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Old 07-26-2016, 02:59 PM
 
2 posts, read 1,556 times
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My apologies in advance for the lengthy post.

I have really enjoyed perusing the various threads on this forum, and have found a ton of helpful information. I hope to get some similarly good advice in this thread.

Within the next few years, I (married father of three toddler boys) and my extended family (my parents, my brother, his wife, their young son) may all be looking to relocate together to a new area to "put down roots" and raise our families after my parents retire. I would appreciate any suggestions you might have on what areas we should look into.

A quick overview of our situation: All of us currently live in Austin. My brother and I are both attorneys. While our families like living in Austin and we have well-established careers here, we are considering the possibility of leaving Texas entirely in a few years (after much research and planning) to pursue a "slower-paced" life in a place that better matches our values and desires.

Financially, I think that I have the ability to make a living in a wide range of places, including mid-size cities or small towns. But in order to make the career and financial sacrifices necessary to relocate to a small town, I would want to ensure that it is the ideal location based on our collective desires. Here is a (non-exhaustive) laundry-list of things we are looking for:

1) A small-town (~ 20,000 or less) in a beautiful natural setting
2) A tight-knit, family-friendly community
3) Great schools
4) Low poverty and crime
5) Access to cultural opportunities (arts, museums, music, etc.)
6) A slower-pace of life
7) True four seasons weather (preferably in climate much colder than Texas)
8) Affordable housing
9) Interesting local shops and restaurants (preferably in a walkable town square/downtown area)
10) Access to outdoor recreation
11) Connection to history (interesting architecture, historical sites, etc.)
12) High civic engagement
13) Lots of community events/ traditions
14) Access to adequate healthcare
15) Active religious community
16) Cultural diversity (or at least acceptance/absence of pervasive racism)

I grew up in a small town and understand the typical problems associated with rural life (close-mindedness, poverty, etc.) But I am also familiar with the benefits of being part of a smaller community with less of a focus on materialism and running the career rat race. My family tends to skew more conservative/traditionalist, in contrast to the prevailing liberal sentiments in Austin.

Are there any towns or general areas you can suggest that meet some or all of these criteria?

After some preliminary research, here are some areas that I have already looked into as possible candidates: (a) the Upper Connecticut River Valley in NH or VT; (b) the Boulder, Co area (specifically Louisville); (c) northern Connecticut; and (d) northern interior Oregon (Hood River County, etc.).

Do you have any specific thoughts on these regions?

Thanks again for any advice, and I am happy to answer any additional questions about what we are looking for in a potential new home.
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Old 07-27-2016, 06:36 AM
 
Location: Wonderland
44,953 posts, read 36,237,009 times
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I think the only small towns that would fit your criteria are going to basically be bedroom communities of larger metro areas. If you move away from a big metro area, you are not likely to find the open minded, diverse community with a cool art scene and good restaurants and good medical facilities. But if you want those amenities, you are probably going to have to sacrifice when it comes to the lifestyle pace, housing costs, and possibly the crime rate.

You can't really have all the cultural amenities you're looking for, in lazy, quiet small towns that aren't near a bustling metro area (like Austin, for instance). You live in Austin - so let me ask you something: Do you like Wimberley? Or Dripping Springs? Or Pflugerville? Or Blanco? I'm asking because those are examples of small towns that are around a larger metro area - not because I think you should move to one of those.

When my husband and I got married ten years ago, I moved to the small town he was living in, because his son needed to finish high school and graduate. UGH. I HATED it. I am a very friendly, extroverted, and active person who loves doing volunteer work, loves the arts, etc. I found the small town mentality absolutely stifling. I've tried to live in small towns several times in my lifetime and each time I really disliked it. I found that I am definitely not a small town sort of person. In every small town I have tried (that wasn't basically a bedroom community of a larger metro area - so still basically busy and cosmopolitan), I just couldn't deal with the small minded, closed mentality of the long term residents.

In other words, do you want a small town that's basically adjacent to a big metro area - or one that's pretty removed from the hustle and bustle (and cost of living) of a larger metro?

Oh, one other thing I noticed living (or trying to live) in small towns: The housing market is really weird. Before you buy a home, be sure you ask what the average time on the market is. It can often be TWO YEARS. If I were you - and used to the amenities of the Austin area - I'd definitely rent for a year before committing to buying. That way if you find that you just don't like the vibe of a small town, you don't have your money tied up in a property that takes forever to sell.

