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Old 01-19-2013, 03:23 PM
 
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My husband and I currently live in Alexandria VA and while it's absolutely charming and cute and I love it a lot- I can't stand the congestion, the traffic, the inability of 80% of the population to drive coherently and the fact that we can only afford a condo (with no yard) because the cost of buying a house here is out of control (the taxes don't help either)- and if you want an affordable house you end up with a commute 1.5 hours long one-way.

My husband's work has a satellite office in East Lyme, CT and I've been on-and-off talking with him about transferring and moving up there. I'm a huge fan of the whole New England area, my husband's brother lives in Providence, we honeymooned in Maine, I spent a week in Cape Cod this past Autumn- and it's nothing short of heaven for me.

That being said- there are a few things I'm just not sure of- Since we don't have the possibility of picking which city to live in (we'd need to be generally in the East Lyme area so his commute isn't horrible), I was hoping someone might be able to give me a good picture of life in the area. Visiting the area for a weekend won't give a good picture of life in the area year-round and I'm hesitant to pick up and move to a city where I'd be temporarily without a job (I'm a CPA) if the general consensus in the area is 'meh'

Some things I'd like to know about:
-I LOVE winter. LOVE. Shoveling snow isn't the best, but it's a great workout and as an adult I still enjoy playing in it. I HATE hot sticky humid summers. The hotter it is the angrier of a person I become and I spend all summer with a really short fuse- what are the summers like? Winters?

-Are there fall events like pumpkin patches and corn mazes anywhere in the drivable vicinity?

-I plan to have a large (minimum 1 acre) yard to grow fruits/vegetables, raise some chickens, bees and maybe some rabbits- from what I've read this seems to be allowed, correct?

-We are not bar hoppers or partiers but we enjoy going out to eat about twice a month or so. We don't eat at chains restaurants but prefer to support small local shops and restaurants- what is the local nightlife like?

-Are there farmer's markets that sell locally grown pesticide-free produce? Are they any good?

-What's the beach situation like? Crowded, with scratchy sand with unswimmable water?

-Are residents generally friendly people?

-I do know the taxes up north are way higher than they are here, but we could pay cash for a home with a 2+ acre yard that would cost me a few million down here, so I figure it evens out.

-Do you know if there are a lot of midwives in the area?

-Is any of East Lyme walkable or bikeable? Do people bike or walk a lot or do most people drive? What's the public transit situation in the area? How's the traffic? Are there other areas near East Lyme that are walkable? (My husband was in the Navy and spent time in Groton and he hated it- said Groton was 'dirty' but that New London was pretty nice).

-I know my husband would like a commute of less than half an hour (the shorter the better), so if there's a really nice area with local shops in a town nearby we'd be willing to explore there. I currently commute an hour each way, so anything shorter than that would be amazing.

-Was East Lyme hit at all by Hurricane Sandy? If so- how bad was the destruction?

-We haven't decided if we want kids yet, but if we do- are there certain school districts to avoid, certain districts that are good?

-How are people with alternate lifestyles? I'd hate to move into a biggoted area or one where people aren't at least moderately open to people of different faiths, sexual orientations, etc. We're originally from Kansas and Missouri, so we've had enough with racism and general intolerance for one lifetime.

I'm sorry that post became so long, and I'm sure I have loads more questions, but I don't want this post to get any bigger. We are planning a visit around Mayish when we're in Providence, but as I stated earlier, I don't think just visiting for one day gives an accurate picture of what life would be like year-round.

If anyone can answer even a handful of these questions I'd be super grateful. Thanks!!

Oh- and if people want slightly better specifics as far as my questions regarding commuting times as East Lyme looks pretty big- my husband's office would be on route 161 between the New London Turnpike and Route 1 (Boston Post Rd) so we'd like to be no more than half an hour from that area.
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Old 01-19-2013, 04:55 PM
 
Location: Coastal Connecticut
14,715 posts, read 17,933,283 times
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See below in bold:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Snowoman View Post
My husband and I currently live in Alexandria VA and while it's absolutely charming and cute and I love it a lot- I can't stand the congestion, the traffic, the inability of 80% of the population to drive coherently and the fact that we can only afford a condo (with no yard) because the cost of buying a house here is out of control (the taxes don't help either)- and if you want an affordable house you end up with a commute 1.5 hours long one-way.

My husband's work has a satellite office in East Lyme, CT and I've been on-and-off talking with him about transferring and moving up there. I'm a huge fan of the whole New England area, my husband's brother lives in Providence, we honeymooned in Maine, I spent a week in Cape Cod this past Autumn- and it's nothing short of heaven for me.

Then you'll probably love a lot of the towns near East Lyme. The lower CT River valley and the shore in that area is one of the most beautiful areas in CT.

