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Old 01-30-2015, 11:33 AM
 
17 posts, read 28,688 times
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Hi guys,

So, we might be relocating my family to Cleveland. We have 4 children (ages 5,7,13, 14). Right now we live in the suburbs of St. Louis and are looking for something different. I find the Shaker Heights area to be delightful. I would love that "small town" feeling ( I grew up in a small town and want to capture a little of that for my own kids), while being close to city amenities. I want to walk my little ones to school, and live in a close-knit community. Walking to parks and shopping and a community pool would be a plus. This is something we don't get in our current subdivision in our current suburb of St. Louis. I've been told that other areas with the small town feel would be Rocky River, Avon, or Westlake. Are there any others to add to this? We need to start narrowing it down. Similarities and differences?

When my husband mentioned Shaker Heights to a few of the people at work (he's currently working there while I'm here in STL with the family), someone told him that only Jewish people and African American people move to Cleveland's East side. What is up with this? I find this a racist comment and can't believe it was even mentioned. (We are neither black nor Jewish). Would a middle class white family feel out of place on the East side? I'm all for diversity, but we can't really control the color of our skin (obviously).

My job requires that I work in various hospitals, so I like the idea of being closer to those facilities. A few other people at work have recommended suburbs like Solon and Hinckley (where according to them, everything is on a one-acre lot). While this sounds appealing, I'm certain we won't get that community feel (and definitely not the "small town" feel that I'm looking for.

I'm to fly up next month to look at homes, and like I said, I just need to start narrowing down our options. I've been searching these forums and the web, and had basically wanted to only look in Shaker Heights before the comments of the co-workers. (A few who even said they would NEVER move there ). I guess what I don't understand is what is up with the mixed reviews? It's either great or its not. It sounds like exactly what I'm looking for (family friendly, walkability, good schools, close to hospitals, etc.)

If someone local could explain this to me, I would appreciate it.
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Old 01-30-2015, 12:50 PM
 
Location: Beachwood, OH
1,136 posts, read 1,452,458 times
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The east side is fine for a middle-class non-Jewish white family (Hi, that's me). The comment is certainly in poor taste and a poor generalization of the east side. Cities like Shaker Heights, Beachwood, Cleveland Heights, and Solon have a higher population of Jewish residents than other cities, but there's not much impact because of that. Some east-side cities have a larger African-American population than other cities (a lot of the same ones, though less in Beachwood and Solon). The impact of that is... let's say mixed.

Based on your OP, I'd say you'd be best served looking at Shaker and Beachwood, maybe Orange if you're not opposed to a bit more of a rural setting.

FWIW, I moved from CH to Beachwood a year and a half ago - my older son will start Kinderarden next year. We were also looking at Shaker/Beachwood/Orange/Solon. Here are my thoughts:

Shaker - probably the most family-friendly, but schools past 6th grade were a concern for me (particularly X # of years in the future). School diversity is 60/40 black/white IIRC. Homes have more character and are generally less expensive (and inventory is greater) though property taxes are crazy high. Closer to the independent, interesting restaurants/shops of CH, Shaker Square, University Circle, but further from the highways.

My views on the schools are hotly contested by the pro-SH crowd on here. In before "we send kids to Ivy League schools" and "you can't look at test scores because we have more poor kids", etc. YMMV.

Beachwood - Best schools (IMO) and truly diverse (White/Black/Asian at 60/25/15 or something). House interiors can be dated and inventory of 4BR/2BA in the $200-$300K range is limited. Slightly farther to CH/Shaker Square, but slightly closer to highways. Aquatic Center is amazing.

Orange - Rural Beachwood with a smaller Jewish population.

