I lived in Columbus Ohio for 20+ years - if you’re serious you should check it out, you’d be surprised . . . I’m not saying it is NYC but I’m saying you’d be surprised. And all the Limited brands and now spin offs are based in Columbus, so there is a LOT of retail fashion work in Columbus. (Abercrombie, Victoria Secret, Express (I can’t remember what some of the other spin offs are now called).
Just saying you’d be surprised - and you can buy a house . . . and save in your 401k . . . and travel . . .and still have some money left over . . . . and eat some good food - though i will say that while Columbus has come a LONG way from when I first moved there, it doesn’t have the breadth in a category as a major coastal city has.
Honda is based outside Columbus for example, so we have some good Japanese restaurants but NOT 50 good Japanese restaurants to choose from. Ohio State is there, so we get a lot of foreign students, so we have a few good Chinese restaurants but you’re NOT going to get 10 specializing in Szechuan and 10 specializing in Cantonese, and a few Dim Sum . . . . . there are 2-3 that are good. You have to seek them out.
Okay I"m done trying to justify life in the midwest (I grew up in NJ outside NYC fyi . . . . ) live where you want to . . . . I told my family for years “Columbus is a great place to live, maybe not the best place to vacation”.