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Old 11-07-2009, 01:13 PM
 
6 posts, read 12,068 times
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Hi all,

My wife and I are going to relocate to New England from North Carolina. We moved to Asheville, NC, about five years ago, but want to get nearer to family in Maine. Driving 17 hours for holidays means burning all vacation time, and we miss folks. That said, we do find Asheville’s liberal / artsy / boho scene appealing and have enjoyed the area.

We have both recently been laid off so we are fairly open. We also have some savings and could conceivable live comfortably for two or three months while looking for work. We both started out in journalism, but have migrated towards Marketing as jobs dried up. We would love to work in non-profits in the future.

We like to hike, bicycle, and I ride a motorcycle. We also have a robust dog.

We’ve tried narrowing our list down, but any help would be appreciated. Here’s our thoughts:

Portland, Maine: We did our undergrad at USM and loved the city. Pros: Sort of the same profile as AVL in terms of age and whatnot, somewhat better economy. Cons: We’ve been there and done that. In some ways it would feel like a step backwards…

Burlington, Vermont: This has always seemed like a great little city and the economy is better than Portland. (Or at least the unemployment rate is…) Pros: Progressive politics, proximity to Montreal, and it’s different. Cons: I hear it’s VERTY cloudy and colder than the other cities on the list. We might not fit in with the college crowd anymore – I just turned 42.

Ithaca, New York: This city came out of the blue on Internet searches. A friend we used to work with moved there (for school) and loves it. Pros: Progressive politics, more natural beauty than Burlington (?), very scholastic. Cons: It might be too small, job prospects are not as good, see Burlington Re; college-aged folks.

Others:

Amherst, Massachusetts / Northhampton, Massachusetts: These came up while I was searching this forum. They seem perfect, but the job market(s) appear soft.

Lawerance, Massachusetts: I used to go there to see shows when I was a kid. It’s within commuting distance of Boston and other places. Might be a bit depressing.

Hanover, New Hampshire: See Amherst. It came up here.

Thanks for any help!
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Old 11-07-2009, 01:23 PM
 
Location: Bangor Maine
3,442 posts, read 5,615,946 times
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How about the Portsmouth NH area - not too far from UNH, it is on the seacoast and about an hour or less from Boston. My daughter lives in Dover about 10 miles from Portsmouth and loves it there. They ski, so if you like that, it's possible to go for the day and not stay overnight. For a weekend of skiing there are many great mountains. Rye Beach is about 10 minute drive from Portsmouth. I love the area and wish I lived there too.
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Old 11-07-2009, 01:51 PM
 
Location: New England
8,155 posts, read 18,633,361 times
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Northhampton MA, Brattleboro VT as smaller cities and Hartford or New Haven Metro CT, Providence RI as larger cities would IMO be a better fit for you. (Remember in Northhampton MA you can commute to Springfield pretty easy) In fact I think Brattleboro might remind you of Hashville more than you think! Progressive politics, bohemian/granola feel to it.

As for NH, *maybe* Keene NH or Portsmouth would work for you?

I've been to Ashville as I used to live in NC (Charlotte) for a short time, and believe it or not I've done a lot of the same searching as you, except our end wants are 180 degrees of each other. Doesn't mean we don't come up with the same info though.

Good luck.
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Old 11-07-2009, 02:14 PM
 
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Peterborough is liberal and arty and in the mountains. It's a small town, though, not a city. The MacDowell Colony is there so they get mega-watt writers and artists passing through regularly, and they have nice shops and restaurants.

Portsmouth is also really cultured, it's beautiful ad historic, and it's close to Boston and Portland.

However, if you're specifically looking for progressive politics, you'd probably feel more at home in VT or MA.
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Old 11-07-2009, 02:25 PM
 
Location: Somerville, MA
8,031 posts, read 16,083,115 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Crashrat View Post
Hi all,

My wife and I are going to relocate to New England from North Carolina. We moved to Asheville, NC, about five years ago, but want to get nearer to family in Maine. Driving 17 hours for holidays means burning all vacation time, and we miss folks. That said, we do find Asheville’s liberal / artsy / boho scene appealing and have enjoyed the area.
Hi! I've visited Asheville a few times, it's a nice city. I can see how moving back to family would be a big plus though. Asheville does have a nice little liberal vibe and a great art scene. It's certainly an oasis out there.

Quote:
We have both recently been laid off so we are fairly open. We also have some savings and could conceivable live comfortably for two or three months while looking for work. We both started out in journalism, but have migrated towards Marketing as jobs dried up. We would love to work in non-profits in the future.
Savings are good. But 3 months may not even be enough time. While the markets are soft everywhere, the target markets you've selected are particularly soft (with the exception of Lawrence which is in the Boston area, but we'll get to that). I would really suggest getting up to the target destination and searching. Even with three months of savings, it would be a good idea to line something up before committing. It's just too tough to tell how long it could take to get work in this environment. If it's at all possible, line something up first.