That being said- there are a few things I'm just not sure of- Since we don't have the possibility of picking which city to live in (we'd need to be generally in the East Lyme area so his commute isn't horrible), I was hoping someone might be able to give me a good picture of life in the area. Visiting the area for a weekend won't give a good picture of life in the area year-round and I'm hesitant to pick up and move to a city where I'd be temporarily without a job (I'm a CPA) if the general consensus in the area is 'meh'

Some things I'd like to know about:
-I LOVE winter. LOVE. Shoveling snow isn't the best, but it's a great workout and as an adult I still enjoy playing in it. I HATE hot sticky humid summers. The hotter it is the angrier of a person I become and I spend all summer with a really short fuse- what are the summers like? Winters?

Summers will be A LOT more mild than what you're used to. We do get a few weeks in the upper 80's and lower 90's, but there's not many places in the country to avoid some hot weeks in the summer. It is a bit humid in the summer, but the same goes for the entire east coast. I will say living near the Sound does make things a bit more temperate: warmer in the winter, and cooler in the summer.

-Are there fall events like pumpkin patches and corn mazes anywhere in the drivable vicinity?

Absolutely. There are many in CT. One of the more popular ones is Bishop's in Guilford. Home - Bishop's Orchard, Guilford CT | Farm Fresh Produce | Winery | Garden Center

-I plan to have a large (minimum 1 acre) yard to grow fruits/vegetables, raise some chickens, bees and maybe some rabbits- from what I've read this seems to be allowed, correct?

I don't see why it would be a problem, but I'm not an expert in this area.

-We are not bar hoppers or partiers but we enjoy going out to eat about twice a month or so. We don't eat at chains restaurants but prefer to support small local shops and restaurants- what is the local nightlife like?

Many of the shore towns and a few of the CT River towns have some really nice downtown areas that have some great shops and restaurants. Branford, Guilford, Madison, Chester, Old Saybrook, Mystic all have really nice town centers with everything you're looking for. As far as nightlife, it's pretty low key and mostly an older crowd. Old Lyme has a popular beachfront bar in the summer. You can go into New Haven for a wider variety of nightlife, as well as the best restaurant and indie shop selection in the state.

-Are there farmer's markets that sell locally grown pesticide-free produce? Are they any good?

Absolutely. There are some great farmer's markets in CT, and they're becoming more prevalent. Unfortunately I'm unaware of those east of New Haven, but am sure they exist. You should be able to Google it. In New Haven, Wooster Square has a great farmer's market with all sorts of organic products.

-What's the beach situation like? Crowded, with scratchy sand with unswimmable water?

Madison has some great beaches with wonderful, soft sand. The water is typical of the sound, it's a bit murky but harmless. It's cleaner as you go further east. Old Lyme beaches are decent. Rocky Neck has a great beach, white sand and very clean. Many other towns have waterfront, but it tends to be rockier with less sand.

-Are residents generally friendly people?

This is tough to answer, but I've found people from that part of the state to be friendly from my perspective. They're definitely friendlier than in the southwest corner of CT.

-I do know the taxes up north are way higher than they are here, but we could pay cash for a home with a 2+ acre yard that would cost me a few million down here, so I figure it evens out.

Yes, taxes tend to be a bit higher here than in Alexandria, but cost of housing in the area you're looking at is DRASTICALLY lower. You could get a great home in a charming town like Old Saybrook, Chester, or even Madison for much less than in Alexandria. Alexandria is closer in price to lower Fairfield County in CT.

-Do you know if there are a lot of midwives in the area?

-Is any of East Lyme walkable or bikeable? Do people bike or walk a lot or do most people drive? What's the public transit situation in the area? How's the traffic? Are there other areas near East Lyme that are walkable? (My husband was in the Navy and spent time in Groton and he hated it- said Groton was 'dirty' but that New London was pretty nice).

People do bike near the shore for exercise. Old Saybrook, New London, Madison, Chester, Middletown, are just a few towns in the area with walkable downtowns. New Haven is very walkable/bikeable. Traffic in the East Lyme area is pretty insignificant, although 95 can back up on weekends from folks traveling to RI/Cape Cod. Compared to where you are coming from, you're looking at MUCH less traffic.

-I know my husband would like a commute of less than half an hour (the shorter the better), so if there's a really nice area with local shops in a town nearby we'd be willing to explore there. I currently commute an hour each way, so anything shorter than that would be amazing.
It depends on your budget. I would look at Old Saybrook as your first option as it has a nice town center, beautiful coastline, and is relatively affordable and a short commute to East Lyme. Other towns you could look at are Madison (gorgeous but a little pricier), Chester and Essex.

-Was East Lyme hit at all by Hurricane Sandy? If so- how bad was the destruction?
Yes it was. There was flooding, though the damage wasn't as bad as further west.

