Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Tell me where to live?

I always thought of myself as a suburban girl. I pictured living near my extended family, owning a used car, never changing my voter registration to anywhere besides Ohio, wearing sweatpants to Olive Garden. Honestly, I don't look down on that choice at all, and it's entirely possible that I'll find myself happily living between a llama farm and a Cracker Barrel in my forties. I was a suburban girl, and I'll probably be a suburban woman. Buuuuut, at least for my take-chances-because-you're-in-your-twenties decade, I think I'm ready to hook some Mace on my keychain and call myself a city mouse.

So like... how do you do that? Or more importantly, where?

I've spent the last year compiling a mile-long list of US cities I could see myself living in, which ranges from the financially ambitious (LA and NYC) to the easy (Orlando and Indianapolis) to the new and exciting (San Francisco and DC) to the hippy (Portland and Denver) to the idk-I-mean-I-like-country-music (Nashville and Charlotte). I'm not writing off any possibilities, and the second that otherwise unappealing Minneapolis calls to offer me a cool job or great place to live, I'm there. But, after much consideration and eager prodding from friends, I think I've narrowed it down to three Big Scary Options. Maybe none of these will be realistic for a year or two, but it's fun to daydream, you know? Here's the rundown.

Los Angeles Pros:
  • Sunshine all year/no snow
  • Healthy atmosphere, easy to eat well
  • The beach! Nature! Green stuff!
  • SO many of my friends live there or plan on moving there
  • Potential for entertainment jobs/creative environment
  • Cool stuff to do/entertainment
  • Proximity to other West Coast cities
Los Angeles Cons:
  • Expensive rent
  • Need a car, need to park that car, need to insure that car
  • Feeling comparatively frumpy and Midwestern
  • Difficult and expensive to make plane trips home
  • Very competitive work-wise
  • No autumn leaves
New York City Pros:
  • Potential for in-office writing jobs
  • Don't need a car
  • Fairly easy to visit home
  • Cool stuff to do/entertainment/ability to stalk SNL cast
  • Seasons similar to home
  • Proximity to other East Coast cities
New York City Cons:
  • Very expensive and small living space
  • Gray, may have to go out of my way to be around trees
  • Maybe this is unfair, but a lot of my experiences with New York have left me sensing a certain elitism from people in the city, which turns me off and makes me feel judged
  • Snow that you have to walk through
Chicago Pros:
  • Midwestern feel (ability to wear sweatpants to an Olive Garden if you MUST)
  • Easy to get home to my family
  • Don't need a car
  • Potential for in-office writing jobs
  • Cool stuff to do/entertainment/ability to obsess over Second City
Chicago Cons:
  • Cold, rainy, snowy, windy/not enough sunshine
  • I hardly know anybody there
  • Farther away from East Coast cities

Uh... what do you think? I'm half tempted just to put it up to a vote. TELL ME WHERE I BELONG, STRANGERS ON THE INTERNET! Write-ins are also accepted, so long as you don't say "my house" or "Detroit." This isn't a problem I need to solve immediately, but it's pretty fun to fantasize about it. I don't have a clue where home will be nine months from now! Maybe my parents' house. Maybe under a bridge. Maybe in a mansion with Daddy Warbucks. Maybe Jason Mraz will finally answer my emails and carry me over his hippy shoulder all the way to his avocado orchard. Who knows? I don't have a clue, and for the first time in my life, I think that's awesome.

P.S. You guys were HILARIOUS with your responses to my little complain-about-your-exes game. I read every comment (94 at the time that I'm writing this!) and I honestly cannot pick a favorite. Honorable mentions go out to Sarah (MVP song: "I Wish I Hadn't Kissed You After I Beat You in Air Hockey"), Comelygrace (MVP song: "Why did you think I would want you to hollow out a tree in the woods and make a boat for me"), and a presumably different Sarah (MVP song: "Obscure Haiku [Don't Get That Tattoo]"). Cheers and appreciation and high-fives to you all.


Rachel said...


Sierra said...

Your Chicago cons list is shortest. So Chicago it is!

Victoria said...

Have you considered Kansas City? They're much like a more suburban Chicago, with many vegan/vegetarian restaurants in the city, beautiful Midwestern seasons, and trees! Lots of trees. Plus you can totally wear sweatpants to Olive Garden :)

Anonymous said...

chicago, man!

Leonard Koch said...

The pros on the LA list sound really good. It sounds like that would be the best choice for your career and happyness.

Anonymous said...

NYC has a few boroughs, and Queens is about 20 minutes from Manhattan (aka the big city) with lots of nice residential homes and - gasp! - plenty of trees. And the snow is something you grow accustomed to. People, however, can be a bit rude depending on the neighborhood. You just have to find the right crowds.

gabiiescobar said...

I'd say Chicago! You might not know anyone, but honestly, you are very easy to love and that can be changed! You'll have more people to love (and that love you) spread across the country.

Emma Chupein said...


Yana said...

I'm a little bit prejudiced towards NYC because I freaking love that city. LA annoys me because it's just like any suburban area in that you need a car to get anywhere. Chicago's like that friend that you know and don't really like, but you feel like you have to invite them everywhere because you're nice. If you didn't get that horrible analogy (I doubt anyone did)...actually I don't get it either.

Anyway, I think New York would be your best bet. It's not too much of a change, but it's enough for it to feel like a change. You know what I mean?

If not, San Francisco! It's hippy and always has mild weather.

Laika Jude said...

Indianapolis has cheap rent and is accessible to all of these places with cheap airfare. You'll still be close to home, though you will most likely need a car. The public transit system isn't bad. Indy is on the rise and is surrounded by suburbs galore, many of which are very nice. And you can't beat how friendly the people are. The job situation is much better than in cities like LA, NYC, and Chicago where graduates scramble with the promise of jobs that can really only go to very few. And Indy has lots of great concerts and events because it's much bigger than people imagine it being.

However, what you really need to do is apply for jobs now and see if it is feasible or worthwhile to go to a city with a crappy job market (i.e. all of them). Good luck!

Anonymous said...

New York is cool, too. :)

Bethany said...

I really think its hilarious that you put Denver in the hippy category. And although its not in the final three I highly recommend it. There is a good aquarium, amusement park, and it is, afterall the birthplace of Chipotle.

