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I am wondering if there are any specific cities on the North American continent (not considering Mexico for the moment being, for reasons detailed below) that supernatural beings trying to live hidden amongst humanity would naturally flock to in order to hide.

Additional parameters for my question are as follows:

  • Stereotypical masquerade rules apply. That is, the supernatural beings are in hiding, they want to remain hidden from mankind (and therefore can't openly form enclaves like "Little Transylvanias", and they aren't in a position where they can just brainwash rich people or government officials into giving them all upscale penthouse apartments. Government influence on the supernatural community is not a factor (i.e., I want to see what would happen without the government actually knowing about and trying to manage supernatural beings akin to Men in Black).
  • The supernaturals want to live in as nice of an areas as possible. There's most likely a sliding scale between scrutiny and economic prosperity. In economically depressed areas people are more likely to not ask questions about mysterious neighbors, but living conditions are worse and the crime rate is higher. By contrast, if they tried moving into an upscale suburb or gated community there would likely be more security and economic prosperity but supernaturals would likely be subject to extreme scrutiny. Given this, the supernaturals would have to strike a balancing act between trying to live in as nice of an area as possible but at the same time subject to as little scrutiny as possible.
  • The supernaturals want to stay beneath notice as much as possible. As a result they would probably aim for regions where the government and fellow citizens have as much of a laisse-faire attitude towards its citizens as possible. I don't know if that would make Canada or the U.S. more appealing.
  • The supernaturals aren’t interested in starting their own city off in the middle of nowhere. Partly because such a thing would be incredibly difficult to hide a new city of supernaturals springing up, and partially because I’m interested in how closely any IRL area fits these criteria before creating a wholly fictional one.
  • The supernatural beings aren’t interested in living in a non-urban area. It would be a lot easier for them if the supernatural beings if they were willing to live off in the woods as a hermit. However, the supernaturals in this case still want access to electricity, running water, and fresh coffee. So at most they would be willing to live in a suburban area that has easy access to an urban center. A city that has large amounts of wild spaces in proximity to urban areas might be a favorable factor for them.
  • It would be nice if they could find an area where supernatural disputes can be easily covered up. I.e., places where it would be easy to cover up things like vampires occasionally preying on people, werewolf pack disputes spilling over into violence, etc. Obviously any kind of crime if it got too noticeable would end up bringing the wrath of the government down on them, but the question is if there are areas where supernatural plot and conflict would be more likely to be overlooked as long as it wasn’t too obvious.
  • Asking about supernatural beings in hiding in general, not any specific type. Obviously different types of supernaturals would have different needs. Vampires that prey on humans would want areas where they could eat people without being discovered, werewolves would like areas with lots of forests, etc. However, I'm more wondering what would be the best cities in a general sense, rather than which would be best for a specific supernatural.

Worldbuilding SE already has this question (Best country for humans with superpowers to hide?), but there are some significant differences. I am interested in figuring out which specific cities would be the best place to hide, rather than countries. The other question is more talking about 50,000 superhumans migrating as a group (and therefore dealing with immigration laws) and talks about countries rather than specific cities. However, different regions of a single country can be dramatically different in terms of hideability. For example, in North America, hiding in Calgary or Denver would be a completely different experience than hiding in Toronto or New York City.

The main reason I'm asking this is that in urban fantasy series with supernatural beings there is often a single city that ends up being a hotbed of supernatural activity for plot-related reasons. New York City is especially popular for this purpose, but I’ve seen Seattle, Washington, Toronto, Vancouver, Chicago, Denver, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Boston, Tulsa, and even Cincinnati used. However, usually the city is picked first rather than picked considering what would make it a supernatural hotbed. What I’m wondering is if there are specific geographic, demographic, and socio-economic factors that would make supernatural beings under a Masquerade more likely to emigrate there and hence more likely to be hotspot cities for supernatural activity than others. I would be very interested in seeing if there are cities that could fill the role in other parts of the world like Europe, Australia, Japan, etc. (e.g., would Tokyo be better than Kyoto? Would Liverpool be better than London? Would Melbourne be better than Sydney? Would Perm be better than Saint Petersburg? Not to mention what would be the best areas in Mexico specifically), but I fear that would be too similar to the previously asked question so I am focusing on North America north of the Rio Grande given that most of these series tend to be set there. Trying to focus on the U.S. and Canada over Mexico given that Mexico seems like too much of an obvious answer.

