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Old 04-21-2007, 11:46 PM
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My family (husband and three kids) and I are considering relocating to Omaha from the Northern Virginia suburbs outside Washington, DC. Although originally from the Pittsburgh area, we have lived here for almost 20 years (our entire adult lives).

Although a slower pace, a simpiler life and small-town values appeal to us, I am seriously wondering what to expect as far as an adjustment. We live in Fairfax County which has a population of 1 million (just the county), a suburban area outside DC, a 25 min drive w/o traffic, an hours commute during rush hour.

We are "spoiled" here with a culturally-rich environment, one of the top-rank school systems nationally, incredible public libraries, numerous county and state parks with over 400 miles of bike trails with lakes, rivers and outstanding recreation. We have a clean and extensive public transportation system. Most of our museums in DC are free! The economy here is booming. We are close to world-class restaurants, shopping and amenities. The suburbs in Northern Virginia are filled with well-educated people from all over the world...a very international mix. The crime per capita here is extremely low. If you make the "big bucks", the quality of life here is exceptional.

So....why would we move, you might ask? We aggressively invested in real estate a three years ago (when our appreciation rates here were 25% annually) and now things have changed. The only way to recover from our down-hill financial crisis is to take the large amount of equity (well over 100k) in our current home, sell, and relocate to a lower-cost of living area.

We're looking for the best neighborhoods (either downtown or suburban) which would offer us great restaurants, culure, excellent schools (especially Catholic), ethnic diversity, safety, etc with a demographic of well-educated and higher SES communities (although we definitly don't want snobby)

We are a stong catholic family faithful to the church with traditional values, but not narrow-minded (if you understand what I mean?). We value education, travel and personal growth. However, we are also very typically suburban with our lives revolving around our three kids....shcool/homework, piano lessons, football, ballet, lacrosse, swim team, etc.

Based on what I've said (and I've said alot...lol) can anyone give me any ideas on what areas we may want to explore to live? What are the strongest academic catholic elementary and high schools and where are they located?

We realize that although we will be sacrificing many amenities and opportunites available here, we also would welcome extra money to save for college, travel, vacation and enjoy life....in essence increasing our standard of living.

Any and all thoughts and suggestions would be welcome. Thanks for reading all of this...lol.
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Old 04-22-2007, 10:56 PM
Location: Looking over your shoulder
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You’ll enjoy Omaha and the values that come with living there. There are some excellent Catholic schools and colleges that are all very highly rated. The weather isn’t much different from where you’d be moving from so that’s not a problem. There are many new housing areas to the southwest and west of the city. You couldn’t do better then a move to Omaha. The only problem might be driving in rush hour traffic from some of the neighborhood locations to employment.
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Old 04-22-2007, 11:42 PM
Location: Downtown Omaha
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There is NO comparison with Omaha 'traffic' and DC traffic. They have some of the worst in the country.
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Old 04-23-2007, 12:41 AM
Location: West Omaha
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Yeah, the traffic you deal with in Omaha, even in the worst situation, will be sweet relief compared to D.C.

Omaha is a nice medium sized city and I think you'll be pretty surprised by it. Many people, having never visited Omaha, tend to paint it as a "cow town", but the greater Omaha area has approximately 800,000 people. Granted its certainly not the east coast, but its not Fargo either.

There are many excellent Catholic schools in and around Omaha and I am certain you will find a school that fits your needs. I would also add that being in the midwest is certainly a positive when raising children. The hustle and bustle just seems to slow down quite a bit in the midwest, and although sometimes looked upon as a negative it certainly becomes a positive with regard to child rearing. Don't get me wrong, Omaha has a metropolitan feel to it, but it only takes a few minutes drive to your home to escape it, if that's what you wanted.
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Old 04-23-2007, 02:08 AM
Location: Downtown Omaha
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I would recommend looking into the Dundee area or around UNO/Memorial Park. Nice homes. You're close to Downtown and good dining in both Downtown and Midtown. Living in the city you won't have as much traffic to worry about like you would if you lived far out west. If you're Catholic you can look at going to St. Cecilias. It's the 10th largest Cathedral in the country. The Cathedral/Joslyn Castle neighborhoods are pretty nice too. They're closer to Downtown.
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Old 04-24-2007, 12:08 AM
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Does anyone know the best Catholic schools (there seems to be many in the area) by academic achievement and/or reputation? St. Cecelia's was mentioned....any others? I know here there are differences to individual catholic grade schools and high schools....they're not all the same just because they're catholic. Also, are there any websites which rank the high schools, public and catholic?

