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Vibe in Ellicott City?

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
We've decided to move to Towson, but Ellicott City might be better for logistical reasons. What's the vibe in Ellicott City? Will I find any MDC moms there? Ellicott City looks like it's all subdivisions filled with mcmansions with huge garages for gigantic SUVs, from my limited visits, none of which seems in line with MDC types.

But I'm making assumptions. Am I wrong? I'm not crunchy, but we're very lefty, eat organic, grow our own food, and have a religious exemption to vaccination. Will we be happier in Towson? I love diversity, but I don't want to be the only one who drives a prius and grows vegetables in my back yard. Thanks.
post #2 of 12
I would think of Ellicott City as for more crunchy than Towson-- Have you been downtown before? It is very sweet and quaint. I don't live there, but I know at least 3 moms who have had homebirths there in the last year, and there is a strong earthy community. I work at Tai Sophia which is close by, and a lot of the grad students and their families and faculty live there. Seems like a nice choice to me if you can afford it! Oh, and Roots and Great Sage are pretty close, too.
post #3 of 12
I live in a subdivision in EC, and I have to say that I find it to be far more mainstream/conservative than Columbia. Columbia still has residents with the "pioneer" mindset and attracts more people looking for diversity and a well-planned walking community. In EC, though, it's a bit different: we are the only home on our street with a clothesline, for example.

The Howard County farmers market scene is almost nonexistent. It's really hard to walk anywhere in EC because of the subdivisions connected by major state roads. Home prices are a bit more expensive than Columbia, so there's a fair amount of "EC is better than Columbia," especially among long-time residents. Howard County, in general, is a high income area and most of the economic diversity is in Columbia and Laurel.

Howard County schools are good, but there's a very heavy emphasis on college prep, very little in the way of vocational education. The Hospital is clean and fancy but not great. There are a lot of McMansions and SUVs and chain restaurants.

That said, I like it here, and am planning to stay. (We're planning to sell our house and buy something a little bigger.) There are lots of backyard gardens, lots of local natural/organic stores nearby (MOMs, David's, Roots), lots of former hippies, excellent libraries. South Mountain Creamery delivers to Ellicott City.

We do selective vax and our daycare hasn't batted an eye. Quite a few good pediatrician practices. There are great parks, and the EC YMCA was recently renovated and it's gorgeous. Very ethnically diverse (they've recently figured out that the majority of HoCo students next year will be from minority groups).

While there are the McMansions, there are plenty of older neighborhoods with reasonably priced homes and without weird covenants.

EC isn't perfect, but I think it can be whatever you want. It can be McMansion-Starbucks-SUV-ville, or it can be Cruncy-Garden-Cloth Diaper-ville.

Whoa, that was longer than I intended! Feel free to PM if you have any questions.
post #4 of 12
I just moved here to EC in October. We don't live in a McMansion nbhd, though I can see some through the trees. We will grow vegetables and have a clothesline. (I am curious to see how the garden fares given that I regularly see deer ... and a fox ... though I doubt the fox will touch the garden.) I haven't been out much, yet, since I was very pregnant when we moved in, and now I have two month old twins. From what I can tell, the neighbors might not operate quite like we do, but I don't think they will look down upon us for it. They all seemed fascinated with the home-birth!
post #5 of 12

Hello from E. City :)

We moved here because it was the exact midpoint between my mate's job and Grandma's house. I guess that's what people mean by work life balance.

At any rate - the old town is nice. Good restaurants. The mailing address of Ellicott City is obviously not as charming. But I really am not sure how you're seeing nothing but McMansions - I househunted in Howard County for six months, and the vast majority of what I saw was older, established neighborhoods with mature trees. I personally live in a small house backing onto the Patapsco Forest that was built in the 70s.

In some ways I would have preferred to live in the very walkable neighborhoods in Columbia - E.City is not at all walkable. There are no sidewalks anywhere - if I were to try and walk to the farmstand less than two miles from my house, I would be killed on a road with no sidewalks, no shoulders, and two blind curves with a speed limit of 40 MPH and people regularly doing 60.

But the schools are great, the libraries pretty good, and you can't beat the county for snow removal :P

As for the vibe - there are two big natural parenting groups that were a little too crunchy for me. (I'm still nursing my two year old, we cosleep and selectively vax, and he'll bring me the Ergo when he wants to ride instead of walk, but that wasn't quite enough street cred for some of the mainstays of the group. That's fine - they were there first.) If you are more crunchy than I am, you'll find lots and lots of friends.

