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Old 07-13-2014, 07:29 PM
 
Location: Grand Rapids, MI
1 posts, read 963 times
Reputation: 10

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My wife and I and our 2 children ages 4 and 2 will be moving to Maryland in the next 2 months from Grand Rapids, MI I will be working as a contractor at Fort Meade. I want to start nailing down some good neighborhoods to target on and upcoming trip in a few weeks. We would really like the feel of a smaller community with things for us and the kids to do together. I'm liking Columbia a little more now because of the parks, distance, stores, etc. We also visited Annapolis a little while back and thought it was great but we have no idea on what areas would be good to raise kids in. We're still open to apartments, renting a home, etc but would first like to target a certain area or two. Anyone have any ideas?
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Old 07-13-2014, 10:23 PM
 
Location: Washington, DC area
10,705 posts, read 18,488,746 times
Reputation: 5405
Annapolis to Ft Meade would be kind of an annoying commute. I would do Crofton or Columbia.
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Old 07-14-2014, 05:35 AM
 
Location: Sneads Ferry, NC
11,090 posts, read 18,613,184 times
Reputation: 4991
I also suggest Crofton or Columbia as safer places for small kids. Annapolis is expensive, good for child-less adults or as a place to visit.
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Old 07-14-2014, 07:57 AM
 
Location: Delmarva
114 posts, read 183,342 times
Reputation: 140
The commute from Annapolis to Ft.Meade isn't that long, depending on where you live in Annapolis. If you live near Rt 50 or I97 then the commute is 20-25 minutes. Granted traffic gets busy after 7am so its best to commute before 7am. Parking can be an issue too after 7:30am in some places at Ft. Meade. Annapolis has many benefits as its close to the Bay Bridge and Kent Island and Eastern Shore, Sandy Pt Beach, and the Delaware Beaches. Annapolis has so much history being state capital. During Christmastime they have the parade of boats where the boats are decorated in holiday spirit. There are just too many things to mention.

Columbia is definitely a nice place, I find it very busy in terms of traffic. Annapolis has many many apts depending on your budget. The area around the Westfield Mall and Anne Arundel Hospital is very nice with many apts.
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Old 07-14-2014, 05:16 PM
 
687 posts, read 652,843 times
Reputation: 2243
Quote:
Originally Posted by The Grand Rapidian View Post
My wife and I and our 2 children ages 4 and 2 will be moving to Maryland in the next 2 months from Grand Rapids, MI I will be working as a contractor at Fort Meade. I want to start nailing down some good neighborhoods to target on and upcoming trip in a few weeks. We would really like the feel of a smaller community with things for us and the kids to do together. I'm liking Columbia a little more now because of the parks, distance, stores, etc. We also visited Annapolis a little while back and thought it was great but we have no idea on what areas would be good to raise kids in. We're still open to apartments, renting a home, etc but would first like to target a certain area or two. Anyone have any ideas?
This is the advice I almost always give: Instead of worrying about specific neighborhoods before you get somewhere, simply rent an apartment reasonably near the area where you will be working (to minimize your commute and therefore maximize your search time) for a six month lease.

Use apartmentratings.net (which I found to be relevant) or another ratings site to find a somewhat decent one. Usually the 2, 3, and 4 star reviews are the ones to pay most attention to since half the 5 stars are legitimate while the other half are plugs by management and the 1 star reviews are mostly made by bad tenants with an axe to grind. [There is a similar dynamic with some Amazon book reviews; check out Hilary Clinton's latest for insight on this phenomenon]

Then use the six months you are renting to REALLY explore neighborhoods in your price range and get on the home buying process. If not then use that time to find another apartment complex if you are not already comfortable with your first choice.

There is literally no better method than the "boots-on-the-ground" technique. Sure you can use the internet to narrow your search, check demographics and that sort of thing, but there is no substitute for physical inspection of the neighborhood (weekend evenings or dusk-ish are best to get a feel for how loud or quiet it will be).

No one really knows which neighborhood or even what town or city or county or state is "the best." That subjective determination is one which can only be made by you and your family. Up to you man, good luck with your search.
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Old 07-14-2014, 08:58 PM
 
Location: Washington, DC area
10,705 posts, read 18,488,746 times
Reputation: 5405
Quote:
Originally Posted by mapmd View Post
This is the advice I almost always give: Instead of worrying about specific neighborhoods before you get somewhere, simply rent an apartment reasonably near the area where you will be working (to minimize your commute and therefore maximize your search time) for a six month lease.

