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Old 05-30-2012, 06:45 PM   #41
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Interesting you should say that, I had Santa Cruz on my short list until talking to someone who went to UCSC and then stuck around for a few years afterward. She was saying Santa Cruz is a pretty cool place to go to school, get high, surf, and hang out but that when it got time for her to "get serious" she found SC to be too laid back (whatever that means). She also said there tended to be a real us-vs-them attitude there between the natives and the transplants. Like more than other places. Would you disagree? Should we put it back on our list?
I think that if you have an open mind and heart, it is easy to fit in. It is my nature to be laid back because I make art - and that is part of my lifestyle. And, Santa Cruz certainly fits the bill; it would be among the top 5 on my list.

I am from CA, and I have found that some of my favorite people were from the Midwest and East Coast. They bring a sense of adventure with them; and, they seem to represent the best of wherever they came from. My best friend (from the 80's & 90's) came from New York City! Unfortunately, she passed away in 1993.
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Old 05-30-2012, 06:47 PM   #42
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Originally Posted by z-d-g

Interesting you should say that, I had Santa Cruz on my short list until talking to someone who went to UCSC and then stuck around for a few years afterward. She was saying Santa Cruz is a pretty cool place to go to school, get high, surf, and hang out but that when it got time for her to "get serious" she found SC to be too laid back (whatever that means). She also said there tended to be a real us-vs-them attitude there between the natives and the transplants. Like more than other places. Would you disagree? Should we put it back on our list?
Santa Cruz should be on your short list. I am an ex-New Yorker, but got to Santa Cruz by moving around for jobs. It has great quality of life and a great Mediterranean climate. No A/C is needed and i haven't worn a winter coat in years. Housing is expensive, but your budget would work. There are good alternative schools here also.

It is a small (city is 50,000 population, and very liberal) but since it is a college town, there is a lot going on. It has a great downtown. It is close to San Jose (20 miles) and about 75 miles from San Francisco. For a small town it has good transit, that is well utilized, I used to manage it before my ER. My wife and I were looking for other locations to retire and we could never find anything to beat the area, especially since one of our kids lives in San Jose with our first grandson.

I have had some serious medical issues, and it is great to have access to Stanford Medical as wee as San Francisco medical resources which are first class. As someone else mentioned, California finances are in the crapper, and taxes are high, but I think we will be staying put. Feel free to ask any questions.
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Old 05-30-2012, 07:55 PM   #43
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Went back and reread your original post and looks like you would really like the SoCal area. I spent some time there as a visitor to my sisters house in Escondido. Maybe not as expensive as San Diego and the weather is beautiful. My sister said that if they ever retired and stayed in CA they would have to move a little inland to somewhere like Temecula. Just for lower housing prices.
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Old 05-30-2012, 08:35 PM   #44
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My nephew had a terrible time being bullied in private and public school in Santa Fe. I couldn't recommend it for that reason.

My son lives in Kansas City, which I've found to be entirely different than I thought it would be before many visits. There are many great restaurants, cultural activities, great private schools, and housing prices are fair. There is lots of history in the area and the people are great. If we weren't happy where we are in Texas, I would definitely consider a move there.
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Old 05-30-2012, 09:01 PM   #45
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I think you have a difficult decision. It is obvious that southern California meets much of your criteria. However, I would have two problems with it.

1. Fiscal considerations in California that seem really unique to California and would not make me want to live in that state. It just seems very risky.

2. House prices. Want you want to spend on a house won't buy all that much in California compared to other places. A few years ago when we bought our house before our current house we bought it from a couple who had moved to Texas (where we were) from California. The Texas house was almost 4500 SF, had a guest house and two garages and over 2 acres. The house they had left in California was about 1/3 the size, with a postage stamp lot at almost twice the price. The seller was upset the entire time we were under contract because they were moving back to California and she wasn't happy at what she could find. Now, I realize many people do make the trade off and are willing to live in a much smaller, older house at a much higher price. But, the point is that it is a trade off.
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Old 05-30-2012, 09:33 PM   #46
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For the NC posters, Raleigh-Durham and Chapel Hill would have been near the top of our list except for the weather. It appears from research that NC is basically just as humid as Texas; is that not your experience?
I don't have any relevant experience with TX, but I can say that the Triangle area gets humid during the summer. But NC summers aren't as long as TX summers from what I hear. End of June, all of July and August are usually the hottest, most humid months. But there are cool(er), dry spells even in those months. When it is 95 degrees and high humidity you don't go outside a lot in the middle of the day. But if you go out at 8 am it may only be 75 degrees. You adapt and deal with the couple months where it is uncomfortable in the middle of the day (by staying inside where it is air conditioned ). And even in the dead heat of summer, evenings are usually comfortable once the sun starts to dip low on the horizon.

