20 November 2016

US cities: cheap and open-minded

Context: on Quora, I was asked, “What is the cheapest and most open-minded city in the United States?

Tl;dr: Louisville, Kentucky – aka “Where sobriety goes to die” or “The Southernmost Northern City”.

Wow, cheapest AND most open-minded… this is not easy to measure. For “cheapest” I assume you mean cost of living, which I will take from this website. I thought a long time about how to measure open-mindedness and settled on Gallup’s LGBT survey of cities. I figure more open-minded cities will be more conducive to people being openly LGBT. So I ranked the cities by cheapness and gayness, plotted it, and here’s the result:

Your best bet is going to be Louisville, Kentucky – the 4th cheapest and 11th gayest major city in America. Other cities in green are also good choices, depending on what you give more weight to.

You’ll notice that San Francisco is very gay (number 1 actually), but also very expensive. Memphis, on the other hand, is not expensive at all—but also not very open-minded, if our proxy measurement is to be believed. San Jose is neither gay nor cheap. I’m guessing this has to do with Silicon Valley and the influx of Asian immigrants, who are stricter in terms of traditional sexual orientation. Pittsburgh is also interesting, coming in the middle when it comes to cost of living, but exhibiting Bible Belt levels of LGBT. Not sure if I have an explanation for that one.

Anyway, hopefully this at least points you toward the answer, if not finding it outright.

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Love the visual, where are Denver, Co and Columbus, Oh on the plot?


Interesting facts. I would say that relating open-mindness with gay percentage is a little arbitrary. For example Memphis might have low percantage of gay people but doesn’t mean it isn’t open-minded. What about racism percentages and tolerance to social differences?