Moving to the midwest

My husband wants to move closer to his aging parents in the midwest. Where should we consider? Where can we move that has diverse schools, people we will like, and very bikeable/walkable? We don't have friends anywhere so we'll basically be starting from scratch and I don't want to move someplace where everyone else grew up there and has no need for new friends. My in-laws live in a mostly white suburb, so I'm not interested in moving to their town. I'd also love to have good access to outdoor adventures like camping and skiing if possible.


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RE: Moving to the midwest ()

Look at university towns: Ann Arbor or Madison come to mind if diversity is a priority. Maybe Iowa City or Champaign/Urbana.

Michigan has plenty of outdoor recreational opportunities at low cost so Ann Arbor might be the top contender there.

If you want to be closer to a big city, maybe Evanston, IL as well. 

RE: Moving to the midwest ()

You didn't say what state, but consider the flagship college town of the state your in-laws are in. Examples: Champaign-Urbana, Madison, Ann Arbor. I've lived in a lot of places in the midwest, and these towns are always getting new people and are more diverse than the areas around them. There are great restaurants, good schools, and it's very walkable/bikeable. Madison is better than Champaign for outdoor adventures (in my opinion) awesome hiking trails and there are ski hills an hour away. Plus, housing is affordable!

RE: Moving to the midwest ()

If it meets your geographic requirements, Pittsburgh is a great city! I lived there for 4 years and would move back happily if it wasn't for the weather. I think it has a lot of what you're looking for. Feel free to contact me for more details and good luck!

RE: Moving to the midwest ()

I think you'll have to give a little more detail about where you want to be close to (or easy access to) than "midwest" - that encompasses a pretty big piece of the country, and road and transit connections vary quite a lot.  

RE: Moving to the midwest ()

The Midwest covers a pretty big region but since you don't specify I'll put in a word for the Twin Cities in MN.  It's still majority white--that's going to be true for most midwestern cities--but as these cities go they're pretty diverse, especially St. Paul. There's are Hmong, Somali, Mexican, AA, and NA communities.  Lots of outdoor activities and a strong arts culture.  Nice people too!.  Winter sucks but they have it all worked out.  Good luck.  I'll be interested to see what others recommend.

RE: Moving to the midwest ()

Bikeable/walkable will most likely be a seasonal thing - but I know people in Chicago that do it year-round. 

Your request for camping and skiing made me think of Minnesota and Michigan. I have a cousin who went to school in western Michigan so he'd be able to ski. Minnesota has XC skiing. Both states have lots of open space. You'll probably find more transplants in cities rather than the suburbs. 

"The Midwest" is pretty darn big, too. If the goal is to be closer to your in-laws, you may want to start your search from there and go out an hour, two hours, three hours drive and see where you might go. 

-Grew up in Illinois

RE: Moving to the midwest ()

Would suggest looking into Minneapolis, Iowa City, or Kansas City.  Possibly Indianapolis too. I have spent time in and like all of those places. I've also heard good things about Madison, WI and Oak Park, IL.

RE: Moving to the midwest ()

As others have said, you will need to narrow down your search. The Midwest is vast and diverse--culturally, economically, ethnically, and, yes, even environmentally (it's actually not all flat!). Roughly 1000 miles across, I'd say. And keep in mind that distance has to be measured not just in miles, but in convenient access to hub airports. 

College towns are a good bet, if you're looking for a small, manageable community, easy to get around, lots of interesting people and things to do (if you have intellectual interests). There are many, many college towns in the Midwest, far more than in the West--most of the liberal arts colleges are out in the countryside. But they are small, with all that that implies.

The small cities around flagship universities like UW-Madison, UI-Urbana-Champaign, UM-Ann Arbor, maybe include Iowa City, Bloomington, IN, Lincoln, NE. They have more ethnic diversity, more jobs than just university-centered ones, usually better public transportation, and just generally more cosmopolitan, of course--yet still WAY more low-key than the Bay Area (to my mind, an entirely good thing). You'll usually find that community co-ops, activist organizations, etc. thrive in these places, and that there is a very pro-community vibe. Still small, though, compared to what you're used to, and air travel can be a pain in the butt, with limited flights (often delayed) to hub airports. 

The cities of the Midwest are, not to overstate the obvious, very cosmopolitan. I *adore* Chicago. One of my favorite cities anywhere. Yes, the weather sucks and there are no hills, much less mountains (there's a giant lake, though!), but there is so much going on--in arts, activism, politics, culture. Pick an area of interest and you'll find a committed community around it. I find that Chicagoans are much more invested in their cultural institutions and community organizations that people in the Bay Area--invested with time and $$. It's pretty easy to get around: flat and walk/bikable when the weather is decent (lots of greenbelt bike trails), and a good network of rail (2 systems) and bus.  

For reference, I lived about 15 years in the Midwest, plus family roots there, covering about 4 states. I grew up in the Pacific Northwest, however, and have been back on the West Coast a few years now.