like being downtown, where things are happening.

We don’t own a car and don’t plan on ever owning a car, so we like to be within a bus ride or even a walk from the downtown happenings of a place.  Of course…this also highlights the fact that we like there to be a downtown.

We especially love places with downtown walking malls like Charlottesville, VA…

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Or Burlington, VT…

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Or Boulder, CO…

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2.) We like there to be some kind of element of natural beauty, or a place nearby where we can be in nature.

Cities in or near the mountains or forests are perfect.  We love hiking, camping, etc.  And if a place isn’t beautiful, than the concrete jungle gets to us.

For instance Jackson Hole, Wyoming…

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Chattanooga, Tennessee…

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Or Asheville, NC…

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3.) We like progressive, cultural cities with a lot of diversity.

We’ve always found so much value in having a variety of cultural influences around us.  I grew up in Amish Country Ohio, which is an absolutely wonderful place… but most of the people there have all come from an Amish/Mennonite background.  As a result, there’s one major mentality there as well as one major influencing culture.

Some cities that come to mind are…

Obviously New York City…

or San Francisco…

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Or Austin, Texas…

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4.) We like medium sized cities.  Not so big that we feel totally anonymous but not too small for an airport or fun things happening.

This is where Charlottesville really worked for us.  Its population is just under 50,000 and at the time, that was perfect.  It was big enough for some sort of bus system (though not very extensive) but small enough that you could run into friends out in town and we got to know many of the local talented musicians.

During our last few visits, it felt smaller than I remembered and I wondered if my ideal city size is going up a bit.  Maybe cities with populations from 50,000-150,000 would be perfect?

Like Ann Arbor, Michigan (population around 116,000)…

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Or Athens, GA (population around 119,000)…

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Or Gainesville, Florida (population around 124,000)…

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5.) And the last criteria…ultimate frisbee…

Ultimate frisbee is Drew’s favorite sport and was once the only thing he spent time doing.  It’s not the most common sport, and you can’t just assume every town has an ultimate frisbee team.

This little item on the rubric would be much more relevant if we were actually looking for a place to live.  But even for a month-long visit it would be really great for Drew to be able to play ultimate.

 

So…which of these cities should we actually spend time in?  What are the cities that I don’t know about yet?  I would have never known about Charlottesville if friends hadn’t moved there.  So there are bound to be awesome little cities I haven’t heard of yet.  Tell me about them!

43 Comments on “If we live anywhere, where should it be?

    • 😀 We had amazing hosts, that’s for sure! (Drew’s friend from HS) Ya we really did like it a lot.

  1. Vancouver or another northwest city seem like obvious candidates, no?

  2. How about Richmond? Carytown or the Fan I think would fit you guys. There is public transportation. You are equal distance from the mountains and the beach. But maybe not as progressive as you would like overall but I am sure you could find like minded people. Lived there for 10 years.
    I grew up in Ch’ville and I have not eaten at the Nook in years.

    • One of my favorite spots in Cville is actually the Tea Bazaar right across the street from the Nook. Next time you’re in town, try it!
      I have only visited Richmond once, but Drew lived there for awhile.

  3. i love it here in SF, although I hear your point about it being too big. It’s also too expensive and it smells, but it’s fun for now. I loved Asheville during my time. You might like West Hartford, CT for the downtown aspect, but go during the summer. St. Paul, MN (my hometown) is one of the best cities in the world and the only thing keeping it back is the dreadful winters. Tucson, AZ is a great town that is relatively inexpensive. Savannah is supposed to be nice, and charleston too. Just a few ideas.

    • Thanks for all these ideas, Jeff!
      I am dying to go to Asheville. I have friends living there and I think I would love it. Hadn’t thought of West Hartford or St. Paul, but that’s why I wrote this post! To learn of the places I hadn’t known of yet! My sister lived in Savannah and it is indeed really gorgeous.
      Thanks for the ideas!

