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Old 08-08-2007, 09:20 AM
 
24 posts, read 79,062 times
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Hello all,

I appreciate all those who read this and would really like you to respond if you have any ideas or thoughts relating to my dilema.

I am researching all of New England for a possible future home but think I may have my choices narrowed down to Ma. Here is a list of things that would help make life good.

1. Safe community, SUPER low crime rate
2. Great public schools, by this I am interested not only in academics but very low class sizes and lots of parent involvement. Even an alternative type school could work depending on what it offeres.
3.Fun, kid friendly town. I would like my kids to be able to ride their bikes in a safe neighborhood where people are friendly. Are there lots of fun activities going on for kids?
4. My 12 year old is a reptile and aquatic expert. He studies these creatures in depth and would be very happy to live somewhere where he could have access to them to continue his studies. Wether in the wild or specialty shops, zoos etc.
5. Smaller community. I hate traffic and am sick of spending my life behind the wheel. I would gladly drive to other towns for special events but don't want to do it for daily activities like I do now. I drive half an hour for my daughters guitar lesson, another half hour to swim lessons 20 minutes to the store etc. It would be great to find a community where all the basics for kids are in one town. Also, walking to these activities would be even better. Is there such a place?
6. My whole family are vegetarians and will love a community that can appreciate our life style choice. Veggie options at restaurants are a must and better yet are restaurants that specialize in vegetarian food. Also, great organic produce being available and stores that also specialize in healthy choices.
7. Drumming. Not a must but good for my soul. If I could find African drumming groups to share time with I will be VERY happy. Nothing fancy, just a group of people who enjoy african drumming and get together to play on a regular basis.
8.affordable homes. I am a singfle mom with little income. I would love to find a place where homes are 400,000. or so. Where I am now, this won't buy much of a house. I would like a three bedroom, quality home with approx. 2700+ sq. ft. A little elbow room but still in a neighborhood. Side walks would be nice too. I want to be somewhere where neighbors take great care of their properties.
9. Mountains would be nice. I love hiking and waterfalls. My son prefers the ocean but is used to Hawaii water. It would be fabulous to look out my window and see lots of trees. No flat land.
10. The least severe weather possible. I love spring and fall. Summer should not be too hot and I do not like humidity. Sticky summers are the worst. Winter is my least favorite so it should be short with less snow. What is very important in Sunny days. Even if it is 20 degrees out the sun makes it much more bearable. Less clouds more smles.

I could go on forever but I think I have given a pretty good picture of what we want. Please respond with your thoughts.

Thanks a million.
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Old 08-08-2007, 09:53 AM
 
646 posts, read 1,729,881 times
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I’ll let others give tips about specific towns, but I’m afraid you’ll have to make some compromises with your list. As far as the weather, this is New England so the winters will be longer than most other places in the country. Along the coast, the Ocean will make it a bit warmer during the winter, but there is no such thing in MA as a short winter. You’ll get a good idea about the amount of sun, or lack thereof, and the climate in general if you check the stats for some of the places in MA here on City-data.

It sounds to me though that you probably would enjoy the western part of the state more since there will be less traffic, much more affordable, mountains, and many of the other criteria that you list.
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Old 08-08-2007, 10:39 AM
 
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Thank you for such a quick response. Yes, I think you are right about the western part of Ma. What do you think of Northampton and/or any of the surrounding areas? Any specific towns you know? Also, I do understand winters are longer with cold and snow. I am living in Portland Oregon now where the sun doesn't shine much. I really need sunny days even if it is cold out. Here, the sun doesn't shine much for 9 months straight. It can be very depressing, especially after living in Hawaii for near 20 years. I will look at weather stats as you suggested. Thanks.
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Old 08-08-2007, 11:55 AM
 
141 posts, read 200,952 times
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I think Northampton would be a good fit for you.

