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Where should I move?

Fijo29

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After spending the last 7 years in NYC, I'm feeling ready to move on... I love New York. I really do. But I don't love the fact that I can't afford a decent sized apartment without forking over half my income on rent. Or the fact that I can't afford to live anywhere near my office, forcing me to spend about an hour on the subway to get to work. I love the cultural points of interest in NY, but I'm not into the bar scene or the club scene, or any scene for that matter... What I really want is to have all the things NY has to offer, but on a smaller scale.

What I'm looking for (aren't we all?):
1) A real city. Big, small, tiny - doesn't matter. I want to live in a place that supports a mix of activities and uses (ie: no subdivision/strip-mall "pods")
2) Pedestrian friendly place, where I can walk most places, and only use the car occasionally. I'm all for public transportation, but I don't like having to spend so much time on it. I want to be able to walk to a coffee shop or bookstore, or even do my grocery shopping on foot. And I would LOVE to be able to walk to work.
3) Cultural/ethnic diversity and open-mindedness. I'd really like to live in a place where the overall outlook is on the liberal side. I am part of an inter-racial couple, and I want a place where my partner and I (and our future children) will feel comfortable.
4) Affordability. New York has all the things I mentioned above, but much of it is only accessible to those able and willing to pay top dollar for it. The neighborhood around my office, for example, is really nice, and I would love to live there, but I could never afford it.

I'm about to eliminate a lot of good possibilities, but... because of family issues, I need to live somewhere on the East Coast, preferably in the general vicinity of NYC (as in, within a day's drive or so). If my circumstances were otherwise, I would definitely be open to other parts of the country; alas, I am an East Coaster for now...

SO... does anyone have any good ideas for me??? :)
 

PlannerGirl

Cyburbian Plus
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6,377
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29
weeelll Ummmm Baltimore? DC fits all but the cost of living is out the roof.

Good luck!
 

Dan

Dear Leader
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18,139
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63
So, you want

1) A real city.
2) Pedestrian friendly place.
3) Cultural/ethnic diversity and open-mindedness.
4) Affordability.

There are plenty of places in the US that meet three of the four requirements.

If you're willing to leave the US and learn French, there's Montreal. Dirt cheap, a large city with all the amenities it has to offer, very pedestrian-friendly with good public transit, and culturally very diverse. If Quebec wasn't dominantly French-speaking, I'd be there in a heartbeat. You can go to Toronto and not worry about the language barrier, but it's somewhat expensive ... not NYC expensive, but more like Seattle and Denver expensive.

Philadelphia ... maybe, but then again, it's shopworn and gritty, and very rough along the edges. Still, it has all four of the qualities that you're seeking; it's the most affordable of the Northeast Corridor cities, somwhat diverse, pedestrian-friendly, and "real."

You could survive without a car in Cleveland's inner East Side suburbs; Shaker Heights, Cleveland Heights, and University Heights. Diverse as hell, affordable, and real-city dense, without big city problems.

There's Buffalo's West Side and North Buffalo neighborhoods; very ped-friendly, very affordable, very real, somewhat hip and bohemian, and somewhat diverse, but not in a cosmopolitan way. It's also ... well, Buffalo. If the entire city was like that, I'd recommend it; otherwise, I'll say pass.

I hear good things about Providence.
 

jordanb

Cyburbian
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3,232
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25
Dan -- Chicago is not expensive. Any city of three million people in which you can buy a condo in a downtown office-loft building for less than $250k isn't an expensive city. ;-)

Fijo29 -- You might really want to consider Chicago if you can get over not being on the east coast. Your standard of living is going to be much higher dong the same job here.

Otherwise I've heard really good things about Philly. Very walkable, vibrant downtown, and a short Amtrak ride away from New York.

BTW: Do you own a car? If so, I think I found the root of your money problems. :-D
 

Fijo29

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Thanks for the tips, Dan :-D

Actually, I do speak French, and I would LOVE to be in Montreal. It's a possibility.

