Thursday, October 06, 2011

Not the Simpsons' Springfield

OK, my friend Greg's plans to move to Tulsa have cooled a bit what with the job market being the way that it is (everywhere), so he's expanding his horizons a bit, still not wanting to be too far from his aging parents in Mountain Home, Arkansas. After doing some online research, Springfield, Missouri, has come up on his radar as a potential place to live. Anyone have any information I could share with him -- best neighborhoods, potential employers (he's a page designer at a daily newspaper with skills that go beyond that), any insights about the LGBT community? Any help would be greatly appreciated!


Adam said...

I lived in Springfield from 2001 until a couple months ago. It's a nice little city, though its gay community is incredibly sparse. If he's not used to a Midwestern gay scene, he'll be in for a shock. There are a small handful of gay bars and a lot of the people there come in from the surrounding communities, but the gay scene is very small town. Everyone knows everybody else and it's about as cliquish as it gets. Dating is something of a nightmare, but I had my share of bright, delightful friends. If he's looking for a husband, he should bring one with him before he moves.

As far as employers, he should look at the News-Leader, which is the local newspaper. An ex of mine worked there for quite a while and didn't complain about it very often. It's not at the forefront of journalism, but it would pay the bills if they're hiring.

I grew up and lived on the south side of town. The north side of town is rather notorious, but there's really no place in town I would consider dangerous or undesirable. Downtown Springfield is one of the best places to live, but the south side of town below Sunshine Street is where I've mostly resided. He shouldn't have any trouble finding a reasonable apartment or house in either location.

Timmy G. said...

As a recently-out 22 year-old college guy I don't know too much about the housing or LBGT scene but I can offer some info.

There are plenty of nice neighborhoods to live in (especially if you go through someone who knows, like a realtor) and downtown is very alive with events and renovations. In fact, that photo you have is a bit old, the square is undergoing some major renovations and looks promising.

The biggest thing one should know is that Springfield is a major college town. This means lots of kids my age who disappear during school breaks and populate downtown on weekends.

Miche Rutledge said...

I'm not sure how close he has to be to his parents, but why doesn't he try Kansas City or St. Louis? I mapped them and they are both five hours to Mountain Home. He'd be infinitely happier with the gay scene in either city than in the smaller towns.

I lived in Kansas City most my life. The gay scene has faded from when I first moved there in the 80s. But it is still a nice community, albeit with conservative suburbs around it.

I've friends who loved St. Louis' gay scene even more. It is a nice city, as well. It would have the benefit of four lane highways all the way from Springfield to STL. KC has some two-lane roads the last I knew between it and Springfield (you could take four lane roads to Joplin and then I-44 to Springfield, but it would be longer).

Best wishes for finding something that works for him.

John M. said...

I'm a native Washingtonian who relocated from San Jose, CA to Springfield for a job. So I'd have to say that world perspective is everything.

Downtown has some amazing lofts, as does Commercial Street (my loft was 2K sq. ft with a basement floor exit and a mezzanine - for $825/mo.). University Heights is where the more mature, settled gay couples will be found. I made some really good friends through volunteer work with a Black Tie fundraiser. The gays are there and thriving but you have to seek them out a bit. Adam's comment about cliquey gays is somewhat accurate.

Springfield is a buckle in the Bible Belt. World HQ for the Assemblies of God is there (and pervasive). I know of one church that was accepting of gays (out of easily 100).

It is not cosmopolitan. If you aren't a church-goer, you're kind of viewed as an oddball. I worked with many people who had never left MO. It is not "midwest friendly." If you lose your job, you might have a very hard time finding a new one (I'd avoid the News-Leader, btw - massive layoffs over the past five years). There are some interactive agencies that might be worth investigating (you'll be surprised to learn that a significant percentage of foodservice marketing starts with agencies in Springfield - Noble, Marlin, Deep and Carnivore are their names).

It's also home to the HQ of Bass Pro Shops, which has a lot of interactive staff.

Real estate is cheap compared to other cities, but selling can be tough unless you are 5-10 years into it. If you haven't heard, MO has a meth problem, too.

I made some wonderful friends there but I frankly consider my time in MO to be "lost years" - I wish I had stayed in CA.

BW said...

They appear to have painted the Texas School Book Depository white and plopped it there. So I guess that's a plus?

Topaz said...

Sorry, I would not recommend moving there as a mature adult. Even if he found a job, there's no guarantee it would last and then he'd be stuck in Springfield, which is a major part of the Bible Belt. I'm a native Missourian and the only place I would consider moving to these days if a gun was at my head would be the KC area. St. Louis is a dying rust belt town and the most cliquish place in the world.

Anonymous said...

If you are expecting anything other than a bible-thumping, right-wing whitebread populace, avoid Springfield MO like the plague. If you're comfortable living on the DL or in the closet and can be content with no social life, you might be able to tolerate living there. I appreciate your efforts to be close to your folks, but KC or STL would be worth the drive.

Anonymous said...

Would your friend consider Dallas?? I know that American Airlines has daily flights into Springfield from DFW. Just a thought.

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