Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Outside Magazine's Top Small Towns

I love "Top Ten Places to Live" lists and read them compulsively. I guess this is not surprising given my current quest for a geographical soul mate. While there are always some perennial favorites that appear over and over (i.e. Charleston, SC), each list uses a slightly different set of criteria, including: population, cost of living, average home cost, job market/growth, median age, average commute, number of sunny days, etc.

This list from Outside Magazine considers all of those but primarily looks at livability based the area's wealth of outdoor activities and adventure-friendliness. Mountain biking. Rafting. Hiking. I like that angle. After all, I would be moving from Southern California, which has arguably the best climate in the country. (I have never used my air conditioner. Try and beat that in the era of global warming!) I would be insane if I relocated somewhere with crappy weather that kept me cooped up indoors. Talk about mover's remorse. Since I have those five extra weeks of free time thanks to my telecommuting lifestyle (see my last post), I would really like to spend the majority of them outdoors. While I'm not a hardcore adventurer by any stretch, it would be a big plus to have access to mountains, lakes, rivers, National Parks, good-old-fashioned wilderness, etc. I've certainly enjoyed the beaches in LA, but I do miss unpaved, untrimmed, uncrowded nature sometimes.

Here are Outside's Top Small Towns 2007 (all towns under 100,000 people):

Santa Cruz, California
Jackson, Wyoming
Iowa City, Iowa
Bend, Oregon
Santa Fe, New Mexico
Duluth, Minnesota
Asheville, North Carolina
Portland, Maine
Burlington, Vermont

I have existing crushes on two of the towns on their list: Santa Fe and Asheville. Weather and cost of living are the main reasons. Santa Fe (300 days of sunshine/year) is actually my top infatuation of the moment, due to factors like proximity to LA (I may need to meet with my clients periodically), proximity to the airport (~1 hour), rich culture, diversity of thinking, artsiness, wide open spaces, lots of acreage to be had, cost of living (although not as cheap as Asheville), great sunsets, etc. But it'll take a proper adult date to see if it's the real thing. I haven't been to Santa Fe since 1998, so clearly I need to reconfirm my initial attraction.

Thanks to Kim Hamilton, a fellow freelancer who is also in search of her dream town, for forwarding me this article. As she said, "It's not too late to date Santa Fe." Agreed. Just don't tell my current beau, Arkansas. (More to come on my first weekend, which was spent in Little Rock.)

p.s. You can also check out the magazine's picks in past years. One earlier selection was Boulder, CO, which has also been on my radar for a bit. This year's list comes out in August, so I'll be sure to fill you in.


Larissa said...

Aim- you didnt even mention my beau, Santa Cruz.... what could be better? You have the mountains and national park literally at a 5 minute drive and the gorgeous California coast at a 5 minute walk. But then there are those sneaky California prices and let's not forget the fact that SC is known for its love of the doob sooo... not a whole lot of productivity and therefore not a whole lot of JOBS. Am currently debating relating to Arkansas...although Chris might have something to say about that.

Kris said...

I like Portland and Burlington - but you have to be prepared for long winters. Actually that could be good for getting a lot of work done...