City Vs. Country: Where Is IT Better to Work and Play?

Since not all urban and rural areas are equivalent, it would seem paramount to first ask 'which city and which country town?' The answer to the question of city versus country is subjective and comes down to personal preference and factors such as location, employment viability, cost of living, entertainment options and recreational activities.

By Erin Tigro

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Where to Work

According to a recent article in The New York Times, many economists have reported that wages and job opportunities prove best in more densely populated areas. Larger cities typically provide ample opportunities for employment and entrepreneurial ventures, particularly in niche markets. Not surprisingly, each year, loads of people flock to New York and Los Angeles looking for new opportunities. However, in largely populated areas, there is often more workforce competition.

In contrast, smaller towns may have less varied job options. The work force in smaller towns may be fueled by local manufacturing plants, nearby corporate headquarters or area colleges and universities. Depending on the location and the enterprise, it could be more difficult to make a small town business profitable. But then again, it may be easier to establish rapport with your customers, many of whom are probably your neighbors. Also, the cost to maintain a business may be lower in a more rural locale.

Where to Play

Urbanized areas are often replete with night clubs, fine restaurants, historical sites, museums, art galleries and sports stadiums, providing numerous options for night-time outings and weekend ventures. What's more, even though larger cities are often short of space, many offer a plethora of activities for outdoor enthusiasts. But even city dwellers need a break from their fast pace and often head out to the country for a relaxing yet entertaining time. Individuals living in more rural settings may spend more time outdoors, taking advantage of their area's topography and natural beauty. Activities are just as important regardless of location, though, and many country towns boast parades, concerts, festivals and socials.

Best of Both Worlds

You'll usually get more for your money in a smaller town, but how much will you be able to make in the country? In larger cities, you might have the opportunity to earn a better wage, but it will also typically cost more to live there. Taking into account 2010-2011 reports from Kiplinger, Bloomberg Businessweek, Forbes and CNBC, here are a few of the most livable, often less thought of U.S. cities. These towns offer a balance between job openings and housing costs and also have up-and-coming or established entertainment scenes. Population figures are based on 2010 stats posted by the U.S. Census Bureau.

Population City State
233,209 Madison Wisconsin
295,803 Lexington Kentucky
305,704 Pittsburgh Pennsylvania
408,958 Omaha Nebraska
416,427 Colorado Springs Colorado
437,994 Virginia Beach Virginia
731,424 Charlotte North Carolina

Continue reading for information about the outlook of employment in the U.S.

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