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Help Me Find a Place That Suits Us Please
Old 05-30-2012, 09:53 AM   #1
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Help Me Find a Place That Suits Us Please

I AM - 36, FIRE, male, atheist, married, one child (9 yr old DD), currently living on the Upper West Side of Manhattan.

OUR SITUATION - We sold our business in December (2011) and are currently looking for a place that suits our needs to move to. I am/was completely in love with NYC but it turns out that we simply can't afford to live here forever with the money I got from the sale. Let me rephrase: we could afford to live here, but not the way I want to or was used to when I owned a big, successful business.

SCHOOL REQUIREMENTS - Our daughter is currently in a wildly expensive (oy!) private school in Manhattan that we absolutely love for all the reasons any parent would - complete lack of bullying (mental or physical) by students or teachers, great academics, fast track to the best HS's and colleges, involved parents, happy students. School for our daughter is our primary concern at this point. I want to be clear that I don't care if she goes to an Ivy League university or not (I really don't), but I like that she's currently on a track where it's the "base line" and she can always choose to go to a lesser rated school if that's what she wants. (For example, in the HS I went to, there was 1 student out of 752 that went to an Ivy League school and only because his parents both did; in the school system my daughter is currently in, more than 50% of the students go Ivy League). Again, it isn't that I feel Ivy League is end-all-be-all so much as I like that she's in a system where high-achievement is the normal culture. Note: religious schools (of any flavor) will not be considered.

WHY WE ARE LEAVING NYC: - For all the reasons everyone does. It's too damn cold in the winter and too damn hot in the summer. We're tired of living in a shoebox that we can't even fit an exercise bike in to, let alone an exercise bike AND a treadmill. It costs money just to leave our apartment. We're tired of the lack of first world climate control (no central a/c in most buildings and the BANGBANGBANG radiators in the winter that literally leave your bedroom boiling). I never thought I'd miss having a car, but after 3 years, we miss having a car; it sure would be nice to be able to take a short road trip on the weekends again. We've had enough of the dog crap-and-piss minefields just to walk down the block. Worst of all, the change in our budget has meant that all the fun stuff we used to do here, we can no longer afford to do and it's depressing sitting here on the couch Friday night instead of eating a 3-Star meal and going to a jazz show.

WHAT WE ARE LOOKING FOR - I want to make this abundantly clear - I AM NOT LOOKING TO REPLICATE NEW YORK CITY, so please do not post how "City/Town X" is nothing like NYC. I know. We're perfectly happy moving to a much slower place at this point. 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.

PLACES TO LOOK AT THAT ARE ON OUR VERY EARLY LIST - Sonoma, CA; Napa, CA; Marin County, CA; San Diego, CA; Santa Barbara, CA; Eugene, OR; Portland, OR; Victoria, BC (assuming we can find a way in). As a last resort, and going completely against my no-swamp-summers is a move back to Austin, TX. Even though this list is entirely West Coast, we are happy to look at any part of the country. While we'd love to move overseas, it doesn't make sense as we both have parents that we'll be taking care of soon here in the States. Any thoughts on the towns/cities above would be very much appreciated. Any additions to the list (and why) would be even more appreciated. My advance thanks to everyone on this forum; I know I don't post much, but I'm really, really glad this forum exists.
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Old 05-30-2012, 10:11 AM   #2
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We relocated from NYC/NJ last year to the Denver area and are quite happy. I'd imagine that you could hit pretty much all of your desired points ina number of towns in the area, including Boulder, Longmont, a number of Denver suburbs, etc.

