When people talk about getting into the arts, there’s usually a few cities that come up. Los Angeles, Nashville, New York. Big cities, vibrant cities, cities with people who are great at what you want to be great at. My field is music, but this applies to all art forms. A big city has a lot to offer, but do the pros outweigh the cons? We talked about this in class and I thought it would be a great topic to blog. My own experiences are limited, but I’ll share some observations.
The most obvious advantage of the small town is the cost of living. Food, drinks, and entertainment are all more expensive in a big city. Not to mention having to pay for parking, and spending more on gas because places are spread out. In Minneapolis (population 422,331), a studio apartment will cost you around $900 a month. Meanwhile, in Mankato (population 39,528) you can rent a one bedroom apartment for as low as $350. Minneapolis has a price tag, but it also has something Mankato does not.
The most obvious advantage of the big city is the culture. Music, art, restaurants, venues, and people. More people = more culture, as the saying goes. Well, no one says that, but it’s true. (Not everything that’s true sounds snappy when you say it). On any given night there’s a concert, art event, comedy show, or something going on. There’s like infinity bands and a million places to play. When I lived in Saint Paul, I used to walk by the Amsterdam Bar & Hall on my way home. I heard new bands all the time. It was exciting! My time in Saint Paul was short, but there was always a show.
Deciding where to live is a balancing act of the cost vs. opportunities. This isn’t a perfect scale, but it’s relatively safe to say that the more opportunities a city has, the higher the cost. That being said, if you move to a big city you need to take advantage of it; it’s not enough to just live there. Sure, you can spend over a thousand on rent and live downtown in a cool area, but that means nothing if you’re not actually getting out and going to shows. What’s the point if you’re not engaging? I feel like a lot of people move to LA without knowing why they moved to LA. There’s a lot to be said for someone who lives where it’s cheap and commutes to events. I’m not saying that’s right for everyone, but it’s an option worth exploring.
The question of where to live, like a lot of questions I ask, has different answers for everyone. It depends on what your goals are, and what you need to do to accomplish them. Answering for myself, I’m trying to be a small town hero, at least for now. I love the sense of community and the low risk factor. I want to build an audience here before I cut my teeth elsewhere.