Best place to raise a family


Nov 21st, 2005, 11:27 AM
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Best place to raise a family

Let me tell you who we are and what we want, and I'll be grateful for all feedback. My husband and I have a five-year-old daughter. We need an excellent public school system, no weather extremes, NO HURRICANES, no desert. We'd prefer a small-to-medium size town, population no greater than 50,000, but within driving distance of a city with an airport because we like to travel. The housing in our area goes for about $100/sq. foot, and that's about what we'd like to pay.

We live in the New Orleans area, and if we have to move in the next year, we'd prefer to live in an area that experiences the four seasons.

All advice is appreciated!
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Nov 21st, 2005, 11:53 AM
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Hi Margot,

We hit all of your major requirements EXCEPT for the extreme weather thing.

There are a couple suburbs in the Minneapolis - St. Paul, MN area that have the population you are looking for along with excellent public schools systems, and home prices in your comfort zone. Also the airport is centralling located so in an burb, you are within, I would say 30-45 minutes, the southern burbs are clsoer than that.

However in speaking of the weather... I cannot say it is not extreme, we are on the beginning of extreme here, lol.

With that said, I have lived here and lived away, and now I am here again. I love it. It is a great cultural area, the people are wonderful, your child would be surrounded for the most part, by caring people with good ethics.

My DH and I both feel so very much for what the people of your hometown have gone through. I can't blame you for looking to live in another state, I know we would do the same.

I wish you great luck in your quest to relocate. My very best to you, Tiff
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Nov 21st, 2005, 11:54 AM
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How about on a Hollywood backdrop, like the Cleavers or the Bradys?

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Nov 21st, 2005, 12:07 PM
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Kalamazoo MI

They have some great areas that have diversity, common sense, and family friendly everything. Plus they have just initiated through a huge donor program Free College Tuition in any state school for graduates of their public school system.

You would have about a 2 hour drive to Detroit or to Chicago to a major International Airport, but closer small ones abound. Grand Rapids is fine too.

It's surrounded by lakes, and you could get a lake property with some additional $$$ that would increase value at a high rate. Wine country, and lots of other perks around- some skiing and 4 seasons. No hurricanes, tsumais and less tornados than tons of other places.

The people are very friendly and many activities surround kids' schools and sporting activities. Lots of churches but society is NOT centered around social/church circles.
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Nov 21st, 2005, 12:13 PM
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It's a great resource!

Though it does seem like it will be difficult to find a place that has 4 seasons but no weather extremes and no hurricanes or desert. Unless we have different ideas of weather extremes - how extreme is extreme to you?

Have you ever lived anywhere else that has some of the features that you're looking for that you could share - might help people get a better idea what you want.
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Nov 21st, 2005, 12:18 PM
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Maybe somewhere in Oregon?

I believe "excellent public school system" will be the single most difficult item on your list.
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Nov 21st, 2005, 12:19 PM
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Or one of the southern states in New England?

But what constitutes "extreme" in your mind? Is some snow OK?
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Nov 21st, 2005, 12:24 PM
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Hi, Margo, we're from Louisiana, too, not far from Lake Charles. We actually got more damage from Rita although one of our sons lives on the Mississippi coast and did get some damage from Katrina. So we know what you are going through!

We are thinking of moving, too. I have been asking questions on this forum about small towns in the Shenadoah Valley in Virginia. I've received lots of helpful information so click on my name to find the Shenadoah thread if you are interested. The houses may be more expensive than you are looking for. We are going to the Shenadoah Valley next week to spend a few days looking at possible towns. I can send you some information after we get back. The trouble with owning a reasonably priced house in Louisiana is that when you try to move to another area, you may feel priced out of the market. But I do know how quickly the house prices are rising in Virginia, so I expect that buying one now would prove to be a good investment, too.

Good luck to you in this challenging decision.
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Nov 21st, 2005, 12:55 PM
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Hot Springs, Arkansas.
happytourist is offline  
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Nov 21st, 2005, 01:20 PM
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Lithuania, if you can stand seven months of winter.
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Nov 21st, 2005, 01:40 PM
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You might want to say what your idea of weather extremes is. I would never want to live in Michigan like some of these suggest, as that's too cold for me, or Chicago. However, I think many areas of the Midwest would be suitable, and the mid-Atlantic region, as well as parts of California. I live in Maryland and there are no major weather disasters here, which is nice. I think the same could be true for Pennsylvania, West Va., and Virginia, and Ohio. I don't know which city would be suitable for your price range, but probably many. I was raised in central Ohio, and that would fit your prices and most things -- around Columbus would be good, say a suburb. There aren't many weather extremes there, but it gets a bit colder there in winter than the mid-Atlantic region.

I don't know about school quality in all these areas, but I don't think it's particularly bad for any reason (I know NO was).
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Nov 21st, 2005, 01:42 PM
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I think you'll be somewhat limited due to your price range for housing. At $100/sq ft, you're looking at $200K for a 2,000 sq foot home. I think you should concentrate on the cost of living factor and go from there. Maybe NC, away from the coast line?
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Nov 21st, 2005, 01:49 PM
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Well, I think that $200,000 for 2000sq puts you in the midwest. There are some areas in the NE, but then you're dealing with weather extremes (snow) and poor local economies in areas that will get you a house in that price range.
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Nov 21st, 2005, 02:17 PM
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Have you considered perhaps St. Louis or Kansas City. Both are great cities to raise a family, and the housing prices are fairly low compared to the rest of the country. There are great suburbs around both cities, and both have an international airport. I live in Illinois, about 15 miles from St. Louis and find that there is a lot to do around the area.