Anonymous said...

I'm a little hurt. You didn't even consider Austin, TX. It's an amazing environmentally centered place. And there is no country music like Texas Country.

Jen said...

You could follow Tina Fey and live in Chicago, then move to New York.

I just don't think you should move to LA.

megkhowell said...

I just wanna say- #1 that Minneapolis is actually awesome. Unless you hate hipsters, in which case.....I dunno what to tell you. They're everywhere. #2 I vote NYC. Your dream is SNL, right? Might as well chase it.

Anonymous said...


aSammyG said...


Because I'm moving there with no money in January and I want to live a poor, happy life with you in the sunshine.

SaelaLei said...

Just going to put it out there that Greensboro, NC is a fairly large city without any feeling of a large's also where I hail from :P

Magdelina said...

If you like the midwestern feel but want a city, Chicago is the obvious choice. It's an absolutely beautiful city with tons of exciting things to do and a chill atmosphere. It's my favorite place in the world and as soon as I'm done with college, I'm moving back there for sure. God I love Chicago.

BookwormBecky said...

Have you ever considered Austin? I know it's definitely not in the North. And it's probably way far away from people you know. But it's warm and pretty and not far from the coast, like LA. But also much more laid back. But still with a lot of job opportunity. But, if not that, I'd say New York.

beccaaaalove said...

Detroit. Definitely Detroit.

Christina said...

Personally I like Chicago best out of your choices. It's a big city so you have good public transport, access to a good airport, restaurants and entertainment, etc., but it's also in the Midwest so has more of a laidback feeling! I've never been to LA, but comparing Chicago and NYC I've had more friendly experiences in Chicago. Then again, I'm from the Midwest, so I may just feel more comfortable in that environment. But you are too, so maybe you want that! Or maybe you want to go out of your comfort zone, I don't know!

From a money stand point since this will be where you go right out of college (or soon after), it would be nice to not have to worry about even more expenses (car, gas, insurance), so Chicago or NYC would be great for that.

And hey- Detroit is getting better...

Olivia said...

I know San Francisco isn't on the list but it's all of LA's pros without most of the cons (it can still get pretty expensive). But if that's totally not an option then I'd say LA. I really really recommend living in California at least once in your life.

Anonymous said...

I say if you can pay rent... LA because your friends are there and you won't drown in loneliness! Plus you never know what opportunity may arise!

Alyssa said...

NYC has lots of vegan food options and tons of entertaining attractions. Also, a lot of people don't associate the city with green, but there are tons of beautiful little public parks everywhere.Plus, lots of really awesome nerdy things are always happening in the city (follow nerdyorkcity on twitter) and there is also the nyc highline which I consider to be one of the most amazing places ever. Also, even if you don't ever run into the snl cast, there is still the NBC store at 30 Rockefeller center which is super fun. Plus, most people in the city are genuinely nice in my opinion.

Anonymous said...

Chicago is where a lot of comedy writers got started, correct? Something to think about.

Jenna said...

Chicago! And not just because I live here :) Seriously the Nerd Fighter community here is really active, and fairy large, not to mention Craig and Chyna, random StarKids, and the PoPS people. Making friends won't be difficult. It has a really, really active literary community, which I know quite a bit about (as an MFA grad student in creative writing), if you're interested. I will say, from experience, that you need to job search each of the cities and decide from that. The job market is hades right now, especially for those in the writing/editing field. Keep a look out. I think you'll be happy in any of them, to be honest, so go where you will be most comfortable.

Summer said...

I was going to say NYC because I moved here after college and love it, but you are from the east coast (I'm from HI), so I think LA is your NYC.

I think you should do LA! (I can't because I loathe driving more than I hate anything else on the planet, so LA makes me nauseated.)

Anonymous said...

Any city in Canada.

No seriously, there are some really nice cities.

Rachel said...

Chicago is my fave on your list.

Im in St Louis and love it! Many celebs come wither here or pass through chicago, Indianna is a bearable distance. You'd be okay. LIVE WHEREVER MAKE YOU FEEL LIKE HAYLEY. no st louisan would judge you if you put that pink back in your hair. Nor would most chicagans? Chicago-ians? You get it.

Valerie said...

So of your given options, I would say Chicago. Yeah, the weather sucks, but I think it has the creative options available to you without the elitism and crazy competition and expenses of NYC and LA. Plus, it's still the Midwest and close enough to home.

My write in suggestion: Austin, TX.

Okay I'm biased because I go to school here, but seriously I love it here and so does everyone I know. It's consistently ranked among the top places to live for young people. Living expenses aren't bad for a city and Austin has such a great creative environment. It's the live music capital of the world and there is so much cool stuff going on. Also, the night life is fantastic (6th street) and there is a bunch of outdoorsy stuff (hiking and swimming at Barton Springs). It's so beautiful here and since it's the south, no sucky winters and that southern kindness is still around. Plus, if you moved to Austin we could be friends. Just saying.

Anonymous said...

Chicago! I lived there until I was 15, loved it!

Samantha said...

I'M AGREEING WITH VALERIE. Austin, Texas is a GREAT place to live!
But other than that-- I vote Chicago!

Lizzie Nagel said...

Yes. Don't come to Detroit. Life is shite here.

I vote for Chicago. It's a city that I absolutely adore and there's a little of everything without being too overwhelming and I find it to be beautiful because it has the city aspect without being all HEY-THIS-IS-A-CITY-WE'RE-CITY-PEOPLE-AND-WE-LOOK-DOWN-ON-YOU.

Phyllis said...

Go where your friends are. Go to LA. or Maybe Seattle. Any chance on moving into the Hypercube? Or what about London... expensive yes, but you have friends there too. I think its super important at this age to live with friends or in places where a friend group can easily generate. And why not live with a youtube community of friends, it seems to be super in right now.

Anonymous said...

I can't say anything about New York (I've never been there), but I feel like you would enjoy Los Angeles. LA is what you make of it, meaning everyone has their niche and it's creatively and ethnically diverse. There are lots of television, film, and music opportunities there, obviously. "If you turn the world on its side, everything that is loose falls in Los Angeles" - Don't know who said that.

