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Old 11-18-2012, 04:14 AM
 
18 posts, read 20,294 times
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I am maybe moving to the Cincinnati area early next year. My husband might be taking a job in Blue Ash. I need some help with choosing an area. My husband will be visiting the area soon and I wanted to give him a narrow list of neighborhoods and schools to visit. So can you guys help me narrow down my options?

Here are my questions:

Schools: I have 3 children 4, 2.5, and 4 months. I am looking for public or private pre-school then public elementary.

Which area has the best preschool/elementary schools, Lakota or Mason? They both seem so large and I am worried my kids might get lost in the fray. My kids are American but have been in the ME for two years so I am looking for a diverse school community as well. Are there any other school districts that I should look into?

Homes: Looking to rent for year (1500 max) then hopefully buy. Looking for 2000 plus sq feet with a budget of 200-250K. I also would like newer homes, preferably new construction.

I’ve noticed the home values in Mason are a bit higher, is it worth it? I’ve noticed a lot of new housing by Ryan homes in the area, are they reputable? Things I’m looking for in a community are:
Family oriented
. Lots of same age kids, activities
. Great schools
. Modern, 15 yrs old or less, move-in ready
. Large Yard
. Very safe, low crime area
. Parks and public libraries nearby


The towns I’m looking into are Mason, Westchester, Loveland, Sharonville and Blue Ash. Are they all pretty much the same? I am looking for a 45min commute max from Blue Ash as well. Thanks for the help.

Last edited by Ummtimo; 11-18-2012 at 05:26 AM..
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Old 11-18-2012, 07:12 AM
 
Location: Mason, OH
9,259 posts, read 13,363,536 times
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Of the neighborhoods you mentioned, Sharonville has the highest concentration of older housing and also the lowest ranked schools as it is in the Princeton City Schools district. Some of the neighborhoods within the district tend to drag it down.

Loveland is the furthest out and has its own Loveland City Schools district, which is not the highest ranked but OK. Loveland was developed for many years so is going to have a wide variety of housing and ages.

Blue Ash is in the high ranked Sycamore School District, but you have to watch out as some of the Western portions are actually Reading School District which is much lower ranked. Blue Ash is a highly desirable area due in part it is a reasonable commute to downtown and the city offers such good amenities having a solid tax base from the Blue Ash Industrial Park, likely where your husband will be working. Due to desirability, you may have difficulty locating a property in your price range, particularly the newer ones. The same goes for adjacent Montgomery and Symmes Township which are also Sycamore Schools.

West Chester and Mason should be viewed as very equivalent, the main difference being Wester Chester is a Twp and Mason a City. They are adjacent to each other. Both have excellent schools, but yes the school districts are large, West Chester (Lakota Schools) actually having two high schools and I believe 11 elementaries.

If Mason, you would be starting at the Mason Early Childhood Center, the district's newest facility, which I believe now is pre-school through part of 2nd grade. The Mason school facilities are modern and first class. I can understand a concern for the school size. I understand they use what is called a pod concept to keep a group of students together throughout the school day to counteract the feeling of large scale.

As far as Ryan, they are not my favorite builder. Don't take my word for it, get out there, Google them, and read the comments. I always felt they were a shyster outfit, but as they have grown their prices are anything but.

I woukl add to your list the area called Landen, which is East of Mason and between I-71 and Route 22. It is in the Kings Local School district, which is well ranked. I will pull no punches, the original Landen development was a large scale development of what I consider sub-par housing for the price. But the entire area is Township with not a lot of control. Since the original Landen, some contractors have bought up property on the periphery and built some I would like to own houses. I have a former co-worker who bought a house in one of those fringes and are perfectly happy with their kids experience in the Kings Schools.
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Old 11-18-2012, 09:22 AM
 
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I found homes in Maineville, is that in the same area as Landen?
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Old 11-18-2012, 10:12 AM
 
