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Column: Searching For Urban Expats

Searching For Urban Expats

Dear Readers:

I know many of those who read the paper are from Nashville and Washington County and have lived here their whole lives. There’s another group out here too though, and that’s people that have found themselves here by way of somewhere else.

While most readers and folks who know me from around town know that I am not originally from Nashville, I don’t know how many know where I am from: Chicagoland, or more specifically, Oak Park (I grew up there, but my childhood home is a few dozen feet and one very busy thoroughfare crossing away from Chicago proper.)

When asked where I’m from, what I tell people is dependent on where they’re from: if it’s downstate, I’m from Chicago. If they’re from Chicago, then it’s Oak Park.

I like Chicago, love it even. On some level, it’s still home, even though I don’t live there and haven’t for quite some time now.

On another level though, it’s not home. While there are some things I really, really miss, for the most part, I am very happy living in southern Illinois, and with a few exceptions, I think I’m quite a bit happier than if I did live in Chicago still.

Which brings me to the meat of my column: a call-out.

I know I’m not the only one. I have a lot of friends and acquaintances in this area that have Chicago roots. Further, I also know that I’m not the only one who is happy to visit Chicago, but live here.

So, my fellow urban expats (and Chicago is the closest megacity, but ex-urbanites from St. Louis and elsewhere feel free to respond too) get in touch with me.

Do you have any observations about the differences between here and there?

Any very specific reason you’re glad to be here?

Anything that you miss about Chicago or your city that you just can’t get here?

I’ve noticed a lot of things, but I know I’m not the only one. I’d love to be able to tell more stories from folks who have been to the big old city and said, “Nah, it’s not for me.”

Send me an email at with “ex-Chicagoan” or “urban expat” in the subject line and tell me what pops into your head. I’ll write up what I hear.

Give me a name and a way to get in touch with you if I have more questions. If you would like to tell a story but prefer to remain anonymous in the paper, please specify in your email.

–Alex Haglund, Managing Editor