Best natural family living city - What is important to you? - Page 2 - Mothering Forums

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Old 07-05-2012, 09:32 PM
 
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My city is known to be great in practically all the ways mentioned above. Except the power-down at night idea - I had never heard of that but look forward to learning more.

 

A couple features I love that I don't think have been mentioned:

 

Welcoming and supportive to immigrants and refugees - I think we all benefit from fresh ideas, cultures, and experiences. This is especially true for children.

 

Good services for elders - not only do we need to remember that "family" means all generations and stages. Our kids benefit from the reality of contact with elders as part of their community.
 


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Old 07-06-2012, 12:46 AM
 
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For my family natural play areas are a must ! this area includes things like, river, creak, ocean ect. acsess, as well as large wooded areas for exploration.

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Old 07-06-2012, 04:18 AM
 
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One thing I forgot to add that I love about Kansas City, Missouri is all the community pools that offer free swim time at different times of the week. Because of this, we are able to take our girls swimming three different afternoons a week during the summer.

 

Of course, this may not be unique to my city. Do other city pools have free days?


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Old 07-06-2012, 05:44 AM
 
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Susan, we have free swim every weekday during the summer from 1-3, just two blocks from our house.  It is inside, but when we don't want to go to our outdoor pool (too hot, raining, etc.) we'll go over to take a dip.  We have a bunch of pools that do that around the entire city.  Those are our tax dollars at work!!  

 

Crys, I think that's a good point.  I kind of lumped that in with "diversity", but it's actually worth saying on its own.  I know our city is relatively good with immigration, but we have heard horror stories too, from our friend who is an immigration attorney.  Fresh ideas and perspectives are one of the reasons that we love the city.  It just has so much energy!!!  My husband is a philosophy professor and we live almost on the university campus and three miles away from another major university as well.  That also brings new and fresh ideas/people to the mix.

 

We live sandwiched in between a great lake and a river.  If you walk just a few blocks east or west, you will run into water.  At the river's edge, the city almost entirely disappears and, except for a few sights as you travel down the river, you cannot tell that the location is an urban one.  Our favorite is to go and watch the salmon swimming upstream.  We also occasionally go canoing and bird watching there.  We regularly see heron, fox, deer, and a host of wildlife that you would never expect live in the middle of an urban landscape!!!

 

Cats Cradle, I agree with you--so many things are happening in our city that are just so exciting!  It seemed like all at once when the city suddenly jumped on the ecological bandwagon, and although I do think we were doing a great job when it felt like it was just a few of us, I think it's incredible what we've accomplished with so many people on board!!  We don't power down at night, but it could be something to suggest to the county supervisor who lives only a few houses away.  

I think people are surprised to hear that you can live really naturally/sustainably in a city.  Sometimes I think everyone has this idea that cities are big dirty places and that the only good/safe places to live are far out in the country/suburbs.  We moved to the city because I really wanted to live somewhere where everything we wanted was within walking distance.  Because we can walk/bike just about everywhere, we cut out on our carbon footprint by such a big margin.  Because we can recycle just about everything, and have someone pick up our compost, we end up with very little in our waste bin.  We use gas and electricity, but our house is much smaller than we'd afford in the suburbs and therefore we use less gas/electricity than we would with a much bigger house.  And also our house has three families--when one person heats their home, it is shared (through the floors) with the other homes.  And as I said before, we don't have much space and so we have to live a life of imposed simplicity.  I don't know that, if I had lived in a bigger house with a huge basement and an attic, I would have been so clever...nor would I have learned to live with less.  My children have grown up without many useless toys, and because we regularly take things over to the goodwill (we have one two blocks away!) they also know how to part with things and to give freely.  Every time a friend comes over, my children send them home with any toy that their friend likes to play with!  I'm always surprised at how they can part with toys/things so easily since I was never like that as a child--in fact, I was very possessive of my things!

