Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Hypothetically Speaking

I'm in another airport- SJC to be precise, and I am so tired I swayed a few times in the never ending security line. The deposition yesterday was my most stressful 5 hours as an attorney and there were two or three "issues" that arose that were my fault because I was the junior associate but not my fault because they were actually my fault and well, it was a long day. All I can say is it's a good thing I came in to this job as a fairly secure and confident person whose self worth has little to do with partner approval. I understand I can't control other people and their reactions, I can only control myself and be comfortable with whatever actions I've taken. And of course, a few hours later all was fine and none of it was nearly as big of a deal as certain people wanted to think it was- I was even complimented on my "cool head." I smiled, nodded, and bit my tongue.

Yesterday afternoon was suddenly made fabulous by being able to meet up with one of my closest law school friends and her new baby in Palo Alto (her baby who just turned 1, but we're saying "new baby" because otherwise I'll be too sad it took me this long to meet him). We ate a delicious dinner at a Tapas place on University Avenue, stopped for frozen yogurt (Palo Alto has 5 frozen yogurt places for every 1 restaurant, it's awesome), and just like with all my law school ladies, you would never know we hadn't seen each other in person in 3 years. Also, her baby boy is adorable and made me miss my Biscuit quite fiercely. Luckily, after much suspicion, he let me hold him and love on him at the end. We played a game where he chased my feet (encased in my favorite gold glitter flats) all around my hotel room- he found it hysterical and baby belly laughs are a balm to the soul.

After dinner, reality came crashing back with two new crises which kept me up until 1 a.m., a mere 4 hours before my "I have a plane to catch" wake up call. While I do enjoy the fancy hotels and the expensing of all my food, Starbucks, and frozen yogurt needs, I am so over business travel.

Which brings me to a question we'll pretend for the moment has no practical purpose. Hypothetically speaking, if you could move to San Francisco, Denver, or Washington D.C. for the same job- where would you go and why?

41 comments:

  1. DC, DC, DC! (um, I might work in Arlington, VA).

    In all seriousness though, while I love San Fran, the cost of living there is ridiculous. I can't really speak to Denver. DC's economy is still going strong... And there are truly so many great neighborhoods to live in either in the city, or in VA (not MD. I'm anti MD, though if I recall, JP is from MD).

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  2. Okay, let's pretend! D.C. Is out of the question-NoVa is overcrowded & although you're in a good location for east coast travel, the thought of the Beltway...ugh. If I had unlimited funds (or a really good dual income) San Fran would be a great place to live; lots of culture, diversity, great location, etc. I don't know much about Denver, but I've always heard great things about Colorado and think that maybe out of the three choices it would be the best place to raise kids.

    If I had to pick for YOU, though, I'd rule out D.C. on account of your in-laws and be torn between S.F. because of your friend network and Denver because it would be closer to your family.

    Can't wait to find out the reasons behind this hypothetical :)

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  3. Long time lurker coming out to say Denver! Cost of living would keep me away from SF, and the traffic (seven years after leaving there, I still have nightmares about the traffic!) would keep me away from DC. But everything I have ever heard about Denver is fantastic.

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  4. Well, I live in the DC metro area (in MD, which I really like, so there), so I obviously made that choice. I love San Francisco, but don't think I could live there (part of it is the California thing -- I don't think I would be happy in California -- and part of it is just how darn expensive it is, and that's saying something, given how expensive DC is).

    Denver is tempting. I know a lot of people who've moved out there who love it a ton, and I think it's got a vibe that's probably closer to the Austin vibe than either SF or DC.

    That being said, if I had my druthers right now, I'd move back to Austin. :) Alas, not in the cards for the near future (or the far future, if I'm being honest).

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  5. Well, I've never been to DC. I live in the Sacramento area, grew up here. So I visit the SF area pretty frequently. I could live in the bay area, it's very expensive. I think it would be quite a shock, coming from Texas. In fact we often consider if we lost our jobs we'd move to Texas because the cost of living is so much lower there, even compared to Sacramento, which is lower than the SF bay area. SF itself is a wonderful city, I love it, but it would be a very difficult place to raise kids. It's really a very tiny city and it's cold almost all of the time. Which compared to Texas summer sounds nice, but most of the people I know, who've moved away from SF left because of the weather. All that said, I'd move back to Denver in a heartbeat. We lived in a suburb of Denver for about 4 years. It's a wonderful place to live. You can pretty much close your eyes and point to a place in the Denver area to live, and you'd like it. Very healthy lifestyles, beautiful, great weather, nice people. We left because it has a small economy and the job market was bad. If I could do my same job there, I would move back. We also came back to CA because all our family is here. My husband and I talk often about moving back to Colorado once the kids are grown. I can't say enough about how great of a place it is to live. I will say though, with a young family don't underestimate the importance of family close by and the cost of living you have in TX. Best to you.