  4. You could try many of these suggestions if you are only planning stays of a month or so. You could use these stays as hiatuses to your usually hectic travel schedules. It would be like coming home, if only for a little while. You could check off all your possibilites within a two year time period. Well, it’s all fun to think about any way.

  5. You already mentioned it, but Austin TX is great. We do have culture, arts, entertainment of all sorts, festivals include Austin City Limits, SXSW, Funx3 Fest, too many to list. Plus all that goes along with having a Formula One track.

    The Hill Country is great for hikes and camping. Inks lake is a local favorite for camping. You can also camp in the city at a Emma Long Metropolitan Park (3 sites, feels like you are in the middle of nowhere). And as I’m pretty sure you know, Austin does have Ultimate Frisbee. They are doubling the gates at the airport right now, it is getting easier to fly from AUS.

    Pretty much any sleepy town between San Francisco and San Deigo would be great. We love Laguna Beach. That could be an awesome place to house sit. You have tons of airports, and enough day trip options to fill a few months at least. People always say California is expensive but we lived well on next to nothing there. where you sleep is the most expensive part. You learn fast that there are great cheap food options. Transportation can suck though, you kind of need a car.

    • Drew has definitely suggested Austin before because it’s involved in the entrepreneur movement and that’s something that interests him a lot. I didn’t realize they had ultimate frisbee there! Austin’s looking better and better!

  6. Don’t know about ultimate Frisbee, but Asheville, NC seems to meet a lot of your criteria. Also, Savannah has the beach close by as well as all of the parks with those beautiful trees.

    • Definitely want to check Asheville out while we have this S.W.Pass. Savannah is great too. My sister lived there for awhile.

  7. Summer in Boulder and then escape from the cold and winter down here in Gainesville :-). Best of both worlds.

    • Gainesville is really high on my list because 1.) I hear it’s cool 2.) a musician I really like is from there (Radical Face) and 3.) my parents vacation in FLA a lot so it would probably give me lots of family time to be en route to their favorite vacation spot.

      Also we’ve talked about how if we did Boulder, it would have to be in the summer!

  8. I’m totally biased from having grown up there but still vote Burlington.

    • We went through there for our honeymoon and I loved it. I would move there in a heartbeat. I’ll have to do the ultimate-frisbee research.

  9. I suggest Washington, DC.
    1. DC has lots of “downtown” neighborhoods, each with a different vibe. The Metro and buses can connect you to dozens of neighborhoods, including those in Maryland (Bethesda or Silver Spring downtown) and Virginia (Old Town Alexandria or Clarendon neighborhood). Plus many of these neighborhoods have Capital Bikeshare stations. And when you want a day or weekend trip to New York City, you can even take direct buses to NYC for about $25 each way.
    2. DC is surrounded by natural beauty — Rock Creek Park, National Arboretum, Kenilworth Park & Aquatic Gardens — to name just 3 that are Metro and/or bus accessible. These places make you forget you’re in DC.
    3. DC definitely has a lot of cultural diversity, even more so if you venture into the Maryland and Virginia neighborhoods (accessible by Metro).
    4. DC feels like a medium-sized city, perhaps because the buildings aren’t crazy high, and it has lots of small, walkable neighborhoods — Dupont Circle (great farmers market), Adams Morgan (night life), Cleveland Park, Woodley Park, Capitol Hill (wonderful Eastern Market), Georgetown (shopping). And as you know, DC is surrounded by 3 airports. Easily accessible by Metro are Reagan National and now Dulles International.
    5. Ultimate Frisbee — The National Mall is made for that.
    And if you and your husband are as interested in FREE things to do as you are in free travel, like world-class museums, free performances at the Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage every night, then you’ll really like to live in DC.

    • You are making a very good case for DC! It’s not a far drive from Charlottesville so we’ve definitely spent some time there. Will have to spend some time scouting out specifically as a potential long-term spot though! Thanks for all the thoughts and info!