What good things have you heard about Providence?

Know anything about New Haven, CT? I have family there, so it's a strong possibility. Actually, I might post this question as a new thread and see if anyone has any ideas.

PlannerGirl said:
weeelll Ummmm Baltimore? DC fits all but the cost of living is out the roof.
Do you know anything good about Baltimore? I've driven through a few times on my way to DC, and from what I've seen, it looks pretty skeevy and the downtown was pretty dead. Does it have more to offer? Did I just miss the good parts? Thanks!
 
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michaelskis

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19,724
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46
I would agree with JordanB about Chicago. Another place that is often overlooked is Grand Rapids MI. It is over 100,000 in the city and about a million within and hour. It has most of what your looking for, and it is growing at an amazing rate.
 

Kobayashi

Cyburbian
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92
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4
michaelskis said:
I would agree with JordanB about Chicago. Another place that is often overlooked is Grand Rapids MI. It is over 100,000 in the city and about a million within and hour. It has most of what your looking for, and it is growing at an amazing rate.
Is that a Scottie or a Schnauzer? I don't mean to take this off topic....


BTW about where to live. From everything you mentioned, don't move south of Virginia :)
 

biscuit

Cyburbian
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3,904
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Not wanting to sound too boosterific (new word) but Pittsburgh is very pedestrian friendly,: the city itself contains 81 distinctive neighborhoods; has a strong and stable job market, unless you're looking to work in a steel mill, and it's been ranked as having the lowest cost of living of any major city in the country... just a suggestion.
 

Rem

Cyburbian
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1,524
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23
Sydney - it's even on the east coast ;-) . There is an oversupply of apartments and there will be some serious price reductions to flow through soon (there have been changes to investment property tax regimes that will start to bite from tomorrow, the start of our new financial year).

Everything else you ask for is immediately available in a number of different settings.

The locals speak English, sort of, so no need to brush off your French.

There is also a serious shortage of planners.

What more could you ask for.
 

Michele Zone

BANNED
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7,657
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29
Rem said:
Sydney - it's even on the east coast ;-)
<snip>
What more could you ask for.
A transporter. That would overcome the huge distance issue between your east coast and the one he means. :-D If you can hook him up with a good, used transporter (still works reliably but affordable), I am sure he would be thrilled to accept your offer. :p

Back On Topic: Um, I was gonna say something like "Fairfield? (california)" but your east coast requirement kind of blows that to heck. I never lived up in that area. I was born and raised in Georgia and I have lived in Kansas, Texas, Germany, Washington state and a couple of places in Cali. I am wholly unqualified to suggest any place in the region you speak of.

Have you considered getting one of those "places rated" guides? I understand that they now come with a computer disk that lets you put in your preferences and prioritize according to your custom answers. That won't answer some of your questions. I don't think "walkability" is one of their criteria. But it might be a place to start narrowing things down.

I spent a few years poring over 'places rated' guides and college guide books. I never figured out 'THE Answer' per se from the books. But it helped me to thoroughly think through what my needs were and to assess the good points and bad points of the various places I had lived and come to a subtler and deeper understanding of what would best meet my needs. "Affordable" was always high on my priority list but now I live in the San Francisco Bay Area and I expect to be here "for the foreseeable future". My reasons for that aren't really relevant to your situation, so I won't bore you with the details. I am just noting that other factors ultimately came to weigh more for me and affordability has become a relative concept (I live in "the cheap part" of the Bay Area :-D ).
 

Seabishop

Cyburbian
Messages
3,838
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25
Providence - Downtown is getting there and has come a long way, some great neighborhoods that are surely cheaper than NYC or Boston, although prices have been climbing. The cultural outlook your looking for is there. Decent transit (nothing like NYC though), you can take the commuter rail to Boston for about the same amount of time you do now. Very compact downtown, good arts and cultural scene. Some neighborhoods are tough of course, and the school system isn&#8217;t very good.

