PDA

View Full Version : Best place to live?



archanahs
07-31-2013, 08:31 PM
What town has natural beauty, more free-thinkers, less pollution and secular meet-ups and safe housing under $300k?

Leanne71
08-01-2013, 12:10 AM
Bridgetown Western Australia ticks all the boxes except the secular meet ups, there are only two of us secular homeschoolers in town out of four homeschooling families. :)

Deli76
08-01-2013, 01:09 AM
Austin, tx
Its full of free thinkers. A bit too liberal for me. But i do love it there. And they have so many beautifulmparks and trees everywhere. They even have a waldorf school! Im so jealous!

CrazyCatWoman
08-05-2013, 11:02 PM
The best place to live is where you have a stable income that exceeds the cost of living in the area.

Santa Cruz, CA meets everything except the housing. Bozeman, MT meets the needs for natural beauty, less pollution, and free thinking, but is also highly conservative and I am not sure about secular meet ups. A great place to live...if you have a job there.

Near me, Richland WA was 3 years ago said to be in the top 5 of family friendly places. Does have secular meet up, and lots and lots of people who homeschool. But...it is next to Hanford, the larges Superfund clean up sight in the US, as a result of its history of being involved in the making of the Atom bomb. Right now, the recession is starting to hit (due to Stimulus money) and jobs are hard to keep and harder to come by.

Good luck in your search.

quabbin
08-06-2013, 03:39 PM
Explore Asheville | Asheville, NC's Official Tourism Web Site (http://www.exploreasheville.com/)

The downside is a sudden, drastic conservative swerve in politics on the state level (first republican governor in forever, so the balance of power has changed).

Sammish
08-07-2013, 09:44 AM
New Haven, CT (and surrounding areas). A variety of secular homeschooling programs; free-thinking; cost-of-living is higher than other areas in the country, but still definitely able to find safe housing under $300k; and lots of parks and playgrounds. And CT is an incredibly easy state to homeschool in - no requirements at all!

atomicgirl
08-20-2013, 10:42 PM
Albuquerque, NM meets a lot of your requirements. You can find good housing for under $300K, there are a lot of scientists who tend toward the secular. There are a fair number of home schooling families, because the school district is over-stressed and under-funded. There are "groups", but I haven't been lucky enough to find a good fit, yet. That's probably me, though. It's beautiful, and has lower-pollution than most cities of it's size due to weather patterns and the fact that most of the state is undeveloped. And! Our Natural History Museum was identified as one of the top 10 dinosaur exhibits in the US (and maybe Canada, because there was one collection the list in Canada), while remaining a cheap and low-crowd place to visit for the afternoon. Low crime is really not a selling point, but it's really dependent on the neighborhood. In any case, it's not as bad as "Breaking Bad" apparently makes it sound (I don't watch it).

crunchynerd
12-15-2013, 11:42 PM
Austin, tx
Its full of free thinkers. A bit too liberal for me. But i do love it there. And they have so many beautifulmparks and trees everywhere. They even have a waldorf school! Im so jealous!

I sometimes ardently wish I could go back, even though I hate the heat (and I'm from there, so getting used to it didn't help any!). I hate the lack of social and intellectual opportunities where I am now, and my DD does too. She saw Zilker Park and the Trail of Lights online and was dying to move there. I never realized just how much I had available to me there, til I left and came here. And now I can't get back there because DH's job is here. But even if I could go back, you can never go home. Conan's Pizza, the original one, isn't there, though I guess they franchised. Sigh.

But sometimes I really, really miss, a great city like that. My gosh, the libraries! Even the dinkyest neighborhood branch of the Austin Public Library puts our public library here to shame. And the PCL! My DD notes that where we live is like the worst of all worlds: too much a city to have the benefits of country life, like the bright starry sky overhead, plenty of acreage to romp on, no annoying/drunk/stupid neighbors airing their dirty laundry...but too LITTLE of a city to have the benefits of city life, like great standards in restaurants, libraries, parks, things to go, do, and see, and cool people.

