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Help me choose a new place to live in the US.

BelusBelus Member Posts: 33 ✭✭ - Stalwart

I've been living 'overseas' for the last year and am contemplating my upcoming return the US. I have fairly varied hobbies, and a so far have had a very specialized career. I'm trying to narrow down my job search a little and would like to avoid moving to a massive metropolitan area like Phoenix, AZ where I lived most recently.

Two desires that will make this extra challenging:

  • I'd like to be able to teach the NRA Basic Pistol and CCW classes in this city/state. This probably means that a city in NY, MA, CT, NJ, or around the Bay Area won't fit that well. Bonus if you think a Pink Pistols chapter would do well there. I did a lot of competitive shooting before leaving the US (NRA highpower, IPSC, smallbore silhouette) and would like to pick this up again.

  • I'd like to open a yoga/dance studio in addition to my normal job and be able to rent the space to instructors for their classes. A city sufficiently hippy to have a good population of body-conscious people would be nice.

Bonus points if it includes something of the following:

  • Has mountains.
  • Is within an 2-hour drive of an international airport.
  • Has lakes or near an ocean.
  • There's a National Forest nearby.
  • Winters are shorter than 5 months.
  • Has a university.

Some cities that have caught my eye so far include:

  • Flagstaff, Arizona
  • Tuscon, Arizona
  • Asheville, North Carolina
  • Albany, Oregon
  • Rapid City, South Dakota
  • Helena, Montana
  • Fort Collins, Colorado

So what are some places you've lived/visited that you liked, and would recommend I take a closer look at?
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  • KayeilKayeil Washington StateMember Posts: 2,824 @@ - Legendary Achaean
    edited November 2015
    Seattle or somewhere in Washington seems to be a fit with many of the things you would like, the only thing I am unsure of is the NRA requirements you're seeking because it's not something I keep up with personally. Seattle is considered one of the most fit cities in the country, and even though western Washington is a bit more liberal, eastern Washington is a bit more conservative so you have your pick if politics matter at all to you.

    Washington has two mountain ranges (Cascades and Olympics) and 5 volcanoes, so plenty of mountains to see and lots of mountain activities in the winter if the weather cooperates that year. Last I new Mt. Baker still held the record for snowiest mountain in the world.

    Seatac has the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport just directly south of Seattle. If you live in Western Washington it's not a bad drive no matter where you live. I live maybe an hour south of the Canadian border and my drive to Seattle is 1-2 hours depending on traffic.

    Tons of lakes, rivers, and plenty of ocean. Considering the Puget Sound and all the islands, Washington state actually has the second most amount of shoreline in the United States just behind Alaska which has the most. Northern Washington has rockier beaches which are fun for checking out tide pools and stuff, but southern Washington has the sandier beaches if that's your preference.

    Forests EVERYWHERE. It's not called the Evergreen State for nothing. Olympic National Rainforest is on the Peninsula over by the Olympic Mountains in Western Washington. If you live over there you'd likely be using ferries to get to Seattle, but those aren't too bad.

    Lots of Universities, no matter where in the state you live. Western Wa U in Bellingham, U of W in Seattle, Wa State U in eastern WA, Central Wa U (forget where that is), and tons of other smaller and private ones.

    Weather varies year by year, especially the last decade or so. It starts to get cold in October, but I'd say the snow and ice is more likely to start in February if it happens at all (though this depends on where you live). Eastern Washington has different weather, so I can't really touch on that. It's a drier climate with more desert-like weather in the summer. In western Washington it can start warming up in April, May, or June. Depends on what you can stand and how the weather is that year. Summers are generally pretty great here, a lot of people live here just in the summer and go back to places like Arizona in the winter. As for being famous for rain... sure it can get overcast quite a bit, but places like Chicago actually get  tons more rain than we do. People kind of over exaggerate our rain.


    Edit: Living in Washington puts you not too far from Canada, Oregon, Idaho, and Montana for more outdoor adventures whether that be mountains or beaches or just spending time in forests. In Washington you can get an enhanced drivers license that you can use to go to Canada without needing a passport, so that's pretty cool.
    What doesn't kill you gives you exp.

