Well I've been back a week or so now, so I can try and answer these questions from the point of view of someone who _isn't_ in Abyssea.
I've had a couple of parties over the last week, one in Kazham, and two in Valkurm Dunes. Both have been good parties, although the Kazham one I managed to get 6 levels in a 3 hour session, so it's definitely better than it used to be!
Mid thirties in Kazham, and mid teens in Valkurm, so there's definitely options there, although it's obviously going to depend on when you're online. Valkurm is still a hunting ground for beginners though, but just bear in mind not all beginners are actual beginners these days with so many players returning.
economy seems solid?
Seems to be. FFXIAH.com is your best friend here. Learn it, live it, love it. Asura is one of the largest and oldest servers these days, so things seem to be reasonably stable, although I haven't really done a lot of shopping at the high level end of the AH, so FFXIAH.com will be able to help there.
I hear its easier and I can be somewhat casual so my gf doesn't leave me?
Well, you can and you can't. I hear Abyssea parties can go for half a day at a time, but I don't play in Abyssea yet, so I can't comment first hand. You have the option to solo a lot more than you used to, so for the times you don't have much time, you can jump into an area, and level a job (or a subjob) yourself, but it will obviously be slower than a group.
Partying properly still required a good couple of hours (aim for a minimum of two) unless you're in a prearranged group, since you need time for everyone to assemble, find an area, find mobs, etc. But I can log in, party for about 2 hours or so and leave again depending on what I'm doing, but that was with some people in my linkshell, so YMMV. Allow a couple of hours if you plan to join a levelling party.
On the nights you're worried about pissing off the significant other though, stick to soloing, and log off when required ^^ Your Vana'diel self will still be there ready to go when you are. Your girlfriend may not be!
how are you?
Overworked and underpaid, but thank you for asking ^^
sandwich or bagel
____________________________Drusenija - Resident Scholar of Asura "The game is nothing, the playing of it everything" - Simkin