The flip side is that winters are mild. I never wore my heavy coat this past winter for example. I think I scraped frost off my car windshield a few times but don't really remember.

Regarding religion, I don't want to say too much publicly, but I view it more as a cultural oddity here rather than being intrusive. It is omnipresent, but most people kind of do their own thing. Among people I know and associate with in Raleigh, I would say atheism or agnosticism or indifference to religion is more common than strong religious feelings. But my circle of friends and acquaintances are self selected. I can elaborate by PM regarding my thoughts on religion in the south if you are interested but don't really want to say more publicly on this forum.
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Old 05-30-2012, 09:35 PM   #47
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In this order, we want a place that has/is:
  1. A progressive K-8 or K-12 school for our daughter where children are respected and bullying is not tolerated (think Montessori or Waldorf). As I said above, we will not consider religious schools.
  2. Has better weather than NYC (I know that's not saying much). We can tolerate a few snow days a year, but no more 6-months-of-winter. Also, we have no interest in hot, humid summers. Like I said, we lived in Texas for 33 years and I'm not signing up for 6-month-of-swamp-summer either. I'm not saying we need San Diego weather, just a place where it's basically between 45 and 85 most of the year without unbearable humidity.
  3. Relative proximity to an airport with international flights would be nice, but not critical. Let's say we'd like to be at least within 90 minutes.
  4. MUST have food and shopping selections beyond crappy national chain fast-ish food. If Outback Steahouse is the best restaurant in the city/town, we're not interested, thanks. We don't need hundreds of foodie joints, just 5-10 would be fine.
  5. Housing can't be outrageously expensive (or we'd just stay in NYC). We can easily afford a house in the $500k-$750k range and could stretch that to $1.1m or so for a perfect house in a perfect city/town. We need at least a 3/2 with a garage and prefer a pool. We do not want a giant house like we used to have in Texas, something in the 2500-3000 sf range would be more than enough.
My goodness.

As at least one other poster has mentioned, this thread is setting up to be a "Yeah, but" thread. As in "Yeah, your answer makes sense, but..."

Instead of depending on the random kindness of Internet strangers, maybe you should start sorting databases. Somewhere on the Internet, or in the Montessori/Waldorf systems, there has to be a list of all the schools. Surely you can find a similar list for airports. Then you can work with the typical "Best 25 Cities" lists for climate and cost of living.

I was going to suggest Oahu until I realized there's an Outback in Waikiki. So never mind.
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Old 05-30-2012, 10:28 PM   #48
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My nephew had a terrible time being bullied in private and public school in Santa Fe. I couldn't recommend it for that reason.

My son lives in Kansas City, which I've found to be entirely different than I thought it would be before many visits. There are many great restaurants, cultural activities, great private schools, and housing prices are fair. There is lots of history in the area and the people are great. If we weren't happy where we are in Texas, I would definitely consider a move there.
Hush up now!

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Old 05-30-2012, 10:48 PM   #49
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Funny, you described NYC as I think of it. I never saw the allure,of course to be honest, I was only there one time-fifty some years ago.

How about Fairfax county Virginia? NOVA -northern Virginia is not the south. Best schools in country, look up Thomas Jefferson HS for Sciences.
Lots of good restaurants, access to airport, cultural amenities.

Weather is mostly mild. We name our snowstorms. Humidity can be awful though.
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Old 05-31-2012, 07:04 AM   #50
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Old 05-31-2012, 07:11 AM   #51
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My goodness.

As at least one other poster has mentioned, this thread is setting up to be a "Yeah, but" thread. As in "Yeah, your answer makes sense, but..."

Instead of depending on the random kindness of Internet strangers, maybe you should start sorting databases. Somewhere on the Internet, or in the Montessori/Waldorf systems, there has to be a list of all the schools. Surely you can find a similar list for airports. Then you can work with the typical "Best 25 Cities" lists for climate and cost of living.

I was going to suggest Oahu until I realized there's an Outback in Waikiki. So never mind.
This. Just pick your most important criterion and find where that's available; narrow by next important criterion. Rinse and repeat.
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Old 05-31-2012, 07:17 AM   #52
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I think most all schools qualify for "students are respected and bullying is not tolerated". I mean how many schools put in their brochures "We don't respect students and we tolerate bullying." Thus, I would not have that as the first criteria.

