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Old 05-13-2012, 11:39 AM
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Hi, I'm about to become a single mom. I have 3 kids, college age+. We currently live in the Farmington Valley, and I'm looking to start us over on the CT shore. My kids believe (rightly so, unfortunately), that where we presently live is pretty boring. When they come live with me for breaks & over the summer I'd like for them to look forward to coming, and feel like they have plenty to see and do. I'm looking for a town with a vibrant, walkable downtown, with a good beach, and someplace they're going to want to bring their friends to and feel like it's a fun place to hang out.

Any and all suggestions are so very welcome. Thanks.
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Old 05-13-2012, 05:07 PM
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We need much more information.

Do you plan on buying or renting ? In either case, what's your budget? Where you're going to live is going to depend a great deal on what you expect to pay.

Your best may be Milford- multiple great beaches, wonderful choice of homes, condos, apartments. Nice downtown and close enough to New Have to keep the kids interested.

Other walkable down towns are Branford, Guilford,Madison, Old Saybrook.

Branford is similar to Milford on a smaller scale in that it has lots of housing options and a good downtown. The beach however is " meh" at best. Same can be said for the beach in Guilford. Beautiful beaches in Clinton, Madison, Westbrook and Old Saybrook.

What you won't find from Guilford, Madison, Westbrook, Clinton & Old Saybrook is apartment type rentals. Some condos for rent and houses, yes. But not a lot. Maybe a unit in the rare two family home. Lots of houses for sale every where though if you're looking to buy..

None of the shore towns east of Branford are geared for college age singles. Activities tend more toward retirees and families. There is a multi- plex cinema in Westbrook and arts cinema in Madison, the nearest malls are in Waterford and Milford. Teenagers can bike, swim, fish, rent a kayak, have coffee at a coffee shop. etc. Some towns have town tennis courts.

If they don't want to stay home, there isn't is anything for older teens to do at night that does not involve getting into a car and driving somewhere.

Let us know what you anticipate your living arrangements to be and we can help you narrow your choices.

Good luck
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Old 05-13-2012, 05:12 PM
Location: Coastal Connecticut
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Sounds like you're looking for Milford. Great beaches, great downtown, lots to do, tons of shopping, restaurants, relatively affordable for the coast. You'll see teens/twentysomethings out and about downtown and on the beaches all the time (and at night the college/twentysomething nightlife crowd is very strong downtown - especially in the summer). I'm in my late 20's and moved from the (boring) Danbury area and find it infinitely better here for things to do. If the multiple restaurants, bars, etc in Milford don't suffice, Black Rock, New Haven, even Norwalk/Stamford aren't a far drive or train ride. Plus the train to NYC is convenient.

Fairfield is another and similar to Milford in many ways but is expensive and more affluent generally. If you can spend a little extra it's also a great town, although without kids in public school or an NYC commute - I'm not sure that it's really worth it over Milford. Branford is a good option too. Although I'll say Milford has it beat on beaches and nightlife. Branford has a rocky shoreline with a lot of really cool coves, islands - but not really much in the way of sandy beaches like Milford, Fairfield or Madison.

Guilford/Madison are gorgeous but may be too quiet/isolated for what you're looking for.

Last edited by Stylo; 05-13-2012 at 05:22 PM..
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Old 05-14-2012, 06:31 AM
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Thank you both so much for your thoughts. I can tell this board is going to help make this move a lot less painful. I'm so glad I found it, thanks.

Willow wind - I plan on buying. Since we have just begun I have no idea what my budget will be. If I had to hazard a guess I'd say in the mid to upper 300k. Since I'll be on my own most of the time I'm looking for something very manageable. I do want a house. Small yard, not a fixer-upper.

Branford was on my radar because it sounded the least rural, but I had a hard time sensing how a college kid/20 something would feel about it. Would they consider the downtown a fun destination? Or is it more like a place to stroll & have coffee?

My daughter loves the beach, but we've always done the RI shore. A "meh" beach will certainly be a drawback for her.

I never considered Milford. How is the commute to the Hartford area? We would need to drive to Avon to visit people from our old life.

And do you know what the drive to Providence is like from Milford? I have family there, too.

Stylo - So great to hear from a 20-something! The way you described Milford sounds very appealing for my kids. How would you compare Branford's social scene?

Thank you again so much.
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Old 05-14-2012, 06:41 AM
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Coming from a 20 something who had experienced both towns, Branford's downtown is a little more sophisticated and family friendly while Milford's has a few shops but a lot of the "let's get smashed" crowd at night. Milford is definitely better for singles while Branford is better for families. A plus to Branford is that you are so close to downtown New Haven.