Solon - Significantly more of a suburban feel, but okay-ish schools with decent diversity. Houses are newer and it's further to the non-chain areas of the east side. Farther to the hospitals (for you).
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Old 01-30-2015, 12:57 PM
 
Location: Beachwood, OH
1,136 posts, read 1,452,458 times
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What's your house budget, by the way?
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Old 01-30-2015, 01:36 PM
 
3,784 posts, read 3,002,395 times
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Lakewood is on the west side and perhaps is slightly safer than SH and close to the water/parks, good dining scene although probably less as far as winter entertainment (museums/culture) close at hand. Have you considered Chagrin Falls. Has a cute, walkable downtown with great schools and safety. Not positive about schools in Lakewood.
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Old 01-30-2015, 02:14 PM
 
39 posts, read 51,630 times
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Default Shaker Newcomer

Dear OP,

I purchased my home in Shaker Heights one year ago yesterday. When my new job took me to downtown Cleveland, I was primarily concerned with finding a neighborhood that offered both direct transit access to work and a wide array of destinations (shopping, church, recreation) within walking distance. I'm also a frequent tennis player and I wanted to be near a private tennis club so I could play year-round. My agent found a house for me in the Thornton Park area of Shaker Heights and I am quite happy. I walk to the Blue Line rapid transit station every day for my commute. I walk to Fresh Market (groceries), Walgreens, Rite-Aid, Sgro's Barbershop, Fussy Cleaners, Van Aken Hardware, Boulevard Bicycle and numerous specialty food shops (Lucy's, J. Pistone's) and restaurants. I can also walk to St. Dominic's and Thornton Park (swimming, tennis, ice skating, basketball, sledding, skateboarding).

Before I elected to purchase a home in Shaker Heights, I met with Planning Director Joyce Braverman. I strongly encourage anybody to meet with a community's planning director or planning supervisor before they purchase a home in that particular community. Joyce explained to me about the Van Aken District (The Van Aken District | Shaker Heights Ohio) project, a plan to redevelop the street network, shopping strips and surface parking lots adjacent to the Blue Line terminus into a high-density, mixed-use, walkable downtown for the community. Joyce also showed me other planned developments in Shaker Heights along the Blue Line Corridor, some of which are now being implemented since I moved there (including the new Van Aken/Lee rapid transit station near Shaker's municipal government center and Shaker Towne Center). I liked the vision of the community, appreciated the beauty of historic architecture/landscapes, and realized the locational advantage of Shaker Heights (direct transit connections to downtown/airport and situated between University Circle and Chagrin Highlands, two of the largest employment nodes in the region outside downtown).

As for the school district, I do not have direct experience with it because I am single. However, I am a proud supporter of Shaker Schools and I have been impressed by the number of top students who graduate from Shaker as National Merit Scholars, Finalists, Semi-Finalists and Commended Students. Shaker sends dozens of students to Ivy League universities every year and, according to the Harvard Club of Northeast Ohio, has had more graduates matriculate at Harvard University during the past decade than any other school in the region, public or private. Shaker Heights is also a very educated community in general; the U.S. Census reported in 2010 that nearly two-thirds of Shaker adults over the age of 25 possess at least a bachelor's degree.

When comparing school districts, I caution you against making hasty deductions about school district quality based solely on over-simplified rating systems like Great Schools or even the Ohio School District Report Card. Many such rating systems reflect more about the socio-economic profile and domestic transience of the student body and less about the quality of education received at the school. Most districts do not exhibit the level of diversity you will find in Shaker Heights, Cleveland Heights and University Heights, so I urge you to dig deeper and visit area schools, converse with educators and administrators and meet parents. I am happy to support Shaker Schools through my tax dollars, but you have to find the best fit for your family.

With all due respect to one of the earlier posters, the racial composition of Shaker School District, according to the 2013-2014 student count of the Ohio Department of Education (Enrollment Data | Ohio Department of Education), is 48% Black, 39% White, 4% Asian and 7% Mixed (Beachwood is 21% Black, 58% White, 15% Asian, 4% Mixed). If you are concerned about the demograpic profile of your community and school district, I would encourage you to do your homework because there is rapid racial change occurring in many Cleveland suburban areas (Garfield Heights, Maple Heights, Bedford/Bedford Heights, Euclid, South Euclid, Richmond Heights) and moderate racial change occurring in others (Beachwood, Mayfield, Orange, Solon). The Heights area (Shaker, Cleveland, University) has been racially diverse for decades and is not experiencing significant racial change. The Ohio Department of Education provides student enrollment counts for both current and past school years so you can assess the situation for yourself.

