Geography

“Where do you want to work?”

This is the third form of The Question, following “Where do you want to go to school?” and “Where do you want to live?” It’s followed by “Where do you want to retire?” and “Have you locked in your burial-plot?” In life, in death, it’s location location location.

The first form of the question is addressed to middle teens, the second to early twenties. I will be 29 years old when take my JD – just in time for Form Three. It is the biggest of the questions, or at least the one which governs the longest span of lifetime. Where do I want to settle down, live my life, pursue my career?

My answer to the school question was “I don’t care, I just want an education.” The next question swapped Education for Job. In all likelihood, the third will just sub in Career. Beggars and choosers; graduating from a JD, especially from a 73rd-tier law school like the U de ME, and I shall assuredly find myself answering want ads for ambulance-chasers in the central Yucatan. Which positions will still go to a Harvard Top Ten. 

It might be the only answer. It might even be the best answer. A lack of preference for location only opens one to more possibilities. I could work in one city or another, one country or another, or shuttle back and forth; putting down no firm roots, living the life transurban, seeing the world with a paycheck in my hand. As opposed to a person who commits to living in one particular place – or even, choosing one place arbitrarily, attempts to stay there, thus dedicated themselves to fighting off challenges and ignoring opportunities for the next half-century.

As an undergraduate, this answer – the absence of preference – allowed me to attend a college in the middle of a cornfield, walking-distance of nowhere. But then, it was the only school that admitted me – to say nothing of, the only one from which I was likely to have graduated. As a graduate it allowed me to move to an urban area that was young, hip, pulsing – and which, underemployed and impecunious, I was able to take advantage of as little as any other. As a graduate student (a misanthropy-inducing return to the question’s first form) it allowed me to take my JD practically for free, injuring my job prospects little & unburdening me from a quarter million in student debt that would otherwise have resulted. 

Certainly there was opportunity cost. Privilege is the apotheosis thereof. I do not bemoan it.  

I must wonder, then, what the opp-cost shall me for the next form of the question. What does it matter to me? What worth the worry?

As far as I can see, the options available to me shall be thus:

1) One city or another

2) Small city; town; suburbia

3) Blessed Ruralia

4) A Home Base with frequent trips to one other location

5) …or multiple other locations, as they come

6) Two or more cities with regularity, moving between

7) Ronin itinerancy

There is a separation that must be made between the temporary and the permanent. At this point in my life I could spend a year living out of a suitcase without batting a bleary eye. I expect I could spend five. I am not sure if I should want to spend fifty. I *could* do a great many things, but some of them I should want to do only for an experience whose novelty has an unknown but assured half-life. Others I would want to do only as a stepping-stone to other things – the prospect of a better career, or else the stocking of enough capital that a lesser career could be afforded.

It is not just the location, or the remuneration, but the quality of the work which becomes paramount. I should live in a sled-dog shed in the Kolyma and be paid in ladles of uncooked rice if it meant that I could do a job I loved. Fortuitously for me, I love the game of money. So it would at least be a really nice shed.

This allows a lovely segue to the bringing up of The Million Dollar Problem. What choice would you make if you had enough money to facilitate any choice? Would it matter, in short, if the choice did not mean a setback in Deep Brooklyn but a townhouse with a key to Gramercy? 

I do not expect that one million dollars should have the most profound impact on my choice in the New York environs. New Hampshire, more likely. The highlands of Swaziland, rather most. In general, I would call $1×10^7 the modern ballpark of Fuck-You Money, wherein a lazy gadabout could set themselves up in fair style in the urban concatenation of their choice, and live the remainder of their days without worrying once about their daily bread. Rather more, perhaps, if one wished to participate in the highest echelons of society. Rather less if one was content with BitTorrent, or could be happy in isolation of ruralia – these two going together.

In short: the location of my life is not an absolute, but rather a factor in a larger equation. The other factors are:

A) Enjoyment of employ

B) Future thereof

C) Profitability thereof – and hence, freeing of future options

However, this does not prevent me from assigning fair values to each of the location options listed above, so that they can then be discounted properly by the application of the balance of the equation.

Let’s look at the different type of locations, and examine them in their kind. [Yes, I am being grossly summary – but the alternative is to Have Lived Everywhere, and that is only one possibility being herein considered].

