I recently got an job at an EA organization, and I'll be moving to the US and working remotely. I grew up in a small city in the USA, and I've spent the past several years living in an enormous city outside of the USA. I'd like to live somewhere in the USA, but I don't have any personal connections nudging me toward any particular place.[1] I'm considering cities in the US with a population upwards of 400,000 or so[2], and I'm leaning against San Francisco and New York due to cost of living[3]. Other than that,  I'm open to suggestions. So if an EA-ish person is going to pick a city in the USA (with no personal connections or pre-established network anywhere), where would you recommend he or she go?[4]

  1. ^

    My parent's moved to a new small city when I was 18, so when I visit them nowadays I don't have the sense of visiting "home." I don't have old friends from high school, or childhood memories, or professional connections, or anything like that there. Extended family is scattered across a radius of ~300 miles. I attended college in a different state, and college friends scattered to the winds afterwards. Thus, there isn't really a place I would live in that I would consider my default choice, or that I have strong ties to. If you ask me where home is, I don't have a good answer. I can tell you where I was born, or where I went to elementary school, or where I attended college, but I don't have any answer for a place in the US where "home" is.

  2. ^

    I'm open to being convinced that a smaller city would be good. This is a rough preference rather than a hard boundary.

  3. ^

    I am open to being convinced that, despite the high cost of living, life in San Francisco or New York is so incredibly good (weather, cultural events, potential romantic partners, etc.) that it would still make sense to live there.

  4. ^

    While I certainly have my own preferences (good enough transit or cycling that I can live without a car, not too hot or too cold, liberal, large airport nearby, Chinese population, a good rock climbing gym), I'm hoping that we can generate general/broad recommendations about different cities so that other people can refer to these answers, rather than having it be specific to me.

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I think the benefits of living in a hub city (SF, NYC, Boston, or DC) are very large and are well worth the higher costs, assuming it's financially feasible at all, especially if you currently have no personal network in any city. You'll have easy access to interesting and like-minded people, which will have many many diffuse impact and personal benefits.

Also, those are probably the only American cities besides maybe Chicago and Philly where's it is easy to live without a car (and arguably it's only NYC). 

Note that Berkeley has significantly more EAs than SF, for people moving to the Bay Area.

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Joseph Lemien
1y
While there are definite downsides to living in the Bay Area, many of them are lessened/eliminated for my situation by the fact that I will be working remotely. I'm a 35-year-old , so I am a bit cautious about moving to an area that is predominantly a "college town." But assuming that you would recommend Berkley for working professionals (or for anyone else who isn't a student), are there any specific neighborhoods or areas of Berkley that you would recommend?

Assuming that it's financially feasible to live in any of these four cities (San Francisco/Berkley, New York, Boston, or Washington DC), how would you prioritize them? Any reasons a person should choose one over another?

I gotta plug Tulsa, OK here. I was in a similar boat and moved for reasons along the lines of what Nicole Janeway Bills discusses in this post. Definitely not for everyone, but happy to chat about my experience so far if you're interested.

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Which EA organization/cause area?

I'll be working at Centre for Effective Altruism on the People Operations team.