When I move back to the US, where should I go?

I just read a fluffy NYT article about New Yorkers moving to LA, which got me thinking about the days when I take a break from constant travel and rent an apartment again. I’ve been researching cost-of-living in various cities and pondering various trade-offs, and I keep being surprised when vacuous, smoggy LA shows up on my list!

I never thought I’d move back to LA, always thought when I returned to the US it would be NYC. But when you look at the prices of apartments out there, and with the new public transit and walkable downtown, it seems like a good deal. The weather is big in my mind too. Last winter in Berlin was really rough for me, and I really don’t want to go through that again. It was just so dark for so long. In Europe, you need to go north because the jobs are better there, but in the US, that’s not the case.

If I’m setting up a US home base, maybe I should consider good winter weather. The proximity to the SF Bay Area would be good professionally. LA has good air connections to the world, and shorter flights to Asia. I’d prefer to live car-free, which I doubt is realistic in LA, but maybe with the new Metro I wouldn’t drive every day. It’s a major world city, with the art, culture, interesting people, public parks and entertainment you’d expect. For the last week I’ve had a short walk to an amazing beach, and I’ve gone swimming every single day and loved it. Maybe I should observe my own “revealed preference vs. stated preference.”

I had a good conversation here with a new friend, and she observed that wherever you go, you meet people and make new friends. That’s always hard, and that’s the big reason I’d rather just go back to NYC or Chicago. But whenever I think of living in those cities, I think, “I’ll spend a few weeks out of town in the winter.” But wouldn’t it be better to just live somewhere that’s nice in the winter? The whole point of having a home is being able to stay there whenever you want! I was pondering a move back to Chicago, and I always read the Cubs game summaries. Lately they always talk about how cold it is, especially since the Cuban Jorge Soler plays much worse in the cold. (if you’re not a Cubs fan, this guy bundles up like he’s in Antarctica when it’s 40 degrees out (4.5 C), it would be funny if he could still hit!) I mean, it’s May and it’s 40 degrees! That idea of spending “a few weeks” during winter being a snowbird just turned into six months.

It seems that the old stereotypes that LA is a cultural vacuum don’t apply anymore. One nice thing is that I’m a member of the California Bar, which might come in handy professionally (not sure exactly how, since I’ve just spent 4+ years learning to program). I still have a few months of travel/nomad life to go before I settle down anywhere, but this decision isn’t going to be easy!

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