Robert's Random Ravings

Best US Cities to Live In

I see a lot of polls online and in magazines that discuss the Best City in the United States to live in. Some lists are based on cities with the most job opportunities. Some are based on affordability of housing as compared to the typical salary in that city. Some are based on school systems, or quality of life, or many other things.

I am going to talk about the cities that I think are the best cities in the US to live in and why. In a future post, I will be discussing the best foreign cities to live in, as well as the worst US cities to live in. I also plan on doing a post about the best cities in the US to visit.

For me, the best city in the US to live in (without regard to cost of living) is New York City. New York offers the best opportunities for anything you could want. If you are a foodie, it has pretty much the widest selection of restaurants anywhere in the US. If you are into culture, New York offers dozens of world class museums, literally hundreds of theaters (Broadway, Off-Broadway, way off Broadway, etc). It offers Opera and Ballet. If you are into sports, there are typically two professional teams in every major sport, and sometimes even three (if you include nearby North Jersey).

New York has beaches and parks. It is the financial center of the world (though you might not want to say that too loudly right now).

It has history. There were battles fought here in the Revolutionary War. The first President of the United States was inaugurated in a building on Wall Street. Ellis Island is here.

It has easy transportation access in and out, whether by car, train, bus or plane. It has a mass transit system that can fairly comfortably take you just about anywhere you want to go in the city, at practically any time.

I could go on and on about all of the things that New York offers, but I will stop there. All of the things I mentioned (and more) are the reason that I think it is the best place in the US to live.

After New York, I am going to mention a number of other cities, but the order is arbitrary. I am not going to try to rank the rest because I think that would be pretty difficult to do.

Chicago is another great city to live in. Again, it has plenty of restaurants of pretty much every kind. It is considered by many to be the #1 food city in the country. It has some of the best museums this country has to offer, including the Art Institute of Chicago (which is my favorite museum of all), the Field Museum of Natural History and the Museum of Industry and Science. It also has a phenomenal mass transit system. Unlike New York, though, it does not reach out into all of the suburbs. Once you pass a certain point west (near Oak Park) or north (just past Evansville), you cannot rely on the trains and the buses don’t cover every area nearly as well. One advantage it does have over New York is that it is much cheaper to live in Chicago. Of course, this is offset by the brutal weather that Chicago experiences for at least 3 months of the year (not that New York is without its bad weather).

Another great city to live in is Seattle. The natural setting for the city of Seattle is virtually unmatched in the US (except for maybe San Francisco). Seattle is a young, vibrant town that is full of energy (possibly due to the unnaturally high per capita consumption of coffee). Seattle is a great gateway to the West Coast of the United States and Canada, as well as Alaska. One of the things I like to look for in a city is what opportunities it offers for weekend getaways and quick trips. Seattle’s plate is full in this category – whether it be a trip to Mount Rainier, or to the Straits of Juan de Fuca; to Vancouver or Portland; to the Cascades or the fantastic ski resorts of British Columbia. It will take a long time to run out of things to do in and around Seattle.

Let’s move on to Philadelphia. This is not a city that would be on a lot of people’s list for top US cities. It is on mine, though. It is a great hub for the Mid-Atlantic and the Northeastern United States. Within a 6 hour drive, you can be in any of the major cities along the Eastern Seaboard of the US, from Boston all the way down to Richmond, VA. That encompasses most of the original 13 colonies, so you would have fairly quick access to some of the best historical sites in the US. Philadelphia itself offers tons of options for investigating US history. In addition, of all of the major cities of the Northeast, it is the cheapest city to live in. It’s also a great sports town (though its fans are not known as the most polite fans in the country).

I will finish off with the city that I actually live in – Austin, TX. Austin is very different from the rest of Texas. It is a college town and it is a capitol city. It is growing much too quickly. But in spite of all of that, it is a charming and beautiful place. The hill country immediately to the west of the city has become a major tourist destination. Austin is a big city now, but it has not completely lost its small town charm (unlike Dallas and Houston, which I would dare say would not be considered “charming” by most people). It is also a major center of live music due to its hundreds of venues downtown for live musicians. It hosts several very large, well attended festivals, including SXSW (South By Southwest) and the Austin City Limits Festival. I really love living in Austin especially because of the friendly people. In spite of its rapid growth, the people still treat others in a kindly and welcoming manner.

I would love to hear comments from any of my readers about your favorite cities to live in (and why they are your favorite).

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03/17/2009 - Posted by | General | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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