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Old 03-02-2010, 12:43 PM
 
Location: VA
3 posts, read 7,649 times
Reputation: 14
Default Stars Hollow versus reality - is there a happy medium

I have lived in the Tri-Cities area of Virginia for most of my life (6 months in Lynchburg as a teenager). I grew up in Colonial Heights and have lived in various parts of Dinwiddie the last 20 years. Its not a BAD area, but its not what I want either. Job opportunities are nil unless you drive to Richmond. That in and of itself wouldn’t be so bad except the condition of the roads in the Richmond/Petersburg area and the increased traffic these past 10-15 years makes the trip nearly intolerable. Plus for my career, the pay is not really worth the wear and tear on a car or the hassle of the commute.

My ideal would be a town similar to Stars Hollow in Gilmore Girls. I know its not real – it’s a made up town and the show is filmed on a small town set built in 1946 (therein lies the draw for me because I love the architecture of the 30’s and 40’s). So, that leaves me to find something as similar as I can that also meets all my needs.

What I like about Stars Hollow:

1) Architecture – 30’s and 40’s style downtown and homes
2) The lack of a strip mall and the cheap quickly built structures that always seem to surround them
3) the lack of a “mall” and its ugly surroundings; SH has small shops and restaurants
4) The ability of the town’s folks to be able to walk to downtown to pick up groceries, eat out, rent a video or simply just walk. This means sidewalks, shops that are open until 9 or so, and a thriving business community in their downtown area.

What we don’t see that is the reality of small towns in this era:
1) Architecture – some towns do take pride in this and keep it well maintained. Others wait until the downtown area is in ruins and then push for a revivals that brings in low-rent shops. Also, the housing that is the older craftsman/cottage-y style is normally only found on the edge of town which is usually lower-income and welfare types and looks like you’re taking your life in your hands just driving by.
2) See #1 above – low rent shops. Most downtown shops in these towns are for tourists, not residents. They sell useless knick knacks, cheap made in China toys, touristy tee-shirts or junk they try to pass off as antiques. No real businesses for sustain daily life of a resident.
3) Lack of job opportunities.

Really, just how much business is there in Stars Hollow? We see Luke’s (2 employee’s tops) Doose’s Market (maybe 5-6 employees), The Independence Inn/Dragonfly Inn (service employees like maids, kitchen staff, maids), Miss Patty’s (maybe one pianist) and hear about the various restaurants and craft type stores. From my obsession with this town, I have caught mentions here and there, but no specifics on what the other adults who live that town do to make the living. Do they commute to Hartford? Is there a downtown business district we don’t see (there is a glimpse in some scenes of a 3-4 story building that could be an office building)?

What I want is:
1) small town - be able to walk on sidewalks to the corner market to get basics, rent a video, to a coffee shop, or just walk
2) either work in town at a steady business or reasonable commute to a larger town
3) to be away from cheaply built, metal buildings, strip malls and sprawl
4) architecture that is nice to look at and well-maintained in a well kept town of older homes (the whole town) and not a town full of subdivisions of cookie cutter homes.
5) all four seasons – not to hot in summer, not frigid in winter with an actual spring and autumn

Does such a place even exist? If so, where? I’m admin by training and can do bookkeeping. I don’t want to climb the corporate ladder, I just want to do admin/bookkeeping work. My kids are grown, but a town with good schools is still a must (tends to attract a better class people) but I don’t want a town full of people who are focused on what they have and outdoing their neighbors. I'm not artsy, I'm consertative but not right-wing so I don't want those extremes either. Some churches are nice, but I don't want a town who's politics are ruled by narrow minded religious leaders - on the flip side, San Francisco type openness is out too.

Any and all suggestions are appreciated.
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Old 03-04-2010, 04:50 AM
 
1 posts, read 4,303 times
Reputation: 10
I think you will find that there are many people out in the world who would love to find their own Stars Hollow. If it were a real place, I too would be relocating.

I am in a similar boat that you're in, but come from an entirely different ocean.

I'm 28 years old and I work in Film and Television production, currently living in Hollywood, California. So many people love this town, and I can't wait to get out of it. I wasn't born here, I wasn't raised here, I just moved here not all that long ago, but it's not for me. It's in fact *so* not me that I am quitting my dream job to move to a small town and start over again.

So I am in my own search for Stars Hollow. I used to live in Santa Barbara, California and that really reminded me a lot of stars hollow, but with more of a west coast surfer attitude, of course. It even had a large gazebo in the park near the center of downtown. I used to walk around and pick out places that reminded me of Stars Hollow. They have festivals for just about everything and its a community that really comes together. I would move back there, but its unbelievably expensive (median house price is 1.1 million dollars, while the median income is barely over $50k). Also, I really want to get out of college towns. I dont need to deal with anymore trust fund college kids and their beer bongs, I dealt with that enough while I was in college. I want to live in a small town full of locals who have invested in the town and who respect the town and the people living in it.