Quote:
We like to hike, bicycle, and I ride a motorcycle. We also have a robust dog.

We’ve tried narrowing our list down, but any help would be appreciated. Here’s our thoughts:
Just about all of the areas you've listed are within close proximity to those things. I would tell you that some are closer than others, but I don't think any of them would take you away from the outdoors nor would any be too tough for your big dog. Motorcycling season in New England is short, but you know that. When the season is in, there are few more beautiful places to ride.

Quote:
Portland, Maine: We did our undergrad at USM and loved the city. Pros: Sort of the same profile as AVL in terms of age and whatnot, somewhat better economy. Cons: We’ve been there and done that. In some ways it would feel like a step backwards…
When I saw "Asheville" here, I thought the same things. The two cities have some incredible similarities. In terms of size, they're very close. The culture is relatively similar and there is a heavy emphasis in both places on the arts. Portland's economy is consistent. It hasn't taken as big of a hit as other places nationwide, but it wasn't super to begin with. Finding a job in Portland won't be easy.

As far as the outdoors, lifestyle and activity you're looking for, Portland has it. If you know and like Portland, it's not a step backwards so much as it's a return to something you love.

Quote:
Burlington, Vermont: This has always seemed like a great little city and the economy is better than Portland. (Or at least the unemployment rate is…) Pros: Progressive politics, proximity to Montreal, and it’s different. Cons: I hear it’s VERTY cloudy and colder than the other cities on the list. We might not fit in with the college crowd anymore – I just turned 42.
Burlington is a great little city. I would have a hard time saying the economy is better though. It's a pretty small city (1/2 the size of Portland) and I don't think it would be as easy to find a job there as opportunities are just so limited. It certainly has that creative, unique spirit you're seeking but it does feel like more of a college town than Portland. 42 certainly isn't ancient, but you may feel a BIT out of place.

As far as the outdoors, there are few cities with better access than Burlington. The mountains are very close and the lake is wonderful. You are less than 2 hours from Montreal which is one of my favorite cities in North America. It's a great plus to have that close by.

Quote:
Ithaca, New York: This city came out of the blue on Internet searches. A friend we used to work with moved there (for school) and loves it. Pros: Progressive politics, more natural beauty than Burlington (?), very scholastic. Cons: It might be too small, job prospects are not as good, see Burlington Re; college-aged folks.
I spent one (very blurry) night there as an undergrad. I know very little about it. It was pretty. It was small. I didn't think it was prettier than Burlington (which I think is the prettiest on the list). It is progressive, but I can't tell you much about the job prospectus out there. It was a college town. Perhaps more so than even Burlington. It's still a hike out to Maine too. My old boss in Portland was from upstate New York and had to make that drive to visit her family. It's not easy, particularly in the winter.

Others:

Quote:
Amherst, Massachusetts / Northhampton, Massachusetts: These came up while I was searching this forum. They seem perfect, but the job market(s) appear soft.
That's a wonderful area. One of my favorites in New England. Keep in mind, while the job market in those particular towns is softer, It's really part of Metro Springfield (a 20 minute drive) which has a relatively decent job market. Hartford CT is also quite a reasonable distance away too (many people commute daily to/from this area to Hartford... it's around 45 minutes driving).

If you consider this area, consider jobs in Springfield or Hartford too. It's just not a bad commute. Otherwise, the job market is soft.

It's worth noting that Amherst has a bit more of a collegiate vibe than Northampton. Northampton is sort of boho and artsy, but it's more populated by the post-college crowd. It's a GREAT community. I think you would like it. Oh, and the area is pretty scenic too.

Quote:
Lawerance, Massachusetts: I used to go there to see shows when I was a kid. It’s within commuting distance of Boston and other places. Might be a bit depressing.
This is the oddball in the group. I don't think it's a good fit at all. Lawrence has gone downhill. It's sort of an industrial shell. While it's close enough to Boston (so the job selection will be better), I doubt the lifestyle would be worth it. Crime is an issue here and there's not much in Lawrence to make putting up with the crime (whereas Portland has plenty to make up for it's small, but existent crime rate).

If an "up and coming" city in the metro Boston area is something you'd be interested in, Lawrence, unfortunately doesn't fit the bill. Lowell has done wonders downtown but still has some rough spots. Haverhill has improved downtown too, but like Lowell has rough spots. New Bedford has a great downtown, history, artistic vibe, etc but like the others... it still has too many trouble spots.