Now, being from the Bay Area, I can say that San Francisco is just as great as Los Angeles... Beautiful sights and people... Personally I feel the City by the Bay has much better weather: at its highest, it will be 86, the lowest: 50.


If you want to pursue a career in entertainment, go with LA.

I've been trying to make this decision myself, which is why I gave such a lengthy answer... Best of luck!!

Conda :D said...

I live in Toronto, which out of all of those is probably closest to NYC. You can transit around the city instead of driving, and it really feels like a world class city.

LA is a great place if you work in the entertainment industry, and it's got great weather. But it's not a metropolis the same way NYC or even Chicago is. It's a big sprawling super suburb, and you'll be in your car 90% of the time.

I don't know enough about chicago, other than it's a pretty good bustling urban city, more along the lines of NYC than LA when it comes to being urban and walkable.

LA is the most expensive of the three to live in, with NYC nearly tied. LA is more expensive simply because your car costs will skyrocket, and going from point A to point B takes so much more time.

I love the 'type' of city Toronto is, and since NYC is aligned with it in terms of lifestyle and urban living, I'd recommend NYC. If you're not idealistic and naive enough to move to NYC just because "omgosh it's NYC!", then you'll be fine. Stay level-headed and rational, and I've got a feeling you'll do great in NYC. But Chicago may be a good choice too.

Or come to Toronto! :D haha

deantharris said...

Somewhere in New Hampshire. Quaint towns, beautiful scenery, orgasmically delicious fall colours, seacoast and beaches, lakes and cottages, close the history and culture of Boston, and not too far from New York either....and it's home to the Free State Project (

I really want to move to New Hampshire, and plan to do so if I can get a visa someday. And hey, I would be able to get a visa if I married an American, so.... will you marry me Hayley? :P

Seriously, though, check out New Hampshire. I would recommend going to the Porcupine Freedom Festival (PorcFest) in June. I think you would love it!

Always said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Conda :D said...

Also to those recommending she lives out of the country - you can't just up and immigrate to other countries willy-nilly. :P

Maggie said...

I am not 100% saying you should move here, but there are A LOT of pluses about living in and around DC. Half the city feels like the suburbs in that it's one of the greenest cities I know (tree-wise I mean). There are a good number of jobs, and you can live in a less expensive area and commute under 30 minutes to places that pay well. There are funky hippy areas like Takoma Park or queer places like Dupont. Also our public transportation system is pretty great, although it is nice to have a car every once in a while.

The one thing I can think of being a problem is coming to a city where you don't know anyone. You seem like you wouldn't have any trouble making friends, but in the "grown up" (seriously, who the fuck wants to grow up?) world it is a little more effort than in college.

If you want any more info about DC (or the DMV in general), feel free ask; I love chatting.

Oh, and I've also spent some time (2+ months each) in Cleveland, NYC, and St. Louis and the DC area is still by far my favorite.

Karianne Morehouse said...

I can see you in Chicago. And if that doesn't work out you can move again, right? I think that's how these things work? New York is a good second option but probably more expensive.

Anonymous said...

I thought I knew where I'd vote for immediately, but then my vote just became modified versions of your pros and cons lists.

Of the three, Chicago seems the safest and easiest choice. An awful lot of people from Chicago love Chicago. I've never been.

NYC seems to be the most ambitious, because if you can make it know. The food, the culture, the street life at all hours, the public transit, the FOOD.

But it's also kind of scary. Not just big city scary, but emotionally scary. Take any regular moment of self doubt or depression and imagine living it in New York. When you're wondering if you made a mistake about moving to New York, the whole city smells worse, the crowds are more claustrophobic, the dark is darker and the cold is colder. You wonder if you're going to end up like the multitude of homeless people you pass, and you realize you can't do (or eat) all the wonderful things the city has to offer because all your money went to rent a tiny space that you perpetually fear will get infested with bed bugs. It's not for everyone. I like it though.

Los Angeles seems the most adventurous and it's a 70 degree adventure you can share with friends who live there and everybody else who wants to visit. Everything bad they say about LA is pretty much true, but so are the good things they say about it. If only LA had better public transit.

I abstain from voting. Keep making those pro/con lists Hayley!

M3lf4c3 said...

My friends that live in the L.A. area love it and I could really see you thriving there. Just sayin'
I don't have any real experience with NYC or Chicago tho; I'm a West Coast girl.

Sarah said...

Woah, I got mentioned as "presumably different Sarah", super cool. :)

I just moved from the NYC area to Chicago for my freshman year of university (like, two days ago, actually) and you're right about that NYC elitism. Chicago is definitely a friendlier place, and I've only been here for a short amount of time. The public transportation is also somehow much better. But yes, very cold. I believe the technical term is "cold as balls"?

Sarah said...

After attending a midwestern state school I moved to Chicago and have loved my 4 years here. It's a big city but isn't intimidating like NYC or LA. And honestly, the winters aren't that bad...and can be spent indoors at Second City, visiting museums, and eating delicious things. My NYC friends are also super jealous of the rent situation here. I vote CHICAGO!

Laura said...

Wait Nashville was in the mix there? I mean, I hear that's where lauradoestheastro lives and she's like, the coolest person ever so...

Anyway having said that, I'm pretty much in the same boat as far as figuring I'll end up as a lady in the suburbs, but for my ~cRAAAZZYYY TWEEENNTTIESSS~ I wanna live in a big city. I've always been happier in bigger, more populated places. Chicago is toward the top of my list now because of pretty much the same reasons you have (close to family, writing jobs, Midwestern feel) so that is what I'm thinking now. I don't have any experience living anywhere other than Nashville tho so I can't give a good recommendation/suggestion for this. I can just say that for me, LA and NYC would be out right now just due to the cost of living there.

Nick said...

If you are set on one of these three, I would go with L.A., just because you have lots of friends there. If not, Austin, Texas seems like it would be a good choice for you. It has a lot of vegetarian/other healthy foods. It's an artistic/creative hub and there are various fun music festivals that take place there (i.e. Austin City Limits, South by Southwest, etc.) if you are in to that sort of thing. Plus, I have found that people in Texas are generally kind and welcoming, which is nice when you are new to an area.

Sami; said...

I think it's really cool that you're choosing where to live. So often, people are just dragged from place to place because of work, school, or family. There is something so romantic and exciting about packing your things and picking a city.

