Work And Live In The City?

Large cities draw people to them with their abundance of work and entertainment. Anyone will make a trek to the city for the right type of entertainment. Performing arts centers cozy up to a slew of fine dining restaurants that combine for a magical evening. But it takes a special fortitude to work in the city, especially if that work involves a commute of 45 minutes or more. Driving an hour or more for a delectable dinner and spectacular show every month or so is nothing. Driving an hour or more one-way to put your nose to the grindstone and work 8 hours then spend another hour driving back home every day of the week requires a strong mental state and one hell of a podcast to not go crazy in the process. So why do people even bother with commutes?

Cost Of Living

The biggest denominator when it comes to choosing suburban or city living when your work is in a large city can come down to finances. Hopefully, you have a job that can afford you the luxury of living in an apartment near enough to work that you can either walk or get there within 20 minutes or less driving or taking public transportation. Unfortunately, the reality of today is not every job does afford for one to live near their work, cover the rest of their overhead, and support a social life. In 2017 it was estimated that a person living in the City put 65% of their income towards rent alone. To live in a one-bedroom apartment in Downtown Los Angeles you’re looking at prices starting around $2,100. For a one-bedroom. If you have a family and need at least 3 bedrooms that price jumps up to almost $4,000/month. And this is just apartment living.

Live in a city like Long Beach (which with a commute to Downtown LA running at least an hour in rush-hour traffic, each way) and the difference is staggering. A house in Los Feliz (a much shorter commute for a DTLA worker) runs about $810 per sq. ft. That’s almost double the price per square foot in Long Beach which clocks in around $467 per square foot. While Los Feliz is a wealthier, more affluent neighborhood, the median cost of homes in Los Angeles still sits at $523 per sq. ft. Wherever you live in the country, though, it’s common knowledge that living further away from work in a separate suburb will bring your housing costs down, and you’re likely to get more bang for your buck in terms of space.


Another common factor in deciding whether to live and work in the city can come down to your family situation. If it’s just you and your spouse, combined incomes could afford you a nice condo or luxurious apartment in the city where you can live, work, and play. Add a baby to the mix and you’ve now got a much higher overhead with doctor’s visits and insurance, childcare, and diapers, toys/books, etc. Then there’s the issue of space to consider. Once baby needs their own room for sleeping as well as play time, your once cozy 2 or 3 bedroom apartment or one bedroom home now feels crowded and there’s no room for anyone with toys and walkers taking up every inch of valuable real estate in your home. And they only need more as they get older. Public schools are often a much higher caliber in suburbs than urban cities. You can also afford a house with a yard and separate rooms for playing the further away from a city you get.  


If you’ve never had to commute day in and day out for more than 45 minutes each way, you have no idea the toll it takes on your mental health. Divorce lawyers actually attribute long commutes (45 minutes of more, everyday) as a contributing factor to almost half the marriages they absolve. While divorce in and of itself is a gray and sticky situation unique to each individual, having to spend 45 minutes or more of your day just getting to work and then another 45 minutes or so getting home seriously wears on a person’s mood. That mood is transferred to their partner and if they’re not careful it can slowly erode even the best relationships. Unfortunately, the cost of living element often forces many of us into these types of situations. But there are little tricks to try to alleviate some of the stress of driving such as an engaging podcast, carpooling with a fellow co-worker or your spouse, if it’s manageable, and diligently exercising and practicing meditation which are natural mood enhancers.

In the end, the debate between work and life in the city versus suburban living with a crazy commute comes down to the quality of life you’re able to create out of your financial and work situation. Loving your job, an overwhelming sense of satisfaction instead of dread when you go into work is top of the list. You spend most of your time at work. If you aren’t fulfilled in what you do or where you work it’s going to negatively affect the rest of your life. The financial ability of being able to take vacations, go on regular dates with your significant other, and maintain a healthy social life with friends and family can also make the long commute you suffer worth it in the end. Like anything in life, it’s a delicate balance that you have to manage, given your particular set of circumstances. But always remember the immortal and wise words of miss Maya Angelou “If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.”

Big City Livin’ or Small Town Life

Where you live plays a huge part in who you are as a person in the world. There’s an undeniable difference in the rhythm of a big city versus a small town. That rhythm alone – the pace at which people plug along day after day – affects so much about a person. In movies the Big Shot Big City Lawyer is always in a rush, and the Small Town Simple Farmer can’t be hurried along for anything. And it’s true; people in larger cities move faster. You can always tell a tourist from a dweller on the streets of NYC or Hollywood.

