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Old 04-06-2016, 02:41 PM
 
18 posts, read 16,110 times
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Hey all! I'm a 27-year-old married woman originally from the St. Louis area who relocated to Richmond, VA.

I'll be the first to admit: I have wanderlust. I've told my husband time and time again that I would rather buy an RV and travel the country than buy a house and have kids. I love to explore, I love to see new places, and I love to immerse myself in different cultures. However, picking up and driving across the country isn't in the cards. So I'm trying to find a new place to live that will satisfy all of my needs so that I won't want to travel all the time.

I'm a small-town girl at heart. I grew up in a small city in Illinois, less than an hour away from St. Louis. So I'm accustomed to certain things: sidewalks on every street, small walkable blocks full of unique shops and restaurants, large parks, and regular community events (like carnivals or block parties) that aren't so large it makes an introvert like me want to crawl into a hole and die. But I also love the convenience of big cities: zoos, museums, sporting events (though I'm mostly a baseball fan), easy public transportation, and huge concerts or political rallies that draw in people by the thousands.

Richmond doesn't satisfy enough of my needs to make me feel at home here. There are no sports, one tiny, crappy zoo, barely any sidewalks or parks (in my area, though I'm sure there may be some elsewhere), no good walkable streets (except maybe one, but it's become so hipster, it makes me want to puke), and no carnivals (only the state fair once a year) or block parties.

So I'm looking to move! Not any time soon, probably within the next two years. But I want to do my research now, so that I'll have plenty of time to learn as much as I can. I don't want to jump into a new city blind, yanno?

My problem is... I don't know where to start! My husband is open to wherever. He isn't bound to VA and knew going into our relationship that I want to move somewhere else. But since he isn't a well-traveled person, he hasn't been to any of the cities I'm interested in, so he's of little help. I've done a million "where should I live" quizzes, but they can only tell you so much. On paper, most of these places sound great. But how am I supposed to know if I'll like it short of visiting them? And I can't very well visit every single city to get a feel for them before I move. There's way too many cities out there!

So for those of you who HAVE relocated, what made you choose that place, other than for work? What research did you do to choose the place, and did it work out for you? Are you still there or did you find you hated it?

Any and all advice is much appreciated.
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Old 04-06-2016, 03:05 PM
 
21,195 posts, read 30,379,606 times
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There are several ways to compile a list of finalists. To begin with I would come up with some non-negotiables in terms of criteria which it appears you have some already with a need for walkability to/from services and fairly easy accessibility to a large city for pro sports, cultural events and a desire for public transit in/out. In my opinion already that narrows the field to larger cities with commuter rail systems. Cities like NYC, Boston, Chicago and Philadelphia strike me as a good place to start, and based on my knowledge of the type of town you're looking for would include places like Montclair or Maplewood NJ, Waltham or Brookline MA, Lincolnshire or Wheaton IL and Bryn Mawr/Ardmore/Narberth or Wayne PA.
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Old 04-06-2016, 03:39 PM
 
6,968 posts, read 14,097,897 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kyle19125 View Post
There are several ways to compile a list of finalists. To begin with I would come up with some non-negotiables in terms of criteria which it appears you have some already with a need for walkability to/from services and fairly easy accessibility to a large city for pro sports, cultural events and a desire for public transit in/out. In my opinion already that narrows the field to larger cities with commuter rail systems. Cities like NYC, Boston, Chicago and Philadelphia strike me as a good place to start, and based on my knowledge of the type of town you're looking for would include places like Montclair or Maplewood NJ, Waltham or Brookline MA, Lincolnshire or Wheaton IL and Bryn Mawr/Ardmore/Narberth or Wayne PA.
I second that. Seems like living in an older small town on the outskirts of a major city would be good for you. Somewhere with good commuter rail. That basically cancels out the whole South and leaves only a few cities. You seem to know what you like and want. A lot of people "just want out" of where they're from, but you seem set on what you're looking for which will help make your move pretty easy. Depending on your political stance, I say look at college towns near the bigger cities. They're usually more walkable with a lot of culture and things to do. While a lot of places will cater to the student life, there is always the need for things for professors and their families to do in college towns. Festivals will happen regularly in many of them, they're walkable, and political rallies will come through. But they're liberal. If you're liberal, you'll be ok in one.

It also depends on your budget. College towns are usually expensive. But if you're budget can afford them, I think there quite a few good options. Maybe a place like Princeton would be good. Easy access to NYC and Philly. New Haven, CT. And I would definitely second all of kyle's suggestions as well.

Honestly, most of NJ and CT would be good for you and nearly all of the Philly suburbs as long as you live in a city near an Amtrak or commuter rail station.
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Old 04-06-2016, 04:00 PM
 
56,621 posts, read 80,930,134 times
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Richmond doesn't have any sports or are you referring to pro sports teams?

In terms of the criteria mentioned in the posts above, areas like Cleveland, Pittsburgh and Buffalo may be areas that fit as well. All of these areas area more affordable and have communities outside of the city that could/would fit what you are looking for. Lakewood outside of Cleveland, Dormont outside of Pittsburgh and Kenmore outside of Buffalo are some places that come to mind and all are in top 100 in terms of population density in the United States. All 3 of these areas have rail and professional sports teams.
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Old 04-06-2016, 06:34 PM
 
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Thanks guys! Those are some great suggestions.