 

In any event, I think this is such a great thread.  People downplay living in the city because of the obvious disadvantages...but they are so small in comparison to what things we all get in return.   Once my husband suggested we move to the country and try to live off the land.  Just thinking of it brought me nearly to tears.  I love people and we have such an incredible community that even the thought of leaving gave me a heartache.   Not everyone loves people and community as much as we do, but it is so many little things that we enjoy about city life that make it all worth while.  I'm sure it isn't for everyone, but I'm also sure that there are some people who would never try it if all they heard was the crime, smog, and noise.

Maggie 

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Old 07-06-2012, 06:12 AM
 
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My city is known to be great in practically all the ways mentioned above.

 

Do tell! What IS this perfect city?!
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Old 07-06-2012, 07:37 AM
 
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I live in a pretty crunchy smaller university town(s). 

 

Here are things I like about our area:

 

Free city buses

Great food scene (restaurants, farmer's markets, CSAs, community gardens)

Great local co-op, also Trader Joe's and Whole Foods (my area of about 80,000) is able to support all these plus mainstream groceries and specialty food stores

Great art & music scene

Free standing birth center

Many alternative health providers

Top notch traditional medical providers

Expanding greenway system

Many bike lanes (big bike culture with lots of folks having a bike for primary transport)

Good parks & rec centers

Natural spaces in-town

Local festivals (music, crafts)

Town recycling, town sells compost bins periodically and encourages composting although they don't pick it up

Very LGBT friendly

Excellent public schools

Great alternative private schools (Waldorf, Friends, Forest Kindergarten)

Fantastic secular homeschooling community

Backyard chicken friendly

Lots of natural wooded yards and lots of gardens in front yards as well as back yards.

Great public library (has the highest circulation of any library in the state)

 

 

There is a free city pool and also an aquatic center  with a nominal fee ($2 per person?) as well as many neighborhood pools (membership fee), and the Y pool. 

 

Geographically we're about 3 hrs from the beach and about 3 hrs from the mountains. There are plenty of woods, creeks, rivers, and lakes to play in right around here, but it's nice to have the beach and the mountains for a weekend getaway.


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Old 07-06-2012, 10:04 AM
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Sidewalks.  I never thought about how important they are until I moved into a neighborhood without any.  It is awful.  Portland is a very walking friendly town, and in my neighborhood, no one walks.

 

Safe bike corridors.

 

Availability of fresh food/local food.

 

Public Transit options.

 

Lots of open space/parks/available nature.

 

A variety of housing options.

 

I'm sure I will come up with more.


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Old 07-06-2012, 12:24 PM
 
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I think the sidewalk issue depends on how much car traffic the neighborhood/street gets. We have a good amount of sidewalks on the busy roads in our town, but in our neighborhood we don't even have curbs and gutters and it doesn't impede anyone walking because it's such a low traffic area. (No through streets). One thing our neighborhood does make difficult is biking because it's so hilly and curvy, but the dedicated still do it. I'm a wimp and avoid the hills by going out our backyard and that's relatively flat. I can get to the greenway pretty easily from there (maybe .5 miles) and from the greenway it's about 1.5 miles to the library.

 

I think the thing that makes the most difference to me when thinking about Natural Family Living is being in a community of like-minded people. Even if our town didn't have all the great amenities it currently does, if we're in community we can make those things happen.


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Old 07-06-2012, 12:58 PM
 
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One thing I forgot to add that I love about Kansas City, Missouri is all the community pools that offer free swim time at different times of the week. Because of this, we are able to take our girls swimming three different afternoons a week during the summer.

 

Of course, this may not be unique to my city. Do other city pools have free days?


Indoor pools in our city charge $1 for drop-in swimming for indoor pools. You can get discounts if you purchase a 10 time punch card or unlimited swimming on a 3, 6 or 12 month basis.

The outdoor pools are free. There are 96 outdoor pools across the city. Some of them are just wading pools, but others are larger swimming pools with toddler pools, accessible walk in pools, larger swimming pools with deep ends, and even some pools with dedicated pools for water slides. They have washrooms, change rooms and showers. And all free.

