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Old 11-27-2010, 01:34 PM
 
19 posts, read 82,099 times
Reputation: 14

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Hello everyone,

My family is considering to relocate to either Fairfax County Virginia or to Howard County Maryland in the spring of 2011. I'm oringinally from DC, but it's been over 10 years since I lived in the area. I need some assistance with information about Howard County. Can someone answer the following:

What are the best neighborhoods and communities to reside in Howard County? I'm looking into Columbia and Ellicott City.

What communities should I avoid (crime level)?

Are there any great townhome communities or should I stick to single-family home neighborhoods only?

My budget for a house is no more than $430,000. I will have atleast $150,000 down payment to place on a house as well. Would this be enough to afford a single family home or a decent townhome in Columbia or Ellicott City area?

What are the best elementary, middle, and high schools in Columbia and Ellicott City?

What schools should I avoid?

Can you recommend a realtor and a home inspection company to me?

What are your local, state, county, school, car, etc. taxes?

How much do homeowners in Howard County generally pay for homeowner association fees?

Can you recommend a pediatrician, OB/GYN, family doctor, dentist, and pediatric dentist in either Columbia or Ellicott City?

Are there any youth organizations or recreational clubs for children?

How are race relations and diversity in Howard County (I'm in a multicultural family)?

Finally, what are the pros and cons about living in Howard County Maryland.

Also, if there is any other information that you want to provide me about Howard County, then feel free. I would really appreciate any information.

Sorry, for asking so many questions. However, I want to have as much information about Howard County as possible.

Thanks in advance!
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Old 11-28-2010, 07:22 AM
 
350 posts, read 973,879 times
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Wow. Those are a lot of questions.

Quote:
My budget for a house is no more than $430,000. I will have atleast $150,000 down payment to place on a house as well. Would this be enough to afford a single family home or a decent townhome in Columbia or Ellicott City area?
A while back, I would have said no for a single-family home,but I did just a quick search on zillow and I think it's possible. That is, if you don't want a large new home in a prestigious area. I think you might be able to get a smaller home in an older neighborhood near good schools that needs work. I looked in my area of Ellicott City, because that's what I know, and there are a few homes in Font Hill and Valley Meade, both solid, family-oriented communities with good schools. OTOH, that price should get you a very nice large and newer townhome just about anywhere in Howard County.

Quote:
Are there any great townhome communities or should I stick to single-family home neighborhoods only?
For that price, I think you would have more to choose from in a townhome, and you would probably end up with more living space. Maple Lawn is a new upscale community being built in the southern part of the county, near Rt 29 in Fulton, and it has some fabulous townhomes. Many are very pricey, but I saw a few resales close to that price range. Also, the Waverly area of Woodstock in the northern part of the county is a very nice family community, and it seems to have several townhomes for sale in that price range. But there are a lot throughout the county. Elkridge also has a lot.

Go to zillow.com or homefinder.com and put in Howard County, Md for you location and search on a price range. That will give you an idea of what is there.

Quote:
How are race relations and diversity in Howard County (I'm in a multicultural family)?
IMO there's no problem. There's a lot of diversity. The least diverse areas are probably those in the western part of the county, specifically Glenelg HS, and in parts of Ellicott City, there are many more Asians than African Americans, but I don't think anyone would feel uncomfortable anywhere.

Quote:
Are there any youth organizations or recreational clubs for children?
Are you talking sports? There's a lot!

Quote:
What communities should I avoid (crime level)?
The areas perceived to have the most crime are the areas near the older village centers in Columbia (Stevens Forest, Wilde Lake, Harper's Choice, Long Reach.... ) It's really where there are a lot of older apartment complexes, as well as some Ellicott City apartments east of Rt 29 near the county line on Rt. 40.

