They say that everyone should live in New York at some point in his or her life, but the ideal time to be there is your twenties, right? If you are young and single and ready to take on the world, you belong in New York. Go gallery hopping through Chelsea in the afternoon, check out a ballet at Lincoln Center in the evening, and then head out to Brooklyn for a party. Once you hit 35, that schedule becomes more difficult to maintain, but when you are just out of college, the city is one giant playground. Of course, the rides have expensive tickets: when martinis can run $20 or more, you need to have a serious salary to afford the lifestyle. The vision of Hannah from “Girls” supporting herself somehow on an eBook deal is not entirely realistic, so be sure to have a legitimate paycheck plan in place or quickly learn the best happy hour schedules and thrift store locales.
If Boston is New York’s homely cousin, Washington, D.C. is its tipsy uncle. D.C. has much of the nightlife and culture that you’ll find in New York, with more reasonable options for raising a family nearby. Let’s face it, it’s easier to commute from Maryland or Virginia than from New Jersey. With the Smithsonian museums and the Kennedy Center, there is no lack of theater, dance, and musical events taking place throughout the year, and the metro is generally a more pleasant experience than the New York subway. Naturally, the topic of politics is never far from anyone’s tongues, so staying on top of current events is key. If you’re an avid concert goer, most major acts stop in D.C. as well as New York when touring the country.
It’s time to consider Atlanta, Georgia, the capital of the South, this sprawling city has mild winters and generally pleasant weather, with plenty of outdoor spaces for hiking and enjoying family time. It’s a rapidly changing city, where you’ll find a vibrant local theater scene, addictive restaurants, and genuinely happy, pleasant people. If you don’t mind driving in a little bit of traffic, there is much to enjoy in this increasingly cosmopolitan setting. If you’re raising a family, this is hands down the most comfortable choice of the three cities, as it is much more affordable. You’re likely to find more space for about one tenth the price of a New York apartment in Atlanta, which can allow you to easily afford a Manhattan vacation when you miss the faster pace.
Keely Herrick is a freelance writer. Her work can be found on