 

(I live in Toronto).


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Old 07-07-2012, 12:22 AM
 
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deleted. 

 

I think the list is great but I would say walking pleasantly is one big one. With more than 3 children and what we carry to stay healthy, walking works, subways do too. Buses, ehh. 

No fracking in joining counties. 

Not a high level of factory farming near by, or dioxin releasing onto farm land places  (I think cotton and paper products are the worst right?

Not so many interstates near all the farming (green barriers)

I would pick very little takeout over a jumbo amount of fast food, but any good Vegetarian places would be my top picks. 

 

ETA: I just went to a Asheville and now Ithaca and fear I might be changing my view on my picked out place. It think any kind of presence - companies, plants, or just plain marketing - is actually a statement of the people there. I felt it. I really could jump on that vs a nice wealthy city with lots of resources. I like the popularity of the holistic lifestyle being the first thing you say about a place vs a sprinkle. I think it is always in the progressive mix, but I view progressive and holistic sometimes can be taken differently. I would view holistic as having a spiritual element that is also progressive. 


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Old 07-07-2012, 09:16 PM
 
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I've really been thinking about WHY we are moving.

 

We want out of the big city.  We want to live in a smaller community.

 

More healthcare choices that we believe in.

 

NATURE - hiking trails, beaches, nature preserves, farms

 

ENVIRONMENT - easily and readily available scenery, recreation ...

 

Family Friendly area, Racially friendly area

 

 

We will be gardening, living as sustainable as possible, adding a couple solar panels and harvesting rain water.

I'm anxious for fresher air and better water.

I'm also looking forward to the holistic healthcare, an area where alternative care is more the norm.

We love hiking, walking on beaches and just getting out.  We are thrilled that we are still able to wear the boys in their Action Baby Carriers!  The carriers will hold them for about 10-15 MORE pounds!

We have visited the area and we hoping they'll accept a multi-racial family.  We've seen a lot of diversity so we're hoping so.

 

Big goals, big dreams ... but as we keep saying to each other ... this is happening!

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Old 07-10-2012, 09:00 AM
 
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I definitely think Berkeley fits almost all of those criteria. But low costing of living - definitely not!! 

 

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Old 07-10-2012, 07:48 PM
 
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We currently live in Berkeley. I agree it is one of the most ideal cities for natural family living. I absolutely love it here and until recently could never have considered living anywhere else with my family. But the cost of living is overwhelming here and unsustainable for us, even though we live very simply. We are feeling as though we can't stay here long term. I was thrilled to see Madison Wisconsin listed by some other posters. My brother and sister-in-law live there and on a recent visit we began to consider if we could be really happy there too. It is mostly the cold weather that makes me worried that I'll be miserable!! smile.gif I do think having definite seasons though adds a rhythm to life; busy outdoor times during nice weather and restful quiet indoor times during the cold winters can be very balancing in a way. (or am I trying to convince myself of this so that we can move to Madison?) lol
Does anyone consider weather as a factor in determining if a city is natural family living friendly?

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Old 07-10-2012, 08:35 PM
 
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Does anyone consider weather as a factor in determining if a city is natural family living friendly?

 

I don't think it's a big consideration for Natural Family Living unless you're going for more eco-friendly. The Bay Area probably has lower heating and cooling bills than most places in the country with the moderate climate. Aside from that I think you can be pretty NFL in most places. Maybe Antarctica makes it tricky.

 

I do think climate is a big factor in where a family will be happy, though. People move to our area (in the South) and aren't prepared for the humidity, bugs, heat, (and humidty and humidity and humidity). Some learn to adapt and some end up moving back to wherever they came from. 


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Old 07-10-2012, 08:35 PM
 
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I live in a pretty crunchy smaller university town(s). 