Just move out on Long Island somewhere and you will be fine. I suggest Lloyd Harbor.
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Old 05-31-2012, 07:31 AM   #53
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Another place to consider is San Luis Obispo, halfway between LA and SF in the Central Coast. Voted Happiest City in America or something like that. Scenic, mild climate and easygoing. Not near major airport but you can connect from SLO to LAX and Las Vegas.
This is my dream destination...my in-laws live in Cayucos, about 20 mins north of SLO. I went to school at UCSB and know the area well. As long as you don't need a career this is the place to live.
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Old 05-31-2012, 07:43 AM   #54
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Like the OP, from day 1 of my FIRE I've been thinking about a relo... In fact many of his criteria match mine (with the exception of those that are child related).

I've tried the "usual suspects" of websites/articles/statistics looking for MY ideal place. It's interesting that some replies have suggested Charlotte (my current home)... honestly, it's a great city. Having transferred here from colder climates in MI/WV/NY/DE/PA... I now know I could never live anywhere colder than NC. Still, I'm ready for a move. Here are some Charlotte, NC pro's/con's for the OP...

Pro's
- Large(ish) city with a small city feel
- Affordable housing
- Comfortable weather (snow is rare, although 100F temp & high humidity is frequent in late July/Aug)
- Lot's of easily accessible attractions/festivals/charitable events (for all activity levels)
- Some great food (not NYC but with a J&W campus here, creative chefs/restaurants are well represented)

Con's
- A little too "red neck" in some crowds
- A little too "religious" in some crowds
- Disappointed by the whole Gay Marriage Amendment (while not affected by it directly, I think it's bad policy and bad for the state. Charlotte BTW voted 60/40 against.)
- Weather is still a little too "4 seasons." While nice, I'd prefer a narrower range of yearly temps (say 30deg swing rather than 70deg).

That said... I've been targeting Hawaii and CA. I realize that HI probably isn't an option for the OP, so the CA cities I've been pondering are... Santa Cruz, San Jose, San Luis Obispo, Redding (Shasta Lake).

Like many have mentioned, I'm worried about the state financial issues and concerned about the COLA from NC to CA. Still, I'd love to hear more opinions on the towns above.

As for my HI dream, that may be the best option for me. I figure if I'm gonna take the plunge, moving to a high COL location... I might as well make it paradise
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Old 05-31-2012, 11:37 AM   #55
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z-d-g

> In fact, we're going to see both Novato and San Rafael; but now you have me concerned. Why are the words "have to" in front of those? I just don't know the area. What's wrong with those places (feel free to DM me)?

Oh that was a slip. So funny. When you live in Marin county, it's status to be closer to the city - Tiburon, Larkspur, Corte Madera, Sausalito, etc. More "cache". San Rafael and Novato are great. I lived in each of them. More value in Novato, as it's further away from the city (Marin county people call SF "the city"). My first house purchase was in Novato.

I actually would NOT buy in those chi-chi towns in Marin, unless I was really wealthy. It's so status conscious that I don't think it's a good place to bring up your kids. Too much focus on expensive cars, etc. I am sure you know that from Manhattan.

I never lived in Petaluma, but friends did. It really upscaled - lots of great restaurants, etc. now.
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Old 05-31-2012, 11:40 AM   #56
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Marin is such a beautiful area, you would be so happy there. When I go back regularly (my BFF still lives in Novato) I am overblown by the beauty. They really focus on not overbuilding and the environment.

Check out Lucas Valley in San Rafael. It's an exit two north of the main San Rafael central area. I have always liked that area. Although the houses are mostly Eichlers.
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Old 05-31-2012, 01:21 PM   #57
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This is an interesting thread and can be useful to members if we don't start discussing ideology and steer away from cultural stereotypes.
Michael, perhaps I misunderstand your point, but I happen to think the "cultural" aspects of a community or area are as important as the geography and weather. We use "stereotypes" because we humans are unable to avoid them. We generalize from what we see/experience. Otherwise, we would not be able to make sense of the world. The fact that most stereotypes are, in the final analysis, "inaccurate" doesn't mean they can not be useful (sort of like the hypotheses/theory system we use in the scientific world - most theories are flawed, but that doesn't mean they aren't useful.) As long as the advice given does not denigrate, I think it useful to have an idea of cultural issues in places being considered.