Use apartmentratings.net (which I found to be relevant) or another ratings site to find a somewhat decent one. Usually the 2, 3, and 4 star reviews are the ones to pay most attention to since half the 5 stars are legitimate while the other half are plugs by management and the 1 star reviews are mostly made by bad tenants with an axe to grind. [There is a similar dynamic with some Amazon book reviews; check out Hilary Clinton's latest for insight on this phenomenon]

Then use the six months you are renting to REALLY explore neighborhoods in your price range and get on the home buying process. If not then use that time to find another apartment complex if you are not already comfortable with your first choice.

There is literally no better method than the "boots-on-the-ground" technique. Sure you can use the internet to narrow your search, check demographics and that sort of thing, but there is no substitute for physical inspection of the neighborhood (weekend evenings or dusk-ish are best to get a feel for how loud or quiet it will be).

No one really knows which neighborhood or even what town or city or county or state is "the best." That subjective determination is one which can only be made by you and your family. Up to you man, good luck with your search.
So true. For some reason, I'm turned off by most of the "best areas to live" that people recommend on these forums. I don't know. It just seems like the areas of a metro that all the soccer moms love that are "safe" and have "the best schools" are just terribly boring places with nothing but strip malls and gridlocked traffic. I will recommend them as well because I know that's what a lot of people want.

"Personally", I would MUCH rather live in Annapolis than Crofton or Columbia and honestly I wouldn't have known that before moving here. We rented for a few years than then bought a home. I would highly recommend that route as well. Everybody will just tell you to go to whatever suburb is popular, but there is so much more to a large metro than just a few select burbs and you can find places that are just as safe and with good schools outside the "safe answers" people will always give. Just depends on what you want and the lifestyle you are after.
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Old 07-15-2014, 05:42 AM
 
350 posts, read 973,534 times
Reputation: 152
Hi Grand Rapidian! Do you have a budget for rent? Desired commute time? Do you know if you'll be working at the Fort itself or at one of the offsite locations?
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Old 07-15-2014, 06:20 AM
 
Location: Mount Airy, Maryland
9,405 posts, read 5,202,941 times
Reputation: 14190
Annapolis blows away the other areas It's just that simple. Assuming the OP is living here temporarily I'd strongly consider that. The commute can't be that bad with Int 97 as well as alternative routes should there be a problem. One thing though: we do not have a museum dedicated to Gerald Ford here.
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Old 07-15-2014, 06:46 AM
 
106 posts, read 123,270 times
Reputation: 131
RENT 1st and take your time in picking an area!
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Old 07-15-2014, 10:24 AM
 
Location: Howard County, Maryland
4,928 posts, read 3,129,832 times
Reputation: 14819
Quote:
Originally Posted by kcmo View Post
So true. For some reason, I'm turned off by most of the "best areas to live" that people recommend on these forums. I don't know. It just seems like the areas of a metro that all the soccer moms love that are "safe" and have "the best schools" are just terribly boring places with nothing but strip malls and gridlocked traffic. I will recommend them as well because I know that's what a lot of people want.

"Personally", I would MUCH rather live in Annapolis than Crofton or Columbia and honestly I wouldn't have known that before moving here. We rented for a few years than then bought a home. I would highly recommend that route as well. Everybody will just tell you to go to whatever suburb is popular, but there is so much more to a large metro than just a few select burbs and you can find places that are just as safe and with good schools outside the "safe answers" people will always give. Just depends on what you want and the lifestyle you are after.
I don't necessarily disagree with you. However, keep in mind that the OP has two young kids about to enter school. For many people in that demographic, "safe" and "best schools" and "terribly boring" are exactly what they're looking for.

Also, the OP is coming from a much less-populated area, and will likely find Central Maryland to be a bit overwhelming. Finding a place to live with similar amenities (i.e. strip malls, chain stores, etc.) might prove to be comforting.

This is not at all a knock against Annapolis, which I think is a true gem of a city. And it's certainly possible that the OP might love living there. But Annapolis (the city proper, especially in and near downtown) is quite different from anything in the Grand Rapids area, and I think the OP ought to be made aware of that, if he doesn't already know.
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