 

Here are things I like about our area:

 

Free city buses

Great food scene (restaurants, farmer's markets, CSAs, community gardens)

Great local co-op, also Trader Joe's and Whole Foods (my area of about 80,000) is able to support all these plus mainstream groceries and specialty food stores

Great art & music scene

Free standing birth center

Many alternative health providers

Top notch traditional medical providers

Expanding greenway system

Many bike lanes (big bike culture with lots of folks having a bike for primary transport)

Good parks & rec centers

Natural spaces in-town

Local festivals (music, crafts)

Town recycling, town sells compost bins periodically and encourages composting although they don't pick it up

Very LGBT friendly

Excellent public schools

Great alternative private schools (Waldorf, Friends, Forest Kindergarten)

Fantastic secular homeschooling community

Backyard chicken friendly

Lots of natural wooded yards and lots of gardens in front yards as well as back yards.

Great public library (has the highest circulation of any library in the state)

 

 

There is a free city pool and also an aquatic center  with a nominal fee ($2 per person?) as well as many neighborhood pools (membership fee), and the Y pool. 

 

Geographically we're about 3 hrs from the beach and about 3 hrs from the mountains. There are plenty of woods, creeks, rivers, and lakes to play in right around here, but it's nice to have the beach and the mountains for a weekend getaway.

If you aren't in Carrboro, NC then it sounds EXACTLY like it!! I was just looking to see if anyone mentioned it ;)

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Old 07-10-2012, 10:30 PM
 
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Yeah we live in Berkeley. My husband lived in Carrboro for a few years before moving here. He refers to it as the Berkeley of the east coast. We talked at great length about moving there bc of the lower cost of living. But being from California, I just don't know that I'd ever fully adapt to the humidity and mosquitos. And that is a big issue for me. I think it would really impact how much time I'm willing to spend outside - and that is important. But I'm a wuss.

 

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Old 07-11-2012, 09:06 PM
 
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Actually I'm in Chapel Hill, but pretty much same difference (don't tell Carrboro I said that). 

 

Vegan Princess this is a very outdoor friendly community. People definitely are out and about all summer, but if heat and mosquitos are your bugaboos then it might not be the place for you.

 

Natural Family Living is definitely easy here. Same in Asheville. You might like that area better VP. Less heat and maybe less mosquitos, too.


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Old 07-11-2012, 09:22 PM
 
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Beanma: Oh no doubt people are out and about. I just seem to get eaten alive by mosquitos and the bites swell up huge. So I am way more of a wuss about them than most people I encounter. And I didn't grow up with any humidity so I can't stand that either. But I definitely realize that most other people aren't nearly as bothered by those things as me. LOL. ;-) My husband loves being out at night there.

 

I didn't spend much time in Asheville - only a few hours. My DH has told me how awesome it is and it was definitely beautiful. Unfortunately, t it just doesn't have the type of job base that would support us based on what DH and I do. 

 

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Old 07-12-2012, 09:22 AM
 
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We currently live in Berkeley. I agree it is one of the most ideal cities for natural family living. I absolutely love it here and until recently could never have considered living anywhere else with my family. But the cost of living is overwhelming here and unsustainable for us, even though we live very simply. We are feeling as though we can't stay here long term. I was thrilled to see Madison Wisconsin listed by some other posters. My brother and sister-in-law live there and on a recent visit we began to consider if we could be really happy there too. It is mostly the cold weather that makes me worried that I'll be miserable!! smile.gif I do think having definite seasons though adds a rhythm to life; busy outdoor times during nice weather and restful quiet indoor times during the cold winters can be very balancing in a way. (or am I trying to convince myself of this so that we can move to Madison?) lol
Does anyone consider weather as a factor in determining if a city is natural family living friendly?

 

Madison is not as cold as it used to be, and it's getting warmer. That's kind of a scary thought, actually, because it's probably due to climate change. But we've had very mild winters (comparatively) for the past few years. In fact, places south of us have been getting more snow than we have. And we are having a very hot summer by Madison standards. More and more, Madison reminds me of central Missouri, where I grew up. And for me, that's not a good thing! I like a cold winter and a mild summer! Also, we are having a drought right now. Not a good thing.