Granted, these assumptions are very general and not everyone fits “the mold” of where they live. These are the people most likely to migrate to a coast or inland, to find a place more suited to them. But why is this the way it is? What creates this rhythm? Let’s ponder…

Distance and Space Between

The most notable difference between big and small cities isn’t their size, necessarily, but how much is crammed into the area. Seriously, just think about the irony that in a large city like Los Angeles where every centimeter of space is being taken up by someone or something, there’s less space to own, let alone exist, than in a small town like Kingfisher, OK where the nearest shopping mall is over an hour away in Oklahoma City. And Los Angeles is in the midst of massive development everywhere; tearing down old, flailing buildings and making way for high-rise, high-occupancy buildings with fine dining and shops on their first floor.

This isn’t to say smaller towns of 50,000 people or so are deprived of all civilization. It’s still the 21st century. They have shopping centers and more densely populated areas. But they also have space between things, yet nothing is more than 10 minutes away. It makes tasks like going to the grocery store less daunting.

Volume of People and Things

Further down this difference line we get the number of people and things sharing these small or large seeming spaces. Add this one factor to the example we just used of grocery shopping and this mundane, necessary task changes instantly. Unless you’re there the moment the doors open to Trader Joe’s on a Tuesday, there will never be a time when it’s “not that busy”. As the day goes on, it only gets worse. And it’s not just the crowds of people you have to muddle through, it’s the cars and traffic. Grocery shopping in a smaller town might take an hour if you’re buying a lot and taking your time browsing the aisles. Step out for a total of 10 things and you’ll spend half an hour sitting in traffic just getting there and back in a larger city.

More people in a smaller amount of space lends itself to an array of habits and feelings like you never have enough time for anything and so your life is a constant grind of go, go, go! There’s a heightened sense of urgency among big city dwellers that doesn’t exist in smaller towns.

As far as things and things to do, it’s not that there “isn’t anything to do” in a small town, there’s just only so much to do. Listening to Cory Booker speak about his time as Mayor of Newark, NJ, he spent a lot of time trying to attract businesses to his smaller town. Newark’s a town of close to 300,000 people and it was a tough sell because the investor’s didn’t believe that the smaller town could sustain a business of their size. Booker was able to get businesses there and the city got a nice little boom, but think of towns that are smaller than that. They aren’t likely to have luxury movie theatres like the Arclight or a Starbucks on every corner. Theatres with spoken word, original plays, or open mic comedy nights don’t exist. There’s one local, community run theatre – if you’re lucky. Orchestras and museums aren’t in every small town. The Arts are the last to flourish in smaller towns.

Again, though, it isn’t that they don’t exist, they just aren’t a huge portion of what there is to do in a small town. It’s encouraging to see more small boutiques and coffee shops pop up that have locally sourced goods and ingredients to sell their customers. Even things like Wine and Paint nights are becoming more trendy in smaller areas. But it’s not like NYC where you could go out every single night forever and still have something new to do.

Proportional and Relative

There are many more differences on a substantially nuanced level between the densely and sparsely populated areas of the country. But these two main points are the biggest factors in what we first noted was the main difference – a city’s rhythm. Less people and more room gives the sense of having more time and less need to rush. Flip the script and it’s no wonder there’s more stress and demand for instant results, and less feeling like you have room to breathe and relax. It affects people differently. Some people were born ready to run, and so they feel at ease in a faster paced environment. Others are content to take their time and enjoy the view, so the slow beat of a small town’s drum appeals to their senses. Whatever type of person you are, if you feel you were born in the wrong environment, you can always change it with a move.

Cities On The Rise

If you want a change of scenery from small-town life to something more metropolis, more mature, more exciting, you’re likely to dream about a move to The Big Apple, The Windy City, or The City of Angels. Lots of people do it every day. But talk about culture shock. There’s a completely different pace and rhythm to a large city like New York or LA. It’s a rat race unlike any of rural America. Aside from the aesthetic, though, the cost of living is astronomical. So much so, that artists who live in these areas to pursue their creative careers are opting to leave and pursue their passion elsewhere, because while they may not win an Oscar, they can continue doing what they love without being house-poor. But you want a change, a place to grow. Find the in-between. Here are four cities that are on the rise, but not quite the major leagues that just might be right for you.

