Hi! We have a lot of freedom with work at home job, but not our income ;p. I am getting really close to picking out places to live. I am stuck about something I can't quite explain, but it must be "the energy." I am a dabbling waldorf (the head fairy in the house, pretty much) mother (I make toys for holidays plus buy handmade and that is from magical people, but I gave my son (from mom and dad) a huge plastic crane truck because I couldn't afford the wooden one and I always wonder if the pull to buy him those few plastic toys is like telepathy - you know he really loves it..) Anyway.. I feel very natural and also child led. I know my little son wants to be a farmer, and fisherman (we stared blankly at him for many months before getting him a pole, and kept handing him the net) - I really had just a few experiences before he really brought it up again and again. He also loves outerspace and is begging for a razor scooter. He is such a half mainstream boy that I worry that Waldorf will mess him up, but I love laughter and good energy as a guide. I attend and put anything magical and natural up for grabs first, highly limit the cruel mean world. Don't really have a family or a life that limits with info of the world though. DH is homeschooling with me and that is so unnatural to his parenting I have really given up.
The thing is when I get to cheaper areas or super big box store areas, I start to fade... and some how over spend...or not upcycle enough (or good enough). We are always trying to save more money to do more things... but not like classes or groups. Do you enjoy those classes and groups more than traveling to a fun place or museum?
I have two places in mind -
1) where I am renting:
6 thrift stores, nice parks, close to classes, a fair amount of secular support groups (but totally surpassed by the hoards of religious). Close to a great library, nice healthy affordable food store and natural store. A cool bar. You name it, not 5 stars, but the little town has it all. Even a ghetto and punks at the skate park talking trash in front of my kids..plus soccer. 3 nice playgrounds. Flat looking at mountains on both sides, river we canoe on. Very close to all kinds of hiking. Really cheap county (oddly, like gas priced so low). And a hop skip and metro to DC. I really must be sooooo grateful! The super big box stores are on another turf up by the interstate, but in town all fast food has landed. (I am a vegetarian and love raw food, and vegan food for that matter.. I usually make food for outings.. but not so much in DC). People are really sweet here, it is a small town and people get known, patience is practiced. Humbleness is a good virtue. Family is really important. I have been here on accident for a year. Population has doubled in the past 20 years to 40k.. that might have a tad to do with "the cause" that is the religious cause that has people coming here. I meet so many HSing in the store and we have one brief conversation and then I can tell..we will not be meeting at her church. I do have the mind to buy 5 acres in the woods that has a lot of privacy, but you know, town is far different.
2) One county south:
population in a much bigger county - 7k. No fast food or big box in county. Not sure if they have a playground that isn't on the school property. They have a Waldorf school that let's homeschoolers in for $10 a class! They have very little on Main street; small natural store, amazing pizza, and everything else is art. They have lots of hiking but actually not as much as where I am renting. I am pretty sure they have more hippies and organic farmers. Everywhere you look you see beauty. You have to drive to everything else you want (30-50 miles). I mean it. Not kidding. They have one stop light in the whole county. There are tons of rich people with vast amounts of land. I am not sure if they even have one HOA in the county. It is like time just stopped. You can find an affordable home but you have to pounce on it very fast.
I am a hedonistic lover and dreamer of the world, but I really want to be very close to plants that I grow and big tall trees, streams. My DH has a lot of those same wants but he is always worried about opening doors for our kids and they are so organized by others some times for them to kind of count. I don't really think so, but i can see it for like theater and dance. I think living near DC is a lot to think about when you want to do that. I am not sure if getting in with all the organized people is a life I realllllly want to live. I would much rather teach all kinds of things with grand books, movies, experiments...not so many places to go on this time and day.
But...I am really, really, really scared! I feel like I will be given a handful of families for friends. They will probably be exactly like me though. I am also scared of having less time alone, because no playground, no thrift stores.. Not sure where to send Dad out to. The grocery store is soooo far away! The library is not as amazing..
The last bit is if I should just jump all ready? I mean a life with out big box and fast food!!!!! I am not a wannabe person... I can feel where I am and also my longing to upgrade myself (whereever I live). I am seriously wondering : Will this raise a thriving unschooler? If I limit his world to nature and more nature? But also take them to the big city like whenever they want? Plus loads of fun in 5 different counties.
Please speak reality to me! Even if it sucks or is the best ever. I have a feeling both sides/places are so important.
The most important thing for my ds would be the proximity of other kids his age. It's something we don't have, sadly. If I was choosing a place to live, I'd want it to be a place where he could be as independent as he was ready to be, have places he and friends could go to on their own without needing to be driven. I'd love for their to be some nice parks or trails or good places to ride a bike. But now that he's older, ds doesn't really play outside if he isn't hanging out with other kids. So, really, we might as well be in a high rise in center city than a house with a nice yard. For my ds, friends is the important thing. The ones he has don't live in the neighborhood so their getting together depends on the other family's (invariably very busy) schedule. I like my close by thrift stores. I don't care if there are fast food places since we almost never go to them. It would be fun for ds to be able to walk someplace to get an ice cream, though. I like being able to bike to the grocery store even though I usually drive. It's a nice back-up option if the car has troubles or someone else is using it.