    SiodhachanBraem
  • KayeilKayeil Washington StateMember Posts: 2,824 @@ - Legendary Achaean
    As for the other places you mentioned... I don't know about you, but I think Arizona gets too damn hot. Parts of Oregon literally stinks like onions (lots of onion farms). Not kidding, have heard plenty of other people say the same thing. Not sure if Albany falls in the onion farming area. Montana is fabulous. If I did not love being so close to the ocean and Seattle so much I'd probably live in Montana or Wyoming. Gorgeous states with so many fun outdoors things to do, but the winters are really snowy, and I hate snow.
    What doesn't kill you gives you exp.

  • AegothAegoth Member Posts: 2,840 @@ - Legendary Achaean
    Anywhere in sussex county nj
  • SiodhachanSiodhachan Washington, USAMember Posts: 20 ✭✭✭ - Distinguished
    Seattle and neighboring cities around it have/are everything you described.
    The earth is so good to me;
    So giving and so kind.
    KayeilManach
  • BelusBelus Member Posts: 33 ✭✭ - Stalwart
    edited November 2015
    Aegoth said:
    Anywhere in sussex county nj
    That's a neat area and one I hadn't considered before. I'd probably try to sneak just inside the PA border to make the first bullet point a bit easier.
    Kayeil said:
    Seattle is considered one of the most fit cities in the country, and even though western Washington is a bit more liberal, eastern Washington is a bit more conservative so you have your pick if politics matter at all to you.
    Politically I like to be more liberal than area I'm living in (easy for me in AZ, probably not in San Francisco). A blue city in a red state strikes a nice balance. I've thought a bit of Seattle, but don't have a good sense for how urban it is (I've only visited once). I didn't like the concrete jungle of Phoenix and would like the option of buying a house with a couple acres of land.
  • AustereAustere TennesseeMember Posts: 2,341 @@ - Legendary Achaean
    Obviously the solution is Knoxville. High conceal carry rates,  National park easily an hour away,  decent airport, lovely winters, best college in America, and lots of mountains. 
    Kasya
  • BelusBelus Member Posts: 33 ✭✭ - Stalwart
    Austere said:
    Obviously the solution is Knoxville.
    Oh, that's Oak Ridge National Lab too. Hadn't crossed my mind before. And lots of twisty roads for motorcycles. Definitely on the job search list now.
    Kasya
  • AchillesAchilles Los AngelesMember Posts: 2,579 @@ - Legendary Achaean
    Henderson Nevada.  It's adjacent to Las Vegas, has a ton of shooting ranges, mountains, lakes, hiking routes etc.  No state income tax too which is nicem
    image
  • KayeilKayeil Washington StateMember Posts: 2,824 @@ - Legendary Achaean
    Belus said:
    Aegoth said:
    Anywhere in sussex county nj
    That's a neat area and one I hadn't considered before. I'd probably try to sneak just inside the PA border to make the first bullet point a bit easier.
    Kayeil said:
    Seattle is considered one of the most fit cities in the country, and even though western Washington is a bit more liberal, eastern Washington is a bit more conservative so you have your pick if politics matter at all to you.
    Politically I like to be more liberal than area I'm living in (easy for me in AZ, probably not in San Francisco). A blue city in a red state strikes a nice balance. I've thought a bit of Seattle, but don't have a good sense for how urban it is (I've only visited once). I didn't like the concrete jungle of Phoenix and would like the option of buying a house with a couple acres of land.
    Totally doable. The nice thing about living in Western Washington is you have I-5 which is like the corridor between a bunch of cities in towns not just in Washington, but it sure does make the commute easier if you don't want to live in Seattle but still want to live close enough within driving distance. I live in Skagit County which has a decent population that isn't too large or too small, that also has plenty of rural area. Besides Seattle being south of here, Bellingham north of here has a smaller airport with much cheaper airfare depending on where you're going, and up in Canada they've got airports too if you make use of getting a passport. The only downside is Washington has a higher cost of living,  but it also has a higher minimum wage so depending on what you're doing you might still make enough to make up for the higher costs. Washington is just sort of barely a blue state because Western Washington has more liberal voters than Eastern Washington has conservative voters, but there's enough conservative voters that you still might find what you're looking for. Eastern Washington can be really rural. I guess Washington is nice because the east side has that dry climate like Arizona, but western Washington is very green year round with forests, ocean. Can enjoy the mountains no matter which side of the state you live on. The winters aren't horrible (no blizzards), the summers aren't too hot and most people in Western Washington don't own an A/C if that tells you anything. We suffer through the unusually hot days, and then enjoy the rest of the nicer, less oppressive ones.
    What doesn't kill you gives you exp.

