I live in a decent sized city with just under 200k residents, if you count the 40K+ students who descend on the city every August when they return to classes at the University of Illinois.
Champaign, IL, where I live, has no beaches or mountains, no city skyline, and its winters can be downright brutal.
It’s true that most wouldn’t immediately seek us out; we’re a city in the middle of a state that sits in the middle of a country.
Yet over the years I’ve met many people, who for one reason or another, have found themselves here and have realized, you know what? It’s not a bad place to be.
It’s home to a world class university with students coming from dozens of countries across the globe. As a result of this diversity and youth, there’s a type of energy that is tangible.
It’s also 2 hours from the third largest city in the country, Chicago. A city that offers major league sports, world class museums and architecture, and all of the energy of a NYC or LA. It’s also only 100 miles from Indianapolis and around 3 hours from St. Louis, both great cities in their own right.
Sometimes it’s not about where you live exactly but what you have easy access to.
I’ve dealt with the dismissive, snarky comments from people who live elsewhere for pretty much my entire adult life though. My ex in-laws from Baltimore, which by the way is hardly a top destination on anybody’s list of places to visit or live, would always say, “It’s boring”, “there’s nothing to do here”, and “how do you live here?” Besides the fact that it’s beyond rude to make fun of someone’s city while visiting them in that city, it’s also close-minded and dismissive.
It’s all because these people have a preconceived notion that all cities away from the coasts, or too far outside of the larger cities, are in some ways lesser than. Because of that view, they miss the offerings that are right in front of them.
It’s ok to have a preference and enjoy the place you currently live, but I wish people wouldn’t continually make the mistake of assuming others live in a place that is somehow inferior to theirs.
The city and state I live in is hardly perfect and we certainly won’t stay here as we near retirement, but as a place to raise kids and live in the meantime, there are far worse places to reside.
As most of us return from the long Labor Day weekend, consider getting out over the coming weeks and explore your city and all it has to offer.