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Fireball - The Life and Thoughts of Zach — LiveJournal

Aug. 29th, 2004

04:43 am - Fireball

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Date:September 1st, 2004 08:31 pm (UTC)
I took the FindYourSpot.com quiz and Champaign-Urbana was suggested to me. What do you think of it? Seems like a good fit. Would you recommend it?
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[User Picture]
Date:September 5th, 2004 03:00 pm (UTC)
I am absolutely in love with Champaign-Urbana. I came here for college thinking I'd put in my 4 years in the cornfields and get the hell out to some big city (e.g. Chicago, New York, or San Fran). But by the time my 4 years had turned to 5 and I finally got out I was hooked and so I bought a house and plan to live here for a good long time.


It's a small community. There are 40,000 people in Urbana and 60,000 people in Champaign. Of that 100,000 people probably 30,000-40,000 are students who disappear in the summer. This makes those that remain pretty tight knit, friendly, and committed to their community.

Really great community organizations.

We've got WEFT-FM community radio station where 80 different volunteers have their own weekly radio programs. Unlike many community stations this one is pretty music heavy which is nice. I like public affairs but I hate to see music get left behind.

The UC-IMC (Independent Media Center) is one of the most active and inspiring independent media centers I've seen in the movement. We create a weekly radio show, a bi-weekly video series, a monthly newspaper, an open website, maintain a library and an art gallery and we book independent music shows. Groups like the anti-war group, the green party, an anarchist study group, socialist forum, a pilates class, a yoga class, the glbt coalition, and others all meet in the community space there.

Urbana's city council is completely Democratic and a majority of the members are extremely progressive.

There are a lot of great parks and good bike riding. There's a great public transportation system.

Everything is 3 miles from everything else so there is no need to own a car.

Chicago is 2 hours away by either Greyhound or Amtrak and it costs $12-$20 each way to get there. Memphis is 12 hours away by direct Amtrak and New Orleans is 20 hours by direct Amtrak. From Chicago a person can take Amtrak to anywhere in the country. By car almost every cool place you could want to go can be reached by an all night drive in shifts (except the west coast which takes 2 days). There is an airport, accessible by public transportation that now has jet service.

Because of the university (and especially the Krannert Center) and proximity to Chicago, there's all kinds of touring cultural stuff that comes by and is easier and cheaper to attend than in the big city.

There's a ton of big old cheap victorian houses that are GREAT for group housing. Reasonable houses run $110k-$160k. For $200k you can get a REALLY nice house. For $60k you can get a fixer upper 3 miles from campus. Rent ranges from $250-$350 per person in a group house and a little more for apartments.

There's a great coop housing collective. At one coop house it costs about $300 per month for a room and utilities AND food!

So live cheap in Urbana, build and enjoy community with neighbors, and when you want to travel you'll have saved the money on living to be able to afford to head up to Chicago or out to New Orleans or the East Coast or wherever.

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[User Picture]
Date:September 5th, 2004 03:01 pm (UTC)

Because nearly half the population is transient college students people are constantly moving away. There's also a constant influx of people but every year they are younger than you. Eventually it's easy to feel "older than the town" and like your closest friends never stick around for more than 6 years.

There's a limitted number of good restraunts. We've got a gamut of ethnic food like any diverse college town but it's pretty easy to exhaust all the options within a few months and then you're stuck repeating. But Chicago, very close by, is like the culinary capital of the universe so it's all good as long as you vacation frequently.

Downtown Urbana is dying and Downtown Champaign is thriving only by having an active bar culture. There's no retail available in the downtowns and the big box stores on the outskirts are sprawling. This is all poised to possibly change (in particular the purchase by the IMC of a permanent community center building in downtown Urbana could spur a serious rennaissance there) through the hard ongoing work of activists but it could go either way.

Urbana-Champaign has nearly complete employment but the job market is REALLY tight. New jobs are not being created and jobs are held onto tightly. The last 2 people I know who looked for jobs took 2-3 months before they found them.

While there is very little interpersonal drama in the community because people are super laidback and pragmatic and generally "midwestern"...when drama does come into the picture it's pretty intense because it affects EVERYBODY.

The University has one of the biggest Frat populations in the country. The campustown bar scene is a disgusting display of moronic sloppy behavior every weekend. But it is easily avoided.

Anyway...if you ever want to visit town and get the tour let me know and I can show you around. I'm happy to answer any specific questions about the town as well! Are you thinking of coming here to live, to work, to go to grad school?
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[User Picture]
Date:September 5th, 2004 03:09 pm (UTC)
Well cool. I would like to someday live in a "blue state" or a "blue area" and that spot on the list I got caught my eye, and the information about it was interesting. Thanks for your detailed reply.
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