Who wants to live in a livable city?

May 19 | offbeatbride
Back to the city
Nice city -- but is it boring?

Did you guys see this article that made the rounds last week, about how lists of livable cities almost never seem to include the cities where everyone, well, wants to live?

[These lists are] profoundly concerned with things like well-designed street furniture, a proliferation of eye-wateringly expensive artisanal retail, boutique hotels with good (English-speaking) service and environmentally friendly mayoral policies. Certainly these are all things which help but they skew the polls to a particular type of European or marginal Pacific city. What they also do is to strip out all the complexity, all the friction and buzz that make big cities what they are. [Read the full article]

The article points to the way that "livable" cities like Vancouver, Vienna, Zurich, Geneva, Copenhagen and Munich never seem to be exciting cities, like New York or Paris. As the author points out, "The big cities it seems … are just too big, too dangerous, too inefficient."

I'm not the best to judge, as I bailed on living in two exciting cities (New York and Los Angeles) and adore two of the cities lambasted as livable-but-boring (Vancouver BC, and Copenhagen). That said, it seems to me that this article is about more than just cities… really, this question can be asked about any location:

Which is more important to you: livability or vibrancy?

  1. Can I take a combo of the two? I also have a soft spot for Copenhagen, and the two cities I'd want to live in in the US are Portland and Seattle, which tend to be on these lists, at least when they're confined to the US. LA? NOOOOOOOOO I feel so strongly about never wanting to live there, and I'd argue the "vibrancy" point too. New York holds more appeal, but not in any long-term way. I'm going to end up in Seattle, because Dude I'm Going To Marry got his dream job, which is the kind you retire from, there. Maybe it's just me, but I'd much rather be able to live IN Seattle, and experience its "second-tier vibrancy" for my whole life than get a few exciting years in NY and then have to move to New Jersey to have babies or whatever. I realize people do raise kids in the city proper and love it, but though I never want to go all out cul-de-sac suburbanite, I do really like the idea of living in somewhat of a neighborhood – just a neighborhood that is surrounded by awesome restaurants and shopping and cool things going on!

    9 agree
  2. This article says what I've been thinking lately. I don't love where I live. It's livable, which is why we are here. It's affordable and has stuff close to me and we could probably have a family here. But it's boring. All the good stuff is in the real vibrant city, which is too far to go to on a regular basis and too close to ignore how second tier my town is. I want a city that's booming and has things going on and has a life thread surrounding it. Livable to me means I'm missing out.

    2 agree
  3. I actually think the article is really problematic. Yes, it's true, the famous lists tend to privilege a particular kind of cultural offering – and this is a problem. (I don't want the mainstream theaters of Munich, I want the proliferation of cheap underground theaters in Berlin). BUT – there's something to be said for cities that do things to reduce the gap between rich and poor, to offer efficient and ACCESSIBLE public transportation (not to mention bike paths), to create cities that minimize environmental impact. (And personally, I'd like to live in a place where I can afford a large enough kitchen to cook with some regularity – that's also an aspect of life quality)
    Whenever I hear something like – "these cities aren't the cities where people actually WANT to live" – I get particularly irritated. New York is not the only exciting place to live! I could never live long term in New York or LA, and I would LOVE to live in Copenhagen or Vancouver. (Or Toronto or Montreal or Minneapolis or Berlin or….

    13 agree
      • Ariel, Vancouver will happily take you! Obviously, I speak for all two plus million of us living in the GVRD.

        Stupid borders!

        1 agrees
  4. I say yes. I live right outside of Portland, Maine, which is both vibrant and livable in spades. A lot of my friends, however, think that their resident cities (New York, Boston, and Tokyo) are so much more exciting as to make my beautiful little corner of the Northeast intolerably boring. It's all a matter of personal taste! Even though I would happily overdose on museum and restaurant glory, my blood pressure wouldn't last a month in a city like those. Lists of "livable" cities or "cultural meccas" are opinions, and like any other opinion, they are subject to the judgment of the reader. Unless you KNOW my opinions are roughly in line with those of the writer, an article like that strikes me as commentary, not advice.