Location: Cambridge, MA
4,730 posts, read 10,933,946 times
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Negative on Sharonville, also on neighboring Evendale (which, although it has some newer and more upscale sections, is also in the so-so Princeton City Schools district.)
Being no fan of sprawl developments and their cloned, Sheetrock-walled, overpriced homes on treeless streets I won't dissect the distinctions between the former farms and onetime woodlands. Regardless of where you end up between the Miami Rivers there are a few constants: overcrowded schools to which most can't walk, roads with guaranteed peak-time congestion, excessive retail in low density, and low to no "community" feel. But that's the trade-off many people seem perfectly willing to make, when the alternative is a home that may not be "modern" and the school district's college attendance rate is anything under about 98%. Far be it from me to judge.
The price range given is somewhat unrealistic. However, this is a good time in which to be house hunting because it's realtors' slow part of the year and they're more likely amenable to bargaining.
From close secondhand experience (that of my sister and BIL) I can throw out a few pluses for Loveland. Their school system has broken into the highest of the high rankings, though the walkability issue is there. It's one of those longtime small villages that had subdivisions mushroom around it between the 1950's and the "aughts," with a somewhat good mix of housing relatively speaking. (Semi-wooded areas of '50s-to-'70s split-levels and ranches, newer tracts of larger houses built close together but with spacious front and back yards, newer-still sections of mostly McMansions.) My relatives bought new in one of the "newer tracts" twenty years ago and "upgraded" into a "newer-still section" in 2008. Being big on outdoor recreation, they've enjoyed being near the expansive Symmes Township Park as well as the Little Miami River with its bike trail and canoe/kayak docks. They also like the easy access to "excessive retail" which for them includes a 24-7 Meijer (big-box supermarket.) On the street that they called home for 15 years there actually was a "community" feel which was pretty strong. Quite a few of the households contained young children, and even in this age of indoor playgrounds and stranger danger and video games and play dates there were usually kids having fun outside. But in suburbia - as in most locales - that was outside the norm then and probably more so today.
As for the topic yet to be brought up, cultural heterogeneity: the 'burbs have pretty much stayed the 'burbs in terms of being "lily White" as a rule. My sister's family had a few Jewish families in their "newer tract," as well as a Black household next door to them for 2-3 years. Other than that it was "Euro-American" all the way. West Chester (also known by me as "the WC") has a small contingent of Hispanic and Black residents - some in apartment complexes accepting Section 8 and others in the single-family-house neighborhoods. What there is in terms of an Asian community in Cincinnati seems most heavily concentrated in the WC and even more so in Mason. Montgomery and Blue Ash (in the Sycamore district) have, in more recent times, become the latest 'burbs of choice for Jewish people due largely to the public schools. (Cincinnati's Jewish Community Center and most of the large synagogues are in nearby Amberley Village.) Representation of various Asian cultures, as well as Hispanic and Black, is not as extensive but is there.
A landmark structure among megachurches and big-box stores including IKEA, alongside southbound I-75, is a sizable mosque complete with the symbolic crescent moon at the apex of its dome. One thing that all faith communities have in common is the obvious rule that you construct your house of worship near where the congregants dwell. Having a masjid in this location therefore implies that there are immigrants (and their descendants) from Middle Eastern nations thrown into the mix thereabouts. Given the extent of Islamophobia in the US - and the large presence of "Tea Party" and other right-wing types in the surrounding communities - the norm among Muslims in suburbia is probably to keep a down-low profile. Better to let the Caucasian red-staters assume they're "some more Indians, like Dr Gupta and his family the next street over."
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Old 11-18-2012, 10:20 AM
 
Location: Cambridge, MA
4,730 posts, read 10,933,946 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ummtimo View Post
I found homes in Maineville, is that in the same area as Landen?
It's within the same school district but a fair bit farther out Route 22.
BTW isn't Kings the district that was shedding courses and firing faculty left and right as one tax levy after another failed to be voted for? They lost a lot of credibility in addition to getting knocked way down in the academic-quality rankings. Apparently a bond issue or tax hike or whatever did at long last win voter approval a year or so ago. But rebuilding doesn't happen overnight. They have some catching up to do before regaining a place alongside Mason, Sycamore, and Loveland.
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Old 11-18-2012, 10:38 AM
 
