Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Familiar Places, New Validation

First off, I apologize for the long gap between posts. Work got busy, and then I came down with a severe case of election fever. I know many of you hear me on that.

But I’m back – and I pledge to post more regularly in the coming months. Fortunately, there will be much to report and analyze. Let’s just say that geographic longings have stirred, old flames have resurfaced, and new “city dates” have been scheduled.

Starting in January, be on the lookout for a rekindled romance with Charleston, South Carolina; an extended first date with Jacksonville, Florida (where I will be telecommuting from); and a weekend fling with the polysyllabic spelling bee stumper, Apalachicola, Florida. Yes, I will be a snowbird again this winter, thanks to the peripatetic career of my lovely boyfriend, who works in the film industry.

Until then, there’s still much to discuss – such as my recent dip back into the well with New York City (full post on that coming soon) and the fascinating, on-point recommendations on where I should live from As I teased in my last post, I was astonished to find that half of their suggestions hailed from two states that were already looming on my blog. It gives credence to their questionnaire, which I think anyone who daydreams of moving must take.

Which two states, you ask? None other than New Mexico, home to my leading crush, Santa Fe, and Arkansas, where I randomly and serendipitously found myself this summer. Turns out my love affair with Eureka Springs, Arkansas, was not just chemistry, folks. Believe it or not, it turned up in my 24 recommendations, which means that according to FYS’s formula, there’s long-term compatibility too.

Without further ado, here are the 24 places FYS thinks I should consider living based on my input:

1. Silver City, New Mexico
2. Salisbury, Maryland
3. Truth or Consequences, New Mexico
4. Holiday Island, Arkansas
5. Eureka Springs, Arkansas
6. Charleston, West Virginia
7. Fayetteville, Arkansas
8. Mountain Home/Bull Shoals, Arkansas
9. Milwaukie, Oregon
10. Shreveport, Louisiana
11. Natchitoches, Lousiana
12. Salem, Oregon
13. Hot Springs, Arkansas
14. Cherokee Village, Arkansas
15. Las Cruces, New Mexico
16. Hagerstown, Maryland
17. Morgantown, West Virginia
18. Las Vegas, New Mexico
19. Heber Springs/Greer Ferry Lake, Arkansas
20. Little Rock, Arkansas
21. Carlsbad, New Mexico
22. St. Helens, Oregon
23. Corvallis, Oregon
24. Frederick, Maryland

Now, I should remind you that among other criteria, I requested a temperate to warm place (meaning, no extreme cold weather), very low cost of living (below national averages) and a small population, as I’ve been feeling drawn to small towns. And as you can see, those three choices reflected heavily in my results. Knowing me, I will probably re-take the quiz several times using different criteria, but this was my initial stab.

A few reactions (with more possibly to come in subsequent posts)…

• Equal to the eerie satisfaction of seeing my affection for New Mexico and Arkansas validated for me was the initial bafflement I felt at seeing Maryland appear three times. But then I remembered Arkansas and checked myself. Because what I learned during my time there was that it’s unfair to prejudge any place you haven’t really given a fair shake. As an intern, I lived in the Maryland suburbs of DC for two summers, but I've not revisited since I shed my DC biases, nor have I been to the three towns in question. I'm guessing it's quite different (especially in cost of living) once you leave the burbs.

• I admit, I felt sheer delight to see five small towns in New Mexico pop up. I also had a bell ring with Truth or Consequences (population 7,163). Who could forget a name like that? Turns out I had read a profile of it in Budget Travel’s Ten Coolest Small Towns 2008 issue. Upon further poking around, I discovered that Silver City (population 10,545) had been featured in Budget Travel's list the year before. As for the other three towns, which I know little to nothing about, you better believe I'll be scouring for scoop. Anyone been?

• Given my growing intrigue about New Mexico’s quirky small towns – and especially the description of Silver City as “the new Santa Fe” – I feel compelled to incorporate them into my still TBD trip there. It really warrants more than a weekend at this point, so my boyfriend and I are hoping to find a week in the spring (after we return from Florida) to do a proper road trip. Stay tuned!

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