I hope you find some of this information helpful; good luck on your relocation!
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Old 01-30-2015, 02:36 PM
 
107 posts, read 120,817 times
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We moved from Clayton to Shaker in 2010 and are very happy here (two kids in the public schools). Where are you in St. Louis? Can I help make analogies to St. Louis suburbs or neighborhoods?
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Old 01-30-2015, 02:59 PM
 
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I wasn't meaning to knock Shaker Heights at all either. I still believe it had a reputation for being one of the best communities in all of Ohio. The one thing I have heard some say about Shaker is that there is kind of a dividing line, where it is significantly safer if you live in Shaker to the Northeast of Van Aken. I have never felt unsafe in the least when visiting there, and the schools truly are fantastic, and I would say that the integration could be seen as a positive, and a rare example of that type of progress. It is true that there are poor areas of Shaker that have slightly higher crime, however, you are not necessarily going to be looking in those areas. I really tend to think safety isn't a statistically significant or relevant issue there. People flock to far out suburbs in search of safety, when the number of traffic fatalities is nearly double the number of homicides. Keep in mind also, that the demographics of SHHS don't necessarily reflect the demographics of the city of Shaker Heights. (55% C, 37% AA, 5% A), as many wealthy families spend $5k-10k plus to send their children to some of the elite private schools in the entire country (Ignatius, Hawken, University, WRA). The difference is even more marked in Cleveland Heights, and reflects the fact that there is a high population of people without children, in addition to those who choose to send their kids to the above schools I mentioned. (CH: 50% C, 42% AA, 5% A, meanwhile CHHS: 16% C, 74% AA. Telling.) Overall, I agree with the above poster that Shaker is a great school district and place to live, and the number of Ivy League students/National Merit winners is impressive. I'm sure you would be very happy there.

Edit: Should say Van Aken, and northeast. Along Van Aken is fine.
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Old 01-30-2015, 06:24 PM
 
7,906 posts, read 4,870,632 times
Reputation: 4101
Quote:
Originally Posted by burningdrake View Post
Hi guys,

So, we might be relocating my family to Cleveland. We have 4 children (ages 5,7,13, 14). Right now we live in the suburbs of St. Louis and are looking for something different. I find the Shaker Heights area to be delightful. I would love that "small town" feeling ( I grew up in a small town and want to capture a little of that for my own kids), while being close to city amenities. I want to walk my little ones to school, and live in a close-knit community. Walking to parks and shopping and a community pool would be a plus. This is something we don't get in our current subdivision in our current suburb of St. Louis. I've been told that other areas with the small town feel would be Rocky River, Avon, or Westlake. Are there any others to add to this? We need to start narrowing it down. Similarities and differences?

When my husband mentioned Shaker Heights to a few of the people at work (he's currently working there while I'm here in STL with the family), someone told him that only Jewish people and African American people move to Cleveland's East side. What is up with this? I find this a racist comment and can't believe it was even mentioned. (We are neither black nor Jewish). Would a middle class white family feel out of place on the East side? I'm all for diversity, but we can't really control the color of our skin (obviously).

My job requires that I work in various hospitals, so I like the idea of being closer to those facilities. A few other people at work have recommended suburbs like Solon and Hinckley (where according to them, everything is on a one-acre lot). While this sounds appealing, I'm certain we won't get that community feel (and definitely not the "small town" feel that I'm looking for.

I'm to fly up next month to look at homes, and like I said, I just need to start narrowing down our options. I've been searching these forums and the web, and had basically wanted to only look in Shaker Heights before the comments of the co-workers. (A few who even said they would NEVER move there ). I guess what I don't understand is what is up with the mixed reviews? It's either great or its not. It sounds like exactly what I'm looking for (family friendly, walkability, good schools, close to hospitals, etc.)

