U.S. CitiesCity-Data Forum Index
Go Back   City-Data Forum > U.S. Forums > General U.S.
Please register to participate in our discussions with 2 million other members - it's free and quick! Some forums can only be seen by registered members. After you create your account, you'll be able to customize options and access all our 15,000 new posts/day with fewer ads.
View detailed profile (Advanced) or search
site with Google Custom Search

Search Forums  (Advanced)
Reply Start New Thread
Old 07-28-2016, 07:38 AM
56,538 posts, read 80,824,285 times
Reputation: 12490


I think college towns with less than 20,000 people could work due to the college(s) usually bringing a cultural aspect to that community.

Another NY "city" that comes to mind is Oneonta. It is a city of 13,000(21,000 if you include the town of Oneonta) with 2 colleges and some visible degree of cultural diversity. It is located in between Albany and Binghamton at the Foothills of the Catskill Mountains. Visit Oneonta NY :: Home

Main Street Oneonta NY :: Life Enjoyed

Destination Downtown Oneonta, NY - Dining, Shopping, Services

Foothills Performing Arts Center | Oneonta NY
The Artisans' Guild Oneonta | Fine Handcrafted Gifts by Regional Artists. A Cooperative Shop
Welcome to Artware
Yager Museum of Art & Culture Hartwick College

Oneonta City School District

Home - OPT Rides | OPT Rides

Cooperstown isn't too far away as well. Cooperstown, NY Official Site - Vacation Guide to Cooperstown & Oneonta

There are buses to go to NYC as well: https://trailwaysny.com/bus-from-one...new-york-city/

Here's a street view: https://www.google.com/maps/@42.4535...8i6656!6m1!1e1

Last edited by ckhthankgod; 07-28-2016 at 09:00 AM..
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message

Old 07-28-2016, 11:13 AM
2 posts, read 1,552 times
Reputation: 10
Thank you all so much for the thoughts and suggestions! To address a few points that have been raised, I probably should have clarified what I meant by "affordable housing" and "cultural opportunities". By affordable I meant not excessive (i.e., California). For context, I would consider a 3/4 bedroom, ~2,000 sq ft. house for ~$350k reasonable.

For cultural opportunities, I understand that no small town is going to have anything approaching the amount of options as a metro area, but having grown up in a small town in Texas and having also lived in New England for a few years, I would say that even small towns in New England have more cultural opportunities (arts, festivals, etc.) than what I grew up with.

Also, as for diversity, I understand that many small towns probably lack a ton of cultural diversity. I was more getting at wanting to find a place with less blatant, active racism and bigotry (as is prevalent in some small towns).

Finally, on the issue of legalized recreational marijuana, my wife is actually a sufferer of a chronic pain disease, so I would actually consider it a plus to be in a state where she would have prescription marijuana available as an option. Also I would say we tend to be more libertarian on the issue anyway.

I have been looking more and more at the Upper Connecticut River Valley region in Vermont in New Hampshire. It seems to hit most or all of the factors on my checklist-- slower pace of life, tight-knit community, but lower poverty and higher education due to the proximity of Dartmouth and its medical center. Any thoughts on this particular area, or other areas that are similar?

Thanks again!
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 07-28-2016, 12:20 PM
56,538 posts, read 80,824,285 times
Reputation: 12490
Hershey PA outside of Harrisburg has the Penn State Medical College and is a community of about 15,000. So, that may be another potential option.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 07-28-2016, 07:39 PM
Location: Clemson, SC by way of Tyler,TX
4,849 posts, read 2,975,563 times
Reputation: 3394
stay in the south please. Boulder is not for you.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 08-08-2016, 04:34 PM
Location: Cedar Rapids, IA
17 posts, read 9,335 times
Reputation: 54
I seriously think that you should give Decorah, Iowa a look. It's a small college town in the northeast part of the state. It's basically on the border of Minnesota. 1 hour drive to Rochester. 2 hours to the Twin Cities. 1 1/2 to La Crosse, Wisconsin.

A small-town (~ 20,000 or less) in a beautiful natural setting: Population 7,907. Obviously, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I personally find this area to be one of the most overlooked in the country. http://cdn.onlyinyourstate.com/wp-co...016/04/1a.jpeg. This is the view from one of the parks in town. The entire driftless area is gorgeous though. (https://www.google.com/search?q=drif...w=1280&bih=752)

2) A tight-knit, family-friendly community: I'd say so. I don't know for sure because I don't live there (I go to college there).

3) Great schools: The Decorah Community Schools are ranked 2nd in the state of Iowa according to US News (if that holds any merit). There is also a parochial school system for elementary, I believe.

4) Low poverty and crime: The only crime I hear of is bike theft on Luther's campus. There are some rowdy-ish students but most of them are pretty respectful and the partying is kept in pretty secluded pockets of town.

5) Access to cultural opportunities (arts, museums, music, etc.): The Vesterheim Norwegian American Museum is in Decorah (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vester...merican_Museum). The town is very obviously proud of its Norwegian heritage. There are Norwegian flags all over the place. Many houses also have Gnomes welcoming you at their doors. The McDonalds is done up in Norwegian architecture and has Norwegian Welcome and Goodbye signs (I thought this was sort of cute when I got here). Then there is Luther College. It has a huge music program. There are 600 people in the choir alone. Every year they put on a series of Christmas performances that are pretty spectacular (if I do say so myself). There are a couple other places in town that have art, such as Arthaus, which hosts poetry slams every now and then and teaches art classes. There are also a couple of local artists in the town that have studios.