  • ManachManach Member Posts: 36 ✭✭ - Stalwart
    Seattle is pretty urban, not anything like Phoenix though. There are actually people out and about after 7pm and there are lot of fun outdoor things to do downtown.. to put it in perspective, my parents live on 5 acres of beautiful woodsy property and are about a 20 minute drive from downtown Seattle.
    If a man wishes to be sure of the road he treads on, he must close his eyes and walk in the dark.
    Kayeil
  • KayeilKayeil Washington StateMember Posts: 2,824 @@ - Legendary Achaean
    Oh if taxes matter, Washington has no income tax, just the sales tax. Oregon has the income tax. I think you're also not allowed to pump your own gas in Oregon. But if you live in Oregon and come shopping in Washington you just show your ID and don't have to pay our sales tax. :P To me this isn't a highlight because I don't use it but for some people it is, weed is legal in Washington.
    What doesn't kill you gives you exp.

    Manach
  • BelusBelus Member Posts: 33 ✭✭ - Stalwart
    Kayeil said:
    To me this isn't a highlight because I don't use it but for some people it is, weed is legal in Washington.
    I tried it for the first time at the ripe old age of 31. As of a month ago it's legal in Oregon too. This isn't terribly important to me as a non-user (purchasing firearms requires you to swear you don't use it), but I have many friends who will appreciate it being legal.

    I haven't pumped my own gas in over a year, so while it was weird when I rented my first car in Oregon, I'll be able to handle it now. But being someone who usually earns much more than they spend, having a higher sales tax in place of an income tax is a bonus.
    Kayeil
  • BelusBelus Member Posts: 33 ✭✭ - Stalwart
    Kayeil said:
    To me this isn't a highlight because I don't use it but for some people it is, weed is legal in Washington.
    I tried it for the first time at the ripe old age of 31. As of a month ago it's legal in Oregon too. This isn't terribly important to me as a non-user (purchasing firearms requires you to swear you don't use it), but I have many friends who will appreciate it being legal.

    I haven't pumped my own gas in over a year, so while it was weird when I rented my first car in Oregon, I'll be able to handle it now. But being someone who usually earns much more than they spend, having a higher sales tax in place of an income tax is a bonus.
  • AustereAustere TennesseeMember Posts: 2,341 @@ - Legendary Achaean
    Belus said:
    Austere said:
    Obviously the solution is Knoxville.
    Oh, that's Oak Ridge National Lab too. Hadn't crossed my mind before. And lots of twisty roads for motorcycles. Definitely on the job search list now.
    If you do Kville and feel like riding, hit me up.  I don't ride in the cold or rain (which is why I own a car), but am otherwise always up for going.  Been wanting to go run the dragon(Nc) pretty bad, just not had any luck finding someone off work at the same time as me
  • EldEld Member Posts: 3,946 @@ - Legendary Achaean
    Belus said:
    Aegoth said:
    Anywhere in sussex county nj
    That's a neat area and one I hadn't considered before. I'd probably try to sneak just inside the PA border to make the first bullet point a bit easier.
    Kayeil said:
    Seattle is considered one of the most fit cities in the country, and even though western Washington is a bit more liberal, eastern Washington is a bit more conservative so you have your pick if politics matter at all to you.
    Politically I like to be more liberal than area I'm living in (easy for me in AZ, probably not in San Francisco). A blue city in a red state strikes a nice balance. I've thought a bit of Seattle, but don't have a good sense for how urban it is (I've only visited once). I didn't like the concrete jungle of Phoenix and would like the option of buying a house with a couple acres of land.
    Seattle itself is definitely urban, but less populous and less sprawling than somewhere like Phoenix or San Jose. I'd say it feels more like San Francisco, but not nearly as dense (we've got about 80% of the population of SF in almost twice the land area); that may be largely because of the hilliness, though. There's a bit of sprawl, but nothing like the Bay Area (which is all I really have experience with to compare). As others have said, Seattle itself is very liberal, as are most of the bigger cities in western WA, but you don't have to get very far outside city limits to find considerably more conservative areas, and eastern Washington is strongly conservative, with somewhat more liberal pockets in Spokane and Pullman (where the main WSU campus is). If it helps with perspective on the political divide, proposals have popped up periodically pretty much since Washington became a state to split eastern Washington and the Idaho panhandle (and sometimes including eastern Oregon) off into their own state, those areas having much more in common with each other than they do with the other parts of their respective current states.