    4 agree
    • Hey, just wanted to say 'yes!' in agreement. My husband and I vacationed in Maine last summer, and Portland was our favorite spot! Lots to do, amazing food, plenty of history. I could definitely live there, and I also wouldn't last too long in a place like NYC, etc. We're currently in Philly and love it here– it's plenty 'vibrant,' but is very neighborhood-y and has a definite small town feel.

      1 agrees
      • Another YAY for Philly! We lived in Boston, and passed on NYC. Philly makes us all sorts of happy though πŸ™‚

  5. Livability…but my plan is to escape the East Coast and live in the middle of nowhere. Big cities give me anxiety.

    5 agree
  6. I live in a suburb outside of Stockholm (one of those "livable" cities that doesn't seem exciting) and I can say that any city can be exciting. You just have to find your corner in it.

    For example, Stockholm is beautiful – it's a city built on several islands. Our architecture is historical & breathtaking. Lots of tourism in the summer. But as far as living here? It's a lot of nightclubs, bars, etc. But like any other large city, there are those indie/underground/hole-in-the-wall places that make it worth it. Mine is a vegan cafe/anarchist bookstore/music venue called Kafe 44. It's helped me connect with the punk community in Sweden, made me new friends, and helped me find MORE hole-in-the-wall establishments to hang out in.

    5 agree
    • It's so true, right – you just need to find those one or two places that really make you feel at home!

      1 agrees
  7. How about affordability mixed with excitement? I grew up in a smaaaalll town in a california valley. The rent is cheap as hell, but damn that place is boring! (It didn't even have a mall!) And now I live just outside of San Francisco! EXCITING but damn expensive… What use is it to live in such a great city, if you can't afford rent?

    4 agree
    • Ug, as someone who spent almost a decade paying off the debt I incurred trying to live in San Francisco, I HEAR YOU ON THIS! I have a post brewing about the lie that's spoon-fed to young people about living in big/expensive cities. It's going to be so exiting!! Except for you have to work 60 hours a week to pay your rent, and you don't have any cash OR energy left over to go enjoy the city!

      25 agree
      • This a MILLION times over. I have a few friends who are always trying to convince me to move to whatever big city they are in – NYC, SF, etc, but I compare the rent there to here and while I'm no fan of this city (too racist for me, not enough true artistic flavor), I *like* that I can afford to work 40 hours a week, go to school, and not be so stressed about bills and rent that I have spending money to go out and do stuff. It lets me explore a little bit more to see if maybe there's something worth staying for in this city (3 years later… no, not really, but I'm tied here until the hubs finds a job elsewhere.)

        3 agree
      • Yes. Yes. Yes.

        My husband and I moved from not-too-exciting Buffalo, NY to Seattle, WA. We love Seattle, and we love our neighborhood, and the crazy amazing views you see everywhere and the public transportation. Let me tell you though, a graduate student stipend goes A LOT further in Buffalo.

        Living in Buffalo was being comfortable, chilling with friends, without that many things going on in the broader city, culturally and so forth. Living in Seattle (which are not nearly the expensive as NYC or LA are) has been hearing about the awesome things you can do without being able to afford it. You cannot have your cake and eat it too, I suppose.

      • Oh ladies! After a decade living in New York, I will tell anyone who listens that I love San Francisco partly for it's cheapness. Occasionally people here try to tell me how its so much more expensive than New York, to which I can only respond, "SHUT UP, NO."

        it's also so effing livable here, if you ask me. We pay the same for our rent in yuppie-by-the-golden-gate-bridge land as we paid for rent in I-saw-someone-shot-on-my-street-land in Brooklyn.

        But, you know, I REALLY like vibrancy. Clearly πŸ˜‰

  8. I tend to think that if you don't look for what's fun and exciting and vibrant where you are, you won't look for it somewhere else either. What makes my life vibrant isn't a famous museum, it's finding people who are making their own action.

    15 agree
  9. I think any city is what you make of it, to a certain extent. As long as you're not in the total boonies, and have at least one like-minded person around, you can make a great life for yourself. It all depends on personal preference. I could be pretty happy out in the country or a small town, raising goats and organic produce, as long as I have high speed internet and Netflix.

    That said, I live in Los Angeles, I love it here, and I can't imagine leaving. And I don't take advantage of all the "exciting" stuff nearly as often as I should. But this city is so spread out, you just have to pick your neighborhood right to get whatever kind of life you want.

