21 February 2012

Downtown or Tiny Town?

There's really not all that much to write about during February in Bishkek.  Some days it's snowy and some days it's slushy and some days it's cloudy and mostly it's not too cold, but it's generally soggy and sloppy outside.  So I've been thinking about where we're going next.

Now, staying here is a good possibility and there are some good reasons to do that.  But there's not much to think about with that, because I know exactly where I'd want to live and how things would be because we'd be doing a job we'd done before and I know Bishkek. 

But another good possibility is to move back to the US, to an eastern state.  I'm a western US person, and when I've lived in the US, it's nearly always been in the West.  So thinking about moving to the East Coast is already different than, say, moving to Seattle was, or anywhere in Idaho.

The biggest thing I'm thinking about is whether we want to live in a tiny (way tiny) town, or a small city.  Usually living near work is a major priority for us, but the potential work site isn't close to anything interesting, and my husband is happier commuting to work than I am driving everywhere else.  So since living near work wouldn't likely be an option, I want to live where I can walk to at least the grocery store, library, and some activities for the boys. 

The small city would be perfect for this because there's a ice rink for the boys, a library, a grocery store, and all other kinds of interesting things within a very small area, and a free trolley that runs to another part of town with an ethnic grocery store and a major university.  Hockey, good food, and books.  I think that's about all we need.  Not surprisingly though, it's not cheap to rent in that part of town, and it might quite literally mean that all we do is eat, read, play hockey.  Two other things about that location- it's about 20 minutes from work and the church building, and the ward we'd be in has very few kids my older boys' ages.

The tiny (way tiny) town has a grocery store and a library which would obvious be within walking distance, because it's tiny.  We could also rent a bigger house with a yard for a lot less money.  I'm not sure though how much there'd be for the boys to do.  They weren't too happy in Tokmok, and I fear it would be a little like that.  It's about 30 minutes from work and the church building, but that ward has a lot more teenagers.  I also know I'd get out in the car a lot more there because, while I don't much like driving in cities, even small ones, I love driving in rural areas, and there is so much history in that part of the country that I'd want to see.

There is, of course, a suburban option, but that's not my style.  The rent is cheaper than downtown, yes, but it's completely unwalkable from what I can find, and we'd have a hard time with just one car which is pretty much unnegotiable, but you don't have to hear my reasons for that.

So, if you made it this far, what would you choose?  Do you like rural areas, urban, what?


  1. That's a tricky question! I'm presuming that the two places are not close to each other, so you couldn't do hockey from the tiny town? I live in a small city (by CA standards, so nearly 100K) and there's a lot to love, but the way you describe your small city makes it sound pretty expensive, which would probably come with a lot of posh culture. Would you be comfortable living in an area like that?

  2. The tiny town is about 45 minutes from the small city, so I wouldn't want to drive there too often for hockey.

    It's really not that expensive of a city, but it's expensive for the area it's in (and for the starting salary of the job, but we have to do some sort of government job for a year). In comparison to Seattle, it's definitely not expensive.

    From what I've read and heard, the city's not so much posh but liberal relative to the surrounding area. That is one ding against the tiny town- it's apparently very conservative and southern. Of course, the city would be conservative in comparison to Seattle.

  3. The tiny town and small city don't happen to be anywhere on the East Coast near Florida, do they?

    Is there a difference in what your living arrangements would be in the tiny town? I might spring for the tiny town if it meant a house with a large yard vs. an apartment. However, it's nice to live downtown, especially if you're near a nice park (I go for green space). And with teenagers, having stuff for them to do might really be nice. Do you not like posh culture? If posh culture = Shakespeare/symphony/museums, I'd say go for the posh culture. Yeah, I think I'd vote for downtown.

  4. Hey, you could get to know new kinds of diverse people in the tiny town! My small city is in fact the local version of the pricier liberal enclave surrounded by a conservative area. There's good and bad. A lot of the bad (ahem, city council) has kicked me in the teeth lately, so I'm feeling bitter.

    I was imagining you in Vermont or Massachusetts or something. Now I'm thinking you should pick the spot closest to the next WTM speaking engagement.

  5. Oh, Sarah, by posh culture I meant more like spendy people driving to Starbucks in SUVs, and your kids unable to compete with the other teens' brand-name clothing. Bobos in Paradise, sort of thing--I get a lot of that but it's offset by the other very scruffy-granola part of town. It is nice to have the theater and such close by.

  6. If it were in Florida, I'd already have emailed you, Sarah. :)

    Yes, it would probably be a house with a big yard in the town and a small apartment in the city. We're used to that, of course, but houses are nice too.

    I'm not picky about posh or not, however you define it. I just want to be in a safe and quiet neighborhood (although I suspect my version of safe isn't quite typical), and I like to be able to get out and learn new things without having to deal with traffic.

    There would definitely be WTM stuff in the area.

  7. I'd definitely pick the smaller city. We're in Olympia now and loving it. I can ride my bike to the store, library, dance studio, school and the capital :) We only have one car too and I love it although bart doesn't...but then I'm the one on the bike with the trailer full of kids not him... :)
    Good luck in the decision. I'm hoping it's in Vermont :)

  8. Leslie! It's good to see you here.

    I suspect we'll go with the small city if we can possibly afford it. But it's likely it'll just be for a year or two anyway so it probably doesn't matter too much either way.