Northern NJ/ New York metro area
the good- i live in a quiet, safe suburb. Schools are good- neighborhoods family-friendly. The city and all of it's culture, entertainment, sporting events, etc.. is a 20 minute drive away. An hour from the ocean, 10 miles from beautiful state parks and mountains. Anything we need is close and it's great for raising kids. i'm minutes from a county zoo, a children's museum, a nature center, a farm, hiking areas, state parks, etc... And of course malls. 4 different grocery chains are wthin 5 minutes. I also love the diversity of the area- and with diversity comes every kind of food you can think of. Many very good hospitals and specialists nearby, and for severe cases the city is always an option. I am currently taking advantage of NJ's new PAID family leave act- i think only 3 states have it.
the bad- traffic, taxes (my county is 4th highest property taxes in the country- i think we pay over $8000/yr for a tiny modest cape on a 50x100 lot); public transportation is good to the city, but poor between towns. Cost of living is outrageous, as is the cost of childcare. NJ is also known for political corruption.
Am i happy here? Yes. Would I be happier elsewhere- probably. That's why I'm curious about other parts of the country.
I live in Calgary, Alberta. It's close to the mountains (I can be in Banff in 45 minutes) and we have fabulous hiking, camping and wildlife all close by. Both DH and I love the outdoors so this really appeals to us. It gets cold in the winter, but the sun is almost always shining so I don't mind too much. We also have manged to maintain a decent economy even through the recent difficult times. There are still good jobs. Although I like it here, I am originally from Vancouver and miss it a great deal. I miss the ocean! I have also lived in Toronto and Regina, Saskatchewan. A bit of a nomad.
The bad - we are an oil city and the cost of living here is very high. You cant really buy a decent house for under $400,000 (compares to Vancouver and Toronto as well). There is no water except rivers and the odd man made lake and I love the beach, so I miss that a great deal as well. I also have no family here (nor does DH) and I would really like my baby to grow up around his grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. My parents are in Ontario, the rest of my family in B.C and DH's family are all in Saskatchewan.
I'm from California, born and raised, and I LOVE it! Earthquakes and all! (I guess I should add fires to that, too!)
Only an hour or so away from the desert, beaches, or mountains. California's got it all!
Would I be happier elsewhere? I doubt it, and not willing to find out at this time.
I live in a heavily wooded area of Washington State. I am less than 2 hours from the Pacific Ocean, less than 2 hours from 2 mountain ranges, as well as a rain forest (yes, we have those here, too) and I have a private lake about 6 blocks away. I love every bit of it and could not see being back in the hustle and bustle of a big city ever again.
Pros-Quiet, removed from the sounds and pollution of the city, the kids are safe, we are happy. The boys can fish any time. We have salt water property for clamming/oyster gathering. The community is tight knit and looks out for one another. The small town feeling is one I crave after feeling so discarded in Houston.
Cons-It is an hour from my dh's work, an hour from our doctor, and the only place to shop for items other than food is WalMart and that is still 30 minutes away.
Oh...no natural disasters! We are high enough that flooding normally is not a problem. We get sun, rain, and snow. Grated sometimes the rain is a bit much, but that is why we are so green here. Everyone else can keep their sunburned landscape :-)
I live in a small town of 3,500 just outside of Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario (home of the Blackberry). I absolutely love living here.
Pros - I am an hour from Toronto, an hour from 3 great lakes - Lake Erie, Lake Ontario and Lake Huron and 1.5 hours from Niagara Falls. Southwestern Ontario has a lot of agricultrual land so we can get loads of fresh fruits, vegetables, maple syrup, fish and meat locally. We have rolling hills and lots of trees, parks, and hiking trails. We have a large Mennonite population here so seeing horses and buggies and their farms is quite common place. We have the most unbelievably wonderful farmer's markets. We have a big high tech industry here as well as insurance. There are lots of good grocery stores and 4 renowned universities and a college very close by. This brings a lot of diversity here - the population is a real international mix and that also results in fantastic restaurants. Our crime rate is very low. For those who love sports we have the Toronto Maple Leafs, The Blue Jays and The Raptors as well as a number of teams in the CFL close by. We are too far south for bears, and have no poisonous snakes or spiders. Housing costs are reasonable here - average house is around $250,000.
Cons - Locally there is a shortage of family doctors and specialists (too many went to the U.S.). Luckily there are first class research and teaching hospitals within an hour of us in Toronto, Hamilton and London and our health care is free. This area has a large manufacturing industry and lots of that in the automotive industry that was heavily hit with the recession. We are hoping the high tech industry will eventually absorb these out of work workers. We experience all four seasons. Our summers are usually hot and humid and our winters can be wet and cold but not as cold as the north.
i live in the central valley of california. we just rated 96th or so on the worst places to raise a family, but i dont see it as that bad! lol
the pros are we have affordable housing, we are a few hours from the beach, the mountains (less in some areas) and within those few hour drives you will see such a range of land. i can drive minutes to everything i need, but that can be a con too lol. we are one of (if not #1) the largest agriculture areas in the states, we grow many fruits/veggies that are transported all over the world, mmmmm! we have a huge immagration population and you can become quite exposed to many cultures and ethnic backgrounds. we dont experience too much from earthquakes, more of a small shake at best lol.
cons: we do have a bit of crime, even though the area i live in isnt bad. our summers are horrible we can get up to 113! we dont have a long enough fall or spring, so i should move to the east coast i suppose lol. there arent enough for teens to do, so they wonder why they get into trouble.
i was born and raised in this city. i do love it here. i would love living in pacific grove or monterey more, but who can afford that???!!! its 102 degrees today and im ready for some cool weather. they keep promising its on its way!!