Quote:
What are the best elementary, middle, and high schools in Columbia and Ellicott City?
That's a loaded question. Generally, the schools in the northern and western parts of the county have performed better on the standardized tests, and people seem to think there are better schools there, but that's not necessarily true. The Columbia schools have more racial and economic diversity and tend to have lower schools than some of the others. And schools with more apartment dwellers and subsidized housing often don't perform as well. Also, real estate agents will decide to appoint an area as having the best schools, depending on the season and how much profit they will make there, so take whatever you're told by them with a grain of salt. The school system website [url="http://hcpss.org/"] has excellent information on how the schools perform. Feel free to pm me if you want more specific
Quote:
s.

Finally, what are the pros and cons about living in Howard County Maryland.
I like BWI. It's close, easy to get to, no traffic problems... and even if it were further away, I'd still prefer it over Dulles or Reagan. I like being close to both Baltimore and Washington and being able to get into both cities without going around a beltway.

I have to ask you if there is a job location yet. I love HoCo, but I moved here because it was close to my job. I grew up in VA and would proably have chosen Fairfax County in a heartbeat if it were closer. But there's no way I could have tolerated that commute. Both locations are good and have a lot to offer families, but I don't think either place has enough advantages to offset a bad commute. That should be your first priority.

Last edited by newhart; 11-28-2010 at 08:29 AM..
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Old 11-28-2010, 03:39 PM
 
19 posts, read 82,099 times
Reputation: 14
Thumbs up Thanks!

Newhart,

Thanks for having the patience to answer some of my questions. I hope that my extensive list of questions don't scare others away.

Actually, my husband and I both work from home. We relocated to Texas years ago. However, now that we have children we want to move back home. We could still work for the same company from our home office. So, we will not have a commute to worry about. We will occassionally have to travel for work. So, residing near an airport will be a plus for us.
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Old 12-08-2010, 01:04 PM
 
766 posts, read 1,301,841 times
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You must be working in DC to consider two very different locations. Just FYI - we moved here Mar 08 from Alpharetta GA and previously lived in Seattle, so we're transplants. We have family with the military that moved to Leesburg, VA and looked in Fairfax (but couldn't swallow the housing prices).

I have neighbors that commute into DC as well as north to Towson. Closer to DC would be the River Hill HS and communities. Clarksville has some nice areas, we didn't look much there as my husband's job is off of MD100, but I would research that area. Columbia is more diverse economically and culturally, and there are hit or miss areas, but it has a wonderful trail network between the communities and if we had know when we moved here we would have considered it more. Eastern HC - Laural and near I-95 is just o.k. Fort Meade is there, but I think the more professional military live further out north and west (we have a few DOD guys and an Army surgeon in the neighborhood who commutes to Walter Reed).

Probably the best school (arguably) would be Centennial HS. Looking at the demographics it's 60%W, 30%A, and 10%AA with less than 5% economically disadvantaged. Here's where you can get all the schools profiles: Howard County Public School System
The home prices in the area (obviously) reflect the prestige of the school. We picked Mt. Hebron HS (60W, 25A, 15AA) which is in north Howard near I-70. It's middle of the pack. We picked our area because the elementary school we're at has only 500 kids. Another school down the road has nearly 1000 kids and it was designed for 850 (yes, they will be redistricting in the near future). I'm partial to smaller schools. And our area is somewhat economically diverse (and culturally) as there are houses between $250k (old house/big lot) and $800k (big house/small lot) that attend the same elementary school. (I guess we're really not that diverse since there aren't any rental properties or town-homes in the area...) The area we're in is near US29 and MD103. The shopping center has Target, Staples, Barnes & Noble, Old Navy, Michaels, Safeway and Kohls (I never need to go anywhere else). And the YMCA is across the street and the Parks and Rec indoor facility is 1/2 mile away with baseball fields, a playground and nice walking paths. There's also a LifeTime Fitness somewhere nearby that neighbor's belong to.

I love almost everything about Howard County - when I moved here I saw these green "Choose Civility" bumper stickers Choose Civility - Home (I've also seen "choose insanity" bumper stickers lately). The public library is wonderful (compared to Atlanta and even Seattle), I've had great experiences with a couple of pre-schools, and there's lots of community activities. HCG Home Page: Department of Recreation & Parks We're 35 min to the Greenbelt metro and on Sat AM we're 45 min to the Mall. We're 25 min to downtown Baltimore.

