Bright Lights, Big City: The East Coast

Author: Alecia Pirulis

NYC from Staten Island Ferry

Svelte models, actresses, and dancers crowd together with smart-dressed, briefcase-toting business people and awe-struck tourists snapping photos with cameras. Tall structures of steel and glass rise from the granite landscape as yellow taxis grind to a halt, the blast from the cabs’ horns mingling with those of gridlocked cars, delivery trucks, and tour buses. The air is heavily scented with a unique combination of car exhaust, misty fog, metallic heat wafting from the subway vents, and the aroma of fresh-baked bagels and hot coffee from street vendors. It is morning in the one-and-only Big City, the one city that all other cities in the world are compared to. And it is just one of the iconic skylines that dominate the East Coast.

If you are planning to move to the East Coast, you’re sure to find yourself immersed with history, legends, crowded streets, the height of culture, and endless nightlife. These are just a few of the cities that make the East Coast an amazing place to live:

New York, New York: The Big Apple is the largest city in the United States – and has been since 1790. It was founded by Dutch colonists in 1624, and the city briefly served as the US capital in the late 1700s. The sites here are among the country’s most treasured: Times Square, Central Park, the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building, Wall Street, Broadway, Rockefeller Center, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Fifth Avenue, and the Brooklyn Bridge. As proven time and again throughout history, New York it is one of the toughest, most resilient cities in the world. New York consists of five boroughs: Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn, the Bronx, and Staten Island. Living in New York, you’ll enjoy Broadway performances, ice skating at Rockefeller Center, world-famous restaurants and nightclubs, the Tribeca Film Festival, and several museums.

Boston, Massachusetts: With a history that dates back to 1630, Boston is synonymous with American history and is home to many firsts, including the first subway system and the country’s first public school, which opened in 1635. Boston was settled by Puritan colonists along the Massachusetts Bay. Some of the most important events leading to the American Revolution took place here – the Boston Tea Party, the Boston Massacre, the ride of Paul Revere, the Siege of Boston, and the battles of Bunker Hill, Lexington, and Concord. Boston is a major international port city and it is home several major colleges and universities, including Boston University. Nearby Harvard University’s business and medical schools are located in Boston. MIT is also located across the river in Cambridge.

New Haven, Connecticut: Although New Haven isn’t the biggest city in Connecticut (that distinction goes to Bridgeport), it is an economic powerhouse, home to several major hospitals, manufacturing companies, and the area’s largest employer – Yale University. The English Puritans settled New Haven in 1638. The town was built around an open square, the New Haven Green. This 16-acre green space at the heart of downtown is a National Historic Landmark. New Haven is an attractive city with historical architecture and beautiful, old elm trees shading the city’s streets and sidewalks. New Haven’s claims to fame include the invention of the hamburger, made famous by Louis; Lunch, a tiny brick building that has served “fast food” since 1895.

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: The City of Brotherly Love is the second-largest city on the East Coast. This economic and cultural powerhouse has a strong economy based in information technology, finance, research, education, and tourism. This is the Cradle of Liberty – home of the Liberty Bell and Franklin Square, Independence Hall and Valley Forge National Historic Park. The Dutch settled the area in 1623, and the English took over in 1664. William Penn arrived in 1682 and formed the Pennsylvania Colony. One of Philly’s most famous residents, Benjamin Franklin, gave the city a library, one of the colony’s first hospitals, and fire protection. The Franklin Institute, opened in 1824, is named in his honor. Known for its food, culture, architecture, and beauty, Philadelphia is one of the nation’s most beloved cities.

Washington, DC: The United States Capital is one of the nation’s busiest, most important locations. The surrounding suburban communities raise the population to over one million during the work week, and this is a top tourism destination. Visitors come to see the Washington Monument, the White House, the Capitol building, the National Mall, the Lincoln Memorial, the Smithsonian, Ford’s Theatre, the Kennedy Center, and more. Georgetown University, founded in 1789, is one of the country’s oldest Catholic universities. It, along with Howard University and George Washington University, are part of DC’s ever-growing economy, which in addition to government, includes finance, research, medicine, and education.

