Friday, February 6, 2009

Where Should I Live?

Okay, I know September is a ways away, but eventually, I'm going to have to start looking for a job. And if I want to search for a job, I need to figure out where I'm going to live. So ... where should I live? I'm open to suggestion. Here are my top picks with the pros and cons, but if you want to make your case for another option, please feel free. My only qualifications are that it *has* to be a largish city (population 500,000+), I need to be able to get a job in the non-profit (preferably environmental non-profit) sector, and it needs to be reasonably diverse. 

1. London
This is the obvious choice, given that I'll already be here, which might make the job-hunt easier. Also, if I don't stay an extra year now, I might not ever get the chance again.

Pros: I love this city and want to get to know it better.
Cons: Far, far, away from my friends and family which will mean the inevitable cross-Atlantic travel.

2. New York
This has as of late become a top of the list contender. It's arguably the cultural capital of the United States, I've never lived there (and doesn't everyone HAVE to live in NYC at some point in their lives?) and I think my job prospects are pretty good.

Pros: My sister lives there, one of my best friends is moving there, and another of my best friends lives nearby in the Jerz.
Cons: I have to be honest. I'm not sure I'm a New Yorker really at heart. I think London's slightly slower pace is more my style.

3. San Francisco
I feel like I've been running away from San Francisco all my life, which is weird, because it's the city everyone else seems to be running TOWARDS. But, maybe I should stop running? My mom lives nearby, I have tons of friends in the city, and we all know how crunchy the Bay Area is.

Pros: Rainbow Grocery! Plus, I could probably con my way into dinner at Green Bean's or JennConspiracy's.  Also, my mom! My friends! The Golden Gate Bridge!!
Cons: I'm still not sure I'm ready to run towards San Francisco. Also, it's a little small for my taste. Also, I would have to get a car. I know, I know, some of you live in the Bay Area without cars. But, given that my mom is in the South Bay, I would probably need to have a car. 

4. Los Angeles
We all know about my love for LA, but can I get a job in LA? That's the question.
Pros: My heart! My love! My friends! Excellent sushi! 
Cons: Not only would I have to have a car, I'd probably have to drive it on a fairly regular basis. Plus, there's the whole job thing problem.

5. Washington D.C.
By all rights this one should be first. My job prospects will probably be brightest here, and apparently it's the only place where the job market is expanding (that is, if you are a Democrat.)
Pros: I could get a job!
Cons: I don't really have friends there, and for no good reason, I'm not super stoked about the idea of moving to DC. Now, bear in mind, I haven't been to DC in ... probably ten years. So I have no real objection to the city. In fact, that's probably why I'm not stoked to move to DC. I just don't know the city that well.

6. Chicago
Ah, Chicago, I do love you.
Pros: It's Chicago, the best city in the United States. Hands down.
Cons: It's f**king freezing. Plus, all my friends abandoned it/are planning to abandon it. Probably because it's f**king freezing.

All right, people, what do you think? Where should I move?


hgg said...

Why not stay a little longer in London? Get to know the city properly before you say "Time to go home"?

Anonymous said...

When you said "stay an extra year in London" that made me think you are looking, perhaps, to get a job in *insert city* but not necessarily stay there for more than a year? If that's the case, it might make the decision less (wait for it) arduous in that you aren't planning to be there forever if you don't like the city/the job.

Anyway, my two cents:

London: If I went to school abroad for a year and thought I could do reasonably well (be happy + find job) and stay just an extra year, I would seriously consider it. Thus I would look for jobs here.

New York: Never lived here, but lived in South Jersey. I like living in cities, and have lived/currently live in expensive places, but man, apartments in NY? Ouch. Plus, if I was working for an environmental non-profit I might enjoy more trees. But hey, it'd probably still be fun to check NYC for a bit, but I personally couldn't live there forever. However, probably not bad to scout jobs here if it interests you.

San Francisco: I live in the Bay Area! I love it! And not just because it's's diverse in so many ways: food, people, types of jobs/industries, etc. The public transport is great (altho I don't have to go to the south bay) thus I do not have a car (full disclosure: my boyfriend does). I also find this area particularly intellectually stimulating. I am probably here to stay. I would scout jobs here! Things I don't like: It's expensive. Way expensive.

