I'm a scientist working at a non-profit research institute. I spent most of my life in the San Francisco Bay Area, but moved to the midwest to pursue life science research.
The midwest is different from California, but I find it a very easy place to live. It offers some degree of urban density, yet it's very affordable. Unlike California there is little difference between a rent payment and a mortgage payment. There is no rat race feeling in my life, yet I get to do as much research as I want in a world class research environment. I live near a university and can walk to work along tree-lined streets.
There are drawbacks however. I know of only two cafes within 35 miles that are open until midnight. Lane splitting on a motorcycle is illegal, but since there's no traffic here, it doesn't matter so much. I miss being close to the ocean, and I miss the microclimates that exist around the bay area. One of the things I miss most is riding my motorcycle across the bay bridge to Cafe Trieste in North Beach.
seidel AT pangloss DOT com