I assume Arizona is too dang hot for your purposes?
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Old 05-30-2012, 10:44 AM   #3
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The only location i'm aware of in the continental US that has your climate requirements is coastal southern California. I would prefer temps to rarely/never fall outside of the 45-85 range as well but can't afford Cali and that's the only option. NYC is actualy rather mild compared to most other places. Most places either have worse winters, worse summers, or both. Sounds like you can afford southern Cal so if you don't mind the high population density you experienced in NYC then southern Cal is the place for you.
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Old 05-30-2012, 10:49 AM   #4
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I assume Arizona is too dang hot for your purposes?
By a lot. I grew up in El Paso, so I'm more than familiar with the Desert Southwest heat and AZ is 10-15 degrees hotter than what I grew up with.
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Old 05-30-2012, 10:50 AM   #5
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The only location i'm aware of in the continental US that has your climate requirements is coastal southern California. I would prefer temps to rarely/never fall outside of the 45-85 range as well but can't afford Cali and that's the only option. NYC is actualy rather mild compared to most other places. Most places either have worse winters, worse summers, or both. Sounds like you can afford southern Cal so if you don't mind the high population density you experienced in NYC then southern Cal is the place for you.
That is exactly what we're finding as well. I was really hoping someone on here would say "well sure, but have you considered <some part of a Midwest or SE state I never realized had nicer weather>?"
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Old 05-30-2012, 10:52 AM   #6
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The only location i'm aware of in the continental US that has your climate requirements is coastal southern California. I would prefer temps to rarely/never fall outside of the 45-85 range as well but can't afford Cali and that's the only option. NYC is actualy rather mild compared to most other places. Most places either have worse winters, worse summers, or both. Sounds like you can afford southern Cal so if you don't mind the high population density you experienced in NYC then southern Cal is the place for you.
+1, that was my reaction too.
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Old 05-30-2012, 11:04 AM   #7
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What about Chapel Hill/Carrboro in NC? It does have that hippy vibe. Cost of living is reasonable. Proximity to large-ish cities with substantial airports (RDU, CLT). Good universities (though no ivy league schools). Don't know about the quality of public schools. Winters are mild, summers can be on the hotter side but nothing like El Paso, I suspect. Lots of NY transplants in the area. Good economy, lots of educated people as well.
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Old 05-30-2012, 11:08 AM   #8
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I vote for Sonoma. Good restaurants, beautiful surroundings, could make it in your price range, and I suspect it may come in within your weather preferences. I haven't been there in the dead of summer but I get the impression that it is dryer than the east coast so not so oppressive. I like it better than Napa. Healdsburg is also a possibility. Nice square, good restaurants, great biking, similar price range. Now, if you want something a little different ride over to the Pacific Coast Highway from Healdsburg and visit Guerneville, an outpost from the 60s. The weird houses in the trees along the Russian River (particularly along Neeley Road) are a trip.
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Old 05-30-2012, 11:11 AM   #9
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That is exactly what we're finding as well. I was really hoping someone on here would say "well sure, but have you considered <some part of a Midwest or SE state I never realized had nicer weather>?"

Have you considered just moving North on Manhattan? Ft. Washington say, or even up the Hudson toward Poughkeepsie?

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Old 05-30-2012, 11:26 AM   #10
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Have you considered just moving North on Manhattan? Ft. Washington say, or even up the Hudson toward Poughkeepsie?
We have, but we have absolutely no interest. We're ready to get away from NE winters forever.
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Old 05-30-2012, 11:42 AM   #11
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I grew up in SoCal, and the weather there and some of the social factors fit your criteria. But, I've lived in CO, too, and I'd think it worth your while to follow up on Brewer's suggestions. Yes, there is snow, but the weather in the winter is often sunny, not overcast and gloomy as you may be experiencing in NY. The weather the rest of the year in the higher elevations is pleasant and dry.

Other possibilities: Tennessee and the Appalachians. Again, some cooling at the higher elevations, but it's gonna be quite a bit more "swampy" in the summers than SoCal or the Rockies. Culturally, reading between the lines, I think you'd be happier somewhere outside of Dixie.
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Old 05-30-2012, 11:49 AM   #12
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I grew up in SoCal, and the weather there and some of the social factors fit your criteria. But, I've lived in CO, too, and I'd think it worth your while to follow up on Brewer's suggestions. Yes, there is snow, but the weather in the winter is often sunny, not overcast and gloomy as you may be experiencing in NY. The weather the rest of the year in the higher elevations is pleasant and dry.
I should probably explain where we are on the concept of Colorado. It's beautiful. It fits a lot of our criteria, no doubt. I'm fairly familiar with it as almost all of my family is from Denver originally. For whatever reason, as much time as my wife and I have spent there (Denver, Boulder, Springs), neither of us felt quite at home there. Not sure I can explain why.