I think your second place would be great with young ones. As they get older, your current place might be better. But it depends on your kids and their personalities. My guy is an extrovert. He spends a lot of time using the computer to fulfill that because he can't get enough of it in real life.
I agree with 4evermom, and my kids are introverts. We live on an acreage outside a small village. My kids are now aged 9 and up. When they were very young, having the yard and the forest and trails and the animals was wonderful, and it was enough to give them an amazingly rich life. They weren't particularly interested in structured out-of-home activities with others.
These days though filling social needs takes a lot of energy, and they are interested in out-of-home activities -- not necessarily homeschool co-op and classes, but ways to pursue their interests in music, dance, sports, community and environmental and activism. Those things really need other people to work well. You can't play soccer by yourself, or be in an orchestra at home. I'd love my kids to be able to walk or ride a bike or take public transit to their friends' places, or have their friends do the same to come here. I'd love my life to not be ruled by multiple trips to town each day, to the city each week, and a huge trip to the big city each month. My kids would love to spend less time travelling and more time chilling at home or doing stuff they love with others.
So if you're looking at a long-term relocation, beyond when your kids reach age 8-10 or so, my vote would be for a home in easy proximity to recreational, community and arts organizations, and to other kids who could form my kids' social network. A lovely idyllic few acres in the woods is great if you're an adult with access to transportation at will, because you have already stretched your wings in the world at large and made the decision to turn away from the parts of it that don't suit you. But for kids growing up ... I think they really benefit from being able to move in gradually widening circles beyond family and home. That's certainly a lot easier to do when you live where there are interesting out-of-home possibilities and a wide variety of resources. We've made it work from our rural location, but it's been expensive, time-consuming and occasionally quite frustrating.
My experience is that if you don't want to hang with religious homeschoolers, you should not move to a very rural place to homeschool. I agree with the Moominmama, as my kids have gotten older, resources outside our home have become more important to us. I would not want to be so far from a metropolitan area that we couldn't go there to regularly participate in activities and classes. My kids are fairly introverted, but they want to have friends they see on a regular basis, and I want a homeschooling community to lean on as my kids get older. Figuring out how to approach the high school years daunts me, and I like knowing a half dozen or more families that have already been down that path and whom I can ask for advice when we get there.
In addition, living in an area where everyone else is rich can be pricey-- even if your housing costs are reasonable, if you have a child who wants music or dance lessons, for example, they will be priced for the community at large. I live in a cheaper part of town, and I know that if I drive 5 miles to the higher end subdivision, the cost for every kid activity goes up, some even double.
I am so grateful for the replies!
I am really shocked! It is a good thing to ask and I am very happy I did, but I really was thinking you all might tell me to move to the country! The country btw is very liberal - just saying, it is a secret hideout for many hippies. The rich people are land lovers but not the hunting type... not anyone type, but.. I am guessing they hang out in DC a lot. Just get the sense. They protect the land like no where else. But! I am happy you all voted this way. It is such a reality. Thank you from the bottom of my heart!
FWIW, we're seriously looking at relocating (from a fairly small town, two hours from the nearest major city) because of our inability to meet our kids' growing social needs. Our eldest child is 8, going on 9. We are close with one family with children of similar ages (and oh, so grateful to have them!), but would love to have a larger community of like-minded folk.
The biggest obstacles for us are our lack of religious beliefs (in a very religious area) and our "radical" ideas about child-raising. When they were toddlers, my children enjoyed playing with everyone at the playground, attended library programs, etc., but things are getting increasingly difficult. Other children are trying to evangelize my eight-year-old son, and he's sick of it. My seven-year-old daughter likes some mainstream activities but also longs for friends who are more artistic and want to write and act out plays with her. We've tried everything we know (including letting the children try attending a Montessori school, which lasted seven weeks, was a total disaster, and was attempted only because of the difficulties we've had providing adequate social opportunities for our kids).
We first narrowed the choices down to two cities with a thriving unschooling and arts community, good walkability, and adequate opportunities to make a living. After a recent visit, we eliminated one location because of cost-of-living and safety issues. We're going on a second, extended visit to our remaining choice later this summer, and we're actually going to be renting a place in the neighborhood we're interested in.
Just wanted to commiserate. These are tough situations to figure out. :)
We're not unschoolers during the normal school year as we do math and language arts formally from K onward. But we desperately want to live in the country with land of our own. The resources we find most important are the library and the internet, and weekly (at minimum) time with good friends. So long as we can have these we are fine wherever we live.
But, we are planning to send ours to a school we like when they are 11 and 14 for more opportunities for other perspectives and activities and more chances to form friendships and work with other kids, so we're looking in a region within driving distance from it.
Thank you all for the input! It really helps! Hugs!