Bright Lights, Big City: The South

Author: Alecia Pirulis


Sipping margaritas while lounging on the beach in Miami; enjoying mint juleps on a wide veranda overlooking a horse farm in Louisville; having sweet iced tea on a sultry evening beneath oak trees dripping with moss in Atlanta … the relaxed, unhurried South is a medley of amazing cities, similar yet different, blending to form one amazing image like a kaleidoscope’s artful mix of colors and shapes.

If the laid-back lifestyle, the history, the warm weather, or that famous Southern hospitality is calling you, here are just a few of the South’s major cities to consider.

Miami, Florida: This hub of banking is the nation’s fourth-largest urban area. It is home to several major national and international companies and the Port of Miami is considered the “Cruise Capital of the World.” Miami’s vibrant art and music scene is legendary. The city is home to one of the largest performing arts centers in the US, the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts. The beaches are also legendary – residents of Miami can often be found soaking up the sun, surfing, swimming, snorkeling, boating, fishing, and jet-skiing. Warm temperatures year-round means you can ditch that heavy winter coat, snow boots, and gloves in favor of flip-flops and tank tops.

Atlanta, Georgia: As the diamond in the South’s tiara, Atlanta truly is the belle of the ball. As the nation’s ninth-largest metro area, Atlanta is home to the world’s busiest airport, has one of the nation’s strongest economies, and is a communication hub – it is home to CNN, TBS, TWC, and Cox Enterprises. Since 2005, Atlanta has also become a major player in film and television, with production facilities that include Turner Studios, Williams Street Productions, EUE/Screen Gems soundstages, and Tyler Perry Studios. Atlanta is also the “Zombie Capital of the World.” Atlanta’s impressive list of important businesses and places also includes the headquarters for Home Depot, Coca-Cola, and the CDC. Atlanta is also home to the world’s largest indoor aquarium, the Georgia Aquarium, the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site, the Carter Center and Presidential Library, and several museums.

Louisville, Kentucky: Named a Top Travel Destination, one of America’s Most Livable cities, and a top Food City, the lure of Louisville doesn’t stop at the Kentucky Derby. Louisville is one of the oldest cities west of the Appalachian Mountains, founded by George Rogers Clark in 1778. Located in the heart of the Bluegrass Region along the Ohio River, Louisville is a beautiful city consisting of flat plains and rolling hills. Downtown Louisville is a mix of history and progress, with skyscrapers blending with older historical structures. West Main Street has one of the largest collections of cast iron facades, and Old Louisville is the country’s largest historic district featuring Victorian homes. Louisville is home to the University of Louisville and many large companies, such as Humana, Brown-Forman, Papa John’s Pizza, and CafePress, Inc.

New Orleans, Louisiana: Creole cuisine, the cool sounds of jazz, Mardi Gras, and the curves of lacy balconies overlooking the French Quarter illustrate what makes the Big Easy such an enduring and beloved city. Stroll down Bourbon Street in the evening and marvel at 19th century mansions. Learn the mysterious and haunting history of this southern treasure, a city with a history dating back to 1718. Tourists come to the city for the food, the music, the nightlife, and the sports, but New Orleans is also home to one of the world’s busiest ports and is a major center of petroleum and natural gas production.

Nashville, Tennessee: You can’t think “country music” and not think “Nashville.” But it isn’t just the music that makes Nashville an amazing destination. Nashville is growing fast and people are noticing: the city is among the best for job growth and it is considered one of the best places to being a technology business. Not to mention the food, the shopping, the museums, and the honky-tonks. The CMA Music Festival is held here annually, as is the Tennessee State Fair. Visitors come to visit the Country Music Hall of Fame, the Grand Ole Opry House, and the Opryland USA theme park. And while Nashville is the heart of the country music industry with Music Row housing the headquarters of major and independent music labels, Nashville is also home to 300 health care companies, Vanderbilt University, and Nissan North America.

