Please register to participate in our discussions with 1.5 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.
I am in the middle of making a decision about where I want to settle down. I've been giving this quite a bit of thought but I can't seem to narrow my choice beyond northwestern Michigan, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, or possibly the mountainous parts of western Virginia. I would like to build a house on at least 5 acres of land, and I love mountains, trees (especially white pines), water, and rolling hills. I don't have any particular preferences about population centers; while I would love to have good shopping and city centers nearby I am very much a small-town girl and I could adapt to either situation well. My primary concern will be finding work where I go; I am an English instructor and currently in the process of completing my Ph.D. I work full-time at a community college and love it and I would need to find a full-time position at another school before I move (while I am qualified for and would consider work at a university, I prefer community colleges). This basically means I need to go where the state is fairly solvent and where the schools are stable.
I would love to get some perspectives on what life is like in Massachusetts, any recommendations you might have for me about moving there, places I should explore, or things I should keep in mind before I make the move. Also, if you happen to have a perspective on the schools themselves, I would really appreciate your input. Thank you so much!!
Something that really jumped out at me was the point in your post when you said it's important for the state to be in good shape financially. In regard to that criterion at least, MA probably moves to the head of the line. Not that this state is in really great shape financially at the moment, but compared to the other states you're considering MA does very well. Also, MA has a history of having a strong economy, and of weathering recessions reasonably well, at least as far back as the recession of the early 80's.
The financial tradeoff is that MA has a high cost of living, especially in the Boston metro area. That would be an important piece of info I'd include in response to your request for any other info in general that people could offer. Unless you live now in CA or NYC or one or two other really high-priced areas, you need to be prepared for having a given amount of money buy less in MA than you're probably used to.
Regarding the community colleges themselves, I'm unfamiliar with the systems in VT, WV, or MI. I'm pretty sure that the MA community colleges are more like typical public junior colleges than you'll find in NH or Maine. Someone please correct me if I'm wrong on this, but I think the community colleges in NH are a bit more blue-collar tech school type schools, with some professional college programs mixed in, than being more like the first two years of college, as they are in MA. Which would work better for you depends on what appeals to you about community colleges. In Maine, if I have it correctly, they don't really have community colleges as such. Most of their state colleges are branch campuses of UMaine. Other than the flagship campus, the schools are like liberal arts colleges with a few master's and associate's programs mixed into the curriculum.
As for your preferences on the kind of place to live, many community colleges in MA are located in either suburbs, the larger cities, or towns that are like larger towns or small cities. In much of the state you could probably find more of a small town that would be within convenient commuting distance of a community college, but if you were to land a job at a school in the Boston area you'd most likely have to plan on living in more of a suburban or urban setting in order to have a convenient commute. It is true, though, that a fair number of Boston's suburbs have more of a small-town feel than you'll find in the subdivision sprawl of fast-growing Sun Belt cities. These towns aren't true small-town America in the way many non-suburban small towns are, but they do have elements of that character.
As far as the landscape and scenery goes, you'll find trees, lakes, and nice rolling hills in any of the New England states, and would be closest to the larger mountains if you lived in central or northern NH.
To finish up by going back to a look at the schools, in addition to community colleges, you may want to take a look at the state liberal arts colleges in MA and NH (could be VT too for all I know, but I'm very unfamiliar with their higher ed. system so I can't be sure) and the smaller UMaine campuses. I'm going to speculate that possibly part of the appeal you see in community colleges is the level of maturity, and dedication to pursuing their educations, found among the returning adult students who attend community colleges, and in many of the students of tradtional age since many of them are paying their own way through college and are not the privileged rich kids found at many private schools. If this is in fact an important part of the appeal you see in community colleges, you may find something similar at many of the state liberal arts colleges and small universities in MA, NH, and Maine. Something to think about, in order to open up more options.
Maybe I'm a bit of a pessimist, but I think the OP would have to go wherever the job is.
I think Mass. community colleges are more than 2-year certificate/tech schools. A lot of people take their basic requirements at cc and then transfer to a 4-year state school. Yes, there are associate degrees in nursing and other tech fields, but they are full-blown liberal arts schools, too.
Work should probably be where you start and, luckily, MA has a lot of what you're looking for. First of all, MA has some of the best schools not just in the country, but best schools in the world. People from all over the world come to the Northeast region of the US, in particular New England and especially MA to continue their post-secondary education.
Right out of the box, I'm thinking Amherst is the best location for you, although the North Quabbin Region of MA seems to be inundated with a larger ratio of community schools. Both would be fine considering you state that you like trees, mountains, water, rolling hills etc. You should Google the Quabbin Reservoir for more info. West Virginia is also a good location for these as well, and probably a little more affordable.......
Which leads me to the one thing I cannot say as a positive: MA is a little more expensive than WV, and so finding 5 acres is probably not going to come easy or cheap. In the Quabbin area of MA, however, it will be easier and cheaper than anywhere else in the State where you can also find good schools and water nearby.
If you DO move to MA, definitely explore the Quabbin for your nature fix (most of MA has some very beautiful "get back to nature" areas, by the way, which are all well within 2 hours of the Quabbin area. Personally, I love American history and if you share this love, I would also strongly recommend a day in the Concord-Lexington area outside of Boston, as well as the city itself (you can actually take a trolly tour of Boston for around $50 I THINK) which will show you the Holocaust Memorial, the Old North Church, Cheers, where JFK made his announcement for candidacy, Paul Revere's cemetary etc etc.
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.