I bring this up because I was going to recommend to z-d-g the island of Oahu. It sounds as if z-d-g can afford 1) The housing 2) The private schools, 3) The elevated COL in general. The weather is "perfect", the air time to any major mainland city is 8 to 10 hours at most. It has "international" shopping and restaurants. In short, his 5 stated requirements are more-or-less covered.

But, culturally, z-d-g needs to understand that it is different than most places he has lived (though, oddly, probably closer to NYC than MOST of the places listed by others - simply on the basis of diversity.) Having said that, it IS more of an Asian culture than a European culture. I don't consider that good or bad, just a fact. And it's an important fact (e.g., one does NOT wear shoes when entering another person's dwelling - it's cultural.) So, if one only wants to know about weather and geography, one can look it all up on the net. Understanding the cultural issues (especially through the eyes of those who have lived someplace) is probably best approached by talking to folks - as z-d-g has initiated. Just my humble opinion of course, so YMMV.
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Old 05-31-2012, 01:39 PM   #58
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Interesting you should say that, I had Santa Cruz on my short list until talking to someone who went to UCSC and then stuck around for a few years afterward. She was saying Santa Cruz is a pretty cool place to go to school, get high, surf, and hang out but that when it got time for her to "get serious" she found SC to be too laid back (whatever that means). She also said there tended to be a real us-vs-them attitude there between the natives and the transplants. Like more than other places. Would you disagree? Should we put it back on our list?
I've stayed with a friend often who lives in Bonny Doon (in the hills above SC)
I'd put it back on your list. I never got any of the "us vs them" vibe. I have no idea what the "get serious" thing means. I'm guessing that means "get a job"
which isn't an issue with you. Yes there is a "hippie" contingent there so it can feel a bit like one big college town sometimes. Personally I like that though. San jose airport is about 35 mi / 45 minutes away. San Fransisco is about an hour.
My friend was quite happy w/ the schools in the bonny doon area.
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Old 05-31-2012, 01:45 PM   #59
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Michael, perhaps I misunderstand your point, but I happen to think the "cultural" aspects of a community or area are as important as the geography and weather. We use "stereotypes" because we humans are unable to avoid them. We generalize from what we see/experience. Otherwise, we would not be able to make sense of the world. The fact that most stereotypes are, in the final analysis, "inaccurate" doesn't mean they can not be useful (sort of like the hypotheses/theory system we use in the scientific world - most theories are flawed, but that doesn't mean they aren't useful.) As long as the advice given does not denigrate, I think it useful to have an idea of cultural issues in places being considered.
Koolau, I was not suggesting cultural aspects be ignored, just to be careful to avoid offending some members with negative (and usually incorrect) stereotypes. That's all.
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Old 05-31-2012, 01:50 PM   #60
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Like the OP, from day 1 of my FIRE I've been thinking about a relo... In fact many of his criteria match mine (with the exception of those that are child related).

I've tried the "usual suspects" of websites/articles/statistics looking for MY ideal place. It's interesting that some replies have suggested Charlotte (my current home)... honestly, it's a great city. Having transferred here from colder climates in MI/WV/NY/DE/PA... I now know I could never live anywhere colder than NC. Still, I'm ready for a move. Here are some Charlotte, NC pro's/con's for the OP...

Pro's
- Large(ish) city with a small city feel
- Affordable housing
- Comfortable weather (snow is rare, although 100F temp & high humidity is frequent in late July/Aug)
- Lot's of easily accessible attractions/festivals/charitable events (for all activity levels)
- Some great food (not NYC but with a J&W campus here, creative chefs/restaurants are well represented)

Con's
- A little too "red neck" in some crowds
- A little too "religious" in some crowds
- Disappointed by the whole Gay Marriage Amendment (while not affected by it directly, I think it's bad policy and bad for the state. Charlotte BTW voted 60/40 against.)
- Weather is still a little too "4 seasons." While nice, I'd prefer a narrower range of yearly temps (say 30deg swing rather than 70deg).

That said... I've been targeting Hawaii and CA. I realize that HI probably isn't an option for the OP, so the CA cities I've been pondering are... Santa Cruz, San Jose, San Luis Obispo, Redding (Shasta Lake).

Like many have mentioned, I'm worried about the state financial issues and concerned about the COLA from NC to CA. Still, I'd love to hear more opinions on the towns above.

As for my HI dream, that may be the best option for me. I figure if I'm gonna take the plunge, moving to a high COL location... I might as well make it paradise
I lived in the San Jose area for a while because it was close to work. The santa cruz area is a lot nicer. Los Gatos /Campbell which is in between the two is ok, but i'd still go for S.C.
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