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The Other Twin Cities

I haven't been to Minneapolis-St. Paul since I was in fifth grade, so this post isn't going to compare those cities to Winston-Salem. Besides, those are technically still two cities while here in North Carolina, this is just one city, and is thus appropriately nicknamed the singular Twin City. No, this post is simply a wrap-up of my impressions of this place and an answer to the perennial question, would I consider living here? 

What I enjoyed:

  • The literary festival I posted about previously
  • Good gym options, including a studio that does Lagree (Megaformer) classes, which is hard to find
  • Super easy to get around and very little traffic
  • So. Many. Restaurants. All the food!
  • Beautiful running paths in the city
  • Several state parks less than an hour drive away, and state parks are free
  • Several excellent museums, historic areas, and a vibrant arts district that doesn't have the homeless problems that artsy areas in cities in the west have
  • Plenty of festivals and outdoors social events, like movies in the park. Labyrinth, anyone?
  • Low cost of living. A glance at Redfin kind of blew my mind.

old wooden church

What I didn't really enjoy:

  • The city has a vibe of a suburb (which is connected to the benefit of there being little traffic). Part of this was my neighborhood, which had large families and kids, but the city overall feels like this
  • How closed off people are to new friends. I got out a lot and talked to people everywhere I went but it was often tough to get actual conversations going. Some people would damn near turn their back mean girls style if you tried to talk to them
  • How religious everyone is
  • Twice while enjoying the trails in the state parks I could hear people target shooting really, really nearby. I felt both unsafe and super annoyed at the pop, pop, pop wrecking the peace
  • A more authoritarian vibe (probably linked to religiosity). For example, gym instructors seemed to get really flustered/offended and kind of snappy if you didn't follow their instructions exactly. My Lagree instructors seemed to be totally unaware that your position relative to or on the carriage changes the level of difficulty of the exercise. So when I wasn't positioned exactly where they said to be, it was for good reason because I took Lagree from the best of the best for years. But the Winston-Salem instructors weren't having it. Also, I went to the Orange Theory Fitness here once and never went back because they were so weird about standing in lines and starting different segments of the class all at the same time and in a certain way. Out west, there's more understanding that people will adapt exercises as needed to their own fitness level and goals
  • There was seriously no one dateable on Bumble. No one

Most of my negatives are people-related. Given the lifestyle, the culture, and the religiosity, making new friends here is just a battle. As a friend of mine from here puts it "Lots of people have been there for generations and already have their networks, groups, and social what-have-yous. A lot of people I grew up with have been in W-S their whole lives and have ancestors dating back to before the US was even a country." And that's a pretty big deal. It's no good having a lot to do if you have no one to do it with.

But lest you think I spent five weeks wallowing in self-pity and loneliness, I did have some fabulous people interactions! One lady at my gym was always chatty and friendly with me every time we saw each other, I met up with a cousin I haven't seen in a long time, shared a few meals with the lovely mother of my friend who I quoted above, and, when I was volunteering, I met a cool lady from Brazil and did some hiking with her. 

two women at a table in a restaurant

Ultimately no, I wouldn't move here. But if you're married with kids and you're a Christian, this is a great place. Highly recommended for that very large subset of Americans. I do want to come back to North Carolina, though. My favorite tourism website, Only in Your State, has given me a list of 50 more things I want to do west of here in the mountains and 50 more things I want to do along the coast line. I'm happy to come back (temporarily) and explore more in the future.