Any other communities (not more than 20 min outside the city) besides Dundee and Cathedral which would be nice for 250-300 price range? Again, we need to be close to top-notch schools, which is our priority.

What are the best places and things about Omaha? How would you describe it? I would love to hear from locals as well as transplants and anyone who has lived in other states.

What is the tax structure like? Are the taxes based on the county (I think Douglas is most likely where we would be) or in the city, or both? Here, our real estate taxes are surprisingly low, but we are taxed on food and clothes. Wondering what it's like out there?

Someone mentioned "cow country" and Fargo....but, I actually have never been west of Chicago regarding the northern part of the US (not including CA) so it's hard to compare. My sister lives in Akron, Ohio (remember Goodyear blimp?) which is pretty small, but they go to nearby Cleveland for some amenities. If Omaha is similar to Cleveland and/or Pittsburgh, I think we could adjust to that. Are there any Italian, Polish, neighborhoods like those in Pgh and Cleveland?

Also, what's the topography like in Omaha? Where my sister lives in Ohio is very, very flat (I drove thru parts of Illiinois which were very flat, too) but I know that Cinnicnnati is very hilly like Pittsburgh. In DC/Northern Virginia it is not as flat as Ohio, but not as mountainous as Pittsburgh.

My husband attended a convention in St. Paul / Minneapolis and said it was surprisingly nice and clean. His major opposition to Omaha now is the feeling of being "land-locked" (we're 2 hours to the ocean here and the Potomac is minutes away) and not having any professional sports team to support (we're huge Steeler fans....never was able to "stomach" the Skins..lol)

What's the political climate like in Omaha? I gathered from some posts that there is some division between rural vs. city, which I think happens in most every state. But besides that.....

The DC Metro area (including suburban areas of Md and Northern Va) has a population of around 6 million, so there's traffic just from the sheer fact of the population density. However, there is so much federal, state and county money for road construction, widening, expanding, subway system expansion, etc that we actually get around surprisingly well.....ithere is literally more congestion in Pittsburgh (when frequently visiting relatives) that we have been shocked (just the lack of left turn lanes on commercial "strip mall" roads is surprising)

How is the road structure and expansion in Omaha? I think I read there is not light rail system and no way to get between Omaha and Lincoln? Is that true?

Someone mentioned the weather being similar to here. We don't get that much snowfall and it's only cold from Dec-Feb...by March/April the Cherry Blossoms are blooming and spring is here! The ultimate best months here are March, April, May and Sept/Oct when it averages in the mid 60's to low 70's. Are you sure that sounds like Omaha? We do have extremely uncomfortable humidity during summertime which is awful. I won't be sad to leave that behind.

Thanks for reading and for your responding. This is actually the first time i've ever read or posted on this site or any others like it.
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Old 04-24-2007, 12:56 AM
Location: West Omaha
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Beth ann,

Other communities with excellent school's would be the Millard, Papillion, and the Lavista areas. These areas are the newer areas in west Omaha and would certainly fit the type of $200K to $300K home you're looking for. However, when I say, "excellent schools" I'm referring to the public schools. One thing you need to keep in mind is that Omaha is a 20 minute town, so whether the Catholic school of choice is necessarily in your neighborhood or not isn't such an issue. I wish I could help more on the Catholic school issue, but honestly that is an area I know little about.

There is no light rail system, but the reason for that is there is no demand for it. The freeway and roads infrastructure is very good and allows for efficient and quick commutes. You are also correct as far as Lincoln is concerned, there is currently no rail system connecting the two cities. But again, by car they are about 40 minutes apart, and its a stress free low congestion drive.

As far as the political climate is concerned, there is NO tension between rural and city issues. The posts that suggest that on this website are by a select few that hold extreme views on either side of the issue. I've lived in Nebraska nearly my entire life and have never witnessed this tension...it doesn't exist, but a few posters on this board can certainly give that impression.

