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Old 04-21-2012, 03:34 PM
 
750 posts, read 961,812 times
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We may have to move to Ames this summer. Also a good possibility is Pullman, WA. My wife is seeking for a position in the state universities in both places and we think her chances are good in both. We have 2 children, 3 and 5 year old, so good public schools and safety are a must. Options for family entertainment, especially outdoor activities is very important to us too, but general variety of activities for kids at summer and winter are all welcome. We have lived in TX, IN and now in Madison, WI. We love it here, but it is time to leave. No jobs for my wife in Madison unfortunately. I can pretty much go anywhere she goes as I work at home.

Can anyone help us with advice on choosing one of the two before this decision hit us? Thanks!
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Old 04-21-2012, 08:32 PM
 
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You don't necessarily have to know what living in Pullman WA feels like, just tell me what it feels like to live in Ames for a young mid-class family with 1 preschooler and 1 going to kindergarten. Affordable housing? Good education standards? Safe? Apart from the daily routine, what are there to do? Any or many options for outdoor or cultural activities? What people do with kids during winter to keep them entertained? Any info will be highly appreciated.
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Old 04-22-2012, 07:51 AM
 
Location: Des Moines
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Ames is plenty safe with good schools. Quite honestly, you won't have to worry much about any of the big city problems since Ames is still a smaller city. My biggest critique is that it's really not that exciting for a college town. However, there's still a major university there, which naturally brings with it opportunities for culture, things to do, etc. It's still a plenty livable place even if it's not the best college town out there.

For outdoor rec opportunties, you have Ledges State Park just 15 minutes to the west. This is probably one of the best parks I've come across in Central Iowa, and it will transform you from the flat cornfields that surround Ames. Great hiking opportunties and access to the Des Moines River can be found here. You can kayak/canoe along the Des Moines River Water Trail. There's also a skiing slope (during the summer there's mountain biking trails and paintball too) in neighboring Boone. Ames seems to have a pretty great little public parks system as well, so be sure to take advantage of this.

Also, don't be afraid to access all that the Des Moines area has to offer just thirty minutes south of Ames. Plenty of kid-friendly activities to be found here.
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Old 04-22-2012, 10:24 PM
 
Location: Keosauqua, Iowa
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I'll second everything Ryan said: Safe, great schools, cultural events, parks, big enough that you have all the necessities and a few extras right in town without feeling like a big city.

Housing used to be pretty reasonable. Climate will be similar to northern Indiana. I know there are lots of summer activities for kids, but I'm not sure about winter. I'm sure there's a YMCA or some other rec center that has some winter activities.
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Old 04-24-2012, 07:18 AM
 
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Thanks, Ames seems to fit well… safety, affordable and good schools are definitively the priority, but the thing is, you pretty much get that in any small College Town. Besides all of that, Madison-WI also had something else to offer while we were here, with many options for kids year-round plus plenty of outdoor fun, but I'm just afraid Ames and Iowa in general may get too boring and old with time considering its somewhat remote location. That's what we are trying to figure out before making our decision.
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Old 04-24-2012, 08:20 AM
 
Location: Des Moines, Iowa
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Well...you can't campare Madison to Ames or you will find several shortfalls given the population difference. That said, explain what you think will be boring and maybe people can help answer that concern. First off, you are hardly "remote" being located on one of the main north/south interstates in the US (I-35). Secondly, as mentioned, you are only 1/2 hour to 45 mins away from Iowa's Capital and largest city, Des Moines (which shows up well against Madison in several national "Best of" lists).

I personally like a larger city than Ames, but I wouldn't be bored living there (and IMO if I was, that would be a me thing, not an Ames thing.)
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Old 04-24-2012, 09:04 AM
 
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Originally Posted by capitalcityguy View Post
Well...you can't campare Madison to Ames or you will find several shortfalls given the population difference. That said, explain what you think will be boring and maybe people can help answer that concern. First off, you are hardly "remote" being located on one of the main north/south interstates in the US (I-35). Secondly, as mentioned, you are only 1/2 hour to 45 mins away from Iowa's Capital and largest city, Des Moines (which shows up well against Madison in several national "Best of" lists).

I personally like a larger city than Ames, but I wouldn't be bored living there (and IMO if I was, that would be a me thing, not an Ames thing.)
Well, I should have been more specific, sorry. I meant boring in the sense of lacking overall variety year-round for quality family time on weekends. OK, forget about Ames for now, but I'm afraid Des Moines doesn’t get any close to what we have here.

Madison is hilly and beautiful, there is plenty of snow for sledding in the winter with kids, plus ice skating is big here. There are some larger hills (would not call them mountains) within 1-2h with decent ski resorts. There are great cultural events, mostly for free, during winter promoted by libraries and the local government, which range from art to theatrical to music performances. The public library system is also a great resource in the winter; all have their own playground areas.

For summer, the city is loaded with well-maintained parks, lots of lakes appropriate for swimming in the city, is very bike-friendly, has a wonderful farmers market, and again, promotes many free cultural events that are very nice for children. There are also many great state parks with beautiful landscape, lake beaches, and options for camping, hiking, kayaking, all within reasonable distance. Besides, the dells, the water park capital of the world, which my kids love is less than 1 hour away up north. They have plenty of great indoor water parks too for winter.

There is also a new and very creative children’s museum and if you ever get bored Milwaukee is just 1h and Chicago 2.5h away! Apart from the kids, my wife and I enjoy local food variety and microbreweries, and there is plenty around here.

That is just to name a few of the things to do here… in 3 years we never felt even close to bored. But, like I said, we will have to leave unfortunately, there is no way around it and we are not afraid to explore as much as we can from the place we relocate to, but we just fear that central Iowa would be too much of a shock for us.
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Old 04-24-2012, 09:21 AM
 
Location: Des Moines
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That's only because you don't know much about this place. I won't disagree that there are more recreation opportunities near Madison when you throw the Dells into play, but this isn't a wasteland. There are two larger lakes near Des Moines with boating and water recreation, and it's the same size city as Madison is so all of the city amenities you're used to will be equivalent to here, minus the college town atmosphere.

Sounds like your mind is already made up though.
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Old 04-24-2012, 10:17 AM
 
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Originally Posted by DMRyan View Post
That's only because you don't know much about this place. I won't disagree that there are more recreation opportunities near Madison when you throw the Dells into play, but this isn't a wasteland. There are two larger lakes near Des Moines with boating and water recreation, and it's the same size city as Madison is so all of the city amenities you're used to will be equivalent to here, minus the college town atmosphere.

Sounds like your mind is already made up though.
And I would wonder if many towns are more bike friendly than DM with the miles and miles of bike paths all over the metro.

Take Madison out of the paragraphs and that poster could easily be describing Des Moines.
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Old 04-24-2012, 10:21 AM
 
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Originally Posted by ElleTea View Post
And I would wonder if many towns are more bike friendly than DM with the miles and miles of bike paths all over the metro.

Take Madison out of the paragraphs and that poster could easily be describing Des Moines.
No, my mind is not made up. I just gave examples of what we like here in WI so people that live in central Iowa can tell us if there are similar options there or not. We are not sure where my wife will get a job, we just think her chances in Ames and Pullman-WA are the best, with pehaps a little more chance to be offered at Ames.

In fact, we may not have any option at all if she only gets an offer in one place.

Last edited by Indyking; 04-24-2012 at 10:47 AM..
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