  10. santa fe ,new mexico is a cool spot about 70,000
    seattle is a hip city
    Portland another choice that wasn’t talked about
    san diego my favorite other then Miami/fort Lauderdale as im a beachbum
    love Austin but no beach

  11. Come to Boston!

    – First of all, with all of the colleges and such there are a ton of ultimate frisbee groups/tournaments.
    – Boston is a very walkable city and we have an easy to navigate public transportation system. You can do Zip cars and be a short drive away to the Berkshires or any of the beautiful sites in New England. Like right now the foliage and apple picking season is gorgeous! Ziplining, hiking Mt. Washington, camping, you name it!
    – We are close to NYC and Chicago which help make short connections to places and you can do Avios to Europe very easily.
    – And with all of the people in and out of Boston for school, research, what have you it is a great melting pot of people.
    – I guess it might be considered too big compared to your smaller cities listed, but Boston has a great “small town heart” feel to it so it doesn’t feel huge and intimidating like NYC, Chicago, or L.A.

    • I have really enjoyed Boston every time that I’ve visited. Very cool place, for sure.

  12. I’m surprised Madison WI hasn’t been mentioned! It has an ultimate league with 3500 players in the summer league alone, is one of the most pedestrian friendly cities in the us with pedestrian only State sheet and is on two beautiful lakes. A typical morning commute is biking by lake Monona and a typical afternoon is ultimate Frisbee. While winter scares some people off, it stays sunny yearlong. You absolutely should visit.

  13. Ft. Collins, CO, wife and I spend a summer there. Nice college town with a lot of outdoor recreation. Great vibe. I have no idea about Ultimate Frisbee. Also, San Luis Obispo, CA is a great place. We lived there for 5 years. Made the list for happiest city is America. Close to the beach and mountains. Lots of hiking and water sports. Lots of farmers markets and things to do every weekend. College town so you may be able to find frisbeers(?). Weather is perfect year-round.

  14. Greenville, SC. 1.5 hours away from Charlotte, 2 hours from Atlanta, 45-60 minutes from Asheville, NC.

    • That’s actually been on our mental list for awhile too. Drew had a friend who lived there so that’s how it got on our radar.
      Thanks for reminding me of it though!

  15. I moved to Tacoma, WA, 3.5 years ago and love it (went to school in c’ville, and love it, too). 200k or so people, ridiculously gorgeous scenery (Puget Sound, Olympic Mts., Mt. Rainier), never too hot or too cold, not as much rain as you’d think (though about 8 months of gloomy clouds), decent transit, and 35 minutes to Seattle airport (southwest and international flights). 3 colleges. No idea about ultimate.

    • Wow that sounds perfect. Drew said that Seattle is where ultimate was “born” so Tacoma’s pretty close. Don’t know if I could sell Drew on the 8 months of gloomy clouds though. Sounds great to me though

      • you can avoid the gloom by coming July-September, when it’s 75 and sunny, no humidity, almost every day!

  16. Naperville, IL! I do recommend some travel in the Winter to beak up the chill. 😉
    There is a huge youth/high school ultimate club http://www.nvultimate.org, and they even started a pro/semi pro? league. Naperville has been on the best places to live list, has fantastic schools, easy access to Chicago, and somewhat reasonable housing costs (compared to CA that is)….

  17. I recommend Philadelphia.

    1) It has a decent downtown but is also very neighborhood-y in a way that means you don’t have to pay the expenses of downtown to have a lot to walk around and do almost wherever you are.
    2) Not only does Philly have numerous parks of its own (I foraged for wild edibles in them quite a bit) but it is surrounded by wooded areas and farmland. Also as an added bonus, they have a thriving and well-supported urban farming movement, esp in West Philly.
    3) Philly is very progressive, many members of the LGBTQ community move there for the progressive rights legislation and because it is home to a number of major liberal arts colleges and a prominent women’s art college it has a pretty diverse, young citizenry constantly arriving to add to the already diverse local radical communities.
    4) Philly is big on people but smaller than you might think. And the neighborhood-centric way of living means that many of the times you leave your house will feel like an episode of cheers. In my old neighborhood, I couldn’t walk to the corner without being greeted by at least two people I knew and I could go out alone at night and be sure to see folks I knew at whatever venue or coffee house I ended up at. It incredibly walkable and the public transit is efficient enough to get just about anywhere you might want to be. Most folks I knew didn’t drive.
    5) http://www.pada.org/

