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Old 06-17-2008, 02:10 PM
 
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Whew! We currently live in the metrowest 'burbs of Boston and have been here 11 years. We've been wanting OUT for the past 4 or 5. We're from the Pacific NW but most likely will not be returning there as the job market/jobs in our industries have not kept pace w/ the cost of living increases.

We've been targeting the Triangle area, specifically Chapel Hill as we found the best schools there (for what we were seeking).

Husband has been out of work about 2 months, so he's been stepping up the job search, even putting a few feelers out beyond NC. Out of the blue, he's targeted by a great company HQ'd in Cincinnati and they seem to really like him. It's still early in the interview process. His knee-jerk first reaction is "no way do I want to move to Ohio" but I've been cautioning him to not form any opinions yet. Maybe it will turn out that we'll like the cost of living and lifestyle. Anything has got to be cheaper than Boston, right? The other variables: good schools (MA has them, not impressed with Wake Co schools but like Chapel Hill schools), housing prices (insane in Boston, cheaper in NC but being driven up by all the transplants and of course, Chapel Hill is the most expensive real estate down there). Weather? NC probably wins in this category but how does Cincy winter compare to Boston?

So, what can you experts tell me? Best 'burbs to settle with kids? Best school districts? I've only been to Cincinnati twice--both times downtown and I like the city. The surrounding area is pretty and hilly. But that's the extent of my experience!
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Old 06-17-2008, 06:45 PM
 
Location: Bridgetown, Ohio
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Default A City of Neighborhoods

I know many of my fellow bloggers would disagree with this, but the Cincinnati area is not very dynamic -- there are of course exceptions.

What this means is that Cincinnati is a city of neighborhoods. Because things change slowly, established neighborhoods - each with its own character. So what is good for one family would totally not work for another. Of course crime and convenience would probably influence your decision to an extent.

What would you like to have in a neigborhood? This group is more than capable of helping you there.

Likewise with respect to schools -- are you looking for exceptional public schools? schools for children with special needs? private academies? They all exist here.
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Old 06-17-2008, 07:32 PM
 
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In a way, that sounds like Boston and its suburbs. We don't live in Boston (even though I love the city) because it's expensive and the public school system is not very good--not unusual for any large metro city school system. But the school districts here are all town based rather than county based. So property taxes are determined by town and if a town needs extra funding for the schools, they need to go to the residents and ask for an override. In the town where I currently live, which has an excellent school district, the taxes are on the high side, as we had to fund a major overhaul of the high school and one elementary school. Teacher salaries, books etc.,--it seems as though the district always needs more money. So much of what the schools do get though is raised through fundraising efforts and private donations. So our brand new track and bleachers, baseball field, smartboards in the high school classrooms, much of the technology and lab equipment and so on, all comes from fundraising efforts and donations. Therefore, when the residents are asked to vote for an override, it usually passes.

What I didn't like about the Wake County (NC) schools was the lack of any effort to keep neighborhood schools. That's why we looked to Chapel Hill.

Our town here in MA is a big part of our lives. We're 20 miles from Boston but sometimes it feels as though we're a million miles. It's the best of both worlds. Low crime, safe streets, small town (10,000); everyone knows everyone else, summer concerts, lots for kids to do--yet Boston is close by. I think I'm looking to take as much of that to a new location and leave behind the high cost of living, the New England Yankee mindset and ideally, the long cold winters (though that won't be possible by moving to Cincinnati).

Does any of that help?
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Old 06-17-2008, 08:47 PM
 
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Hi there. I'm from Connecticut and have spent some time in both Boston and the RDU area. After living in Connecticut for 23 years and California for 2 years, I had misgivings about moving away from the coasts. Like your husband, I received interest from a great company in Cincinnati, and because of the overall poor job market and relatively low cost of living in the area, I was suddenly open to moving to Cincinnati. I have not regretted it.

There are great schools here: Walnut Hills (Cincinnati public, competitive entry), Sycamore Township, Wyoming, Indian Hill. I believe the schools in Madeira and Mariemont are also well-regarded.

As for Cincinnati itself, it is very much a city of neighborhoods as described above. You can find almost anything here, but you do have to know where to look. I've found a place in Hyde Park that meets all my needs, and I rarely go anywhere but Oakley, Mt Lookout, and work (Norwood). It's like my whole life is contained in a 2-3 mile radius.

If you drive on 71 N outside the 275 beltway a little bit, things become quite flat, rural, and much more sparsely populated. It's a lot different than driving out of Boston into central MA.

