Regional Roundup 2: The Midwest

284px-Map_of_USA_Midwest.svgThe Midwest includes everything between North Dakota and Michigan and then
down to Kansas and across to Ohio. Pluses for the Midwest include the relatively low cost of living. The Northern Midwest in particular is generally very well run in terms of services, which is a big plus. Customer service is also a bigger focus in the north of this region than in most of the others. The biggest downsides is the harsh winters and sweaty summers. The Midwest also has almost no airports that do direct flights to the UK, which is a minor downside.

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I also found that as someone who grew up in the Midwest, it felt like a bit too big of a region. The south of the Midwest felt much less familiar to me, whereas the people in North Dakota, Minnesota, Michigan (I realized we short changed them, but I had previously spent time in Michigan and have known people from there), Ohio and obviously Wisconsin itself reminded me of the people I grew up with in Western Wisconsin and Eastern Minnesota. However, Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, Kansas, and South Dakota felt like they were populated by a different group of people. I’m not sure which side to put Iowa and Nebraska on. Calling such a large area one region might be a bit much at any rate. They had more in common with each other than with California, for instance, but even so, the dialect and culture was definitely far from uniform within this vast region and some sort of north/south divide is probably getting closer to accurate in terms of the division.

However, it may just be that growing up there, it’s just easier to spot differences, and to someone coming from the other regions, it all might just feel the same.

About half of the Midwest is a giant forest, like the East Coast and the South, but some of it is either large tracts of farmland. The rest is naturally flat and low on trees, and, often, still large tracts of farmland or large wind energy farms.

Our favorite city that we visited is still Columbus, Ohio, though knowing about some of its problems with violence from a former resident who has commented on our YouTube does subtract a few points from it. That said, whatever problems it had, people were extremely friendly and the cost of living seemed very reasonable for what you got.

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An Excellent Cinema in Columbus

Runner up goes to Omaha, Nebraska, which was also a friendly, affordable city with a really excellent zoo. That said, a downside is the incessant drone of cicadas in the summer. This is probably a downside for several of the warmer parts of the Midwest. I don’t remember them being as much of an issue in Wisconsin or Minnesota when I lived there, but it may have just been my particular locations (in cities), as they seem to mainly live in trees and bushes.

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A Desert Dome in the Omaha Zoo

Honorable mention goes to the entire state of Kansas and the town of Tonganoxie for being unexpectedly friendly and interesting. Everyone told Chris what a bore it would be and he was determined to fine the good in Kansas, and there are definitely wonderful people and interesting things to do there. If anything, we preferred the people of Kansas to that of many more fashionable places. They were extraordinarily welcoming and open to new people. A downside to Kansas was that we need a larger urban area and most of the places we liked were a bit too small for our needs.

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Secondary honorable mention must be given here. I must also add that as someone who grew up in Wisconsin and then spent six years in Minnesota, although I am not fond of about half of their weather, travel has put them into perspective. They are not bad places to live at all. Granted, we want less snow and possibly less humidity than they can provide, but they are both still well run states full of friendly people that did very well in our final rankings. I think I also realized after visiting certain other places that these two states are actually quite moderate in that its opinions seem like what you would get if you averaged out the extremes of American politics. Neither Wisconsin nor Minnesota is in the Bible Belt, so the conservatives aren’t Bible Belt style conservatives, and neither are they the extreme Libertarians of some other regions, but nor are they full on liberal states either.

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Wisconsin in Late Fall

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