1. Safe. Yeah, it is pretty safe.

2. Schools? I don’t know about that. I think they are good but I can’t say for sure.

3. Fun, kid friendly. Absolutely.

4. Reptiles? I dunno. There are some pet stores in the area.

5. Smaller community. Population ~30,000. Northampton is a pedestrian oriented town. Cars are required to stop for you.

6. Veg-Organic. Yep. Lots of options there.

7. Drumming. I think I saw some drumming circles advertised in the The Valley Advocate (alternative weekly) or Daily Hampshire Gazette (daily paper) There is a lot of that sort of thing so I don’t think you’ll have a problem. Another good source craigslist: western massachusetts

8. Affordable homes. $400,000 will buy you a mansion in Northampton. I would think you could get by on about $250,000-$300,000. But I am not a real estate expert.

9. Mountains. Yes!! Not the Rockies or anything but good hiking. There are a couple of good state parks nearby with excellent hiking possibilities. Trees are all over the place. Some of the land is flat but hills/mountains are all around.

The weather is what it is. You have to understand that this is New England. I would think there are more sunny days than Portland.

To make a long story short--go for it!
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Old 08-08-2007, 12:13 PM
 
24 posts, read 79,062 times
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Cosmonewman,

Thank you so much for your response. I really appreciate the links too. Later today I will check them out. Are you living in or around Northampton? What do you feel makes it kid friendly? What are the winters like? How cold, how long, how much snow?

Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Veggiechick
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Old 08-08-2007, 05:53 PM
 
5,817 posts, read 15,072,429 times
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Default Another Northampton thumbs up. Now, about the winters . . .

Quote:
Originally Posted by Veggie Chick View Post
Cosmonewman,

Thank you so much for your response. I really appreciate the links too. Later today I will check them out. Are you living in or around Northampton? What do you feel makes it kid friendly? What are the winters like? How cold, how long, how much snow?

Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Veggiechick
Winter in west-central MA: Most of Nov. and early Dec. would probably have temperatures similar to winter temperatures in western OR and WA, though MA would be less rainy, more of a mix of rainy, clear, and some overcast days. The same from about mid March to the end of April, with more rainy days than late fall, but still probably not as many as OR. From about late Dec. to early March, highs will average in the 30's, and lows in the mid to high teens, with some days a little warmer or colder. A typical winter will have a few brief cold snaps--two, three, four days--where it gets down to a few degrees below zero at night. On average maybe once every ten years there will be an extended spell of a few weeks of frigid weather, and/or a brief spell where it gets down to -10 or -15. Snowfall averages about four feet a year, but there's a fair amount of variation from one winter to another. Summers are generally warm and humid, with a few brief hot spells in the 90's. Usually, near the end of August the humidity drops. The humidity might return for a day or two occasionally, and there will be a rainy day here and there, but generally Sept. is dry and sunny, with highs in the 70's and cool nights, while Oct. is dry and sunny, and sometimes warm, sometimes fresh and chilly, and usually pleasantly cool.

Northampton has a lot of what you're looking for, including a nice walkable downtown area. You're maybe an hour's drive from the nearest medium-sized or larger (by eastern standards) mountains, but there are small mountains or large hills, depending on your view of things, in the local area, and the outdoor scenery is gorgeous.

This area has a number of colleges, which lends the area a leftward-leaning new age feel, so that there's more opportunity to find your interests than you'd find in a typical suburban area. Your best bet is Noho (Northampton), because it's the largest town in the vicinity, so it has more of all kinds of activities, while at the same time it's still small enough to be a town rather than a city. You probably want to stay away from the smaller surrounding towns, where the populace tends to be narrow and cliquish, and very unwelcoming toward outsiders.

Another town you might at least consider in this area is Amherst, though I would recommend Noho over Amherst for your needs. Noho has a more eclectic downtown, and basically a larger population, so you're more likely to find a variety of activities, including those that interest you. Also, Amherst has a large university (Universtiy of Mass.), as well as Amherst College right in town, and another small college out in the country, just a few miles from the town center. This means that Amherst is a pure college town, with a number of cheap bars downtown, and an evening scene that frequently includes hordes of drunken students roaming the streets as they drift from bar to bar. Noho is probably more the kind of place where you want to raise a child.