New Haven is supposedly getting better but my impression is that crime is more of an issue there. I&#8217;m not sure how it compares in price. For some reason Cyburbia lacks Connecticut people.

Don't forget Portland, ME. A great, small city.

Everything is "right" about Boston except the price tag.
 

Cardinal

Cyburbian
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10,080
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34
I lived in Newport News for a year and enjoyed it. There are several cities to choose from right there, and then you could add in Richmond as well. I don't think you would find any of them on the "liberal" side, though. To join in with some of the others, Chicago (or Milwaukee for that matter) would be good choices - true cities, affordable, and on the east coast of Illinois or Wisconsin.
 
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new haven!

Fijo29 said:
Know anything about New Haven, CT? I have family there, so it's a strong possibility. Actually, I might post this question as a new thread and see if anyone has any ideas.
hi everyone. i have been lurking for a while now, but i decided to set up an account and post finally. as for new haven, i was raised in the area and find it to be a very nice place. the city itself is probably more dangerous than other connecticut cities (most of ct is suburban to the max), but i have lived in the city and found it to be rather tame. there is a small nightlife and yale obviously brings in a younger crowd, but the city does have it's poorer areas as well. i hear a lot of people who are from ct talk about new haven as this crime ridden place, but i found this to not be true at all. the city is close to nyc by way of commuter train and a drive would take about 1.5 hours or less.
<p>i live in boston now and i am looking to get out of this city as well for some of the same reasons that you mention about new york city. i am looking for a place that possesses the requirements initially stated in this thread. for me, i am looking to move to new orleans for a change in atmoshpere. i love threads like this btw. ;-)
 

Fijo29

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Breeze,
Thanks for the info about New Haven! To me, it seems like a nice town too (except for all the parking garages - why are there so many???) Whenever I visit my family there (they live downtown near Yale), we always walk around and go to dinner and coffee or whatever - it seems like a really walkable place, especially if you live downtown. And they seem to have a great variety of restaurants, bars, etc. And actually several independent coffee shops (only 1 starbucks i think!) And being a college town, it seems like there's a lot going on. I'm just wondering if the reputation for crime is based on fact or if it's just the perception of the suburbanites from neighboring towns...
 

biscuit

Cyburbian
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3,904
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25
PlannerGirl said:
Eeek Richmond is anything but liberal trust me on this one :)
Got that right. Outside of the Fan District, where many of the residents were/are young transplants, you can either take or leave the people of Richmond as far as I'm concerned. [/end gross generalization]
 
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Seabishop said:
Don't forget Portland, ME. A great, small city.
Agreed. I'm heading there as soon as possible. For me, the harbor, food, size, harbor, northern location, cost-of-living, harbor, proximity to nature activities, laid-back atmosphere, and - did I mention harbor? - are perfect. Hopefully finding a job won't be too hard.

As for Fijo's requirements, I think it's pedestrian friendly, open-minded, and fairly affordable. The only sticking point is it may not be as big as you'd like or have much of a nightlife.

Plannergirl said DC's cost-of-living is through the roof and in many areas that's true, but while browsing ads I've seen some affordable options in the District. It certainly has all of the other things you desire, and a booming job market.
 
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Fijo29 said:
I'm just wondering if the reputation for crime is based on fact or if it's just the perception of the suburbanites from neighboring towns...
i really have no idea about how much crime actually goes down in new haven. the only people who have told me that the place was dangerous were people that eventually admitted they had never really been there. only driven thru or visited, thus they had never lived there. the perception of the city as a dangerous one stems from the fact that black/poor people live there. i grew up in the burbs and this was the general feeling people had (thank you white fliight!).

