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Old 01-18-2009, 05:51 PM
 
Location: SF Bay Area, CA
12 posts, read 34,279 times
Reputation: 16

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I'm under consideration for a job in Harrisonburg; My wife and I are planning to travel for an in-person interview in the coming weeks and take a weekend to explore the area to see if we would want to accept and move should a job offer be made. I've never been to this area before. Business trips to Arlington and Annandale are my only exposure to Virginia.
I've lived my entire life in California (SF area) but it's so expensive to live here that even $450k+ houses look affordable and are on lots much larger than here (even those called 'small' in the forum seem large to us .3 - .6 acre).
I've spent a significant amount of time today reading the other threads, RE listings, etc. and have many questions already answered;
we will start by considering houses in Harrisonburg (Blue Hills Subdivision?), Bridgewater and Staunton, although the real determination can only take place once we are in the area.
My wife is a tax accountant and while my potential job is in Harrisonburg she feels she may only find a suitable job in Charlottesville after checking current job listings. How about the commute for her from those three towns? To me Harrisonburg to Charlottesville seems out of the question, but she says she's willing. (?)

Also, my wife is Chinese and I am caucasian. We've noted there are very small numbers of asians in this area of Virginia and we are wondering what actually might be available for us - she often misses chinese food and asian-style rice. Also, she has a heavy accent and her English is not grammatically perfect. The real question is how are 'mixed' couples such as us percieved in the towns I've listed?
With a nice house and the beautiful country surrounding us we feel we could be quite happy in the environs. I'm wondering about the neighbors...
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Old 01-19-2009, 06:07 AM
 
168 posts, read 771,551 times
Reputation: 92
Very good.
Alot of "where" depends on what you want.

Hburg is a growing, progressive college town that doesnt feel 'completely' overrun by students at all.
It lacks in culture, and has a small historic downtown area, and ALOT of congested urban sprawl: strip malls, big box..etc..that is radiating out. Drive 3 miles out of Hburg in any direction and you are in the country.

Staunton (pron: stanton) is much more cultural, with more of a cozy/historic/quaint feel to it.

If your wife is even considering working in Cville (which is a great, fun place!) then you need to look in Staunton as she can simply take a straight shot on I64 over the mountain to Cville. You will have a short drive up 81 to Hburg.

From Hburg to Cville you have 2 options: 81 south to 64 (at Staunton) and then over to Cville,...OR..take US33 east,...all the way over the mountain to Ruckersville, then take US29 south into Cville. BOTH these would be very long drives for her.

If you by chance want to live in a country setting? Or even wish to live up in the woods in the mountains (my preference) then you could look arouns route 340 (runs north/south on west side of blueridge mtns)..this would be from say Elkton,...south to Waynesboro area.
This is a rural, rural, area. Not for everyone,....shopping/"stuff to do" would be a 30 min drive or so...

Another possible option would be near McGaheysville,...this is about 8 miles east of Hburg,....but not totally remote,....there are some subs there, and an area called Massenutten (after Mass. mtn range)...it is a resort area,...but there are alot of nice mtn homes,...very nice/safe...etc..etc. Its sort of in between feeling secluded in the woods for real, and totally commercial flat subs. Just a thought.

My wife works in Cville, and we got a place in mtns just south of Elkton,....she has a 40 minute drive to work and I have a 25 minute drive to work in Hburg.

As far as mixed couples go?....In Hburg or Staunton you would be fine. They are more liberal, progressive areas. In the rural areas I "want" to say there would be no issues,....but there ARE alot of very conservative folk out there so I just dont know. I dont think there would be any 'real' issues though.

Any more ??,...just post back or PM.....glad to help...
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Old 01-20-2009, 12:01 AM
 
Location: SF Bay Area, CA
12 posts, read 34,279 times
Reputation: 16
Thanks! Dr. Jim. I've read many of your other posts over the weekend helping me understand more about the area.
We are both hot and cold, excited and wondering what is the best move to make.
One more thing I didn't mention is we are waiting for adoption approval from China so we could be bringing a little one along with us. I have more interest in raising a child there than here in California.
It sounds like Staunton is the place for us to start searching - I found several nice homes listed online there.
As for social interaction we expect to join a church and find friends locally.
Are there any Chinese or other asian restaurants around? (A seemingly simple question, unless you live with an ethnic Chinese and know. The rice I mentioned is VERY important to quality of life. She's talking about bringing 25# sacks with us or driving to DC to get it.) We now live a block from an aisan market and mall that will the be hardest thing to leave behind.
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Old 01-20-2009, 02:16 PM
 
168 posts, read 771,551 times
Reputation: 92
Staunton aye?.....Sounds good. Got a lot of stuff going on,..and I personally love the historic nature of the place.
As far as chinese food goes,...I am unfortunately not "that" familiar with Staunton.....in Hburg, IMHO there is no good chinese food. Might be someplace around I dont know about though....and as far as an asian market?....Well,...keep googling because I (again) have no idea. Cville prolly has someplace to get it though.....I would be very surprised if it didnt. Tell her not to worry.

IMHO, the most important thing is to visit here as much as you can! Or at least plan a good lengthy trip if one is all you can make! We looked for 6mo from Winchester to Wytheville,...and there really is only so much you can garner from the web,..."being here" and seeing how it feels is most important.

