We moved to Saint Louis just over a year ago, so I'm by no means a pro on the STL scene, but we like to get out and about (oot 'n aboot to you'se up north!) and in general these are my impressions...
- Cost of Living. Being able to live in a nice neighborhood AND go to grad school? Sign me up. I guess maybe that happens in college towns, but this is a city. And in the cities that I've lived in (NYC, Boston, Baltimore) nice neighborhood = rich. Non-profit workers and students need not apply.
-The parks. Tower Grove, 2 blocks from us (I live two blocks from the park! Take THAT Bklyn!) Forest Park, Carondelet.... all lovely, all BIG.
-FREE Museum/Zoo. Saint Louis Art Museum, Missouri History Museum, Saint Louis Zoo. Free, free, free. And you get the boat basin to boot.
-Coffee. Who knew that a city like Saint Louis would have so much great coffee. Shaw, Kaldi, Kuva, Mississippi Mud... It makes my New Year's resolution to only drink good coffee (thereby skipping the always-present pot of Ronocco swill in my department pot) a bit too easy.
-Bikeable. Being a largely bike-bound girl, the relatively close proximity of everything in Saint Louis makes life easy.
-Cherokee Street. A gradual progression from Section 8 to Mexican hole-in-the-walls, to mid-century 'antique' stores. Throw in a Salvation Army and a cool record shop and you're good to go. This street has the best tacos I have ever had. EVER.
-MetroBus. Only marginally cheaper than NYC, but the eavesdropping is even better.
-Old North Saint Louis. Eerily beautiful buildings amidst empty lots. When we moved here we marveled at so much unused space in such a big city. Of course, there's a reason (a lethal mix of poverty, dis-enfranchisement, poor race relations, and changing times), but it's still sad to see so much neglect of once (and still!) regal architecture, in this era of strip malls and McMansions.
- Carrie Z's soup parties. It's true what they say--the Midwest really is a friendlier place than the East Cost. Don't get me wrong, I love my northeast friends more than anything, but never have I moved somewhere and been embraced so whole-heartedly as we were here. People meet you once and find out that you're new and the next thing you know they are tracking you down through three degrees of contacts to invite you over for soup on a cold winter evening.
- Mardi Gras Dog Parade in Soulard. STL's Soulard neighborhood claims to have the 2nd largest Mardi Gras outside of New Orleans. I can't be the judge of that, having not attended either (it was toooo cold to go to the STL celebrations last year). But I can say that you have never, ever, seen so many dogs in costumes as they have at the dog parade. Thousands! Thousands of dogs in costumes! And any place that embraces that many queened-out dogs has got to have a good heart.
-Double A's dj nights at the Royale. The Royale is hands-down our favorite bar hang-out in the city. Good atmosphere, good drinks, great food, nice owner. And of course when Adam's DJing, good tunes.
And oh, there's more. But today is Monday, the aforementioned Royale-visiting night. So I'm pooped from socializing with all these friendly, well adjusted people. Check back for the (good natured) cons.