Omaha, Nebraska

Garnering the nickname “Silicone Prairie” for its low-cost of living attracting more and more startups, Omaha is a great place to hang your hat. With the largest indoor jungle at the Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium and a business Index rating of 7 out of 10, this city boasts low unemployment rate, and an abundance of career opportunities with companies such as Berkshire Hathaway, Union Pacific Railroad, and TD Ameritrade – to name a few – as well as hospitals, schools, and tech firms. Rich with History, based on the average income and rent, it’s projected you’ll keep around 81% of your income for things other than housing. Not bad for a budding city.

Columbia, South Carolina

The capital of South Carolina, Columbia, is a great place to live with an average 83% of your income left for overhead and spending outside of rent/mortgage. Columbia plays host to 5 National Historic Landmarks, including the Robert Mills House. Their art museum contains multiple galleries with a vast array of collections from paintings to sculptures. The steady growth in the job market earns it a 6.8 out of 10 rating with companies like Westinghouse Electric, and research through the University of SC on the cutting edge of green energy development, Innovista Program.

Memphis, Tennessee

Launch yourself into the legendary city of Memphis where musical greats to the likes of Elvis, B.B. King, and Johnny Cash recorded albums at the famous Sun Studio. The average monthly rent comes in just under $1,000 allowing you to keep up to 83% of your income. FedEx, International Paper, and Auto Zone (all Fortune 500 companies) are part of the business services industry which leads the way in career opportunities. Health and education jobs fair well in Memphis as well as agriculture and research for ag tech and crop development. Sitting right along the Mississippi River, this city plays a major role in distribution as well as music. You won’t lack culture or money to experience it in Memphis.

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Home to The Thunder, Oklahoma City is one of the top three most affordable places to live, according to a CNBC assessment. Right at the heart of Oklahoma, this City falls between two major Universities that compete on a national scale both academically and athletically. The art scene isn’t starving either with a boom in film production and their very own festival, the Lyric Theatre hosting a never-ending stream of Broadway National Tours, as well as their own productions for kids and adults, and the thriving Paseo Arts District. Careers in energy, healthcare, aviation, and skilled industrial workers have the stronghold. Companies such as AT&T, Sonic Corporation, Mercy Health Center and the Federal Aviation Administration provide opportunities for thousands. The salary could use a boost to compete better with the national average, but your exceedingly low cost-of-living will grant you the ability to pay your rent and enjoy a game or a show any time you like with an average of 84% of your income kept after paying rent.

You don’t need to pack your whole life into a car and drive til you hit the ocean to find a little more adventure than you’re used to. If you want more than what your small town has to offer, but still enjoy a slightly slower pace than that of a crowded urban city, there is something within reach that will afford you personal growth and a comfortable life.

A Summation of Migration

We’ve come a long way from the thirteen original colonies. For one, our nation now stretches from sea to shining sea. But we’ve also changed patterns and reasons for our migration. The 1800s brought the Louisiana Purchase and many great movements west. At first to resettle the Native American tribes, then as immigrants from Ireland and other parts of Europe poured in from overseas. The industrial revolution and whispers of gold drove the most adventurous or ones with nothing left to lose to strike out in search of fortune and a better life. Shortly after WWI America experienced the Great Migration as many African-Americans left the south in favor of a more tolerable north.

Nowadays, however, over half of people choose to stay close to where they live. Some never even leave their neighborhood. Others will strike off for a while but still find their way back home. But our reasons for relocating remain much the same.


It was seen by puritans and pilgrims. The opportunity to settle in a land far from an overbearing monarch and live life as best befits one’s own conscious. It was seen by the settler tired of living in the squalor of cramped cities. Staking a claim in a piece of land and making it her own. It’s seen by freshly commenced seniors ready to embark on the next chapter of their life with a new school and specialized focus on their future career. It’s seen by the junior executive looking to make moves and her mark on the industry.

The opportunity to do more, see more, be part of more than just what you’ve known is a major driving force for relocation. It’s very common among students both heading off to college or a masters or doctoral program and those leaving school to finally pursue the experience of their career. Moves within that career are also common. The end of your career could even bring about a relocation. Retiring to a community more aligned with how you want to spend your remaining days, the big reward for all your years of work and service. When provided with an opportunity it’s only natural to take it.

A Clean Slate

If there’s one thing that is certain in life it’s that nothing is certain. Sure, you have a measured sense of normal and a plan for the next X amount of years til retirement and eventually the final moment. Unfortunately, things change, those plans change and you may find yourself wanting, craving, needing a change. Financial hardships such as a layoff can spur relocating. Sometimes that relocation takes us back home to find our footing before taking a new path. That’s the premise for a whole category of film and tv. The rug gets pulled out from under the heroine’s feet so she goes back to her roots to get back on her feet. There she falls in love with the handsome, small town boy and there’s drama but they live happily ever after when she realizes it was love she needed all along The End. While movies are an exaggeration of life there’s still some very real shared truth to this situation.

