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Old 07-24-2012, 10:43 PM
37 posts, read 70,501 times
Reputation: 33


...But I don't want to lose everything I have here! Here's my story: I spent the latter half of my upbringing in the Southeast after moving there unwillingly at 11 years old. I spent my whole childhood wanting to get back out to the West Coast. I never could afford California, so after a long and winding journey, I landed in Portland, where I have lived for seven years. I love almost everything about this city...except the weather and the cost of living. I need to be somewhere warm. My husband's pay potential also seems to be less here than it would be in the Southeast, but our cost of living is probably higher. This makes it impossible for me to ever quit this string of terrible jobs that I've had and just be the mom that I want to be. All this, plus the fact that we still have family in the South, makes it really enticing to go back now, after years of decrying everything I hated about it.

So, there's plenty that I legitimately love about Portland and that I legitimately hated about the South. I love the ability to walk anywhere I want. I love the public transportation. I love the architectural charm. I love the sustainability. I love the progressive politics. I love getting to keep my city chickens. That last point right there crosses Birmingham off my list, since I read chickens aren't allowed there. I also love how community-oriented my neighborhood is. The kids all play in the street on summer evenings, we have block parties and get-togethers - it's really a close community feel. About the South, I hated the closed-mindedness (I found out it exists here too, just in reverse), the great walls between races and classes, the obesity, the car dependence, the Wal-Mart mentality and suburbanism, etc.

So here's what I'm thinking. In the next 2 to three years, I might try to sell my house here and move back. I want a house that is simultaneously cheaper and nicer than what I have now, in a neighborhood where I can walk to things, where I'm allowed to keep chickens, and where my neighbors would be totally cool with that (and vote Democrat). I know that the South is deep red to the core, but I also know that there are hidden pockets of liberalism throughout. The whole middle of Alabama voted Democrat in 2008. Now, I have family in the Atlanta suburbs and in Alabama's Gulf Coast area. Ideally, I'd live somewhere in either of those places or in between. Sometimes I think Fairhope/Daphne would be lovely; other times I want to live right in the thick of it in Atlanta (but without bad crime!). Sometimes I think it'd be nice to be in a college town like Auburn; other times I could deal with being back home in Montgomery. I definitely want access to good public schools, and multi-culturalism is a plus. Another huge plus is diversity of restaurants and cultural opportunities (both of which Atlanta could handle easily). Portland just has an amazing restaurant scene - if only the cost of living here didn't price us out of making regular restaurant trips!

So to all you Southerners, please, cast your vote for where the best place for me and my family would be. Is it a great up-and-coming neighborhood in Atlanta? Is there a charming small town I've never thought of? Submissions outside of the route from Mobile to Atlanta are welcome too, just less likely to work for me. For example, I'd consider Tennessee, New Orleans, and parts of North Carolina (like Asheville), but those all put us just a hair too far away from family members that we'd like to be able to visit regularly.
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Old 07-24-2012, 11:26 PM
Location: Austin, TX
10,827 posts, read 9,447,536 times
Reputation: 6182
Austin or New Orleans would fit the bill for you.
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Old 07-24-2012, 11:39 PM
37 posts, read 70,501 times
Reputation: 33
Can't do Austin. My husband actually interviewed for a job there last year (didn't get it) but I was incredibly dismayed by it when I was doing my research. He came back from his interview even more disappointed by a city we previously thought was supposed to be really neat. It's actually too hot for me (hard to find), not enough rain, no affordable housing close-in, nothing was walkable outside the four core blocks, and none of the neighborhoods outside the university area had sidewalks. And let me say one more time, no affordable housing. I want to spend $165k and get a house that is better than the one I have in Portland for $225k. I know that's asking for a lot, but that's the point of moving to the Southeast, where everything is dirt cheap. Anyway, I want to live somewhere lush, where xeriscaping is not a necessity.

I'd do New Orleans, but it's a bit far from my family in Atlanta, and it has huge problems.
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Old 07-25-2012, 03:09 AM
Location: The heart of Cascadia
1,328 posts, read 2,652,268 times
Reputation: 815
What about Mobile, Alabama? I've heard it's not too 'stereotypical' south, and its by a lot of nice beaches and stuff. Or maybe Athens, Georgia? The town that produced REM and the B-52's can't be that bad.
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Old 07-25-2012, 03:30 AM
Location: Midwest
1,005 posts, read 2,451,388 times
Reputation: 246
Miami, plus the housing market in Florida is cheap.
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Old 07-25-2012, 06:11 AM
Location: St Simons Island, GA
23,127 posts, read 35,085,706 times
Reputation: 15343
It sounds like you're describing Decatur, GA. Chickens are welcome!



Last edited by Iconographer; 07-25-2012 at 06:43 AM..
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Old 07-25-2012, 06:27 AM
5,707 posts, read 8,773,655 times
Reputation: 4928
If Decatur is too expensive the Parkridge neighborhood in Knoxville is calling your name. You will find some ameable locales in Chattanooga but I don't know their chicken policy.

You'll love Asheville but will find the same issues there. Asheville is Portland in miniature.
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Old 07-25-2012, 06:37 AM
56,736 posts, read 81,038,544 times
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What about Virginia? Places like Blacksburg and Charlottesville would probably be places you would like. Perhaps Lexington KY too.
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Old 07-25-2012, 07:26 AM
37 posts, read 70,501 times
Reputation: 33
Thanks guys. Mobile is an option. I went to college there. I need to know which neighborhoods are most likely to match what I want. I don't remember there being any walkable or liberal neighborhoods when I lived there. And the cultural opportunities are limited. Decatur is newly on my radar. I have to look into it. The other suggestions are just too far off the path to make them close to family. I don't want to move to another place where I don't know anyone within a 1.5 hour radius. Athens might be an option but I had a friend who tried it before coming back to Portland and he was disappointed. Said it was very hard to find fresh produce!
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Old 07-25-2012, 08:43 AM
56,736 posts, read 81,038,544 times
Reputation: 12549
Perhaps this may be an option: Troy Alabama.com - City Information and Visitor Guide for Troy, AL

City of Troy, AL

Troy University

Troy, Alabama - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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