Manda said...

How come you don't consider Philadelphia? Still an East Coast city, close enough to New York for the entertainment options, but smaller. Also there is definitely no elitism like you sense in NYC. We're the underdogs of the Northeast. Rent is cheaper than NYC, especially in certain neighborhoods. We've got all the healthy foods, we've got Olive Gardens, we've got people wearing sweatpants, we've got public transportation, we're not soo far from Ohio, the weather's okay...I don't know about writing jobs though.
Of your three, I think Chicago is best. LA...I dunno. It changes people for the worse, it seems. Not everyone, esp. if they're from there but I don't see you as an LA girl.

Sweety said...

New York City. Mostly because it's only one that I've had any experience with and it's the closest to where I live but also because in my experience it's the kind of place where you can be anyway you want and people don't care.

beangirl1389 said...

NYC can be daunting and gray but also wonderful. Chicago is in the middle of everything. Nashville is pretty great nd Atlanta wasn't even on the list and can be a pretty good city.

Nessa said...

I was against LA at first, but after a bit i'd say LA. and let me tell you it's not because I live in CA and have a bias towards the West Coast, because I don't like LA. I just think being near people you know when you make such a drastic change will help you adjust easier. and it's closer to SF(or you could live here because that's where I live)(no actually I don't think you'd like SF very much)(or maybe you would, I like to think of it as a smaller and slower New York, but I could be wrong, I've never been to New York you see, but I still can't picture you here.)Anyway, closer to Seattle as well and Portland I know you've got friends in those areas so that's cool. and I think you'll experience some really great things living on the best coas- oh er, I mean west coast...*cough*bestcoast*cough. so yeah, LA.

Randi said...

Ouch, Hayley. "Otherwise unappealing Minneapolis"? That hurts! Look at this :

Plus we have a lot of parks and trees and fall colors. And the Olive Garden. So the governer once closed all the schools in the state because the windchill was like 60 below, at least the weather isn't boring! Who wants 70 degrees and sunny EVERY day.
Sorry, I just needed to defend my city's honor. Anyways, it seems like based only on the pros and cons, Chicago would be the "safest" choice. But maybe you want to go for the crazy LA option where you can crash on your friends couches, I mean the time to do it is now before you have a "real job" or a child, or too many obligations, right?

Michelle said...

I'm biased to where I live since its not on the list. But I'm putting in a write in for Boston.

Conveniently located and easy to get to New York. All major planes, trains, and automobiles to your desires. Have you ever experienced a New England, fall? Perfect for writing. Heck, Hocus Pocas was filmed in Salem, you can walk around singing 'come little childrennn..' nobody will think you're creepy, trust me.

Anyway, I think when it comes to living somewhere different, its best to try it out for a bit. If you get that feeling in your stomach, you know its perfect for you. Travel a bit to see. Good luck!

Michelle said...

No edit button on this thing. I meant to say So, instead of but.

Megan said...

As some background to what I'm about to say: I am from Northern California (Silicon Valley), just 40 minutes south of San Francisco in a somewhat suburban area. I go to UCLA for school, and have lived in Westwood (west LA) for the past 3 years 9 months of the time.

And as far as I can tell, the only people that like LA are the people that are from LA. That city draws people in because it seems cool and glitzy and better-than-reality, but really it's just a gigantic city made up on smaller cities with lots of people and lots of traffic (it should never take over an hour to go less than 5 miles, and yet IT DOES SOMETIMES). I guess the weather is a plus, but I actually prefer Northern California to Southern California! (It's almost the same, but doesn't get as hot, and gets just a tiny bit cooler in the winter. It's like 70 year round and beautiful. San Francisco is colder, obviously. )

I think if you're looking to live in a city, you should live in a city with excellent public transportation. LA is definitely not that city.

My recommendation is San Francisco (shock!). The Bay Area is lovely, has some decent public transit options, is the center of the tech industry, has cool people, and is pretty open minded to other frames of thought. And it's only an hour plane ride or 6 hour drive to LA. LA is a good place to visit, but I can't imagine actually living there for an extended period of time.

Granted, this is just one long (rambling) opinion of LA based on 3 years of living in Westwood, but I thought I'd provide some perspective as a similar-age college student about to graduate.

Anonymous said...

Seattle's a great place to live, despite all the fiction about it.

Anonymous said...

I lived in NYC for about a year. It was fun and had a lot of opportunities for writing and the arts but it was also too expensive for me. The transportation was good. I made friends because I was attending a university there part of the time I was living there and got involved. The other half of the time I made friends at work. I'm from Oklahoma so I missed sweet tea, and indefinite pastures lol. I didn't like the winter so much but I'm from a warmer state, although the summer was better than home.

I am living back in OK now but am planning to move in the near future. I just started looking for a place to go as well. I thought about NYC but it isn't realistic financially. I thought about Austin because I am into music, it is affordable, and there are some like minded people there. Plus it is close to home for me. Also I just liked the vibe when I visited. But I am also thinking about Chicago because although I only spent 8 hours there mainly at a train station lol What I did see outside I liked. Also from my research it is more expensive than ATX but more affordable than NYC and has a good music atmosphere. Plus I think it would just be a good place to live for you based on your pros and cons. Also friendships will happen I mean you made friends via the internet and you probably didn't think that was possible. You could meet people the same way just those who live in Chicago? Or find the literary community or comedy scene and just put yourself out there (even if you want to write and not do stand up). Good Luck! And if all else fails moving back home isn't THAT bad.

Stefan said...

Nyc really isn't that expensive. unless you wait tables it's not that hard to make rent. trees are not that hard to find.we have some large parks, not just central park. I swear people in brooklyn are nice. The snow is a thing though.

You have a great in with my damn channel for a job.and I'll best mememolly could really show you how to master the city.

It will be hard to beat la with your friends and tv writing jobs. But I grew up outside of nyc. I still live in nj but work on the city. I love that city. For some reason growing up I thought I would stay in the suburbs. But all the best jobs and food and conveys are in the city.

Best of luck.

Caitlin said...

