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better living through spreadsheets

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The above spreadsheet represents a pathologically rationalist approach to getting out of Chicago. I’ve scored each state on a scale of 0 (“worst”) to 9 (“best”) according to my life’s present greatest ambitions and fears:

1. environmental toxins (including but not limited to ionizing radiation, fracking wastes, and agricultural runoff)
2. cheap rent (a dying breed)
3. abundance of shit jobs (another dying breed)
4. nearby acquaintances (to help smooth the transition but also to make life generally less unbearable)
5. access to UV light (to cure my vitamin-d deficiency and to make life generally less unbearable)
6. tick-borne illness (including but not limited to Lyme disease)
7. foraging grounds, primarily macrofungi

I’ve assigned each state in The Union (a Canadian version was ruled out as being both too employment-prohibitive and too sunlight-prohibitive) a number for each of these seven criteria, to reach a rough estimate as to which state i’d most not hate. Granted, the data isn’t perfect — some tweaking was required (such as Oregon’s crippling -3 rating in the “jobs” category, for reasons best left private) — but i feel this chart is generally more useful than the “vibe” system i’ve previously based my life’s major decisions on.

It’s no surprise that my home state made the 1 slot — what’s interesting is that Washington, a place i hadn’t considered too hard previously, turns out to be the first contiguous state that i’d theoretically enjoy.

And really, why not. Besides the Microsoft/Amazon-inspired rent inflation, the legal-weed-inspired rent-inflation, the legitimization of segways as a means of transport, the endless rain, and the unnerving proximity of one of the nation’s largest nuclear nightmares, maybe it wouldn’t be all that bad. (And please, imagine that every sentence i write about anyplace is followed by an invisible “…compared to Chicago.”) Assuming my calculations are correct, my main concern there would be sunlight — which i know the PNW can be famous for lacking (and i might have based the “5” UV rating on a flawed UV map). But in the end, proximity to nature and jobs, and freedom from viking winters, seems like a fair trade for those too begging to choose?

I know this has nothing to do with comics, and is just me rambling in an empty room to myself about my personal life, which is pretty pathetic, but does anyone out there actually live in the Olympic Peninsula, and have any advice/words of warning/job offers regarding the Frasier City? Is everyone else trying to get out? Is it impenetrable to those few of us still resisting the Singularity by refusing to learn to code and kayak? Where is happiness, dear reader? Where is home?

13 Comments on “better living through spreadsheets”

    • yeah, w/e — i have absolutely no intention of moving there and i basically just added it so people didn’t think i thought there were only 49 states…

    • arghh i was hoping i could keep pretending i forgot that article existed! i suppose **the doom is inescapable**.

      nothing like being next to oodles of nuclear waste when nature shakes up your state like a game of Boggle

    • countryside; however in this economy and with my ridiculous resume i’m probably stuck in an urban area for the foreseeable, barring a really sweet upswing in luck.

  1. Sounds like Bellingham or the Port Angeles area (northern Olympic peninsula) might be a good fit for you? Both are surrounded by forests, mountains, and ocean.

    Bellingham = small college town, lots of environmentalists/radicals/artists, should be plenty of shit jobs. Strong possibility of WWU public lectures on botany, mycology, etc, and close to Seattle if you want art museums or ECCC.

    Port Angeles area = notoriously sunny (they say it’s in the rain shadow of the mountains), cheap living, quiet and laid back. I think the legendary Donna Barr lives in the area, and makes a living from indie comics and freelance: http://donnabarr.blogspot.com.au/2016/02/clallam-bay-west-end-map.html.

    • these are some good tips, thanks! freelance is definitely The Dream (although i suppose it was also The Nightmare for me for a while) *muses about how complicated and strange life can be*

  2. I can’t give you any jobs advice, but as a non-coder who moved here at the nadir of the 2008 crash, I’ve been able to make a pretty sweet life in Seattle. As long as you’re not looking for downtown/South Lake Union/Captiol Hill accommodation, it’s not too bad for rent. Public transit is pretty healthy, and the only Segways I see are groups of tourists too lazy to walk.

    I don’t have hard data, but anecdotally, the rain here is not as omnipresent as everyone would have you believe — that’s mainly to deter more Californians from moving here.

    Of course, there are more cities than just Seattle in the state. Tacoma is going through a resurgence (thanks, tech bros), Olympia is Portland’s retired hippy parent, and island towns like Poulsbo, Bainbridge, and Vashon are quiet and rural, yet only a ferry-ride away from the metropolis. (Jim Woodring lives on Vashon now.)

    • this paints quite a picture, thanks! i would love to avoid urban areas altogether but relocation decisions for me will basically boil down to 1) can i afford it and 2) can i get a job there. i’m pretty curious about all the bookstores in seattle, but i’ll do some investigating…

      when i lived in pdx (in the 90s) i always loved that rain myth — eventually california figured out it wasn’t that bad though. (RIP.) the last time i was there it was 105-degree highs for a week. wondrous heat and light.

  3. Have you tried something like free wwoofing? Or otherwise volunteering where you don’t make money, but you don’t really need to?

    • i’ve wwoofed in the past, and it was great, but at this point in my life it’s impractical — i gotta get paidddd…

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