6) A slower-pace of life: This is relative I suppose. I have nothing to compare Decorah to because I am from Iowa. Probably a lot slower than Austin though.

7) True four seasons weather (preferably in climate much colder than Texas): Definitely.

8) Affordable housing: You can do some zillow / realtor searches to decide for yourself. Much cheaper than Austin for sure.

9) Interesting local shops and restaurants (preferably in a walkable town square/downtown area): Downtown has a decent variety of offerings. There are two craft breweries in town. One being Toppling Goliath, which is considered one of the best breweries in the nation currently. There is a yarn / knitting shop. There is the aforementioned Arthaus. Also a decent sushi place. A couple of higher end restaurants. A restored historic hotel. 3 coffee shops. Mabe's Pizza is pretty famous in the area. A food coop. Quite a few specialty farms around the area. Most notably Seed Savers Exchange, which is a seed bank that carries heirloom plants and has a herd of endangered cattle. They've kept me interested so far.

10) Access to outdoor recreation: There is a lot of this. Trout Run Trail is a 13 mile paved trail that goes around the town. There are a handful of city parks that have trails. There is a series of mountain biking trails as well. The Upper Iowa river is popular for paddling / tubing. There's also Seed Savers outside of town that has hiking. Luther has ~1000 acres of land which includes a decent variety of hiking areas and a restored prairie (the community has its own restored prairie as well). Most of the parks offer trails in the summer and a couple have cross country skiing in the winter. About an hour away is the Mississippi River and a host of other hiking places such as Effigy Mounds National Monument and Pikes Peak State Park. I could go on. It's one of the best towns in the state for being outside.

11) Connection to history (interesting architecture, historical sites, etc.): Downtown is pretty well preserved. There are quite a few historic spots around the area as well. There are some pretty well kept 19th century homes in the older part of town.

12) High civic engagement: I'm not a permanent resident so I don't know a lot about this.

13) Lots of community events/ traditions: Nordic Fest is the greatest one that comes to mind. It's pretty big in the area. A ton of people show up to it every summer. It's also the county seat so the Winneshiek County Fair happens there. Luther offers quite a few other events as well. When it's in season, there is a farmer's market every wednesday and saturday.

14) Access to adequate healthcare: There is a hospital in town. One of the best hospitals in the world is about an hour away in Rochester (Mayo Clinic).

15) Active religious community: It depends on the religion. The biggest one here is Lutheranism. Specifically the ELCA (which Luther falls under). There is also a Catholic church and a couple other christian churches. There is a buddhist retreat place of some sort around here. I forget what it's called.

16) Cultural diversity (or at least acceptance/absence of pervasive racism): Small town Iowa. White people for the most part. The college brings some diversity when school is in session, and there are some more diverse faculty. I don't think there is any blatant racism but I'm white so I couldn't really know for sure.

I hope your search goes well! Definitely do some research on Decorah if you find it interesting.

Last edited by eaterofhummus; 08-08-2016 at 05:20 PM..
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 08-09-2016, 03:59 AM
Location: Minneapolis, MN
6,059 posts, read 3,379,100 times
Reputation: 7700
Sounds like the Upper Midwest like Minnesota, Wisconsin or Iowa is up your alley. You get a lot of the civicness, as well as the churchiness, but a more open minded type of churchiness, not the type commonly found in the Bible Belt.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 08-09-2016, 12:06 PM
Location: TOVCCA
8,452 posts, read 11,428,298 times
Reputation: 12307
Originally Posted by Sorcerous_Thought View Post
I have been looking more and more at the Upper Connecticut River Valley region in Vermont in New Hampshire.
Please do your research regarding the massive increase in heroin use in both of these states, in both urban and rural areas. Here's just a sample:

First in Heroin, First in the Nation to Vote - The Daily Beast

Heroin epidemic hits Vermont community hard - CBS News
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 08-09-2016, 12:12 PM
Location: Scottsdale, AZ
5,616 posts, read 3,934,565 times
Reputation: 7917
Wheaton, IL sounds like a great fit for you guys, in almost all aspects. The only thing is that its not exactly in a "beautiful natural setting", but it is absolutely full of tree-lined streets and access to nearby gardens and forest preserves complete with rivers and sledding hills, etc.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Please register to post and access all features of our very popular forum. It is free and quick. Over $68,000 in prizes has already been given out to active posters on our forum. Additional giveaways are planned.

Detailed information about all U.S. cities, counties, and zip codes on our site: City-data.com.

Please update this thread with any new information or opinions. This open thread is still read by thousands of people, so we encourage all additional points of view.

Quick Reply

Over $104,000 in prizes was already given out to active posters on our forum and additional giveaways are planned!

Go Back   City-Data Forum > U.S. Forums > General U.S.
Similar Threads
Follow City-Data.com founder on our Forum or

All times are GMT -6.

2005-2019, Advameg, Inc. · Please obey Forum Rules · Terms of Use and Privacy Policy · Bug Bounty

City-Data.com - Archive 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35 - Top