i lived downtown for a summer a few years back while i was home from college and found it to be a fun time. i worked away from downtown along whalley avenue (a high concentration of poorer, darker people are located here) and was never intimidated at all. but i am not your average person who is scared to go places. i biked to work through the hood and had no problems. the city is small enough to make it walkable and bikeable at all hours, but this is only in the downtown areas. eventaully, you are gonna get tired of walking places cause the city does spread out as you move out. the college helps make new haven more pedestrian friendly as well (in fact new haven would prolly be just like bridgeport or hartford if yale wasn't there). i felt safe no matter where i went, but like any city, use your judgement. any larger city with larger pockets of poverty would blow new haven out of the water in terms of crime.

on the plus side, new haven has many beautiful neighborhoods and awesome restaurants. i'm sure it's cheaper than nyc and boston, but i'm not planning on moving back anytime soon. if i was back in ct, i would definitely post some pics.

Fijo29 said:
To me, it seems like a nice town too (except for all the parking garages - why are there so many???)
why??? because everyone drives in ct. people who work downtown most likely don't live in the city so thus they commute. on a whole, the transit sucks in ct(buses are your only option and if you don't live in new haven itself, the bus lines diminish and run less frequently the farther you go out of the city). commuter rail runs from new haven to new york (with stops all along the way into the city), but that's it for mass tranist.

as for driving, the traffic in ct is not as bad as it is here in boston (point of reference), so driving most places doesnt take long at all. waiting for the bus is just ridiculous because movement is much faster in a car. in 30-35 mins you can be in hartford from new haven. that's like going almost half the state. here in boston that will get you like 5-6 miles.
 
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The One

Cyburbian
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8,289
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29
How About

Princeton New Jersey?
West Milford New Jersey?
Easton New Jersey?

How about that New Jersey!
 
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Do you know anything good about Baltimore? I've driven through a few times on my way to DC, and from what I've seen, it looks pretty skeevy and the downtown was pretty dead. Does it have more to offer? Did I just miss the good parts? Thanks![/QUOTE]





As a transplant, who's been here for 7 years, Baltimore is making some fanstatic strides. However, most of the (re)development is concentrated in neighborhoods that surround the Inner Harbor. Baltimore's downtown is coming around. It's trying to spread from the Inner Harbor back to the original CBD along the Howard Street Corridor. If you're planning to buy, BUY NOW!!!. It's definitely a seller's market here...
 
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Ithaca, NY- great small city, small version of NYC, but much more affordable. If you like the outdoors, great restaurants, and diveristy check it out. Growing area that is beautiful.
 

jordanb

Cyburbian
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3,232
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25
Has Philadelphia been shot down somehow? It seems to fit great but there's not been any discussion about it. Where are the Philly boosters?
 

boilerplater

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916
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21
I have to put in a plug for my town, Trenton, NJ. You're close enough to NYC (about an hour if you catch an express train) that you can go there for an evening's entertainment, and Center City Philly is 35 minutes away off-peak. The cost of living is still low compared to the surrounding suburbs and of course NYC. We are getting people moving in who were priced out of NYC and north Jersey. Many others who work in Princeton, 20 minutes to the northmove here as well. Its very diverse with many dense, walkable 'hoods which you'd probably feel comfortable in as you're obviously comfortable with people of color. Maybe you're the one of color!? You don't say! If you look at crime stats for the city, you will find them to be on the high side, but it is mostly poor-on-poor crime. Not that that makes it OK, but if you're street-smart and know who to avoid associating with you'll be fine. There isn't a lot to do in the city itself culturally, but there is an orchestra, a small playhouse, and a couple of places with live music. But like I said, Philly and NYC are short rides away. Shore beaches are within 1.5 hours. There is a lot in the planning stages in town, so things should be getting better.

Hey, I like Philly a lot too. Both Trenton and Philly have a lot of urban grit and suffer from negative perceptions.
 

Cirrus

Cyburbian
Messages
303
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11
Mount Vernon neighborhood of Baltimore:

1) A real city
Check. Not as big as other east coast megacities, but with core neighborhoods comparable in age and layout to DC or Phila.