It's funny because Branford and Milford seem like rivals on this board. Ha.
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Old 05-14-2012, 07:16 AM
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Your drives from Milford into the Avon or Providence are piece of cake from Milford.

Milford to Avon- RT 15 ( pick it up right in Milford ) up to 691 to 84 and into Farmington to Avon. Or 1-95 to 1-91 into the Hartford area.

To Providence- 1-95 ( Ct Turnpike) in Milford right to Providence. Once out of New Haven and any possible traffic, it's a low traffic, easy drive through the shoreline and up into Providence . Couldn't get lost if you tried.

If you have kids who are really into the beach, definitely keep Milford tops on your list.
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Old 05-14-2012, 07:37 AM
Location: Connecticut
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Originally Posted by shore12 View Post
I never considered Milford. How is the commute to the Hartford area? We would need to drive to Avon to visit people from our old life.
I am assuming by this comment that you will not be driving to Hartford on a daily basis. Is that correct?

Milford might be an option but I am not sure what you will find there in your price range. I commend you for thinking of your college aged children but honestly you need to put your needs first. Your kids will only be visiting. Think about what area works best for you and has the things you like.

A lot of people from the Hartford area retire to the Old Saybrook area for the lifestyle. The commute is not bad since Route 9 connects Old Saybrook directly to Farmington. Old Saybrook has the nice small downtown and the beaches but lacks any real excitement.

The Branford/Guilford/Madison area may be good. It has good access to New Haven where there is a lot of nightlife as well as access to New York and Providence. There would be beaches as well but not of the character of RI. Remember this is Long Island Sount not the open ocean. Madison though has a really beautiful waterfront park so that might be a good option. Jay
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Old 05-14-2012, 08:02 AM
Location: Coastal Connecticut
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Branford is definitely more of a family-orientated downtown with a few good restaurants, shops, coffee shop, Ben & Jerry's. It's beautiful but more low key. It doesn't really have much of a social scene for twentysomethings. They would wind up gong to New Haven. For college age Milford's more appropriate, and there are about 7 popular bars downtown alone. And again, the beaches are sandier/better/more abundant. Milford has the most shoreline of any CT town. They both offer easy access to New Haven. Milford also offers train access to South Norwalk/Stamford/NYC. Branford is an exceptional little town, but for what you're looking for I don't think it's an exact match.

It's an easy drive to the Hartford area as you just shoot up 15 to 91 and avoid almost any traffic. Driving to Providence should be easy, except for summer Fridays. It can be jammed all along the shoreline on those days. Just avoid that.

You can get a nice place for mid to upper 300k. I got a new construction, 2150 square feet, small yard, walking distance to beach, etc. for that range. It's very doable.
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Old 05-14-2012, 08:42 AM
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Jay - Sorry for the confusion - no actual commuting to Avon. Just visiting friends and family every so often. And I am guilty as charged - thinking of the kids first. But I'd hate to pull up roots, drag them to a new location, and have them be bored out of their minds when they visit me for their long breaks and the summer. I guess I'm also looking for a vibrant community for myself, too. I'm not into their social scene, obviously, but I'm afraid that if I move into a quiet bedroom community where people go to retire I may find myself a third wheel. I suppose if I took my kids out of the equation, I'd like a beautiful town with beaches to walk, parks, walking trails, a lively downtown, and opportunities to make friends.

If I won't find much in my price range in Milford, won't I be priced out of Branford/Guilford/Madison/Old Saybrook? I was under the impression Milford was the most affordable. What's the lifestyle you mentioned in Old Saybrook like?

Stylo - How do you feel being so close to the beach? I'm somewhat terrified of thinking about moving to the shore, what with Irene such a recent memory.
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Old 05-14-2012, 08:46 AM
Location: Coastal Connecticut
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Milford has a good deal of hills near the water, so you can choose your elevation. Even some waterfront is very elevated. I'm 75' above water about 2000 feet in from the shore and safe as can be.

Milford's a little more expensive than Branford, probably comparable to Guilford (although the housing stock is not comparable), Madison is a bit pricier. Don't worry, your price range is great for a nice Milford home.

I suggest coming to Milford downtown on a warm weekend night and seeing for yourself how vibrant the nightlife scene is.

There are also great parks (Eisenhower for a more wooded experience, Wilcox with trails by the harbor, Silver Sands with a mile long boardwalk), recreation (tennis courts, basketball courts, etc downtown), tons of events in downtown and the green, an arts center, train to NYC, access to New Haven's culture, etc. You'll love it!
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