Montgomery, Alabama: Although not quite as large as Birmingham, Montgomery is catching up quick. The city, incorporated in 1819, is situated along the Alabama River. It is the state capital and the county seat of Montgomery County. But while this charming city has a thriving economy based in government, agriculture, and distribution, Montgomery is also home to several major universities, including Alabama State University, Troy University, and Auburn University-Montgomery. Maxwell Air Force Base is also located here and is headquarters of Air University. Montgomery represents the often tumultuous history of the south and played a key role in the Civil Rights Movement. Today, the city has a thriving cultural scene featuring music, art, and museums.

Richmond, Virginia: Located along the James River, the city of Richmond can be traced back to 1737. Because it resembled a town in England along the River Thames named Richmond, the town was named in its honor. Richmond played a critical role in history – it was here that Patrick Henry proclaimed, “Give me liberty or give me death” in 1775. During the Revolution, the colonial capital was moved to Richmond from Williamsburg. And during the Civil War, Richmond once again found itself a capital – this time of the Confederacy. With its collection of historic districts, riverfront location, and rolling hills, Richmond is a beautiful city. In addition to many Fortune 500 companies, Richmond is also home to several colleges and universities, including Virginia Commonwealth University.

Bright Lights, Big City: The Southwest

Author: Alecia Pirulis

Lake Powell Utah

Deep red canyons, cactus arms with feathery spines, cloudless skies of topaz, and cowboys on horseback – the American Southwest is often defined by its landscape and history. And while the area’s deep canyons, vast deserts, and soaring mountain peaks are beautiful, this area is also home to several major cities. People flock to the Southwest for the amazing parks and sunsets as well as the booming economy and vibrant job market, so pull on some cowboy boots and get moving to your new home in the Southwest.

Phoenix, Arizona: As the largest city in Arizona and one of the largest in the nation, Phoenix is home to well over one million people. “The Valley of the Sun” is located in the northeastern section of the Sonoran Desert and summer temperatures hover around 100 degrees Fahrenheit. The city, which incorporated in 1881, was founded by a Confederate soldier named Jack Swilling who headed west in the 1850s. Phoenix, the state capital, has a large number of government employees. Other major employers include Arizona State University and several Fortune 500 companies. Known for its golf courses and water parks, Phoenix is also home to several museums, a thriving music scene, and beautiful parks. South Mountain Park, the world’s largest municipal park, covers 16,500 acres. The Desert Botanical Garden contains over 21,000 plants, including 139 native species that are rare, threatened, or endangered.

Tucson, Arizona: Travel two hours southeast of Phoenix and you’ll find the beautiful city of Tucson. Located about an hour north of the Mexican border, Tucson is surrounded by stunning parks. Saguaro National Park is on the eastern side of Tucson while Tucson Mountain County Park is on the west side. Kartchner Caverns State Park, San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area, Patagonia Lake State Park, Tumacacori National Historical Park, and Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge are south of the city. Tucson is home to the University of Arizona and is the second-largest city in the state. Beautiful and historic neighborhoods weave throughout the cityscape. The most well-known, El Presidio, is the oldest neighborhood in Tucson. Other historic neighborhoods include Barrio Santa Rosa, Armory Park, and Barrio Historico. The Pima County Courthouse, the Hotel Congress, the Art Deco Fox Theater, the St. Augustine Cathedral, and the Rialto Theatre are some of the historic attractions located downtown.

Las Vegas, Nevada: While “Sin City” may be most famous for gambling and live shows, there’s more to the city than neon lights and slot machines. This glitzy diamond in the desert may rely heavily on tourism, gaming, and conventions, but casinos aren’t the only Las Vegas hotspots. Museums in Las Vegas include the Neon Museum, the Las Vegas Natural History Museum, and the Las Vegas Museum of Organized Crime and Law Enforcement. Local artists and musicians are featured in the downtown “Arts District” on the first Friday of every month. Broadway shows, opera performances, and orchestra concerts all take place at Smith Center for the Performing Arts, and restaurants and shops line the city streets. Once you discover what really happens in Vegas, you’ll definitely want to stay there.