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  6. I'd have a tough choice between Denver and DC, but I guess I basically chose Denver because I live in SLC, UT.

    I used to live in the Bay area for 2.5 years after law school but even on two lawyers' salaries it was tough to afford a house. So my husband and I jumped at the chance to move to SLC and still have fantastic jobs.

    I spent a summer in DC and liked it but it's very expensive and can be dangerous. In SLC I bike to work every day (7 miles round trip), we have a gorgeous house for 1/4 what it would cost in the Bay area and the outdoor activities here are awesome.

    The biggest drawback of moving somewhere like Denver, though, is that if things don't work out it's probably harder to get a new job than if you live in an area teeming with lawyers. For fun I've checked the Craigslist job postings in SLC and it's very depressing. I have no desire to be an immigration attorney who is paid $15/hour. And if you wanted to move back to Texas or move somewhere else, the potential employers might think you're a flake for bouncing around from state to state. Or at least that's my worry.

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  7. You're in luck, because I or my husband have lived in each of these three places, so I know whereof I speak!

    Firstly, I would cross D.C. off the list. The logistics of getting around in that city, along with the expense of living there, makes us not want to live there ever ever ever in a million years. A family member just moved there from Tampa, and his commute went from 30 minutes to 2 hours - he uses public transport, a car would take longer. They make good money, but can't afford to live any closer to his job in the city. Schools are tricky, too. Another friend who lived there waited an extra 5 years to start having children, because she could not envision being able to afford (and logistically manage) their life in D.C. with kids. (She now lives in Indiana, and is preggers with her first!) D.C. gets a big thumbs down from me - though it's fun to visit!

    Denver and SF, however, both get HUGE thumbs up. SF proper is cold all the time. I worked there for 6 months over the summer once, and I never could leave the house in the morning without a jacket, and often had to wear it all day through. It was actually kind of depressing. New Orleans' heat is oppressive, but so is wearing gloves in July. But chilliness aside, that city is awesome. Truly, truly the bomb. Culturally cool, expensive but not as outrageous as San Diego, D.C., or New York, just beautiful, and a gateway to some of the most spectacular natural beauty that America has to offer (the redwoods, Tahoe, Muir woods . . . I ran a program that took kids on nature tours around the northern part of the state a few years ago). It's near Marin, Sausolito, Alcatraz, wine country, and the Golden Gate bridge is a dream. I love the restaurants, grocery stores, neighborhoods, foliage - everything. I went to high school about an hour south of SF, and back in the early 90s the schools were great. However, California's budget woes have kind of killed that cow, I think.

    Denver can also be chilly year round, because of its elevation. The snow is pretty wild - you have to really learn to drive in crazy snow. Everybody drives a Subaru. But talk about natural beauty, again! Red Rocks is the coolest concert venue, the El Dorado Canyon, the nearby city of Golden, ice skating and hiking and opera and museums - my husband lived here when we met, and he wooed me with the most amazing dates there (in January). I also like the Denver culture - great restaurants and bars, great concerts, a pretty youthful and liberal atmosphere. It remains on our list of places we'd be willing to move to.

    Both are too far from family for our tastes. But I'd highly recommend them to anyone else! Fun!

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  8. Ugh, sorry for all the drama! On the "where would you live front" this is something my husband and I are currently discussing, but are probably not brave enough to do anything about. I work at a firm in San Francisco and live outside of San Francisco. The city is amazing, cold yes, but if you live outside the city the weather is better. The problem is that it is VERY expensive. My husband and I both have siblings in Texas and it is really a sticker shock of a difference. And be sure to research the schools--living in SF proper, you are almost destined to send the kids to private school. Public school is done by lottery and it is a mess.

    We are actually talking about Denver ourselves, but don't know much about it. I am loving reading other people's comments though.

