Pet Please #97: People Who Choose to Live in the City You Love

Every photo of St. Louis has the Arch in it. True fact.
Every photo of St. Louis has the Arch in it. True fact.

I grew up just outside Richmond, Virginia. In high school when I started looking at colleges, I considered a few factors:

  1. High US News & World Report ranking
  2. Schools with Japanese majors
  3. Imbalanced girl to guy ratio (I wanted good odds with the ladies. For some reason I assumed at the time that college was the best and only opportunity to find a wife. I’m still single at 32, so apparently I missed my chance)
  4. Beautiful campus (usually judged by the photo on the promotional brochure)

Washington University in St. Louis fit all those categories, so I moved out to St. Louis for my freshman year in 1999.

I’ve never left.

(Well, to clarify, I have left the city. People are able to travel in and out of St. Louis at will. This isn’t Gotham, people.)

Like most kids after college, I had a choice as to where I wanted to go next. A lot of my classmates got out of St. Louis as quickly as possible, claiming that it was “too small” for them or “not cool enough.” Which is fine. All the best to you.

But I made the choice to stay, because I really like it here. It’s the right size for me, it has the right feel for me, and it’s almost the right temperature for me.

I thought of this pet please the other day when I was walking through the parking lot outside my apartment building and I noticed that many of the license plates had other states on them. For some reason this made me really happy–to know that there were other transplants around me who chose to live in St. Louis. It’s like the feeling you get when you find out that someone else loves a band or a movie that you love, except it’s a much bigger choice to live in a city than it is to like a band.

What about people who are from St. Louis and continue to live here? Well, they’re okay. I feel like it’s less of a choice to live in the place where you’ve always lived (unless you moved away for a while and realized that St. Louis really is the place for you after experiencing the outside world). It’s like kissing one person and declaring that they’re the best kisser in the world. How do you really know based on a sample size of one? Thus I take more joy in those who have tried out a few different places before choosing St. Louis, just like me.

Do you feel like you chose to live in your city? Do you take pleasure in transplants choosing to live in the city you love?

5 thoughts on “Pet Please #97: People Who Choose to Live in the City You Love”

  1. As a new transplant to Phoenix, I still feel like St. Louis is home. I wasn’t from St. Louis but my time at WU led me to live there for 8 years after graduation and is one of the main places I visit every year. Who knows, maybe my next move will be back there!

  2. As a native of St. Louis (or at least a native of the area), I love it when people from other parts of the country decide to make a place I love their home.
    Over the years I’ve tried to live in other cities, but a part of me was always homesick for St. Louis. Even with the heat of a St. Louis summer or the constant road construction, there’s just something about this place (other than most of my family being nearby) that draws and keeps me here.

  3. When I visited for T-Mac’s wedding, I LOVED your city. If it weren’t so far from the ocean, I could see myself living there.

    As far as Richmond goes, I find myself annoyed at its seemingly newfound popularity. It is so IN to love the River City right now and the hipsters are all over this place. I’m not cool enough for this city…nor young enough.


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