Best City to Live? Tell me Where I Should Move. Pin on My Map.

We are on the three year plan of where should we move once our last one is out of high school. (Before we were on the five year, then four year plan.  You got the picture.)   New Jersey is the garden state but it is very expensive to live here.  Both the state and real estate taxes strangle us.  Plus, I want to grow a garden almost year round.  (Shocker, huh?)   But here is the problem.  I have pretty strict criteria, and feel like Goldilocks.  No place has seemed just right.  So, I am reaching out to you for help. 

The Criteria:

  • Must be warm most of the time but not Florida sweltering warm.  I am not looking for that  “I just came out of shower when I go outside” look.
  • Must be somewhat green.  Sure I would love a city that  “gets me at hello” green, but that may not be possible.
  • Would love a college town.  Being around young people keeps you young.  Plus, I want to continue learning.
  • But in a town not so small you can drive from one point to the other in ten minutes.
  • Must have cultural events and good food.  (Um, bingo doesn’t count.)
  • I can grow a garden about 9 months of the year.  (Just to clarify. Growing doesn’t mean using an  immense amount of water and soil hard as stone.  Let’s be frank.   I am not getting any younger.)
  • Sunny most of the time. I am not a gray sky type of girl.
  • Fun!!! By the time we move, we will be kid-less and we will need to occupy our time doing fun things other than staring at each other.
  • A place my kids will want to visit.  (Is this going to happen?)
  • Taxes that won’t kill us.  Been there, done that.

Dual Location:

I haven’t ruled out 6-9 months in one place and living somewhere else the other part of the time.  And we have not ruled out living outside of the US, so those options are on the table.  I have to give you some slack.

Where Have We Visited:

Here is where we have been:

  • Charlotte, North Carolina
  • Wilmington, North Carolina
  • Raleigh, North Carolina
  • Ashville, North Carolina
  • Alexandria, Virginia
  • Charlottesville, Virginia
  • Austin, Texas
  • Florida–we know.  I lived there for ten years before getting married.
  • Charleston, South Carolina
  • Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
  • San Diego, California (heaven on earth except it is so expensive.)
  • San Francisco, California
  • Phoenix, Arizona
  • Los Angles, California
  • Washington DC

Place We Still Want to Go:

  • Savannah, Georgia.  I tend to think of myself as Scarlett of Gone with the Wind.
  • Boulder, Colorado.  I don’t know if I can handle the snow.
  • Seattle, Washington.  What about the rain?
  • Portland, Oregon.  Again, the rain and gray skies?
  • Athens, Georgia? We know Atlanta.
  • Australia but I wouldn’t see my kids too often so I am on the fence about this one.  (Threw that in to show you how flexible I am.)

I have totally discounted every state above the Mason-Dixon line because of weather.  Should I re-consider?  Tell me why.  I can be convinced.

View Where is Your Favorite Green City? in a larger map

So I created a group Google Map so you can pin where you think I should live. You can pick anywhere in the world but try and stick to my criteria unless you think I need to re-think my priorities.  (Again, tell me why.  I love a good argument.)  PS. You don’t have to pin.  Just leave a comment.

Please leave a comment why I should move somewhere,  but it isn’t necessary.  Remember you are convincing me.  And boy, do I need help.

Up next is my time in Austin and boy do I have a lot to tell you.

Join the Conversation:

  • Where would you suggest I move?
  • Why do you love your city?  (Even if it does not meet all of my criteria.)

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  1. 3

    sherri says

    we moved by paso robles, ca, actually out at lake naciemento .. we absolutely love it! college town near by, san luis Obispo, and a lot to do! very laid back and very green!

  2. 5

    Susan says

    What is your opinion of Charleston, SC? I visited there for a multi-day conference and was absolutely charmed by the history and the people. If I was a potential homebuyer I wouldn’t be so nuts about most of the historic downtown homes being haunted…

  3. 7


    I live in Santa Rosa, CA which is north of San Francisco. Santa Rosa has a junior college, where I teach, and nearby Rohnert Park has Sonoma State University. You can garden here all year round.
    We are a fairly green city and nearby Sebastopol is very green. We have a program called iGrow Sonoma which promotes growing gardens.