    2 agree
  10. I <3 where we live. It's the third largest city in our state and strikes a nice balance between lots to do and space to live. Lots of affordable music and art, and lots of green places. We live on the outskirts and it definitely has a small town feel, but a 10 minute drive takes us to the heart of the city where we can spend a day stomping around and enjoying the sights.

  11. I live in Vancouver and I adore it. ADORE it. And truly? The people saying that it's boring obviously don't know enough about it here to say that, and I'm sure the same could be said for any of those cities. Well designed streets, luxury hotels, and the shopping district downtown or on south Granville are big and loud and hard to miss. F that S.

    4 agree
    • Just wanted to say that from Victoria and growing up in a small town in Northern BC, Vancouver is super appealing, and vibrant. Maybe compared with New York, it's not very vibrant, but I guess it all depends on what measuring stick you're using.

    • I was surprised to read Vancouver being called "boring". For me it's certainly the most exciting Canadian city I've visited… and now the most exciting city I've lived in.

      I agree with the post above… only boring people get bored.

    • I don't think I'll ever be able to permanently live anywhere else. Good transit, good bike routes, great food basically everywhere, mild climate, GREAT libraries, and an incredibly diverse mishmash of people. I dig it hyoooooj. And I'm close enough to my favourite US cities (Seattle and Portland) to visit pretty much any time I feel like it.

      The only thing that sucks total butt is how expensive housing is. God help you if you want to buy. I share a three-bedroom half-duplex with a really cool hippie married couple and their guinea pig out of the major crush of the city proper, and my share of the rent is still $500, which is a lot for a student. At least BC has finally jacked up minimum wage, though not nearly enough to compensate for our outrageous home and rent prices. That's the one major downside, really.

  12. I live in Vancouver, but not actually Vancouver. Its Richmond and it takes me 20 minutes by skytrain to get downtown. I am downtown all the time and its great. The transit is so amazing my husband and I don't need a car. The people for the most part are friendly and there is so much to do here!

    1 agrees
  13. I live in Minneapolis and I love it here. It is definitely NOT boring, there is more going on here than I could ever have time for. I can see some people like the excitement of NYC or LA but I'd never want to live there. Why would I want to give up the livability of my city for more stuff I would never have the time or inclination to do? Vancouver is so not boring either, it's a beautiful and vibrant city. I could get this argument if this was a small town but Vancouver? Really?

    3 agree
    • I loooooove Minneapolis. It's just a few hours away from Des Moines, and we actually honeymooned there. Weird choice, yeah? Had a blast, though!

      1 agrees
    • I love it too! If I can find a job, I'm moving back! (It seems like it has gotten even better and better since I left over ten years ago!)

      1 agrees
    • I could write a novel or a sonnet about how much I love living in Minneapolis. There are things to go do every night of the week, especially if you're into local music or art or theater. There are amazing festivals and parades and art fairs all summer long (and even some during the snowy winter!). When you add St Paul into the mix, it's pretty easy to find too much to do and overbook yourself…but the area is small enough where you can attend multiple events in one day without spending most of your time in transit. It's pretty awesome here.

      • Haha – the new gay! Every time I visit, I always have all these plans packed full of plays, concerts, and museum visits… then I get distracted by biking around the lakes and the city (and investigating the stretches of recreated "prairie" that people installed into their backyards abutting the bike paths). And never have time to visit all my favorite cafes and restaurants… So much to do, so little time πŸ™‚

  14. I live in a city in Kentucky that is more or less an overgrown small town that's got big city. It's got lots to offer, but it still FEELS like a smaller town. It's relatively safe, there's plenty to do, a super-stable economy, traffic is great… it's a great balance.
    I don't understand the draw of living in BIG cities. People tout the magic of possibility of doing in big cities, but really, how often do you do ANY of that stuff? Isn't it few enough times a year that taking a small vacation would really cover it?
    I grew up in a teeny tiny town and I've definitely got the small-town mindset–big cities are just scary and frantic to me.