1) Cities

There are several sorts of cities. For my purposes, I would say that the key major variables are:

i] Is it in America?

ii] If not America, is it in a country that is modern and stable?

iii] How far is it, Christmas Commute, from southern Maine?

iv] Is it a World City (New York, Paris, Tokyo); a major city (Boston, Rome, Cape Town); a minor city (Kashgar; Ushuaia; Portland, ME)?

v] How far is it from Other Things – a short high-speed train ride to a hundred places (Amsterdam), or a long plane-rides to anywhere (Perth)?

vi] How far is it from Nothing – hiking, camping, or just more rural climes?

vii] Is English the primary language spoken there? Is it spoken there at all?

viii] Quality of public transportation – are we talking smelly buses, or Musky monorals?

2) Townships and suburbanities

i] How far is it from the nearest city?

ii] Why isn’t the town more built up? Does it have a past? A future?

iii] Is it vibrant, self-sufficient – or country-sluggish, brain-drain’d?

iv] Is it cultured, or quaint, or a strip-mall landing-strip?

v] Is it progressive or Bible Belt?

vi] Does it sprawl into ruralia, or just more suburbia?

vii] Does it shut down at 8PM on weekday nights?

3) Blessed Ruralia

i] How close is it to non-ruralia?

ii] What access does it have to hospitals?

iii] Airports?

iv] Supermarkets?

v] How’s the weather? What’s the growing-season? How are the roads in winter?

The other options – varying levels of itinerancy – would weaken (or abnegate) the judgments above. But they would not modify them. Whether Montevideo or Monte Carlo was well- or ill-suited to me is absolute (though of course, Me is not); whether one or another is 100% of my consideration, or the two are 50% with a plane-ride in between, is a post facto modifier only.

And then there is the inverse treatment of the problem: to simply examine what I do in life, or want to do, and determine to what extent a given place offers these things. Perhaps the two can be merged somewhat for our final rubric.

What do I want, not of life, but of living?

-Quality of weather

-Quality of air

-Quality of bike-routes

-Quality of biking on-road

-Quality of picnicing, long walks, public parks

-Quality of restaurants

-Farmer’s markets; local food

-Quality of hospitals

-Local culture: art, Arts

-Prettiness of place: of my domicile, of others, of the common land, of the surroundings

-Night Owl Coefficient; or, is it possible to get a pad thai delivery after 9 PM?

To what extent does one overlap with the other? Well, I should say in general that the reason I like large cities is because they offer most everything on the latter list; the reason I like ruralia is because it offers the other things. As a result it would be foolish of me to attribute an absolute value to Cities as opposed to Ruralities: a bit of nowhere that happened to contain a world-class hospital should be preferable, in this one respect, to a major city that happened to be known for its lackluster medical care. Just as there are some cities who bicycle-paths are safer and better maintained than many rural roads. 

Since this is a qualitative exercise, I am now going to go through each and every bloody question that I’ve asked above, and analyze the potential answers. I’m curious to see what I find.

1) Cities

i] Is it in America?

I have no strong preference for remaining Stateside. But there are certainly upsides – wealth, stability of government, quality of infrastructure – which are worth weighing. Likewise the necessity of, in a foreign country, learning a new language, new customs, a new law (both for professional and personal purposes). Also, some countries drive on the wrong side of the road.

…I think I’m kidding on that last part. But as a cyclist, it’s worth noting that adjusting to left-driving would be a pain in the ass at best… and a pain in the rib-cage otherwise.

ii] If not America, is it in a country that is modern and stable?

I expect that I should prefer to live in Switzerland than Swaziland, Syracuse than Syria. But there are certain upsides to living in underdeveloped nations, just as there would be to living in poorer or less-developed portions of America. Purchasing Power Parity is off to the races when you begin to consider a nation with no federal minimum wage. In Manhattan my money should not go as far as Manhattan, Kansas, whereas in Manila or Maputo I could live like a prince. The trappings of tribe have blinded most Americans to the fact that they could be living on a hacienda with a harem and horse-barn for half what they pay for a house made of ticky-tacky. Perhaps I could not find the sort of work to support such a lifestyle – or provide the kind of challenge which I desire – in a place so poor or so isolated as to facilitate the princely life. But that is a subsequent question. For the moment, it is simple enough to say that my analysis would have to be multivariate. 

iii] How far is it, Christmas Commute, from southern Maine?