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    $\begingroup$ Re "The supernaturals want to live in as nice of an areas as possible", but why would they want to live in a city, then? Lots of nice upscale rural areas to live in/near, especially if they pick e.g. ski towns where there's a big transient population. $\endgroup$ – jamesqf Jan 16 at 4:34
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    $\begingroup$ New Orleans or San Francisco. Cities where being weird might not be notices. However, killing humans would quickly be noticed by the authorities. For example, if each vampire needs to kill one person per week, then the murder rate would be much higher than normal for a US city. $\endgroup$ – NomadMaker Jan 16 at 15:00
  • $\begingroup$ Malibu, dude. $\endgroup$ – Spencer Jan 16 at 15:17
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    $\begingroup$ Having spent time on an acreage "out in the sticks" (SW MO), I can tell you firsthand that no, you don't have to pass up on all of life's conveniences if you live out in the country -- there are very, very few places in the US that aren't reachable by powerline, and once you have electricity, all you need is a good drilling crew to take care of the running water part. We even had (dial-up) Internet connectivity available to us, and with the introduction of Starlink, that picture is looking more and more positive as time goes on, too $\endgroup$ – Shalvenay Jan 16 at 17:02
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    $\begingroup$ @user2352714: Yes, I know. I live in the rural west where coyotes are quite common. (Got bears & mountain lions, too :-)) But we're not talking about real life here, we're talking about urban fantasy, no? So the authorities, WHO DO NOT BELIEVE IN THE SUPERNATURAL, ascribe the werewolf attacks to a larger variety of urban coyote (coywolf, perhaps) that's willing to attack humans. They even ascribe the occasional werewolf sighting to people exaggerating their glimpse of a coywolf. But our heros know it's really werewolves... $\endgroup$ – jamesqf Jan 18 at 2:44
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Indianapolis

You want a city with low visibility from authorities and where the odd crime can go unnoticed. I think the best metric for this is the effectiveness of law enforcement. You want an ineffective police force who will leave you alone. Washington Post did an analysis of where police are least effective at investigating crimes based on how many murders go unsolved.

Let me just show the cover art from the Washington Post story (A four-block area around Gladstone Avenue, on the northeast side of Indianapolis):

enter image description here
(There probably already is a werewolf here - that'd explain all the unsolved homicides!)

The average income of US\$ 42k a year per person (down from the average of \$53k), might scare you off, but looking online at the upper end of real estate nearby there are some really nice mansions for the well-off supernatural to relax in.

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  • $\begingroup$ I toured the University of Indianapolis genetics grad program once. There are some really disturbing genetic populations (no forking) they study in the surrounding areas. There was one case of a person who had the same person as their father, grandfather, and baby daddy. And Indiana is also surprisingly bigfoot country. $\endgroup$ – DWKraus Jan 25 at 22:23
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Los Angeles

There are already cultures and beings living there that I would not classify as "Human", and they are an accepted part of the community.

Anecdote: I drove through there one Sunday afternoon a couple years ago. Walking on the sidewalk, I saw a couple:

Leading: Gentleman. Age 55 or so. Dignified look. Wearing Victorian style upperclass BallGown, in delicate shades of pastel pink. Pearls everywhere.
Following: On a dog-chain. Guy, 35-ish. Very neat goatee, shaved head except for vertical ponytail (rainbow fluorescent). Wearing a leather thong jockstrap, black sandals, and about 15 yards of leather-with-pointy-studs belts.

Leading was carrying a neat wooden Trug Basket, with a selection of 7-11 shopping bags.
Following was carrying the same, just not in a basket.

Obviously just a loving couple out for an afternoon stroll, shopping and minding their own business.

Now... When NORMAL humanity presents such an facade, just how are we supposed to notice if one of them is a Werewolf, Vampire, or Orion Slave Girl?

P.S. Portland got a very close second place in my vote, due to the existence of people like this:
enter image description here

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    $\begingroup$ What's wierd about playing the bagpipes, or riding a unicycle? (Except maybe the flame effect from the bagpipes.) Admirable coordination, though, to do both at the same time :-) $\endgroup$ – jamesqf Jan 16 at 17:26
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    $\begingroup$ It's just Darth Vader in a Roman uniform, riding a Unicycle while playing the bagpipes (that are on fire). Plays pretty good, too! Next to this, who would notice an Alien or monster, even if it looks like Jabba the Hutt. (Actually, Jabba in a Walmart t-shirt would not even get a first glance, much less a double-take) $\endgroup$ – PcMan Jan 16 at 17:28
  • $\begingroup$ On the eastern side of the continent, you've got Toronto, which is just as... interesting. $\endgroup$ – Karst Jan 16 at 19:27
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    $\begingroup$ Which would allow for a good plot device - young supernatural type figures out the advantages of living in LA, moves there, and finds the neighborhood infested with other supernaturals. Although it a sense that's already been done. Substitute "alien" for "supernatural" and you've got the Men In Black movies (for both LA, or at least Hollywood, and NYC). $\endgroup$ – WhatRoughBeast Jan 17 at 4:46
  • $\begingroup$ Oh yeah, Portland, where the 90's are still alive. $\endgroup$ – The Square-Cube Law Jan 18 at 13:34
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The supernatural beings aren’t interested in living in a non-urban area. It would be a lot easier for them if the supernatural beings if they were willing to live off in the woods as a hermit. However, the supernaturals in this case still want access to electricity, running water, and fresh coffee. So at most they would be willing to live in a suburban area that has easy access to an urban center. A city that has large amounts of wild spaces in close proximity to urban areas might be a favorable factor for them.

I suggest Yellowknife, in Canada.

Yellowknife (/ˈjɛloʊnaɪf/; Dogrib: Sǫǫ̀mbak’è[8]) is the capital, only city, and largest community in the Northwest Territories, Canada. It is on the northern shore of Great Slave Lake, about 400 km (250 mi) south of the Arctic Circle, on the west side of Yellowknife Bay near the outlet of the Yellowknife River.