She's right. We DO live in exactly the wrong spot for us. Not enough "rural" to have peace, quiet, privacy, and well water, and not enough "city" to enjoy the perks that make city pollution and city hassles, all worth it.

dbmamaz
12-16-2013, 09:31 AM
aww, that makes me want to move back near charlottesville. but i must move further north.

Deli76
12-16-2013, 10:32 AM
I am from Albuquerque, NM. We actually just got back last week. As beautiful as it is...the cost of living is sky high. Just about everything costs twice as much as it does here in Texas. No joke! They have state taxes, unlike Texas. The housing is nearly 3 times as much there as it is here. If you don't work for the government, your wages are going to be quite low and you will have a hard time making ends meet. The last place you would want to live are in the "War Zone" and in the Valley. A lot of drug and gang activity. And from my research, we had looked into moving back, homeschoolers have to have some kind of assistant???
The educational opportunities are plentiful. They have the atomic museum, natural history museum, lava fields, Carlsbad caverns, Sandia Mountains, Billy The Kids grave site, the Rio Grande River is full of hands on education!, Chimayo for the religious folks. the Indian ruins all over the state, The Indian reservations for cultural experiences. I could go on and on about the educational opportunities there. ( can anyone tell I am home sick after 1 week???) No matter where you move, theres going to be the good and the bad, go with what works for you and your family.

MrsLOLcat
12-16-2013, 10:52 AM
The Tulsa area meets most of those. As long as you stay near the metro area, there are plenty of free-thinking types. Get outside of that zone, though, and you run into the local yokels.

BakedAk
12-16-2013, 11:22 AM
Fairbanks, AK might fall into the "too much city/too little country" problem, but for this ex-east coast suburbanite, it's such a teensy little "city" that it doesn't bother me much. Our 2 properties (one with house) make up 2 acres, bought for less than 300K. AK has super easy homeschooling regs (the only rule for independent hsers being that a parent/guardian be the primary teacher), and LOTS of homeschoolers. There is a wide range of philosophies here. I don't know about secular meet ups. I know there are some other secular types around, but I haven't connected with any. My circle of acquaintances is more "moderate Christian/we don't talk about it."

Plenty of natural beauty. Less pollution? Depends on where we are comparing it to. Definitely less than, say, Los Angeles. Maybe more than some small town in Montana.

It does get cold here, but in the almost 20 years I've lived here, there's been a measurable decrease in the severity of winter, and summers are wonderful.

lakshmi
12-17-2013, 09:59 PM
Albuquerque, NM meets a lot of your requirements. You can find good housing for under $300K, there are a lot of scientists who tend toward the secular. There are a fair number of home schooling families, because the school district is over-stressed and under-funded. There are "groups", but I haven't been lucky enough to find a good fit, yet. That's probably me, though. It's beautiful, and has lower-pollution than most cities of it's size due to weather patterns and the fact that most of the state is undeveloped. And! Our Natural History Museum was identified as one of the top 10 dinosaur exhibits in the US (and maybe Canada, because there was one collection the list in Canada), while remaining a cheap and low-crowd place to visit for the afternoon. Low crime is really not a selling point, but it's really dependent on the neighborhood. In any case, it's not as bad as "Breaking Bad" apparently makes it sound (I don't watch it).


OMG… i would never recommend Albuquerque… lol

Maybe it isn't possible to ask others for their opinion. I am glad to read this thread though...

I keep going back and forth with Tulsa. I LOVE THE NAME… Tulsa. BUT…

Who knows anything about Minneapolis? Why I would move to the cold….I don't know.

MrsLOLcat
12-18-2013, 09:50 AM
One of my good friends lived outside Minneapolis for many years. She loved it there, and she claims you get used to the cold. Also, the Mall of America is there. I'm not a shopper, but if that's your thing...

hockeymom
12-18-2013, 04:59 PM
We lived in St Paul for several years and loved it. Yeah, the cold... You just have to embrace it. It's really, really dry there in the winter and that does help. But I think you really do need to take up winter sports, embrace being outside...it's harder if you try to hide inside that much of the year.