This is surely not dispositive, but a variable for plugging-in. Boston is a forty-dollar train ride, round-trip; two hours, or less, eggs to apples. New York would be a car-ride (and then I’d have to keep a car), or a longer and more expensive series of train-rides, or a short plane ride. LA would be a plane-ride longer (though not substantively more expensive). Dushanbe to Portland, on the other hand, would probably be a two-day trip, on four or even five planes, costing two thousand dollars each way – not counting hotels during multiple overnight layovers. Not something to be given too little weight in one’s calculations.

iv] Is it a World City, a major city, a capital city, a minor city?

Mostly these things will be encompassed by other, more specific judgments as to their specific utility to me. But there is something intrinsic to these broader strokes that is greater than the sum of their parks. World Cities simply have a vitality, a centrality, buzz, that cannot be otherwise found. Whereas even minor cities, if they are the capital of a government or a culture or a region, can have more going on in them – and more potential to so do – than a major city that is part of a hub thereof. Amsterdam is quite a place but Rotterdam and The Hague are within biking distance – you must consider yourself a citizen of the region, which has its benefits but leaves one bereft of centrality. Whereas Madagascar is a small pond but Tana City a bigger fish than, one might argue, could be found anywhere in Europe because of it. It depends to what extent my plans involve contributions to a city or a state. 

v] How far is it from Other Things?

The ability for a resident of Innsbruck (pop. 120,000) to wake up anywhere in Europe for the price of a rail-ticket, is far from inconsiderable. Likewise the knowledge that, though Krasnoyarsk is a major city (pop. 1,000,000), it is also 2500 miles from Moscow, should surely weigh upon our considerations.

vi] How far is it from Nothing – hiking, camping, or just more rural climes?

A brief glance at a world population map would suggest that an habitant in Montreal is no more than an hour’s drive from a Watteau painting, whereas from Chittagong you’d need to rent a seat on the Soyuz to get far from the things of man. I should rather fall asleep in a city and wake up in the country, via train, than I would take only two hours but be forced to drive (and compensate for traffic, etc etc). Each city would assuredly have to be investigated by itself – but such would be merited.

vii] Is English the primary language spoken there? Is it spoken there at all?

Some common spoken English would be awesome – but it’s hardly a deal-breaker. I could learn enough of Language X to get by, in a short period of time. Fluency is something else.

viii] Quality of public transportation – are we talking smelly buses, or Musky monorails?

Preference for the latter.

2) Townships and suburbanities

i] How far is it from the nearest city?

Living in idyllic Harpswell, ME puts one a bare forty minutes by car from downtown Portland. One would find little less idyll in Jonesport, but that would put you two hours from the nearest small city – and that city is Bangor. Without overindulging myself in cartographic research (a constant temptation & hazard), I would wager that there are places of extreme beauty in Not New England which, shall we say, do not lend themselves to a quick trip to the City. (Or force one to substantively redefine the word ‘quick,’ which I believe occurs the moment you cross the Hudson.)

ii] Why isn’t the town more built up? Does it have a past? A future?

It might be nice to live in a place that is Going Places – that is to say, going to be A Place. This as opposed to a place which Was A Place, and has fallen. Conversely there are many a place which is due for a renaissance, or has experienced one, or several. You wouldn’t catch me looking down at the opportunity to live in The Eternal City, nor to help to make one.

iii] Is it vibrant, self-sufficient – or country-sluggish, brain-drain’d?

This ties to a discussion of 1.iii above. Florence had perhaps 100,000 people in its environs to produce the Florentine Renaissance, whereas Odessa, Texas, with its comparable population, is not generally considered to be quite so worthy of tourism. 

iv] Is it cultured, or quaint, or a strip-mall landing-strip?

When one has the opportunity to live in Bruges, one might be forgiven for preferencing that over a chance to live in Lubbock. An ancient city is not necessarily preferable to a modern one, but in general I should rather rent a castle than a condo. 

v] Is it progressive or conservative?

I’d just as soon not get my ass handed to me just because I tend to dress like a trepanned homosexual. Physical violence aside, it would be nice to have friends, and it would not surprise me to find a rather substantive cultural gap between Yours Jewly and the cast of Red State.

vi] Does it sprawl into ruralia, or just more suburbia?