LA: Lived there for 2 years and visit there often. Would never live there (by choice) again. Not environmentally friendly with the whole crazy traffic + car thing. Anything I find that I like in LA I can find X100 here in the Bay Area. Things I didn't like: people think they are better than you because they are prettier* than you. *Where prettier is defined by bleach blonde hair, ultra-fake tan, and fake boobs.

DC: I lived there for 4 years and there were a lot of things I liked. Public transport was great (again, didnt own a car), fairly diverse, lots of AMAZING free museums + great things to do, etc. Food selection PALES in comparison to SF, but I think most places would fail in that regard. I liked it enough though to almost be seriously considering moving back there to work at a particular org where I think I could make a huge impact. Alas, for many reasons, I (we) are rooted to SF. I vote for scouting jobs here! Things I didn't like: people think they are better than you because they work "on the hill" (even if they are an unpaid intern).

Chicago: Never lived here so other people can chime in. Just from the news though, economically isn't Chicago shedding jobs way more than average? Also, I don't really do snow. At least not Chicago snow.

Eliane said...

Staying in London also means having easier access to the rest of the UK and to Europe. When are you next going to be able to have a weekend in Paris, Barcelona, Madrid, Amsterdam, Berlin, or go hiking in Scotland, Yorkshire, the Lake District, travel to Provence or Andalucia or Tuscany or Greece?

Joyce said...

The only one of these I don't know is SF. I'd pick Chicago. Warm people over-rides cold weather.

EcoGeoFemme said...

If you move near me I'd TOTALLY be your friend. :) It's possible to be car-free in my city, too. Just sayin'.

What an exciting thing to be able to just decide. It's rare to have that much freedom with a decision like that. I hope you find an awesome job in an awesome place.

Kelly S. said...

Byron and I will be living in DC by clearly that would be my vote!

Kelly S. said...

Oh and as for a car...i'm sure you momma would happily pick you up at the Bart station in SJC if it meant she got to see you...

Anonymous said...

What awesome choices!

If it was me, Chicago, hands down. I was so disappointed when I moved to New York and it wasn't like Chicago! Not only is Chicago awesome, but from there you can take the passenger rail almost anywhere.

There are good spots in all those places - I have a friend in DC who bikes everywhere, because the weather there is so mild, and if you don't want to live in the city there's Takoma Park and Greenbelt. You know you can find a pocket neighborhood in LA if you end up back there, and the driving thing - I have friends in SF & Seattle who end up driving a lot & friends there who are bike-only - it's more about you than the city.

(I'm from Iowa. Everyone I know moved somewhere else to get a job.)

Anonymous said...

I agree about the extra year in London - nearly impossible to get a visa to work in the EU later.

The job market suxxxxx - get the best job you can in one of these great cities. Then, the decision's made for you!

fun choices!

Sam said...

Come to San Diego, then you'll be close to L.A and your friends from there. And me too.

kimberly said...

i would worry about making a decision based on where friends or family live. you can't make a decision based on where other are; they could move, things could change... you should choose something that is best for you, and if you end up being closer to those you love, then great.
also, i wouldn't live in london. the cost of living and the rent are so absurd that you'd really never have the opportunity to save for your future, or enjoy travelling abroad. if you want to work in london, live elsewhere and just commute like most londoners do. you'd lose a couple hours out of the day, but you'd save a ton of money.
i personally would love to work in nyc, but i'd only do so if i could find decent rent (ha!). i think that's something i would enjoy, while i'm young... you might like it too, 'cause it's so different from l.a. and london
what about canada?

Jenn said...

Ruchi, you wouldn't have to con, you would just have to wash dishes to insure subsequent reinvitations, though I know you're not the domestic type. ;)

I think the Bay Area is a good option. The East Bay has a lot to offer - and depending on where your mom lives in the South Bay, you can probably get by on BART for visits. A bicycle + BART gets you pretty far in this area.

You know I sold my car last summer though, I confess, I'll be getting a motorcycle soon...

Seriously, though - if you can spend more time in London and you like it - why not hang a bit?

sunflowerchilde said...

I would stay in London! I went to grad school in Boston and moved away immediately after, and now I know it would be really hard to go back. Moving is tough! And when are you going to get the opportunity to live in Europe again? A year or two in London now will be MUCH easier to manage than a year or two in London at some later point in your life when job and family might tie you down.