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  9. As a Bay Area native that misses California with all of my heart and soul, I'd say SF. I grew up near Palo Alto and that area could not be more fantastic. The weather south of the city is so much better, it's really worth it to consider living outside of SF. That said, it's expensive. I currently live in Boston, both to be near family and because we can't afford to live in the Bay Area right now. It's sad that a scientist with a PhD and a structural engineer don't make enough to feasibly own a house in the future in the Bay Area. I've heard fabulous things about Denver, but don't know much about the area. My friends that live in DC are surviving, but really hate the traffic.

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  10. Ooh, ooh, I have opinions! (I enjoy your parenting posts but can't really comment, not being a parent - but I can talk about cities!) I should admit I've never actually been to SF, and have only visited DC, so this is based on what I've heard (and knowing Denver).

    Career-wise, I would go to DC first (but I want to work for the feds), then SF (but I'd put SF first if you were interested in Silicon Valley-related stuff), then Denver. It's a fairly small legal market, so can be hard to break into (not an issue if you're transferring, but something to keep in mind for future career moves). I don't think Denver was as badly hit by the recession as some parts of the country, but it is a smaller economy overall so it's probably not as vibrant as DC/SF. (It does have a great entrepreneurial culture/community for JP, though! If that's at all the kind of thing that interests him. I know not about MBAs...)

    Non-career stuff: Denver wins, weather-wise! Gorgeously sunny, hot in the summer but a dry heat. I don't consider it chilly, but I lived in MN for 13 years so I'm a little weird. ;-) It's way warmer (and sunnier) than Chicago in the winter, that's for sure. The city itself isn't even that crazy, snow-wise, because usually it will snow overnight/early morning, then get into the 40s and everything melts the same day. (If it doesn't melt right away things can turn into a mess, and of course if you get outside the city and head toward the mountains that changes, but overall, I don't think the snow is bad. By upper midwest standards, that is!)

    I want to work in DC someday but I think its weather sucks (I HATE humidity), and while I like the idea of SF's moderate temps, I think if you like sun and heat it could get depressing.

    Denver's also very liberal/relaxed - probably not more so than SF, but more so than DC. I agree that culture-wise it's probably not going to beat out SF, but it's still pretty great, and as noted, it doesn't face the same budget issues as in California. But then, I also always see CA as a whole different country!

    Denver would be less expensive than the other 2 cities (not that it's necessarily cheap - just that DC and SF are IMHO crazy expensive), and I think it would be easier to find housing comparable to what you have now (based on the blog) without paying out the nose. The outdoors-y kinds of stuff you can do in Colorado is also ridiculous - way better than the DC area (I can't really comment on SF on this point though).

    Public transport is probably better in DC and SF (don't really know about SF), but it's fairly decent in Denver, and it doesn't sound like that's a huge priority for you. And traffic in Denver is probably better than in the other 2.

    Although there is a huge Hispanic population in Colorado, Denver still manages to be pretty white, probably more so than DC or SF (though I realize I don't know much about SF demography). Again, I don't know how much diversity is a concern for you, but I throw it out there because I know for some people who move here it can be an issue.

    Anyway. I'm trying to be unbiased, but I love Denver to pieces and kinda think it would be the best, quality of life-wise (and you love to ski!). But there are definitely pluses to SF and DC as well, so whatever you choose, there will be benefits!

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  11. Well I am an attorney in Denver but if I had the choice between the three, I would definitely choose San Francisco -- the weather is great, it's a city atmosphere, there is so much to do culturally and nature-wise, and the ocean the ocean the ocean...... Denver is great but unless you LOVE the mountains and can actually get away enough to enjoy them (and somehow avoid the horrible traffic on I-70), it doesn't seem to have as much to offer as SF. The winter storms can be brutal, the summers are HOT, and there's not really much fall or spring. I don't know anything about the SF schools. Hope this helps!

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  12. Denver in a heartbeat. I'd take SF or DC for a visit anytime (loved SF when I visited a couple years ago), but for somewhere to LIVE - Denver all the way. I spent a week in Denver, mostly for a conference, in June, and in less than 24 hours I was totally smitten and ready to move there. The cost of living seems by far the most reasonable. There's a great downtown with nice parks and pedestrian areas that feels like a real city without being overwhelming. There are cute neighborhoods in the city with lots of fun shops and restaurants, and the mountains are a stone's throw away.

