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Old 05-20-2008, 09:59 AM
 
78 posts, read 400,637 times
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Once again, thanks in advance for all of your replies.

We are a young family that is currently residing in Virginia. We moved over from England a few years ago and still do not feel at home. We moved without doing much research (by a couple of recommendations) and are regretting it.

We are currently residing in a VERY conservative and bible belt area. There is very little "green" thinking, opinionated people, etc. We would really like to settle down and buy a home in the next couple of years but know that Harrisonburg is not the place for us. We would very much like to move to an area that religion isn't the only way of life. For example, one of the first questions we are always asked here when we meet someone is:"What church do you go to?" Now, we do attend church, but we are not used to having it as something we discuss in every conversation. We are the type of people that are all for socialized medicine, and so on. (Please do not post any kind of debate. I'm merely stating what we are about, not what you have to be.)

After loads of research we have narrowed our search between Charlottesville and Ithaca. We like both places but also have various concerns.

Charlottesville-we love the downtown mall and live arts. The weather is a big plus compared to Ithaca. However, I wonder if there is enough for a young family to do. Also, I'm not sure of whether or not Charlottesville is as free-thinking as we'd like it to be. We are accepting of everyone and everything, but like to also have our thoughts accepted. Would a person who is not republican, very much "green", and opinionated be shunned as long as they are accepting of other's opinions there? Also, my husband would probably work for UVA and I've heard they are a horrible employer. Is this true? We also have family in VA, so that is a plus.

Although Charlottesville is only an hour away and we visit it often, we haven't got a real feel of what the area is like in general. We've always been visitors and therefore have not had an opportunity to know what it would actually be like to live there.

Ithaca-We love the mindset, layout of the downtown area, schools, and community sense. Downsides are how far away it is from a major airport,the taxes, and the weather. We are not used to very cold weather--at all.

I would appreciate any responses. This has been a hard year for us. We need a change in our lives. If Charlottesville would be a good fit we could possibly move straight away, but if Ithaca is best we must wait several months. If you have any other suggestions of places, please let us know. We do however need an affordable place.

Thanks so much. Please do write back. I will leave a positive rating for all those that respond. Thanks.
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Old 05-20-2008, 10:14 AM
 
11,631 posts, read 31,867,993 times
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Charlottesville is far from being a conservative town. If you venture much outside of the city, you'll be in heavily Republican areas, however.

Charlottesville really isn't very close to a major airport, either, although it's only a couple of hours from Richmond which has an ok airport.

Have you considered Chapel Hill, North Carolina? It's a very liberal town, home of UNC. It's only about 15 minutes from a larger airport (Raleigh-Durham).
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Old 05-20-2008, 10:20 AM
 
Location: Jersey City
6,278 posts, read 15,562,292 times
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Both of these are great towns.

Charlottesville is a liberal'ish university town. UVA has a huge presence which keeps the culture more liberal than the surrounding areas. Also, a lot of the old DC hippies have retired to the Charlottesville area in recent decades. Despite these influences, the UVA presence also keeps C-ville in that old Virginia Gentleman's club atmosphere. UVA is the kind of place where tradition is cherished, gentlemen wear ties and blazers to football games, and generations of alumni visit to pay their respects to Mister Jefferson and THE fine University. There's also lots of old money and well-to-do equestrians with noses pointed upward. Charlottesville is the kind of place where free-spirited granola and khaki good ol'boy co-exist (though probably quite ignorant of one another).

Ithaca has a bit of that overlap too (with the presence of Cornell), but the impression I've always gotten is that the Cornellers aren't as "We do things the way our fawthahs done them" as the Wahoos. Ithaca is an absolutely beautiful area, and they have spectacular autumns that are hard to match anywhere, IMO. Summer is also great because it gets warm, but cools nicely at night, whereas C-ville can be pretty sticky. The winters are very rough in Ithaca though. They get plenty of snow (not as much as the lake effect areas) and the sky is gray for much of winter.

It seems, given your circumstances, that Charlottesville might be a better choice. Your husband has a job opportunity there, you have family in Virginia, and the winters are not extreme. I think you'll find enough people who share your values that you'll be comfortable there, certainly more comfortable than in Harrisonburg (I could write volumes about the quacks I've dealt with in that place).

