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Old 10-26-2007, 09:56 AM
 
2 posts, read 8,939 times
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My husband and are thinking about moving from Berkeley, CA to Mt. Vernon or Iowa City. I'm originally from Iowa and would love to be closer to my family. We're drawn to the pace of Iowa, the peace and quiet and the public schools.

We're in our mid 30s and are pregnant with our first child. We really like Mt. Vernon's charming old homes and cute little downtown, but I have a couple concerns stemming from the size of the community:

1) How difficult will it be to fit in/make friends? We're not planning to join a church. Is that required to fit in? Are there other opportunities to socialize and get to know people? Is the community open to new people?

2) Is the community open-minded, progressive and tolerant? Environmentally aware and socially concerned?

We're under the impression that Iowa City might be a safer choice given where we're coming from, but we are really tempted to give the small town of Mt. Vernon a try nonetheless.

Anyone out there with insight into the community of Mt. Vernon?
Thank you so much for your help!
Sara
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Old 10-26-2007, 12:35 PM
 
3,376 posts, read 12,228,090 times
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I have no knowledge of Mt. Vernon, but you basically described Iowa City: liberal, environmentally friendly, cultured, progressive, lots to do, socially concerned, and no fanatical church mindset. There are plenty of old charming homes in IC as well.

Just with basic knowledge regarding small towns everywhere, I would imagine that IC would fit your needs much more than a small community like MV. I take it you and your spouse can find jobs in either town?
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Old 10-26-2007, 02:14 PM
 
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Default Iowa City is a possibility too

Jobs may be an issue, but Mt. Vernon is only 15 miles or so from Iowa City and Cedar Rapids, so it's a feasible commute to either city.

Where in Iowa City would you recommend we look for a home? We were a little turned off by the dominance of the student population downtown and understand that the drinking and partying (and drunk driving) can be a problem.

While we did see a charming neighborhood not too far from downtown (north side), but we were told by the realtor that about half the residences were occupied by students.

Last edited by sfeldmann; 10-26-2007 at 03:31 PM..
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Old 10-26-2007, 02:47 PM
 
3,376 posts, read 12,228,090 times
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I guess it depends on your price range. I'm not good with directions up there anymore, but there are tons of huge old homes outside of campus, such as behind Hancher Auditorium near the park, down by the river; and also on the other side of campus down Burlington, past Dodge Ave. I know that is no help to you, but hopefully someone else can give better directions. I know this has been discussed before, so if you search other posts regarding Iowa City neighborhoods on here, you can find info.

While the student population is big in IC, that also brings a lot of good things to the city. I do not think drunk driving is a bigger problem there than any other city. Most students live near downtown and walk everywhere, especially the younger students. I have heard about drunk driving much more in the city I live in now, compared to IC.
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Old 10-26-2007, 07:52 PM
 
5,935 posts, read 14,391,458 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pearlbob View Post
I guess it depends on your price range. I'm not good with directions up there anymore, but there are tons of huge old homes outside of campus, such as behind Hancher Auditorium near the park, down by the river; and also on the other side of campus down Burlington, past Dodge Ave. I know that is no help to you, but hopefully someone else can give better directions. I know this has been discussed before, so if you search other posts regarding Iowa City neighborhoods on here, you can find info.

While the student population is big in IC, that also brings a lot of good things to the city. I do not think drunk driving is a bigger problem there than any other city. Most students live near downtown and walk everywhere, especially the younger students. I have heard about drunk driving much more in the city I live in now, compared to IC.
Pearlbob, you are describing Manville Heights and Goosetown, great choices. Manville Heights is much more upscale with big houses, Goosetown is more blue collar/just folks. Both are about as close as you can get to campus without living around lots of annoying student rentals.
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Old 10-26-2007, 08:04 PM
 