The suburb of Cape Elizabeth, Maine, is perhaps ten minutes’ drive from downtown Portland. In that suburb it is possible to own a working farm. The suburb of Long Island City, New York, is perhaps ten minutes drive from downtown Manhattan (assuming it’s 3AM on a weeknight). In that suburb you would still have to head at least halfway to the Hamptons before you saw the broadside of a barn.

vii] Does it shut down at 8PM on weekday nights?

Some small towns – particularly those with colleges, say – have a surprisingly vibrant nightlife. Some large towns are in bed before the sun goes down. I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that there are towns of 10,000 people where one can get a good pizza delivered at 1AM – just as I reside in a town of some 60,000, where said venture is essentially impossible. Much to what is obviously my eternal consternation.

3) Blessed Ruralia

i] How close is it to non-ruralia?

The inverse of an earlier question.

ii] What access does it have to hospitals?

Mount Desert Island Hospital provides a remarkable level of care considering its local population. This is much due to the affluence of that population – and its considerable increase in size during the summer. Whereas there are some rural areas in this country which are hours’ drive from the nearest hospital; I tried finding a map which displays ambulance coverage or response times, and in retrospect I’m glad I couldn’t find one.

iii] Airports?

Being near a small regional airport can still put one a few hours from being in The Stream Of Things. Being far from such a thing is isolation.

iv] Supermarkets?

Something tells me that, if I had to drive an hour every time I wanted to go to the grocery store, I would be a rather sad panda. This might be compensated for by, say, a passing delivery service, or the opportunity to engage said (say on a weekly basis); or, better yet, by the local superabundance of farms. But it is worth consideration.

One might also factor in the prevalence of restaurants, by quality and variety; the availability of local produce, such as by growing season and climate type (as well proximity to ocean or inland aquaculture); or just that you’re within a quick drive from a good bakery or coffee-roastery. 

v] How’s the weather? What’s the growing-season? How are the roads in winter?

Being able to bicycle 365 days a year… wouldn’t suck.

Let me provide one illustrative example. Cut from an email which I wrote this morning (which, indeed, provided the impetus for this little exercise):

There’s a 3.5mi loop in Portland that you can bike, on pavement or dust, so that you never have to cross traffic. It’s basically a closed course. Almost nobody uses it, and after 10pm *nobody* uses it, so I have it to myself.

Living in Portland without that loop would actually kinda suck. I’m kind of astonished to reflect.

When I was in Rome, I was – of course – bowled over impressed by like 87 different things. But it’s funny, the thing that really impressed me the most was that Rome has the world’s best fuckmothering bike path. It follows the Tiber River, so already you’re into Deep Fantasy territory. But it follows the river at water level, which is 100 feet below city level. There’s a beautiful stone wall from the bank of the river up to the city, and the bike path is at the bottom. So it’s entirely separate from the city. It’s long, it’s bikes-only, and you have to keep your wits about you lest you fall into the river. (I like that about biking – you can zone out 99% but you still have to be a little bit awake, b/c otherwise you game over.)

Boston had the Charles River trails, which were excellent. You could follow the river for over ten miles on either side, almost all of the time on paved offroad paths. The only problem with those was, you still have to stop for a grade crossing with traffic once every mile or two. Also some of them were big with old ladies walking, and the corners were just straight up too tight to not kill old ladies.

It is worth noting that the quality of bike-paths like this might be one of my biggest considerations in choosing where I want to live, especially in relation to cities.

Alright, then: I’ve discussed a superabundance of variables. Now comes the hard work of, with full consideration and giving-weigh, choosing how important each of these variables is to me; providing examples of a Home Run for each potential category; and then, perhaps, looking at a city or three to see how they measure up.