    3 agree
    • where in kentucky? I'm from Louisville, going to school in Richmond, and I love both places. Sure, there are more things to do in louisville, and i do have to drive to lexington to do a lot of things while at school. but even though they are both so differnt, i can still find awesome things to do in my small college town, you just have to look for them. (and odd as it may seem, louisville is a big city that can feel like a small town)

  15. Really, I guess it depends on what one considers "exciting". Me, I've been to a number of cities (Boston, NYC, Chicago, San Francisco, Seattle, Montreal, etc…), and to be perfectly honest, the ones that are deemed "exciting", to me are frequently terrifying in a sensory-overload, fear-of-getting-run-over-or-mugged-in-an-alley sort of way. Not to mention that unless you have unlimited wealth, most of the "exciting" places are too expensive for us working-class schmucks to afford more than a weekend visit! Seems like most of the "boring but liveable" places have a fair amount of really interesting things going on all the time, you just have to, ya know, go out and find them, rather than wait for them to knock on your door with a hand-engraved invitation.

    Me, I'll take liveable. I'm an only child, I'm pretty good at finding all manner of interesting things to do to entertain myself with no matter where I am. πŸ˜‰

    4 agree
  16. I feel like I've got a good compromise at the moment. I live in a relatively small town with all the basic every day facilities, lots of green space and a few things to do for fun, but also with really easy train links to both London and Birmingham (UK, not Alabama). The excitement of a big city is there if we want it, close enough to go for a day out, but not so close that we have to deal with all the downsides.

    But like other people have said it really comes down to opinion. Everyone has their own critera for what makes a great place to live and you can't really take someone elses list at face value.

  17. For me, vibrancy IS livability.

    I am a lifelong NYC resident who moved to Chicago two years ago.

    I am quite literally at the point where I'd sell a kidney in order to give up the 3 BR house w/ yard that my 1 BR NYC apt (in a doorman + elevator building) bought me.

    If anyone wants my house plus kidney, I'll give both in exchange for a studio in a walk up.

    I am not kidding.

    2 agree
  18. Livability. And my definition of true livability includes things like not being able to see the nearest neighbor's house, having enough space for goats and possibly living on top of a mountain.

    Some of those "boring" cities mentioned are some of the only cities I would ever consider living in. I do find the "exciting" cities to be too big, too dangerous, too inefficient.

    I'm also going to be a librarian and am the sort of person who goes to museums for fun, so that probably tells you all you need to know…

    4 agree
  19. My husband and I currently live in a Florida suburb about an hour away from Orlando. We HATE it. We lived in New Orleans until Katrina forced us out, and Boston after that. He pines for another city.

    Anyone know anything about Austin? We have some friends in that area and they tell us it's a pretty fun place.

    • I live in Austin!! I moved here from a small town in upstate New York and I really love it here. It's affordable, has tons of stuff to do (being the live music capital and all,) lots of spots to go hiking, biking, swimming, etc. The university leads to a pretty diverse population as well. It's small enough that it's fairly easy to get around, but whether you want to live in a downtown condo, a cute little cottage or a big suburban house, you can. My only complaints are the heat (it's frickin' hot in the summer) and the fact that it's surrounded by the rest of Texas. Austin is an oasis of liberalness (which I like,) in a sea of conservative cowboys. Still though, everything else makes it worth it to me.

      • University towns are great! Diversity, interesting public lectures, international food, good shopping! Libraries that you can get lost in for days!

        • I politely disagree. I live in a University town and the shopping sucks. It's also extremely boring a lot of the time, unless you like sports.

    • I'm in a similar situation – I live in a suburb about an hour out of Sydney, and it makes me grumble. A lot. :/

      • I too am an hour out of Sydney! I dont find myself getting bored very often (read: ever!), but when asked about what my area is like, i only have one reply – "Boring as hell."
        Are you north or south?

  20. I don't understand how Vancouver ISN'T vibrant? Heck, I think Toronto is a little less vibrant (no offense to Torontonians), but "Scott Pilgram Vs. The World" was filmed, and took place there…yet Vancouver isn't vibrant enough? Weeeird.

    I mean, technically, EVERY city is vibrant in its own special snowflake kind of way. I live in a Canadian city that would be called the epitomy of boring (Edmonton Alberta…which oddly enough has been used for many a Christmas/winter-based movie). But I don't think it's boring. And I've lived here for 20 years (spent the other 4 in Whitehorse Yukon).