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  13. I love California but have no desire to live in San Francisco...too cold, too expensive. Couldn't handle the weather in D.C. But I have been trying to convince my husband that if we ever move out of state, Denver would be the place to go. I love that it has so much natural beauty and offers so many outdoor activities and that it's fairly dry in comparison to other places that have real seasons.

    That said, if I move away from Southern California (and my family), it's only to move to somewhere with a lower cost of living.

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  14. I live about 1.5 hrs out of SF (without traffic)..more in the central valley. I love SF for day trips or a weekend away with the hubby. I cannot imagine living there. Its just a different style of living. Fortunately (or unfortunately) I'm used to suburban living. In SF you wouldn't have the space...big backyard, etc. The cost of living is high, like everyone else mentioned. You can't beat the weather:) Well, I prefer San Diego:) I would love to be back in SD but we moved back here so our kids could grow up with family. I do not regret it at all...even on 105 degree days (well maybe a little). Never been to Denver. I've visited DC and MD...and what everyone said about traffic is right. Time for the old Pro and Con list. Good luck with your hypothetical.

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  15. Denver, no question. The traffic and cost of living in DC and the Bay Area would be prohibitive. My husband and I lived in Denver before we had kids and moved back the Chapel Hill to be closer to family and we still miss it. With the outdoor lifestyle and the easygoing people, Denver has the best natural work-life balance culture I've ever seen. If I had the option to go back, I'd do it in a heartbeat.

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  16. I'm a long-time lurker, but I can't resist offering my two cents. I live in DC and went to college in Palo Alto, so I can speak to DC and SF. I absolutely love living in DC. It's not the cheapest place in the world, but it's far more affordable than California. I live in Takoma Park, MD, which is a wonderful area -- close to the city, not terribly expensive, extremely family-friendly, and a great, small-town feel. (I used to live in VA and I VASTLY prefer MD.) Yes, traffic in the DC area is horrible, but there's no reason to drive too much because Metro is great. And driving inside of the Beltway isn't really that bad unless you're taking really major thoroughfares. Also, DC is a great place to be a lawyer; there are many, many interesting places to work. There is also something fun and interesting happening somewhere in the city, and everyone is really passionate about what they do, which makes for a neat vibe.

    SF is a great city, but it's also incredibly expensive. Public transportation is not great so you really have to drive, and Bay Area traffic is a pain. It's never all that cold but it's rarely very warm, so you really need to enjoy foggy weather in the 60s to like living there.

    I've spent less than 24 hours in Denver so I can't really speak to it, but it seems like a nice place -- beautiful, and much more like Austin than SF or DC. Good luck figuring all of this out!

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  17. Hey, I live in Takoma Park, too! I agree that traffic in DC can be bad, but a lot depends on where you live and work. We live where Mr. D. can commute against traffic, so his commute isn't all that bad, and I can commute by Metro, so mine is also fine. (Still, though, I'd rather be in Austin.)

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  18. DC. No more bar exam for me! Also, then I could regularly lurk outside the Hoover building and be a creepy FBI fangirl, since I'll never be in shape enough to get hired on. Sigh.

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  19. Hey LL, I actually know you and JP from college. I started reading your blog when another ex swimmer told me about The Nightmare. Its really lovely to know y'all are both happy and raising an adorable family.

    I moved to DC from Austin 6 years ago and I love it here. If you live in DC proper, traffic isn't an issue. I don't even have a car. Is that feasible with kids? Probably not, but plenty of folks have young kids in the city and get around using a mix of mass transit and their cars.

    Yes, its more expensive here than Texas, and you'd have to sacrifice square footage, but with your and JP's income combined, you'd have a lot of options. There are so many things to do here, and lots of those things also happen to be free.

    People come here from all over the country and make this city their own. They're part of what makes it a great place to live: folks here are smart and driven and passionate about what they do. And there are a million lawyers and a million different jobs for lawyers.

    All that to say... go DC!

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  20. I grew up in DC and lived in Boulder for a couple of years. I'd definitely choose Denver/Boulder over DC any day. No experience with SF though. If you end up in Denver and living in or near Boulder is a possibility, I would definitely suggest doing that--it's a great place to live and raise a family. Not only is it a gorgeous town with great mountain views, there's tons of stuff to do, it's extremely walkable/bikeable/public transportation friendly, and it's quite liberal.