Salt Lake City, Utah: When this mountainous city was founded in 1847 by Mormon leader Brigham Young, it was part of the unorganized Utah Territory. Today, the “Crossroads of the West” is a busy city with a strong tourism industry based mainly in skiing. Salt Lake City is also a major banking area, while other businesses include government, transportation, and trade. It is also home to the University of Utah, Westminster College, and Eagle Gate College. The city is the headquarters for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and sites open to visitors include Temple Square, home of the historic Tabernacle and the Tabernacle Choir. Ski resorts are world-class and include Snowbird, Park City Mountain Resort, Deer Valley, Alta, Solitude, and Brighton. Trolley Square is the ideal shopping destination with restaurants and boutiques along cobblestone streets and featuring renovated trolley barns.

Albuquerque, New Mexico: Straddling the Rio Grande, Albuquerque’s charms begin with its beautiful landscape. Located in central New Mexico, Albuquerque isn’t one of the larger cities in the Southwest; in fact, the city’s population is just over 552,000, making it number 57 on the list of the nation’s largest cities. But Albuquerque is home to the University of New Mexico and Kirtland Air Force Base, and it is the location of some amazing sights, including the awe-inspiring Balloon Fiesta. Petroglyph National Monument is located along the city’s west side – this must-see destination is a series of dormant volcanoes featuring hundreds of archeological sites and roughly 24,000 symbols and designs carved by Native Americans and Spanish settlers dating back 700 years. The city itself was founded in 1706, and the downtown area contains many buildings from the 19th century. Old Town Albuquerque dates back to 1706 and features 10 blocks of historic adobes around a central plaza. This popular shopping and tourist destination is filled with restaurants, shops, and art galleries.

El Paso, Texas: Located in west Texas along the border with Mexico, El Paso sprawls along the Rio Grande across from the city of Jarez in Chihuahua, Mexico. El Paso is home to the University of Texas at El Paso and Fort Bliss, one of the US Army’s largest military complexes. First explored by the Spanish in the 1500s, El Paso was settled in the late 1600s and it remained in Spanish control as part of New Mexico until the US took it over in 1848. Two years later, El Paso became part of Texas. Today, El Paso is an important city, home to over 70 Fortune 500 companies. El Paso’s list of cultural attractions is also impressive: the El Paso Museum of Archaeology, the El Paso Museum of Art, the El Paso Museum of History, the historic Plaza Theater, and the El Paso Zoo are just some of the area’s famous destinations.

Denver, Colorado: Located just east of the Rocky Mountain’s Front Range, the Mile-High City is one of the country’s most elevated cities, one mile above sea level. The city celebrates its outdoor beauty with over 200 parks. Red Rocks Park, which is home to the world-famous Red Rocks Amphitheatre, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. When residents aren’t enjoying the natural beauty around them, they are enjoying a strong economy – Denver has one of the largest metro economies in the country. And, as the pioneer of the “fast-casual” restaurant craze, many popular chain restaurants were founded in and are based in Denver, including Quizno’s, Smashburger, and Chipotle Mexican Grill.

Bright Lights, Big City: The Midwest

Author: Alecia Pirulis

Chicago Magnificent Mile

Ah, the beautiful Midwest: the Great Lakes, the Great Plains, the farmland, and the major cities. It’s a unique blend that attracts thousands of visitors and new residents every year. The busy, gritty streets of Chicago and the congenial heartland of Omaha have little in common, but the charm of these Midwestern metros is the diversity. If you think a Midwestern city is right for you, here are a few that define this unique landscape.

Chicago, Illinois: The Windy City was incorporated in 1837 and has become an international hub for industry, commerce, finance, and more. The city is famous for its arts, culture, architecture, and food (deep-dish pizza! Chicago dogs!). Chicago is defined by skyscrapers and fast-moving pedestrians, but it is also quite beautiful – Chicago contains 552 parks, 33 sand beaches on Lake Michigan, historic lagoons, and elegant gardens. The largest park (and probably the most famous) is Lincoln Park, which covers 1,200 acres. Grant Park, known as “Chicago’s Front Yard,” is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and includes the famed Art Institute of Chicago and Buckingham Fountain.

Detroit, Michigan: The automobile was born in the Motor City and the city is still synonymous with the auto industry. But Detroit was founded in 1701, and before Henry Ford founded his car company here in 1903, Detroit was the Paris of the West because of its beautiful architecture. Broadway Avenue Historic District and the Randolph Street Commercial Buildings Historic District, both listed on the National Register of Historic Places, still show off some of this classic architecture. Detroit’s beautiful waterfront is lined with miles of parks and several fountains, adding even more charm to this “Renaissance City.”

