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  1. #1

    Question Small town, Big town

    We live in a small town. At pop. 3000, it is the county seat. Rural, yes, though there are some extracurriculars right in town: dance, gymnastics, ice rink, private music lessons. There are other HS families nearby, most of whom are religious.

    Forty-five minutes away is a larger town with an active HS group, and many more extracurriculars like martial arts, archery, museums, and art classes.

    We've had discussions of moving near an even larger town/city (pop. 140,000), namely to be closer to many more activities and outings. There's a secular HS group/co-op there. We'd want to be outside the city, with a good amount of land, but we think it would be nice to be just 20 minutes from the city with all the many extras it offers. (DW and I used to live there, but that was pre-kids; our current home in the small town is the only one we've known as parents.)

    What are your experiences with HSing in both a small town and a big town? I'm wondering if maybe we're just overlooking what we do have available to us currently, or maybe that we're putting too much emphasis on socialization opportunities. I'm thinking it would be nice to have the best of both worlds: land enough for privacy and a large garden, maybe some chickens (!?), but also close enough so that most of our HS activities wouldn't be pushing an hour's drive each way.
    Last edited by Pilgrim; 03-22-2011 at 09:25 AM.
    Dad to two: DD, 12 and DS, 8.5

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  3. #2

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    My older children would tell you that the way out in the country life was better. We lived in a few different states and traveled all over for 5 years. They all agree that living in the Rocky Mountains in NW Montana was their favorite ! We were 45 minutes from a smallish town, and about an hour and a half from a larger town.

    We now live in a very small town on the edge of the big city, it is 20 minutes away.
    Jana - Better Early than Late. Secular Homeschoolers! Combined family with 7 adult children and...

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  4. #3
    Site Administrator Arrived Aandwsmom's Avatar
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    I grew up in the woods basically, closest small town was 30 min. away and I loved it. I wouldnt go back and change ANY of it. I wish I could do it for my kids. DH grew up in a small town, elem. and high school within sight of his house, woods to play in close by, etc.
    We have lived in Florida, Texas and New Mexico during his Air Force stint and have now been in Portland for almost 10 yrs. This is the only place my kids remember as they were 4 and 3 when we moved here.
    We LOVE having all the amenities a large city offers. We have a small house on a 1/4 acre lot in the city but we are urban farmers with chickens and ducks, veggie gardens, fruit trees, etc. so our kids still get some of what we grew up with. We have considered moving BACK to the small town DH grew up in. Both sets of grandparents live there plus great grandmas and they would love it but I dont see that the school system is any better. We have issues of no pizza delivery, town rolls up sidewalks at 6pm, even the gas stations are closed on holidays, etc. We like the amenities a large city offers like being able to order pizza and have it delivered OR we want ice cream on Thanksgiving and can go to Plaid Pantry on the corner and get some.
    So, I don't know...... we have more stuff for the boys to do HERE in the big city..... but I dont know that we would be homeschooling if we were in the right public school setting like in a small town. It would take just the right place.
    IF you can move that much closer to large city but still get a place in the country, I would probably do it.
    Homeschooling Mom since 2008
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  5. #4
    Senior Member Enlightened Cheryl's Avatar
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    hubby and I grew up in DC, the hood.

    we bought a 20 acre farm in NC about 30 minutes outside Charlotte, NC. We don't have to explain what dope fiends are anymore. Only when we visit the G-ma's

    my kids want to live in the city, apparently kids in the city don't have chores to do (rolling eyes) granted city kids aren't mucking out chicken coops but I'm sure they still have chores.

    In Charlotte there ARE more activities for sure but how many do you really need? We let them do Art, Homeschool Gym/Swim class offered by our local YMCA and a sport of their choice. They have plenty of friends and what I think a "normal" social life, minus the dope fiends my husband and I grew up with.

    Since my kids went to private school for a time, I have seen both worlds. I'm good with our calmer, slower life that revolves around US the FAMILY and except for the chicken coop chore they are too :-)

    good luck!
    Cheryl
    mom of 6
    Fair is NOT equal

  6. #5

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    My son spent his first 5 years in a big city and although we weren't homeschooling at the time, we had tons of opportunities available and knew many homeschoolers. I was well aware of all the classes he would have available if we went the homeschooling route, had we stayed. But then we moved to a tiny community outside a small "city" (American sized town) and have *nothing* available. Yes, we have a few organized (semi-organized) sports available, but no art classes, no museums, no science centers, no culture of general learning and inquisitiveness. I think it's that last thing that really strikes us, over and over again. Because we moved here when DS was 5, he is well aware of what he's missing, and it's painful for all of us on a daily basis.