    Every city has its own uniqueness that sometimes is not as obvious as other cities like Tokyo or New York (BTW, I would totally live in Tokyo, but NEVER New York). But that's what makes those cities kind of cool…you might have to search for the vibrancy a little harder. I think people who are too quick to jump to the conclusion that a city is "boring" or "livable but not vibrant" are too lazy, inattentive and boring themselves.

    • Bit off topic but I think Scott Pilgrim was set in Toronto because that's where the comic's writer grew up and lives rather than because someone thought it was an awesome place to set a comic/movie.

      It'd be a bit like saying New Jersey must be just as exciting as New York because Kevin Smith set a whole series of movies there.

      2 agree
  21. Vancouver boring? That surprises me. I've been there a few times and I didn't find it boring at all – I even have friends out there who just adore it and are always posting pictures of all of the fun things they are doing. I guess it's all a matter of perspective. Some people would be bored in the most "exciting" cities in the world and then there is me, I am super psyched to be going out to the middle of no where this weekend. I live in the Broadway District of Saskatoon which has been showing up on some Canadian best places to live lists and I DO adore it here. I wouldn't live any where else but I do love my little weekend trips out to the country too, and my trips to bigger cities when I get a chance. I also can't wait to take some trips to Europe some day. I'm some what reminded of what my grade 10 science teacher said, "If you're bored you must be boring!" I thought that was a little harsh at the time but looking back – when I lived in that small town I was never bored. I always found something to do, but now I always hear my friends who stayed saying how bored they are. It's strange – but then I moved here and it's much bigger and people say the exact same thing! And now I hear people say Vancouver (which is much much bigger than Saskatoon) is boring? I suppose to someone NYC is probably boring. I guess it all comes down to a livable city is truly the one that is livable to you, not some list πŸ˜‰

  22. I too am a little shocked at Vancouver being classified as boring. I've lived there and while I prefer my quiet island life, I have to admit that Vancouver is anything but boring. It's a city where you can ski in the morning, shop in the afternoon and still enjoy world-class cosmopolitan nightlife. Then again, liveable? I read a news item yesterday that said the housing prices there are higher than NY and London. Not extremely liveable.

    2 agree
    • That's the kicker. I'm one of the rare breed born-and-bred Vancouverites, currently living in East Van, but I have to roll my eyes a little at the livable lists. Yes, it's gorgeous and clean and vibrant (if a little stand-offish), but it's also generally cripplingly expensive and low paid.

      Then again, lists always lack perspective, and that's why so much debate gets thrown at them. Nothing wrong with that. I guess it's just a reminder that compromises will need to be made no matter where you live – liveability vs. …?

  23. I think to a large extent livability–and all of the beauty/excitement that may entail–is about perspective. Where you're coming from in all likelihood affects where you feel drawn to going, yes? For example, my parents were respectively from Battle Creek, MI and Amsterdam, and although they started out in New Orleans, within 5 years of being together they were back-to-the-land hippies drawn to first a 200 year old farm, then to house on top of a mountain in PA, no tv, 2 acre garden in the "back yard", no neighbors. The 4 of us, raised in what we thought of as suffocating amounts of green and quiet, now live respectively in NY, LA, Philly and London! Of course, we all proudly email eachother pictures of our little backyard/balcony garden adventures ;)Our kids will probably all move to the country..

  24. I don't know, maybe growing up right near Detroit has left me a bit jaded but I don't think any big cities are livable!

    I love to visit them – it's nice to feel the excitement and the ability to have everything within 10-15 minutes, but I'd hate to live there.

    But, I'm more of an outdoorsy kind of person. Give me some woods and I'll love it! Some people may get bored in the upper peninsula of Michigan (read, middle of nowhere), but I love it.

    • "I love to visit, but I'd hate to live there"
      EXACTLY how I feel about the woods..heh. We used to visit Petusky alot as a kid, are you near there?

  25. Actually, I have lived in Copenhagen and it's one of the most vibrant cities ever. You have all the big town advantages in a village-like atmosphere. Just the best!

    1 agrees
  26. I live in Southampton UK. I grew up here. I have history here. Most of my friends (like me) moved away and have come back. My husband and I were born 3 days apart in the same hospital, here.

    I've lived in other places, but this is home and it's where I want to live, regardless of the way my city gets ranked.