I live in h.e.l.l.... oh I mean south texas- san antonio.
pros: affordable housing; economy is holding on (compaired to other areas of the country); with-in driving range of the beach; DH and kids are here... oh and I guess my Job is here.
cons: how long do you guys have? I'll try to keep it short: aside from busses, no public transportation; the weather stinks, no seasons, hot humid, gross; the traffic is terrible, people are rude ALL the time; the health insurance is about the worst in the country as far as what we pay and what they cover; it is ugly here; my profession (if I were in private practice) is terrible here- no one cares about DESIGN, just how much and how long? ; ok.... well.... I will just stop there...
Texas would be the last place in the country I'd move to (except for maybe anywhere in the middle where I couldn't get to the beach :) ) but I am STUCK here... oh well....
I live in Manhattan, NYC. My neighborhood is finally becoming more family friendly. It used to be the most stuck up, rich college kids that literally took up my building. We live in a rental, sky rise building that has no more yuppies and more kids now. It used to be called a second dorm, and I used to have to bang on my neighbors walls to get them to turn down their radio. If you walk 10 blocks you are in spanish harlem and can get the best cuchifrito ever. If you walk 10 blocks the other way you can go shopping and see a movie. There is something open at any time, there is so much night life. The city never sleeps and I'm ok with that, however, they are building the new train system and the construction is becoming out of control. I love it because I'm a new yorker at heart but I hate the over crowdedness. The people are rude and thoughtless. People there are selfish and inconsiderate. It has gotten so expensive and to find a cheap meal you have to wait hours to get a table. But there is always something to do.
I live in Rochester, MN. Home of the Mayo Clinic, where I work! I love my job security and I'm a proud Mayo employee. Most of Rochester, especially downtown, is made up of Mayo Buildings. It is a beautiful city and a perfect size, at about 100,000. The crime rate has always been low, but is starting to rise a bit with the slowly rising population. It is a very family oriented, conservative small city. Our weather has most of the extremes you could get, from freezing cold, we're talking 50 below and tons of snow, to 90's and hot and humid. Our autumns are lovely, perfect! Our springs are spectacular. We have a very fitness focused city with lots of walking trails and activities centered around fitness and health (of course, Mayo Clinic). The economy has stayed for the most part in good standing. Oh, we are a little over an hour away from the Mall of America! If you've never been there and ever get this way it is a MUST!
Some cons would be that the crime rate is increasing a bit. We have had a few murders and more and more thefts. And although we do have every season and nearly every kind of weather, the winters can and often do get brutal. Especially January! Oh! It's not really a town for the younger adult crowd. There's not a whole lot to do, but it's getting better. Very family oriented. Most of the college students and young adults go up to the "cities". The Twin Cities, aka Minneapolis and St. Paul, where my husband works for Best Buy Corporate and is about 80 miles one way.
I think that's about it. I do love our city and I love where we live, on the outskirts of town, but still a 7 minute drive for me to work every morning. Not too bad!
Man.... Jen wins... I am moving to Rochester, MN! Actually, most all of them sound WAY better then where I live! (can you tell I don't care for Texas!?)
Although MN does break my rule of living within driving distance to the beach.... hum.... *re-thinking jen winning*...... :)
perhaps the california gals, or Andi... she is "close" to my mom and the beach (even though it is too cold to swim in)!
Sorry Jen... I talked myself out of it! :) you are too far from the beach!
LOL...tator, you're right. We are too far from an ocean beach but have lots of lake beach areas. MN is the land of 10,000 lakes so we have TONS of water and many summer activities focus around lakes, boating, skiing, laying out on the "beach". I miss the ocean beach though. I lived in Savannah, GA for four years. Miss it, but love the safe feeling our community has. I also grew up in a small town about 20 minutes from here. Less than 2000 people, called St. Charles. TOO small...but love the size of Rochester. I moved here when I was 16. The GA stint was when my ex husband was in the army.
Swampy lives in Sausalito CA, which is the first town north of the Golden Gate Bridge. Population is about 7500. There are two parts to town. The hill is where mostly wealthy people live, they commute to the city each day and almost never come down the hill. On the water are a set of people who live in their boats, artists, and hippies.
With all the wealth in town, you would think that the schools are good, but they always score low. Parents tend to avoid the schools entirely and send their children to a private school.
Public high school isn't bad, but that is in the next town...
Its a pretty place, but it is expensive.