    For living practically in the country, we have few farms near us, practically no local foods, none of the "go local!" lifestyle that is important to us. There is nothing but woods, inaccessible to us because the folks here participate in vastly different outdoor pursuits than we do. It took moving here for us to realize that it's the urban communities that find value in and support things like hiking networks, bike paths, camping (tent, not trailer) opportunities etc., and that by being so far from any urban areas, those resources simply don't exist. Living so far isolated is quite different than living 20 minutes or even an hour or two from an urban center, though, which is actually pretty difficult to do in the States.

    So for us, we will high tail it back to an urban area as soon as possible (dam_ economy). Small town living is offering us nothing but daily frustration and a very sad and lonely little boy. That's obviously not the case everywhere, and there are plenty of people who love this kind of life, but to us it's stifling and the silence feels suffocating. So really, it's very personal and sometimes it takes stepping way out of your comfort zone to figure out what exactly your comfort zone is.
    Mama to one son (12)

  7. #6

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    Hockeymom, you've tapped into my own reservations about small-town life. Yes, there is lots of wilderness here, and some trails, but if they aren't designed for snowmobiling and 4-wheeling, most people won't support it. By comparison, 2000 will show up for a 4wheeling fest where they tear up and pollute the wilderness, while the local nature clean-up group is lucky if 10 people show up to it's annual river cleanup day. It's pathetic.

    Some progressive leaders are planning a bike/hike trail through the county and the hate-filled backlash is incredible. You'd think the plans included a nuclear waste dump site. But try to limit 4wheel access on some backroads and folks are up in arms about it. Ironically, it's the folks who live in the country who seem to have the least concern or respect for nature.
    Last edited by Pilgrim; 03-22-2011 at 12:38 PM.
    Dad to two: DD, 12 and DS, 8.5

  8. #7

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    Wow, Pilgrim! Your experience of rural would make me want to leave too.

    We live in a rural community, on an island in Puget Sound, WA, and we love it here. We have two acres, five miles from one small town, 6 miles from another. The whole community here is very artsy crafty, and environmentally aware. There are all sorts of preservation efforts going on, and there are lots of opportunities for the boys -- too many sometimes! We have some different sports (which mine aren't interested in), martial arts, there's a science club, Lego club, dance, gymnastics and theatre (starting at age 3! we're going to give it a try with T starting today), lots of music teachers and a youth orchestra.... And as well as all that, we have beaches and forests to explore. And there are quite a lot of homeschoolers here for the size of our community.

    Our nearest city is Seattle, which is a ferry ride away, and a total of about an hour and a half trip. While sometimes we would love to more easily visit its science, art, flight museums, zoo, etc., most of the time when we do spend a day "on the mainland" we are worn out and exhausted and simply overstimulated from the exposure to "mainstream America." We have almost no chain stores here and very little traffic. It's peaceful.

    We love the life we have for our boys here. But I understand that not all rural areas are like this one. We feel very lucky. Good luck with your decision.
    Rose, mama to 3 boys:
    ~ the reader/programmer, 9, elementary school
    ~ the artist/naturalist, 7, part-time forest school + home
    ~ the charmer/keep-upper, 4, part-time preschool + home

  9. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by Pilgrim View Post
    Ironically, it's the folks who live in the country who seem to have the least concern or respect for nature.
    This is our experience too. Land is for hunting, snowmobiling, 4 wheeling and dumping couches. I'm not saying those things are wrong (except the dumping of furniture and garbage, and the arson, and the grow-ops) but they aren't our idea of a wilderness experience. It was actually quite a revelation for us to conclude that ours is an urbanite's enjoyment of nature, but at least I better understand the classic and ongoing fighting over land use.
    Mama to one son (12)

  10. #9
    Senior Member Enlightened Cheryl's Avatar
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    oy veh, Hockeymom! GET OUT!!! blah!

    my biggest complaint of country life is the occasional loud shooting when Bubba next door (8 acres away) gets a new gun.
    Cheryl
    mom of 6
    Fair is NOT equal

  11. #10

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    I fantasize about a rural lifestyle, mostly because I wish my kids could have more time to explore the outdoors like I did (growing up on 40+ acres with a huge vegetable garden, ramshackle barn, and the freedom to explore the woods and fields without a parent hovering). But living near a city has wonderful advantages that I'm not ready to give up. Over the next two weeks (our "Spring Break"), we're going to the Museum of Science, the Peabody Museum of Archeology (at Harvard), and the zoo. Yesterday, my husband took our son on a tour of the State House and visited the children's room of the Boston Athenaeum. A couple of weeks ago, they went to Bunker Hill and the U.S.S. Constitution. There are lots of activities for homeschoolers here, too (though we can't afford to take advantage of most of them). We'll find tinme to go hang out in the woods, go hiking, and get involved in a 4-H group to get our "nature fix" and try to have the best of both worlds.
    Mother of two monkeys...daughter age 10 and son age 11.5.

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Small town, Big town