    That said, while Seattle's not super dense (yet), the housing market is pretty bad right now, and probably going to get worse before it gets better. Our population is growing fast, and housing construction isn't keeping up. That situation has been one of the biggest issues in our recent city council elections and such, and there's definitely a lot of effort going into finding solutions, but even so, it's probably going to be a pretty rough housing market for at least a couple years yet. But again, you don't have to go too far outside the city to get out of the worst of that.

    We've definitely got you covered on wilderness.

    Winter's not too long, but it can be pretty rough if you're attached to sunlight. We're pretty well north, so days do get pretty short in the winter (about 8.5 hours at the solstice), and we tend to lose quite a bit of extra daylight to overcast. The reputation for rain is a bit overblown in terms of actual volume of precipitation (we only get about 35 inches of rain per year), but it tends to come in the form of an intermittent drizzle, with the clouds not clearing up in between. We get about a month, from the end of November to the end of December, where the sunset hovers within a five minute range around about 4:20 PM, and combined with the overcast, it's pretty much dark by about 4. On the bright side, though, the dark and gloom is pretty much confined to 3, maybe 4 months (sets in around mid-November, especially after the time change, and is generally noticeably receding by the end of February to mid-March), and the tradeoff is that summer is awesome; light till 9-10pm, warm but generally not really hot (this past summer was bad by our standards, but not compared to most of California, let alone Arizona), hardly a cloud in the sky for much of it. So if you can put up with not seeing much sun for a few months, the rest of the year is worth it, IMO.

    Not really sure about the gun stuff overall. Seattle itself is, overall, pretty strongly pro-gun control, and city council recently passed a gun and ammo tax ($25/gun and $.02/bullet, iirc), which might end up driving more of what gun business we have (I think there are only three dedicated gun shops in the city currently) outside city limits, but that remains to be seen. But state law isn't especially strict, as far as I know (we're a shall-issue concealed carry state, for example), and there's certainly enough of a pro-gun contingent to protect the rest of us from letting Obama take away your guns. Even within Seattle city limits, I don't think there's anything to prevent you from teaching classes if you have somewhere to do it, and I suspect you could drum up a decent amount of interest, albeit probably quite a bit less than a lot of the other places on your list.

    Yoga/dance should fit in just fine pretty much anywhere, I think.

    Kayeil said:
    Oh if taxes matter, Washington has no income tax, just the sales tax. Oregon has the income tax. I think you're also not allowed to pump your own gas in Oregon. But if you live in Oregon and come shopping in Washington you just show your ID and don't have to pay our sales tax. :P To me this isn't a highlight because I don't use it but for some people it is, weed is legal in Washington.
    It's worth noting here that while we don't have income tax, our sales tax is quite high (it's a huge fraction of overall state revenue), and moreso within the city. State sales tax is 6.5%, and it's 9.5% in Seattle. We also have ridiculous sin taxes, so if you happen to smoke, you're looking at about $10 a pack, and liquor is taxed at 20.5% plus $3.77/liter.