-We haven't decided if we want kids yet, but if we do- are there certain school districts to avoid, certain districts that are good?
Madison is known as a pretty exceptional school system. Most others are good too. I'm not as familiar with schools in this area, so I'm sure someone will chime in.
-How are people with alternate lifestyles? I'd hate to move into a biggoted area or one where people aren't at least moderately open to people of different faiths, sexual orientations, etc. We're originally from Kansas and Missouri, so we've had enough with racism and general intolerance for one lifetime.
Our conservatives would be considered liberal in Kansas/Missouri. Nuff said!

I'm sorry that post became so long, and I'm sure I have loads more questions, but I don't want this post to get any bigger. We are planning a visit around Mayish when we're in Providence, but as I stated earlier, I don't think just visiting for one day gives an accurate picture of what life would be like year-round.

If anyone can answer even a handful of these questions I'd be super grateful. Thanks!!

Oh- and if people want slightly better specifics as far as my questions regarding commuting times as East Lyme looks pretty big- my husband's office would be on route 161 between the New London Turnpike and Route 1 (Boston Post Rd) so we'd like to be no more than half an hour from that area.
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Old 01-20-2013, 07:51 AM
 
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Well, you've written a mouthful- I'll see if I can answer some of it.

Winter/ summer- about 10 weeks of each. Mild winters for New England in East Lyme, maybe around 22' of snow in a typical year. As it's a shoreline town, tends to melt quickly. Summers, humid and sticky. Right near the water, you'll get a sea breeze, but a bit inland not so much. You'll want air conditioning.

garden- in East Lyme itself, you'll need at least two acres to raise rabbits/ have have bees- two acres is the minimal allowable for what is considered a "farm" and permittable for doing what you want to do.

eating/nightlife- You won't find tons of chain restaurants in anywhere in CT, it's much more privately owned. Lot of places to eat in the region. Very little night life though in local towns. However, both of CT's casino complexes are very close by so they provide lots of venues and shows.

farmer's markets/organic produce/ autumn activities yes. You can even buy yearly shares in a local organic farm for their produce. ( meats and veggies) . There are local bee keepers who sell their honey in town.

beach- The CT shore is not on the ocean- it's on Long Island Sound. That means little wave action and the water is generally fairly calm. You'd have to go to the RI shore to see waves . In East Lyme itself has Rocky Neck state park , which is several hundred acres on the Sound. East Lyme also has the Niantic River and has some lovely marinas on the river.

Public transmit is nil - people drive. These are small towns, The center of East Lyme is flat and walkable and people do stroll around and bike through town and you can walk through the marinas district. But mostly if you want to get from here to there you drive. The areas where you would be finding large 2 acre lots have no sidewalks and no bike paths.

The adjacent town east to East Lyme is Waterford. Waterford has a regional enclosed shopping mall, cinema complex, Lowe's' Home Depot, etc. East Lyme itself has all your other local shopping
( supermarket's, pharmacies, a small movie theater ,etc.)

Was it hit by Sandy- yes. The immediate shoreline area had quite a bit of damage with flooding, damage to cottages, beach erosion. While it had less damage overall than the New Haven area, it had higher winds. It was saved by the fact that much of its beachy area is on higher ground so was less impacted by flooding.

East Lyme is considered to have the best school system in southeastern CT. It's highly regarded.

CT in general is tolerant, no one cares what any one else is doing as long as you them alone. It's pretty much laid back, alternative lifestyles are accepted and ignored.

You can probably find a house you like , right in East Lyme, look north of Route 1 ( Boston Post Rd.)
If not East Lyme, look in Old Lyme and/ or Lyme to the west. Old Lyme and Lyme share a school system
which is comparable or just below that of East Lyme. I'd avoid Old Saybrook, just because of the animal issue. Old Saybrook has a 6 pet limit ( total number of animals on site of all kinds).
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Old 01-20-2013, 09:23 AM
 
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While there is little in the way of public transit for getting around day to day, a nice feature of the area is the rail service to NY. Shoreline east starts in Old Saybrook and stops in towns on the way to New Haven. In NH you transfer to a metro North train, usually waiting for you right across the platform, and take that all the way to Grand Central. We just went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art for the day yesterday. $39 each adult for the entire trip, round-trip from Guilford to Grand Central. Just thought maybe something you might appreciate/look forward to when thinking about your move, as most likely you'll be quite close to Old Saybrook.

Also, really take a good look at maps to get an idea of the scale of the area. While of course you'll be living in one town, the amenities of the neighboring towns are very close. (for ex. farmers' markets, which I find to be very, very common).

As far as the "tolerance" thing, it's really a non-issue here and certainly wouldn't be a factor in one town over the other.