Ithaca isn't close to ANY major airport (Syracuse is about an hour away and is the closest thing that will get you anywhere outside the Northeast). Charlottesville is about an hour and a half from Dulles.
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Old 05-21-2008, 11:42 AM
 
Location: Charlottesville, VA
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I live in Charlottesville with my wife and 3 kids and I must be completely honest with you: we love it, but we also find faults with the town. Every place in the country is going to have pluses and minuses. For us, there are way more pluses then minuses. Since pluses are easy to find, let me mention some of the minuses: Real Estate is fairly expensive for such a small town (although with enough searching, anything is possible - I should know, I am a full time Realtor), lack of major shopping (Nordstrom's, Ikea, etc.), some traffic/university traffic - during home football/basketball games, major concert events, sometimes there is a 2-3 hour time period when it's hard to drive through town... because I live in town it's especially noticeable. Other than that we love it here: 1 hour to Richmond, 2 hours to DC, about 3-4 hours to VA Beach, 3-4 to mountains of West VA and Western Maryland, 1 hour to Lynchburg (fantastic kids museum), etc. Hope this helps. Pavel.
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Old 05-21-2008, 01:16 PM
 
78 posts, read 400,637 times
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Pavel,

Thanks for your reply. It was very informative.

Since you work in real estate, I was wondering if you could answer a question for me. We only make around $40,000 a year. Could we afford to live in Charlottesville? We would rent for a year and then once I return to work we will make more. What would you say a family needs to make to have a decent 3 bedroom home in Charlottesville?

Thanks,
amhcarter
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Old 05-21-2008, 02:03 PM
 
Location: Charlottesville, VA
40 posts, read 177,168 times
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I would say look here: MyCAAR.com Choose "for rent" category. I think you can find something really comfortable for your family in the $1,200-$1,600 per month range. An afordable 3 bedroom townhome will start in the $150K-$200K range. (Sherwood Manor, Briarwood, etc.) Move-in single family 3 bedroom homes around Charlottesville will be at least $200K+. Detached properties that go on the market in good locations around $200K get bought up very quickly demonstrating that $200K is near the bottom for a detached in a convenient location and the market supports that price point very well. Hope this helps and please let me know if you have any other questions.
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Old 05-25-2008, 08:37 AM
 
78 posts, read 400,637 times
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Great post. Thanks so much.
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Old 05-25-2008, 05:45 PM
 
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Ithaca is more liberal. It has more of an outdoorsy, granola vibe. It's an extremely pretty town. The gorges are amazing. If you don't like cold winters, though, it may be a tough adjustment.

Charlottesville can be liberal...it's a lot more liberal than Harrisonburg. But just know that tradition, fraternities, and preppiness are just as present as liberalism in C-ville. It's an even mix, I'd say. Anyway, you'd probably like the weather better. And I'd say that the location of Charlottesville is more convenient...Richmond is a much larger and more vibrant city than Syracuse, so going into the city for a day would likely offer more to do.
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Old 05-25-2008, 07:16 PM
 
78 posts, read 400,637 times
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Default So would we fit in?

So if we are a family that is very accepting, yet freethinking, recycles, likes farmer's markets, outdoorsy things, and is fairly easy to make friends, where would be best? (I know everyone says that if you try you can make friends anywhere...this is not the case. We have made many "friends" but never anyone that we have become close to. Everyone in this town has to pencil you in weeks in advance. It's just the way it is done here. Is this the US in general or just where we are?


Quote:
Originally Posted by radraja View Post
Ithaca is more liberal. It has more of an outdoorsy, granola vibe. It's an extremely pretty town. The gorges are amazing. If you don't like cold winters, though, it may be a tough adjustment.

Charlottesville can be liberal...it's a lot more liberal than Harrisonburg. But just know that tradition, fraternities, and preppiness are just as present as liberalism in C-ville. It's an even mix, I'd say. Anyway, you'd probably like the weather better. And I'd say that the location of Charlottesville is more convenient...Richmond is a much larger and more vibrant city than Syracuse, so going into the city for a day would likely offer more to do.
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Old 05-25-2008, 09:36 PM
 
2,502 posts, read 7,901,638 times
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I think you could fit in equally well in either city...

The thing is...Ithaca might have a higher percentage of like-minded people, but it's a more provincial town, so breaking into social circles may take a bit of time.

Charlottesville has a bunch of different types of people, not necessarily just one stereotype. But it's more transient, from what I can tell, so it may be easier to break into circles.

This is just speculation, though.
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