If someone local could explain this to me, I would appreciate it.
Candidly, we can't offer suggestions for suburbs without some key information. This especially includes whether you want private, parochial or public schools; where your husband works and what length/time commute is desirable/acceptable and whether mass transit is desirable; how much you want to spend on a house; whether you personally would drive or take mass transportation to work; and perhaps how close you desire to live to Lake Erie (e.g., if you want quick and easy access to boating, beaches, etc.), metroparks as opposed to local parks, University Circle's cultural attractions, or other cultural centers (such as the Beck Center in Lakewood or the Willloughby Fine Arts Association).

Communities could include Rocky River, Berea, Lakewood, North Olmsted, Bay Village and more on the west side, and Shaker Heights, Highland Hts., Beachwood, Mayfield Hts., Chagrin Falls, Willoughby, Kirtland and Mentor and more on the east side.

Here is something to understand about Greater Cleveland, and it is largely irrelevant to a newcomer, especially one that is not bigoted, but there is an East/West divide (with the Cuyahoga River being the boundary) and it doesn't stop at the Cleveland city limits, but also applies to the suburbs. Many persons think it is a joke, but many persons taken it seriously, as you've experienced.

E.g., the East has both the wealthiest and the poorest suburbs, the largest concentration of Jews, most of the superb cultural institutions, the best non-denominational private schools, and a higher percentage of blacks. The West has large ethnic communities and the best Catholic high schools. The excellent Cleveland Metroparks Zoo is on the near west side, as is the airport and the West Side Market.

Northern Ohio's upscale shopping mecca is Beachwood Mall/Legacy Village in Beachwood and Lyndhurst.

BTW, the churches of Christian denominations in the Cleveland Hts./Shaker Hts. area often resemble cathedrals (I'm not exaggerating).

An advantage of Shaker Heights not mentioned by you is its proximity to University Circle. This is one of the nation's great cultural centers, and it has an incredible emphasis on youth programs. Persons that I know who raised children in Shaker Heights spent much time at institutions such as the Cleveland Museum of Art and the Cleveland Museum of Natural History. Youth concerts at Severance Hall are popular, but don't benefit especially from living nearby.

Cleveland: Tips for Visiting Cleveland - TripAdvisor

Read about Shaker Square in the "Dining" travel article linked at the above link.

In University Circle, perhaps check out the Cleveland Music Settlement and the Cleveland Institute of Music, especially if your children have musical talents or interests.

The Music Settlement: Music Lessons, Music Therapy, Preschool, Day School, and Kindergarten in University Circle, Cleveland, OH

CIM | Home

Case Western Reserve is a top-40 national university and it somewhat uniquely offers robust programs for not only area high school students, but also middle school students.

High School Students | Summer Session

As you already know, University Circle also is one of the nation's top medical centers with the main campuses of both the Cleveland Clinic and University Hospitals. However, there obviously are medical jobs and hospitals throughout Greater Cleveland.

Through Shaker Square, part of Cleveland (but in the Shaker Hts. school district), and the most densely populated part of Greater Cleveland, Shaker Hts. offers excellent mass transit connections to University Circle, perhaps important for commuting there, but also if older kids want to visit University Circle on their own without driving.

Also familiarize yourself before your trip with the Cleveland (Cuyahoga County) Metroparks' "Emerald Necklace" and perhaps even the eastern parks in the Lake Metroparks system (e.g., check out Kirtland in the following travel article; it's a place that you'll likely spend some time).

Cleveland: Day Trips - TripAdvisor

While Shaker Heights has good local parks, the Shaker Lakes, and a robust recreation system, it is at least 15 minutes from the nearest Metropark, the South Chagrin Reservation. By contrast, Rocky River and Lakewood border the excellent Rocky River reservation.

Two of the first things that I would do if visiting Cleveland to explore housing is to check out University Circle and individual Cleveland Metropark reservations to decide what was important living relatively near, given your family's interests.

Lake Erie is a great recreational asset. Communities such as Lakewood, Eastlake and Mentor would offer easy access.

