There are three jobs that Rob was/is interviewing for, and although they are very different from each other, they each have really good things about them. They vary from what you would probably imagine as a medium-ish private practice of allergists to a big multi-state practice where the doctors are all "shareholders" to a huge nonprofit healthcare system that Obama has mentioned multiple times as the shape of things to come. Rob really likes various people at various spots within the jobs, and the commutes vary from AWESOME/bike-able to 20 minutes. I know we are really lucky that in this economy we are looking at multiple good options, but it does leave us full of uncertainty at this point.
And then there are the two cities, which are really different from each other but both great. As you would probably expect, Santa Fe has an artsy, hippie/New Age vibe, although there appear to be plenty of people who are not rich retirees in search of a dose of Southwestern mysticism. It's just full of charm and is a lovely sized community; it's small enough that you could really be familiar and understand the town. It was beautiful, in a high desert kind of a way, with evergreen trees and little bushes (no grass) and medium-ish mountains. And I would never lack for delicious Mexican food, which we sorely missed when we lived in Connecticut, and it is nicely ethnically diverse.
Salt Lake City, for starters, is much bigger, although smaller than a lot of the places I've lived, say about 3/4 the size of Austin. It is strikingly beautiful, although in a very different way than Santa Fe. I might go so far as to say that it is more beautiful than Santa Fe, but I think that is partly because it is a more familiar kind of beauty with snow-topped mountains and trees and grass and whatnot. There is the issue of the dominant religious culture there, but after visiting, I think that is less of an issue than most people would assume. For example, SLC hasn't had a Mormon mayor in years and years and in the neighborhoods where we would live, some of the LDS churches have been closing down for lack of people. (Sad Mormons...) We keep getting told that the suburbs are really homogeneous as far as religion (LDS people as far as the eye can see) but the city proper is full of a more diverse crowd, as far as politics and religion and sexual orientation and whatnot. (Racial diversity is another story; Santa Fe definitely has got SLC beat there, although there are some brown people of various shades around.) And yes, as advertised, there is a definite indie/bohemian/funky vibe to the close-in neighborhoods of SLC. I shouldn't let this influence me too much, but as an example, Rob has a high school friend there who had us over for dinner and his wife is sort of my doppelgänger-- she has an orange streak in her hair and they have chickens in the backyard of their adorable funky house and she loves the farmers market and so forth. I would have a frieeeeeeeend...
Speaking of things that I shouldn't let influence me too much, we looked at houses with realtors with both cities and in Salt Lake City I found my DREAM HOUSE. I would post a link to the listing, but if by some miracle we did actually end up in that house I wouldn't want the address out there in blogland and besides, the pictures do not do this house justice AT ALL. It is in the neighborhood we want with the elementary school we want on a street that is nice but a little eclectic and not too manicured and posh. It was built in the 1920s and has gorgeous dark hardwoods and leaded glass windows on the first floor but has been renovated with really high quality materials (think Wolf range, Sub-Zero refrigerator, beautiful interior doors, quartz countertops, etc) and a clean-lined modern but soft aesthetic. It is a really nice size that gives us some room to easily add child #3 and the basement isn't finished yet so there is even more space to grow into as our kids get bigger. Soooooooo gorgeous, so exactly "us". I think it is very unlikely that we get that actual house, because we (obviously) haven't decided where we're moving yet and somebody has already put in an offer on it. It's a short sale (poor upside-down owners...) so supposedly the process will move really slowly but it's still a long shot for us. It has, however, given me ideas about what we would really want in a house that we hope to live in for a decade or more (laundry room on the second floor-- brilliant!), so that's good. There were other houses that we liked too, as well as fun ones in Santa Fe. To be honest, we probably liked the neighborhoods and houses in SLC more; the whole flat-roofed adobe thing would take some getting used to.
So how shall we decide? Salt Lake City has an IKEA and a Costco while Santa Fe has Trader Joe's and they both have Whole Foods. The climate in both places would be awesome-- four real seasons, HOORAY! I had way better hair days when we were in Santa Fe. Maybe that should be the deciding factor?