Location: Mason, OH
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ummtimo View Post
I found homes in Maineville, is that in the same area as Landen?
No, Maineville is north/northeast of Landen. I advise you avoid the area since it is in the Little Miami Local School district which has had a series of financial problems the last several years. The area of Maineville has had an explosion of subdivisions of lower cost homes on postage stamp lots. There is also very little in the way of commercial to offset the tax burden. The very rapid increase in student population has overwhelmed the schools. They recently passed a school levy after several years of failure, but are still not out of the woods. Taxes are rising there very rapidly.

Landen is roughly between Kings Mills Rd and Fields Ertel Rd along route 22. To the east of it begins Loveland.
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Old 11-18-2012, 12:41 PM
 
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Originally Posted by goyguy View Post
Having a masjid in this location therefore implies that there are immigrants (and their descendants) from Middle Eastern nations thrown into the mix thereabouts. Given the extent of Islamophobia in the US - and the large presence of "Tea Party" and other right-wing types in the surrounding communities - the norm among Muslims in suburbia is probably to keep a down-low profile. Better to let the Caucasian red-staters assume they're "some more Indians, like Dr Gupta and his family the next street over."
Do you mean there a large presence of "Tea Party" and other right-wing types and/or Islamaphobes in Cincinnati and surrounding suburbs such as Mason and Westchester? I was not aware of that....
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Old 11-18-2012, 01:18 PM
 
Location: Mason, OH
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The biggest mosque in Cincinnati is at the West Chester Islamic Center. Yes you find a lot of Tea Party and other right winger sprinkled around Cincinnati. But you will find a lot of left-wingers also. Obama took the vote in Hamilton Co. Romney took the vote in Warren, Butler, and Clermont counties which was exprected. Extremist rallies do not get very far though, they just kind of peter out.
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Old 11-18-2012, 01:25 PM
 
Location: NKY's Campbell Co.
1,820 posts, read 3,889,394 times
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As much as the media plays it up, the tea party is both there and not there. Let me explain.

Yes, there are plenty of nut jobs in Warren County. You think House Speaker Boehner is radical, the try some of the tea party members residing in Butler and Warren County especially. (In Boehner's defense, I really think he is pulled to the right because of certain party standings and members, and would probably be more moderate if left alone. But back to the topic at hand!)

From my time working among school districts in Southwest Ohio, Mason and Princeton tend to stand out to me as "diverse" (whatever that means). That means there is a decent and noticeable minority student population. There is a reason Mason does so well. Many of the Asian (Near and Far East Asia) students, who have parents who push education rigorously, bring those districts up even more.

However, Princeton, in my mind, gets a bad rap because of some suburbs that people deem "low-income" as a negative towards that particular district. Just because the parents cannot pay for a new BMW for their kids 16th, let alone afford books for classes or supplies in general does not mean they don't push education. If you parent your kids well (and I am sure the OP does), they can excel in any district that has some decent means of education. Will it be greater in Mason over a Hughes (for example)? Probably, but the difference in education quality is small enough between Princeton and Mason that if you push "education is important" on your kids, they will turn out fine. Plus Princeton is building a new high school (sorely needed). Also, Princeton schools are no where close to Mason's size. Also, Mason will probably level off population wise as they are closing in on running out of new-build land for large tracts of new homes.

Little Miami, not Kings, was the district driven to financial ruin because of unpassed school levies.

As far as Hamilton County is concerned, it is much more mellow (and centered) politically than the rest of Southwest Ohio with perhaps the exception of Dayton in Montgomery County to the north.

So, I would maybe stretch your budget a little (say max 275K) and be accepting to homes under 10 years of age. Then look in places like Princeton and Mason and Sycamore. You will be fine and most people won't care where you are from.
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Old 11-18-2012, 02:40 PM
 
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There has been quite a bit of middle eastern immigration to SW Ohio lately, and I think that if the opinions of some of the people on here were true, they would've chosen somewhere else to move.
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