 

Not that I want to discourage you from considering Madison! It's an AWESOME place to live! PM me if you want more details!

 

My perspective is that climate change is doing a number on everyone's weather, so probably the only weather factor to be considered when moving somewhere is, can I deal with changing weather patterns? It seems like everywhere weather is less and less "typical." We're all going to have to learn to adapt, no matter where we live. Just my 2 cents.


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Old 07-14-2012, 12:58 PM - Thread Starter
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Based on all the input here's what I have. I left a few things out that were either too vague or would be difficult to determine.

 

 

OUTDOORS

  1. large wooded areas for exploration
  2. Sidewalks and bike paths
  3. low lights ordinance
  4. lots of green space and lots of public spaceslots of walkable communities ( good walk score)
  5. large public parks with hiking trails, bike trails, etc. prioritizes parks and recreation
  6. Quiet (no airport noise)
  7. close to state or national parks
  8. close to body of water

 

COMMUNITY AND SERVICES

 

  1. composting programs
  2. recycling/single-stream recycling
  3. variety of housing options
  4. welcoming and supportive to immigrants and refugees; diverse and culturally Inclusive
  5. affordable housing and living costs 
  6. pesticide bans in all public and private spaces
  7. car sharing program
  8. great public transit
  9. libraries/de-centralized library system
  10. good services for elders
  11. plenty of ethical, family-oriented businesses 
  12. support groups including LLL, active Meetup community, volunteer groups
  13. natural beauty
  14. efforts to be sustainable whenever possible
  15. thrift stores, yard sales, builders second hand stores, and other options for reusing items
  16. local stores that sell slings, cloth diapers, etc
  17. free and/or affordable family and child-friendly activities 
  18. active chapters of natural family living organizations

 

 

FOOD

  1. farmer's markets and CSAs; lots of options of healthy and affordable fresh foods
  2. farm nearby where one could buy milk, eggs, honey, etc.
  3. opportunities for community gardens
  4. walking distance restaurants and markets that sell whole and organic foods
  5. allows back yard chickens and possibly mini livestock

 

EDUCATION

  1. homeschool friendly
  2. homeschool support groups including secular (not homeschooling for religious reasons)
  3. pre-k through 12th grade schooling options, besides city public schools and religious private schools - traditional, magnet, charter, online, other

 

HEALTH

  1. variety of birth options: birth centers, natural birth friendly hospitals that allow water birth, CNMs in hospital, legal, licensed midwives for home/birth center, providers who catch breech, vbac friendly, both in and out of the hospital. 
  2. alternative health practitioners and centers, including naturopaths, midwives, birthing centers, holisitic pediatricians
  3. good selection of MDs who support alternative vax schedules
  4. no vax or delayed vax friendly exemptions
  5. breast feeding friendly
  6. clean air including environmental tobacco smoke

 

Anything else?


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Old 07-15-2012, 08:46 AM
 
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I live in Chico, CA

there are so many things I love about this city. 

 

Park running the whole length of the city.

Bike paths are prioritized. Possible to bike safely anywhere in town.

Great playgrounds.

Huge creek-fed public pool.

Outdoor concerts, family friendly activities. 

Year round farmers market

Many organic farms, and organic food available in abundance

Active homeschooling and unschooling communities

Several alternative charter school options as well

Low humidity in the summer

Close to lots of outdoor activities

Dance community

Lots of yoga classes, meditation, anything you could want spiritually or artistically

 

Things I don't love: 

poor air quality parts of the year

Heat in the summer (90s is norm during part of the summer, and some 100 degree days as well)


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Old 07-18-2012, 03:16 PM
 
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These are the two things that impact us and our community both, walkability including safe biking, and clean drinking water.  I can find and support many other things, but these are fundamental from day one, especially when living in a new community.