Hey Hayley!
Sooo I lived in NYC for a little over a year and a half and it was great and all...but it also sucked. The job market there is really difficult and competitive (EVERYONE goes to NYC to find a job it seems). The one good (steady degree related) job I had, consumed my life. They are very serious workers in NYC and that's really all they do (seriously...14 hour days every day.). Also I think it turned me from an otherwise positive and optimistic person to a really depressed and annoyed person. Seriously, I don't think I was fun to be around at all. Living was so expensive that I would go to work and come home and that's pretty much it. I never had any extra money to go on trips or major shopping excursions.
I will say, the one thing I do miss there is the food. But that might be a good thing too...gained a few...but oh was good. I occasionally miss the cultural opportunities, but really...I rarely had enough money to partake in all of that. I dunno.
I've never been, but I'm feeling Chicago lately...I'll have to visit seeing as now I'm living outside the Suburbs. and I'm happy...still unemployed and stressed, but happy.
Good luck choosing! And remember, there is no one saying that you can't live in each one of those places! :)

EJ Lee said...

I've never liked NYC, primarily because it is, like you said, very gray. It's dirty and crowded and loud, just generally more chaotic than any other city I've been in.

I've loved Chicago both times I've gone. I went last November for a weekend and was shocked by how clean it is and how "open" it seemed, not as claustrophobic as NYC is. It will be rather cold in the winter though, but then again so will NYC.

I can't speak much on LA because I've never been there, but from what I've heard from people who have, the transportation system, or lack of it, is one of the biggest issues there.

Personally, out of those choices I'd pick Chicago, just because I've loved it both times I've gone.

But, if I can throw in a wildcard suggestion, I'd say that Boston might be a good one to consider. It's got tons of universities so there's affordable housing both within the city and in the smaller cities on it's borders, it's small enough for it not to feel too overwhelming, plus there are beautiful parks, the river, and a great transportation system. Also it is only an couple of hours by bus or train from the White Mountains, and less than an hour to beaches, again reachable by train or bus.

I'd also highly recommend the New Hampshire seacoast, I just got my first place out there and it's a beautiful area with unbelievably affordable housing and a primarily young population, both because of it's affordability and it's proximity to the University. Lots of job opportunities and stuff to do at night, it's great.

Wherever you decide, I wish you the very best of luck!
Hope you're well!

alexa @ cleveland's a plum said...

what about a first babystep to Cleveland proper? i see you're in ohio, why not try out Cleveland. it's cheap, super fun and ALWAYS stuff going on.

also, not an effing olive garden in the city limits...

Ruth E. Day said...

I've recently moved to Baltimore, and I really love it. It's cheaper to live in than a lot of the other east coast cities but it's only an hour away from DC and 3 hours from New York. The inner harbor and Fells Point are beautiful places to go running. The public transportation is decent as long as you can get a row house/apartment and a job actually IN the city and not on the outskirts. There's lots of culture here and has a small but growing entertainment industry, from what I've seen. Plus, it has a nice mix of north and south culture and everyone here is super friendly.

Kirsten Erin said...

I totally understand your dilemma here. I've been trying to figure out the same thing when it comes to my future and where I want to live. For a while I was set on NYC, then London, and now both seem too out of reach so I've just been keeping my head down and hoping the answer will smack me in the face.
That's probably not a healthy solution. Hmm. Maybe I should put it up to a vote on the internet too?
Anyway, both Chicago and NYC sound great. I've been to Chicago, but haven't managed to visit New York yet, though I want to. It seems like there's this overwhelming sentiment that writers "must" live in NYC, at least for a while, which makes it really appealing. LA is really nice, but I'd never consider living there. Not sure why, but LA doesn't really appeal to me. I just never felt at home there, I guess.

Caroline said...

I would say Greenville, SC, because it's absolutely amazing in every single way, but you're looking for larger cities. so... may I go back to your option of Charlotte? The South is just amazing in pretty much every way. You'd be close to the beach, close(ish) to Atlanta and the mountains to explore your wilderness side and whatnot. Also, we need some nerdfighter influence. We don't have enough

Kaja said...

I'm not even close to US but your pros and cons are really a battle between Chicago and New York. And I'd choose Chicago. :)) But yeah, that's just a really, really unrealistic fantasy for me too. (I'm from Slovenia)

Jazmin Vargas said...

No one who lives in LA, hates LA.

but I agree with other commenters, think you would love Austin, actually.

Jack said...

Does it have to be a US city? Speaking for the Canadians, we'd love to have you up here. Toronto is a beautiful, beautiful big city, but not so big-city-ish that it's intimidating or difficult? Plus it's absolutely full of green spaces. The weather might be a little cold, but that's Canada.
Or you could do Vancouver! Everyone loves Vancouver, as long as you don't mind rain.

You're just so funny sometimes said...

Wow. I actually live between a llama farm and a Cracker Barrel when I'm not at school.

Ela Darling said...

Definitely Los Angeles. There's just no argument. I'll address your Los Angeles Cons:

Expensive rent - you might be surprised with what you can find within your budget once you look.

Need a car, parking, insurance - nah, there's awesome public transportation and Zipcar. I rarely drive. Living in downtown LA makes cars borderline unnecessary.

Feeling comparatively frumpy and Midwestern - oh pish posh. I haven't known anyone to last more than two months in LA without finding new, fun ways of expressing themselves through fashion. That's the cool part about LA. You can dress however the fuck you want and feel great about it because there are so many different styles and lifestyles that everything just makes sense here.

Difficult and expensive to make plane trips home - there are four airports in/near LA. Sign up for low fare alerts from travel sites. Easy peasy.

Very competitive work-wise - Isn't there also more work available as well?

No autumn leaves - palm trees!

I really thought I would dislike LA before I moved here. Now it's hard to see myself living anywhere else.

Plus, duh, we can finally become the true friendsies we are obviously meant to be.

Izzy Hilliard said...

I think the most important thing is living near where your friends are, because friends are what actually make your time at any one place happy. So LA?

(Or go up to Seattle and live in Hypercube. Those would be awesome videos. Also we'd have some fiveawesomegirls living together. The happiness on the internet would be unreal.)

Christina said...

I don't think New York is as grey as you think. It's pretty big and I'd imagine it'd be overwhelming. I've grown up going in frequently, but I don't think I'd want to live there for more than a year or two. As far as living spaces go, roommates are key, and flexibility on location is key, both within Manhattan, or considering another borough like Brooklyn.