If you could give a rough idea of budget there are people here who can give you some really good advice.
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Old 01-20-2013, 04:53 PM
 
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You guys have been so helpful!! Thanks!

Our budget when it comes to housing is about $400K. We'd like to spend less than that, and ideally if I could I'd love to be around $250-300K so I can can have money left over for upgrades. Based on Willow Wind's comment, I'd need 2+ acres on that budget for what we want to have going on outside (bees, chickens and rabbits + large vegetable/fruit/herb garden) to ensure we're within the regulations for the area.

We like smaller homes- 1200-1500 sq. ft. and would like to avoid larger 2000+ sq. ft. homes because we personally don't have the need for a home that size. Our current condo is just barely over 1200 sq. ft. and it's a pretty good size. I expect we'd be in the 2-3BR range, with 1-2 baths (full basements are a huge huge plus).

Our current condo cost us $390K (plus $300/month condo fees), and about $4K/yr in property taxes. With all that our monthly mortgage payment + condo fees totals out to about $2,200/month--> so we're going to try to come in under that.

I hope that gives a better picture of our budget. If you need any other specifics laid out, just let me know. These answers have been very helpful!
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Old 01-20-2013, 07:23 PM
 
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I took the link below from the realtor. com website, using $ 325,000 as the upper limit of value. It will give you an idea of what is available in East Lyme at the moment.

Keep in mind these are not large towns, there will not be a huge inventory of homes. However, you'll see more listings in the spring . $ 250,00- $300,00 is going to be the bottom of the market for a home on acreage.

You can also check other websites like zillow.com, trulia.com, etc.

East Lyme Real Estate - East Lyme, CT Homes for Sale - REALTOR.com®

You can check other towns the same way. Just keep in mind that zoning may be different in any other town so you would have to check that also. Many towns have their zoning regulations online.
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Old 01-20-2013, 08:14 PM
 
Location: Connecticut
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One thing I will caution you on is that you are moving from what is basically a very large dynamic city (Washington) to a very small and quiet area. Do not expect to find the smae level of amenities that you currently have. East Lyme is a beautiful town and there are many towns nearby where you should be able to find what you are looking for. good luck, Jay
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Old 03-19-2013, 07:27 PM
 
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I live in Waterford, but am right on the Niantic (part of East Lyme) border. It is a beautiful area. I will say having lived in both towns, you get more bang for your buck in Waterford. Our biggest frustration when we were house shopping was that a lot of the houses were designed as summer cottages, so they do not have insulation. My husband and I both grew up in big cities so this was an adjustment for us. Not sure if you have any kids, but I have heard fantastic things about the East Lyme school district. Summer time in this area is a blast.
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Old 03-19-2013, 07:46 PM
 
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Also, I don't know if anyone explained how East Lyme is set up. Its mde up of 3 small villages (like neighborhoods), Niantic - which is on the water and where the downtown area is, Flanders - which tends to have larger plots of land, and East Lyme itself. Someone before mentioned Rocky Neck, which is a state park, there is also McCook Point Park, which is open only to residents of East Lyme. There is a boardwalk in downtown Niantic, with local shops, a movie theater, and his is the area where a lot of the resturants are. With the recent blizzard, Hurricane Sandy, and Irene the year before... I live 2 blocks from the water and we did not have a lot of flooding in our area. Just fair warning, plan of investing in a generator... we have lost power probably 5 times since we bought our house in 8/11. having lived in big cities growing up, my favorite thing about this area are the people, whenever there is a big storm or something happens the community bands together. The closer you are to the coast the more people tend to walk and bike. But this is a very bike able area, presuming you do not have to get onto 95. By the way, I'm not sure how familiar you are with the area but getting on 95 is almost standard for going anywhere. Every town up here has a farmers market at least once a week.
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Old 03-20-2013, 04:34 AM
 
Location: Middlesex
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don't know E Lyme in it's entirety but i do know that the Niantic/Flanders area is very nice. my sister bought a house on Flanders Rd with her husband back in 09 and Gorton pond is right in their back yard. not to mention Long Island sound is right down the road. if you're into pizza, there's a place called Cucina's right off the highway. There's also a Stop & Shop and a great breakfast place called The Shack on Flanders Rd as well.
as far as orchards/corn mazes, there's Lyman Orchards in Middlefield if you wanted to take a day trip up Rt 9 from Saybrook. that place is huge and there's a country store inside the entrance that's full of pre-picked fruit, cheeses, bakery items, etc. of course you could do your own fruit picking if you're so inclined. the maze is only open in the Fall i believe.
as an aside, i prefer Winter as well and hate the hot sticky Summers just as much but unfortunately it's pretty hot and humid here. Winters here are mild but probably much colder than VA.

Last edited by Slipperman; 03-20-2013 at 04:47 AM..
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