The summers there are wicked hot though; I guess that's okay if you're from Texas but wow, I couldn't get used to it. Miserable. Kudos to those of you who can stand the heat AND the humidity! :)

dottieanna29
12-18-2013, 06:27 PM
Parts of NJ fit.
Small town feel, very rural, and houses under $300,000 - extreme Northwestern corner, or South Jersey.
Plentiful secular homeschoolers, meet-ups, groups, activities. Very close to either NYC or Philly.
Lots of museums, classes, state parks, and historical areas to explore.

halfpint
12-18-2013, 06:37 PM
If you don't mind a town instead of a city, check out Moscow ID or Pullman WA (they are right next to each other strandling the state line). They are much more liberal than the surrounding areas due to the two universities located there. And they are only half an hour away from me! Vey low cost of living, VERY safe, but also somewhat limited job opportunities. Most people work for Schweitzer Engineering Lab (computer chips) or one of the universities (University of Idaho or Washington State University). Also try Sandpoint ID or Cour d'Alene, although cost of living is somewhat higher there.

Epiphany
12-19-2013, 03:01 AM
This is an interesting thread. I would not say that I live in a town of free thinkers by any means, but it is a small liberal arts college town, so there are pockets of cool things happening around here, we have the UU church that I go to, a small secular homeschool group, etc etc. The cost of living is by far the best thing. I live in a three bedroom older home that was under 100,000. The really great thing is that we live in western PA, so there are woods and mountains all around, a nearby national forest, and I live about exactly 1.5 hours from three relatively large cities. Not being a big city lover, I like the choice to go camping, hiking, to museums and plays all within a two hour drive. It's a smallish town. About 25,000 folks, and you feel like you can walk around without feeling unsafe. The PS system here totally sucks, and I feel for those who don't have the opportunity to hs their kids. But I cannot really think of anywhere else I would rather live. I mean, I have my moments. Like when a lake effect snow "event" dumps 18 inches of snow on me, but I don't like big bugs hurricanes or earthquakes...so I try to be thankful for what I have. I think that some of this stuff is just finding the pockets of cool in an otherwise pretty conservative place. Is why I feel fortunate to homeschool and to expose my child to people who I think will enrich his life.

and sometimes, enriching his life means letting him be exposed to the ultra conservative people around us. He needs to know that not everyone is totally accepting and awesome about things. LOL

ejsmom
12-19-2013, 11:05 AM
I agree with Epiphany. PA has some of the strictest hs laws, but they are not difficult to adhere to, by any means. They do say what subjects must be taught, but what and how you do so are up to you. We are in central PA, and we have access to wonderful state and county parks (which have great hs programs!), and some beautiful areas - mountains, rivers, green (but can be hot and humid) summers, gorgeous in the fall, snowy winters, and spring looks like a storybook.

I wouldn't say we are surrounded by free-thinkers though, in fact many are closed minded, stuck in a rut, and don't even want to hear about something different. On the other hand, by homeschooling and being involved in the alternative health community I have found many likeminded people and it isn't an issue. We are here, you just have to look around to find us. My town has a UU church and you can find local groups of all kinds on Meetup for this area. I know Allentown has a pretty large homeschooling community and is pretty open and has a number of universities in the area. You can buy a family home for under $300,000 around there, too.

There are a few counties I would avoid as the first thing you will be asked (and judged on) are "where do you go to church?"

Around Philly, home prices are fairly high. I would expect to pay around, and most likely over $300,000 in the Philly suburbs for a family home. Near Harrisburg, we built a new 4 bedroom house for less than $300,000, recently. We are on the edge of a town (local PS is not so good), but surrounded by woods and fields. Our neighborhood has a lot of kids who go to private and public schools, and most families we run into are "live and let live" and we are a tight knit community. There are two universities within a 10 minute drive and 3 more within 45 minutes. I have not one, but two inclusive groups for homeschooling! Each county has a least one, it seems.