  27. I feel like I've got the best of both worlds: being in the far west of San Francisco means that the housing is considerably less expensive than the rest of the city, because it takes so long to get downtown, and also is prone to fog. It feels like a beach town out here, no too-tall buildings, no panhandlers, a good amount of parking, seriously quiet–but the light rail is a short walk away, and I can be to the Castro in 20 minutes, downtown in 40, and go see baseball in 50-60. LOVE.
    Still more expensive than a lot of places, sure, but it's cheaper than a lot of the suburbs, if you do it 'right'. Which for us, means that my sweetie and I share a 4-bedroom house with two other people. We get to have yard and laundry and a decent-size, nice kitchen!
    We've talked about moving somewhere with more room and privacy someday, but I *really* worry that I'd feel too isolated and that I'd miss my late-night grocery shopping. ;p
    We still go to enough concerts and ballgames that living here is totally worth it. ;D

    1 agrees
  28. I LOVE L.A.!!! I grew up living 20 minutes outside the L.A./Hollywood area and I absolutely loved it. I loved the smorgasbord of things to do. And, I lived near the beach. AND, L.A. is the only place in the world where you can go snowboarding and surfing in the same day!!! I never did the fancy schmancy Hollywood glam thing, I was always into what was "underground", which is a very different side of L.A.

    I could've done without many of the people, mostly the big fishes from little ponds who didn't realize they weren't the only big fish around, haha. But living just outside all of the madnessand close enough to it probably had a lot to do with my love for it.

    I currently live in Louisville, KY and it's a cool little city, but I miss the variety that the big city has to offer. Most of the musical acts I adore don't tour here. It all just boils down to personal preference

    • Wow. I have totally heard of people being all in love with Los Angeles. I could never get on board. I tried so hard there and I just hated it. I really wanted to figure out the magical thing that made people love L.A. I found most of the people to be totally rude and sometimes even cruel. I asked someone who was professing their love of things to do if they could list a few things that they thought I should try so I could get to know the city better. They said "Fuck off. If anyone wanted you in those places you would have been invited already". I get the feeling I didn't want to be in any of the places this girl liked. I kind of felt the same about San Francisco too though. I guess I'm just not CA material.

      • How rude!That makes me SO m/sad! I think half the fun here is finding the secret rad spots stuck in strip malls etc. Off the top of my head (if you ever return): Museum of Jurassic Technology or hiking the abandoned zoo..I hated it my 1st year(of 5)here, but now I'd miss the scent of mingled jasmine & smog πŸ˜‰

  29. The people that are saying Vancouver is boring also said [and I'm paraphrasing], "that it's boring because it doesn't have poor people". Um…what? Oh right, you mean besides having the second largest population of homeless people in Canada, and a downtown east side that basically everyone in Canada knows about.

    That article annoyed me, can you tell?

    On another note, vibrant cities that aren't on lists (that I know of), and have loved: Cincinnati; Birmingham; Edmonton; Detroit (because of a nerdy urban planner fascination); and Newcastle-upon-Tyne. Vebrancy and livability are entirely dependent on what you enjoy and the lifestyles you take part in, I think. I like Vancouver, but prefer Toronto because it's more "me". And I think there are an awful lot of people who identify with places in a similar way!

    1 agrees
  30. Its funny because I live in LA now (much to my dismay) and have lived in other "not livable" cities as well as smaller places which could be considered "livable" and have decided that its all really in the eye of the beholder. LA is livable in some ways: its easy to find parking (once you've fought traffic!) there are lots of clean playgrounds with water fountains for kids, the weather is awesome, the farmer's markets are spectacular. But compared to a college town, its rife with impossible situations and super expensive (like haircuts are outrageous and food costs are high). I think its really all what you are used to and what "home" is. the suburbs of Orange County, for example, are not livable for me, though I know people are happy there. So in the end, I hate these lists and like to visit places and see for myself!

  31. Perhaps my view is colored by the fact that I have lived in Georgia my entire life, but you DO NOT have to live in a big city to have exciting things to do. I'm sick of people bad-mouthing suburbia like it's just boring people with boring "normal" lives. My husband and I live in Athens, GA (home to the University of Georgia) and we love it here. I LIKE that we can buy a 3br/2ba house in a pretty, tree-filled neighborhood for less than 150k. I like that if you drive 20 minutes out of town it's mostly farm land.