World City: [2 points]

Major City of its region or people: [2 points]

Stately Home: [2 points]

If smalltown or suburban, near to a city: [1 point]

If rural, near to a major city: [2 points]

In America: [2 points]

In a country that is modern and stable: [2 points]

In a country which is fairly stable and has affluent elements: [1 point]

Easy commute to Southern Maine [up to 2 points]

Ease of access to other places of interest: [up to 3 points]

Ease of access to The Country / hiking / wilderness: [up to 2 points]

Water access: [up to 3 points]

English as primary or secondary language: [1 point]

Quality of public transportation: [1 point]

History (a past): [up to 2 points]

Vibrancy (a future: [up to 2 points]

Culture of the people: [up to 2 points]

Hospitals: [up to 3 points]

Airports: [up to 2 points]

Markets and food: [up to 3 points]

Climate: [up to 4 points]

A Flaneur: [up to 2 points]

Parks, picnics: [up to 2 points]

Aesthetica: [up to 2 points]

Night Owl: [up to 2 points]

Bike-routes: [up to 5 points]

Purchasing Power Parity: [up to 10 points]

Let me provide a few illustrative examples, from my limited travels, as best as I understand them.

1] PORTLAND, MAINE, USA

Major City: As the sole and central urbanity of the state, I will award it a single point. [1 point]

In America: [2 points]

Easy commute to Southern Maine: [2 points]

Ease of access to other places of interest: It’s a six-hour drive to Manhattan, and a bit more of a drive to Munich [1 point]

Ease of access to The Country / hiking / wilderness: [2 points]

Water access: both fresh and salt [3 points]

English as primary or secondary language: [1 point]

History: [1 point]

Vibrancy: [1 point]

Kultur: [1 point]

Hospitals: [3 points]

Airports: [2 points]

Markets and food: [2 point]

Climate: [2 points]

A Flaneur: [1 point]

Parks, picnics: [2 points]

Aesthetica: [1 point]

Night Owl: [1 point]

Bike-routes and biking: not the best trails, but little traffic outside of the City [3 points]

Purchasing Power Parity: if Manhattan is a 0, and Monrovia a 10, I’ll give it [3 points]

TOTAL: 36 points

2] BOSTON, MA, USA

Major City: [2 points]

In America: [2 points]

Easy commute to Southern Maine [2 points]

Ease of access to other places of interest: [2 points]

Ease of access to The Country: [1 points]

Water access: beaches a bit more crowded, fewer lakes [2 points]

English: [1 point]

Public transportation: [1 point]

History: [1 point]

Vibrancy: [2 point]

Culture of the people: [2 points]

Hospitals: [3 points]

Airports: [2 points]

Markets and food: [3 points]

Climate: [2 points]

A Flaneur: [1 point]

Parks, picnics: [1 point]

Aesthetica: [1 point]

Night Owl: [2 points]

Bike-routes: great offroading, public transportation makes it easy to get out of the center of things [4 points]

Purchasing Power Parity: [1 point]

TOTAL: 38 points

Not surprisingly, the two cities have a great deal in common. A number of the benefits of one – such as nearby access to Things – overlaps to the other. In general there is more to do in Boston, and I would rather live there.

However, if you were instead to move us 10 minutes outside of Boston, you’d… well, you’d still be in Boston. Whereas 10 minutes outside of Portland you could be on a farm. I’d give a point to purchasing power (lower rents and local fees), two points for ruralia (growing things!), and just from that they’re about tied. 

Conclusion: all things being equal, living on a farm near a small city would make me happier than living in a little condo in a medium-sized city.

Now, let’s see how Manhattan fares in all this.

3] MANHATTAN, NEW YORK, USA

World City: [2 points]

In America: [2 points]

Easy commute to Southern Maine [2 points]

Ease of access to other places of interest: [2 points]

Ease of access to The Country / hiking / wilderness: [1 point]

Water access: [2 points]

English as primary or secondary language: [1 point]

Quality of public transportation: [1 point]

History (a past): [1 point]

Vibrancy (a future): [2 points]

Culture of the people: [2 points]

Hospitals: [3 points]

Airports: [2 points]

Markets and food: [4 points]

Climate: [2 points]

A Flaneur: [2 points]

Parks, picnics: [2 points]

Aesthetica: [2 points]

Night Owl: [3 points]

Bike-routes: I’m not entirely sure, but I think it’s pretty good: [3 points]

Purchasing Power Parity: [0 points]

TOTAL: 41 points

The difference between Manhattan and Boston is small. The city offers more, but the ability to get away for the weekend is somewhat diminished. Also, expensive as fuck. However, if we were to throw in a balance of a rural sort – say, a place in the Hamptons, or even better a small farm upstate near a railway stop – that might be good for adding a half a point here, a half a point there, to increase the total even further. And, it should be noted, it would do so more than the equivalent dacha-ing in Boston, which already has points for rural access. 