Cath@VWXYNot? said...

Vancouver! It's just as crunchy as San Fran! And it has awesome sushi!

Of the suggestions you mentioned, I could not live in NY or LA, haven't been to Chicago, but really like San Fran & DC (I was surprised by how much I liked the latter). Personally I'm not a big fan of London (northern prejudices etc) but it would be a fantastic base for another year or two of exploring Europe.

Donna said...

How about Portland, Oregon? It's got fantastic green credentials and the climate is better than Chicago's. :)

Personally, I'd apply for jobs in a couple of your top choices and see what works out. It's kind of tough out there right now. Good luck!

Anonymous said...

Is it more (wait for it) arduous to look for jobs in multiple cities? I'd look for jobs you love and follow your best offer. I think you could be happy in all of those cities, so the job is the most important variable.


Green Bean said...

Oh I do love love love London. I might consider staying for a bit. On the other hand, I'd love to have you close. :) Those are my two votes.

Anonymous said...

Omaha, Nebraska. I know it is not on your list, but it has a very low unemployment rate and most importantly, really needs more people like you. Since it is a state with less people, you can make more of an impact in government too. I usually get an email response within 48 hours to ANY Nebraska state senator (not just the one covering my district).

Going Crunchy said...

London, hands down. Live there and experience all it has to offer. Go all over Europe on your weekends and spare time. See the world while you have the opportunity, because your freedom is fleeting.

Squeeze every last drop of your life right now.

If I had to do it over again I'd stay another year there too. Absolutely. And don't look back.

Anonymous said...

As much as I love NYC, it will still be here in another year. Stay in London. Get the full experience and then come to NYC.

Anonymous said...

My personal list would be:

1) New York

2) nowhere else

London/SF/LA/DC/Chicago are all disqualified from the competition because they did not meet the basic qualification, namely being New York.

Melinda said...

London. London. London. Dude, you only get that chance once. The other places will be there if London doesn't work out. Or... heh... Paris. Cuz you could probably get an EU Visa that would extend there, couldn't you? ; ) Just to complicate things...

I agree - SF is too small probably. So is Chicago, though. NY is great, but you can get most of the good stuff of NY in London. LA and DC are about equal in my mind. You know how I feel about LA... : ) And DC is interesting but who knows what it will be like in 4 or 8 years. You might have to move again! (Hopefully not.)

Going Crunchy said...

I had to pop back to see if you had made a decision.

The work visa issue is huge. Past a certain age (ahem, hrumph) you cannot just stay and work. I am assuming that you are below 28 (was that the age?) for a visa, once past that age you are SOL.

That is the reason my husband and I landed here. We didn't want to get married to get a work permit - we weren't ready yet - and I couldn't get a job and could only volunteer.

We should'a gotten hitched. So do it now while you can free and clear - I've got connections in Greece if you would like to visit there ! My SIL will happily put you up and show you around!

Cyprus is an hour or so from London! You can visit France easily! Sigh.

Cath@VWXYNot? said...

Further thoughts...

London: are your friends from your course staying on past the end of the year? From the experience of friends and family, London is great if you know lots of people, but can be really really tough if you don't.

San Fran: surely they would have a car cooperative network or something, like this one in Vancouver. That way you have access to a choice of cars when you actually need one, but don't have to run/tax/maintain one yourself.

Anonymous said...


Why? just a year, right? Getting to know the city and perhaps its neighbors is in itself worth another year. Of course I am speaking as an ex-traveler who lives vicariously through others.

Hard for me see you as a NYC girl :)

I love SF of course. But SF will always be here.

Becca said...

DC is going to seem pretty small to you after being in LA and in London. The metro stops running fairly early, which is pretty annoying. That being said, I think you'd love my co-op and Takoma Park in general. Plus, there is the farmer's market in "downtown" Takoma every weekend in the summer.

Cath@VWXYNot? said...

Massimo, surely you meant

1) Edmonton

2) New York

3) nowhere else


ScienceMama said...

I can't believe my humble little city didn't even make the list! It's VERY green, you know.

Anonymous said...

Cath -- note how I wrote "would be"...