Book 18

Who’s Your City? by Richard Florida

I grew up in Southern California, ages 2-17 in the same OC city.  Since then, I haven’t lived any one place for very long.  Four years in the Bay Area for college (where I spent time living in three dorm rooms, a shared house, and a shared apartment).  During 11 years in the Boston area, I lived four different places and held at least six jobs (maybe more), in addition to earning my first master’s degree.  Then five years in Providence, just enough time to nab that sexy, sexy PhD.  One year back in the OC.  (But working in LA at the University of Spoiled Children.  Yeah, I said it.)

I’m now in my seventh year at my job and living in this place.  We spent just a few months in a temporary apartment before buying our condo.  Now this is the longest I have lived any one place since my childhood.  And it’s coming up on my longest job ever, ever, ever (though it’s not entirely clear whether the sabbatical year should count towards that record or not).  I have a bit of ADD when it comes to my life choices.  That, combined with events at my job that made me less than happy to be there the past couple of years, has me in a perpetual state of “should I quit and move” questioning.  I look at academic job postings with an obsession rivaled only by those actually seeking jobs.  And by my husband.  And whenever someone offers advice that is supposed to help me figure out Where I’m Supposed To Be (TM), I investigate.

(See other time-wasters and disappointments, like What Color is Your Parachute? And Living Without a Goal.)

My friend has a blog about telecommuting, and in an early post, he recommended this book.  I thought, why not? Maybe I’ll figure everything out in a giant burst of clarity.  Maybe it’ll give me the push I need to make a fucking decision: Stay or go?  Stay or go?  (And if “go,” go where?)

No epiphany will be had in the reading of this book, I think I can safely report.  It’s 2/3 boring econimics-y research about the rise of super cities and why, within my lifetime, pretty much all of us (80% of the world’s population or something?) will be living in one.  Following that is 1/3 of a book full of tables about “best places to live” in various life stages.  But apparently married people without kids don’t exist (nor do older singles).  And after all of his talk about choosing where you live based on finances, San Francisco and San Diego (two of the most expensive places I can think of) top the list.  If I were to move from here to SF or SD, I would

  1. probably make a comparable household income (him, more; me, less),
  2. be able to afford a similar home (or even not as nice as the current one),
  3. spend a lot (a lot a lot) more time in my car and in traffic,
  4. feel cold a lot more often,
  5. swim in the ocean a lot less often, and
  6. overall probably not be any happier at all… probably less.

And SF and SD were the only even vaguely warm places that made the list.  Everything else was Northeast or arctic Midwest.  No thank you.

It took me forever to finish this book because I found it so tedious, and because I’m simply not engineered to skip around or give things up, even when I’m not enjoying them at all.

I hope I see my blogging friend at a party sometime soon, so I can ask him what the hell he saw in this book, why he recommended it, and if he actually used it in any of his decision-making process.

If you’re curious about Who’s Your City but are now put off by the idea of reading the monstrosity (be put off!), you can go to to get some of the information (like the “useful” tables of best places to live… assuming you have infinity money and like the cold).  The website also got a “place finder” survey where you can input your own city along with several others where you might consider living, and then answer questions about each of them.  At the end of 20 minutes of this, I got the response that I should almost certainly keep living where I’m living.  And that I should also seriously consider moving to any of the other three cities I put in.  Helpful!

If I knew I were leaving, I think I would be having more fun… taking advantage of this beautiful place because who knows when I’ll get the chance to do this stuff again?  And if I knew I were staying, I could relax and be more productive.  I would be less hesitant to paint my condo funky colors and replace the shitty cabinets if I didn’t think I’d be selling in a year or two.  But right now, I just feel restless and disquieted and this book was no fucking help at all.

Back to trashy reading. At least that shit is enjoyable.

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