I'll give you another example from my own life and trying to like living in a small town: When we went to sell our home and move back to a larger metro area (THANK THE LORD), we realized that our home was one of only three homes priced at over $250k - and that particular market was agonizingly slow to move in that little town. We either had to wait patiently for a buyer to stumble along, or take a hit on our house. We waited patiently. It took a year to sell it.

My inlaw's house is part of an estate that my husband and his brother inherited. It's in another small town which is about an hour drive in any direction from any significant metro area, in a town of about 15,000. (I can't even begin to tell you how much my husband and I dislike that little town by the way.) It's been on the market now for about 7 months. It's priced well below what a comparable property would cost, even in a small metro of 200K. We FINALLY have a contract on it but in my opinion they are getting one helluva deal. Well, on second thought, maybe not - because no matter how great the property is - it's still in that wretched little town.

If you don't mind the hustle and bustle of a larger metro, you might want to look at the "Historic Triangle" area of Virginia - the Hampton Roads area. It ticks just about all of the criteria you are asking for, except for a "slower pace of life" and "affordable housing." Everything else seems to be a good fit. If you haven't taken your family to that area yet on a vacation, you really ought to take them there and check the area out.

Another area you might be interested in is the Asheville, NC area.

Oh, and another one is the Abingdon, MD area.

Yes, I'm partial to the Chesapeake Bay area, and VA, NC, and MD.

Last edited by KathrynAragon; 07-27-2016 at 06:50 AM..
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Old 07-27-2016, 07:40 AM
 
56,696 posts, read 80,995,527 times
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Perhaps Geneva, Corning, Oswego, Plattsburgh, Cortland, and Hamilton, among other stand alone small cities/towns, in NY. Almost all have 4 year colleges, which bring events to that community. All are within a reasonable distance to a bigger city/area.

Out those mentioned, Geneva is the most diverse and has solid schools that have improved. This is a nice area of the city of 14,000 that may appeal to you: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=7tGswej8vbw

This is an initiative that is geared towards improving schools there: HWS: Geneva 2020

Geneva City Schools

More info: Downtown Geneva, New York 14456 - The Difference is Downtown!

Geneva | Uniquely Urban

https://theurbanphoenix.com/2016/04/...-of-grateness/

It is midway between Rochester and Syracuse. I'm not going to say that it matches everything perfectly, but it comes pretty close to what you may be looking for.

Last edited by ckhthankgod; 07-27-2016 at 08:20 AM..
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Old 07-27-2016, 10:50 AM
 
Location: Southern California
270 posts, read 224,338 times
Reputation: 206
If you're willing to go for a slightly bigger city, consider Lake Oswego, Oregon. It borders Portland, but is self-contained and has a much different feel. Portlanders tend not to like Lake Oswego, and vice-versa.

Here's the breakdown:

1) A small-town (~ 20,000 or less) in a beautiful natural setting
Beautiful natural setting, yes. Forested, hilly, with a lake in the middle of town. Population is 30,000-40,000 or so, so bigger than you're looking for.

2) A tight-knit, family-friendly community
Yes.

3) Great schools
Excellent schools. You will here about schools being bad in Oregon; Lake Oswego is one of the very notable exceptions.

4) Low poverty and crime
It's an affluent area, and crime is so low that the local newspaper published a book collecting the "best of" humorously frivolous calls to the police department. Violent crime is very rare.

5) Access to cultural opportunities (arts, museums, music, etc.)
Public art on literally every streetcorner in some parts of town. Yearly "Festival of the Arts" is a major event. You can always go to Portland for the opera, ballet, more theater and art, etc.

6) A slower-pace of life
I would say it's kind of medium-slow paced: not as slow-paced as a rural area or smaller town, but definitely a slower pace than Portland (I imagine Austin's pace is comparable to Portland's?).

7) True four seasons weather (preferably in climate much colder than Texas)
Pretty much, though be prepared for extended grey drizzly weather in any season that isn't summer. Summer is typically warm and dry. Not humid.

8) Affordable housing
Depends on what you consider affordable, but generally no. It's a little cheaper in the outlying edges of the city.