Jamie Wong said...

As a lifelong Northern California, I would not choose LA for the traffic hell. But, the food, my god, food in California is wonderful. Fresh fruits and vegetables, farmer's markets, avocado on everything, yes, please. I understand the conflict well. I would tell you to choose SF, but NorCal beaches are painfully cold year round, and it's only boring suburbs once you get out of SF. But, Yosemite, while a bit of a drive, is absolutely gorgeous. :)

The adventurer in me says to just go for NYC. If it's your moment to be a city mouse, might as well shoot high. If you were to plunge into the depths of it all, you'll only be falling upwards as the sea and sky are one in the same. Wherever you end up Hayley, I think you'll find it in yourself to make it worthwhile.

Jessica Rohan said...

It sounds like Chicago would be the best choice career-wise. Competition is nothing to disregard, and in LA and NY it's insane, especially for writing jobs.

I'm from Philly and I never thought I'd love Pittsburgh, but I do. I highly recommend it for someone just starting out. It's affordable, it's one of the top 10 most livable cities in the country, and it's in between Ohio and the East Coast cities.

Laura said...

New York City is awesome, but you sound way more positive about Chicago. Reading the list, it's as if you unconsciously already decided for Chicago.

Anonymous said...

It's funny that you posted this because I actually just moved from a suburban town in the southeast to Philadelphia to go to school at the University of Pennsylvania. So far, I really like it! But if I could live ANYWHERE, I would say PORTLAND PORTLAND PORTLAND. Oregon Oregon Oregon. My brother lives there and I've been to visit him twice so far, both times for about a week, and both times I couldn't get enough. Definitely has a hipster feel, but it's really awesome. The most unique places, the best tea shops, best healthy restaurants, plus TONS of opportunities to be active (my brother lives like an hour from both mountains and coast). It's pretty much my favorite place ever.

Kara said...

I'm gonna have to say Australia. I think that's the place you need to be right now. (Just wanted to throw that out there for a change. I'm not even Australian.)

Honestly, I have no idea. I'm only in my first year of university, but I recently had the epiphany that once I graduate, I can technically live ANYWHERE, and I have absolutely no idea where that should be. Part of me thinks I should stick with my Canadian-ness, and try Montreal, but Europe as well as parts of the US (including New York, Chicago, and LA) also all have some kind of appeal for me... What I'm saying is, pick one and try it out, if it doesn't work out, move on, and find out which one's the best so that I can use all your research to make MY decision.

Actually, though, thinking about this just makes me really excited for you? No matter where you go, it's going to be awesome, and - even better! - we get to be there with you, in a sense. And that's pretty cool.

Crazy Girl said...

DC is awesome! We have an awesome Library system, good travel options, and four seasons. Plus, all kinds of cool events happen in the city, the metro system is easy to navigate, and there are lots of great book stores.

DreamerRealist said...

Chicago has the least cons and the most logical pros. So it seems the safest. Safe is rarely fun to fantasize about.

cj. said...

Chicago. Definitely Chicago.

Cody Ferguson said...

I just graduated college in August so I feel exactly the same. I'm currently living with my parents again and having to drive an hour to get to and from my job. I make enough to drive but not enough to move. Which is purely because my degree is more city-oriented than rural. Unfortunately I live in western KY, haha.

I dream daily about moving to a city. So much so that I go to websites such as and look up houses/apartments/condos in these cities and imagine my life in them.

Anyway, my favorite out of the list you've provided is Chicago!

Jenna said...

Chicago isn't actually raining and crappy all the time! We've had a solid two weeks of fall sunshine-y weather! Our rent is also not that bad, depending on the neighborhood you choose!

Beth said...

Pick a place where it is easy/cheap to visit home.

Arden said...

Let me preface this by saying that I am totally biased because I've lived in California my entire life and am currently going to school in Orange County, but you should totally live in LA.

Nicci Weasley said...

So, honestly, I have no idea where you would like it better. All I can say is that(I'm from Denmark but I've spent a lot of time in N.Y. and L.A.; only went to Chicago for Leaky) I would DEFINITELY choose New York. But that is just my own personal favorite, so yeah.... Gah, I just love that city so much!
Good luck with the choosing O_O

DefCon5 said...

I don't know if you've considered Chicago enough. I'm from Ohio (same area as you), and have been going to school there. The seasons are actually comparable to NEO, the winter was actually milder in my opinion, and it is a great city for young people. However, rents are pretty expensive. Not NYC or LA expensive, but up there in cost of living. Maybe figure out what job you're applying for first? I'm actually going through the same thing and seriously considering DC for career reasons. Reality may be a better place to start than where your friends are.

Karen said...

I just want to say that I am mortally offended at your calling Minneapolis unappealing. I can't put into words how wonderful of a city it is and how much I love it! It's really really lovely, I promise.

Jenna Clare said... that maybe I'll run into you on one of my visits... :D

Loved talking with you at LeakyCon!!

Jamel Malik said...

This website is a perfect and comprehensive look into different places to live in the USA. I was surprised with the cities they chose for me and I think you will too.

Justine said...

I'm one of those people who follows you on Google reader and never comments, but I had to get off my tablet and onto my computer just to convince you to live in the best city on earth.

New York is such a beautiful city. I will list some reasons because I am too excited to formulate paragraphs.
-There is always something going on in NY. You can find something completely new to do any day of the week.
-So many great museums, including the Natural History Museum - think of Holden!
-So many different people. I think everyone should live in a place that's extremely diverse for some part of their life. It really teaches you about other people.
-NY gets a reputation for being cold and snobbish, but there are lots of warm people living there. You can volunteer with so many different organizations, helping kids who really need it.
-You most likely won't have to go far for green space. There are parks everywhere. Central Park is beautiful. No matter where you live, you are likely to be in walking distance of a park.
-You most likely won't be living in Manhattan. There are parts of Queens, Brooklyn, and the Bronx where rent is more affordable. Living space will still be small, but part of what I love about the city is that there's so much more there than just me and my space. The commute from an outer borough to a job in Manhattan will be longer, but it's worth it because wherever you end up living will have its own distinct character. Let me know if you need more info on affordable neighborhoods.
-Each borough has several neighborhoods, and each neighborhood has a different feel. There is so much to explore. Sometimes it's like you're visiting a whole different country when you've just taken the train a few stops.
-The public transit system is amazing.
-You can easily get to a dozen other cities.
-You can head over to Long Island or NJ for an exploration/ relaxation weekend/ day.
-You can go apple picking upstate and ice skating in Bryant Park.
-NYC is so much more than Times Square. That said, Times Square.
-So many cultural activities. Theater, concerts, etc.
-Job opportunities. This city is complex and has so many different industries.
-Amazing library system.
-LA is a cheap, over commercialized version of NY. Or at least, that's what it thinks of itself. :)