2) Pedestrian friendly place.
By foot downtown, Lexington Market and Penn Station are 10 minutes, Fells Point is half an hour. Light rail runs through the neighborhood. The subway hits the edge. I do not know what the grocery store situation is.

3) Cultural/ethnic diversity and open-mindedness.
More "home townish" than other big east coast cities. Not as many immigrants. More laid back. Diversity is old school (for instance, Baltimore has a good Little Italy). If you want a more up to date, cosmopolitan experience, DC is a short MARC ride away.

4) Affordability.
Oh is it tempting. A 1 bedroom condo in The Belvedere, Mount Vernon's landmark building, runs $80,000. Prices have been increasing though, so don't expect deals like that to stick around too many more years.
 

The One

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8,289
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29
Camden NJ

boilerplater said:
I have to put in a plug for my town, Trenton, NJ. You're close enough to NYC (about an hour if you catch an express train) that you can go there for an evening's entertainment, and Center City Philly is 35 minutes away off-peak. The cost of living is still low compared to the surrounding suburbs and of course NYC. We are getting people moving in who were priced out of NYC and north Jersey. Many others who work in Princeton, 20 minutes to the northmove here as well. Its very diverse with many dense, walkable 'hoods which you'd probably feel comfortable in as you're obviously comfortable with people of color. Maybe you're the one of color!? You don't say! If you look at crime stats for the city, you will find them to be on the high side, but it is mostly poor-on-poor crime. Not that that makes it OK, but if you're street-smart and know who to avoid associating with you'll be fine. There isn't a lot to do in the city itself culturally, but there is an orchestra, a small playhouse, and a couple of places with live music. But like I said, Philly and NYC are short rides away. Shore beaches are within 1.5 hours. There is a lot in the planning stages in town, so things should be getting better.

Hey, I like Philly a lot too. Both Trenton and Philly have a lot of urban grit and suffer from negative perceptions.

Why not Camden NJ, could visit Campbell's Soup every day......?
 

Hceux

Cyburbian
Messages
1,028
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22
Fijo, the only suggestion that I can offer that has not been mentioned by anyone else and that seems to fit your four criteria (a real city, pedestrian friendly space, cultural/ethnic diversity and open-mindedness, and affordability) as well as your desire to be within a day drive to NYC is Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.

Yes, it's in Canada. But, I think Ottawa has a lot going for its size.

You don't need to worry about speaking French in Ottawa, but it is a huge benefit when it comes to getting a job, especially a government job, in the capital. And your French can be useful if you want to mingle with "the other half of the population" as they claim.

Since Ottawa is the capital of Canada, there is a relatively high number of cultural amenities there. Many of them are within a walking distance or else within reach of public transportation modes. There is a HUGE emphasis on volunteerism in Ottawa. It is even promoted greatly on the region's leading television channel/news station. There is so many festivals going on there; I think there's more festivals here than anywhere in Canada.

Ottawa is not a perfect pedestrian city, but I think it does pretty well. There have been some attempts that failed, but there are some very walkable neighbourhoods (Sandy Hill, Glebe, etc.) all of which are definitely linked to public transportation modes. There are not any subways here, but there's something called "O.C. Transpo" which refers to the bus system that runs on mostly previously-rail corridors and on major roadways. They definitely fly around the city, meaning that they go fast through the city. The O-Train is a new train that links a major O.C. Transpo station to a few stops (including a university, close to Glebe), ending at the south end of the city. Not sure if there's plans for more expansion of the O-Train. Unforunately, I don't know much about any public transportation links between the communities on the Ontario side and on the Quebec side.

I must say something about greenspace in Ottawa. Whew! Does the city ever have a lot of it. There's tonnes of parks and bicycle trails. There's even a greenbelt around Ottawa (on the Ontario side) and a large park (aka the Gatineau Hills) on the Quebec side, which is very close to Ottawa, perhaps 15 minutes drive. Many people bike from their homes to work! Plus, there's the Rideau River, the Rideau Canal, and the Ottawa River to enjoy. Many parts of these rivers are aligned with parklands. Imagine skating on the Rideau to work as some do that during the winters!

