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How to Assess a New City?
My husband and I are politically liberal, and facing the prospect of a move outside the Bay Area for job reasons. In particular we are looking at a couple of large cities that are in conservative parts of the country, but because they are urban, are more liberal and/or have more liberal pockets or neighborhoods. What I'm trying to do is find those pockets from afar to help guide our choices.
Does anyone know of a website (or other resources) that tracks things like election results or political-party membership by **zip code, neighborhood, or precinct**? I have found data at the city/county level, which is not specific enough since we are looking for a particular neighborhood to live in. I've also found campaign contributions by zip code, which is interesting, but greatly skewed by the wealthy of the zip code, since middle class and lower-income neighborhoods don't contribute to campaigns at all. It seems like this data has got to be available - I'm sure the campaigns know where to find it! - does anyone here know? Looking for blue islands in red seas
We're considering a couple job offers from out of the area
employers; we'd be moving to states/cities where we know no one
and have no prior experience. My spouse saw the areas on the
interview visit and now the potential employers are willing to
fly us for a 3-4 day visit to determine if _we_ like it. So my
question is - how do you go about assessing the
liveablility/likeableness of another place in 3-4 days? We
shouldn't be ''tourists'' with our time really, so how do you
''interview'' a ''place'' to decide to uproot and move? Any tips
from others who have relocated to new places without prior
experience of the new place? Our only ''big'' moves were years ago
for college when you move to a new place with thousands of other
new students so everyone makes adjustments and discoveries
together. This potential move seems so different. This book looks
like it might help with some of our questions but it's out of
print - anyone have a loaner copy? ''MAKING THE BIG MOVE -- the
right way'' by Cathy Goodwin or another suggestions?
interviewing to uproot
School districts and their ''scores'' can be googled on the web. If you are interested in public schools, you should figure out which districts would be best for you and then look at the housing market nearby.
Think about the services you use most frequently: public libraries, swimming pools, gyms, parks, etc. and look at your selected neighborhoods in the new town to see how the services stack up. Services you use often should be high quality, within your budget, and conveniently located (see below).
Commute/transporatation and driving. You should drive in the city while you're there, on the routes you are most likely to take to work/school/doctor/shopping, etc. at the times of day when you are most likely to take those routes. Traffic nightmare? Terrible drivers? (Again, moving from the Bay Area, maybe most places won't look so bad...) Are you thinking of using public transportation or biking? Experiment while you're there, and think about what it might be like in other seasons (bad weather?).
Outdoors and environment. Is it important for you to be able to walk in your neighborhood? To stores or entertainment? Many cities in the U.S. are not really walkable. You can try to choose a neighborhood that will accommodate walking. Is there required recycling? No possible recycling? To some people this may not seem important, but many Bay Area residents take it for granted that a community will have an environmental policy in place. Not so in lots of places.
Religion. Are you churchgoers or allergic to church? Or do you need a welcoming synagogue or Buddhist meditation center or other focus for spiritual life? It's easy to get stuck in an inappropriate neighborhood or even city if you have definite ideas pro or con regarding religion. Finding a convenient and appropriate ''church home'' for churchgoing families is important. Finding a community where all of the other kids' families are not avid churchgoers is important for secular families.
On a similar note, does the community provide social structure
that would accommodate you and your interests: a parents' network/
publications, music, book clubs, or other things that you need to
keep you connected and happy? You can look on the web to try to
find some of those things out, or get hold of local papers.
relocated many times...
I found that there were a few things that would help me figure out if the place was ''my kind'' of place, and then I looked in the phone book for those things. I also went and checked them out to make sure they were the quality of things I was looking for.
My list included a natural grocery store, coffee houses, museums and independent bookstores. I also looked for gay bars, even though I'm not gay and don't go to bars, because it tells me something about the community. I looked at the kind of weekly newspapers they had and what kind of independent movie theaters, what if any live theater, opera, etc. and I looked at the weather patterns over the year (you can find some of this on the internet).
I also looked at how the downtown was laid out: is it pedestrian? Does everyone go to shopping malls and not go anywhere central at all? Is there a sense of community? Does the downtown looked kept up, like people hang out there? How about the neighborhoods? Does it look like people enjoy being in their houses? I don't mean well-kept: a well-kept neighborhood is not necessarily a friendly one (often just the opposite); I mean, does it look like people live in their houses, kids play there, people walk around and talk to each other?
So for example, with regard to weather, Brattleboro Vermont had all these things and I loved the town. But the weather was snow and more snow from November to May, and I just wasn't sure I could hack it. Let's face it, the SF Bay Area has more of these cultural comforts per square inch than practically any place on earth. You're not going to find all these things in such abundant supply. But they can help you get a gauge on what the place is like. If the place has none of these things, you may get an indication that it's not like anyplace you would want to live (if you like the Bay Area).
I had an amazing experience in Ashville, NC, where I was out walking around in the evening and I heard flamenco music coming from down an alley. I went down there and there was a wonderful bar, with tapas and interesting people hanging out, fantastic decor, and I spent the evening there, talking to people about the town, etc. We ended up staying here. But I did find places all over that I would want to live if I couldn't live here. Good luck, Heather
So on Sunday I spent the whole day in that area by myself. I walked around, visited grocery stores, went to some open houses, etc. I think I ended up really getting a feel for the place & felt I knew enough to make a decision to move there - lower housing prices being a big draw. If my kids had been with me, I think I would have tried to make a typical day for us in the neighborhood - walk around with the stroller, hang out at a park and try to chat up some other moms about things like safety, schools, etc.
Unfortunately, once I was really sold on the location, I didn't like the job offer! Best of luck to you. still here
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