1. Decent climate; mild winter; preferably no snow or ice ever.
2. An affordable city center; we're urban boys; no suburbs, exurbs or isolated small towns
3. A sizable and varied immigrant presence (we need the resulting ethnic grocery stores close at hand)
4. We'd rather the place not be dominated by religious whack-jobs and Republicans
5. Some level of charm and history
Our current city actually fairly well meets the first three criteria, though we could do with still milder winter weather, but it fails dismally on 4 and 5. The problem is really our climate preference because so much of the warmer-climate swaths of America overlap geographically with where most of the number 4 types are concentrated. There are a few possibilities, however, but we need to do a lot more research, and I won't move anywhere again without knowing a lot more about it than I did about this place when we came here.
The fact that we hate winter's guts also precludes a lot of the "cool" (as in hip, trendy) places that I hear people bragging about all the time, cities that I'd be happy to visit in the summer but wouldn't want to see in the winter. Some of the places where the inhabitants seem the most self-satisfied about where they live are located in execrable climate zones. Colorado for example. J's brother lives there and to him, it is Elysium, it is Utopia, and he would never want to live anywhere else. We also think he's out of his frakkin mind when we hear the winter weather tales from up in the mountains. I have noticed, however, that Colorado's spell is indeed strong on those who have made it their home. Twitterati from Colorado (such as author Kevin Anderson) are always going on about all their hiking and outdoorsiness in the grand natural beauty of the place. Good for them, but I don't see it for us.
Possibly even more satisfied with their home than Coloradans are people from Seattle. As a group (and again this is just an informal assessment based on people that I follow on Twitter from there) they are the most inclined to point out in casual remarks that they live in Seattle. Often it's in the form of acknowledging something that is NOT so great about it: "Yeah, we have these kinds of things even here [link to some sort of atrocity]" like it should blow the minds of the rest of the country that they have some dirt and scumbaggery in their darkest corners. A lot of pointing out of their weather, too (which is what keeps it off my list of possible new homes). They might come in a close second to Oklahomans as far as discussing the uniqueness of their weather. I happened to be looking at the Twitter feed one night some weeks ago and I saw author Elizabeth Bear (who was soon to be going to Seattle to teach at Clarion West) say in a Tweet something like this: "Dear Everyone on the Internet: I know what the weather is like in Seattle. Thanks!" And then there's the Canadians, but obviously that whole country (much as I like a lot of stuff about it) is right out: the whole thing is located north of where I grew up in Wisconsin. So forget it.
I don't know where we'll go. Probably back to STL for a couple years. But I do have a few fantasy options that would require us to be a lot more prosperous financially: 1) Spain; 2) Hawaii; 3) Mars (post-terraforming); 4) Cuba (as gentleman farmers after the Castro government is gone); 5) The paradise spore planet from the Trek episode "The Side of Paradise." Hmm. That will be all for tonight.