If you're not completely set on MA, you might also look at the area around that other Portland (the one in Maine, which your Portland is named for), as well as Portsmouth, NH. I'm not so familiar with those areas, but maybe people on the ME and NH forums could help you with finding the right town or neighborhood. Both cities are known for having the kind of funky vibe that makes it likely they would have the sorts of activities that interest you. They are also located in very scenic coastal settings. Though they're farther north, being on the coast they're likely to have winter temperatures similar to those in the interior of MA, though you'd find that spring and fall would have more extended periods of weather like OR winters, especially in Portland.

Hope this helps, and best of luck.
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Old 08-08-2007, 06:12 PM
 
24 posts, read 79,062 times
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Ogre,

Wow, you really gave me helpful information that took some time to write I am sure. Thank you very much, I am doing as much research as I can and plan to visit in late October.

Do you happen to know much about Woodstock N.Y. or Ithica N.Y.? Those places are also of some interest although I think Ithica gets more snow. I need to get more organized and start taking notes.

Anyway, you have been most helpful, thanks again.
V.C.
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Old 08-08-2007, 10:30 PM
 
5,817 posts, read 15,072,429 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Veggie Chick View Post
Ogre,

Wow, you really gave me helpful information that took some time to write I am sure. Thank you very much, I am doing as much research as I can and plan to visit in late October.

Do you happen to know much about Woodstock N.Y. or Ithica N.Y.? Those places are also of some interest although I think Ithica gets more snow. I need to get more organized and start taking notes.

Anyway, you have been most helpful, thanks again.
V.C.
No, I don't know much about either of the NY locales. I THINK Woodstock is a rather small town, and I believe Ithaca is more like a small city. I think I've heard that Ithaca leans to the left politically, but I've never been to the area, and don't know enough to have any idea whether this translates into having lots of your interests, or more snooty limousine liberals, or if I've even heard correctly. Ithaca is supposed to have some nice natural scenery, but I really don't know the area except from hearsay. Feel free to ask if you have specific details about Northampton and vicinity. I used to live in that area. Take care.
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Old 08-08-2007, 10:30 PM
 
Location: Ithaca NY
286 posts, read 1,063,878 times
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Ithaca has everything you want, except the weather. It's VERY gray and VERY snowy in the winter. Take a peek at the charts showing average snowfall and amount of sunshine. I kept track a few times when I was in school out of curiosity; we'd regularly have 2 week periods in Jan/Feb/March where it was constantly cloudy and snowed a bit every day for that period of time. And there was still a teensy bit of snow remaining a week before I graduated in late May, in the back of a parking lot where they'd been pushing the snow all winter.

I adored it and would live there again because I don't mind winter, but if sun is important to you I'd warn you away.
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Old 08-08-2007, 11:49 PM
 
24 posts, read 79,062 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ogre View Post
No, I don't know much about either of the NY locales. I THINK Woodstock is a rather small town, and I believe Ithaca is more like a small city. I think I've heard that Ithaca leans to the left politically, but I've never been to the area, and don't know enough to have any idea whether this translates into having lots of your interests, or more snooty limousine liberals, or if I've even heard correctly. Ithaca is supposed to have some nice natural scenery, but I really don't know the area except from hearsay. Feel free to ask if you have specific details about Northampton and vicinity. I used to live in that area. Take care.
Hi again,
I am interested in finding out about the schools in Northampton. I have two kids that are very bright and are used to super small class sizes. I prefer them to be in a small school setting so they can get lots of one on one time with the teachers. Also, it has been very special to have the teachers really get to know them. My daughter only had 11 kids in her first grade class which is perfect. I am oposed to combining grades when schools don't have higher enrolement and have been very lucky so far.

Can you tell me things I may not like about living there. I know you don't know me and my likes, I am just wondering in general what most people would find good or bad about it.

Thanks again for any thoughts

V.C.
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