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Jack Burton 09-10-04 01:01 PM

Relocating; looking for a good commuting/road riding area
I know this has been asked plenty of times before, and I've searched for and scoured lots of threads, but it can't hurt to get fresh opinions.

Living in north Jersey hasn't been too bad for my born-again cycling habit, but I'm young, unattached, not particularly fond of my current job, and for what I shell out to live in this "luxurious" area (my recently renewed lease skyrocketed me into the $1000+/mo club), I could easily enjoy a better quality of life elsewhere. I'd also like to ditch my car, or at least not be completely chained to it like I am now.

So I've polished the resume, started researching, and I'm not going to stop until my ass is relocated and sitting on a commuter bike. If I'm going to move, I'm going to make it worth my while. Naive, sure, but I'll regret not trying.

I know there's no single place that matches all my criteria, but this is what I'm looking for, roughly in order of preference:

- A decent technical job market. I'm a junior software developer/engineer, and my plan is contingent on securing work.
- Comfortable bike commuting. Shoulders and bike lanes, easily avoidable highways, clean air. I'm not a fan of rain or sticky east coast summers, but cold weather is fine as long as it's not painfully harsh.
- Minimal urban/suburban sprawl.
- A good cycling community. LBSs, friendly group rides, minimal snob-factor, activism, that sort of thing.
- A cyclist-aware population. Drivers who aren't completely dumbfounded by the presence of an oncoming bike. Neighbors who won't assume I'm a gay nutcase for wearing lycra and riding on the road. Employers who won't associate an avid off-hours cycling habit with being an unprofessional slacker.
- Easily accessible 50-100mi road rides. I want to be able to walk out my door and just go.
- A good graduate school nearby where I can take some computer science master's classes.
- Public transit for times when the bike isn't enough.
- Pretty ladies. :D

Right now I'm leaning towards the Denver area, but I've never been out there, and I don't know how all the nearby sub-cities differ (Boulder, Longmont, Fort Collins, etc.) I do have one family member about two hours away, and a thoroughly-baked college acquaintance in Boulder, which I suppose is better than no contacts at all.

California (San Diego or the SF Bay area) is in the running too. I've never been there either, but supposedly it's a biking utopia. The climate sounds pleasant, if a little monotonous. No contacts there whatsoever.

Maybe Portland, but the rain might get to me.

I can't take time off to scout out all these places without alerting The Man to my intentions, so I'm relying on recommendations. If all goes well, I'll decide on a location, line up some interviews, take the "short vacation to visit my dying grandfather," and hope something works out.


timmhaan 09-10-04 01:06 PM

i spend a lot of time in boulder, and that area is great for cycling. there are so many cyclists on the road, it's great. i've heard good things about nothern california as well. both seem to be decent places to work as well. i lived for a year in portland, and i know people love it there, but i didn't really think the cycling was too good (but then again, i was only there for a year and spent most of my time downtown).

good luck! i want to get out of this area myself someday, so maybe i'll be asking for advice from you in a few years.

J-McKech 09-10-04 01:12 PM

You have to visit Austin Tx. It has everything you are looking for and more. The girls are great, I can ride from my house all the way to my girlfriend in the next town over (bout 30miles), most of the drivers understand. The public bus system is great, they even have bike holders on them. The weather is great except for a few weeks in july when its 100. And the best part, its the home of Lance.

redfooj 09-10-04 01:35 PM

id like in 3 places in america:

1. boulder, co
2. austin, tx
3. santa cruz, ca

well, maybe bend, OR, too... or portland...

ctyler 09-10-04 01:41 PM

San Francisco Bay area!

kf5nd 09-10-04 01:42 PM

Cost of living in Austin isn't so friggin' outrageous as in Boulder, Bay Area, Portland

Jack Burton 09-10-04 03:48 PM

Hmm, hadn't even thought about Austin. I'll have to look into it.

Though I think CO is still at the top of the list, if only for the weather. I'm the kind of person who would rather ride for a week in 40-degree weather than for a day in the 90s. And I'd probably eventually miss snow if I moved to TX or CA.

Again, it all depends on jobs.

Cost of living isn't really a factor. I expect to get paid well enough, and I'm a frugal, low-maintenance guy anyway. North Jersey's cost of living is just as friggin' outrageous as all these other places, so even if I end up paying the same prices elsewhere, I'll still have gained something.

J-McKech 09-10-04 06:11 PM

I'm not sure on the cost of living here in Austin, being that I dont live on my own (college student) but I know its not as bad as San Diego...I have a friend down there and he said its horrible compared to here. I dunno if that helps any. I tell you what though, it snowed here last valentines day. Nothing too bad just some flurries about .25 of a inch but it was enough to shut the whole city down :)

SteveE 09-10-04 06:42 PM

The Bay Area if fantastic for riding, but as Woody Guthrie said "If you ain't got the Do-Re-Mi", forget it. Good area, when the economy is booming, for high-tech jobs. Not too good right now.

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