If I were to guess what the two biggest drivers of immigration to Columbus are, I'd say:
Love of a boy or girl who you must be near. Or longing for the kind of place you experienced briefly once -- maybe you went to school here or had family here or even grew up here and later moved away.
I was wandering around Barnes and Noble this weekend, kind of spinning my wheels waiting for adver-boyfriend to sate his periodicals addiction when I came across Who's Your City by Richard Florida.
He kicks off with the assertion that where we live is the most important decision we make in life:
Finding the right place is as important as - if not more important than - finding the right job or partner because it not only influences those choices but also determines how easy or hard it will be to correct mistakes made along the way. ...The place we choose to live affects every aspect of our being. It can determine the income we earn, the people we meet, the friends we make, the partners we choose, and the options available to our children and families. People are not equally happy everywhere...
Florida's aim is largely to defend the importance of a sense of place vs. the encroaching genericism of globalization. Where you live does matter and is part of who you are.
It took me back to the very logical approach I took to relocating from Chicago to -- it turns out -- Columbus. Books with city ratings were purchased. Web sites were bookmarked. Conversations with employers were had. And, none of it even got close to telling me how happy I'd be here.
Florida has a list of his own. The top cities by various lifestage criteria.
Columbus doesn't make his list. (Although it made a ton of others).
So, in the spirit of our conversation economy, I'm bringing my message here by answering the key questions that Florida posed:
- How do you like the place you're living now?
I love living here. Surrounded by smart creative people, great neighborhoods and a really progressive culture.
Columbus is one of those places that draws you to it. It's got the personality of that one guy who everyone likes -- who is kind of a mellow cool, is ok with just about any kind of person or lifestyle, and is comfortable having a beer on the patio or out at a gourmet dinner (well, as long as he can wear jeans with his jacket).
- Is it somewhere you really want to be?
Yes, I could live anywhere. And, have lived in Chicago, Pittsburgh and small-town Appalachia. I actively choose to live here.
- Does it give you energy? When you walk out onto the street, or the country lane, in the morning, does it fill you with inspiration, or stress?
It absolutely gives me energy. And, when I'm out walking the dogs on the cobblestoned streets of my historic neighborhood or shopping in the sophisticated Short North, I'm almost guaranteed to be smiling.
- Does it allow you to be the person you really want to be? Are you achieving your personal goals?
I feel like I can achieve all my personal goals here -- the affordable cost of living and healthy economy are an ideal foundation for a professional life. And, the generally accepting vibe makes any lifestyle comfortable.
- Is it a place you would recommend to your relatives and friends?
I've been trying to get my sister to move here for years.
Short story: Columbus is the best place for me. And, for the creative class. They just don't all know it yet.
Check us out for Volume 2, Richard.