Adventure Awaits

Then there are those of us who merely point to a place on the globe and declare “There! That’s my new home!” And then they go off and learn a completely new language, sell all their things, put their house on the market, pack only what they need and can fit in a backpack and they set off for adventure. Maybe it’s not quite so romantic as that, although it’s not unheard of. There’s certainly something thrilling about picking up and moving to a new city, state, or even country and just letting whatever will happen happen. There’s no nearby base of friends to trust or fall back on in tough times. It’s a test of one’s mettle. It’s also very enlightening; experiencing the differences and noticing the similarities between yourself and someone brought up in a different way than yourself. It’s true what Mark Twain said. “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.” Maybe that’s what adventurers seek; not just the thrill of new sensations, but a yearning to know people, all people, on a deeper level of understanding so we can live in harmony.

Whatever reason you have for a major move, take a deep breath and then the plunge. It’ll be scary and exhilarating all at once. You bought the ticket, so make the most of the ride.  

Moving To A New City

There’s nothing quite as exciting as packing up and moving cross-country to a different city. There’s also nothing more panic-inducing than packing up and moving cross-country to a different city. The possibilities and challenges combine to make for a very stressful, yet rewarding experience. New opportunities and friends you haven’t met yet await in a land ripe for adventure and discovery. But how do you make it not-so-anxiety-ridden? Well, here’s a place to start…

Social Media

The world is undoubtedly more connected now than ever before. Your friends from high school can be scattered literally anywhere in the world and you would still have a way of reaching them. While you may not be on Best Buds For Life terms with the friendly acquaintances, the option to send a message asking for advice is always available to you. Reach out and ask about the area, commutes, neighborhoods, cost, etc. How did they find their place? What do they love/hate about their current living situation? Tips on what NOT to do, anything they can give insight to is of value. And if you don’t know anyone personally who lives there, you can always throw out a general “Anyone ever visited X for an extended amount of time?” and see what answers you get. It won’t be the same in-depth knowledge as a resident of the city, but it’s more than what you had before.

Property Company/Realtor Sites

If you’re moving into an apartment, you’re in luck. Every management company will have up-to-date information on their available units and the surrounding area. For rental properties not managed by a company, subscription-based sites are everywhere. In LA there’s West Side Rentals. Sites like this will give you basic info for free (neighborhood, price, walkability, a photo or sometimes more), or you can pay the subscription fee and get access to landlord contact info, more specific details, and even set up viewings (really only useful if you’re already in the area). Even if you don’t subscribe, these sites can be helpful in familiarizing yourself with the area and price ranges. If you’re buying a property though, you need a realtor in your corner same as if you were just moving down the street.

Exploratory Trips

Depending on where you’re going and where you’re coming from, this may or may not be an available option. But without a doubt, the absolute best way to be confident in your move and finding your new home is to take a trip and explore the city. You want at least 3 days to run around, a week if you can afford it. You won’t be able to “see the city” like you would try to on a vacation, but there will be plenty of time for that once you’ve moved. If you are able to take a trip to your new destination, however, make sure your focus is on point by having these steps planned out in advance:

  1. A Place To Stay. If you’ve got friends in the area, ask to crash on their couch. If you’ve got family – even better. If you know no one, find a hotel you trust anywhere in the city and book it. If you’re moving for work, you know where you’ll need to be most of the time. Pick a place away from your soon-to-be new work location. (Stay with me, explanation to follow.)
  2. A Place To Visit. Hop online a day or two before the trip and pick 3-4 currently available houses/apartments that you can visit while you’re in town. Choose a variety of places to check out that are both near to work and farther away. If you’re moving somewhere like LA and you work on the West Side pick a place in the Valley. Properties vary drastically in what we’ll call Bang for Your Buck from area to area. The price of rent for a Two Bed, Two Bath in Sherman Oaks would only get you One Bed, One Bath at best in Brentwood, but the commute… Dante’s Seventh Circle of hell ain’t got nothin’ on the 405 North between 4 and 7 pm. (Or any other freeway in that and other insane cities for that matter.) Cheaper rent means more for Savings and Doings, but your sanity should also always be in consideration. Which brings us to…
  3. A Way To Get Around. Anticipating how you’ll get around once you’re there also aids in the decision making. New York City is a walking city. Los Angeles is a driving city. Whatever your main mode of transportation will be, use that as your main mode of travel on your trip. Rent a car so you know what driving will be like as you travel from apartment to work, the other house to work, and the other place to work… Find your subway or bus routes so you know what your daily trot is going to feel like and how much time it will take. This is also why it’s important to look at 3-4 different locations in relation to your office. It’s easy to think, “This is where I’ll be working. This is where I should stay.” And yes, you want to explore that option. But as mentioned earlier, what you get in relation to what you pay for in rent can change where you opt to live. Knowing all the strings that come attached to that choice  – or at least having an idea of it – will affect the choosing. Added bonus, it forces you to see more of the city.