We are day trip distance to Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington DC, New York, New Jersey, etc. by car or train. Summer vacations on the Atlantic coast are the best! Boating and day trips to the Chesapeake Bay, lakes, and rivers are common.

The biggest problem here is the lack of jobs. I think that, unless you are in certain fields, you are not going to find much work in PA.

BakedAk
12-19-2013, 02:06 PM
EJsmom and Epiphany, now I am homesick.

MrsJadeDragon
12-19-2013, 02:26 PM
To throw a wrench into the musing, I'd love a place like the OP posited but with one more element: racial diversity. Most of the places mentioned, particularly in the south or the flyovers, sound lovely but don't strike me as diverse, though maybe I'm missing something. (Though maybe Austin? Hrm.)

skrink
12-19-2013, 05:45 PM
Not NW Ohio. Cheap housing, though. Nice houses in decent neighborhoods for under $200K. Maybe even under $150K. But then there's the agricultural pollution. :(

I very badly want to move to New England. Dh won't go for it - too much snow.

halfpint
12-19-2013, 08:24 PM
To throw a wrench into the musing, I'd love a place like the OP posited but with one more element: racial diversity. Most of the places mentioned, particularly in the south or the flyovers, sound lovely but don't strike me as diverse, though maybe I'm missing something. (Though maybe Austin? Hrm.)

Yeah, that's one thing we are utterly lacking in. Around here, diversity means you have a token Democrat :P

ejsmom
12-19-2013, 08:39 PM
My area really is pretty diverse. Just my cul-de-sac has people from Hawaii, Marshall Islands, Ecuador, and Puerto Rico. The street behind us has at least four families that are racially blended. My neighborhood is also racially diverse - Asian, Black, Hispanic, Indian, White. I never thought about it before, but we are fortunate to have our child exposed to so many people from so many cultures and backgrounds. The last place I lived before central PA was the DC suburbs so by comparison, we are not culturally diverse.

dottieanna29
12-19-2013, 09:05 PM
To throw a wrench into the musing, I'd love a place like the OP posited but with one more element: racial diversity. Most of the places mentioned, particularly in the south or the flyovers, sound lovely but don't strike me as diverse, though maybe I'm missing something. (Though maybe Austin? Hrm.)

Well, NJ is certainly racially, religiously and ethnically diverse. There's never an assumption of Christianity because other religions are very well represented as well.

I agree with PP about jobs in Pennsylvania. Many people in NE Pennsylvania commute into NJ. They live in PA for the lower home prices but commute to NJ for the jobs and pays (usually higher).

JenRay
12-20-2013, 12:26 AM
The Seattle area/PNW meets the requirements except for housing costs. But gosh it is crowded here - I want all of the above and fewer people. Seems like you lose the free thinkers/secular meet-ups if you move someplace more rural. Sigh.

aMommyMyWay
12-20-2013, 02:49 AM
Yeah I think more rural, less liberal. I LOVE California but he cost of living is high. I think I wouldn't be happy unless on one of the coasts cause I need diversity and alternative people :) I've even considered British Columbia too. I want a smallish town with diversity, liberal minded, educated people with a low cost of living, haha. I don't think I'll ever find that! I've actually heard a suburb of Berkeley CA (forgot the name) was quite affordable and it is near San Francisco so you'd get the free thinkers

MrsLOLcat
12-20-2013, 10:22 AM
I think many areas offer a diverse population; many people simply aren't open to it or go looking for it.

hockeymom
12-20-2013, 10:37 AM
I think many areas offer a diverse population; many people simply aren't open to it or go looking for it.