Milwaukee, Wisconsin: Where Detroit has motor oil coursing through its history, Milwaukee has beer. Milwaukee is located on Lake Michigan and residents enjoy some of the lowest real estate prices in Wisconsin. Milwaukee is a beautiful city, home to the Milwaukee River Walk, Miller Park, and the Milwaukee Art Museum, and offering historic locations such as the Third Ward. The rest of the city includes skyscrapers galore and lofts, condos, and apartments along the lake and the river. Milwaukee, once home to the Big Four beer breweries Pabst, Miller, Schlitz, and Blatz, has only one brewery remaining today – Miller Brewing Company, which is one of the city’s largest employers. But this is still the city of beer – brewpubs can be found all over the city. Milwaukee is a fun and dynamic city – Lake Michigan is ideal for sailing and windsurfing, and the city is famous for its festivals.

Minneapolis, Minnesota: The stunning “City of Lakes” contains 20 lakes, waterfalls, creeks, wetlands, and the Mississippi River. The Chain of Lakes district is one of seven that make up the Grand Rounds Scenic Byway, a series of linked parks that wind around the city and offer biking, running, and walking paths as well as swimming, fishing, boating, and ice skating. The Minneapolis park system is considered one of the best-designed, best-maintained, and best-financed in the country. But Minneapolis isn’t just a pretty face – this is the second largest economic center in the Midwest. Fortune 500 companies headquartered in Minneapolis include Ameriprise Financial, Bancorp, and Target.

St. Louis, Missouri: Founded in 1764 by the French fur trader Pierre Laclede and his aide Auguste Chouteau, St. Louis became a major port on the Mississippi River after the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. The city’s landmark Gateway Arch, built in 1963, is located on the exact spot where Laclede told his aide to build a city. It is considered the gateway to the west and was built as a monument celebrating the westward expansion of the US. Even though St. Louis is a major economic center, it is wrapped in natural beauty. The city features a wealth of native shade trees, including hickory, maple, and oak. The city offers over 100 parks, including the Missouri Botanical Garden, Citygarden, and Tower Grove Park.

Cleveland, Ohio: Situated along Lake Erie in northeastern Ohio, Cleveland is a diverse city that dates back to 1796. Once considered a manufacturing center, Cleveland’s economy now includes manufacturing as well as healthcare, financial services, and biomedical research. Cleveland, the “Rock and Roll Capital of the World,” is home to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Cleveland is a kaleidoscope of breathtaking architecture ranging from Art Deco to Beaux-Arts and beyond. Arts and culture are prevalent throughout the city – this is home to one of the best orchestras in the world, the Cleveland Orchestra. Playhouse Square Center is the second-largest performing arts center in the country, and the Cleveland Museum of Art is one of the nation’s premier art museums.

Indianapolis, Indiana: Indianapolis isn’t just the nation’s 12th largest city; it is also the fastest-growing city in the country. From its diversified economy to its sporting events to one of the best downtowns in the United States, it’s no wonder people are flocking to this booming metropolis. The Indianapolis 500 is held at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in May and is considered one of the most important motorsports events in the world. If you choose to live in Indianapolis, get ready for a downtown that offers roughly 300 restaurants, 200 shops, movie theaters, museums, art galleries, attractions, and more. The Indiana State Fair is held at the Indiana State Fairgrounds in Indianapolis, usually in August. Other fairs and festivals include the Indy Jazz Fest, the Carmel Arts Festival, and the Talbot Street Art Fair.

Bright Lights, Big City: The West Coast

Author: Alecia Pirulis


A high-rise apartment with windows overlooking the city landscape shows off towering sculptures of concrete, steel, and glass. On the streets below, busy people in suits carry briefcases and talk on cell phones as they hurry along. Cars, cabs, and buses fill the narrow streets, horns blaring as traffic backs up. The neon lights of a live theater flash the latest production, and the cheerful striped awning of a coffee house offers a gathering place for those who want to stop and gossip for a moment while ordering their lattes and cappuccinos to go. Small boutiques and corner markets come alive as the shop owners set out crates of vegetables and fruits and chalkboard signs advertising the day’s specials. The noises and scents fill the air as the skyscrapers are backlit by the shimmering light of the morning sun. It’s another day in the big city.