I'll have to look more into Boston and Philadelphia. I haven't really looked north too much, as I was hoping to cut my travel time back to St. Louis for the occasional visit. But I'm still open to them! I've been to Chicago a bunch, and I truly fell in love with it. It's so beautiful with so much to do. But, there's a few things about it that I just don't like, such as insane traffic with crazy drivers (ever heard of their three cars on red rule? lol), extreme cold weather, and the high crime rate. As for NYC, I think that's just too big of a city for me. I've never been, but I get anxiety just thinking about it. lol

I am liberal, so I'd actually prefer college towns. It's nice to be around your own kind in a sense. As I said above though, haven't looked north much, so I'll have to investigate CT and NJ.

And yes, I meant pro sports. lol My bad. I'm a die hard Cardinals baseball fan, so I'd love to be near an opposing team so that I'd have a chance to see them play sometime. The closest to me is D.C., but the Cardinals are rarely there, it's a two hour drive from Richmond, and the traffic in the city is insane. I have looked at Pittsburgh and Cleveland a little though. To be honest, I fell in love with Pittsburgh. It seemed like it had nearly everything I wanted, including the weather, so I thought it'd be perfect. I haven't ruled it out, but I still want to investigate other places.

A couple other cities I looked at were Omaha and Lexington. I know Lexington is smaller, but it's very close to Louisville and Cincinnati, which make up for what Lexington doesn't have. I guess more research needs to be done though.

Thanks again!
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Old 04-06-2016, 07:04 PM
 
Location: Pittsburgh
3,145 posts, read 2,828,809 times
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If you don't like extreme weather (still having off and on snow here), crazy drivers (google Pittsburgh Left), crime (murder rate up), hipsters (the only hot neighborhoods in the city), limited public transit (this is a driving city), then Pittsburgh might not be for you. But let's face it. Every major city is going to have bad traffic, hipsters, and crime.
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Old 04-06-2016, 08:34 PM
 
6,968 posts, read 14,097,897 times
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Chicago does have a bad reputation right now of being dangerous and all. But the crime overwhelmingly occurs in the south side of the city. If you were to move to a suburb of the city, you would have no issues whatsoever with crime. And, their commuter rail system is great there! Metra extends very far out in all directions from downtown Chicago (except east of course ). Depending on what your budget is, the North Suburbs are overall very beautiful and safe with public transit options to downtown Chicago, yet each has its own unique downtown as well. Look into Evanston (where Northwestern is) and Highland Park. There are others, but those are my favorites. Evanston is even served by the Purple Line of the L system, but it is its own city with its own downtown. The Northwestern students keep the area pretty active. Highland Park is served by Metra that will take you to all the action in Chicago. If you can handle the winter, the Chicago suburbs are somewhere you should put high on your list. All the amenities of a world class city. There are also many other nice suburbs to the west of the city, but maybe someone more familiar with them can help you out with them. I'm more familiar with the North Side since that's where a lot of my Chicago friends are from.

Being liberal makes this much easier. No offense to the conservative posters on here, but usually smaller towns with more community feel and vibrant downtowns tend to be college towns. College towns lean much more to the left.

I live in Louisville. My parents live in Lexington. Lexington is the much more beautiful city, I just wish it was larger. I'm a big city boy so Lexington is too small for me, but it has a lot going for it for someone looking for a more small town fee. The downtown is very walkable with a lot of local restaurants, bars, and shops. The students living there bring the vibrancy. My mom moved from LA to be with her new husband there and she's a big city girl as well haha. For the most part, she enjoys it. She's very liberal as well. They live in the older historic district just next to downtown. When the weather is nice, they walk everywhere to eat out and go shopping and see shows and plays. The city itself is very liberal with a gay mayor even. In the summer, there are always things going on in downtown like concerts or random events. You get most big city amenities like a Whole Foods and Trader Joe's. Between Fayette and Hamburg malls, there aren't really any big city stores you're missing out on. Then, on the highway that connects to Louisville, there are the Outlets of the Bluegrass and they're great! Lexington to Louisville is about 1 hour. The outlets are about 40 minutes from Lexington. Cincinnati is about the same distance north. Between the 3 cities, you don't really miss out on much. But public transit is severely lacking in all three of these. A car is required for almost everything unless you're just walking to downtown Lexington. There are no trains connecting the cities at all.