Conclusion: I’d marginally rather live in New York than Boston.

Let’s try a more rural clime, as best as I am able to so do:

3] THE VICINITY OF HINSDALE, NH

Stately Home: [2 points]

Near to a city (Brattleboro): [1 point]

Nonfar from a major city (Boston): [1 point]

In America: [2 points]

Easy commute to Southern Maine [2 points]

Ease of access to other places of interest: Northampton; Burlington; Montreal [1 point]

Ease of access to The Country / hiking / wilderness: [2 points]

Water access: lots of fresh water, not too near salt water [2 points]

English as primary or secondary language: [1 point]

Culture of the people: I assume it’s Brattleboro-liberal, or near enough[2 points]

Hospitals: [2 points]

Airports: [1 point]

Markets and food: Brattleboro co-op is pretty excellent [2 points]

Climate: middle of snowhere; short growing season [1 point]

Parks, picnics: hard to have the full flush of this without urbanity to set them off [1 point]

Bike-routes: green mountain loop [4 points]

Purchasing Power Parity: I’m thinking about [5 points]

TOTAL: 32 points

Basically, living on a farm within a 20 minutes drive of a cool small city, and within a few hours’ drive of a cool large city, is a pretty fucking nice gig. But at this point in my life, it would still be a little quiet, a little sedentary… unless of course I traveled for work, in which case having such a place as a home-base would go pointwise through the roof.

Let’s look at some things a little farther from home.

5] SIENA: 

A minor city: [1 point]

Near to a major city (1h Firenze, 3h Roma): [1 point]

In a country that is modern and stable: I will give Italy the benefit of the doubt [2 points]

Easy commute to Southern Maine: not the shortest or the cheapest, but pretty easy: [1 point]

Ease of access to other places of interest: #europe [3 points]

Ease of access to The Country / hiking / wilderness: [2 points]

Water access: hour’s drive to Lake Trasimeno; hour and a half to the coast [1 points]

English as secondary language: [1 point]

History (a past): [2 points]

Culture of the people: Bene of Doubt [2 points]

Hospitals: nonbenefit [1 point]

Airports: short trainride to Peretola [1 point]

Markets and food: the heart of Tuscany… but not, I’m guessing, a good place to get Pad Thai [2 points]

Climate: oh hell yeah [4 points]

A Flaneur: [2 points]

Parks, picnics: [2 points]

Aesthetica: [2 points]

Bike-routes: from what I can see, we’re in the neighborhood of [5 points]

Purchasing Power Parity: touristy + the Euro [3 points]

TOTAL: 38 points

In short: I would not at all mind living in a Tuscan paradise. Who’d have guessed?

The major consideration, here, would be finding work in such a place. I doubt I could. But *if* I could, that *would not suck.* The numbers do not lie! 

Let’s run the numbers on a few other places, just to see how well they dance. This will have to be rough approximations, since I have already spent 5 hours on this exercise and do not wish to swell that expenditure with meticulous research. (Fermi is my copilot.)

6] Salina Cruz, Oaxaca, Mexico

Major City of its region or people: [1 point]

In a country which is fairly stable and has affluent elements: [1 point]

Easy commute to Southern Maine: [1 point]

Ease of access to other places of interest: [1 point]

Ease of access to The Country / hiking / wilderness: [2 points]

Water access: [3 points]

English as secondary language: [1 point]

History (a past): [1 point]

Culture of the people: [1 point]

Hospitals: [1 point]

Airports: [1 point]

Markets and food: I expect that the variety of cuisine is not exceptional. But will grant BoD: [1 point]

Climate: [2 points]

Parks, picnics: [2 points]

Night Owl: tourist city, so [1 point]

Bike-routes: pretty rural, so [2 points]

Purchasing Power Parity: Oaxaca, so [8 points]

TOTAL: 30 points

That is to say: Living in a quiet city on the Mexican seacoast would not exactly suck either. BUT it would not be as cool as living in a quiet city on the Mediterranian seacoast – if only because of the greater access to goods & also to other towns. Nor would it be as cool as living in a place that was a bit more central.