Read the "Public Transportation" discussion in the Tripadvisor "Cleveland Tips" travel article linked above. Consider buying an RTA day pass for $5. Take the Red Line rail rapid from the airport to West 25th St. and check out the West Side Market on a day it is open and the surrounding Market District. At Tower City, walk to Public Square and take a Healthline bus rapid to University Circle. You'll ride past the Cleveland Clinic campus. Walk to the art museum, which has free admission. Note the location of the natural history museum and the very good Cleveland Botanical Garden. Then take a bus to Shaker Square. Take the Green Line rail rapid from Shaker Square to Green Road, then return to Shaker Square and take the Blue Line rail rapid to its last station and then take it back to Tower City. This exploration, which could take an entire day depending upon how much you linger, would enable you to explore a significant part of Greater Cleveland. It would also help you understand the superb mass transit afforded Shaker Heights, while orienting you to Shaker Heights.

Another factor to consider in Greater Cleveland are local tax rates, both for real estate (e.g., high in Shaker Hts. due to a relative paucity of commercial development and relatively low in Beachwood) and income taxes.

Local income taxes are complicated in Ohio. They can range from an effective rate of 0 percent to 4 percent, depending upon where you work and live. E.g., townships don't have income taxes. If you both live and work in a township, you'll pay no local income tax. You'll likely pay a 2 percent income tax where you work. If you live in a different city than where you work, you'll be subject to a residential income tax of 0 to 2 percent depending upon the residential city's income tax rate, likely 2 percent, and the size of its residential tax credit (zero to 100 percent of the tax paid in work cities).

Wikipedia articles are a quick source of information on individual communities. E.g., the median family income in Shaker Heights is over $105,000, and slightly higher than in Beachwood, 45 percent higher than in Rocky River, and 75 percent higher than in Lakewood. Many of the blacks who live in Shaker Heights are professionals.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shaker_Heights,_Ohio

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beachwood,_Ohio

There are many threads in this forum which should help you and here are just a few:

Lakewood Versus Rocky River - Relocating from the Bay Area

Moving to the Cleveland area!

Cleveland Mid 2015

Moving to Cleveland, schools

Another moving post - where to teach, live near Strongsville?

Onaway Shaker Heights Questions

suburb w/ downtowns

Cleveland: the "mini-Chicago"

Inquiry Regarding Culture and Diversity in Cleveland

Note that "East Cleveland" refers to the poorest Cleveland suburb, located just east of University Circle, and typically nothing else.

Potentially Cleveland Bound - Seeking Guidance

Good luck with your research!

Last edited by WRnative; 01-30-2015 at 06:57 PM..
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Old 01-30-2015, 10:32 PM
 
Location: Minneapolis (St. Louis Park)
5,991 posts, read 8,314,520 times
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Shaker is not "small town" in my personal opinion. I've always lived in larger cities (Minneapolis, St. Louis, Chicago, Columbus, and now Cleveland) and in lots of different neighborhood and housing types and I would not describe Shaker Heights as "small town". In fact, it's quite urbane. I just don't want you to come here expecting quaintness and be disappointed. Shaker is an inner-ring suburb in a fairly large city that was once part of a major U.S. city back when it grew up in the early 1900's.

As far as the east side being black and Jewish, that's generally fair, but obviously a very GENERAL stereotype. FWIW, my wife is Jewish, and she grew up in Shaker Heights and there is definitely a sizable Jewish population in this area (also Beachwood, Cleveland Heights, etc.).
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Old 01-31-2015, 04:44 AM
 
3,784 posts, read 3,002,395 times
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I think there are quaint aspects of it though to be sure. It strikes me there is a great sense of community and connectivity in Shaker Heights, and it features/is close to tons of mom/pop restaurants and shops that are good, so that is a plus as well, in addition to great parks and nice houses/walkable neighborhoods. I think the description for it, and many neighborhoods around Cleveland is of an urban village, which could simultaneously be quaint, but also urbane (but not in a bad way)
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