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Fleeing Florida: Opinions Needed

As some of you may know, I am planning to leave Florida at some point (tentative date -- May 2008, when my lease at the current apartment ends). So far I am considering the following areas for my new lair:

-- The Dallas/Ft. Worth Area
-- Oklahoma City
-- St. Louis

What I am looking for: cheap rent in decent neighborhoods (ie, a low homeboy/crackhead/hooker to normal working person ratio); a job market that isn't all retail/resort/hospital focused (like Florida's); a halfway decent public transportation system (though I plan to have a car by then, I'd still like to be able to count on alternatives); a few nice parks/walking areas. An area of cute shops and nice (cheap) caf├ęs would be a plus, though I don't need it (and my finances certainly don't).

What I don't care about: nightlife -- my clubbing days are over; "activities" -- which usually mean theme parks and golf; weather -- the climate of most of the continental US sucks most of the year, I am resigned to that -- all the places with really nice weather are too expensive to live in; "diversity" -- I live in Diversity Central, so I know what that's really like. Most urban centers are by their nature "diverse" anyway.

Anyway, I'm soliciting opinions of the above three destinations. Oh -- if the urban center in question is undergoing a crime "upsurge" I might become less interested. I'm from Miami, so the idea of crime doesn't faze me much, but the sort of thing that is currently going on in Orlando is annoying.

Comments (20)

I know of bloggers in OKC and STL, but not DFW.

(Must... resist... temptation... to go all Andy Rooney over using three-letter designators as nicknames for major cities.)

Rita [TypeKey Profile Page]:

St. Louis is hot & humid in the summer, just like Florida. And the air stinks there year-round.

Dallas traffic sux. Like Miami's traffic sux but with rednecks instead of crackers.

OKC isn't too bad...but I've only been there once. How well do you like snow?

You need to diversify your options.

P.S. Pittsburgh!

Or my lovely abode, Champaign-Urbana IL.

Both have a good economic mix, basic stuff along with some high tech and its associated activities.

And if you prefer cooler climes, you might check out Minneapolis-St. Paul, although I am not sure what the rental price situation is there.

AOG: I think Minneapolis would be a tad too cold. I've lived in the tropics all my life -- I have to acclimate myself slowly.

Rita: St. Louis sounds like Jacksonville. (Well, smells? They had these paper mills, I was told...) I am used to stench, because all of Central Florida smells like rotten eggs on account of all the phosphates oh no let's just admit it we have a hellmouth. I think Disney is built over it.

Re traffic: well, I do want to move to another city. I am resigned to traffic. (Of course, I haven't driven in almost four years -- let's see how I feel when I get behind the wheel...)

Mr. McGhee: you mean you don't know that the Du Toits live in the Dallas area? I thought they were famous. I have to tell them...

Re snow: I've never been in snow. These fingers have never touched real snow, ever, not in my forty-four years of existence. I have no idea how I'd react to real snow, but I'd like to find out. What I really want, though, is a real Autumn and a real Spring. The version we have in Florida is inadequate to my needs.

Scott [TypeKey Profile Page]:

OK, I grew up in DFW, so take this with a grain of salt. I'd pick FW over D. D is very, very shallow with a culture that encourages materialistic grubbing and clinging to status. I think you'd hate it with white-hot fury.

FW is literally where the West began, and they hold to that cowboy ethos a little more than Dallas ever, ever, ever did. It's grown up to be an adult, too, but it's more of a Western adult, than a fake East Coast adult, full of insecurities and inchoate wants.

I managed 46 years there by staying on the redneck side of the tracks and ignoring the rest. Eventually, though, you have to acknowledge the basic faults, and move on. I'm glad to got to grow up when and where I did, but it ain't the same, if it ever was the same.

Personally, I'm thrilled to pieces with Fat Antonio / South Texas, but at 47 and living in a Military Town, that's not that big a shocker, really. Poker sucks, but I don't think that would be an impediment to you. And you're two hours from the coast, which, I ain't tried that yet.

The air stinks here? News to me. Maybe that's because I live outside the city and don't get downtown much.

Summers here can be a bitch but when spring and autumn days here are just right, there's no place in the world that I'd rather live.

I pay $500 a month in rent which I believe is on the high side hereabouts. The older towns in St. Louis County, Webster Groves, where I live, Kirkwood(Charles Austin's stomping ground) and a few others are suburbs, to be sure, but have distinctive characters of their own.

We have our share of cafes and shops in the neighborhoods in the City and the County. But don't get me started on the political arrangements here; it would drive you nuts. I know that because a lot of people who've lived here a long time STILL don't get it.

"D is very, very shallow with a culture that encourages materialistic grubbing and clinging to status. I think you'd hate it with white-hot fury."

Hah. Amateurs! Remember, I'm from Miami.

CGHill [TypeKey Profile Page]:

I'd pick Fort Worth over Dallas also, though probably for different reasons. (Maybe it's perceived humility, which Fort Worth has in small quantities and which Dallas utterly lacks.)

As a thirty-year resident of the OKC (no one except me calls it "the OKC"), I'd say that it meets most of your requirements fairly well, with the public-transportation item being our weakest point. (On a scale of 1 to 10, I'd give it a 4.)

What I've seen of Chambana, I liked, but this is based on less than 24 hours' observation.