I agree. "Diversity" doesn't just have to do with skin color, it comes in all forms. It's true that Maine is as racially diverse "as an LL Bean catalogue" as was pointed out, but that doesn't make it cookie cutter by any stretch.

crunchynerd
01-08-2014, 10:27 PM
True, hockeymom! All you have to do is travel from one region of Maine to another, and the cultural conventions, lifestyles, socioeconomics, educational levels, and linguistic conventions are so different, that it is amazing to the degree which skin color is demonstrated not to be the issue! Maine should be a study in diversity, and how it doesn't depend on skin color, at all. People who rely on ethnicity as an indicator would be quite shocked to find that it hasn't a thing to do with any of it.

MrsJadeDragon
01-08-2014, 11:08 PM
I agree. "Diversity" doesn't just have to do with skin color, it comes in all forms. It's true that Maine is as racially diverse "as an LL Bean catalogue" as was pointed out, but that doesn't make it cookie cutter by any stretch.


True, hockeymom! All you have to do is travel from one region of Maine to another, and the cultural conventions, lifestyles, socioeconomics, educational levels, and linguistic conventions are so different, that it is amazing to the degree which skin color is demonstrated not to be the issue! Maine should be a study in diversity, and how it doesn't depend on skin color, at all. People who rely on ethnicity as an indicator would be quite shocked to find that it hasn't a thing to do with any of it.

Yes, those are both examples of diversity. I know that there's plenty of diversity within the socioeconomic strata. You've got all types in all colors. But being a person of color in a country where white Americans are still the majority, um, hell yes, populations with a mixed ethnicity populations are still important.

When I consider somewhere that I want to move to into account, one of my first questions is: "What's the proximity to the nearest Filipino and/or Vietnamese population? Will I be able to make the cultural connections I want in order to pass my culture and my husband's on to my daughter? Will I be able to get the groceries I need to make the food we're most used to without having to trek more than 50 miles?

Even with the greater diversity in your average American supermarket, I somehow doubt I'd reliably be able to get bac ha stems for fish soup or la lot leaves for our favorite bbq dish without proximity to a Vietnamese market. (I have trouble enough getting these just living at the edge of the Bay Area!) In lieu of that, I'd then question if there were any other ethnicities that would be suitable substitutes. Never underestimate the importance of having access to ethnic food can be for ethnic ties.

Yeah, sorry, ethnic diversity does matter to me. A lot.

Then I have to consider, "Will my daughter be the only Asian student in her group?" It's not a deal breaker but it's something to consider. Hubs grew up in the California high desert where he joked that he comprised 1/4 of the Asian population. Where I homeschool now, at the edge of the San Francisco Bay Area, we are one of only a handful of Asian families in the county. There are no other Asian homeschoolers in the immediate area, very few homeschoolers of color at all, to be honest. To be fair, I know of more Asian-American homeschoolers in the Tri Valley and Silicon Valley areas, and more African American homeschoolers in the Berkeley/Oakland area.

crunchynerd
01-09-2014, 01:23 AM
Totally see your point, and mine was more a comment on what I have found about Maine, that its different regions may as well be different regions of the US, for all you can walk into a restaurant full of regulars in a place you aren't from, and conversations pause and then deliberately resume, while everyone wonders what the heck you're doing in their private club.

Same thing happened to me when I went into the wrong market in the part of town I didn't belong in. Conversations stopped, looks narrowed, conversations started again, and I tread softly and left soon.
So I get the negative side of ethnic tension and why it matters, because places that have more diversity, also seem to have a more relaxed attitude, and better options for finding compadres to hang with.

Not that one can't hang with people of different ethnicities! My best friends in elementary school were Chinese, Japanese, one Indian, a boy from Poland, and a girl from Israel. We all seemed to find each other because in some way, we were all outsiders even though I was born in the Pacific, but still part of the USA.

Austin had, last I knew, great Asian populations, great homeschool population, etc. Lots of Californians, too! They even made a bumper sticker to complain about it. Worth a visit if you're thinking of moving out of state.

