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There are two types of cities

Some rules of thumb for evaluating cities

I used to have a rule of thumb for cool cities. Anywhere that had The Onion in print was probably OK by me. From wikipedia:

At one point or another during The Onion print edition’s 25-year run from 1988-2013, it was distributed for free in Madison, Milwaukee, Chicago, New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Washington, D.C., Austin, Minneapolis, Philadelphia, Toronto, Denver, Indianapolis, Boulder, Omaha, Santa Fe, Ann Arbor, Columbus, and Providence.

Most of those cities are good places, but it certainly isn’t a comprehensive list of good places to live. Portland, Oregon where I live now isn’t on that list.

Last night I heard another interesting rule of thumb about cities.

Ben Folds played with the Oregon Symphony Orchestra. It was phenomenal.

He broke from playing at one point to advocate for the symphony. Here’s one thing he said (and I’m paraphrasing a bit).

I’ve traveled a lot around this great country of ours. And I’ve noticed that there are two types of cities: cities that have a symphony orchestra and cities that don’t. And the cities that don’t are shit.

Here’s a picture from the night (that’s him on the piano):

Ben Folds

Looks like there are a few stops left on the tour. If one is near you, I’d recommend seeing Ben Folds (or just going to the symphony).

And if you’re ever considering moving to a new place, beyond rules of thumb (which are handy), I’d recommend to make a list of things that place should have and try to find places that meet that criteria. Here’s a short version of our list:

  • Public transportation
  • Parks
  • Good Restaurants
  • Nature nearby
  • Beach nearby
  • Walkable
  • Bikeable
  • Milder winters than New York
  • Cooler summers than New York
  • Sleep without A/C
  • Affordable rent
  • Somewhere we can afford to buy a place

I’d add “Has a symphony” to that list after last night.

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