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Where to move - Columbia, Ellicott City, Silver Spring or Annapolis

post #1 of 25
Thread Starter 

We are going to be moving to Maryland from Canada and I want to move to a enlightened neighborhood around Fort Meade.


We are a plant-based diet eating, home-birthing, delayed/non-vaxxing,co-sleeping, tv-less family of five (6 month old, 2 and 5 yr old).


We are not concerned about the house prices.  But we want:

- other people who share our values (and a way to meet them)

- access to safe (preferable nice scenery) running and biking

- access to play parks, swimming and other activities for the kids

- organic, vegetarian food choices (groceries and restaurants)

- access to health care whom are accepting of our choices


How and where is your neighborhood?  What do you like about it and what don't you like?


My other concern is school for my eldest.  I have been checking out schools on-line and I am surprised about the school lunch.  I find a lot of fried food/meat/white bread.  How do you deal with that?  My choices for schools are either public or catholic private.  Any recommendation for schools?


Your input is greatly appreciated.


post #2 of 25

I have not been back to MD in a long time, but used to live in Columbia and lived a year in Silver Spring. It USED to be that Columbia or Ellicott City would be perfect for you but Im out of touch so long I hesitate to say more than than that.


Your problem is the Fort Meade has a LOT of very conservative contractors/military folks based there so I would get on line on Yahoo or other places and find mothering style groups and see where they are based in. 


Best of luck!

post #3 of 25


Edited by oiseau - 9/27/13 at 4:00pm
post #4 of 25

I live in Ellicott City and I think you'd like the Ellicott City/Columbia area. Especially Columbia- lots of parks and walking/biking trails, CSAs, natural food stores (David's Natural Market is my favorite, but there are several others), veggie restaurants (Great Sage and Mango Grove (Indian) are particularly good), etc...


There are a few really good pediatricians, lots of chiros and acupuncturists, a few excellent midwives, but not much in the way of holistic docs for adults. I've found an Internist who's happy to answer questions and happy to record my refusal/alternative once we've had the discussion. This area has a lot of highly educated people, so the medical system seems used to questions. 


There are a lot of conventionally-living people around here, but also a lot of granola in varying degrees.


I, too, find the school lunches kind of shocking, but IMO that pales to the overriding philosophy of Howard County Schools, which seems to be "every child is a special snowflake who should go to a big-name university." So it's really a big college-prep system with little to nothing when it comes to vocational options. Sports (soccer and lacrosse, epsecially) are big in the schools, but so are the arts. About 80% of the middle schoolers in our neighborhood play an instrument, judging by the cases and drum sticks seen at bus stops. :)

post #5 of 25
Thread Starter 

Thanks so much for the input. I am happy to hear that there like minded people in the area.


The whole area sounds nice.  I like the pathways in Columbia. I haven't looked into Ellicott City and Silver City too much yet.  Clarksville sounds nice too (veg restaurant, store, good schools, paths).  Do regular grocery store carry organic produce/product in MD?


It is a relieve to hear about good pediatricians and midwives.  It makes me feel a lot better knowing those people are available.  Perhaps when we are committed to a location I can lean on you to provide me with some contact information.


LaurenAnanas I also have a 2 year old daughter, perhaps after we move we can meet up :)


Thanks so much



post #6 of 25

Sure thing!


Most regular grocery stores carry some organic produce and products. Between the big chain groceries, smaller local chains, and local specialty stores, you can find almost everything you're looking for. 


FYI- parts of Clarksville (and Ellicott City and Jessup) are also part of Columbia (some areas are just Columbia). Technically, Columbia is a giant privately managed housing development. For example, a friend of mine with an Ellicott City street address lives across the street from one of the Columbia Village Centers and pays Columbia Association fees.  And Roots and Great Sage are in Clarksville...across the street from another Columbia Village Center.

post #7 of 25

I second LaurenAnanas' description of Columbia/Ellicott City/Clarksville within range of "The Conscious Corner" (http://www.consciouscorner.com/) where Great Sage, Bark, Nest, and Roots are, as well as several other good veggie-option restaurants in the area. I live in Columbia and I love the interconnected trails system that weaves through the neighborhoods, plus the various parks and lakes. If you are interested, take a look at the Wikipedia article on Columbia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Columbia,_md) it gives some of the history and information on how the villages and neighborhoods are organized. For example, each village has a village center with a community center/interfaith center, a grocery store and a high school and each neighborhood has a smaller neighborhood center with a pool and a restaurant or two (at least most of them do, I think). I myself am fairly new to the area and am still figuring all this out, but I do think it's pretty neat and I think that it is set up really well for families. I live in the Thunder Hill neighborhood of Oakland Mills (the other thing is that the names of the communities and streets are themed, which is hilarious) and I love taking the trails through my neighborhood with my dogs. There are at least 5 "tot lot" playgrounds withing easy walking distance of my house, and so is the Elementary School (Thunder Hill Elementary) which is supposed to be very good (I don't actually have kids yet, but I am looking forward to walking them to school, something I could never do growing up).


