Must-Ask Eco-Questions: Moving to a New City

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Question #10: Is this city friendly to my lifestyle? Photo: Alex Vietti, Earth911

9. How does the city handle pollution?

U.S. cities have come a long way since the smog attacks and contaminated waterways of the 1960s and ’70s. But some still struggle with pollution problems. Before deciding on a new locale, research how local governments are handling pollution to help you make an informed decision.

The EPA provides a detailed database of superfund sites, or uncontrolled or abandoned locations that are contaminated with hazardous waste. Cleanup projects are already under way at many of these sites. Check out the EPA cleanup page to see a full list of current projects.

When it comes to air quality, Santa Fe, N.M., Duluth, Minn. and Tuscon, Ariz. rank among the cleanest cities, while Los Angeles, Pittsburgh and Salt Lake City are among the most polluted, according to the American Lung Association. You can also find information on your prospective city’s drinking water quality from the EPA or Environmental Working Group.

Keep in mind that just because a city has a pollution problem doesn’t necessarily mean you should cross it off your list of possibilities. Many cities are committing loads of money and resources to curb pollution woes. Read up on recent news and check out your prospective city’s sustainability website to find out what local governments are doing to clean up.

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10. Is this city friendly to my lifestyle overall?

At the end of the day, every city (and every city-dweller) is different, and only you can decide if a locale fits well with your lifestyle. Take a walk through your prospective neighborhood, chat with residents and visit a few nearby attractions to get a sense of what makes the region tick.

If you’re a bicycle enthusiast, take note of bike lanes and racks along your journey. If you’re an animal lover, ask local pet owners if there are dog parks nearby or how tricky it is to find a pet-friendly apartment. If you love to be outside, keep your eyes open for pocket parks and community gardens.

If it seems like a city or neighborhood doesn’t fit well with your values and routines, you may want to go back to the drawing board to find your dream locale.

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