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Old 07-18-2012, 05:02 PM
 
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What about being near extended family as an aspect of natural family living? To me that is definitely an aspect of "natural," if in a different way. There are also cultural factors for those who are part of minority communities, like my bicultural, bilingual family. There are cities that otherwise match many of our criteria (theoretically, if we were able to move) but that wouldn't really work for us because we wouldn't have a supportive community to celebrate holidays with or to educate our kids in (e.g. uncommon minority language). So I think any list of criteria for natural family living would have to be somewhat relative, including one's individual cultural/religious/linguistic community.


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Old 07-18-2012, 06:41 PM - Thread Starter
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gozal I listed "welcoming and supportive to immigrants and refugees; diverse and culturally Inclusive"

 

Does that cover it for you? 

 

As for being near extended family, that's not something you'd grade a city on. It's a choice you and your family have to make for yourselves. So while I agree it is very important for many families it's not something we can list. 


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Old 07-18-2012, 10:46 PM
 
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We are moving from the chicago suburbs (McHenry) to Portland in TWO WEEKS. And feel like Portland wonderfully emboides so many things in this thread. :) 


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Old 07-19-2012, 08:07 AM
 
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You're right, Cynthia, that wouldn't help you actually choose the cities for the list! I guess I was thinking maybe you would include a criteria list to help people decide, as well as city recommendations. In that case I would put "relative factors" or something on the list, covering exactly those things you can't grade a city on (like your particular cultural group or family - I have lived in diverse areas in which I was still very lonely as a minority). Thanks for considering my ideas!


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Old 07-24-2012, 08:36 AM
 
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A little bit off topic, but I would love to see an international version of this question. Sometimes Americans forget there is a big wide world out there!redface.gif
 


Rhu - mother,grandmother,daughter,sister,friend-foster,adoptive,and biological;not necessarily in that order. Some of it's magic, some of it's tragic, but I had a good life all the way (Jimmy Buffet)

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Old 07-25-2012, 06:39 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gozal View Post

What about being near extended family as an aspect of natural family living? To me that is definitely an aspect of "natural," if in a different way. There are also cultural factors for those who are part of minority communities, like my bicultural, bilingual family. There are cities that otherwise match many of our criteria (theoretically, if we were able to move) but that wouldn't really work for us because we wouldn't have a supportive community to celebrate holidays with or to educate our kids in (e.g. uncommon minority language). So I think any list of criteria for natural family living would have to be somewhat relative, including one's individual cultural/religious/linguistic community.

 

Gozal and Cynthia...I originally posted up above.  We moved to the city partly because we found a two-family house there.  It had servants' quarters that we later converted to a third apartment.  My parents own the building and live on the second floor.  I live on the first floor with my husband and our three children.  My sister, her husband, and their two children live in the converted third floor.  It is a very old building and designed for multi-family living.  It is much harder to find this kind of home or support this kind of living in many rural areas and I certainly think it CAN be part of the elements considered in living in the city.  

 

When you move to the city one of the major compensations you have to make is the proximity you will have with your neighbors.  It is a kind of living that happens in a very tight space.  There is a lot of energy and emotion that happens on a daily basis...learning how to swing that emotion in your direction is part of being city-savvy.  Most of the time, even when city areas aren't as diverse, they are still far more liberal with regards to lifestyles and choices--it's simply a part of being urban.  There is much more tolerance where there are so many people!!!

 

For someone who is moving to the city to be closer to family or like-minded people....this is certainly a great way to live!!!  Our house is three stories tall and we have a "three stories" blog if you would like to read more....  

 

Three Stories

 

Maggie

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Old 07-28-2012, 10:23 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for sharing your life Maggie. Very nice. Where I live it is quite common for an extended family to live together and we hope to do something similar with our families. smile.gif

mamarhu I agree completely! We will encourage people to recommend any city in the world. Thanks for the reminder! smile.gif

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Old 07-29-2012, 06:27 PM
 
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If my in-laws didnt have 3 big dogs (we have 5 dogs) I would love to live with them! 


- Mom to Baby Mark (9/18/10) and 4 wonderful dogs!
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