4 things to consider as you find a place to call home

This blog post is beautiful.  Stripped down and vulnerable, Amy effectively places her personal values in front of where she lives.   What role does “place” play in launching your career?  This post looks at the notion of “place” as it relates to career planning and attempts to help you think about your own values while deciding where you should call home.

Cool Cities
In 2002, Richard Florida wrote about the creative class and presented a new way for city leaders to think about urban renewal. Florida’s hypothesis for the movement was rooted in three interlinked factors that distinguish a cool city:

  • Talent—Manufacturing jobs are gone.  That means cool cities must have a highly educated workforce to thrive.   
  • Technology—Cool cities need tech companies, research and development facilities, and other creative economy businesses to provide a place for the highly educated workforce to be employed.  
  • Tolerance—Cool cities need a large gay and lesbian population, combined with a bohemian under culture often associated with artists to keep the highly educated workforce excited about living and working in the city.  

In short, artists make noticeably uncool cities, cool.  Rust belt cities invested in Florida’s trickle up ideas to drive economic development.  Michigan even rolled their Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs into the states’ business development plan, arguing that the arts drive economic development.  Florida’s work provided a path for artists to gain a seat at the table in the 21st century economy.

Florida’s ideas have not gone without criticism, which has little to do with the interplay between technology, talent and tolerance.  One of the biggest complaints behind Florida’s work has to do with the fact that when cities become “cool,” the cost of living goes up, driving out the very people that made the place cool in the first place.  The win for artists is that Florida has effectively made the case for a thriving arts scene as a moniker for great cities across the country.

Cool cities are a big reason Millennials are flocking to urban centers.  There are more jobs and city living provides vibrant idea exchange, cool places to hang, and a multitude of civic, cultural, and sports attractions to experience.  Like many Millennials, I suspect you’re either currently living in a city, or you have a desire to move to a large metropolitan area in the near future.  Here are some things to think about as you consider “place:”

  1. Financial Risk.  
    • Higher Risk—In large cities, more people may identify with your art or business concept, fueling your ideas, however, the cost of living is often higher, making it difficult to take risks necessary to launch a career.
    • Lower Risk—If you live in a rural area, there are less people to identify with your art or business concept however, a lower cost of living will allow to take more risks as you launch your career.
  2. Criteria. What makes a cool city?
    • Are there third spaces?
    • Are there good live/work loft type spaces?
    • What is the cost of living and how far out from the “good stuff” (concerts, bars, coffee shops, etc) will you need to live?
  3. Family.  Though it seems a bit removed, this is kind of a big deal.  If getting married and having kids are big things on your list, you might want to start thinking about where you live now.  Space, cost of living and the amount you are able to save should be huge factors in your decision.
  4. Location.  Many artists and entrepreneurs set up shop in the coolest cities in the country like New York or Los Angeles, only to find that it’s prohibitive to take any risk in their career.  Instead of shooting right for the places that are the most restrictive in terms of livability, think about setting up shop in a smaller metropolitan area where the cost of living is lower and you can take greater risks, especially if your idea or art is not location dependent.

Determining a place to call home is a personal pursuit.  Like Amy, I think you’ll find in the end that your location is actually secondary to the things you value most in life, like family, love, and following your passions.  Thanks for reading and please let me know how you came to a decision about “place.”

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Nate Zeisler is the Dean for Community Initiatives at the Colburn School in Los Angeles. He envisions a world where students majoring in the arts have a clear path to a sustainable career, where creative minds are empowered and inspired to rule the workforce, and where access to the arts is not just for the privileged few, but for all.

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