    And as an aside, it hyper accessible to a lot of the major cities on the east coast by bus & train (2-hours from DC & NYC make those both possible day trips for instance) while being a shit-ton cheaper to live in than any nearby cities. I know a number of folks who can live really comfortably off of their art or a retail job there, making it ideal for a couple of folks who live on a budget.

    • You definitely describe it and sell it well! Nicely done! Not too far from my relatives either so that’s a plus too!

  18. From your description, Seattle is clearly the city you should consider. Have you ever been here? Also, the whole “8 months of gloomy clouds” is an exaggeration. Here’s how the weather *really* works in Seattle. You have 2 months that pretty much suck, and that’s November and December. These months are why grunge music exists lol. The good news is that it’s during the holidays so you have positive things to focus on. Every person has their own coping strategy for this time. You can also just travel to warm places during this time.

    Next, you have Jan, Feb, and Mar. It’s true we get rain during this time, but we also get quite a bit of sun in the winter. It’s just really cold and the days are short. If you like skiing though, you’re in heaven. Tons of slopes within 30 minutes to a couple hours drive from downtown, and even Whistler is only a few hours north for world class skiing.

    After this, you get spring, for April and May. These months have more rain than springs on the east cost, but you have to remember that there’s no humidity here. So there are clouds on many days, but we have sun on those days as well. We call them “sun breaks”…and your ability to use these times effectively defines your ability to survive well in Seattle. It might rain part of the day while you’re working, but then the sky opens up in the afternoon and it’s beautiful. It will do this every day for weeks during the spring, and pessimists say it’s “gray and cloudy” but in reality the evening ended with an epic and beautiful sunset and beautiful skies perfect for going outside.

    And then there’s the Seattle summer. That’s just about the best thing there is. And it goes from late June to October, and sometimes if you’re lucky all the way until Halloween. The days are warm, hardly any rain, no humidity, kinda like Hawaii without the beach. Tons of hiking, the ocean, boating, road tripping, etc. And yes, frisbee golf.

    Basically, if you travel to sunny places during the late fall and winter, and you learn how to cope during the rainier season, you’ll do well in Seattle. But it’s definitely not as cloudy as people say. And Hawaii is a 5:45 hour flight away on Alaska Air any time you want!

    • You’re right that really doesn’t sound all that bad, especially considering that if we ever do “live somewhere” we’re still going to constantly travel from that place, so we could just choose to do the bulk of our longer trips during the less desireable weather.

      Drew has been there but I have not even been to the State of Washington yet. It’s one of only two states I’ve not yet seen (Hawaii being the other.)

      Apparently Ultimate Frisbee actually started there I think, right?

      Anyway thank you very much for breaking down the weather for me and debunking the “it always rains” stereotype!

      We actually had a chance to do some extended house-sitting there but it looks like our plans got shifted around a bit and we won’t be able to do it. I was hoping to experience life in Seattle though.

      • No problem. Google Image search “Kerry Park” to get a sense of some of the beauty, if you’re interested as well. I know I sound like a salesman, but you definitely seem like the Northwest would work for you.

  19. I love how much people are pushing their cities! I’m from Cleveland (near AmishTown™)… but if you’re young Columbus Ohio is an emerging city. They have plenty of Artsy/Foodie places, a nice amount of jobs, a good number of Frisbee Courses (thanks to the college crowd) and the weather isnt too bad – you still get to enjoy seasons. Plus they are improving the city constantly.

    GO BUCKS! =)

    • I actually have lots of friends in C-bus so that’s always been hovering on my radar. Great people live there! 😀

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