My company closed down in the summer of '03. I was not pleased with San Diego due to the reasons that you laid out, and cast my net for my next job wide. I found a job in St. Louis. It was a big relief to be leaving crowded, expensive San Diego. Within weeks, though, I determined that the boss and I just couldn't see eye to eye, and I returned to San Diego, where my wife and kids were, finishing up the school year. 8 long months later, I found another job, and here we are.
St. Louis was great: green, best neighborhoods were affordable, great roads, fine university town (Wash. U.), and it had a big, beautiful cathedral. There's a section of the city, close to Barnes-Jewish Hospital, that is unbelievable: six blocks square or so, gated off, of mansions from the turn of the century:
Most are restored; only some have been torn down and replaced with McMansions. Absolutely stunning, and you could buy one for under $1MM. Truly, there are other great places to live. We're here only to be near my wife's parents, who are great grandparents.