What I am looking for is small town on the west coast. I was born and raised next to the Pacific Ocean, and I need its energy the way I need oxygen. I want a place where its not impossible for a single woman to own her own home. I would also like a place that has a community that knows each other and comes together. I like the idea of community events. Tree lighting ceremonies at Christmas, and town celebrations. I don't want an overly religious town, open minds and hearts are a must.

I want to find a town I can settle down in and not want to leave for many years. I would like to plant some roots there, find a good man, get married and have kids, so I want there to be good schooling options, and I dont want to live too far away from a hospital. I dont want to live in a town where my nearest neighbor is 5 miles away, but I also dont want every phone conversation to be overheard by my neighbors (For example, right now? I can hear my upstairs neighbor snoring)

The town that I have come across so far that really meets some of my requirements (I dont know if it meets them all as I haven't been able to visit the town yet) is Astoria, OR

If anybody knows the area please let me know. Or if there are other suggestions I am open to them. My family all lives in Southern California which is another reason it is important for me to stay on the west coast, if I thought for a second i could be that far from my family I would consider the east coast, but its absolutely not an option for me.
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Old 03-06-2010, 12:40 PM
 
Location: Middle America
16,356 posts, read 12,954,371 times
Reputation: 18775
There are many towns in my homeland of middle America that fit the bill in some ways...but not in terms of a flourishing business district with cute, family-owned small businesses. Fact is, if you're not in a tourist hot spot/vacationing destination, the average small town anywhere in the U.S. is going to be struggling economically. Vibrant downtown districts simply cannot compete with strip malls, big boxes, and suburban mall complexes within driving distance. The population of small towns, unless they are very remote, will not typically effectively support local businesses enough for tons of them to survive, because for small towns that are within driving distance of some larger place with more big retail, it's largely seen as a fun outing to take a trip into "the city" to go shopping, versus supporting local merchants, who then pretty much have to make their prices higher to make up for the people not shopping there. Rising insurance/benefits costs have made it untenable for many would-be small business merchants in small towns to continue to operate, as well.

I grew up on a farm outside a community of 7,000 that had a typical burgeoning small town business district until probably the 1970s (big - for the time - shopping mall went in 25 miles down the road), and it was further eroded in the 80s and 90s by said mall, which is now laughably cornpone by today's shopper's standards) was joined over time by Wal-Mart, Target, Menards, Home Depot, Starbucks, Kohl's, Best Buy, etc.). Nothing in a small town downtown district can compete.

By contrast, I currently live in what was once a small community that a neighboring large city has grown out to meet, and is now effectively a suburb...they retain their 1850s downtown area and it's been the focus of a years-long revitalization project. It's full of shops, and they're movie-lot cute...but they're largely niche stuff (a bike shop for the serious cyclist, the obligatory multitudes of "antiques," an Irish/British import shop, an indie children's bookstore, gelato, yoga studio), not stuff the average shopper needs to go to regularly. They also have useless hours, largely...I see the merit in running a cute coffee shop with fresh-made soups and baked goods that's not a Starbucks, really, I do...even if there are three of them on the same block. But what I find pointless is the fact that on the average weekday, they're closed before I go to work, and closed by the time I get home from work. And closed on Sundays. I don't see why you'd pour a bunch of money into reimagining your historic downtown area, and then proceed to run businesses with hours that really only apply to the retired community or housewives, which in this town, isn't a large segment in either case.
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Old 03-07-2010, 05:55 PM
 
Location: Log home in the Appalachians
9,971 posts, read 6,173,403 times
Reputation: 6456
There's a nice little small town just about what you're describing just outside of Ocean City, Maryland, it's the town of Berlin, Maryland, you just might want to check it out and you might be surprised as to how close it is to what you're looking for...
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Old 03-10-2010, 06:26 PM
 
Location: Philly Metro
379 posts, read 3,494 times
Reputation: 412
There are tons of towns like that in New England. Due to how old the area is, and how strict historic preservation is, you can find tons of towns like this. Middlebury, Bennington, Woodstock in Vermont; Portsmouth in NH, Camden in Maine come to mind.
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Old 03-30-2010, 11:18 AM
 
Location: Oxford, Connecticut
502 posts, read 500,340 times
Reputation: 546
There are tons of towns like that in Connecticut too - The TV show isn't that far off from reality in some aspects. The only thing is that it's expensive. There is no way a single mother who works in an inn could live in the type of home the Gilmore girls do.
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