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Nov 21st, 2005, 02:19 PM
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Aiken, South Carolina. Good schools - both public and private in the area - no major weather issues - occasional ice in the winter and storms in the summer but you can't live in a weather bubble! - Small town atmosphere but within 45 minutes of both Augusta, Ga and Columbia, SC and less than 3 hours to the Atlanta or Charlotte airports. 3 hours or less to the beaches, the mountains, and Charleston. A fairly wide selection of homes, price=wise. Very family-friendly community. Good luck!
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Nov 21st, 2005, 02:35 PM
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What about north of Houston, or is that still too much of a hurricane risk? My SIL lives in The Woodlands & has a HUGE brand new house, about 4000 SF, that she bought for under $400K. It has excellent schools with some of the best sports programs in the country - something like 1/2 the Olympic swimming and diving team came from this town. It felt safer than anywhere I'd ever visited in my life.
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Nov 21st, 2005, 02:53 PM
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Having grown up in Louisiana, I believe I have a good idea of your desired temperature limits. I'd say a town in the middle latitudes, from I-20 on the south border to a line through Kansas City-St Louis-Cincinnati-Washington on the north border, would contain lots of towns you could choose from.

The main challenge might be what you consider to be an excellent public school system. Finding a moderate size town of 50,000 or less, with a really great school system will be difficult because very few of our posters have ever lived in more than a few places, and even fewer that meet your criteria, so their first-hand knowledge of school systems is limited.

Taking the broad swath of latitude that I described approximately by the limits above, you might want to consider these. I gathered these from my own personal knowledge (only a couple) and from trusted personal friends:
-Huntsville, Alabama: More than 50,000 but with excellent schools. You could probably live in one of the outlying suburban areas with a small-town feel. Actually Huntsville itself still feels like a small town.
-Oak Ridge, Tennessee: Top-rated schools, small town environment, highly educated and cultural community.
-Natchitoches, La: You probably know this one.
-Iowa City, Iowa: Bigger than your limit, and north of my artificual boundary, but a really great place to raise a family. University of Iowa is there too.
-Athens, Georgia: Good schools, reasonable real estate, University of Ga
-Lubbock, Texas: Overall good place to live.
-Georgetown, Texas: One of the best places to live, good schools, not far from Austin, reasonable real estate.

Hopefully you will get some other good recommendations to consider. Good luck.
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Nov 21st, 2005, 03:04 PM
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Hi Margot,
So sorry about your experiences in La. Hope things start to look up for you and family soon.
My sister, husband and 2 sons just moved to Marrietta. S.C. - just outside of Greenville S.C. for all the same reasons as you. She's loving the weather and lack of extremes and the change of seasons,the schools, the kind people and much more. She had already planned to leave the harsh and expensive S. NH area prior to major flooding in all areas around her - total devastion - her whole town got wiped out. She still managed to close on her house inspite of the buckled roads and floating houses as close as 2 doors down from her - hers, was the only untouched house. She bought a brand new 3bed/3 bath with a couple bonus unfinished rooms for $135.000. on 4 acres. She managed to get a higher wage for the same work than she did up north. Her husband is in the military and will retire down there.
Hope that helps.
Good luck to your family;
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Nov 21st, 2005, 03:12 PM
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Thanks for such detailed replies! In my research, I had considered areas in and around St. Louis, Covington, KY, and Cincinnati.

Also, as far as weather extremes, I should have been more specific. Some snow is okay - actually, preferable. I'm just not crazy about seven months of heat like we have in New Orleans.

To Saraho: you're correct about the Louisiana housing market. I went to to see what we could find in our price range and was shell-shocked. We live in a 3500 sq. foot house here in La., and if we move I'll never see that kind of space again!

A little Katrina humor: you know you're a Katrina survivor when -
*having a tree in your living room doesn't necessarily mean it's Christmas
*You don't have to look in your wallet to find your SSN - it's written in Sharpie on your forearm
*You have been on vacation for three months and haven't seen or done a GD thing
*You realize how comfortable you used to be, and realize there's no better feeling than being comfortable.
Just had to share a little of "my post-Katrina world" with those who haven't experienced it, and to remind them: love your life and be thankful for it, no matter how crappy it seems. Things can always, unexpectedly, get much worse.

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Nov 21st, 2005, 03:13 PM
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Since I live in Philadelphia, I'll give you some possibilities in the area.

1. Suburban Philadelphia - yes, I know it's a lot bigger than you want but, the counties surrounding Philadelphia have a small town feel and you've got the benefits of travel anywhere easily, arts, great schools, fabulous entertainment.

2. Suburban Wilmington, DE - Ditto Philly but smaller and yet, still near Philly.

3. Cherry Hill or Moorestown, NJ - Over the river from Philly, nice bedroom communities.
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