Quote:
Hanover, New Hampshire: See Amherst. It came up here.
Wonderful town, but pretty small and collegiate. The job market is soft here. It's very cold.

Quote:
Thanks for any help!
So, since you're looking for help narrowing it down, I'll list in order from best to worst what I would choose based on your criteria:

1) Portland: I know you've, "been there, done that" but there is a reason Portland has a good reputation. It's a charming little city and it has everything you're looking for. If the only reservation you have is that you feel like you're backtracking, I can't see why this wouldn't be the best fit. If you loved it before, I doubt you'll feel differently now.

2) Northampton/Amherst: It does have what you're looking for. Also, not only are there jobs in the area, there are probably more opportunities (when Springfield and Hartford are factored in) than any of the others on the list (outside of metro Boston). This area doesn't rank far behind Portland at all. In fact, the driver in this ranking 2nd on my list is that it's still a hike to see family in Maine from Northampton. Portland is closer. It also has the ocean... those are the primary reasons I ranked Portland above this area.

3) Burlington: It's colder, but it really is a wonderful area. It's a good distance from Maine (no quality East-West highways in Northern New England), but it's a great little city.

4) Ithaca: The cold, the lack of size, and the distance lead me to rank this town below the rest. It's a nice place and I'm probably not qualified to rank it anywhere, but it is a college town and it's far from Maine.

5) Metro Boston cities (i.e. Lawrence et all): While they do have good access to jobs and some of them really do have some great amenities and a nice little culture, they don't have the independence that Portland, Burlington, Northampton, etc have. They're satellite cities of a larger city and it's obvious that the attention is mainly on the larger city. I think that pockets of these towns (if you're really considering metro Boston, check out New Bedford's Whaling District area... a great urban area with a wonderful blend of art and history) have something to offer, but not to the degree that the others do.

6) Hanover: See Ithaca... just smaller and even more collegiate. If you can find a job, it may be a better fit, but it won't be easy.

If you're willing to go a little larger, check out Providence, RI... particularly the East Side neighborhoods or Federal Hill. It's (imho) the most creative city in New England. There's a real edge in Providence with the presence of RISD, Brown, and JWU. It's a bit further from the outdoors, but there may be some more job opportunities in Prov that aren't in the other cities.
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Old 11-07-2009, 03:04 PM
 
6 posts, read 12,068 times
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This is a great, immensely helpful write-up, Irfox. Thank you so much! We're going to do a run to my sister's with some of our stuff next week and will have just enough time to see Portland and maybe the Northampton/Amherst area.

I have job alerts set up for all these places -- aside from Metro Springfield and Hartford -- but we're sort of conflicted here: Will employers even look at applications from someplace so far away? Our feeling was that we'd have a better chance of getting jobs if we were at least in the New England region. Do you think this is the case?

We'll carry our unemployment wherever we go, and our feeling was that we're burning it on rent down here now when there really aren't any job prospects.

Thanks again for all your help!
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Old 11-07-2009, 03:09 PM
 
6 posts, read 12,068 times
Reputation: 10
I grew up in York and we lived in Dover (and then Barrington) when we did our master’s at UNH and like Portsmouth. It just seems more expensive than Portland and had somewhat less to offer.

Peterborough did come up somewhere today as I was researching. I can’t even see if it’s commuting distance to anything, though. That is one of the issues with AVL, JViello. If you don’t want to work in tourism, you need to get a job in the surrounding areas (which as very Southern, for good and not so good).

Thanks!
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Old 11-22-2009, 01:56 PM
 
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Interesting, I've been contemplating a few of these towns myself, in terms of possibly relocating from Portland, OR.
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Old 12-25-2009, 05:43 PM
 
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Hi, We are planning to go in the opposite direction....from Kittery Point Maine to Asheville. Would you recommend it? We are 65 and 75 and active hikers, swimmers, volunteers. I think that you would love Portsmouth NH. MUCH like Asheville.
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Old 12-25-2009, 06:57 PM
 
56,737 posts, read 81,038,544 times
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Here's a site for jobs in my area: Central New York Jobs

Here's some more sites you might like, if you are interested: Syracuse New Times - The Central New York Alternative, Local Bands & Events Calendar - LATEST ARTICLES
Syracuse Arts Net Home
Onondaga County Parks :: Syracuse, NY
CNYREALTOR.COM | #1 in Syracuse real estate and homes for sale. Search over 6,000 listings.
Syracuse NY Apartments for Rent | Apartment Finder
Syracuse Convention & Visitors Bureau
Syracuse Convention & Visitors Bureau :: Event Planning :: Helpful Links (http://www.visitsyracuse.org/planning/links - broken link)
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