What makes a city liveable?
I’ve often heard people say that as much as they love visiting New York City, they’d never want to live there. And whenever people mention visiting Sacramento, I always say it’s not a great place for a vacation, but it’s a fantastic place to live.
During my weekend at home in Sacramento, a lot of people asked me how much longer I was planning to live in New York City or if I would ever move back to Sacramento. I also did a lot of back-and-forth comparing: the thrill of driving with the windows down and radio up versus tuning out and reading my Kindle on the subway, the wide open spaces versus the delightful sidewalk chaos, the complete suburban silence at night versus the reassuring buzz of the BQE outside my window.
There are a lot of things I love about living in New York City: the ease of public transportation, the incredible concentration of talented and interesting people, the hub of fashion and media industries, the fact that on a Friday night I can go to a magic show or a brand-new restaurant or to a world-class ballet or on a cruise to the Statue of Liberty. The high cost of living and the non-stop pressure to hustle and succeed can be daunting, but it’s something that you accept as soon as you decide to move here.
When I was home, I remembered a lot of things that I loved about growing up in Sacramento. Tomatoes growing in the backyard, reading magazines by the pool (in late September!), being able to regularly put money in savings. It’s not exactly a hub of international culture, but it’s the most diverse city in America and it has some of the most authentic Mexican and Vietnamese food I’ve found this side of the border.
Of course, I also spent a year in Melbourne—regularly deemed the world’s most liveable city. In many ways, it has what I love most about both New York and Sacramento: world-class restaurants and culture and industry, but with an (semi) efficient tram network, sense of community and easy access to beaches, parks, mountain ranges and wide open spaces.
I’ve lived in Nice, studied in Paris, spent considerable amounts of time scattered around Europe and Southeast Asia. I’ve daydreamed of enjoying the benefits of living in Scandinavia (widely recognized as not only the happiest cultures but also the best places for women to succeed in both work and family) or setting up shop on the beaches of Thailand or get certified to teach yoga in Bali.
Every city has its ups and downs, the things that endear it to its visitors and drive its residents crazy. And, of course, there are cities that appeal to us at different stages of our life.
What makes a city liveable for you?