The closest city to it is Edmonton, about 990 km away.

Here is a picture of the place to show that it is quite urban:

An aerial shot of Yellowknife

It is large enough that you can get all the benefits of modern technology in it. But it is quite small with a population of about nineteen thousand people (which is almost half of the population of the province), and as I said above quite far from the next urban center. There is plenty of rural and wild areas around if the supernatural being wishes to do something away from human eyes, while still being able to quickly go back home in a urban place.

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    $\begingroup$ "the indigenous people in the Northwestern Territories practice animistic religions" - The indigenous people of the Northwest Territories are, by a rather large margin, Christian. Of the roughly 23,000 First Nations and Inuit in the NWT, the number practicing traditional religions number at most a few hundred, and many of them aren't even true believers but consider it part of tradition rather than true faith. $\endgroup$ – Keith Morrison Jan 17 at 6:28
  • $\begingroup$ @KeithMorrison you are right, and I had jumped to a conclusion there. I have edited that part about religion. $\endgroup$ – The Square-Cube Law Jan 17 at 13:15
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    $\begingroup$ Also, they're no more "open" than anyone else would be. I can tell you than from firsthand experience; people up here are no different from people anywhere else. $\endgroup$ – Keith Morrison Jan 17 at 20:02
  • $\begingroup$ @keithmorrison since I have never been there, I do think you have more clarity on how people would see things. I think my vision of the people there may very well be very prejudiced... you gave me something to think about. I'll remove that from my answer. $\endgroup$ – The Square-Cube Law Jan 17 at 20:23
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High population densities are your friend. Smaller towns tend to have a higher rate of "everyone knowing everyone", so any kind of secretive weirdness is going to be much harder to hide.

For an entity that feeds on humans (vampire, wendigo, etc.), a city with a high temporary/transient population (the homeless, tourists, migrant workers) is ideal. When someone without social or legal ties to the place goes missing, it'll take longer for anyone to notice that something's wrong.

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Detroit

Lots of vacancy, including larger factory building. You could easily remodel some of those to accomodate the supernaturals' needs.

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  • $\begingroup$ Gary, Indiana was one possibility I had considered for much the same reasons, though I thought that might be a bit too economically depressed for anyone to want to move to. $\endgroup$ – user2352714 Jan 19 at 0:04
  • $\begingroup$ I thought of this too. That city is "off the radar" in lots of other ways too. Ways that could be advantageous to someone trying to hide. $\endgroup$ – Len 2 days ago
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Part of this is going to depend on your supernatural beings.

Do they all have the capacity to pass for human at least enough to hide? If not, then at least some of them will need to be basically hermits. Hermits in a nice house, but hermits all the same.

What do they consider a nice place to live? A nice place is not necessarily a giant mansion or a top floor penthouse in the big city. Some might want a country house where they have room to be themselves without prying eyes on them all the time.

How much Urban is enough of it? Smaller cities are still urban centres, and they will still have many of the amenities of larger centres, but they will not have everything. It is a bit of a sliding scale.

Cities of Interest

This is the general answer. As you have realized in your own question, different entities will have their own needs and wants.

My thought would be a city of 40,000 to 100,000 people -- Large enough to have most of the urban amenities available, even if actual options are limited. However, there will also be enough semi-rural areas available to have finer homes or larger yards to run around in. Also, enough people so that one can live in relative anonymity if desired.

Also, it is plausible that some supernatural beings actually would consider a farmhouse and surrounding farm to be a nice house. A nice place, an honest days work away from the prying eyes of people sound great. Yes, you have neighbours but so long as you can pass for normal for that time, you're fine for the most part. Surprise visits could be tricky but manageable.

I haven't been around the continent too much so I don't know every city there, but I was thinking of a place like Chatham or Barrie, in Ontario to go by the range of settlement sizes. It would not be a perfect fit, but those were my inspirations and places that I know of. They are a good size, have a good mix of nice houses in the city, rural space nearby to use, and proximity to larger centres for the rest of their amenities.

But this is a general case. I would assume that vampires, at least as we generally know them, probably want a larger city to have a wider net to cast for anonymous (and possibly willing) food. Werewolves might veer towards cities with woodlands or bush not too far away depending on their control. Aquatic entities are likely as concerned about the waters they need over if their house is really nice -- a place on a river or lake is likely their ideal and not all cities will qualify there.

Bonus: Hiding the Evidence

It would be nice if they could find an area where supernatural disputes can be easily covered up

This part will be the trickiest and depend on the powers and control your supernatural entities have more than the location chosen. People will eventually notice that there are bodies in a certain neighbourhood killed in a certain way (if they ever find the bodies that is).

As an example, a vampire will have to figure out how to deal with a bloodless body in the event they drain somebody dry. The cause of death will be very noticeable -- two pricks in the neck or at a vein as well as a distinct lack of blood.

Those that actually bodily consume their prey have it a bit easier -- there will be a disappearance, but without a body it will be hard to prove that they died. Their death will only be assumed until something confirms it.

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