Hi there, I am an Irish single mammy (with US papers) with 6 year old son - used to live in DC, been away for a few years, thinking of moving back to the US now. Can anyone out there give us any suggestions? Above all, I'd like to live in a (small to) medium-sized town in an area of outstanding natural beauty, with a not overly expensive cost of living (and I'd also like a pony for Christmas). Right now I am looking at Bellingham, WA (Sudden Valley in particular looks lovely) - hence my post on this particular forum - but to be honest the country is my oyster as I work from home. And I've never even been to the west coast, or anywhere north of NY!
Here's what's on my mind:
1) I am pretty interested in alternative (not home, though!) schooling for my son, something that emphasises creativity, sensitivity and independent thinking. A school along these lines is one of the few concrete things that could tie me to a particular place. I have been looking at Waldorf, but am terrified by some of the stories I read about a cultish "all or nothing" approach. (I have strongly held beliefs, but they are fairly eclectic and I would easily end up on the wrong side of any type of fundamentalist approach.) That said, I'm still open to Waldorf if I can confirm that a particular school is tolerant and open minded. Any info you can give me on "cool schools" in "cool towns" (along the lines below) would be SO VERY appreciated.
2) Fell in love with the Canadian Rockies but unfortunately Canada won't have me as I'm not a plumber or an accountant etc. But that's the kind of landscape I am so massively drawn to - big mountains, evergreens, lakes, snow, big wildlife etc. From what I can see, that really points to WA, even more than OR, right? NE US is a possibility (and it's a lot closer to Ireland), but I think the landscape is gentler there, right?
3) I also can't take hot summers and tons of bugs any more. Had enough of them! Noone is wild about rain I suppose, but being from Ireland I can hopefully handle it!
4) I am very liberal in outlook and need to be somewhere I don't feel like any more than a minority of my neighbours are toting guns and that they also care about the environment and the less fortunate in society. I also have a pretty feisty, spontaneous personality, tend to say what I think, so I am looking for somewhere where people are not very reserved, and are tolerant of difference. A high quotient of foreigners would be good as we exiles always seem to understand each other best, but that's probably a tall order outside big cities.... hmmmm.
Would very much appreciate your thoughts, thanks so much!