So when is your first trip?
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Old 01-21-2009, 12:42 PM
 
Location: SF Bay Area, CA
12 posts, read 34,279 times
Reputation: 16
Thanks again for the reply. I was contacted this morning and it looks like I may be flying out this Fri or Sat for a weekend look and 2-day interview next week. So this move decision will come quickly.
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Old 01-22-2009, 04:10 PM
 
1 posts, read 4,446 times
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I would be interested in hearing what you find after your interview. I am also considering a move to the area and I am caucasian and my fiance is of Chinese descent (although both he and his parents were born in the US). We've both lived in several places and would like to be within a reasonable distance of DC (he is a pilot so it's not an every day commute, just occasional). He's currently here in Mississippi and has his parents send him certain food things from Boston because he either can't find it or it's ridiculously expensive here.
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Old 01-23-2009, 12:19 AM
 
Location: SF Bay Area, CA
12 posts, read 34,279 times
Reputation: 16
I'll post my impressions next week. Unfortunately, we were unable to have my wife travel with me. We could choose either DC or Harrisonburg - I feel if we are moving from CA that Harrisonburg is the better choice. She wants to drive up to DC every month or sooner for 'supplies', in a similar way as your fiance perhaps.
I'm arriving DC Saturday early evening and will drive down, leaving Sunday and Monday afternoon to explore. I'll be seeing the winter, but I think summer would be a bigger question for me due to humidity and rainfall. I'm spoiled by the California weather Spring-Summer-Fall.
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Old 01-24-2009, 08:50 PM
 
3 posts, read 8,143 times
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I moved to Staunton a year ago from the west coast also due to a job offer and wanting to be back on the east coast where most of my family is. This area of the state is very conservative, however the cities are increasingly less so, and that made Obama come and give a campaign speech in Harrisonburg -- 1st time in 100 years a candidate went there. Nonetheless, be careful of the neighborhood you live in. I am glad I did not buy a house because I am now renting in a neighborhood that at first sight seemed ok but is really full of rednecks (Think lifted trucks in the yard, the guy sitting in the truck all afternoon revving the engine and billowing smoke, dead deer hanging from the tree I can see out my kitchen window for weeks, etc.). I hope to move soon to a nicer place of town. There are nicer neighborhoods and the cost of living is fairly reasonable. Or, you can move to a house in the country where it is quite conservative (about 75% republicans) but because everyone is quite spread out everyone minds their own business and you don't get to hear or see anything.

Staunton has a fairly large historic district and that attracts tourist dollars so there are some good restaurants and shops. The cost of living is more reasonable so people from Charlottesville/UVa come to live here. But, the overall restaurant selection is still limited; ethnic restaurants are non-existent in Staunton. While there are some good and fancy restaurants that cater to tourists, they are mostly the steak-and-fries kind. There are a few chinese takeout/buffet type places but they are all mediocre (greasy food glistening under the heat lamps for hours). I anticipate this will improve as more educated/affluent people move in which is evident in many older homes/mansions being bought and remodeled. Also, for a town this small we have good independent movie theaters and the american shakespeare company -- this may not be everyone's cup-o-tea but I'd like to mention it here. The current economy has slowed much down though.

I have met people who do the commute from Staunton to Harrisonburg/Charlottesville. It seems Staunton or Waynesboro are good intermediate places so that either person is not stuck with very long commutes.

The better restaurants are all in Charlottesville, about a 35-45 minute drive from Staunton. Harrisonburg has a very good Thai restaurant (Taste of Thai, near downtown) and a brewpub and a few coffee shops but not much else (except for the usual Chilis/Crapplebees/etc). Behind the Thai restaurant is also a pretty decent Asian/Latin Supermarket.

I am of mixed heritage (I grew up overseas and do have a slight accent). Depending upon where you work/go to church/etc. you may find it easy or not to find open minded people to make friends with. However, don't expect to see many ethnic groups here, it's about 80-90% white. People are a lot more reserved and less likely to open up when they notice you're not from here, I find.

Hope this helps and good luck with the interview.
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Old 02-03-2009, 06:46 AM
 
168 posts, read 771,551 times
Reputation: 92
Wonder how your visit went?
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Old 02-05-2009, 05:03 PM
 
Location: SF Bay Area, CA
12 posts, read 34,279 times
Reputation: 16
I was caught in the snow driving back to DC to catch my afternoon plane but made it without incident.

Thanks for the comments apoptosis.
As you mentioned I found several Chinese buffet restaurants (even if they listed 'Menu' outside it was still a buffet inside) and tried them, but they would not become staple restaurants for us. The one in the Harrisonburg mall across from Wallmart was OK. There are also a few Thai and one Vietnamese place I didn't get to, and a Japanese grill (Benihana style) which I did try. Large portions!
I looked at a few houses in Harrisonburg. There are some nice rentals in the area also (UE is being built) and the City Exchange has a killer loft.
Initially, I'd look at a small rental until my wife moved, we were sure of the future and could take time to look around at housing purchases. Values have not dropped in spite that those I saw were on the market for 6-9 months+.
I drove to Staunton and looked at several houses. I got the feel that it would be too far away for a daily commute. I drove back through Bridgewater and also thought it would not be where I would settle, houses fairly close together and nearby farms with the concomitant atmosphere.
I also drove East out 33, through Elkton and up the valley. That area would also not be for us. In the late afternoon the next day I took the drive West on 33 over the mountains into West Virginia to Brandywine before making a u-turn back to Harrisonburg.
My drive down from DC was at night so during the snow drive back to IAD I could confirm there is not much North of Harrisonburg either. There's a lot of country there and little else. Very nice to drive through.

sheebs, I may have more impressions as they've called me back for a second interview, this time in DC where the job could eventually shift to.
I'll see if I can arrange to have my wife travel the next trip. She was anxious to go, now is having reservations without having seen the area.
She's a tax accountant and jobs for her would be scarce outside DC.
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