7] Khorugh

Ease of access to other places of interest: [1 point]

Ease of access to The Country / hiking / wilderness: [2 point]

History (a past): [1 point]

Markets and food: [1 point]

Climate: [1 point]

Parks, picnics: [1 point]

Biking: at least it would be pretty [1 point]

Purchasing Power Parity: [10 points]

TOTAL: 18 points

…basically the only way that this would remotely appeal to me is if I was set up in a palace like a fucking maharajah. And even then, I’d probably rather be in a walk-up in Oakland. Fancy that.

8] Burgas, Bulgaria

Minor city: [1 points]

Two hours to Plovdiv, Varna, Edirne: [1 point] 

Bulgaria is begrudged a point: [1 point]

Part of Europe, on a semblance of rail: [1 point]

Google Maps suggests it’s right next to a major national park: [2 points]

Smack on the Black Sea: [2 points]

History: [1 point]

Hospitals: [1 point]

Airports: [1 point]

Markets and food: [1 point]

Climate: [2 points]

A Flaneur: [1 point]

Parks, picnics: [1 point]

Night Owl: it’s Eastern Europe, so [1 point]

Bike-routes: fairly rural areas, looks like some semi-biking routes by the ocean [3 points]

Purchasing Power Parity: not exactly a thriving country, but EuroZone [6 points]

TOTAL: 26 points

It seems like a perfectly nice place. But it’s far away from a major metropolitan center, it is not a major cultural capitol, it is on the wrong side of a century of Stalinism… it is a place which I could absolutely make work, but would not consider it a priority. Unless I had a particular reason to be there. Which I can think for business is not much likely, and for the moment I am not looking to buy sex slaves, so I expect that all in all I should rather live elsewhere.

Since we’re now looked at a handful of places, as best as can be done, I think it’s time we try to put together a Shining City On The Hill. The sort of place which would, I’d think, be the best possible place to live in.

9] THE PEOPLE’S DEMOKRATIK REPUBLIK OF IDEALISTAN

It would be a bucolic rural township located a short commute from a vibrant downtown urban center.

It would be a city that has been inhabited for thousands of years and enjoys the cultural heritage thereof.

It would be in a country that enjoys stable, liberal, democratic government. Preferably with favorable taxes and immigration policies.

It would have access to an international airport & dependable high-speed rail, preferably on one of the Eurail lines.

It would be located near fresh water, an ocean, mountains, and natural parks.

It would be English-speaking, or else multilingual.

It would be a place where brains are drained /to/ rather than /from/.

It would have a world-class hospital, likewise university.

It would be a foodie’s paradise with several ethnic enclaves. It would have several breweries, distilleries, and coffee roasteries. It’s herbalists and tea-shops would dwarf the dreams of a fantasy writer. The bakery would make FINANCIERS, dammit.

It’s Koppen Scale rating would be “HAIL TO THE KING, BABY.”

It would be pedestrian and bicycle-friendly. Every road would have cycle-tracks and sidewalks. There would be trails leaving the city which do not cross traffic at grade. There would be a flat, lit, well-maintained 5mi+ loop nearby

There would be excellent parks and picnic-spaces, both within and without the city.

It would be the architectural fuck-child of Ghent, Genoa and Goa, with enough winding streets to reward a thousand nights of half-drunken wanderjahr.

It would have AN ALL-NIGHT FALAFEL JOINT. 24/7. Cannot belabor this enough.

And somehow it would be cheap as the dickens.

There is more to discuss of these conclusions, but I have been typing nonstop for almost seven hours and I should probably be doing things that are not this for a time. Let it simply be said that this activity was exceptionally informative for me… and that my new life plan is to ignore such decisions, marry rich, buy a townhouse on Russian Hill, and spend the rest of my life getting sauvignon blowjobs while yelling at my microclimate app.

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~ by davekov on 13 August 2014.

2 Responses to “Geography”

  1. How many points does Kirkwall, Orkney, get?

  2. KBrevs:

    It’s a small town in the middle of nowhere (no offense, Qwghlm) with a climate that would strike even a Seattle resident as morose. Its aesthetic appeal is also somewhat lost on me, since I am from Kennebunkport, and it appears to excel at the design principle Kennebunkport Only With More Lichen. It is at least in the UK, and probably has the most ballerest herring in the world. I’m guessing it would score in the low 20s.

    Your question appeals to me, because it encourages me to move towards generalizing my little rubric. Follow-up post, here I come!

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