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Old 03-30-2008, 10:52 AM
 
Location: Harrisonburg, VA
3 posts, read 15,369 times
Reputation: 10

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Hello all,
I just accepted a job at James Madison University, but I am concerned about living hours from a major metropolitan area. I used to live in DC and I grew up in the Philadelphia suburbs and I prefer living and working among diverse groups of people. I am a fine arts professor, liberal minded and in my late thirties. Currently I live in Valdosta, GA which is about the same size as Harrisonburg but over 3 hours from Atlanta. There are very few single professional blacks here and I was tired of feeling lonely and isolated and I feared if I stayed here I would be single forever. Ironically, after I resigned from my position, I met the man of man of my dreams. Now I'm trying to convince him to that moving to Harrisonburg won't be so bad, but I'm not convinced myself.
When I came to Harrisonburg for my interview, I realized it really wasn't the ideal place for me to live, but the job offer was too great to pass up. The 2 hour drive to DC or Richmond seems close enough for us to enjoy the city life when we wanted to. I'm also considering moving to Staunton, VA because of it's charming, historical setting and lower cost of living.
My question is, how realistic are my expectations? Is the commute to Harrisonburg too much, especially with the rising cost of gasoline? Do some people actually escape to the city on weekends? I've read some really conflicting opinions about the area, can someone give me an honest, unbiased (as possible) assessment of the area ?
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Old 03-31-2008, 03:02 PM
 
96 posts, read 350,957 times
Reputation: 33
I moved to Harrisonburg a few years ago and had much the same delima that you appear to be having..Yes, Staunton is a more attractive small City and (not to mention) it is closer to a dynamic small city..Charlottesville...at first look, Harrisonburg does not appear to offer as much, atleast in the way of asthetics. But I would say that you are more likely to find more "cosmopolitian" people in Harrisonburg, than say Staunton. And yes JMU is the main reason why...But Harrisonburg is trying, and (ever so slowly) it appears that the once defunct downtown area is coming alive...not to mention, Hburg's economy is booming at this moment. It took a while, but If I had to make the decision over again, I'd still choose Harrisonburg. I think all the loss time driving back in forth is just not worth it, being that you'd be living in Staunton...

I can promise you this, you will probably like Harrisonburg a great deal more than Valdosta...
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Old 03-31-2008, 03:05 PM
 
168 posts, read 771,851 times
Reputation: 92
Agree....Hburg is booming. And the downtown area is nice.
Personally, I hate the 'sprawl' of fast food, big box and traffic that is spreading out from Hburg......but that is to be expected with 'new' growth.

Staunton feels so much 'nicer' than Hburg with its new, sparkly sub-divisions full of cookie cutter homes. Not to say older neighborhoods arent around,...but they will be closer in to the downtown,.....

Agreed as well about cosmopolitan, liberal thinking in Hburg vs Staunton.
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Old 03-31-2008, 07:23 PM
 
Location: Shenendoah Valley
5 posts, read 19,945 times
Reputation: 11
Wink I live in Staunton and my neighbors commute to harris.

Hi, how are you? I can give you a very unbiased opinion! I think Staunton has a lot better quality of life than Harrisonburg, PLUS it is only 25 minutes away.!!! I have neighbors - they are both nurses - one commutes to Harrisonburg and one commutes to Charlottesville. My other neighbors on the other side do the same thing! Please feel free to email me at marcyoakley545@hotmail.com I know a LOT about real estate (I am not a realtor. I grew up in Buffalo, NY, went to college in Washington DC and then relocated to Staunton 12 years ago. You can buy soooooo much more home here than say DC or Richmond and it is cheaper than Harrisonburg.

I live in a subdivision that has diversity. I would love to show you around if you want a friendly, very, very informed person to help you out. You can't always trust what a realtor says......
Staunton has music, play (shakespeare) free concerts, and really low property taxes. The county outside of Staunton is even lower in property taxes. The schools for kids are good - especially in the county. I hope you email me. I do happen to have a house for sale in a subdivision with a pool and tennis courts if that interests you. Also if you come by, I will introduce you to my neighbors. One is the housing director at James Madison. Please be sure and let me know if you come to visit!! MM
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Old 04-06-2008, 03:21 PM
 
Location: Harrisonburg, VA
3 posts, read 15,369 times
Reputation: 10
Thanks for your feedback. College campuses tend to have a more liberal population, especially in the arts; it's the same here in Valdosta, but when I leave campus it's a completely different story. I noticed a few ethnic restaurants in Harrisonburg, which is more than I can say for where I live now (outside of some mediocre Mexican and Italian places.) I imagine I will be spending a lot of time in Harrisonburg for my job anyway, but I think it might be nice to keep my home life and work life separate for a change.
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Old 04-26-2008, 08:55 PM
 
78 posts, read 406,134 times
Reputation: 45
There's nothing liberal about Harrisonburg. As time goes on, there feels like there is less and less to do here. Summer is great, as there are many outdoor activities, but the winter months are long and tiresome. Unless you love to eat and go to church, there's very little to do. Even the ski resort can't create enough snow for skiing.