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  21. I would choose SF, myself, but I have a feeling you and JP would love love love Denver. Coloradans hype the many sunny days, the fact that the snow doesn't (usually) stick to the roads, the proximity to the mountains, and the huge number of concerts and sporting events.

    Real estate is fairly affordable (though it gets pricey as you get closer to Boulder). Cost of living isn't too bad and dining is great. Hiking, skiing, biking, even rafting are all within an hour's drive. Check out Washington, Congress, or University Park neighborhoods (unless you're more keen on the new developments on the edge of the city, which exist in abundance).

    So, my guess is Denver!

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  22. I think the culture of DC would get to me. Fun for a bit, but wears out the heart and soul after too long? Also, it seems like pantyhose are required, and that's just not an option.

    SF is an amazing city, surrounded by more amazing cities, with a coast and wine country nearby! I've spent a lot of time in the city, and can't quite imagine living in the city with small children. There just aren't any yards. But I imagine there is more space as you get out of the city a tiny bit.

    I don't think Denver would feel much different than where you're at now. I haven't spent a ton of time there, but it never felt like a big city to me. Definitely affordable, definitely beautiful, definitely family friendly -- but not much more cosmopolitan.

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  23. I'm originally from the SF bay area (worked along the 101 corridor for years) and lived for a number of years in SF proper. We moved to Denver about 5 years ago. I would choose Denver or D.C. over SF just because of the cost of living and the annoyances of living in the bay area. To give you perspective, our house in the bay area was more than $500k, 50 years old, and 850 square feet. And it was considered very nice.

    That said, the traffic in Denver is only marginally better than the traffic in the bay area. The commute can be a real burden here in the snow, which arrives in sporadic, but heavy downfall. The schools in Denver county are not great, but the surrounding suburbs have decent schools. The legal market in Denver is good and small. It also very much supports grads from local schools. There are a lot of people who move from other markets with your awesome credentials. They typically lateral into big firms. Big firms love this because they get excellent candidates from big name schools. Others resent the influx because it limits job opportunities for locals. You didn't really say whether you would plan to stay with your firm or lateral, but I thought I should throw this out there. Though I doubt that you will have any problem finding a job if you do decide to change firms. :)

    There is not a lot of cultural diversity in Denver, but it's not really a problem (we are a diverse family), and it is improving. The city is liberal, but the surrounding communities tend to be more conservative, and exceptionally conservative when you go south into Colorado Springs. As for the culture of the city, it's not a big city like SF, but it has a lot to offer and is getting better. Coming from the bay area, I do think that what it offers for kids pales in comparison. But, for example, it's hard to knock the Denver aquarium for not being housed on an edge of the pacific ocean like the Monterey Bay aquarium when Colorado is a landlocked state. It's painful at times to not see water around you, and it is very very dry here. Our "seasons" can best be summarized as: hot, wet, bright but cool, and snow. There really is no spring. We often have snow until May or June. I didn't really start wearing shorts this summer until the beginning of this month, but I fully expect snowfall sometime in October.

    I grew up in the DC metro area, and as a kid, I loved it. The access to museums and interesting historical places just cannot be beat. I grew up running around in the woods, and going to lakes. However, I haven't been there in years, so I have no idea what its like for adults. I do continue to hear that northern VA has some of the best schools in the country. Personally, I would pick DC over SF. Denver over both.

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  24. I would vote for SF. But I don't know Denver.

    Yes, the cost of living is high (highest in the country), but considering what you do and what your likely salary would be, I think it would be okay.

    I lived in Berkeley for a very long time (also high cost of living), and made it on a legal secretary's salary (it was pre-law school).

    The Bay Area weather is outstanding - once you get used to the fog - and San Francisco is absolutely gorgeous. There is so much to do year-round. You have so much accessible to you, different climates, different cities, different forms of nature. Public transportation is great, the culture is rich.

    I miss it there, almost every day.

    (I will concede, despite my otherwise glowing review, California public schools are a hot mess right now, and have been for a long time. It's one of the main reasons I'm not there anymore. So not only is the housing expensive, but you'd have to seriously consider private school expenses for the kids.)

    I also love D.C., but have never lived there. I could never move somewhere that gets & stays that hot. I've always heard it's very hard for families to live in the city (schools), but have recently heard from friends that it's actually do-able.

