Us Cities/towns I Have Visited That I Would Consider Living in if I Didn't Love Living in LA

In the July Los Angeles mag, writer Scott Timberg talks about his painful decision to move somewhere more affordable than LA. ("Leaving LA"--you can read it at lamag.com.) It got me thinking: If I wasn't a weather wuss and didn't have a great job and extended family keeping me here, where in the states would I move?
  1. New Orleans
    Everything about the place enthralls me: culture, history, architecture, food, topography, scale. The random concerts on the streets, those shuttered houses in the French Quarter hiding all their secrets. Doesn't feel like you are in the US, so it shouldn't even count on this list. Complicated and compelling, it should be the most written about city in America.
  2. Chicago
    Birthplace of the skyscraper, that great Loop, the cultural institutions on the waterfront, Grant Park & Millenium Park, Wrigley Field, deep-dish pizza & deep dive bars, the Wiener's Circle. The winters would bite but my 2nd favorite big city in the US is friendly as hell.
  3. Taos
    Smaller than Santa Fe & not nearly as touristy. The air is heaven-sent, the mountains stunning, the Native American culture inspired. I always get a lot of writing done there. The place just feels right to me.
  4. Portland
    I know, along with Austin it's the go-to cliche Angeleno permanent escape. Even "Portlandia" hasn't scared me off, though. Green and lush, with a river that runs through it, distinctive neighborhoods, biking and hiking, Powell's Books, and Willamette Valley wine less than an hour away.
  5. Washington DC
    I can't imagine living there a long time--it feels like a city geared toward interns--but only as an adult have I been able to appreciate the grand avenues & grander institutions. (Other than that teeny White House.) Get off the Mall & you'll be surprised by how lovely and leafy the neighborhoods are.
  6. Paia
    Tough call, as I'd be elated to live in any Hawaiian city/town. But the north coast of Maui is just enough hippie and haute for me, with relatively uncrowded and gorgeous beaches, quick access to upcountry, and home to Mama's Fish House, my family's fave Hawaiian restaurant. Plus, Willie Nelson has a house in Paia & drops into Charley's bar all the time.
  7. Anchorage
    For reals, this city intrigued me. Spectacular scenery and seafood and a noir vibe. Way nicer than Fairbanks. Alaska was wild and untamed and seemed at the edge of a frontier. Once in my life I'd like to experience the disorienting nature of epic days then epic nights over a long period of time. Cool old bars and funky hotels, too.
  8. Ojai
    The weekend getaway that will likely be where I retire. I was married 18 years ago at the Ranch House, but that's not the only reason Ojai is so dear to me. Quintessential SoCal town of lavender fields & tangerine groves, art galleries & hiking trails, valley heat & ocean breezes. Kinda perfect.