Staunton has a lot more character, but is very tiny. If I had a choice of the two I would choose Harrisonburg. If I were you though, I would reconsider this offer if you need to be nearer a major city. Other than DC there is not anything close to a very large city.

Harrisonburg is very conservative and I consider it to be a bible belt. (Nothing bad about that, just making an observation.) People are friendly, but are too busy to build friendships.

The downtown area is downright sad! I say that because it has so much potential but only has a handful of places to eat, library, and children's museum. The downtown areas may be improving but I'm living NOW...I'd like to see some changes in my lifetime!

I hope I haven't upset anyone. On the positive side there are wonderful people here, low crime, fairly good schools, and good climate. The parks are lovely.

Good luck with your decision.
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Old 10-14-2008, 10:15 AM
 
1 posts, read 4,794 times
Reputation: 10
Are you finding the diversity you are looking for? We are a black family and are moving to the harrisonburg area. My SIL grew up in Staunton and she remembers there being a white park and a black park. She said some areas are like that still. Way different then what I am used to on the west coast and even in WNC.
Any racial diverse areas to look for? Or maybe to avoid? We are considering Bridgewater b/c of the schools.
Thanks
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Old 10-15-2008, 07:56 PM
 
6 posts, read 34,762 times
Reputation: 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by herb.gypsy View Post
Are you finding the diversity you are looking for? We are a black family and are moving to the harrisonburg area. My SIL grew up in Staunton and she remembers there being a white park and a black park. She said some areas are like that still. Way different then what I am used to on the west coast and even in WNC.
Any racial diverse areas to look for? Or maybe to avoid? We are considering Bridgewater b/c of the schools.
Thanks

I have lived in a small town (Covington), a large city (Richmond), and a medium sized town (Staunton). Unfortunately no matter where you go you will have what people would describe as a "white area" and a "black area". True, in Staunton there are some areas that have a larger number of black residents, but then you have areas that are very diverse as well. As for the "white park" and "black park", some people still feel that way, which is sad....... I live an equal distance from Gypsy Hill Park and Montgomery Hall Park. I prefer to take my son to Montgomery Hall Park, which some older residents would refer to as the black park, because the city has done a great job of updating the area and it is very family-friendly. Also a lot less crowded.

As for your question, cosmo_onthe_rocks, Staunton is a great all-around town. You are only a 20 minute drive from Harrisonburg and a 40 minute drive to Charlottesville in case you want to shop. Staunton is definately going the way of "historic" rather that 21st century. Waynesboro, which is only about 10 minutes east of Staunton, is growing like crazy as far as retail shops. You would get more bang for your buck as far as a house in Staunton or Augusta County.

Good Luck!!!
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Old 10-18-2008, 01:37 PM
 
Location: Harrisonburg, VA
3 posts, read 15,369 times
Reputation: 10
Default Harrisonburg so far

Quote:
Originally Posted by herb.gypsy View Post
Are you finding the diversity you are looking for? We are a black family and are moving to the harrisonburg area. My SIL grew up in Staunton and she remembers there being a white park and a black park. She said some areas are like that still. Way different then what I am used to on the west coast and even in WNC.
Any racial diverse areas to look for? Or maybe to avoid? We are considering Bridgewater b/c of the schools.
Thanks
As a newcomer, I'm finding Harrisonburg to be pretty much how I thought it would be, in most respects. It was a nice surprise to find a little more diversity among the faculty at JMU. I haven't encountered any blantant racism, in fact I find that people are generally friendly and especially so on campus. I met several new faculty of various races and ethnicities during orientation and some of them were even single females like myself. I've managed to find a pretty liberal crowd to hang around with here although there's no shortage of McCain signs about town either.

I've visited Staunton a few times and found it to be a charming way to spend a weekend afternoon. More blacks live there than in Harrisonburg, but I moved to Harrisonburg anyway. I'd rather not spend my money commuting and I didn't have a lot of time to spend apartment hunting either. I hope they continue to develop the downtown area in here; it is coming along nicely, but still needs a lot of work. I looked at a few townhouses for rent out in Bridgewater, but it was too remote of an area for me. I'm still a city girl at heart and I start feeling a little anxious when I see too many corn fields and cows. But most well-to-do families choose to move into the county rather than the city for the property value and the schools.

Just be glad your not coming here as single person. If there are any single men above college age here, I don't know where to find them. It's an OK place to be for now, but I'm not convinced I'll stay here permanently unless I decide I actually want to become an old maid.
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