Why Columbus?

by Randy Murray on March 4, 2010

Sometimes I believe that Columbus has to be the grayest place on the planet. Not the cloudiest, the grayest. As I’m writing this at 2 in the afternoon, the sky is a uniform, featureless gray.  As much as I’d like to be writing from the beach in front of the Soggy Dollar, here I am. When I talk with friends and associates in sunnier climates and they ask why I stay, I tell them “Columbus is a great place to live, but I wouldn’t want to visit here.”

And it is. There’s no particular reason for a tourist to come here. So much the better. Can’t stand tourists. And I do know about the world famous Columbus Zoo, COSI, and, of course, Ohio State Football (frankly, you can’t get away from knowing about that – Go Bucks!), but beyond these meager offerings I can’t think of any solitary reason why someone without family or connections here would pack up the family and head here for a vacation.

But it is a very good place to live and work and to raise a family. When my wife and I moved here in 1985 I was surprised to learn that it was and is an emerging technology center. Diane got a job at NCR and I started off at Bell Labs. And for the last 25 years we’ve both built careers in high tech. While a lot of other areas in the country have been boom and bust – more bust, lately, Columbus continues to have a strong market. Organizations like TechColumbus help to strengthen and grow the tech market here, along with Ohio’s successful and continuing (I hope) Third Frontier effort. We came here for the jobs. I find this a common thread with my friends. I’ve had opportunities to head for more exciting environments like Silicon Valley, but the expense, the crowding, and the very different life for my family all make that unattractive. Columbus and Central Ohio have done very well for us.

But perhaps why I stay is more about the roots I’ve sunk here. I know people and they know me.  And if they don’t know me directly, with a few minutes conversation we can establish a connection – we’re almost certain to know someone in common. That comes from working in a place and an industry for a long time. That has value that can’t be supplanted even by the most active tweeter or social networker.  And it’s about friends and family as much as it is about careers and work. The cost of living, especially housing, is very reasonable. And if I want to travel, I’m at the airport in fifteen minutes – or I’m within a day’s drive of most of the Eastern seaboard or as far west as Kansas City. That’s a big chunk of territory.

So let the other parts of the world have their sunny skies and cultural treasures. That gives us somewhere to travel to for our vacations. I’m happy here at home in Columbus.  Just a little more sunshine would be nice.

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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Lucinda Sage-Midgorden March 4, 2010 at 11:37 am

Randy, you’ll have to sit under a mood boosting lamp so you can get enough vitamin D. I had to do that when we lived in Portland, Oregon. In fact, we saw the sky so little that one day on the playground a child pointed to the sky to a blue patch showing between the clouds and asked “What’s that?”

My sister and her family liked living in Columbus too after a while. I have to say though, now that I live in Arizona, I love seeing the sky everyday and every night. If I can’t have the ocean, I have to have the sky and the sunshine.


2 Randy Murray March 4, 2010 at 2:54 pm

It sounds great, there. Penny, my editor, uses a lamp to good ends. Diane and I just hit the treadmill!


3 missy March 4, 2010 at 2:08 pm

I had NO idea you were from Columbus. Small, small world, isn’t it???


4 Randy Murray March 4, 2010 at 2:50 pm

I guess you never read my About page!


5 missy March 4, 2010 at 11:55 pm

I guess I never did! Heading there now!


6 lucythorpe March 4, 2010 at 2:12 pm

I live just outside London and we have had a terrible grey winter although the sun did shine today and the daffodils are starting to peek through the ground.
I find the suburbs, well, suburban, but of course it is as you say all baout the people and I have some lovely friends.
Nice to hear more about you !


7 Randy Murray March 4, 2010 at 2:53 pm

Thanks, Lucy!

I’m in New York today and I’m wearing my shades. So nice to see the sun and feel the temperature above freezing.




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