You won’t know exactly what you’re truly in for until you get there and experience it. But follow these three simple tips and choosing a place to call home will be easy as pie. Which is actually quite easy.   

You’re moving!

You’ve accepted a new career position in a new city. You and your sweetheart have made it past the altar and are ready to cross that new threshold into a place of your own. Or maybe you’re just ready for the next great adventure. Whatever spurs this whirlwind of a life change, moving can be an absolute pain. You never really know how much stuff you’ve accumulated over the years until it’s time to move. Packing up your life provides a unique opportunity to reassess the things that have come into your life and their necessity to your daily routine. What better time to declutter than when you’re forced to pack things carefully into a box to be moved and unpacked at a new location? But what do you do with all these things? And how do you decide what stays and what goes? Allow me…

Need and Want Are Two Totally Different Things

Also sage shopping advice when you’re on a budget, this rule of thumb should be your go-to in determining the fate of that fabulously ugly Christmas sweater that won you last year’s office competition, and other such items. It’s very easy to fall down the rabbit hole that is memory lane, especially when it comes to clothes and momentos. But be swift. Be critical. Be confident in your judgement that you really don’t need 10,000 half-used tea lights even if they were arranged into a heart that one Valentine’s day. Saving things for the sake of saving the memory is how we get to closets stuffed with so much random junk the door can barely close. If it’s a memory truly worth preserving, keep one portion of it and turn it into a piece of art or encapsulate it into a shadow box that can be put out in your new home as decoration. (Look at you go, reducing your waste while gaining decor at the same time!) Another great rule to judge the need/want-ness of an item with is “Have I used this in the last year? No? When was the last time I used this? If you can’t remember the last time you used a blouse, set of sheets, pair of shoes, or any other item around the home (even in the kitchen) it clearly does not cross your radar on even the rarest of days. You can live without. You pretty much have since…. Whenever the last time was that you used that Pizzelle maker.

Well, Here’s A Pile Of Junk. Now What?

Glad you asked! Obviously, at the end of the day there is the bin. However, on behalf of this trash-ridden planet, there are other options that exist and benefit those around you. The easiest and most obvious is the newly Macklemore-famous Thrift Store. Goodwill, Salvation Army, Out of the Closet, and others are well-known repositories for unwanted clothes, shoes, dishes, and other odds and ends. But have you ever driven by the Goodwill between May and September? They have donations literally pouring out of their building. Instead, consider donating to a shelter. A quick Google search will direct you to the location and websites of the nearest shelters for the homeless, refugees, or women fleeing domestic abuse. Visit their website or call the office prior to making your trip to get the lowdown on exactly what items they need, have in abundance, and simply cannot take. The Downtown LA Women’s Shelter lists these items on their website very clearly, taking care to single out one item in particular: job interview appropriate clothing. Think about it; people benefitting from shelters are as down on their luck as they can get, they’re no longer contributing members of society but they deserve a chance at hope and new opportunities, too. For a mother leaving an abusive partner, the escape may happen at a moment’s notice with no time to prepare and grab all the necessities. Someone living on the street has no closet to keep a suit pressed and ready to walk in and rock their job interview. They may have no more than the clothes on their back. Giving your gently used work attire to a shelter not only lightens your load, but it provides an advantage to someone looking to get back to being part of society, back in the workplace, once again contributing to the world. Just like an actor needs to look the part going into an audition, so does a person walking into their job interview. Even if you aren’t moving any time soon, you just recently purchased some cute new lewks or were gifted a wardrobe upgrade for the holidays, take the time to look for things you no longer wear that could greatly benefit another human in the most wonderful way. Donate to a shelter. It’s not limited to clothes, either. Habitat for Humanity will take good condition appliances and furniture. They’ll even come to you for pick-up.

While the process of moving is daunting indeed, you now have the tools to simplify your life, lighten the load for your movers, and help others in need all in the same token. Just call you the Master Multi-Tasker.