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Old 02-23-2012, 07:59 PM
 
Location: Houston, Texas
40 posts, read 84,403 times
Reputation: 34

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Hi, we are moving to NH this summer and are trying to figure out where to settle. The two areas that appeal to us most are the Upper Valley/Sunapee and the seacoast regions - somewhere in either the Oyster River or Kearsage school district.
The things most important to us are:
1. Schools - kids in 4th, 7th, and 9th grade. In addition to great reviews and academics, we especially like the size of these two schools - would like to stay somewhere between 100-200 students per grade level but still offer clubs, sports, etc...
2. Community - down to earth people (translation - not snobby), town rec opportunities, lots of families, community events (parades, festivals, etc..). Hometown community spirit kind of thing.
3. Area - trying to escape suburan sprawl. Don't want too isolated (bored kids), but not overcrowded either. Would love to have access to lots of outdoor stuff and also be able to take in a play now and then.
4. Cost of Living - we can afford a home somewhere around $200,000-$250,000. Have been house poor for too many years and don't want to make the same mistake again. Looking for an area where the cost of living doesn't keep us from having a little extra to enjoy all the area has to offer. Not referring to property taxes - we get that if we want great schools we've got to be willing to pay for it.

Any thoughts on which area might be a better fit for our family?
I really love this forum. Gives such great insight!
Thanks guys!
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Old 02-23-2012, 10:35 PM
 
Location: New Hampshire
2,257 posts, read 7,650,728 times
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Those of us who come from the more rural parts of NH might consider the Seacoast area "sprawly," but I think if you're coming from Houston you will have a very different perspective. Most of the towns in the Seacoast region are actually fairly compact with a fair amount of agricultural and protected land between them. Very different from the large, sprawling cities of other places in the US.

Sprawl is basically non-existent in the Kearsarge/Sunapee region. It's a rural area. Would it be too isolated for you? If you don't mind driving 30-40 minutes along the highway to reach big box store shopping or cultural offerings in Lebanon/Hanover or Concord, then no.

New London is the hub of the area. It doesn't really have a "downtown" as much as a long Main Street along the college campus. Housing values are surprisingly high, but those numbers may be inflated by the lakefront homes. There is a significant drop in prices in the surrounding rural towns that belong to the Kearsarge district. If you're looking for more of a community feel, I think your best bet would probably be Warner, but I don't have enough experience with these towns to say for sure.

The Oyster River district is comprised of a quaint college town, Durham, and the neighboring exurban towns of Lee and Madbury. Durham is fairly expensive housing-wise, and the other two are still a good deal pricier than the rural Kearsarge towns. It's great for access to cultural amenities, with the college in town, Portsmouth and Exeter very close by.

Again, I can't speak with certainty about the "community spirit" in Durham. On the one hand, a lot of families with children are attracted by the excellent schools. On the other hand, it is very much a college town, and downtown life revolves around the students. Although New London is also a college town, I don't think the same is really true (then again, it is less walkable than Durham).

Kearsarge is better situated for access to outdoor activities than Oyster River, but the Seacoast is not too shabby, either. Besides, the White Mountains are a straight shot up Route 16 from the Seacoast in just over 1 and a half hours; about 20-30 minutes more driving than from the Kearsarge area.

I think it's a delicate balance between community feel and activities on the one hand and open space / outdoors on the other. It's hard to gauge exactly what your threshold is. I do think that, given your budget, you will be able to live more comfortably in the Kearsarge area than on the Seacoast. Seeing as how you selected Oyster River, however, is there any reason why you didn't choose Exeter? It's a bit cheaper than Durham and offers a lot of the same benefits (schools, community feel, etc.). It's not a college town, although some may claim that it's not exactly "down-to-earth"...
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Old 02-25-2012, 08:42 AM
 
