Rock wrote: My point is that if you wanted to compare these cities to each other somewhat comprehensively, you would need to create a matrix with all the factors you deem relevant and then rate each each city for each one. The results would probably be a mixed bag with no city coming even close to perfect.
That's true. It's entirely up to a person's opinion about what makes a city better than the others. Each city has its own unique character after all. To some people NY is perfect but I found it to be an annoying and a generally repressive environment where it seems like if you weren't involved in finance, show biz, or some other high flying occupation you were another poor sap in the wrong place.
Now once you leave the major cities, things can be quite different. What I like about the States is that I can go to a place like Fort Myers or Fort Lauderdale, spend $800 per month in rent or better yet, plunk down US$100-150K, and get freehold title to a new 2 bed/2 bath condo in a well maintained development with clubhouse, gym, large pool + heated juccuzzi, running tracks, lake views, nature trails and close access (2-3 miles) to white sand beaches, fishing, boating, scuba diving, water or jet skiing, surfing, island hopping, dolphin watching, casino boats, etc. Early bird specials make for cheap drinking and dining options.
I get what you're saying here but those material comforts are a minor attraction in my opinion. For instance the staid middle class lifestyle in a home surrounded by isolated parks and greenery just isn't my cup of tea no matter how it's packaged. Living next door to average joes/janes who you only see every so often and where the politeness never extends beyond a nod is too much manufactured community for me. There are a lot of places in the world where you can find the right combination of material comforts to make it home. Bangkok isn't Somalia. What's more important to me is everything else a city offers. Does it have character? Is it a living breathing interesting place where things happen? How are the people?
Europeans have one major advantage, if you dislike one country you can move on to one nearby that's entirely different. In America your choices are an American city with a slightly different local variation, slightly better materials comforts, but the same cultural nonsense as everywhere else. Your other choices are Canada and Mexico. I'd wager that even Canada has more cultural variation (esp the French-Canadian part) than what's found in the entire U.S.
An endless collection of strip malls, sedated looking people regurgitating the same nonsense they see on tv, and packaged entertainment is America in a nutshell. I left all that behind for a reason. Maybe one day if I have kids and I wanted them to grow up in as sterile a community as possible (or at least until they can make up their mind whether it sucks or not) I might reconsider but until then i'll be happy to stay away.
Btw, there's much better scuba diving around Asia. I'll take Malaysia, Phillipines, Indonesia over the pacific NW, CA, or Florida's diving any day of the week.