    I completely agree with the sentiment that "Only boring people get bored." We have tons of things to do. There are tons of awesome local restaurants in our town, we go swing dancing twice a week (which I didn't know about till I moved here) and have plenty of places to go see shows, art, and get drinks.

    I also like the fact that if we drive 1.5 hours in one direction we're in the mountains, but if we drive 1.5 hours in the other direction we're in Atlanta.

    Really as long as there are great people, anywhere is a great place to live. And you can find great people just about anywhere.

    1 agrees
  32. I live in Boulder, which I feel is super liveable – I can walk to work, walk to shopping and food, walk to entertainment, walk to hiking trails. There's also plenty of entertainment options offered via the university. And if I ever want more entertainment, downtown Denver is less than an hour away. Housing (I'm renting) is pricey, but I'm willing to pay for the luxury of not spending my life in my car.

  33. "For me, vibrancy IS livability."


    We live in NYC and I can't ever imagine 'downgrading'. I'll refrain from commenting more, lest I feed into the 'smug, selfish, condescending' etc stereotype of NYers. But if it's worth it to you and you're tough, I feel like there are ways to make it work. I lived here- to be fair, in Brooklyn, where I want to stay forever- on a pittance in the beginning but found ways to make it work. Museums have free nights, even hot restaurants have happy hours, and someone is always looking for a roommate. I always say that (unless you're rich) you really need to WANT to live here. It's hard work. I get resentful when people say they 'choose' not to live here when really they just couldn't hack it. You get what you put into it.

    But, of course, I understand that it's just not worth it to everyone. SO, yes, for me it's vibrancy. I like visiting other cities but I wouldn;t live in a single other (North American) one. Hopefully we can continue to live here after we have kids too…

    2 agree
    • Agreed. I'm from far upstate NY originally, went to college in farmland areas of NYS, lived in London for a bit, lived/traveled around Australia for a bit and have never felt as comfortable anywhere as I do in NYC (other than maybe Melbourne, AUS, but thats a bit to far from my family).
      I do have to explain to people that living in NYC does not mean living in Times Square, or any other tourist zone.
      There are no flashing billboards in my neighborhood, but there are lots of great small restaurants (with vegetarian/ wheat-free/organic options), interesting comedy shows and passionate people all working on some sort of dream. πŸ™‚
      Even after 5+ years living here I still get excited every time I see the skyline of Manhattan at night thinking "I can't believe I get to live here!"

  34. Didn't enjoy that article. It annoyed me how the author dismissed Copenhagen because he was bored when visiting. I don't think it's fair to judge a city's livability when only spending a few days there. The amount of touristy things to do doesn't determine whether it's a good place to live.

    I've spent six years in Yokohama, which is half an hour by train from Tokyo. I could never live in Tokyo – even Yokohama is too crowded for me. Sometimes I love it here, but now that I'm moving to my tiny upstate New York hometown, I can't wait to get out. It's harder to bear the rush hour trains now that I'm not working and don't ride them every day. I'm moving to a small community that lacks the restaurants and shops I enjoy here, but in many ways is far more vibrant than what I'll be leaving behind.

    2 agree
    • I think anybody can see the authors wanted to make a point about not enjoying nature or being very much into art – just a 20 minutes train ride from the center of Copenhagen there is an amazing modern art space where you can easily spend the day. There are touristy things to do in Copenhagen, Munich, Vienna or Stockholm – and pretty safely too. So, they don't enjoy cafes, restaurants, big parks, pleasant city architecture, day trips by bike, or wonderful modern art spaces in the middle of nature. They do enjoy poor people living aside luxurious building. And love seeing people living from one day to the other in favelas and slums. They call this daily struggle "vibrancy". I prefer my daily life which is vibrant because i live near great architecture and have easy access to nature.

      1 agrees
  35. I would LOVE to live in Vancouver, Vienna, Munich, and Zurich! haha Three of which I've actually been to.

    But I also currently live in a small Western town (Pendleton, Oregon. We're best known for the Pendleton Round-Up that, one week per year, almost triples our town in size).