Location: Houston, Texas
40 posts, read 84,403 times
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Thank you Verseau for your awesome response. Each area has different strenghts and offers a lot. Looks like we're going to have to spend some time in each to see which feels like the right fit. For me, being able to be grab the canoe and head to the lake or the skis and head to the slopes has tons of appeal, so the Kearsage area is coming out on top. I really like the lower housing costs too. Just gotta see if my family can adjust to more rural living.
The reason I haven't seriously considered Exeter is that the school is much bigger and the reviews kinda indicate a cliquish factor. A big part of what we're wanting is to get away from the materialism and fast paced competitiveness of where we are now. I could be wrong, but the Exeter area seemed like it might have a bit of that. I grew up in a very small town (graduating class of 72 kids). Right now, my kids are in classes with upwards of 500 kids per grade. I might be idealistic, but I'm really hoping to find a place where they can just be kids and try lots of stuff without having to compete for every opportunity. If they could do that in a safe and close knit community to boot, I can't think of anything much better!
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Old 02-28-2012, 06:52 AM
 
1 posts, read 1,872 times
Reputation: 13
Default Also moving to NH...Thanks for the questions, Rootsandwings...you read my mind.

Rootsandwings - thank you for asking these questions. My family is also moving to NH (my husband is already there) in May when school wraps up. I have been doing the same research on schools and urban sprawl, etc. We are coming from ATLANTA, GA and I am very much OVER the masses of people everywhere. I can't even take my kids to the playground without feeling like it's overcrowded. I am looking forward to the slower paces of life in NH. We are looking at the Portsmouth and surrounding areas, as we would love to be close to the water. Any feedback from anyone would be great. My husband will be working from home and we have 2 little ones 6yo and 3yo. Can't wait to move!!
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Old 02-28-2012, 12:26 PM
 
Location: Southern New Hampshire
4,642 posts, read 13,205,636 times
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Just a quick jump-in here to remind people coming from other areas to HIGHLY consider the property tax factor, not just the initial cost to purchase the house. Prices are lower than they have been, but many towns are still assessing them at inflated values, and if the assessment is based on the (lower) 2011 values, expect a higher tax rate. Clients of mine had a cute little 3-BR cape for sale ($250K) in the Oyster River district. Property taxes were close to $6500/year (over $500/month, yikes!) You need to be comfortable with the entire monthly payment, not just the purchase price. Consider also that many utilities (especially electric) is considerable higher here than many other places in the US (customers bailing the company out of bad debts, etc).

Quote:
Originally Posted by rootsandwings View Post

4. Cost of Living - we can afford a home somewhere around $200,000-$250,000. Have been house poor for too many years and don't want to make the same mistake again. Looking for an area where the cost of living doesn't keep us from having a little extra to enjoy all the area has to offer. Not referring to property taxes - we get that if we want great schools we've got to be willing to pay for it.
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Old 02-28-2012, 12:32 PM
 
Location: Flippin AR
5,508 posts, read 4,943,704 times
Reputation: 6210
Quote:
Originally Posted by rootsandwings View Post
Hi, we are moving to NH this summer and are trying to figure out where to settle. The two areas that appeal to us most are the Upper Valley/Sunapee and the seacoast regions - somewhere in either the Oyster River or Kearsage school district.
The things most important to us are:
1. Schools - kids in 4th, 7th, and 9th grade. In addition to great reviews and academics, we especially like the size of these two schools - would like to stay somewhere between 100-200 students per grade level but still offer clubs, sports, etc...
2. Community - down to earth people (translation - not snobby), town rec opportunities, lots of families, community events (parades, festivals, etc..). Hometown community spirit kind of thing.
3. Area - trying to escape suburan sprawl. Don't want too isolated (bored kids), but not overcrowded either. Would love to have access to lots of outdoor stuff and also be able to take in a play now and then.
4. Cost of Living - we can afford a home somewhere around $200,000-$250,000. Have been house poor for too many years and don't want to make the same mistake again. Looking for an area where the cost of living doesn't keep us from having a little extra to enjoy all the area has to offer. Not referring to property taxes - we get that if we want great schools we've got to be willing to pay for it.

Any thoughts on which area might be a better fit for our family?
I really love this forum. Gives such great insight!
Thanks guys!
On all counts, avoid the Seacoast. As to schools and property taxes--higher taxes do NOT buy better schools. ESPECIALLY HERE IN THE SEACOAST; all you get are are spoiled teachers and administrators.