The only con would be the swimming pool situation. (so I really have no complaints). There aren't many (I can only think of one) swim/tennis communities. They were everywhere in GA (and we lived at one). There are several community pools if you live in Columbia and you can join the pools if you become a Columbia Association member. Otherwise there are swim 'clubs' that you can join - usually between $300 and $700 for the season.

For your commute, there is a MARC station at MD100 and exit 6 (just before Coca-Cola dr.) that takes you straight into Union Station. My sister-in-law had a stint at DuPont circle and stayed with us a few weeks and it took her 75min (but she just read on the train).

We had a good Realtor, but with our moves have realized that they tend to direct you to areas they like and are familiar with (and of course the higher price points). BTY our middle school Ellicott Mills was just named a Blue Ribbon school, but it is getting overcrowded and areas will be redistricted in the next 2-3 years. With the grow in Howard county, it has it's growing pains and HC redistricts every 2-3 years. The HCPSS.org website has a page devoted to 'school attendence areas'.

Are you moving from Texas? (I'm actually moving to Texas next Spring - very sad)
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Old 12-08-2010, 02:15 PM
 
19 posts, read 82,099 times
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Carroll,

Thanks for your response.

Well, it looks like we're trading places. Yes, I'm moving away from Texas. My husband and I want to be closer to family. I'm originally from Washington DC.

Commute time will not be a concern because my husband and I both work from home. That's why we can't decide rather we want to live in Howard or Fairfax County.

I haven't contacted a realtor yet. I'm trying to do all of my research before I speak with a realtor.

Which city are you relocating to in Texas?
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Old 12-08-2010, 02:43 PM
 
766 posts, read 1,301,841 times
Reputation: 561
We'll be heading to Dallas (north, east, west - not sure). My husband will work downtown, so it makes finding an area more difficult (or easier), because commuting becomes a factor. I've met a few folks that have moved to the area from northern Virginia, and most have said it's generally more laid back up here. There certainly isn't the traffic you find in VA (from what I've heard) - even if you're just going grocery shopping in the middle of the day or taking the kids to swimming lessons after school. You can't go wrong with the public schools either place, and yet people send their kids to some pretty nice private schools. Oh, I forgot to mention - it takes 20 minutes from my driveway to BWI - east on MD100, up 285 in no time (or you can go I95). US flights to/from BWI are generally cheaper than Dulles I believe, and the airport easier to navigate, but you don't have the good international connections.
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Old 01-07-2011, 05:37 PM
 
10 posts, read 19,739 times
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I think that you can not go wrong with Howard County. Even the "bad" parts, or not bad. I think you should really look at the school website closely it is a wealth of information.We may be getting relocated to Florida, and we are so sad to be leaving HoCo. Great schools, great shopping, great roads, great libraries, incredible parks and recreation department, and beautiful! The diversity is amazing and no matter what color your skin is or language you speak, you will never feel out of place here. The pools are true, you do have to "join" some associations. However, some communities do have pools. ( Worthington,Maple Lawn). Also, with Columbia Association, even if you don't live in Columbia, you get pools, tennis and three health clubs all for one price!
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Old 01-10-2011, 12:23 PM
 
19 posts, read 82,099 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jcgpartyof5 View Post
I think that you can not go wrong with Howard County. Even the "bad" parts, or not bad. I think you should really look at the school website closely it is a wealth of information.We may be getting relocated to Florida, and we are so sad to be leaving HoCo. Great schools, great shopping, great roads, great libraries, incredible parks and recreation department, and beautiful! The diversity is amazing and no matter what color your skin is or language you speak, you will never feel out of place here. The pools are true, you do have to "join" some associations. However, some communities do have pools. ( Worthington,Maple Lawn). Also, with Columbia Association, even if you don't live in Columbia, you get pools, tennis and three health clubs all for one price!
Thank you so much for your help.

I actually chose to relocate to Fairfax County Virginia instead. However, I hope that this thread will help another person.

By the way, good luck on your move to Florida.
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