Human beings seem to enjoy complications and making things harder for ourselves. People routinely attempting to settle in cities where they have fewer opportunities to achieve their ambitions or can ill afford to live exemplify this. A clear distinction appears to exist between cities that are sensible choices, and those that are merely coveted. Having moved from Washington, D.C. to Las Vegas, I feel I can explain which is the better choice.
America quite possibly has the society most driven by the grass-is-greener mentality. Vertical and lateral mobility are the hallmarks of American ambition. But the veritable global economic depression that hit in 2008 certainly had a negative impact on this tendency.
An article called “Generation Stuck” notes that “all the old affordable places were blighted by the downturn. Riverside, Phoenix, Tampa, Orlando, Atlanta, and Las Vegas were among the ten most popular cities for interstate migrants each year in the mid-2000s. But by 2009, these were the worst-hit metros in the recession.”
Remarkably (if not logically), these very cities have since been cited as those where the most people are moving and where there are the highest rates of increase in residents with college degrees. Las Vegas is featured in both of these categories. Though the city has languished through the recession, its appeal has not necessarily diminished.
Parallel to these smaller markets are the larger metros, where the disparity of cost of living is palpable, as is the marginalization of the middle class by the trite-but-true one percent. These are the more established (and dearer) big ponds of New York, San Francisco, Washington DC and Boston, where fewer opportunities present themselves to those who are starting out or starting over.
An article called “Expensive Cities Are Killing Creativity” remarks these costly cities “are no longer places where you go to be someone. They are places you live when you are born having arrived. They are…the vast gated communities where the one percent reproduces itself.”
Because I grew up in DC with its corresponding emphases on pedigree and prestige, it took me until my early 30s to scrap the idea that to succeed meant to jostle for elbow room, rather than carve out your own space. It is precisely in the less established regions like Las Vegas where this space can be carved. Starting out in an affordable city without a glut of identically credentialed denizens is a faster track to achieve one’s ambitions.
Las Vegas is in fact uniquely but subtly positioned for greatness, due to factors such as affordability, industrial and storage space and weather that negligibly impedes the transportation of goods. There is also a lot of access to resources in culture, travel and influence that separate it from several of the aforementioned second-tier American cities.
Recommended in the “gated citadels” article is to “Reject their prescribed and purchased paths…for cheaper and more fertile terrain.” That pretty much distills my rationale for living in Las Vegas.