What I love & loathe about Cleveland

I moved to Cleveland, exactly four years ago, on October 3rd 2014. I moved here for a job, a recruiter for Cleveland Metropolitan School District. An old colleague recruited me to the job. The salary made it a no brainer for me. It was twice as much as I was making in Chicago, when you factor cost of living. I was also kind of sick of Chicago. I had been there for seven years. I was looking to move but never thought it would be to a smaller city, still in the midwest. But I came here for work, recruiting at Case Western, and I fell in love. I have been extremely happy here.

Whenever I am asked how I like living here, I always respond, “I love it. But I won’t die here.” And I won’t. Read below to find out why. Here are the reasons I love and loathe Cleveland.

What I love:

Affordable: I don’t feel like I have to get into details about this one. We all know, Cleveland is very affordable. But I am a bit nervous about the condo/townhome boom and the insurgence of $1,400/month one-bed apartment in neighborhoods outside of Detroit.

Accessible: I have found the city of Cleveland to be really easy to navigate. There’s not a lot of traffic, and it’s not huge, which makes it possible to get almost anywhere I want to go in under thirty minutes. I haven’t used the public transportation here, but driving myself or ride sharing it so easy and cheap. When I lived in Chicago, everything was so far, and I didn’t have a car, so if my friend was having a party on the west side and I was living in Lincoln Park, I would dread having to take two busses over 45 minutes to get there. Or pay $20 for a taxi. And I would usually opt to skip the party. But in Cleveland, everything is so accessible, I can do everything I want. BONUS: I never decline to do something because of crowds or long lines in Cleveland. It’s so nice!

Down to earth people: One reason, I wanted to leave Chicago was that I had very few close friends, which is wild considering I lived there for seven years and went to college there. The people were transient, so a lot of my friends moved away. And it was hard to meet new friends, because the people I met and tried to be friends with were very superficial friends. A lot of people carried a level of arrogance because they thought living in Chicago elevated their status. But enough about Chicago. As soon as I moved to Cleveland, I noticed that the people were different from Chicago. I found it easy to make friends and build community here because most people are down to earth and not status obsessed. It’s been so easy to make friends here. Cleveland natives are excited that I live here and love it and transplants are eager to meet new friends! People don’t move to Cleveland or continue to live here because they think it’s the coolest place in the world. They live here because they love it. They know it’s not the biggest city and they are 100% okay with it, they accept that, which allows them to let their guard down and just connect with people.

Segregation is not the worst here: Cleveland is not a perfect city, especially when it comes to racial equality or race relations. There is so much more work to do. But one of the first things I noticed after moving here from Chicago (and Detroit suburbs before that), - inner-ring suburbs, like Shaker Heights and Cleveland Heights. I love that there are black and white families living next to each other and building really integrated communities that are thriving. I had never really seen a neighborhood or suburb like that in Chicago or Detroit. I had definitely never seen a community made up of black and white, higher income families. Hot tip: That is not on accident - the federal government strategically designed cities to be segregated.

In my opinion, Shaker Heights is a community the rest of the country should be looking at as a model for racial and educational equality. But again, it’s not perfect. And if you grew up here, you probably think I am nuts because those cities seem normal to you – but I am here to tell you, that is not the case in the vast majority of urban cities in the US, especially in the Midwest.

What I loathe:

Getting stuff here: Basically, I really don’t like how slow Cleveland is to get stuff. Like major concerts do not stop here. Or any of my podcasts live tours. We’re like the last big city to get the new cool apps (like Post Mates). Or other national chains, like Equinox or Core Power Yoga. I don’t know why that’s important to me, but I guess it is.

Conservative mindsets: It seems like political ideology is pretty split here. A lot of Democrats and a lot of Republicans. Of course, I wish that there were less Republicans and Conservative ideology here (and then maybe Ohio would not have voted for Trump and we wouldn’t be in this mess now) but regardless of party affiliation, so many people in Cleveland are resistant to new ideas or change. I’m not talking about the hot button issues like abortion. I’m talking about how hard it is for people to accept the idea that gender and sexuality is fluid. And that transgender deserve to be called by the pronoun they prefer to be called by. I think a lot of attitudes here about gender and women are regressive af. I’m also talking about workplaces who cannot fathom things like flex time, working remotely, etc. There’s a whole lot of stuff I am missing here, but you get the point? Of course, I am not talking about every single person I’ve met. I know there are plenty of liberal people here and great employers, but overall, Cleveland needs to accept progress a lot quicker.

Hard to find jobs: In my experience, finding a job has been hard. There is definitely a movement in the city of Cleveland, especially around making neighborhoods cool. This revitalization is mostly realized through breweries, themed restaurants, and cute bars. All of which is great and bringing life into the city but I have yet to see an increase in jobs for people with college degrees. If you have your bachelors or masters and are looking to join a company, it seems like the vast majority of the options are in two camps: healthcare or old school manufacturing/chemical/industrial companies. Both of which rank as some of the least progressive industries in the world. They might be fine companies, but overall, these industries are really conservative and tend to have a ton of hierarchy. The city of Cleveland desperately needs companies like Google or Pinterest, both of which have set up shop in Detroit. Getting Amazon’s new HQ here was such a stretch, that even the city failed to put in an effort into the bid. And maybe we don’t need companies that big, but we are in desperate need of cool companies. We need more mid-size companies who are doing really cool things in a really progressive way. Companies that see people as their most valuable asset.  More companies that prioritize innovation, and less about how/when you work. But that’s #braindrainproblems.

Stephanie DeLacy unapologetically shares what it’s like to navigate the world as 20-something white girl, with humor, profanity, and raw vulnerability. Stephanie recounts stories of her travel, mental health, and the journey to loving her body. Her descriptions of dating are bawdy but incredibly relatable. She courageously describes her dysfunctional childhood, healing from trauma, and how she’s evolved as a survivor of sexual assault. At times, heart wrenching, her stories will evoke raw emotion and connect to you on the most guttural level. She hopes to inspire authentic living and human connection.  Stephanie lives in Cleveland with her dog and two cats.