And can you really afford to pay (throw away) property taxes of over $8,000 a year for a house in your price range, which often doesn't even cover trash removal? And then be stuck paying this amount (increasing over 10% a year even through this Depression) even after you retire or lose a job, since finding a buyer for a house with an extreme and unmerited tax burden is virtually impossible?
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Old 02-29-2012, 10:42 AM
 
Location: Houston, Texas
40 posts, read 84,403 times
Reputation: 34
Hey mkclark - looks like we have a lot in common! Don't know about you, but I'm nervous and also very excited to be finally finding a more wholesome place to raise my kids.
O.K., so I hear everyone on the property taxes in ORSD. Thing is, we pay $6500 per year in property taxes here in Harris Co., Texas, on a house appraised for $315,000. And my high school student is homeschooling this year (an on-line h.s. which costs a few thousand more) cause the high schools are just humungous and very intimidating. We've been paying high property taxes so long, we never really knew the luxury of not doing so!
But..... it sure does sound appealing to be able to have the great schools, the mountains and lakes, and the awesome community all for a lower tax rate (as in the Kearsage district).
The more I research, the more I like the idea of settling in the central and/or western part of the state.
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Old 02-29-2012, 10:56 AM
 
1,131 posts, read 2,297,195 times
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Just curious why your limiting yourself to those two areas of the state? There are still great towns and villages in the central part of the state around concord and Manchester as well as the lakes region.

Also the lack of an income tax makes the property tax a LITTLE easier to handle. We paid 325 for our 2100 sq foot 3 bedroom cape in bow and the property taxes are about 7800, just for reference, The town is very safe, has great schools and trash pick up, they also do an amazing job on the roads during storms. but the tax rate is definitely something to think about before buying.

Quote:
Originally Posted by rootsandwings View Post
Hey mkclark - looks like we have a lot in common! Don't know about you, but I'm nervous and also very excited to be finally finding a more wholesome place to raise my kids.
O.K., so I hear everyone on the property taxes in ORSD. Thing is, we pay $6500 per year in property taxes here in Harris Co., Texas, on a house appraised for $315,000. And my high school student is homeschooling this year (an on-line h.s. which costs a few thousand more) cause the high schools are just humungous and very intimidating. We've been paying high property taxes so long, we never really knew the luxury of not doing so!
But..... it sure does sound appealing to be able to have the great schools, the mountains and lakes, and the awesome community all for a lower tax rate (as in the Kearsage district).
The more I research, the more I like the idea of settling in the central and/or western part of the state.
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Old 02-29-2012, 01:50 PM
 
Location: Houston, Texas
40 posts, read 84,403 times
Reputation: 34
Hi Chris410. Thanks for the info. on Bow.
I am definitely open to suggestions of other towns that meet our criteria. Guess I just narrowed it down to those two areas based on what I've read about the schools and communities. We will be heading up there this summer to rent for a few months while we look around. I would love suggestions of towns we should check into, especially in the lakes, concord, and/or upper valley areas. I don't know, just like the vibe of that area. Could be wrong, but seems more community focused and less commuter based.
Seacoast is still on our radar, but less so now unless my husband finds out that he'll need to be in Boston more than a couple of times a month for meetings.
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Old 02-29-2012, 02:21 PM
 
Location: Floyd County, IN
24,232 posts, read 41,741,557 times
Reputation: 16752
Quote:
Originally Posted by rootsandwings View Post
Hi Chris410. Thanks for the info. on Bow.
I am definitely open to suggestions of other towns that meet our criteria. Guess I just narrowed it down to those two areas based on what I've read about the schools and communities. We will be heading up there this summer to rent for a few months while we look around. I would love suggestions of towns we should check into, especially in the lakes, concord, and/or upper valley areas. I don't know, just like the vibe of that area. Could be wrong, but seems more community focused and less commuter based.
Seacoast is still on our radar, but less so now unless my husband finds out that he'll need to be in Boston more than a couple of times a month for meetings.
Also look at the Governor Wentworth district that includes the towns of: Wolfeboro, Tuftonboro, Ossipee, Effingham, Brookfield, and New Durham. They are in the process of finishing renovations on the High School in Wolfeboro. Wolfeboro has a hospital and many shops. All the basics can be found in that area with box stores 30-35 minutes away. It is further removed from the airport and seacoast, though. The overall tax rates for Tuftonboro and Wolfeboro in particular are about 1/2 compared to the Kearsarge district or Oyster River district.
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