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  25. Denver. I think what a lot of people (who may not be lawyers) aren't thinking of is the differing expectations of attorneys in different offices. I know my friends in the bay area, on average, work a lot more than I do, or at the very least spend more time in their offices (I live in San Diego, which is a significantly more laid-back place than SF). I imagine DC is the same, if not worse, than SF. Denver offers many of the same things as Austin - smaller feel, more affordable housing and daycare, and more reasonable work schedules. Plus skiing, and I recall from your blog that you and JP are super skiers/snowboarders. You obviously value a true work/life balance. I think Denver is the place most likely to offer that.

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  26. Ya, I agree with the comments that Denver will be most comparable to Austin. SF proper with kids is really tough - expensive, you don't get a yard, schools are very very hit or miss and there's a complicated lottery, the weather ain't great, you tend to have a commute that's at least 25 mins, etc. Now, Palo Alto and other bay area are a lot more doable with kids. And there are lots of law firms down here!

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  27. My perspective: I'm from NYC.
    I would definitely not move to DC (too boring) and would strongly consider SF --- BUT for the lifestyle change (which is what would make me move) I think I'd end up siding with Denver. Denver would also be the easiest transition to make from Austin in terms of cost of living for you from Austin. Not that you should rule otu the others. (but COULD you be that close to your in-laws??)

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  28. Hi! I've been reading for awhile and have never commented but I want to throw my hat in the ring for...

    SAN DIEGO!

    I moved here after 4 years in NYC which was amazing, but certainly "big city living" and I think it's one of the most perfect places to live. Beautiful weather (60s-70s year-round! with some "hot" days in the 80s), lots of fun outdoor activities, not too big, not too small and really nice people. Work opportunities are better for some industries than others, but with a JD and MBA you should be fine!

    I also really love San Francisco and would move there in a second for the right opportunity, but personally would rather be in SD than SF if I had kids. More space to play!

    Good luck with everything; you're an inspiration!!

    Hugs,
    Helen

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  29. San Francisco. I am a CA native so that may bias me... The weather is amazing and the culture is fun. HOWEVER, if it were me, I probably would realistically go with Denver. I've heard it's a great place to live and would be way more family oriented than SF or DC. The snow in Denver just sounds atrocious to me, but you ski or something, right?

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  30. I'm going to be a renegade and tell you San Diego, even though it wasn't on hr list. But I really came to tell you that the frozen yogurt craze is all over SD, too.
    It reminded me of Starbucks ... one on every corner.
    And .... I'm there with you on all of the traveling (I type this as I sit in a hospital room in St. Louis, after being home from a week in SD for only 2 days).
    I miss my bed.
    :)

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  31. LA (formerly LT)8/17/11, 9:54 PM

    Hey LL, I vote for DC. I live in the MD suburbs (Montgomery County) and used to live in NoVA. I didn't like NoVa, but I love Maryland. DC traffic doesn't bother me - I take the Metro! Just live close to a Metro line (no more than a 10 minute drive). I read my book or Kindle on the way to and from work (or if I HAVE to I read cases or a brief). Yeah it's hot in DC in the summer, but compared to TX, it shouldn't be a big deal. I have never been to Denver and have no desire to go there, so I can't comment on that. SF is intriguing but it is COLD in the summer - I can't stand temps below 75 so it would depress me to never get a good, warm summer. Also SF is way more expensive to live compared to DC (so my friends who have lived in both places tell me).

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  32. Denver! Though my guess is that at first you'd be frustrated by "Colorado time" out of the three I think it's the best for both "city" and "family" style living. San Francisco would be cool too, but most of the people I know who work there live in the 'burbs.

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  33. DC is super boring and yet obnoxious! A town full of lawyers (the gunners!). SF gets my vote for food, culture, diversity, weather -- but it is super-expensive (as is the surrounding suburban Bay Area). Went to Denver once -- not diverse and I was not impressed. I also don't ski, so proximity to mountains would never win me over for that town. However, I always choose to spend money for culture, proximity to the cool stuff, etc. To each her (and her family's) own!

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  34. What an interesting topic! Background- lived in DC years ago, go to San Francisco for a week every month for work, don't know too much about Denver. I am a little older than you & have kids in 5th & 7th grades. Not a lawyer but have a demanding job in technology.

    I am pretty much with the Reluctant Grown Up above on DC & San Francisco. Like her I would never ever in one million years want to live in DC again. I lived there before kids & even then the logistics & traffic wore me out. I can't imagine if all that had been taking away time from my family. And don't even think about trying to get out of town on a Friday afternoon.