I'm a bit biased because I lived there and freaking loved in. Once you live in a city like New York, nothing else can come close. I currently live in Boston because of a change in schools, but there's no doubt in my mind that after I graduate, I'll be back there, trying to get rooted into a stable job. I guess it's a bit of an intimidating city to find a job in, but if you make it there, then you can make it anywhere :)

My second choice from this list would have to be Chicago. Because of the theater scene and cultural activities but mostly because of the bean.

Justine said...

PS. I forgot to say that I definitely want to live in as many different places as possible, and so might you, but NYC is always good to have on the list. :)

Anonymous said...

Start in Portland
Work your way down the coast to San Fran
Then go to LA make a fortune writing for sitcoms and move back home make babies and live happily ever after.

The End

ipwnu said...

Chicago. It's the shortest of the con's list.

Anonymous said...

I live in Denmark and dream of the life in New York. Walking down a quiet street, with autumn leaves swirling benieth my feet, my favourite café in view.
For me it wouldn't be an actual choice, I can't live in place that has no seasons anyway.
But for you... It almost seems like you already know, deep inside. One of the options feels unexplainebly better than the others. It's almost possible to see the smile on you face as you wrote the pros, and they were way better then the pros og the other choices.
But you are right, sometimes it's nice not to settle on anything, makes the world feel like your oister and stuff, the best idea would be to just keep having fun wondering where to live.
Love Karoline

Sarah Pollock said...

I'd say New York City but that's because that is my preference and when it is sunny the parks are very nice. Although if you have where to have friends in LA then you would have a lot of support and comfort there. :)

Anonymous said...

New York City is amazing. Honestly, I understand the elitism comment, but in complete and total honesty, most of the asshole I've experienced have been pushy tourists around the super-touristy areas (like Times Square). There's always some elitism on the Upper East and some of the Upper West, but you'll find that kind of behavior in certain people in any area where there's a lot of money. LA is no different, in that respect. Other than that, New Yorkers are just proud to be from their city, but most locals are really kind (they just don't all want to do be sucked into tourist activities, an attitude that can be kind of stupid). And like someone else mentioned, there are other boroughs besides Manhattan.

Marisa Gadilauskas said...

Boston, MA. You get all your seasons and there isn't too much snow in the city. Its like a slightly safer and less expensive NYC. Trees everywhere, gorgeous New England scenery and only a couple hours drive from the coast. And hell, Hollywood East is starting to become a thing so entertainment industry jobs are something you'd come by. Also, two words: Marky Mark.

Anonymous said...

CHICAGO! I used to live there it is the best city in the world in my opinion, way better than nyc, less cramped and less expensive with just as much fun stuff to do.

Naomi said...

Chicago has a gorg beach. It's a beautiful city and I would recommend it to anyone, always. That being said, I think that if I moved somewhere with no one by me, I might be miserable. If I was looking to eliminate toxic people (do yourself girl) and start fresh, I'd go somewhere and be someone new.

kira902k said...

Ahh! This IS exciting!

Ok, so, I honestly can't help suggesting Montreal. I know it sounds scary cause it's a whole 'nother country, but honestly, it's essentially like a smaller, safer New York City. It's immensely multi-cultural, constantly busy, and an absolute blast to live in. Like, there is always something happening here. Plus, we've totally been voted number 1 party city in North America several times ;)
We're within driving distance to New York City, too. So not totally in the middle of nowhere.
It has that city vibe, but it's small enough that you can really get comfortable.

I realize everything I'm saying will be negated by the fact that french is a dominant language. Everyone speaks English...but everyone speaks French too.

Anyway I just really wanted to brag about my city. I think you should at least come to visit with some friends some time. People actually adore it here, I swear. :')

And in terms of you options....I see you as a New York City girl! That's where I hope to be at some point in the near future!
I can really picture you fitting in. California is very...glamorous. It just is. It's high maintenance to live there, I find. New York seems more relaxed, just because there is such a diversity of people.

i dunno i dunno. you'll do great wherever you go.

im sorry for the length of this message.


caroline said...

New York City...but I am biased.

Carrie said...

I live in suburbia right now. :( Unlike you I absolutely despise it and cannot wait to escape! I love my family and friends here, but as soon as I leave I'll be happy to come back for visits only!

I'm considering moving to Chicago next year for college. I love that city, but then *I* like the wind, rain, and occasional snow storm. :)

Hero said...

Of those three, Chicago strikes me as the best choice.

And if you must wear sweatpants, not on Monday! It's against the rules! You won't be able to sit with us!

shaylaluna said...

I vote Los Angeles, mostly because I have lived there my whole life. Seasons will be missed, but it is a really amazing place to live. I also suggest Portland. I have been there multiple times and it is gorgeous. I am headed off to college there next year!

Ky said...

Screw Chicago, seriously. So effing glad I moved out of that miserable town. I think you'd like LA, or as many others have already suggested, Austin.

Sarah M. said...

I'm having similar thoughts right now as I really want to go somewhere new and different for college. I've lived in the country my whole life but have always wanted to be in a city and have started to compile a list also. I live pretty close to NYC so I've taken it off my list because it doesn't really satisfy the "different" factor but I tell you from experience not to rule it out. I feel I know New York as both a tourist and an insider and I think can feel really elitist and obnoxious if you visit as a tourist but when I visit New Yorker friends I've gotten what i feel is the "real" New York experience and it's awesome. I'm currently leaning towards Chicago because it's New York-esque without being too familiar (and UChicago is like my dream school.) I've completely ruled out L.A. because I think it's stupid to have to drive everywhere when you're in a city and I honestly get more of an elitist vibe in LA than NYC.

Trixie Tang said...

