Living in five different cities in 2021

I lived in five different cities in 2021:

  • Seattle, Washington
  • Union City, New Jersey
  • Austin, Texas
  • NYC, New York
  • Phoenix, Arizona

I count “living” in a city being a time period of a month+. (Vacationing in an area for a week does not count)

I will look at their:

Cost

High cost of living gets a low score (bad) and lower cost of living gets a higher score. These areas vary wildly in terms of rent, food, transportation, and general cost to maintain similar living standards.

Climate

This is a bit subjective but how is the weather there? Is it a blistering desert or does it have moderate nice sunny skies 75% of the year? Are there forest fires yearly? Are the winters brutal there? How I perceive how good the weather is there year round.

Food

How is the food in the area. What the average quality of food places in the city?

Attractions

What is there to do in the city?

Potential

Probably the most subjective category. What is the potential of the city for the future. Does it have opportunity to grow, or is it basically just as is? How do I view the city in terms of where it can from here. Is it going to grow by leaps and bounds or is it just stagnant?

Seattle

The Pacific Northwest (PNW) is a great area. It is an up and coming tech scene and does not quite rival SF yet, but is making a strong case to be a secondary place to have a tech career.

Seattle loses major points for being almost as expensive as SF and having very little in terms of attractions. I think hikes are amazing. I think other than that the downtown city area is pretty boring. (For starters there isn’t even a mall) The space needle and subsequent museums (Chihuly, etc.) are passable at best. You come to Seattle for the nature. Everything else is a little…disappointing.

My controversial opinion is the climate is a 5. I think Seattle has some of the MOST underrated weather, not only doesn’t rain that much (contrary to popular belief), but also it has amazing summer weather.

Austin

I think Austin is great.

The bbq and tacos of the area are unparalleled (to the other places listed here)

It is a car city…which is challenging for someone who cannot drive.

New York City

NYC is a metropolis in a metropolis. The manhattan area pockets are vibrant in itself, which some of my favourites being Chelsea, Koreatown, Soho, Noho, Tribeca, and Upper West Side. Some cities would kill to have as densely packed of a culture in a single area and NYC seemingly has them in spades.

NYC is incredibly flawed but I love it.

The city is far from perfect. It is the most expensive housing market in the US. (I think specifically referring to the median price in Manhattan) Some areas are still pretty dirty/trashy. The cost of living is exorbitantly high. (Justified by the fact that you live in a massive city with proximity to everything, as opposed to SF where it is exorbitantly high because everyone is rich.)

On top of paying high tax rates compared to other states for state income tax, NYC has a “NYC tax” for people earning income in the city which usually amounts to 5-6% of extra tax to pay each year.

(These are my guess-esimates) Imagine living in a place that charges roughly 20-30% more on food, closer to 50-60% more on rent each month, and anywhere between 10%-18% more on income taxes. Mathematically NYC is a big yikes financially.

There are a lot of positives though, the diversity of people, the vibrance of the city is one of a kind (although at times overwhelming), the proximity to a plethora of busling city restaurants, wide array of museums, and the uniquely placed Central park. Diverse areas in nearby boroughs in Brooklyn, Queens, Bronx like Coney Island, Williamsberg, Flushing, etc.

New Jersey

Phoenix

Phoenix is known for its dry heat. I can attest it is dry and arid here.

Phoenix shares the most similarities to Austin where it is a more sparsely populated area (compared to NYC or Seattle) with similar climates and landscapes.

I can’t drive a car and there are centrally some great hiking trails in Phoenix.

Specifically Camelback mountain, Piestewa peak, and the South mountain sonoran preserve.

p.s. Honululu and Miami were in the plans for 2021 but unfortunately couldn’t due to the delta variant.