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How to Evaluate a New City


Okay, I've determined the appropriate characteristics for evaluating how livable a new town is. These are completely and totally the most IMPORTANT PARTS of a town, not those crazy things like weather or housing affordability or job opportunities or culture or what-have-you like schools.

The four key attributes of a new city, not exactly in the order of priority, are:

  1. Chocolate shops

    What is any town without a decent chocolate shop? Completely and totally worthless, that's what a chocolate-shop-free town is. Sure, the chocolate doesn't have to be from a shop itself, so, maybe a Whole Foods could be sufficient. Receiving chocolate by mail is iffy, so ordering online doesn't always work. Having a chocolate supply (more importantly, a supply of good chocolate) is very important for one's well being.

  2. Tea shops

    In find being able to sit in a tea shop, having a cup of freshly brewed tea of some variety I haven't had before, simply delightful. Yes, tea can be ordered online, and delivered at my door. I have a number of tea pots that I can use to make a cup or a litre of tea, but I don't have a small, cozy tea room to sit with a cup of tea and read. It's one of those experience things, more than an object (tea) thing.

  3. Paper shops

    Okay, this one is surprising hard to get right. Most paper shops are a small section in the back of a gift shop, and they aren't really good. The Paper Source or Oblation Papers or The Papery, on the other hand, are delightful paper shops. They have a great selection of notebooks and papers and cards (letterpress ones are just so delightful!) and small knick-knacks. I can often get my notebook / journal fix at a Target, though, to be honest, I've stocked up on the B5-sized, 6mm-spaced, lined, $1.50 Muji notebooks that I love.

    I still like a good notebook.

  4. Cupcake stores

    This one is HUGE. OMG do you know how hard it is to find a good cupcake store? Oh, it's hard, so very hard. One could say worse than the paper shop. The lack of a cupcake shop isn't, however, a deal breaker. I can make my own cupcakes. They won't be as good as some of the ones I've bought, to be sure, but the ones I can make are sufficient.

Okay, those are the important ones. To be honest, the Mall of America ranks high up on the "this new town is great!" scale, missing only the paper store from that list. So, let's be realistic and and provide bonus attributes that can bring a city's rating up.

Also in no particular order:

  • Bookstores
  • A good library
  • Dog parks
  • Hiking opportunities
  • Whole Foods (or equivalent)
  • Trader Joes
  • Target

Oh, and no Walmart. Those things suck.


So, who wins? Or at least what cities/towns are in the running?

Definitely not the Mall of America! :)

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