And speaking of that Ergo, I get people asking me where to get one all the time. I rarely nurse in public anymore, just because my little guy only nurses at bedtime, naptime, and holy-hell-I-really-bumped-my-noggin-a-good-one-and-need-extra-love-time. But when I did/do, no one bats an eye. So I'd describe people as tolerant and open minded.

Try looking in the Mt. Hebron High School district - seems like most of the homes are older there.

Wow, that was long. Sorry... /slinks off
post #6 of 12
there are a number of nice things about howard county. if you are looking for public schools, they are pretty darn good in howard county. there are a number of natural food markets and there are farmers markets in columbia dring the spring/summer. columbia has a lot of old hippies and a large number of interracial/inter-ethnic families-in the 70's when it was built it was actually marketed as a place where no one ethinic group can lay claim to it so there are a lot of older interracial families as well as open minded folks around. columbia also has tons of walking trails and tot lots. howard county has an excellent library system (it actually was listed no.1 iin the country in 2008 or 2009) they have lots of classes and programs for all ages. as a pp mentioned, there is patapsco par at the north end and patuxent parks at the south end, so there is quick access to wild areas as well as areas for fishing and canoeing/kayaking. there are also a number of CSA's and raw milk drop offs.
i grew up in montgomery county and moved to howard about 6 years ago and have come to really like howard county. there are also a lot of homeschoolers who live in the area (if you are planning to hs) and with its 30 minute commute to baltimore, always something to do on the weekends.
post #7 of 12
The older parts of EC are nice, although not as walkable as Columbia. I agree that housing prices are higher as people see EC as "better" than Columbia. I'm in Columbia (also originally from MoCo Rachel) and I love it - only issue is some the CA rules that make it a bit harder to live sustainably - rules against chickens, gardens in the front yard, permanent clotheslines, etc. If I could opt for more land I would, but otherwise I think our move here was a good decision for our family. Lots of crunchy and open-minded people.
post #8 of 12
Thread Starter 

anyone raise chickens in EC?

Thanks for your replies. They are really helpful. I'm not very crunchy, per se, yet I want to raise chickens. Where we live now, chickens are not allowed. Can you raise chickens in Ellicott City?

I've never lived in a subdivision, and I don't know anything about HOAs. It would make me crazy if I couldn't have a garden in my front yard!! That's a deal killer for me.

We drove through EC briefly, and all we saw were subdivisions. Yes the downtown is cute, but not many houses there, and most were very small.
post #9 of 12
Originally Posted by sleeveless View Post
Thanks for your replies. They are really helpful. I'm not very crunchy, per se, yet I want to raise chickens. Where we live now, chickens are not allowed. Can you raise chickens in Ellicott City?

I've never lived in a subdivision, and I don't know anything about HOAs. It would make me crazy if I couldn't have a garden in my front yard!! That's a deal killer for me.

We drove through EC briefly, and all we saw were subdivisions. Yes the downtown is cute, but not many houses there, and most were very small.
I meant that you can't have a veggie garden w/o going to the Residential Architectural Committee to get an exception. Regular garden beds are fine as long as you meet their codes (this is columbia). the good thing is that their rules keep people from letting their house and yard go - the RAC can require owners to comply if someone complains about a problem.

I'm not sure about the chicken laws in EC; many places (often city or county laws) require you to have a certain amount of space to raise chickens.
post #10 of 12
I don't know what to say about EC and natural living/parenting. With a few rare exceptions, I think we are a minority no matter where you go. The key is being able to find what you need/want and not being THE ONLY ones doing x, y, or z. In that case, Ellicott City would easily work.

We moved from a condo (not a McMansion for sure) in Ellicott City to a house in a not McMansion but upper middle class neighborhood in Columbia (we're very close to the EC line/108). We have no CPRA and can have a garden anywhere we want, clotheslines, maybe a wind turbine (hmmmm). I'd love to know about chickens! I'm afraid we'd need an acre or something--wonder if we could share with a neighbor (we all have .5 acre lots)?

I agree Columbia might be more natural living friendly (you can't have 3 natural grocery stores without the population to support it!) But Ellicott City is so close, I bet its not so different.

