Thursday, December 4, 2014

Where Should I Live?

For general reasons of restlessness—and specific reasons against qualities particular and exclusive to Minnesotans—once in a while my wife daydream about living somewhere else. The downsides to that, of course, are that we'd be losing all our friends in our city (whom we only see twice a year, at most) and distancing ourselves from our families (which is the toughest and most guilt-inducing anchor to break). As well, we'd have to start over in a new social scene in our mid-40s, learning the hierarchy and power-players, dodging the traps everyone knows but won't necessarily point out, struggling to meet people while building a new home.

It's bad that our point of reference for what it takes to make new friends is based in Minnesota, where men stare straight ahead and don't return your greeting, and women avert their eyes and scowl deeply and neither thank you for holding the door or hold one open for you. We're sure it's not like this everywhere (in pubs in Ireland, a young man will turn to face you and say "sorry" if he even thinks he brushed your shoulder), and so we look at where else to go.

I'm taking a quiz at Find Your Spot: it's asking me a lot of stuff I don't care about, like how far I want to live from the Amish or do I need a sports stadium in my area. It wraps up with requiring you to enter your personal contact information, which many people will because they feel they've invested so much effort into eight pages of quiz. After that comes the "which magazines would you like to buy?" page, but at least this can be skipped. But to get your results from the quiz, you have to set up an account and receive a confirmation email.

In the end, I was given a couple dozen cities to choose from. Minnesota did not place in this list. Here are the top six:
  1. Hartford, CT
  2. Baltimore, MD (I've seen The Wire, no thanks)
  3. Las Vegas, NV (Seriously? I thought it was just barracks for strippers and bartenders)
  4. Albuquerque, NM
  5. Providence, RI
  6. Charlestone, WV
Next, though I'm opposed to BuzzFeed on several levels, I tried their Where Should You Actually Live in the USA quiz. It was asinine and impersonal, and it narrowed my search down to "The Great Plains." Next.

Likewise, Quizrocket's What City Suits You Best? seems like simplistic anti-science in its less-than-comprehensive categories and choices. There are a couple pages of multiple choice questions, and their answers are profoundly limited and narrow in scope, even nonsensical. They also ask your birthdate, without justifying why, and the starred question about whether you'd like to go back to school is doubtless a solicitation for an online college.

When they're answered, you sit on a blank webpage while a timer counts down 20 seconds, and then you may proceed. My result was San Francisco, as the quiz has characterized me as a hippie who is unafraid of earthquakes and likes the Internet. What exactly what I hoping for...

Because of those last two tests, I'm not even going to attempt the Where SHOULD You Live? quiz, as it's just another uninformed and random questionnaire. Example, question 6: Choose a letter (S, F, U, A, B). This is a race to the intellectual bottom.

Quizony's Which U.S. State Should You Live In? places me in New York. Because, you know, there's no difference between Buffalo, Plattsburgh and The City. Just (waves hands) New York in general. I'm not taking another quiz that doesn't rate demographics.

International Living suggests I'd be happiest in Panama. Why? Why Panama over any other nation in the world? Because it sees me as a retiree, a second-home buyer or a property investor, even though it has asked me nothing about myself.

Kiplinger's Find the Best City for You suggests I move to Manchester-Nashua, NH, based on a few questions about kindergarten and hospitals.

Sperling's offered to help me find the Best Places to Live based on a dozen screens of a dozen questions each, each using an eight-point scale (which I find tedious and time-absorbing, but play on). It listed 25 results for places most accommodating to how I prioritized the arts, health care, crime, population density, etc. My top five choices are:

  1. San Francisco, CA
  2. Boston, MA
  3. Washington DC
  4. Los Angeles, CA
  5. New York, NY
Their economies are rated at C or C-, but Recreation, Culture and Transportation all score A+, according to this group.

Lifescript's Where Should I Live? quiz is... less than comprehensive. It's very softcore, asking lateral questions to hint at preferences but neglecting to account for the full range of options in any category. One question suggests an interest in farmer's markets (fresh produce, supporting local farmers) is equivalent to four-wheeling (tearing up the landscape, wasting gasoline, breaking limbs).

...and the quiz is broken. After ten rounds of terrible answers and counter-intuitive groupings, the quiz simply ends without offering any results. At the end of each question, yes, it compares your answer to percentages of other answers' popularity. Mind you, it always gets your answer wrong, highlighting something you didn't choose against others' selections. But at the end it doesn't suggest a city or a state, and the ads it would redirect you to have nothing to do with the quiz. Awesome.

So based on this, San Francisco gets two votes, and tied for second place are New Hampshire, New York and Connecticut. Oh, and Panama. I guess that's food for thought.

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