Again, though, if you want a small town feeling place that has adequate public transit, you're going to be looking at mainly the more urban suburbs of larger northern cities. Within the cities themselves, you can find a place close enough to their downtowns to walk to places and then take commuter trains to the major city for more culture and major league sports games and such.
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Old 04-07-2016, 07:00 AM
 
18 posts, read 16,110 times
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Originally Posted by jessemh431 View Post
Chicago does have a bad reputation right now of being dangerous and all. But the crime overwhelmingly occurs in the south side of the city. If you were to move to a suburb of the city, you would have no issues whatsoever with crime. And, their commuter rail system is great there! Metra extends very far out in all directions from downtown Chicago (except east of course ). Depending on what your budget is, the North Suburbs are overall very beautiful and safe with public transit options to downtown Chicago, yet each has its own unique downtown as well. Look into Evanston (where Northwestern is) and Highland Park. There are others, but those are my favorites. Evanston is even served by the Purple Line of the L system, but it is its own city with its own downtown. The Northwestern students keep the area pretty active. Highland Park is served by Metra that will take you to all the action in Chicago. If you can handle the winter, the Chicago suburbs are somewhere you should put high on your list. All the amenities of a world class city. There are also many other nice suburbs to the west of the city, but maybe someone more familiar with them can help you out with them. I'm more familiar with the North Side since that's where a lot of my Chicago friends are from.
That's good to know most of the crime is in one area. Easy enough to avoid! I have family that lives in Arlington Heights, so I'm pretty familiar with that area. It is a nice place. And being from the St. Louis area, we'd always take a train up, then take the Metra to Arlington. I do drive pretty regularly, but the easy commuter system is something I love about the city. Because for those big events, like baseball games or concerts or whatever, I'd prefer to take public transportation than fight the traffic. But every day travel, I'm okay with driving.

I took one trip to the city with my family... We went to Lou Malnati's, then to the Original Mother's where we played beer pong. Either on the walk there or back (can't remember which), I saw a whole bunch of brick townhouses lining the street, and I loved the idea of living in a place like that someday. I used to tell one of my ex boyfriends. "If we ever break up, I'm selling my car and moving to Chicago. I'll just take public transportation everywhere." Obviously I never I did that, because I moved to VA and got married.. But it was definitely a dream of mine to live in the city.

Quote:
I live in Louisville. My parents live in Lexington. Lexington is the much more beautiful city, I just wish it was larger. I'm a big city boy so Lexington is too small for me, but it has a lot going for it for someone looking for a more small town fee. The downtown is very walkable with a lot of local restaurants, bars, and shops. The students living there bring the vibrancy. My mom moved from LA to be with her new husband there and she's a big city girl as well haha. For the most part, she enjoys it. She's very liberal as well. They live in the older historic district just next to downtown. When the weather is nice, they walk everywhere to eat out and go shopping and see shows and plays. The city itself is very liberal with a gay mayor even. In the summer, there are always things going on in downtown like concerts or random events. You get most big city amenities like a Whole Foods and Trader Joe's. Between Fayette and Hamburg malls, there aren't really any big city stores you're missing out on. Then, on the highway that connects to Louisville, there are the Outlets of the Bluegrass and they're great! Lexington to Louisville is about 1 hour. The outlets are about 40 minutes from Lexington. Cincinnati is about the same distance north. Between the 3 cities, you don't really miss out on much. But public transit is severely lacking in all three of these. A car is required for almost everything unless you're just walking to downtown Lexington. There are no trains connecting the cities at all.

Again, though, if you want a small town feeling place that has adequate public transit, you're going to be looking at mainly the more urban suburbs of larger northern cities. Within the cities themselves, you can find a place close enough to their downtowns to walk to places and then take commuter trains to the major city for more culture and major league sports games and such.
Not gunna lie, all of that sounds perfect. lol Since I grew up across the river from St. Louis, I'm used to a commute to the city for activities and sports. So having to drive an hour to Cincinnati or Louisville doesn't bother me at all. In fact, the smaller feel of Lexington with the big cities in the distance sounds even better than Chicago. The only bummer is the lack of trains, but it isn't necessary that I have them. It would just be a luxury to take them into the city for big events or take them instead of driving to St. Louis. But, it's only about a five hour drive, so that wouldn't be too bad. My husband would like the smaller feel too. Plus, Lexington has a lot of stuff with horses, right? I'm not much of a horse person (I actually volunteered at a horse rescue not too long ago, and they scared me more than I expected ), but a place with lots of horses means lots of greenspace and farms. I love looking at farms and rolling hills and all that. Very peaceful.

I'm still going to keep researching, but so far, Lexington is in the lead.. It's just so pretty!
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Old 04-07-2016, 07:10 AM
 
56,621 posts, read 80,930,134 times
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I wouldn't rule out the NYC area. For instance, you may like places like Nyack or the Rivertowns in Westchester County, as they are smaller, dense, walkable and liberal in the case of Nyack, communities.

With the Buffalo suggestion, trips to Toronto only an hour and a half or so away, aren't out of the question either.

Perhaps places in the Philadelphia area like West Chester or Media could work as well.
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Old 04-07-2016, 07:14 AM
 
Location: Clifton, Cincinnati
114 posts, read 80,976 times
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Originally Posted by bluecarebear View Post
If you don't like extreme weather (still having off and on snow here), crazy drivers (google Pittsburgh Left), crime (murder rate up), hipsters (the only hot neighborhoods in the city), limited public transit (this is a driving city), then Pittsburgh might not be for you. But let's face it. Every major city is going to have bad traffic, hipsters, and crime.

Haters gonna hate.
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