    This is not a perfect place but I find it mighty suitable. Check it out.
    Jill, The Veggie Queen´s last blog post ..By: LOVE Your Veggies with the Veggie Queen | She Scribes

  4. 10


    Portland, OR – hands down. We lived there for 3 years and absolutely loved it. The gray skies were annoying, but not nearly as bad as I thought it would be. I think the hiking, mountains, ocean, green trees, and eco-minded lifestyle trumps the gray and rain. And honestly, the rain isn’t bad at all.

  5. 11


    The San Francisco Bay Area would be perfect for you – but for the prices of homes. We have ideal weather. I grow veggies 9+ months a year. Great venues, services, colleges nearby but the Peninsula area is comprised of several smaller cities so you still get that small town feel. Of course your kids would visit because there is so much to do here – city, mountains, beach, snow, and more. But those pesky home prices . . .

    I’ve heard that Portland is darned near perfect as well and not as pricey. No offense to Seattle-ites but I found that city to be too rainy and chilly. Of course, I’ve a native Californian so . . .

    One last thing I always consider when dreaming of where to move – climate change. How will the area be impacted in 10-20 years as temperatures continue to climb.
    Green Bean´s last blog post ..Greening Your Spring Cleaning Routine

  6. 12


    OK, well this does not meet all of your criteria but Eugene is the perfect place to live.
    We have an amazing local food movement, tons of organic and local food production here, lots of micro brews, progressive city government, growing season is probably 9 months out of the year… farmers markets 12 months out of the year… the biggest downside is the rain and gray skies, sorry about that but you can’t have it all.

    The population is only about 150,000. It is the perfect size town, not too big and not too small.

    and right now the housing prices seem really reasonable….

    another place I think I might consider would be Austin, Tx. or perhaps Tucson, Az (too hot in the summer for me). Personally, I only want to live in places where there are significant progressive ideas, but that’s just me… because I live in “la la land” once I leave my little conclave, it’s shock value to see how “the other half lives”.

    San Francisco would be amazing but way too expensive, you might want to consider some places in New Mexico (I’m from Albuquerque). I hear Truth or Consequences is becoming kind of a mecca for arts and it has a great hot springs, it is a small town, some place you might want to check out… I know Sedona, Az is cool but not sure it’s the right setting… just saying the coolness factor, can kind of be annoying, there are many places like this: Santa Fe, NM is also one of those places, totally cool but outside the reason for normal people to afford to live there.

    Good Luck!

  7. 13

    Kristen says

    I noticed you haven’t listed Chattanooga, TN yet. The more I live here the prouder I am to be part of this community. Chattanooga has and is currently working hard to become one of the greener cities in the South. Our local farms are top notch and the amount of community events are endless (Chattanooga Market, farmers markets all over town, free live music downtown on Fridays during the summer, loads of festivals, etc). Cost of living and property taxes are very low comparatively and there is lots and lots of land, wooded and farm. My husband and I just bought our home last summer for $137 (4 bed/3 bath) and it backs up to the woods, is on a culdesac, and has an amazing yard. Chattanooga also has a great university (UTC) and community college (Chattanooga State) which have heavy ties with the community. UTC is actually working towards green-ifying their campus as part of their strategic plan. Another good thing is that Chattanooga is only two hours away from several big cities (Atlanta, Knoxville, Nashville, Birmingham). So event opportunities grow even more with a fairly short drive. I like to think of Chattanooga having a small town feel with large city amenities (I promise I’m not a travel agent, I really do feel that way!!).

    We also have the largest number of non-profits in the state, so there are tons of opportunities to contribute to the community. The master gardeners of Chattanooga have workshops throughout the year on gardening and all things green.

    Pretty much every outdoor activity you can think of is in Chattanooga or in close proximity. We’ve got kayaking (white water and river), boating, hiking, biking, etc…All with amazing views of the Chattanooga Valley.

    I can go on and on about my hometown, but you should definitely check it out for yourself. I think Chattanooga meets all your criteria above and more!

    Good luck on your search! What fun this must be for you and your husband!

    • 14


      Kristin, thanks so much. Maybe I need to put this on the list. It is fun. We joke we should start another blog about our search. We dream of living one place for 6 months and moving to a new place every year. We love this adventure! Anna

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