Christopher: sorry, didn't see your comment in the queue (because I didn't check it, bad me). I picked St. Louis because a coworker told me her family had a good time when they visited recently, and I've always been intrigued by living near the Mississippi. And rents do seem quite reasonable from what little research I've done. Though I am thinking of just renting a studio. Or a loft -- as long as the place is spacious enough, I think I can handle one-room living. (Though not like the converted garage I lived in in Miami. I could put up with no real kitchen -- I had a fridge and a sink but no stove -- and a severely depressed landlord (I had to talk him down a couple of times), but the rats were the last straw.

prairiecat [TypeKey Profile Page]:

I lived in the DFW area when the Cowboys were "America's Team" and "Dallas" & "Urban Cowboy"mania were sweeping the nation. Ugh. Dallas just knew it was 'all that,' - but Fort Worth & Lancaster were fine. Experienced both the hottest summer (60+ days with temps never below 95) & serious nasty winter (New Year ice storm knocked out power for some for weeks) during my time there. In general, the people were terrific.

That was years ago, so these observations may be way off now. I drove through a couple years back & all I experienced was road construction, which doesn't bother me.

Spent some time near St.Louis, spring & fall are The Best. Except when it floods in spring. Defines the term "mud season." Midwest folks are the salt of the earth. Hardworking, helpful, fun.

OKC winters may be too much for you, too, though some of us like 'em. Oklahoma has DEEP winter. Very cold sometimes. And long. With plenty of snow. Neighbors help neighbors throughout the West.

Sounds like what happened to Miami after Miami Vice debuted. My friends and I got a kick out of thinking how the rest of the world was being fooled into thinking Miami was a glamorous city with shiny streets lined with immaculately kept Deco-era homes, where all the cops were dressed by Versace.

Mr. McGhee: you mean you don't know that the Du Toits live in the Dallas area?

Oops.

Having been on the roads in DFW and STL, I'd say the former struck me as more survivable. St. Louis' highways actually made Kansas City's seem good.

Though in fairness, I didn't spend all that much time on the Dallas side of the metroplex; we were bound for Fort Worth and that's pretty much where we stayed throughout the visit.

Elizabeth, Imperial Keeper [TypeKey Profile Page]:

Sorry, my vote is still for my hometown, Richmond. Here in Central Virginia, we're 2 hours from the ocean, 2 hours from the mountains, good mix, traffic is okay (if you stay away from 95), and I'll have a spare bedroom by then if you need it.

The cats may have a problem with Hershey (more like Hershey will try to kick their a@#es), but the renovations should be over. I hope. I pray.

Downside? Summer. Sucks big time but fall and spring are wonderful and winter isn't too bad. It seldom snows, and when it does everything closes (except for Ukrops, where everybody goes to get milk and bread; absolutely no one knows why).

Elizabeth
Imperial Keeper

Sigivald [TypeKey Profile Page]:

Salt Lake City might suffice, though I don't know what the mass transit situation is like.

Real seasons! (Hot in the summer, but not too muggy. Snow every winter, real springs and falls.)

Reasonably inexpensive, as far as I know.

Mormons are decent folk and friendly enough, if kinda weird ... but weirdly wholesome.

I like living in Portland (OR) well enough, myself, but cheap housing in a non-homeboy/meth-addict neighborhood is harder to manage, and we don't have quite so delineated seasons, though they're much closer than Florida's.

Rains a lot, too. Great public transit.

Annalucia [TypeKey Profile Page]:

I've never lived in Salt Lake City but visited several times (daughter, son-in-law and grandchild are there) and would recommend it as well.

Remember it's the high desert; summer temps up around 100, but it's dry heat. That doesn't make it better (dehydration can sneak up on you just as easily) but at least you're not sweating and chafing miserably when you're outside. You'll need sunscreen though, every day except maybe in winter.

They have a nice light-rail trolley system which covered all my travel needs - daughter lives near U of Utah, which is NE in the city, and the trolley takes you downtown and all the way to Sandy should you want to go there. Haven't ridden their buses but there seem to be a lot of them about.

The city (unlike the rest of the state) is only about half Mormon so you do see brown and black and Oriental faces, as well as non-Mormon churches. There's a serious shortage of Jews, though. Aside from that it's a good place to be, and since you're in a valley (although at 5,000 ft altitude) there are mountains on the horizon everywhere you look. They are beautiful. If I were single and looking to relocate Salt Lake City would definitely be one of the top contenders.

Christopher, your rent is $500? Wow.

There hasn't been a 500/month basement bachelor apartment in Toronto for about 15 years at least.

Before we bought, we had a one-bedroom with mice in a 60 year old building for over 1000/month. At least now we've got equity.

Don't overlook Tulsa. As in Oklahoma City, housing is very affordable, and the economy is definitely not tourism/resort based. There are a number of neighborhoods that would give you the combination of decent, affordable, close to public transportation, close to parks, shops and cafes. Feel free to e-mail me if you want details.

paperpunchr [TypeKey Profile Page]:

Forget all of the above...Come to beautiful Colorado Springs. Climate is relatively dry and mild...I've lived in St. Louis, and visited Florida and Kansas City...It's nicer here than Salt Lake City...check it out!

prairiecat [TypeKey Profile Page]:

Salt Lake is high desert (which I love) - not only will sunscreen & plenty of water be important, the sunscreen is VITAL - at that altitude, you're so much closer to the sun that for us eastern palefaces, it takes just minutes to broil!

My cousin lives in Cheyenne, Wyoming (altitude about 6300 feet) & I used sunscreen there last week, something I never do here in Jax.

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