    Kayeil
  • EldEld Member Posts: 3,946 @@ - Legendary Achaean
    edited November 2015
    As for other places, I don't have much experience with anywhere but California, but if you're open to California in general, just not the Bay Area, you might take a look at Sacramento or the Monterey Bay area (Santa Cruz is likely a bit more liberal than you're looking for, but some of the communities in the mountains near there are an interesting mixture of hippies and people who just want to live in the woods and be left alone, which might make for a decent combination for your interests). On the more remote end, I've also heard good things about western Montana (Missoula, Bozeman), though I've never been, and Bend, OR, which seemed pretty nice the one time I was there, but that was only for a weekend. I get the impression that Missoula, at least, might be a bit more moderate, weather-wise, than Helena; based on my dad's stories from growing up in Helena, winters can get pretty brutal there - not much precipitation, but very cold.
  • ManachManach Member Posts: 36 ✭✭ - Stalwart
    FWIW, a lot of people in Seattle have CWPs, there are a lot of shooting ranges (indoor and out) and a good number of very conservative cities (Pierce County, mainly Enumclaw, Buckley, Sumner, Bonney Lake, etc. where I should also note that housing is considerably cheaper with more property than what you would find in Seattle. Similar to eastern Washington areas like Pullman, Ellensburg, Spokane.)
    If a man wishes to be sure of the road he treads on, he must close his eyes and walk in the dark.
  • ManachManach Member Posts: 36 ✭✭ - Stalwart
    Also, seems like there are a lot of WA/Seattle players. We should do a meet!
    If a man wishes to be sure of the road he treads on, he must close his eyes and walk in the dark.
  • TrevizeTrevize Member Posts: 1,517 @ - Epic Achaean
    Eld said:
    As for other places, I don't have much experience with anywhere but California, but if you're open to California in general, just not the Bay Area, you might take a look at Sacramento

    I have to add, I adore Sacramento. Have some family up there, and it's one of my favorite places to visit.
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  • SaevaSaeva Member Posts: 1,944 @@ - Legendary Achaean
    Go to Ft Collins. It's small but it's near a big city if you really need and it's near mountains and lakes etc. lots of college age folks so there is a nice buzz to the town. Not so painfully expensive to live in yet.


  • AerekAerek East Tennessee, USAMember Posts: 1,818 @@ - Legendary Achaean
    You also described Chattanooga, TN. Not a huge town, gun-friendly, in the mountains with a tourism focus on rock-climbing and hiking, has several universities and a dedicated hipster/health nut population. Also pretty cheap as far as cost of living goes. It's right on the Tennessee/Georgia border, and some of the Georgia counties across the line have the lowest property tax rates in the country.
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  • ExelethrilExelethril Member Posts: 3,360 @@ - Legendary Achaean

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  • TreyTrey Member Posts: 4,819 @@ - Legendary Achaean
    I will fuck you up if you are talking smack about my beloved D.

  • SobriquetSobriquet Member Posts: 2,539 @@ - Legendary Achaean
    edited November 2015
    But OCP run Detroit and OCP run the cops too. Although, I heard that they have this cyborg cop thing going on for Delta City, sounds like it should solve the problems. Edit - this thread makes me want to move to the US.
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  • JonathinJonathin Grand Rapids, MIMember Posts: 3,330 @@ - Legendary Achaean
    Grand Rapids, MI. I'm not biased at all.

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  • QuisseQuisse Member Posts: 299 ✭✭✭✭✭ - Grand Achaean
    edited November 2015
    You could live in New Hampshire, which is beautiful, mountainous clean and absolutely perfect 7 months out of the year. Plus NH loves its guns! :chuffed:  Yoga is big big big around here. And there's absolutely a million ways to make that happen. Plus, New England is the best place ever for zipping around. Tons to see in a relatively small space! 

    I grew up in MA, still work in MA, and moved to NH about 5 years ago. Best move ever. PM me if you want to talk. :)

    ETA: Winters are tough, so I'd recommend southern or coastal NH, or even coastal MA. Five months is about right, though!
  • ManachManach Member Posts: 36 ✭✭ - Stalwart
    Jonathin said:
    Grand Rapids, MI. I'm not biased at all.
    Lol
    If a man wishes to be sure of the road he treads on, he must close his eyes and walk in the dark.
  • SzanthaxSzanthax San DiegoMember Posts: 1,906 @ - Epic Achaean
    Whales Vagina



  • BoosteyaBoosteya Member Posts: 403 ✭✭✭ - Distinguished
    The area around Minneapolis has most of that stuff. Alas, not so many mountains, but no shortage of lakes! The winters may be longer than you like, but there is indeed the University of Minnesota, and many other colleges.

    Also, there's an internet business expanding here, one that offers more bandwidth than anybody else. Too expensive for me so far! But I'm poor. :)
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  • MithridatesMithridates Member Posts: 1,956 @ - Epic Achaean
    As someone who has lived overseas and currently resides in the us, my only advice to you is: stay overseas. 
    Manach
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