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Other possibilities: Tennessee and the Appalachians. Again, some cooling at the higher elevations, but it's gonna be quite a bit more "swampy" in the summers than SoCal or the Rockies. Culturally, reading between the lines, I think you'd be happier somewhere outside of Dixie.
I just wanted to thank you for reading between the cultural lines and say - you are 100% correct.
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Old 05-30-2012, 11:57 AM   #13
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Take a look at the kiplinger report on best places to raise kids. I live in # 2 on that list.

From your list the only place I'd consider is Eugene OR. Just as oppressive as 6 months of winter is 6 months of darkness and rain. Portland and Victoria would be off my list for this reason. Factor in the northern location and daylight hours can be few and precious.

Given the financial state of CA, I would also avoid the state entirely. Roads, parks and infrastructure are failing and while specific locales can be good, over-all it's pretty grim, imo.

Take a look at Corvallis OR, if Eugene appeals, it's a lovely college town.

Along the same lines, consider Asheville NC. Beautiful, moderate weather with a little winter (just so you don;t get homesick) and while local public schools are acceptable, there are several private day schools that are excellent including the Carolina Day school.
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Old 05-30-2012, 12:00 PM   #14
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Why not Seattle? As much as I like Portland OR it's a snooze compared to here. The weather isn't as bad as rumored (sssh... Don't tell!) and there are plenty of achievement oriented heathens to keep you company.

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Old 05-30-2012, 12:08 PM   #15
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What about Chapel Hill/Carrboro in NC? It does have that hippy vibe. Cost of living is reasonable. Proximity to large-ish cities with substantial airports (RDU, CLT). Good universities (though no ivy league schools). Don't know about the quality of public schools. Winters are mild, summers can be on the hotter side but nothing like El Paso, I suspect. Lots of NY transplants in the area. Good economy, lots of educated people as well.
I would second that, and include Raleigh/Durham and the rest of the Triangle area in the list. Summers frequently hit 90 and winters definitely see days that don't dip above freezing, but it only snows a couple times a year at most typically (sometimes zero). Real Estate can be had for relatively reasonable prices. $150-400k depending if you want a modest mid range town home cozy for 3 or a biggish single family house on a decent size lot. Free public or charter schools are generally good in the most of the Raleigh area, parts of Durham, and most of Chapel Hill. Not a high percentage of Ivy League grads, but that is because local universities are competitive and relatively inexpensive.

I would put Charlotte and Nashville down as similar places to look if the Southeast interests you, however I am less familiar with these cities.
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Old 05-30-2012, 12:15 PM   #16
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From your description of what you want in your new location, I'm glad you will be investigating the SF and Marin County areas. I haven't lived there for a long time but still I have a hunch that they could be great for you.
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Old 05-30-2012, 12:40 PM   #17
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Why not Seattle?
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Old 05-30-2012, 01:34 PM   #18
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Thanks Aaron, we need that to protect Seattle from the influx that it is experiencing. Find some more similar, please?
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Old 05-30-2012, 01:56 PM   #19
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Why not consider Albuquerque which is where I live. We have a few excellent private schools here, including Albuquerque Academy and Menaul School. The climate is perfect with 4 seasons, but mild winters and summers and low humidity. Real Estate here is very reasonable compared to California. If you need a big dose of culture once in a while Santa Fe is only 45 min. away.
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Old 05-30-2012, 03:37 PM   #20
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Why not consider Albuquerque which is where I live. We have a few excellent private schools here, including Albuquerque Academy and Menaul School. The climate is perfect with 4 seasons, but mild winters and summers and low humidity. Real Estate here is very reasonable compared to California. If you need a big dose of culture once in a while Santa Fe is only 45 min. away.
What about Santa Fe itself? Might that meet OP's criteria?
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