I like it here…

I like it here.

Oh sure, I miss croquetas, café con leche, y pan con bistec. I miss the people I worked with for so long in Miami. After seven months, I have to say, without hesitation: the move has been more than worth the hassle. I may not be saying this come mid-winter (a real winter, not the extended fall/spring that Wisconsin chose to throw at us this year), but even with average snowfall, I suspect I will still say the same thing. There are several reasons for this:

The People

For those of you from Miami (and, potentially, other large cities), this can be summed up in just a few words: people here use their horns judiciously. This is to say I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve heard horns used since we’ve arrived. Compare this to having to use two hands (and one finger) to count the number of times I’d hear horns blaring on my way to and from work each day in Miami.

Yes. They are that nice. It may be that they’re nice to my face and I’m walking around with knives in my back; but, I don’t think so.

The Food

I’m not well-travelled… at least not outside the country. And even inside the country, it is dubious as to whether or not I’d call myself well-travelled: I’ve been to several cities in the US, but that doesn’t make me well-travelled. Still, the food here is incredible.

We travelled 1,500 miles north to get better Jamaican food than we could get in Miami. And Miami is only 500 miles from MoBay. What’s up with that? And you can get EVERY kind of food here you might want. In a medium-sized city of 230,000.

Worried about prices?

The Prices

Sure, you can drop $100 on a dinner for two, if you want to. You can also walk around to the food carts on State Street outside Memorial Library, and get some of the best food you’ve ever tasted, for just a few bucks. What’s really amazing is the grocery prices, and prices for just about everything else: no more Miami tourist tax.

Our first week here, we did, of course, have to go grocery shopping. Even at the “best market in the area,” milk was $2.35/gallon. Yes, it was on sale. Yes, we live in one of the world’s largest dairy-producing regions. This doesn’t explain why we can buy bananas here for $0.45/pound, when they were routinely $0.20 more per pound in Miami.

Sure, bags of rice are twice the price here as in Miami. But so what… change the staple to fit the local. :-)

People Walk and Ride Bikes… They think a five-mile drive is long… And transit works!

The number of people walking and riding bikes here is phenomenal. There are sometimes traffic jams on the bike paths. Whereas in Miami people will drive for a two-block trip (a lack of sidewalks will do this), people here routinely bike or walk for trips one mile or less.

When I got here, one of my coworkers would ask me, every day, what I’d done new. When I told her I drove from one place to another, she got a pained look on her face and said: “Wow… that’s far…”

It was 3 miles. Maybe if it had been a “real” winter, that three miles would’ve seemed further. In fact, I know it would’ve. With the current state of affairs? It’s been easy.

The busses here are awesome. And they’re free for me… it’s a perquisite of working for a university where it costs $800/year to park. They give you a free bus pass to encourage you to not drive.

It’s a great place. It really does deserve that spot on the “Most Livable Cities” list.

Next time… the workplace.