By Old Man Body
The editor doesn’t provide me with traffic reports on where our readership is based, but I’m guessing the vast majority of the readership is based in the greater Chicago area or East Coast. It makes a lot of sense, given the job opportunities in NYC/LA/DC/Chicago, so don’t take this post as a knock on your respective city. I feel like I say that before every item I write, but as Ricky Bobby said, “ I said 'with all due respect.'”
Editor's Note: OMB couldn't have been more right. In the last calendar year, the top cities are as follows: Chicago, New York, Boston, Houston (sup, Texas?), and DC.
I love Chicago. All of my friends from undergrad live there now, I visit fairly often, and I always have a blast. It’s a cool city. I also used to travel to DC frequently for work and don’t have a lot of bad things to say about the DMV area. But, there’s a lot of post-grads that don’t live in sprawling metroplexes like LA or New York. Shit, for two years, I lived in a city of 30,000 people and still managed to have fun. Some of the fastest growing Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSA’s) in the US are outside of the top 10 in population and I have a few reasons on why they’re not so bad.
Cost of Living
Let’s get the big one out of the first: cost of living outside of the metropolis is infinitely lower. I live in a top 30 MSA, population between 2 and 3 million people, and my cost of living is NOTHING. My rent, in a brand new 900 square foot apartment with hardwood floors, walk in closet and granite counters? $1000/month. A night out at the bars? $60, and that's if we get wild and I buy a half bottle of Fireball in shots and a million rounds of Miller Lite. Parking? Nothing, my apartment has an off street lot, duh. Oh wait, you want to go to a Bears game this weekend? 9 fucking American dollars per beer. If I go see my division leading team, I’m paying 5 dollars for a beer. I could go on and on, but you get the point.
I’m making about the same amount of money as my peers in my industry in Chicago but they’re spending infinitely more in rent and living expenses. I have a $150 night at some bar because I went blotto? Whatever, big fuckin’ deal, bro. I just get really scared on Sunday and don’t sweat it because I know I don’t spend dick for dollars during the week. And besides, you can always make more money, you can't just make more fun times. At least in a smaller city you don't have to worry about overdrafting when things got out of hand.
There’s Actually Shit to Do
Believe it or not, smaller cities actually have things to do. I’m fortunate enough to be somewhere that has multiple competitive Big 4 professional teams so there’s a strong pro sports presence. We have several local breweries and the culinary scene is supposedly hopping (I wouldn’t know, I honestly don’t like food that much). You can go somewhere like Nashville that has a thriving music scene. Or Tampa, you have a million top notch strip clubs to go to. Hell, I’ll even justify living in Memphis just for the dry rub ribs alone. Outside of the Blackhawks, can Chicago or New York even claim one of their sports teams are consistently competitive in the last five years? Didn't think so. I count parades, not 3 star Michelin restaurants because I'm not a squid.
This is because I grew up in a pretty redneck part of the country, but where I live, a 45 minute drive and I’m back in the country. I can go hiking at state parks or fly fishing somewhere. I’m pretty sure it takes at least two hours just to get out of downtown Chicago and into the suburbs. You ain’t getting your outdoor fix at a city park either. I'm sorry, every single girl that goes to Chicago ever, but taking a selfie at The Bean isn't being outdoors.
Fuck Public Transportation
I pride myself on having pretty much avoided public transportation my entire life. It’s like a point of pride for metropolis people. “Oh I saw a crackhead finger blast herself on the Brown Line.” WHAT THE FUCK?! Why would you subject yourself to that? I get to drive to work every day. The traffic doesn’t want to make me blow my brains out (fuck off, DC) and I can rely on Uber to get me around when I’m drinking. I listen to local sports radio or Serial or the Stones or WHATEVER THE FUCK I WANT and it's not through headphones. I can throw a lipper in and not have everyone around me judge me. I never have to rely on The El or subway to get me around and be exposed to the dregs of society like those of you in huge metro areas. Except for the heroin addict beggars, they're the worst. The one on the way to my apartment has been a new dad, expecting twins, and an Iraq vet within a two-week span. I think he's lying.
All said, I'd love to be in Chicago or LA or DC with my friends from college, but for my career, it's not the best move. Give the smaller cities a chance and I guarantee you'll have just as much fun while putting more money into your 401k. Be open minded and willing to go out and make friends and you'll be a better person for it.