Monday, August 01, 2011

Choosing the Best North American Cities to Work In

If you're going to freelance as a teacher or a performer in a tough economic climate, it's all about location. The initial decision you make on where to live can have a lasting impact on the quantity and quality of opportunities that you have as a musician. If you have yet to make the decision on where to work as a teacher or performer, your choice of location is crucial. For example, one of the reasons that I've been able to work so steadily much both as a teacher and freelance performer is that I decided to live first in the urban areas of Vancouver, then Toronto, two quickly growing Canadian cities with active cultural communities.

If you're in Canada, a 2006 Hill Strategies report on Artists in Large Canadian Cities has an fascinating statistic of the top urban areas with a large concentration of artists (page 8):
1. Vancouver
2. Victoria
3. North Vancouver
4. Toronto
5. Montreal
6. Saanich
7. Halifax.
8. St. John's, Fredericton, New Westminster (tied)
11. Oakville
Since 1994 I've chosen to live in New Westminster (8) and Oakville (11), communities on the periphery of Vancouver and Toronto respectively.

CIBC World Markets just published another metric - the Metropolitan Economic Activity Index, whose top 10 cities are:
1. Toronto
2. Kitchener
3. Winnipeg
4. Regina
5. Montreal
6. Quebec City
7. Vancouver
8. Halifax
9. Ottawa
10. Hamilton
In the United States, Rice University's Kinder Center for Urban Research lists the top 25 growing US cities, of which the top 10 are below:
1. Houston
2. Dallas-Fort Worth
3. Atlanta
4. Riverside, CA
5. Phoenix
6. Washington, DC
7. Las Vegas
8. New York
9. Miami
10. Orlando
Forbes also has a list of the top 15 cities for young adults. Here are its top 10:
1. Des Moines
2. Raleigh
3. Madison
4. Salt Lake City
6. Portland, Maine
7. Denver
8. Colorado Springs
9. Washington, DC
10. Minneapolis-St. Paul
How has your decision to settle in a particular city affected your career in positive and negative ways?

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