Anyway, consider this my vote for Columbia and if you have any other questions let me know. I also agree with Rani that you're going to find more conservative types over by Ft. Meade. Howard County or closer to DC might be the best bet for you from what you have described winky.gif

post #8 of 25
Thread Starter 

So much to discover.  It sounds like we will likely settle in/around Columbia.


I am happy that I have the internet available to reach out to you and to be able to look at things on-line.  Thunder Hill looks nice (streetscape) and your school has an excellent score (greatschools) and it is good to understand the village/neighbourhood concept though I still find this Columbia and not Columbia private housing development a bit confusing but I guess it should not matter that much to me.


I would love to be able to walk the kids to school.  That was what I did when I was a kid (well I walked myself but it was nice and only 200 meters...)



post #9 of 25

Have you started looking at homes yet? What are you planning to move? Good luck with your search!

post #10 of 25
Thread Starter 

We will be moving for July.  We are looking at renting a house since we will be in the US for only 3 years.


We have looked on-line for a bit and with further investigation we really like Clarksville.

post #11 of 25

Cool! I don't know much about the rental climate around here but I would imagine with the market doing poorly that people might be more inclined to try to rent their house than sell it. Good luck!

post #12 of 25
Thread Starter 

Yes, we are hoping that we can convince a seller to become a renter.  There aren't many detached home rentals.


Are house prices continuing to drop or are houses just not selling?

post #13 of 25

House prices are pretty stable around here actually, and things are moving- probably thanks to the Ft. Meade expansions! What makes a difference is the condition of the house- things in good condition go very, very quickly. Houses that are not as nice sell eventually. Four decent houses in my neighborhood have sold within a week or two of listing since January, and the one house that is clearly a mess has been on the market for half a year.


We're just heading into real estate season here, so I'm sure you'll find something within the next month or so.

post #14 of 25

I grew up in Ellicott City/Clarksville/Columbia area and lived there with my husband and daughter until 2 years ago.  Now we live in Perry Hall with our kids (4 and 3 months).  Ellicott City and surrounding areas are a great place to live, but definitely dont expect to strike up an agreeable conversation on the dangers of vaccines or your amazing home birth.  People will look at you like you have three eyes.  There are just way too many doctors living here.  I grew up with 2 doctors living on my street alone.  Allopathic medicine is the norm.  I do have a GREATTT non-traditional doctor I go to in Columbia, PM me if you're interested.  I also found a pedi who wont shove vaccines down your throat, which is nice!  Especially considering how many we had to go through until we found her!  I just had a home birth with a practice out of Catonsville, so thats available too.  But none of these things are common by any stretch in the EC/Columbia/Clarksville area.  That being said, the more of us that move there, the less true that statement will be!  I wish you the best with your move!  If you need any more info dont hesitate to PM!  Good luck with the move!!

post #15 of 25
Thread Starter 

Thanks.  I will definitely contact you for pedi info (once we have lined up a place to rent).  I still need to convince hubby about one more baby, so hopefully I will be able to contact you for home birth info :)


I like Clarksville because there is an organic store and a vegan friendly restaurant.  I am hoping that draws more like-minded people to the area.


Thanks for a the info and the best wishes.

post #16 of 25

Just wanted to say there are two all Natural/Organic stores in Columbia

Davids Natural Market on Lynx Lane (near the mall) and MOM's, aka My Organic Market on Route 1 which I guess is technically Jessup but its very close to Columbia.  MOM's is cheaper but smaller.  We also have a Trader Joes nearby which stocks a TON of organic/vegan options and everything there is pretty natural as in they use no GMOs and I dont even think HFCS if I remember correctly.


I shop at Giant which is a huge store and Im able to get organic meat, cheese, milk and veggies/fruits no problem.  Giant has their own organic brand called "Nature's Promise" that Ive found to be really great and easy to find.  Affordable too!


We are moving to Florida from Columbia and I will miss the parks and trails but not the weather!

We sold our house in Columbia in less than a week :)

post #17 of 25
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the info.  I will have to check out the grocery stores.  Currently I get my organic fruit and vegetables from the big grocery chains so I am think I would be happy with a Giant.  Only once in a while I go to the all natural stores and it is good that they are available nearby.


As for the weather, I am from Canada.  MD winters are a definitely improvement for me.  It is all relative to what you are used to redface.gif

post #18 of 25

Have you looked at Bethesda? I would love to live in Bethesda, but just can't afford it. I would definitely avoid any place in Prince George's County if schools are a priority for you. Silver Spring is one place we're looking at, along with Kensington. 

post #19 of 25
Thread Starter 

We have thought of Silver Spring and Bethesda - we like that it is more urban but it would add the hubby's commute time and we want to minimize the commute.  We would definitely visit there for restaurants and shops.


Right now we are looking at Elicott City because we have found a school we like which would take our daughter even though she is born between Sept 1 and Dec 31 (our school year end is December 31).

post #20 of 25

Gotcha, that makes sense. I didn't know where he would be commuting to. I just love to Bethesda. I would love to live there..... someday :)

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