    And I totally concur with only boring people get bored. Mehehe

  36. First the article annoyed me with the slant against Pittsburgh, a city that I am not from, but have fallen in love with going to school near there, and meeting my fiancee there. It is a city that has recovered amazingly from its industrial collapse, is making jobs, cleaning itself, becoming more and more green, where you can actually afford to buy a house and has all the night life and cafes and restaurants you could ask for.

    But, the most infuriating thing about the article was the comment that the most liveable cities "have no poor people"… what? First, false. Second, I have never heard more arrogant elitist garbage in my life. And their point was that, essentially, poverty and struggle make a place interesting.

    If you enjoy living in big cities like LA, London, or NY, great, I am glad you can find your niche there. But for me personally, small cities really offer the best of both worlds. I currently live in Belfast, Northern Ireland, and while I doubt it is on anyones liveability list, I would rather be here than any of the big cities mentioned. There are things to do here all the time, throughout the year, and I love it.

  37. Whose definitions of "boring" and "exciting" are we using anyway? Do you have to live in a big city with a night life and events or exibits out the wazoo to be "exciting"? I live in a very outdoorsy location. For us weekend entertainment options include snow skiing, water skiing, rock-climbing, white water rafting, mountain-scaling, camping, snowshoeing, and a whole host of other activities that I personally find much more exciting than any night life options.

    1 agrees
  38. Greetings from America's most livable city! I am happy that we (Pittsburgh) make the list because we suffer from some self esteem issues at times. No one has to tell NYC or LA that they're an interesting place to live, but it's easier for Pittsburghers (at least those of us not obsessed with football) to feel that we're not so great. We tout some "boring" claims- we've cleaned up our environment a lot and we're a good place for hospital and universities.
    We suffer from too many young people leaving (but if you stay you get the best vintage clothes and houses as the old folks die off!- morbid but true). And public transport keeps shrinking, which kind of sucks, but it's still hanging in there- my street still has both a bike lane and bus route.
    If you do want to own a house it is cheaper to own than to rent here a lot of the time- our friends in bigger cities totally envy our awesomeness of house to amount of morgage ratio.
    And we do have some pretty cool night life and art scene that feels like a city, except you totally run into people you know in a more small town fashion.
    My husband is working to make us a center for robotic art: http://www.rossums.org/. And although I am a now married OBB, I think it is cool that we just finished holding an indie DIY wedding show (vendors here if you're still in the market: http://handmadeinmarriage.com/).
    Cool things around to be found. I don't think livability necessarily precludes vibrancy, you just have to know where to look for what you care about. And in my livable city I can afford to live a comfortable life AND still have enough time and money to quest for vibrancy!

  39. Having lived in Vienna I must say I agree with any study that shows it's the best city to live in. I came to live there for my first job after Uni. It was also my first time living further away from home than 1h train ride, my first time away from my country and my first time completely on my own, not knowing anyone in that city or country for that matter. My first couple of months were harsh but once I came to know the city better I came to love it like no other. It's incredibly safe (even for slightly tipsy young women to drift home at late hours after a party), friendly (even if you don't speak the language!!), and full of life. There was always something happening. A street party, an art event, a concert, whatever! And if there wasn't, you can just make it happen! Go to the vineyards for a pic-nic, go to the opera, check out one of the many museums, have lunch in the many parks…The flats are just amazing, pretty cheap and super spacious, every part of the city is well connected by the public transport system and if you want you can ride your bike anywhere! If I could choose where to live and bring up a family, Vienna it would be! All these places just aren't as advertised as Paris, LA, or NY. I think that's what may make it seem like they're less exciting when in reality they're probably as much or even more (or maybe people like to feel the excitement of wondering whether they will be mugged/murdered if they walk down that dark street after 9pm…).

    1 agrees
  40. I grew up in Philly, lived in Boston and Dublin for a while and am now in NYC. I'm finding myself missing Philly a bunch lately. It's got everything NYC has but is just much more managable.

    That said, I know NYC has its problems, but, that article suggested that NYC doesn't have an adequate public transportation system. Uhm…HUH?!!???? If NYC has anything going for it its the ability to get anywhere in this city via public transportation.

  41. haha! who doesn't want to live in Vancouver? I mean.. c'mon! We have riots every weekend!

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