I would say that Nebraska is generally pretty politically conservative, which I'm sure you are aware. However, Omaha tends to be ironically pretty liberal. Its a nice blend and its certainly nothing to worry about. Granted if you are Ted Kennedy liberal then you may have problems acclimating yourself to some of the outstate rural areas, but you wouldn't have a problem at all living in Omaha.

As far as weather goes, yeah that sounds about like Omaha. I've spent a decent amount of time in the D.C. area (Baltimore, D.C., Alexandria, and Williamsburg) and the weather is not drastically different. We do get more snow than you though. But as far as temperature goes its about the same. I was mowing my lawn in March. Nebraska also gets an uncomfortable amount of humidity in the summer, so unfortunately that won't change for you. The difference in Nebraska is the rapid weather changes. Because we have no stabilizing body of water (e.g. the Atlantic ocean) and we are essentially right in the middle of a giant land mass we get pretty sudden weather changes. We either get weather fronts coming from Canada or we get weather fronts coming from the Gulf of Mexico. However, the general weather trend is very similar to the D.C. area.

Well, we don't have any pro sports teams in Nebraska, but there is the Husker football team. Granted, its not the NFL, but Nebraska football is a spectacle that is pretty rare on the east coast. There are a handful of college environments that would rival it and a few would be Notre Dame, Michigan, Penn St., Texas, Oklahoma, and USC. There are also the Kansas City Chiefs, which are about 3 hours away. So, if you need an NFL fix its not too terribly far away.

The topography in Omaha is relatively flat when compared to some of the places you mentioned. We lie in the Missouri valley, and as in most river valleys, the surrounding areas are relatively flat. We have rolling hills but not ominous ones. Landlocked is certainly a way of describing Nebraska...don't have much advice on that one. Although Omaha does lie on the Missouri river, so there are certainly options there.

Anyway, hopefully this helped out a bit. If you have any other questions please feel free.

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Old 04-24-2007, 02:03 AM
Location: Downtown Omaha
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I've found Omaha to be very hillly. An old teacher I had who moved here from Florida said she couldn't believe how hilly Omaha was compared to Florida.
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Old 04-25-2007, 07:50 AM
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Thanks for all your input.

I did think of a few other questions.....

This may sound like a stupid question, but, is there any recreation on the Missouri River, like boating? Is it known as relativelly clean or polluted? In some cities close to rivers the "riverfront" has been revitalized (like in Pittsburgh..the Three Rivers City) to offer restaurants, scenic views, bike trails, etc. Is that the case in Omaha?

Also, where do people vacation, either for day trips or during the summertime? I gather some trek to the Great Lakes for the beach, but are there any other closer destinations?

Are there any quaint or historic or intersting towns nearby that people in Omaha frequent? With us having Baltimore, Annapolis, Williamsburg so close which we visit often on family day trips, I'm trying to think of substitutes of that on a smaller scale.

For those of you w/ kids....I assume there are a variety of sports clubs for kids to get involved with. My kids are very, very active in competitive sports and activites. Here, the kids play for clubs (regionally grouped and supported by parent coaches) from 5 years old on...then play for their school during high school (if they make the team)

I think I may have an idea of the Huskers climate there. I graduated from West Virginia University where people would travel from all over the state, even 4 hours away to attend a Mountaineer game. Their spirit was extreme (blue and gold vans, houses, etc) partly due to the fact that the state has no professional teams to support. So, I can understand a little of the intensity there.

Take care and thanks for all your replies.
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Old 04-25-2007, 11:21 AM
Location: Downtown Omaha
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To answer your questions about the Missouri River, yes there is recreational opportunites.

-There is a boating marina for about 30 boats.

-There is a riverwalk with statues and connects to other parks Downtown.

-There is a restaurant Rick's Boatyard Cafe, with other retail/dining coming around the Riverfront Place condo towers.

-There is a 3,000 ft long pedestrian bridge being built across the river to Iowa where it will connect with other bike trails and parks on the Iowa side of the river.

-There is a cruise boat called the River City Star that docks DT on the river.
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