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The Lure of Bloomington

When we were stranded here three years ago, I was somewhat immune to the lure of Bloomington. I was focused on getting back to New Orleans and the tasks of rebuilding.

This time, though, I felt the attraction of the place as soon as we rolled into town. It’s an old familiar place that I love, a place I never wanted to leave. I know that in many ways, if we lived here, we might enjoy a higher quality of life than we do in New Orleans. We wouldn’t have to deal with this evacuation nonsense. The city has much to recommend it: great public schools, a great library, a great community radio station. The local paper has a section dedicated to “Eco News” every Friday. How cool is that? Seems like half the people I talked to were trying to gently twist my arm into finding a way back here. I found myself thinking that I could make it through the Indiana winters if I had a sauna.

I never wanted to leave Bloomington in the first place. But the general lack of economic opportunity drove us out. Bloomington’s labor market is dominated by Indiana University. There is a huge surplus of well-educated people. If Xy wanted to teach here, she’d literally have to wait around for someone to die. I suppose the main thing that keeps us in New Orleans is my job, which is the reason we moved there in the first place. I love my job, and that’s nothing to sneeze at.

Anyway. We are beginning our drive back home to New Orleans today. I hope we don’t have to turn around and evacuate again for Ike next week.

Thanks to everyone for their kindness and hospitality.

Published inBloomington


  1. Aloha! I have the same feelings about Bloomington — I’ve been in Hilo for over 2 years now, and there isn’t a day I don’t miss something about B-town. I was there this past spring and had the most amazing time actually being a tourist in the town I know best — staying with different friends, going places I missed (like touching all the bases in a softball game) and seeing things with fresh eyes, which left me with the odd and wonderful feeling of still developing relationships there.

  2. Lee Lee

    It seems like there has been a shift in the labor market in Indiana in the past several years. In our parents heyday it was manufacturing, now it is the education and life sciences markets, which go hand in hand.

    As part of the IUMMUG (IU Multimedia Users Group) I must say, you would not have any trouble finding a job here. I recieve at least 10 emails a week regarding positions where they are having trouble finding qualified applicants.

    What was the case when you were up for Katrina? Wasn’t XY teaching then, or was it just a sub job?

    All the reasons you outlined is why Indiana has been suffering from the “brain drain” which is exatly what you and J did. Find a better situation in a different state.

    Have a safe trip!

  3. julesb_town julesb_town

    All the things you mentioned above, plus wanting our kids to grow up close to our extended family are what brought my husband and I back to Bloomington 8 years ago. We really do love being here, it is a very family friendly community 🙂 We hope that Ike settles down for you!

  4. T T

    I miss Bloomington often.. especially in our 106 to 110 degree July and August…

    There is a lot of interest in increasing IUB’s education students experiences in Urban settings (actually all colleges need to do this for NCATE) … (usually in Indy).. If XY ever burns out in the classroom, I have known several people who have turned their Urban teaching experiences into a job coordinating field experiences for local colleges and helping rural and suburban kids make sense of Urban field experiences… We unfortunately need more people doing that…. Often inexperienced students get overwhelmed in urban settings and need help processing all the forces and politics at work.. .without that many don’t consider urban teaching as an career option.

  5. Garvey Garvey

    Housing is cheaper in B’ton. B, get a job like Lee says are open, and you could do the one-income thing. Or if you need some extra dough, XY could enroll in grad school and get an AI gig. She’d get full tuition remission plus a pretty easy part-time gig that pays maybe 14K/yr (and runs Aug-May). I was a student teacher supervisor, which took about 10 hrs per week. Same when I taught two classes. Oh, and she’d get health ins, too, as an employee.

  6. lemming lemming

    Cheap housing in Bloomington? You’ve got to be kidding me. It’s the most expensive community in Indiana. The town rocks, the restaurants are terrific, the local paper does a little bit of everything well, but it’s all expensive.

  7. Garvey Garvey

    “most expensive community in Indiana”

    Um, no. Nice hyperbole. A quick MLS search reveals countless single family homes for under 150K.

    Is Bloomington “expensive” compared to a podunk town in BFE? Sure. Is it expensive compared to Indy burbs? Nope. NW Indiana? Nope. etc.

  8. Rachel Rachel

    It would be funny if we all moved back one day.

    There was someone in the store today wearing a Culture Shock shirt! Can’t get away from it!

  9. julesb_town julesb_town

    If you choose to limit your search for housing in one or two areas, it can be expensive…but, there are a lot of affordable houses here, just depends on where you want to live.

  10. According to the latest housing news, Indianapolis is the cheapest place in the country. Avg income around $68k with a medium house price of $108k.

    I love Bloomington and it’s nice that I can visit pretty easily living in Chicago. The hardest part about living here is the high cost of housing (which we can’t even afford a house, only a condo). Now that we have a kid, we’re having to weigh the whole school thing, and what district is the best and so on.

  11. Liz Liz

    We live in New Orleans now and during the Gustav evac we went to see family in Cincinnati and friends in Bloomington (lived there for a decade). Whenever we go to Cincinnati (home of my family), we also go to Bloomington because it is still home to us. We love the town dearly, still have many friends – we have visited often enough that our 5 year old son still knows all his friends even though we haven’t lived there for over 3 years now. Bloomington is a one horse town though (IU) and we can’t ever go home again (I have a very specific PhD field). It does break my heart. At least we live in New Orleans, which we also love very much, but Bloomington would be so close to family… I completely understand the conflict between the two places, they are both wonderful places to live.

  12. Amy Amy

    Hmmmm…you like the public schools, library, community radio and other cultural- and educational-type stuff. You need a place that’s bigger than the Bloomington/Monroe County area so you & Xy can both to find good jobs. You hate cold weather. My suggestion: move to Austin, TX! Granted it is probably more expensive than NOLA, and it’s a red state…but it’s a very blue, or greenish, city in an otherwise red state.

  13. Scott Scott

    there was a very favorable story that appeared in Sunday’s New York Times about moving to Bloomington. Albeit the piece was written for people considerinf retirement places, but the points about the quality of life, as well as low cost of living, certainly apply.

  14. KamaAina KamaAina

    Haole Wolf?! Another Hawai’i commenter? Stranger than truth… then again, Hilo (on the Big Island, near Kilauea volcano, for those of you playing along at home) gets over twice as much rain as NOLA, so homesickness is perhaps to be expected.

    To those of you attempting to recruit the Editor back to B’ton or wherever, please stop. The last thing the city needs at this point is a renewed brain drain. What would Ashley have said??

  15. I must admit I was skeptical at first. Hilo rainfall >= NOLA * 2 ? Really? But I checked some weather stats and it appears to be true. And that’s amazing. NOLA gets 60″ per year, far more than the famously rainy city of Seattle. But Hilo does indeed get more than 120″ per year. Over ten feet! Thanks, KamaAina, for educating me.

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