It’s pretty much universal. No matter who I talk to – lifelong D8N residents, far-flung friends and family, and anybody living or working here now – when I tell them I moved to Dayton from California, they ask: “Why??”
It’s complicated. “I followed a boy,” I’ll say. I needed out of my evening-shift job covering & editing & posting stories on Mexican gangland killings and car crashes and other horrors for a small-staff California newspaper. It took a wonderful Dayton native to come along, sweep me off my feet, and help me take the leap into freelancing from a new home base: the Miami Valley.
The reasons I stayed? When that boy and I decided to be “just friends” and I could have gone anywhere – Portland, San Francisco, Austin, Boston, Berlin, Beijing – I needed some time to save up cash. After a whirlwind year of travel adventures and hard (but unpaid) work helping lead a camp at the annual Burning Man festival, I also needed time to focus on building my business.
And then I started noticing four very good reasons to stay in Dayton.
1) The cost of living. Way, way cheaper than any of those other cities.
2) The weather. I grew up in Massachusetts, and survived coastal California’s months of fog and ridiculous lack of decent thunderstorms, and Dayton is an awesome blend of what’s best about both regions. We’ve got actual seasons. We’ve got summer storms and winter snows. But neither the heat nor the cold are as vicious or lasting as what I knew back East.
3) The opportunities. Well, good-paying jobs are still tough to come by in southwest Ohio, but freelancers have clients around the world. And I have a distinct advantage: I don’t need to charge New York prices! The real opportunities in Dayton are its incredible business and arts networks: thousands of small businesses and nonprofits and churches committed to making the lives of this region’s people better, as well as hundreds of museums and parks and libraries that reflect a deep, rich culture worth investing in.
4) All my new friends. Artists. Churchgoers. Grad students. Actors. Investors. Young families. Chefs. CEOs. Dancers. Writers. You don’t have to live in San Francisco to meet awesome people, after all!
What makes you glad to have the D8N region in your headlights when it’s time to head home?