The more dense and urban areas of Ottawa are definitely walkable and are neighbourhood-like in the sense that they provide essential services (grocery, banks, bookstore, coffee shops, etc).

Diversity and open-mindedness is a large issue in Ottawa. As Canada promotes its "multiculturalism" policy (that's been in place since the 1970s, I believe), Ottawa has been a leader in promoting multiculturalism in the field of education, social services, volunteerism, and etc. Ethnic and cultural diversity in Ottawa is not like what you'd find in Toronto, but it is definitely heterogeneous, not homogenous in Ottawa. Perhaps a bit stratified on the basis of language. French-speaking immigrants, for example, are more likely to live on the Quebec side of the Ottawa metropolitan area than on the more English-speaking Ontario side.

Affordability. I am not very informed about this, but I do know that it's not as expensive as it is in Vancouver (the most expensive!) or Toronto. But, it's not as inexpensive as it is in Montreal. I would say that Ottawa is the middle of the road for the larger Canadian cities.

The only negative thing about Ottawa I can think of is that it is darn cold in the winters. I know Canada is know for its cold winters, but Ottawa is cold! I think Ottawa has the distinction of being the second coldest national capital in the world - that is after Ulan Bator, Mongolia. Why? There's no substantial mountains (i.e. Rockies in the case for Calgary) or large water bodies (i.e. Lake Ontario in the case for Toronto) to block arctic winds howling through the capital. Brrrr.

However, I must say I'd like to live in Ottawa some day. I think it'd be great to enjoy all the amenities that Ottawa has to offer as it is the national capital of my country, Canada. Without being too nationalistic at all, tomorrow's celebration (Canada Day) is one of the exciting things I'd like to do when I live in Ottawa. I just wonder when it will be before I can do that some day. :)

So, I hope that this gives you some help with your decision as to where you shall move to. Enjoy NYC in the mean time. It is a special place, but there are many other special places around the world! :)
 

jresta

Cyburbian
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1,474
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23
jordanb said:
Has Philadelphia been shot down somehow? It seems to fit great but there's not been any discussion about it. Where are the Philly boosters?
Holla!

Seriously, Coming from NYC there are some amazing deals on the rental or purchase end. Come on down, hop on the big bus and take a tour of the city or i'll give you a tour myself.

Keep an eye out on this part of the board b/c i've been taking a ton of pictures of the city and as soon as I get them all sorted out and stored properly i'll be posting them.
 

BKM

Cyburbian
Messages
6,464
Points
29
jresta said:
Holla!

Seriously, Coming from NYC there are some amazing deals on the rental or purchase end. Come on down, hop on the big bus and take a tour of the city or i'll give you a tour myself.

Keep an eye out on this part of the board b/c i've been taking a ton of pictures of the city and as soon as I get them all sorted out and stored properly i'll be posting them.
Check out the www.urbanphoto.net discussion board. There is a Philadelphia booster on the site (he owns a Federal Rowhouse in Center City) that has over the months posted tons of photos of his neighborhood. Have to admit it makes me almost think of a move to the east. :) (Not really, but..pretty darn appealing).

If you ever decide to look at the West, I would suggest checking out Sacramento, CA. Very leafy neighborhoods, and mid-Town is low density but very pleasant and walkable. Tons of good restaurants, coffee shops, bookstores, record stores in Midtown. Sacramento is very, very comfortable-and you can increasingly survive with a bicycle instead of a car. Plenty of bicycle lanes on all the major streets, many major MidTown arterials are traffic calmed, and there is a 35-mile long bicycle traila long the American River.

Negatives: Its hot during the summer (but its a dry heat), somewhat smoggy at times, and downtown is not my favorite city center (although it does have a pretty good regional mall with all the usual suspects).
 
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