MrsLOLcat
01-09-2014, 10:30 AM
Surprisingly, the Tulsa area actually does have a fairly decent Asian market. I'm not sure what ethnicity their main focus is, though. Our homeschool group is diverse ethnically, too - Asian, Hispanic, African-American. It's a small group, but that's one of the things I love about it.

Emerald
01-10-2014, 08:50 AM
I like where we live in Northfield, MN. Two liberal arts colleges are here (Carleton and St. Olaf), which increases the likelihood of more free-thinkers. Lots of front-yard gardeners, composters, chicken raisers (my kind of people). However, it's a small town (20-30K I think). Not as many secular homeschoolers (that I've found yet), but lots of homeschoolers. Good to great public school district as far as testing scores goes. I've heard good things from the other parents, too. Small, thriving downtown area full of shopping and restaurants (but, yes, small). 30 minutes to Minneapolis/St. Paul and all the opportunities there. (An hour if you want to go north Metro.) 30 minutes to the zoo, 30 minutes to the science and history museums, etc. Cost of living is great.

Not a ton of racial diversity: small Latino population. 30 minutes to I think the largest Hmong population in USA, though.

I've only lived here six months, but I'm digging it. :)

StellaLuna
01-17-2014, 06:51 PM
Minnesota is the best kept secret for great places to live. Our state always ranks in the the top five for literacy, healthily living, park systems, library system and theater (we are 2nd in the nation for most theater seats per capita). We are a Mexican-Norwegian family and we love the diversity of people, food and, of course, the weather here in the Twin Cities.

Pennie Elwood
01-22-2014, 12:43 PM
I agree that MN is a great state to live and work in. Cost of living can be high, but definitely not the highest in the country, by any means. I live by St. Cloud, which is in central MN. We are about an hour, or a little over, away from Minneapolis/St. Paul. The homeschool group that I belong to here in St. Cloud is Christian in nature, so I haven't gotten too involved, but I know down in the cities they have tons more groups that aren't religious in nature. There is a high Hmong, Somalian, and Hispanic population in MN, so there is great access to cultural food markets. I myself am hoping to leave this beautiful state sometime within the next year, though. I love my home, but the older I get the more I realize that I don't have to put up with this god awful cold. I just don't have to. But the trade off from that is that the summers here can be just as intense, in a different way. Very humid, very hot. We get arctic cold and sub-tropical humidity. We're grand!

Emerald
01-22-2014, 12:48 PM
Did you grow up in Minnesota, Pennie?

I grew up in Iowa, so I don't really know any differently on the weather… So far, it hasn't bothered me a bit! The weather has been pretty much exactly the same. (I've only been in Northfield since July.)

I am only 29, though, so maybe it just hasn't worn on me long enough. :)

Pennie Elwood
01-22-2014, 05:20 PM
Yep, born and raised! I can handle this weather, I just don't want to anymore, lol! I'm 30... too bad we don't live closer to each other, I would LOVE to meet up! And my girls are 10 and 8, so our kids could even have fun together too!

Pennie Elwood
01-22-2014, 05:21 PM
I will admit, I was stalking your blog and liked your page on facebook, haha!

Rocky
01-29-2014, 04:01 PM
Yeah I think more rural, less liberal. I LOVE California but he cost of living is high. I think I wouldn't be happy unless on one of the coasts cause I need diversity and alternative people :) I've even considered British Columbia too. I want a smallish town with diversity, liberal minded, educated people with a low cost of living, haha. I don't think I'll ever find that!

As someone posted earlier, I think you will find all of this in Asheville, NC. It's not on the coast, it's in the mountains. NC in general is quite conservative, but Asheville is a kooky hippy-ish alterna place. Very affordable compared to Bay Area or Seattle or British Columbia.

Melyssa
03-25-2014, 01:13 PM
It isn't too bad in places around Denver. I love it here. A good mix of people, lots to do, and it's gorgeous. Winters are fairly mild on the front range without much snow and many warm days. Many people confuse Colorado winters with mountain weather...it's only like that up there, in the mountains. I stay down here. LOL