    Also agree with the others that said it's boring- huge workaholic culture. I also found it hard to make friends because everyone commutes out in different directions (although maybe that would be easier with kids). I never met people who lived near me because I was never home...I was at work or sitting in traffic!

    San Franciso I love but boy that job would have to come with a big salary. If I could pull it off financially & wouldn't be so far from my family I could totally live there. Also LOVE Berkeley & am sure some of the other nearby towns are nice too but I'm not as familiar.

    The cold thing can be a downer though- Sausalito is lovely but is around 58 degrees & foggy almost 365 days a year- I would be so depressed! School thing sounds scary too...I would heavily research that & I guess build private school into the budget (can't even imagine what that runs you in SF!).

    Interesting topic- thanks for posting this.

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  35. I would say Denver, if you were looking for a type of life similar to Austin with a little more weather.

    But given some of the things I've seen in your posts lately, I would go for SF. Personally, I pushed very hard for SF during my own transfer between offices of my firm. I love the place. There is a good intellectual energy. Great schools. Lots of companies to choose from (should JP look to job switch). Open spaces and easy access to varied geographies. And you can pick to live in an urban or suburban environment. The downside, as many have noted, is the cost. By my mind, it's otherwise a great choice. (Admittedly biased b/c I'm a Stanford alum and nearly all of my friends live in the area.)

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  36. Ooh, good question! Denver and DC are both in my top 3 places to live (the other is Chicago). My husband is in Boulder right now and calls every night to beg and plead that I look for a job at a University in the Denver or Boulder area. He's in love with the mountains and I'm in love with the low humidity.

    I love DC, but probably because I have so many friends there. I may not like it as much without them!

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  37. As background, I summered at a biglaw firm in Denver in 2007, and worked for a biglaw firm in DC for a year (until I recently transferred back to Chicago, woohoo!).

    I liked living in Denver a lot-- much like Austin, it felt like a small big city. The downtown area is really cute and seems to be constantly growing, and it was possible for me to live quite close to downtown without paying a huge amount in rent. I took the public bus to work every day and found it to be clean and relatively quiet for reading, etc. I will say that I loved, loved Boulder but found the commute a bit far for my liking. I did notice the lack of diversity but am told by friends who live there that it's constantly improving, and if you take advantage of the relatively close proximity of outdoor activities, it's a city like none other.

    That said, SF is one of my very favorite cities. If I could reconcile myself to the huge expense of living there, I would vote SF. If I couldn't, I would go with Denver.

    I will add that I really disliked DC. I find DC a wonderful place to visit, with the monuments and the free museums and clean sidewalks. And I hear that the NoVa schools are terrific. However, it seems like everyone is a lawyer, and most of the people I met liked to discuss the law/politics constantly. The entire city is much more of a 'working' culture than SF or Denver, and it's very expensive, without the benefit of actually being in SF. Good luck!

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  38. Denver is the most boring place I've ever lived — and you know I am from a suburb of Houston. That is saying a lot. I only enjoy water activities outdoors, and this simply does not exist in Denver. Almost no one has a pool, apartment complexes don't have pools — I'm not sure people there know how to swim. (This could be good for JP and a swim school, though!) They do, however, know how to hike and ski, which is good, because that's all there is to do there. The food is whitewashed and bland, and Taco Bell is the best Mexican out there. We went a year without it.

    I did not love D.C. either, but I found it to be more suited to our tastes: fun restaurants, nightlife, and close enough to other major cities. However, it is very expensive and hard to get around if you live outside of the District. DCPS is awful, but living in the suburbs is hell.

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  39. I live in Denver & love it - you can live in the city as a family affordibly. But it's a lot like austin. I think you would love SF.

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  40. Background: Bay Area born & bred (though living further inland now) with DC exposure. I'd pick SF in a heartbeat. It's my second favorite city anywhere, second only to Paris.

    That said, it's atrociously expensive. I know that I was thinking about moving back there after law school at one point, but there's no way I could afford it with my loans. I didn't live in SF (but so close you could see it), and I think other cities around the Bay are probably more family friendly (both my mom and my dad's families were all raised there).

    There were some really good arguments for DC (which I love) and Denver (which I want to visit), but my heart is in SF :)

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  41. NOT DC!!! Here's the straight up hippie answer -- I like the vibrational energy in Cali. SF all the way.

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