Those in my inner circle (i,e the Intelligensea) understand I'm quite content in my current environs. There's no rush to leave and that might make others sad. I won't disclose my exact whereabouts, but let's just say we're in a small college town between Allentown and Reading, PA, surrounded by farms, on the eastern side of the lovely state. It's cheap living, a comfortable Main St., and low key vibes, and with that, comes the feeling that you are someone, not just one among the masses. It's a false sense of power maybe, but I'll take it.
But, as a travelling man, encountering new frontiers and urban areas, one thing that I will do, is, try to picture myself living there, wherever there is at the time. It seems, in most cases, I'm hit with a feeling of, "wow, it would be cool to move here", imagining work in said town or city, the commute, and where I would eat, grocery shop, and even run game on the broads. Other times, and more rarely, I'll think "wow, this place is really depressing, what do people do here."
Both feelings are common, I'm sure most of us do this.
So, with that spirit in mind, I'm doing two top 5 lists of places I would live, and places I wouldn't live. For the most part, I've been to the city more than once, but there are maybe a couple exceptions.
Top 5 - I would live here. (not in any specific order)
1. SEATTLE, WA
I've had a prejudice against the west coast for most of my life. For some reason it's never appealed to me and I've had little desire to go there. And, well, as much as I hate grunge music, Seattle kind of changed that for me. For being a bigger city, it didn't seem large. There's sushi everywhere, lots of water, mountains and natural things close by, and the neighborhoods seemed pretty cozy. Practically, I couldn't afford to live there and enjoy it, and in light of the nuclear disaster in Japan, and Seattle kind of being in its path, its a little less attractive. But, it's still good.
2. ROCHESTER, NY
Why the hell Rochester? I've been there quite often and it feels strangely welcoming. Again, it's got water (the Lake and the Genesee), beaches, posh neighborhoods and it's the birthplace of Wegman's. I recently stayed with a friend of mine who lives downtown and his rent wasn't all that high, and he had access to awesome bars, and a fast bus to Toronto (aka T dot). If you fish, there's crazy huge brown trout and salmon. Maybe it's a little flat for me, but there are some neat gorges and waterfalls. Don't shit on the place until you've been there. It seems very livable and very good live music vibes and friendly ladies.
3. LONDON, UK
Maybe the most unrealistic and the most charming place on the list, and kind of a no-brainer. I would bet I couldn't do nearly the amount of things over there, that I'm doing here now (owning a car might being one of them). I could picture myself being in a shitty neighborhood, in a shitty apartment, struggling pay check to pay check, eating canned goods most of the time and maybe that would be worth it to be surrounded by such beauty, the buildings, churches, pubs, rivers, boats, etc. I'm too lazy to even try moving there, but if there are any English readers of this blog that wish to marry me and make me a legal citizen, please let me know. Comment below.
4. BETHLEHEM, PA
Yeah, this wouldn't be a big move, it's about 40 minutes from where I live and slightly reminds me of my hometown of Pittsburgh, though it's a little smaller. Great restaurants, nice historical section, and a some universities, the Lehigh runs through it, separating the North from the Southside. I've had good live music experiences there too and many times.
4. QUEBEC CITY, QC
I'd need to learn French, but I just love it's location, sort of far away from everything. Cool historical, yet sadly, over touristy section of town is "breath-taking" if you will, overlooking the St Laurance. There are sort of posh looking 'hoods on the drive in. Originally I was going to put Montreal, which has more English speakers, but, I prefer the small to the large.
Honourable Mention: Places that came to mind, but didn't spend too much time there, or just not quite good enough - for one reason or another, but close...
St. Catharines ON
New Paltz, NY
Pittsburgh, PA (already grew up there, sort of disqualified)
Top 5 - I wouldn't live here. (not in any specific order)
1. GOLDEN, CO
It's about 20 minutes from Denver. I was there two times in the 1990s and I remember beautiful mountain landscapes and the smell of Coors Brewery, with a trout stream running through town. What's the problem? That's all that there is. Everything is so isolated. Denver is close, but Denver didn't blow my mind. The place just seemed kind of isolated, in a bad way.
2. DALLAS, TX
I was there just once in the 90s and I see no point to ever returning to that flat hot hell. I'm done.
3. DETROIT, MI
I spent a couple days in downtown Detroit, I remember the Casino, St. Andrews, and the "new" ball field, and all of those things are nice. We all know about the rest of that place though. More of my time was spent just outside of town, and one thing that stuck in my mind were all the goddamned multi lane roads and too many cars. And it all was flat.
4. NIAGARA FALLS, ON
Yeah, it's a nice place to visit on occasion but living there would be a different story. The place has changed so much, since I was first there in the 1990s. It's almost like a mini Las Vegas now. Aside from the waterfall, the only things there are: Casinos, Strip Clubs, and chain restaurants. Drive through the outskirts of town and it begins to get really depressing. I wonder what people do there who aren't working in something related to tourism.
5. ERIE, PA
I had a term of college up there in 1995. Initially I was disappointed that the campus was separated from the town of Erie, but as I got to spend some time in the city, I was less and less sad. You would think it be a little more interesting given it's location in between Buffalo and Cleveland, and on the lake but that's just not the case. Stay away.
Dishonourable Mention: Places that came to mind, but didn't spend too much time there, or just not quite horrible enough - for one reason or another, but close...
Monticello, NY (talk about weird)
The rest of New Jersey.
90% of what's south of the Mason-Dixon line and west of Ohio.
In closing, these opinions are based mainly on emotions and feelings upon entering and spending time in the town. There has been no research put behind this. Some of these opinions might be dated because some places on the list I haven't been to in a while. I guess there is a chance Erie has pulled itself together, but I kind of doubt it. I haven't heard anything.
For the few that read this, please put your list below, with reasons why.