If I were you: LA, because I'd love to live there.

But since I'm NOT you: CHICAGO! Come to me Hayley...come to me...;)

That wasn't too creepy, right?

But yeah. Chicago rocks. Whoop whoop. :)

Julia Rose said...

Um, Hayley, there's another famous east coast city that you didn't mention that has arguably the best food out of all cities, plenty of sunlight, and an awesome, diverse population. Hello? PHILADELPHIA. Cheesesteaks, Woman! C'mon!And it's a short plane ride(or a long drive, if you're into that sort of thing)away from your home state.It is my greatest ambition to finally run into a youtuber in my beloved city of Brotherly Love.Ok, we don't have Tyler Oakley or any other youtubers, but come here and make it the new hotspot!haha!I just really love my city and think everyone should come to love it like i do!

Anonymous said...

NYC! i feel like that would be an amazing place to live for even just a little while

Hayley Berger said...

CHICAGO. Partially because that where I want to go. But maybe you should, too, because my name is also Hayley and we'd be twins or something.

Sarah Bennett said...

Springfield Ohio. It's clearly the only option.

Anonymous said...

Indy. It's where it's at. Cheap, lots of jobs, lots of stuff to do, bigger than people think.

Anonymous said...

Hey Hayley,

Although you would fit in anywhere, I would go for Los Angeles, if I were you. It suit you, your personality and your ambitions best, I guess (and hope?).

Plus, you will have friends to keep you company and help you out in tough situations.

And with someone as talented as you, you would be THE competition in LA.

The cons for LA are not that severe. You can visit home and the autumn leaves once in a while when you start missing them. But being away from home shouldn't be that much of an issue since you eventually have to grow up and find your own nest.

Hope you make whichever choice makes you happy.

Best Wishes!

Izzy said...

So you said that Minneapolis is unappealing, but I HAVE to disagree with you. And I'm not just plugging my city here. It's not incredibly expensive, there are definitely suburbs, the weather, while cold in the winter, is gorgeous every other time of year (and at least it's a beautiful snowy winter rather than a slushy gross NYC one). There are at least 10 swimmable lakes in the Twin Cities area, and lots of trees and parks to write in. There's a LOVELY library system, and transportation isn't too difficult or expensive (we're one of the most bike-friendly cities in the U.S.). There's also a ton of vegetarian/vegan restaurants and just generally a great vibe and community around the city. Plus, you get TWO cities for the price of one.'s not too far from Ohio and your family. I do grant you we have terrible sports teams, but who cares? Come on...pleeeeaaaaase?

Randi said...

So, to the 3 or so others talking about how awesome Minneapolis is, I agree completely. And yes we should let Hayley know that our city is not unappealing... but if you look at her lists it seems she wants to live in a place without a lot of snow. So sadly I don't think we'll ever convince her to live here!

Ellen said...

As an LA person, here's what I have to say: Cons, I don't think LA is as awesome a city as most people do. It's not really a city because you can't have more than 3 stories to a building so it's more like someone chopped a city up horizontally and then all the parts of buildings semi-near each other. It's not as glamorous as one would imagine. My aunt live in Manhattan so I've been several times and think it's much more glamorous and exciting than LA. Also it's not awesome weather all the time. 90 degrees in November and a shit ton of smog don't qualify as awesome. Also the public transportation is sketchy in a way that it isn't in other cities. pros, the beach is a really different experience on the west coast because the waters a little warmer and there are no rocks anywhere. And there are definitely autumn leaves. Honestly if you want to live in California, San Francisco has the best of both worlds in terms of nice-ish weather and beach but then it's still actually a city and it's much MUCH prettier and Tyler Oakley is there.

Ellen said...

As an LA person, here's what I have to say: Cons, I don't think LA is as awesome a city as most people do. It's not really a city because you can't have more than 3 stories to a building so it's more like someone chopped a city up horizontally and then all the parts of buildings semi-near each other. It's not as glamorous as one would imagine. My aunt live in Manhattan so I've been several times and think it's much more glamorous and exciting than LA. Also it's not awesome weather all the time. 90 degrees in November and a shit ton of smog don't qualify as awesome. Also the public transportation is sketchy in a way that it isn't in other cities. pros, the beach is a really different experience on the west coast because the waters a little warmer and there are no rocks anywhere. And there are definitely autumn leaves. Honestly if you want to live in California, San Francisco has the best of both worlds in terms of nice-ish weather and beach but then it's still actually a city and it's much MUCH prettier and Tyler Oakley is there.

Ellen said...

As an LA person, here's what I have to say: Cons, I don't think LA is as awesome a city as most people do. It's not really a city because you can't have more than 3 stories to a building so it's more like someone chopped a city up horizontally and then all the parts of buildings semi-near each other. It's not as glamorous as one would imagine. My aunt live in Manhattan so I've been several times and think it's much more glamorous and exciting than LA. Also it's not awesome weather all the time. 90 degrees in November and a shit ton of smog don't qualify as awesome. Also the public transportation is sketchy in a way that it isn't in other cities. pros, the beach is a really different experience on the west coast because the waters a little warmer and there are no rocks anywhere. And there are definitely autumn leaves. Honestly if you want to live in California, San Francisco has the best of both worlds in terms of nice-ish weather and beach but then it's still actually a city and it's much MUCH prettier and Tyler Oakley is there.

Anonymous said...

Don't forget that New York has city parks. They are green spaces there so that it isn't all grey.

Shelby said...

Just don't go to LA. Absolutely no seasons and things just feel a tad... fake. Don't get me wrong there are some pros but truthfully (coming from someone who lives within the LA area) don't get wrapped up in the LA scene... I don't find it to be very "homie". I live in a small town in LA county and I like the visits but eh.. I do however have a dream to live in New York City so perhaps I am contradicting myself, but there I feel at least obtains some substance. Autumn leaves are too beautiful to give up, but the beach is beautiful. Best of luck Hayley, I enjoy you quite so.

Lizzy Diamond said...

Denver! affordable, not huge, up and coming, good public transportation, hipstery.

Lizzy Diamond said...

Denver! affordable, not huge, up and coming, good public transportation, hipstery.

Penguin1124 said...

Is it too late to vote?
Because I vote New York City. And I only vote for the best places.