An urban lifestyle has its benefits – as well as its drawbacks. For many, the benefits far outweigh the negatives: the ability to walk or bicycle everywhere, the availability of mass transit, the culture, the nightlife, the career opportunities, and the flavor of city life. The drawbacks include congestion, noise, crime, and expense. Once you’ve weighed the pros and cons and you are ready to move forward, it’s time to decide on a city.

The West Coast is a unique blend of hip and cool, sleek and sophisticated, and creative and arty. From the palm trees of LA to the coffee houses of Seattle, there’s verve to the cities along the rocky coastline of the west. Here are the cities that make the West Coast hum:

Los Angeles, California – Skyscrapers, palm trees, opulence, and a dash of glamour permeate the LA landscape. This is one of the world’s most densely populated cities, and definitely one of the most creative. As the leader in entertainment – movies, television, video games, music – LA is home to many stars and star-makers. It is a place to see and be seen, and its neighborhoods include iconic Hollywood, Bel Air, Century City, Brentwood, Pacific Palisades, Wilshire, and Venice. If you want to live among the actors, musicians, writers, artists, and filmmakers, then LA may be the big city for you.

San Francisco, California – Where LA glitters, San Francisco sparkles. From its cable cars to its iconic hills to the landmark Golden Gate Bridge to the treasured Painted Ladies, San Francisco is a city like no other. This is the home of Alcatraz and Chinatown, the Fisherman’s Wharf and the comical sea lions of Pier 39. San Francisco’s neighborhoods are so famous you probably are already familiar with most of them: the Mission District, Haight-Ashbury, the Castro, Embarcadero, Pacific Heights, South Beach, and Presidio. San Francisco is the most walkable city in the US, and the cool summers and foggy mornings will inspire you to get out and enjoy this City by the Bay.

San Diego, California – With one of the best climates in the world, San Diego is located on the Pacific Coast in Southern California along the border of Mexico. And while you may think everyone in this beachside city is enjoying the miles of coastline, the mild year-round temperatures, and the awe-inspiring surf, well – you’d be right. But there’s more to San Diego than beaches and bikinis – this is an economic powerhouse, centered on biotechnology, manufacturing, military, international trade, and tourism. San Diego isn’t a typical beach town – the city is hilly with mesas and canyons carving the cityscape into populated areas on the mesas and green, open spaces in the canyons. San Diego is the third-largest city in California, and with its beautiful waterfront, strong economy, and near-perfect weather, it’s easy to see why so many are deciding to call San Diego home.

Seattle, Washington – This coastal seaport is the hub for the “green” industry as well as biotechnology, technology, and manufacturing. It is famous for its “grunge” music that produced groups such as Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains, and Nirvana. The indie scene represents Seattle’s progressive and independent spirit, an attitude that sets Seattle apart. Seattle’s landscape is ideal for those who crave the city but still love outdoor adventures that include hiking, camping, sailing, skiing, and bicycling. The Emerald City is multi-faceted green, with its sustainability, its strong economy, and its gorgeous landscape. With the nearby Cascade and Olympic Mountains, beautiful waterfront, and a multitude of parks, Seattle is a fit, healthy city.

Portland, Oregon – Environmentally friendly Portland is one of the “greenest” cities in the world, but it is also one of the most colorful. Portland is the “City of Roses,” home to an abundance of rose gardens that include the International Rose Test Garden. Strands of parkland adorn this impressively pretty city, from the smallest park in the country to one of the largest. Portland is probably most famous for its food carts and coffee houses, but this West Coast treasure also has several wineries and distilleries and a thriving performing arts scene that includes ballet performances, operas, symphonies, and live theater. As one of the most bicycle-friendly cities in the world, Portland residents enjoy over 200 miles of bike lanes. Portland is an economic powerhouse, as well, with several tech companies headquartered here, including Intel – the area’s largest employer.