Well, I think I’m still in the Heartland. Though I’m not really sure what Ohio is considered: Heartland, Midwest, Mideast? All of the above?
Anyway, we’re here now.
We keep moving further east. But I do believe eventually we will do a 180 and move in the other direction.
The reason for this move is my husband’s residency in emergency medicine at a Toledo hospital. It’s a three-year stint, and so we are making the most of it.
So far, my observations of Ohio as compared to Iowa as compared to California are few (I don’t get out much):
- Same general summer weather pattern–hot and humid. Ohio is a little more tolerable, though, and the same mode for cooling off is the local swimming pool. Northwest Ohio, however, has more natural waterways in proximity that we intend to explore.
- Same propensity toward neat, trim lawns. Our new neighborhood, though more affluent and newer than our old one in Des Moines, does have a number of houses who do not care if there are more weeds than grass. But, these lawns also have sprinkler systems, perhaps a reflection of the less total inches of rain that falls here in the summer.
- The suburbs are more sprawling, older and have less character. This is not to say that West Des Moines has much character, but they are neater and not as laden with blight. Toledo metro is very spread out, littered with strip malls lining wide avenues and covered in concrete and asphalt. The age and faltering economy of the outlying areas has caused much blight to occur. There are a lot of vacant buildings and overgrown lots, and there’s little new construction.
- More shopping options, but fewer Starbucks. Toledo has a Macy’s, an H&M and a natural foods co-op: three stores I appreciate having around that were nowhere near driving distance in Des Moines. But Des Moines had a Trader Joe’s. The nearest TJ’s around here is in Ann Arbor, 45 minutes north, where there is also a Cost Plus/World Market and a Whole Foods. There is an IKEA about an hour away, and a major metropolitan airport–Detroit–less than an hour away.
- The people seem a little less overtly friendly than in Iowa, and there is a stronger accent here, which was a surprising find. It sounds like a mix of Chicago, East Coast and Wisconsin.
- There are a lot of Semites here–Jews and Arabs, which is a welcome demographic for me, being a mixture of those two people. There’s a Muslim family across the street who live next to Jews and we live next door to another Jewish family. I’m interested to see what the winter holidays look like.
- Downtown Toledo is not a place where you want to be. It is vacant. It even feels vacant during work hours on a weekday. There are a few tall buildings, but not a lot of revitalization or interesting things to see or do. Des Moines has been slowly attracting more restaurants, bars, stores and residents to its downtown, and while it’s by no means as bustling as San Francisco or San Diego, it is getting better.
- Fewer outlets for yoga here. But there are a lot of Pilates studios, and it seems like people are really into triathlons.
- It is very flat. Pancake flat. In the sense that you would just be able to go on forever in a straight line.
More observations to come as life here goes on…