May 2, 2021

"One has to wonder how these rankings are established. I lived in Georgia for 30 years owing to professional reasons. Not a day went by that I did not want to leave."

"Even though I lived in one of Georgia's best places (Athens, I was in the geology faculty at UGA), I never found any redeeming qualities in the Southeast. And I tried, oh I tried. I found the climate and the vegetation oppressive, the landscape depressing, and the culture alien. I finally found two good things about Georgia: Atlanta's airport (the departure lounge only, never liked baggage claim) and Delta. I retired on January 1 of this year and moved to Santa Fe three days later. This place is, for me, as close to perfect as possible (at least among places that I can afford). Everything that I hated about Georgia I love about New Mexico. Yet according to this article New Mexico ranks near the bottom in terms of quality of living." 

A highly rated comment on the NYT article "The Best (and Worst) States for Remote Work/A recent study ranked all 50 states and Washington, D.C., to find where working from home was most attractive to workers and employers." 

The study in question ranked Georgia first for "living." Factors that counted: The size of houses and housing lots and the presence of swimming pools

Another comment: "I have lived in several states, and visited virtually all of them. Ranking 'living environment' in New Hampshire as only the 44th best, and Colorado's as 47th, is something of a joke, although I suppose if the most important attribute that the pollster can think of is a private swimming pool, as opposed to, say, a wondrous outdoor environment, that might account for this bizarre finding."

It's a good idea for an article, as many people these days are in a position to relocate and work remotely, but the specific advice is ludicrous. Even if your favorite thing is having a swimming pool taking up your backyard, it doesn't matter who else in the same state has a swimming pool, only that it's warm enough to justify having a swimming pool. You can install a swimming pool! And why would a young person — working remotely — want the largest house and yard? How about a well-designed, easy-to-maintain smaller house? 

FROM THE EMAIL: Georgia has its proponents. Joseph says:

I am very surprised that a member of a Geology faculty would describe the landscape of Georgia depressing. The Geologists I know are interested in all landscapes and how how they are created from basic earth features. Georgia is very mountainous, and is not a lot different than North or South Carolina and Alabama. For a Geologist to write off a region of the nation is a disservice to students if this attitude is carried over into class work. 

And Temujin writes: 

I have to jump in on this one. I grew up in Michigan. Spent years around all of the Great Lakes great cities, like Cleveland, Buffalo, Chicago, and of course, Metro Detroit. I lived in New Hampshire. And for a brief period, Marin County, CA. About 25 years ago I moved to the Southeast. I will never leave it. I live in Florida now, but lived in metro Atlanta for 20 years. It is, in my humble opinion, the best major US city to live in. Period. I noticed almost immediately upon moving from Detroit to Atlanta 25 or so years ago that the black and white people in Atlanta worked together, played together, and lived their lives together more than any place I had lived, or visited. Certainly more than Boston, Chicago, LA, SF, Dallas. There is a definite welcoming attitude you get from Southeasterners- from the Carolinas down to Florida. I know it creeps out a lot of Northeasterners and that's your baggage if it does. And yes, I know- there is black-white disharmony visible in Atlanta. Well...welcome to the world, especially the world progressives have created.

Atlanta is a strikingly beautiful city. It is lush- so green, so full of trees of all kinds, flowering shrubbery. You've seen the Augusta National in the spring at The Masters? You should see Atlanta in the spring. It's gorgeous. Winding, hilly roads, lush greenery, flowers everywhere: azaleas, dogwoods, Bradford pear trees, Magnolias, and more. And, like any great city, it has varied neighborhoods. That the commenter missed it speaks more to the commenter than the city. As for the State- I loved the people of Georgia. They welcomed me, allowed me to become part of their community. I will always regard Georgia with affection.

I love the ATL airport and frankly think its a marvel at efficiency, moving more people through there every day, week, year than any airport in the world, and doing it well. I used to travel every other week, so I was there a lot- for 20 years. Delta was phenomenal the entire time (right up until they recently got woke). My baggage got lost twice in 20 years. We're talking hundreds of flights to various cities and only twice was my baggage lost. And even then, only for a few hours. They got it delivered to me that night. Someone should do a documentary on Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson Airport. There is no other at that volume close to the efficiency of that place.

That the commenter calls the culture of the Southeast 'alien' is a clear note to me that they come from the Northeast. My bet is New York. We have relatives up there and they have the same attitude. "What? Come down there to visit you? There? I don't think so. It's so...racist. Maybe someday. But if you want to see us, you'll have to come here. We have the plays, and the Lincoln Center." As if everybody goes to plays and the Lincoln Center daily. Please. They still view the south as something out of "To Kill a Mockingbird". Whenever I leave the Southeast to go up north, it's always a drop in attitude. The climate is darker, the people are gloomier, and the hand-wringing never stops. Of course this commenter ran to Santa Fe. That makes perfect sense. It's a hideaway. Don't talk to me. Don't look at me. Let me hide among the arteests. Again- please.

I've lived in and seen all of this country a hundred times over. I've always loved California, but let's face it, they're a mess there. The Southeast has the weather, the water, the people, the attitude and spirit that are among the reasons it is the center of growth in this country. It is what people are looking for. The people are voting daily with their feet.

Now...I have to go out and enjoy the rest of our sunny day.

AND: William writes: 

When we decided to move out of California, we didn't rely on anyone's lists or rankings of states on a single dimension of desirability. Instead we came up with a list of things we cared about: climate, cost of living, political culture, and various other things. We used various online resources to assess these---Wikipedia, for example, had detailed information on climate for all kinds of places---and came up with a list of a dozen states. Then we looked at promising cities in those states, ending with a list of thirty-six. And then we looked at MORE variables for those cities: what were the crime rates like, did they have the medical facilities we needed, did they have a university library, how much did housing cost, and so on. That got us down to five promising candidates. And THEN I flew to the two that were comparatively close (as in no more than halfway across the country) and spent a couple of days looking over each of them. Really, it seems to me that anyone who is thinking about moving, and doesn't do that kind of research, isn't treating it as the serious decision it is. As Bernard Shaw said, "You had better take care to get what you like, or you shall have to like what you get."

Yes, you ought to go by the factors that matter for you and look for them at the city level. I love living in Madison, but I would never have gotten here looking at the state level. There are some big states out West that I love as states, but can't figure out a city that would work for us — not as well as Madison.

And Deep Runner writes: 

I went to UGA for grad school, got my Master's in Journalism at the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication. Athens is an incredibly beautiful city, and Atlanta is a great metropolitan area. Yeah it gets hot, after all Georgia is swamp land. It occurs to me that the good professor's expressed opinion that the culture in the southeast was "alien" might give a clue. Never been to Santa Fe myself, but I've always gotten the impression from what I've heard is that things are a bit more...mmm..."open" in Santa Fe. The South is a bit slower in speed and yes more conservative, especially with its two religions (football and God, in that order). But Georgia is a great place.