If you're in Newton or Lexington or one of the other nice towns there, you would probably like Wyoming or Madeira or Mariemont pretty well. If your husband's new salary is far above average, then Indian Hill may be the place for you.

If you're open to the idea of living across the river, you might also look at Fort Thomas, KY, and that area (Cold Spring??? somebody?).

And of course, you should take my recommendations with a grain of salt because I'm often just reiterating the consensus I've read on this board.
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Old 06-17-2008, 11:25 PM
 
Location: Cambridge, MA
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I've lived my entire adult life (since age 20) in Massachusetts, having been brought up in Greater Cincinnati.
You definitely wouldn't be able to leave snow shovels behind if you were to move to Cincy. The weather there is quite similar to that of eastern New England - running joke with my folks is that their weather report tells me what mine will be from here in a day or two. Main differences are that the OKI Tristate area is under tornado watch not infrequently during the late spring and summer, and actual tornado warnings generally occur once or twice "in season" with sirens that make a gawdawful racket. Fear not, however; the last twister to touch down in Hamilton County (Loveland/Montgomery) hit in 1999 - I think - and although the damage they cause can be tremendous it's usually confined to a small area. In my lifetime, the entire list of other tornadoes in that county consists of five. They should not have influence a relo decision.
The other weather distinction is that Boston has the advantage of sea breezes during the summer. Cincinnati is in a geographic "basin," hilly terrain with valleys formed by the Ohio River, Little and Great Miami Rivers, and the Mill Creek. What this translates into is some miserable days of "double 98's" (humidity percentage and temperature) but thankfully not too much smog. Those kinds of summer days are not unheard of in Mass., of course, but Cincy has more of the muggies than Beantown does. Here again, though, AC and swimming pools exist to counteract that nastiness so it shouldn't drive your selection of a place to move to.
NC, naturally, has far more "beastly" summer days to contend with but much less severe winter weather when you're outside the mountainous western part of the state. You also would have hurricanes to watch out for every year - there've been a few, such as Hugo, that have found their way well inland. But the risk of windborne misery in the RTA region is equal to or less than that of Greater Cincinnati.
I was raised by native Southerners and am dismayed at what has been wrought in that part of the country. Urban sprawl flourishes unchecked and oceanfront areas are overdeveloped. Some of the region's cultural quirks and charms are disappearing or getting watered down as corporate and individual moves bring hordes of "transplants." (A local joke in the RTA is that the letters of the city of Cary stand for Corral Area for Relocated Yankees.) Traffic congestion and soaring crime are the order of the day in the urban areas. Republican conservatism - ever hear of Jesse Helms, Strom Thurmond, Lee Atwater? - runs rampant due in part to the substantial presence of military bases and armed-services retirees. Christian Right megachurches and their Baptist ideological counterparts are thick as thieves. In seeming contradiction to those political realities, though, even as housing patterns remain largely segregated the historic racism of the South has been significantly diluted. Many of the "seg academies" which sprang up when Jim Crow schools were outlawed have either gone under or opened their doors to every interested family. That New England mainstay, the private school, has few counterparts in the region, but it should come as no surprise that "Christian schools" have taken hold. I concur with the viewpoint that the quality of public education for the children in the Boston and Cincinnati metro areas is superior to that in North Carolina.
Given the choices that face you, my pick would be Cincinnati. I'm happy to elaborate further (if I haven't done enough in this post, lol) either via DM or here.
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Old 06-18-2008, 06:19 AM
 
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That was a very informative post. Thanks so much!

I agree with you about the sprawl. We lived in Northern VA for 2 years, outside Fairfax and relocated there from Seattle (home!). Finding a house that didn't look like every other house was a challenge and I was so depressed the first year I lived there, I thought I wouldn't make it. But I did settle in, and even developed a fondness for the area and made some great friends. (in fact more friends than I've made in 11 years here in New England!). So there is hope.

I visited the Triangle area last year when I had a job interview. I planned to stay over the weekend with a friend who had relocated from MA to Cary. I rememeber one of the people with whom I interviewed moved to NC from New England and told me to forget Cary, check out Chapel Hill. I filed that away. After the interview, I drove myself to my friend's house and thought I had taken a wrong turn and wound up in Northern VA! Her house was beautiful--backed up to a golf course and was in an established area w/ trees, etc. But it was still a "subdivision" complete with entrance off of a wide boulevard and the name displayed on a low brick wall. Ugh. She had way more house for the money than she had in MA-- no question. But she didn't have the acre lot, the trees, the town center, etc.

