Bloomington v Chicago

Last week I had an interview for a job in Bloomington, the town where I went to college. It’s about 2 hours away from my hometown and practically in the middle of nowhere. Despite its location, BNorm (as it’s commonly referred to because of the two towns that sit right next to each other, Bloomington and Normal) has approximately 130,000 people living there with two universities adding numbers during the school year. It was a great place to live for uni, but there are some definite drawbacks.

I’ve also been interviewing for positions in Chicago – a raucous city of 7 million. And while I do love Chicago, all it has to offer, and its similarities to the city-life I grew accustomed to in Hong Kong, it also has some points of contention.

Decisions, decisions! I do not have good job offers anywhere yet, but when that time comes and I have to decide what job to take and where I want to live, it’ll be tough. I’ve made some pros and cons to help with the choice. Here goes…


Eventual family-Someday when I have a family, where would I rather raise kids? The answer is definitely Bloomington. It’s much for convenient to get around with children and the school systems are quite good.


CostBloomington wins this conversation hands down. Everything is cheaper in B-town: gas, rent, taxes, food, the list could go on.


Single scene-And if Bloomington wins the cost of living topic with no argument, then Chicago prevails here. I lived in the city for 10 days and I was asked on dates by two guys, what would happen if I lived there forever? Eek!


Amount of people-The numbers don’t lie, there are over 50 times more people living in Chicago than in Bloomington, which equals 50x more traffic, 50x more chances of meeting a guy, 50x more chances of making new friends. It’s a tie! Less people can mean good things and more people can also pump up the stats.


Things to do-As I mentioned before, BNorm is literally in the middle of cornfields. In any direction that you go outside of the 2 towns, there are fields upon fields upon fields. In the towns themselves, I’m sure there’s plenty to do for a few weekends worth, but in Chicago there are more things to do than a lifetime could contain. Chicago, you win.


Changing jobs-If, let’s say, the position that I eventually take doesn’t work out or I want to search from something different, the options aren’t really there in Bloomington like they are in Chicago. If it doesn’t work out at the B-town job, then I have to start my “new life plan” all over again. But, like my dad said, it’s okay if what’s next is still a stepping stone; it doesn’t have to be forever. Why start over again in a new city in a few years when I could just already be in Chicago or more easily find something else?


Friends already there-Another tie. I have only a handful of friends that I talk with in both places, though there are many Facebook friends that live in Chicago which could change into friends I hang out with, so…maybe Chicago wins here, too.


Job available-For the sake of the position, I won’t share what it is I’ve been interviewing for, but the job in Bloomington is amazing, one I’d really love to get. In Chicago, where I’ve been doing the majority of my search, there are tons of jobs, but not tons of job offers. B-town– check.


Safety/crime-All of those people in Chicago means a whole lotta crime. My mom would choose Bloomington any day because of the safety issue of the city.


Surrounding area-If I’m ever bored with the town I’m living in, I can go somewhere else, say drive to a connecting city. The most B-town has near to it is a themed-room hotel in Clinton though I will not divulge why I know this. Another for Chicago.


Diversity-After having lived in Hong Kong surrounded by other people not like me, I started to really embrace and enjoy finding out about other places and cultures. My closest friends in HK were from all over the world which means I now have tons of places to go visit someday! As one friend who lives in Bloomington told me: Ashley, you are more traveled and cultured than the average American. Bloomington is small town middle-America full of college students and families, chain restaurants and megaplexes. This pretty much says it all. Again, Chicago.

So if I tally the numbers: Chicago 6, Bloomington 4, Tie 1

This is what I’ve come up with, though I’m sure there’s much more to the scenarios than I can explain since I haven’t lived in either of them as an adult. Have some advice? Please share!

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