For the Conservation Curious

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What are the Best Cities for Environmental Folk? October 6, 2014

Here’s another “draft” post that was somehow forgotten about until know. I no longer plan on moving anywhere else any time soon, but I’d still love to hear people’s thoughts about the places they think are great for environmentally-minded people. Let me know your thoughts!

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about where I would want to live if I could find my dream job there. I’ve interviewed for jobs in less than exciting places, but am holding out hope that the right job in the right place is out there and not too far in the distant future for me. In my last blog post I talked about how much I enjoy living in a city (albeit a very small city) and that is certainly one of the criteria I am looking for – a vibrant downtown atmosphere. But what else do I need in a location in order to want to live there?

Access to the outdoors, of course, is very important to me. I want to be able to ride my bike, go for a hike, take my kayak out, etc. and not have to drive an hour to do so. That may seem to conflict with the goal of living in a city, but there are plenty of cities in the U.S. that fit the bill: Portland, OR (see photo below) and Boulder, CO to name just two that are high up on my list.

In addition to outdoor amenities I also want to live in a place with an environmental ethos: a place where they take recycling seriously, where they accommodate bike lanes and encourage public transportation, where they promote alternative energies like solar, where the zoning and city planning ensure that natural resources and open space are protected. That makes it likely that the city is progressive and willing to try new things. The two previously mentioned cities certainly fall into that category, as do places like Austin, TX, NYC, and Pittsburgh, PA (see photo below of green roof on Allegheny County Building in Pittsburgh).

What it really all boils down to though are the available (decent paying) jobs in the natural resource/ environmental protection fields, since I don’t want to veer too far from that realm. That’s where it gets a bit stickier. Trying to match up cost of living and salary in some of these cities, where many people want to live, can be tough when the majority of jobs you are qualified for are in the non-profit or governmental arenas, where salaries aren’t always so great. I was told recently that some people are willing to take the pay cut to work for an organization that they believe in. I certainly agree, to a point, but we all have bills to pay. I’ll never be one to choose a job specifically because it pays well, if it means selling out my principles and beliefs, but neither am I willing to live with five roommates and eat ramen noodles every night in order to take a job. I went through that in school and I will never willingly go back there again!

So what’s a girl to do? I hope to have the answer in the near future and will let you know what I discover. But in the meantime, if you have rave reviews about a city that fits what I’m looking for, let me know. If nothing else, I love to travel and could check it out as a vacation destination. Thanks!

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