Though I spent most of my waking life in South Florida, this little vacation solidified my decision to put down roots in Baltimore, in a city setting.
Sure, my parents house (which they've owned since I was 2) is a good medium between urban living, and way-out in-the-'burbs, and is accesible to the highways and big cities (Miami and Ft. Lauderdale). It has a nice yard, and a place to put your car (my poor Prius is sometimes blocks away from home!), but you still have to get in that car to actually do anything. Until a recent batch of break-ins in the neighborhood, it also didn't seem like the adults interact too much (since the days of the kids playing together is long over).
In contrast, the friends I stayed with in South Beach had a lovely condo that was stumbling distance from the beach and a mall of shops, bars and restaurants. I love this idea, but I still have to put SoBe (yes, I said it) in a nice-to-visit-but-wouldn't-live-there category. I guess it's partially that I hate apartments/condos, with having to pay building fees, and hoping the company that manages the building keeps everything up as they are supposed to. (Bad experiences with apartments in Baltimore) Maybe I feel that people have less of a community feel in buildings? I guess I also got a bad vibe from the people of SoBe, an appearances and designers and money are super important vibe, that's not really me. But hey, bikini season year-round!
One thing that really made me buy in this neighborhood after renting a room 5 blocks away was the sense of community. Sure, its not the safest place in the world (some kind of drug dealing post outside the old house and 2 break-ins as soon as I moved in), but the really special thing was how everyone really came to my side when the shit went down. Lots of kind notes of support from the neighborhood mailing list (neighbors near and farther away), and direct neighbors who swapped cell numbers with me to be able t warn me if they saw anything else suspicious. (Along with "You need to get a gun! And a pit-bull!", advice I took with a smile and a mental "HELL NO") I like that I'm a short walk to a couple great neighborhood bar/restaurants, and a short drive to work and everything else in the city.
Baltimore, specifically Patterson Park, has charmed me, and I'm here for now, even if I will soon have to start wearing a coat.