The next day I drove to Chapel Hill and felt SO much more comfortable. But the price one pays for that (cap on development, etc.) reflects in the real estate prices. A bit of the New England economy at work there. But that's where we'd look were we to move down there and that's the kind of area I'd seek in Cincinnati. A town that has a cohesive center, great public schools, a vibrant and involved community (for the schools and other community events), etc. It's what has made me like where I live now so much, despite the high housing costs, New England mentality, crappy weather, etc.
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Old 06-18-2008, 09:53 PM
 
Location: Cambridge, MA
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In that case, you can narrow your house-hunting down to Wyoming, Mariemont, Glendale, and Terrace Park.
I'll venture to guess that you're in Concord now.
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Old 06-19-2008, 07:45 AM
 
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No--we're not anywhere close to Concord. We live in Norfolk county.
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Old 06-19-2008, 09:25 AM
 
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I grew up in Cincy, but have lived in NC (Charlotte) for the past decade or so. If you end up in Ohio, perhaps you should also check into Montgomery. It's north of Cincy, still has an older town center feel with great community feel and wonderful public schools. If I were to ever move home, that's probably where I would want to live.

As for NC, I can't express just how great it is. However, I speak from an outdoors standpoint, which may mean very little to you??? From Raleigh you are only a quick 2 hour drive to Wilmington, NC a great little civil war era, river city, which is only 10 miles from great public beaches (Wrightsville Beach is my favorite). You also have easy access to mountains and other great outdoor recreation. While the downtown of Raleigh itself is somewhat a disappointment, at least when compared to Cincy or where I live in charlotte, but it is still a great area (and watch for it to improve through the next decade or so). If you are a college sports fan, especially basketball, you won't find a better area.

Both cities are very family orientated. You will find plenty of great community activities in either city.

Also, let me add, the publiuc schools will always be a reflection of the area you choose to live in. If it's nice

You mentioned sprawl and with that comes suburbs. Personally, I don't understand why people disapprove of suburban living. I also grew up in a neighborhood setting, now reside in a subdivision, and truthfully find little difference in the two. We have neighborhood cookouts, a community pool, friends that keep each other's keys, friendships, it's safe and we can walk to everything we need. Other than going to work, we wouldn't even need a car. But to each their own.

It all comes down to what you prefer:

Cincy - older, grittier, more blue collar, family oriented, good pro sports, decent college sports, just ok outdoor recreational opportunities, moderate winters with snow, hot humid summers

RDC area - newer, cleaner, more white collar, family oriented, decent pro sports, great college sports, great outdoor recreational actvities, very mild winter with little or no snow, hot humid summers

Both areas are great for raising a family.

Also, I might add, goyguy seemed to implicate that CPS is better than Wake County Schools. That is somewhat of a blanket statement that is not necessarily true. Sure there are bad schools in Wake County, but there are also some great schools in that area. Schools are a direct reflection of the community they are in. Usually a good community = good schools; bad community = bad community. You will find great schools in both cities.
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Old 06-19-2008, 11:12 AM
 
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I think I got what goyguy was trying to say which was that the public schools in the Cincy metro area were operated more like the schools in the Boston metro area than like the Triangle area. In the Boston metro, everything is town-based/town controlled rather than county based/county controlled. It was hard to get used to when we moved from Fairfax Cty VA but I quickly saw the advantages outweighing the disadvantages. That said, you can be in a great school district but you can't move 2 miles down the road if it's in the next town because the district might not be as strong and/or the kids will have to go to completely new schools. We actually live closer to the high school in the neighboring town than we do to our local high school!

My issue with Wake Co public schools is their diversity policy which in my opinion, is just a sham to cover for title I funding and a reason to call bussing by another name. It's a social experiment that's already failed or been outlawed in most other communities across the country. I'm not at all against diversity and in fact, it's one of the biggest issues I have where I currently live. My kids are going to grow up thinking everyone is white and affluent. But I don't think you can "force" diversity either. Fairfax County did a great job and kept the quality of the schools high while still retaining the neighborhood school factor. I think not having neighborhood schools greatly diminishes the quality of the school since in my opinion, parent involvement is key to good schools.

So that was my long-winded take on goyguy's post. In that same regard, if we do move to the Triangle area, we will settle in Chapel Hill. Different school district than Wake Co, great schools, no enforced bussing, etc.

Who knows what the future will bring. We've pledged to find a way to let our oldest son have his senior year here in MA (2008-09 school year) but beyond that, anything goes. We might very well wind up in two separate cities for about 6 months in an effort to make it all work.
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