A new Pew poll notes that a majority of Americans would rather live someplace else than where they are now. In particular, people who live in cities would prefer to be out of cities:
“City residents disproportionately are more likely than people living in other types of communities to say they would prefer to live in a place other than a city,” Morin says. “Fewer than half of all city residents say there is no better place to live than in a city.”
A smaller proportion of women express the desire to live in the nation’s largest cities. “Women are less drawn to big cities,” says Robert Lang, co-director of the Metropolitan Institute at Virginia Tech. “It could be safety.”
I used to have romantic notions of small town life. I've lived in two small towns, one of 20,000 and one of 2,000. The latter, Lake Butler, Florida, permanently cured me of this Mayberry-ish view of life in rural America.
This is the impression that I've gathered: small towns are more political than major cities. If 1 out of 100,000 people in a major city is an elected official, then 1 out of 100 is an elected official in a small town. And all of these officials, in small or big communities, have roughly the same destructive power.
Allow me to put this gently: politicians are scum. I have limited experience, but what I do have indicates that there is a certain personality -- a devious and manipulative one -- that goes into politics, from President to down to City Commissioner. This personality, if given a choice between being a small fish in a big pond and a big fish in a small pond, chooses the latter. Prestige is very important, if not critical, to this type's happiness.
And the smaller the town, the more likely you are to have contact with such people. Like the rabbi's prayer for the Tsar in Fiddler on the Roof, I say "May God bless and keep the Tsar -- far away from us." In a big city, this distance is a far greater than in a small town, where you are stumbling over politicians in the produce aisle of the supermarket -- all of whom know you by name.
I would much rather lead a quiet, anonymous life, choosing who I wish to associate with, rather than being forced into political relationships for which I have neither the time nor the inclination.
It is often easier to have privacy in the midst of a crowd of strangers than in a small group, which is why I prefer city life.
All of which is not to say that there are not good people in small towns, or that it is impossible to be happy in one. But there are real dangers to small towns, and in them, participation in informal, social politics is more mandatory than it is in a big city.
I am content where I am, but there is a city that I have thought of for a while as being ideal. I've never been there, but I am attracted to it from what I have read: Las Vegas.
It is a relatively young and fast-growing city. And Reason magazine recently declared Las Vegas to be the free-est city in America. It has an attitude that is both libertarian and libertine. As much as I have no desire for the libertine pleasures of Las Vegas, I am attracted to the middle finger that Las Vegas extends to the rest of the world. I want to live in a city that will give me a job and leave me the hell alone. From what I have read, Las Vegas sounds a lot like it.
Back when I was doing the Methodist Blogger Profile series, I used to ask the question that I will now pose to you, my readers.
Where would you most like to live -- other than where you do now?