I know nothing of Towson, except that I have to drive on 695 to get there, and I don't like to drive on 695!
post #11 of 12

Life in Ellicott City

Hey all. My husband & I moved to Ellicott City in January '09. We came from our native Iowa, and we were really concerned about finding the right place to live. Although my husband works in Columbia, we quickly decided not to live there - to this day I find it to be extremely disorienting and essentially devoid of character. Anyway, we found this great little rental near historic Ellicott City, and we could not have possibly made a better choice!! It feels like living in the country, but we have friendly neighbors next door and it's less than a mile walk down the hill to the downtown area. The area we live in is technically in Baltimore County - we have an EC address but many of our neighbors have a Catonsville address.

Anyway, I posted this reply because we have chickens. The MDA (Dept. of Agriculture) requires that you register flocks over 5 birds. We have 4, but even if we had more I wouldn't register them. I'm confident that our neighbors are cool, because 1.) I talked to them about it, and 2.) several neighbors have "livestock" as well - chickens (and way more than 4,) alpacas, and a goat.

This is totally the lifestyle for us! I am really uninterested in HOAs and their regulations. I don't care about dandelions, or landscaping, or fence height. I just want my kids to have an awesome place to free range and play, and for them to have nice friends to play with. I walk my daughter to school, despite the fact there are virtually no sidewalks in our neighborhood at all. We make this life our own!

If you want to talk more about chickens, or rules about chickens, you can PM me. As far as the "parenting vibe" around here goes, I don't really know. I've met many other nice moms through my daughter's preschool, dance class, and going to the Y - some of them drive mini-vans or SUVs and drink Starbucks, but ALL of them are totally nice, cool to hang with, and LOVE our chickens!

PS - A fox will TOTALLY eat your garden. They love tomatoes. Be warned.
post #12 of 12
I grew up in EC. DH and I just moved out last year. And we are not looking to go back.

Now, that being said, if youre in the old ellicott city area, im sure its really great, places to explore, amenities near by. But I can only imagine what my parents (who live in burleigh manor) neighbors would say if they saw a clothes line and chickens. haha. Which is way more like DH and I. We are now looking in the Finksburg area to get a little father out into the country. So we can do exactly that and not have our neighbors looking at us like we are ruining the gorgeous view of the drainage lake and cookie cutter homes!

The neighborhoods have gotten a lot older and there are less and less little ones in them. In fact, I'm shocked to see a child under 14 when I walk my daughter in their neighborhood. And perhaps different neighborhoods are better, but my parents neighbors are barely neighbors. The only time they talk to each other is when the HOA guy is fining you $500 for replanting a required tree in the side yard rather than the front.

And TONS of people spray their lawns still. I drives me insane. I was there today and almost barfed. Everyone but my parents had orange DONT WALK ON THE GRASS signs up. How can people still do this? (P.s. the same ones have veggie gardens in the back)... uh?

Howard County has a huge deer problem also. My mother got lymes disease from a tick many years ago and now has fibro. They have yet to come up with a humane or succesful way to keep them at bay. You can hear them being hunted on the farm near my parents during deer season.

I also think people in my parents area try to be crunchy, but I honestly feel its more for the ability to seem that way, rather than because they care. Im sorry, but buying the hybrid lexus and then eating on styrofoam plates every night is crazy! Im sure some of the people are really sweet. I just dont know any, I moved there in '90.

I looove the dunloggin neighborhood though. Beautiful old trees. 50-60's homes. Nice wide streets. I really adore it!

Here's my biggest warning though!!! Keep a close eye on your kids when they are teenagers! Even the straight A honors kids going IV league were drug users and binge drinkers. There is really nothing to do in howard county for teenagers... except build a bon fire and get drunk. And kids with money always have the means to get their hands on a lot of stuff that would make me cringe now, but seemed normal when I was younger! So, even if youre not forking over hundred dollar bills to your kids, someones parent is and they are more than happy to share, because that barrel doesnt empty! Or someones parents are on a huge amount of prescription drugs and those are always floating around.

Maybe its all teenagers everywhere, but I can only speak for ec (specifically centennial). And boredom meant a lot of experimenting and even more drunk driving. Many of my high school friends and I shocked with how we survived. Just shocked. Of course, not all of us did. We lost several along the way to everything from suicide, to overdoses and to drunk driving. My parents pulled my siblings out of centennial school districts after i graduated and put them into private schools.

I hate to talk down on where I grew up. I had a great childhood there, but there is something very odd about that area that is hard to explain. It just leaves you with an empty feeling. And I think its very monetarily driven and competitive... even amongst the adults. In fact, especially with the adults.

"Did you see the new car I got my wife? Its a mercedes. I paid..." actual quote from one of our neighbors in the 10 seconds we were outside and bumped into him... not my kind of place.
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