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Who's Your City?: How the Creative Economy Is Making Where to Live the Most Important Decision of Your Life

1 rating: 3.0
A book by Richard Florida

Choosing a spouse and choosing a career are important life decisions—but perhaps even more predictive of our all-round personal happiness is our choice of living location, argues Florida (The Rise of the Creative Class) in this informative if somewhat … see full wiki

Tags: Books, Cities, Creativity, Innovation, Urban Life
Author: Richard Florida
Publisher: Basic Books
1 review about Who's Your City?: How the Creative Economy...

Where you live and work is as important as what you're doing

  • Jan 11, 2009
When I picked up this book I expected, and half hoped, that it would end with a several-page quiz I could take that would give me an answer to the title question -- in other words, tell me where I should be living (I also expected, especially after reading the first few chapters, that it would tell me I should be living in Seattle, which I would consider something of a cop-out [since that's where I was living when I posted this review; I have since moved east). But it turns out that "Who's Your City" contains nothing so simple -- although the author's website, which is the title of this book plus "dot com," does have a questionnaire to help you make up your mind. In fact, Richard Florida argues that your choice of where to live is every bit as important to your professional success and personal happiness as are your choices of what profession to go into and who to marry. Yet few of us give that first decision the sort of thoughtful consideration most of us give the other two. In the "creative economy," he argues, this is a serious error.

A popular, even dominant, portrait of the knowledge worker in that wired "creative economy," as painted by Tim Ferriss and others, is of a writer, designer, or entrepreneur working on her laptop while laying on a beach in the South Pacific, or in her funky studio in Barcelona or Buenos Aires, networking effortlessly with colleagues and clients around the world. In other words, location doesn't matter anymore. We can work equally effectively from anywhere in the world, provided we have a fast net connection and inspiring surroundings. Richard Florida doesn't buy it, and the research, he argues, bears him out. As the truly innovative, productive parts of the global economy cluster into fewer and fewer mega-regions, it's in fact more important than ever that people locate themselves in those areas and become part of the self-sustaining network created there. In one sense, it's kind of a circular argument, but in another it's almost irrefutable: creative people go where the creative people are. As he points out fairly early in the book, if you love acting but hate New York and Hollywood, your career probably isn't going to go as far as it otherwise could.

A lot of this book is like that. It's pretty evident cities have, for lack of a better word, personalities. Omaha "feels" different than San Jose. And the correlation of location with life-events isn't new either: young professionals settling in hip urban environments then moving out to the suburbs after their first child is born is practically a cliché. What Florida has done, though, is ask why that's the case -- what drives it -- and what implications that has both for communities and for individuals. It's really a pretty interesting read, and one with quite a bit of relevance to current economic conditions, too. Richard Florida's work always, justly, draws a lot of attention. And while you won't come away from this knowing, necessarily, where you should be living, you'll know the questions you should be asking yourself and have the tools to help figure out the answers. And that's not a bad start.

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