Location: in the general vicinity of Cedar Rapids, Iowa
296 posts, read 1,182,596 times
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I think you can find a suitable neighborhood in many different locations in that same area. I would base my decision on where you find jobs... you might end up needing to split the difference, for example. Mt. Vernon to Iowa City is a hefty commute, while Mt. Vernon to Cedar Rapids is pretty common. I just don't believe in signing up for more of a commute than you need to! One other question would be schools -- they are good in both places you've mentioned, but you may find you want something specific for your child. Smaller towns offer tremendous opportunity to be involved in everything -- I was in every play, every concert, every band, every choir, played at least one sport every season, you get the idea. My husband didn't really have those opportunities in his larger school -- you had to actually have talent to be very involved :-) On the other hand, he could choose from four different foreign languages, while we only had Spanish; he was on the tennis team, while we only had golf. Frankly, I think he would have been very much the same person if he'd gone to a small school, but I think my life is really different because I had the chance to be a "big fish," even if it was just in a small pond. I'm really glad my parents chose to move to Iowa from California when I was ready to start school for that reason!
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Old 10-27-2007, 04:47 PM
 
Location: Chariton, Iowa
681 posts, read 2,807,937 times
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I think both Mt. Vernon and Iowa City would be fine choices for you.

Mt. Vernon: As WoodwardGirl brings up, there are advantages to raising your kids in a small town. And MV is just that, a nice, quiet small town. The commute from IC is a little hefty (40 min-1 hour), but it's not a very hectic one. The big thing I think MV has over IC would be affordability. IC has a bit of a lack of affordable housing--mostly because so many want to live there.

Iowa City: Iowa City is also a great place to live. It's safe, walkable/bikeable, and progressive. Some of the student areas, I agree, are too rowdy to want to raise a family in however. I would stick to the Goosetown, Northside, or Manville Heights neighborhoods--the latter being the priciest and nicest. The schools in IC are very good, and the Univ. offers a lot to the community. Avoid the vicinity of S. Johnson St., Burlington St. between Clinton and Governor, and College Green park. This represents the hub of the student neighborhoods, roughly speaking.

The farther one gets from downtown, the less expensive the housing options become. Some other good places to look are the neighborhoods around West High and the Court Hill neighborhood on the east side of town.
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Old 10-28-2007, 12:06 AM
 
Location: Boise, Idaho by way of Iowa City, Iowa
310 posts, read 1,180,748 times
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Iowa City could pretty much be a mini Berkeley in many ways. If you love Berk you'll love IC. MV is a small little town, has a good college in Cornell College but it has a seedy underside that not many people outside of the college age really know about or care to pay attention to. There is quite a bit of meth and cocaine use there and of course it being such a small town High School kids will find some sort of vice to keep them occupied. I'd stay away from that personally, and really not too many opportunities to meet new people.
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Old 10-29-2007, 06:40 AM
 
Location: Des Moines, IA
1,744 posts, read 6,707,847 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sfeldmann View Post
2) Is the community open-minded, progressive and tolerant? Environmentally aware and socially concerned?


Is the Pope Catholic?


That's Iowa City, pretty much. I've often heard it compared to Berkeley.
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Old 10-29-2007, 07:35 AM
 
282 posts, read 946,945 times
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As others have mentioned, Iowa City fits your description to a 'T'. I just moved away after living there for 25 years (born and raised in other parts of Iowa).

As for housing affordability, given where you're coming from, I think by comparison you will find Iowa City very affordable.

Mount Vernon is a nice small town. One thing to keep in mind is that even though it's only 15 minutes to Iowa City, the commute is not good (2 lane very curvy highway, hard to pass anyone, crowded during the 5pm traffic hour). I did that commute for a year during an internship I had in the Mount Vernon area and hated it. The commute from Mt Vernon to CR (or Iowa City to CR) is much better -- 4 lane highway. I think if you are working in Iowa City you should have a very strong reason for wanting to live in Mount Vernon because the commute is not fun.

You sound a lot like myself and most of my friends in Iowa City. You will like Iowa City. Very progressive, liberal, lots of culture for the small town size. Not churchy at all (I miss that part a lot). Although there are churches of most every denomination, you aren't "judged" by whether or not you go to church (no one will even ask you about it). State university influence, but still a small town with little to no traffic (I've read on another thread that some people think Iowa City traffic is "bad", but it's not). Parking (downtown or University campus) can be difficult, though.

Meth problem? Yes, in rural Iowa (I've never encountered it personally, but it's in the news). But not in Iowa City.
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