9) Interesting local shops and restaurants (preferably in a walkable town square/downtown area)
Yes, though having not been there for a long time, I can't vouch for exactly how the shops and restaurants are nowadays.

10) Access to outdoor recreation
Yes: many nature trails in the city, plus you can drive to Mt. Hood, the Gorge, etc.

11) Connection to history (interesting architecture, historical sites, etc.)
Moderate. LO seems to recently have taken a greater interest in its history. There are a couple historical sites, plus historical home tours, historical preservation groups, etc. Oregon City (across the river) is the site of the end of the Oregon Trail, so there's that.

12) High civic engagement
Yes! People have a lot of civic pride and many get very involved.

13) Lots of community events/ traditions
Yes.

14) Access to adequate healthcare
Yes.

15) Active religious community
Depends. People say the Portland metro area is very non-religious, but LO has several different Christian denomination churches, including a nice Catholic church and large Mormon temple. I definitely had some friends growing up who were religious (and others who weren't).

16) Cultural diversity (or at least acceptance/absence of pervasive racism)
Nope. LO is very non-diverse. I haven't been there recently enough to comment on current acceptance level; at the time (15 years ago), I did see some minor incidents of racism, but if people were racist they for the most part never said anything overtly (and many people weren't racist at all).

So LO might be a match, or it might not. I think you are going to have to compromise somewhere, as a lot of your preferences are in practice usually contradictory-- hard to have low poverty but affordable housing, for example, and most artsy towns are going to be more liberal than you would like. You could also try other Portland suburbs, like West Linn or Wilsonville, which are both smaller and relatively less expensive, but are not as artsy as LO.
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Old 07-27-2016, 11:15 AM
 
Location: Chapel Hill, NC, formerly DC and Phila
8,569 posts, read 12,681,399 times
Reputation: 8334
I think Northwest Arkansas sounds liike it meets all of your requirements. Bentonville school district for the schools.
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Old 07-27-2016, 11:30 AM
 
1,615 posts, read 1,063,548 times
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Connecticut fits that but ct is not affordable depending on your budget. Taxes are insane plus with you being in a small town a job might be a problem
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Old 07-27-2016, 04:45 PM
 
3,621 posts, read 1,538,253 times
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The areas you listed have generally high housing costs and are more suburban than "small town". I usually think of "small town" as more rural, not within a metro area. Is that what you're looking for? You can also find some small town atmospheres within most metro areas. For instance, I live in the Charlotte area. The suburb I live in has about 75k residents. But Kings Mountain, Lincolnton, and Clover are "Mayberry"-like towns, but are within a 30-45 minute drive into Charlotte. Sort of the best of both world. Low housing costs, low taxes, great people, 4 season climate, yet still close to big city amenities when you want them. Those towns are nice. Being outside of a metro area might make it hard to have a law practice if the town's too small. No matter where you guys land, good luck in your search!
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Old 07-27-2016, 06:01 PM
 
Location: TOVCCA
8,452 posts, read 11,454,583 times
Reputation: 12309
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sorcerous_Thought View Post
My family tends to skew more conservative/traditionalist, in contrast to the prevailing liberal sentiments in Austin.
...some areas that I have already looked into... (b) the Boulder, Co area (specifically Louisville)... (d) northern interior Oregon (Hood River County, etc.).
So you're conservative but you're interested in 2 states that have legalized recreational marijuana?
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Old 07-27-2016, 09:29 PM
 
Location: Pittsburgh
3,145 posts, read 2,831,191 times
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The southern tier and finger lakes regions of New York, except for Ithaca. That would be too liberal.
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Old 07-27-2016, 11:58 PM
 
Location: Southern California
270 posts, read 224,338 times
Reputation: 206
Quote:
Originally Posted by nightlysparrow View Post
So you're conservative but you're interested in 2 states that have legalized recreational marijuana?
If only state politics were so simple:
Oregon Election Results 2014: Ballot Measures Map by County, Live Midterm Voting Updates - POLITICO

Where do you imagine more pot is probably smoked in reality: the conservative counties of Oregon that voted against legalization, where recreational pot is now legal due largely to Portland voters; or Humboldt County, California, where recreational pot is presently illegal?
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