One aspect of any really big decision is the degree to which it changes one's identity. The little decisions are things that can be reversed, replaced, or otherwise ignored, while the big ones leave their mark.
For example, my college majors determined a large part of the path that my life has followed. They have influenced my perspective, my group of friends, and all the other decisions that I subsequently made. The same goes for marriage and parenthood, as well as a few other biggies.
Shortly after moving to New York, I realized that this decision would have a monumental effect on my identity. Using Facebook, I reconnected with my buddy Aubin. Once he learned that I had moved to the city, he began referring to me as "Yankee." Having spent all my life in the south, this was a pretty big shift. Still, given that my relatives fought for the north (or, as I always put it, the winners), this made some sense.
At any rate, moving to a city involves a lot of identity creation: in addition to memorizing maps and public transit lines, finding the best pizza joints, and buying all sorts of home-team sports paraphernalia, there is the generalized sense of self that comes with one's home. Before the young, upwardly-mobile professional chooses a new home, and thus a new identity, it's probably a good idea to determine if the new home will be able to support his or her ambitions. For example, while New York might have the best entry-level job right now, it would be nice to know that the city will offer room for growth. After all, having invested in the Yankee's jacket and Time Out New York subscription, most people would rather not have to move cross country!
With that in mind, Forbes' recent lists of the 40 best cities for young professionals is a vital resource. In addition to considering where graduates from top schools choose to settle, the list also factored in the locations of America's best companies, mean salary data, and the potential dating pool of each city. Their ultimate determination was that San Francisco is the top upwardly-mobile city in the country, followed by Boston, Houston, New York, and Minneapolis. Over the past year, my new home town, currently in fourth place slipped from first, based on upheavals in the financial market and its exceedingly high cost of living. Let's hope that next year bodes better; Minneapolis is coming up fast!
Bruce Watson is a freelance writer, blogger, and all-around cheapskate. While San Francisco has its charms, he's already found the best pizza joints in New York. For the time being, at least, it's home!
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