Crunchy towns/cities in North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Vermont, New Hamphire or Massachusetts? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 11 Old 08-06-2011, 09:07 PM - Thread Starter
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We'd like to live in an area that has an excellent internet connection, a co-op grocery store, a wooded area that's very near town, and farmers' markets. A medium COL area would be nice as well.

I would love to live in an area that's actually walkable. Websites will say that Fredericksburg is walkable, but it's really not. Only the area around the college is walkable. Unfortunately, we live in an apartment that's on the opposite side of a busy four-lane highway. There are no crosswalks and no pedestrian lights. I've crossed over the highway, but I would not do it with a kidlet in tow. I would love to be in walking distance (bus service is also fine) of grocery stores, libraries, bookstores, etc. We do have a bus system around here, but it's really limited. I would also like to ride a bike around town without the fear of death or serious injury. There are no bike lanes or trails around here.

Any suggestions for the perfect town? Thank you in advance!


*I posted a similar thread for just Chapel Hill/Carrboro, NC a little over a year ago and I'm trying to expand my horizons. :D *

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#2 of 11 Old 08-11-2011, 01:48 PM
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Have you already looked at Asheville nc?

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#3 of 11 Old 09-18-2011, 05:38 PM
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Amherst, MA and Northampton, MA. The Pioneer Valley area has a ton of crunchy places and a great vibe. we are living just a little south of it (near Springfield) for dh's work reasons but I go up to Amherst a lot.

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#4 of 11 Old 11-20-2011, 06:32 PM
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I'll chime in with Burlington, VT.  It's a really fun town, very walkable, lots of parks/wooded areas, music, shops, farmer's markets, co-ops... Montpelier's nice, too, but there's a lot more going on in Burlington.  Portsmouth, NH is also pretty cool, and I definitely agree with the Amherst/NoHo recommendation. 

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#5 of 11 Old 12-06-2011, 11:49 AM
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Originally Posted by Pookietooth View Post

Have you already looked at Asheville nc?

Asheville, NC sounds exactly like the type of place you are looking for.  It is in the mountains of western north carolina.  We live just outside the city.  There are a lot of crunchy mamas here and depending on where you live it is very walkable.  It is a city but many areas are sort of spread out and allows you to live a little privatly and still be close to town.  There is a few coops. The food here is amazing no matter what type of diet you have but I am vegan and there is tons of options around even a discount health food store. 


They just started putting in bike lanes around here.  Because of the way the roads were set up and because it is so hilly and lots of windy roads there wasn't any before so that's a nice improvement.  Oh and I also get my cloth diapers from a local store who even has a very good consignment section with cloth as well.  Lots of music, lots of art and lots going on but with keeping that small town feel sometimes.


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#6 of 11 Old 12-07-2011, 04:00 PM
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I third Asheville!!!!!  We moved here almost a year ago (after visiting countless times since I was a teenager) and love every inch of it.  It is, in my opinion, the perfect balance between city and nature. You really can have it all here! 


Asheville is a really great size.  It's big enough to offer arts, culture, AMAZING music, AAAAAAMAZING restaurants (so many of which support the hefty bounty of local farms), and most other great qualities of a big city, but small enough to have a really sweet, small town feel.  It is ridiculously friendly!  We moved into a small building with eight apartments and had an instant family with all of our wonderful neighbors.  It has been really easy for us to carve out a place for ourselves here.  We are definitely getting to know people around town and every one has been so welcoming.  Takes the sting out of uprooting your life, for sure, and it's not nearly as threatening as a seriously big city.


Asheville definitely supports a healthy lifestyle. It's fairly walkable.  We are pretty convenient to downtown and, up until the past few weeks, we walked nearly everywhere.  We are less than a ten minute walk to a healthfood store, a bakery, a new butcher shop that supports local, sustainable agriculture, a great indie video store, an awesome ice cream shop, a yummy BBQ joint, a great park, a new vegan restaurant, and pretty much anything else we could possibly need.  We have just over a twenty minute walk to downtown.  There are farmers markets not quite, but almost every day of the week.  There are countless CSAs to join.  I even have a winter CSA this year!  There is a food co-op downtown.  And there's even an organic mechanic.  :)  


There are tons of young families and TONS of homeschoolers, but also really great alternative options for folks that want something in between traditional public school and homeschooling.  My friends' son went to an art based charter school, which commonly extended invites to their events to local homeschoolers, so it seems there is community support for those that choose that route, beyond just networking with other homeschoolers.  It's also not hard to find docs that have a holistic approach and are open to not vaxinating.  I have not been pregnant, nor given birth here, but from what I've heard many of the midwives here have good relationships with the hospital, so home births that end in transfers are not as inclined to solicit unwelcoming attitudes or judgement (though again, that's only second hand knowledge).  Other NC folks can correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think we have the best laws in favor of midwifery, but the Asheville area seems no worse for the lack of state support, most likely due to the population being so supportive of it. There seems to be an abundance around town as, well as an abundance of mommies who have used midwives. I actually wonder if midwife births out number OB births???


Oh, and it's beautiful here.  Ridiculously beautiful.  When real life doesn't get in the way, there are times that I feel like I live in a fairy tale.  We moved here from Michigan, which is generally one of the most depressed places in the country (though I still love it madly), after two years of intense debate about where to go. We considered everywhere in the continental US and beyond, when a job opened up in Asheville with my husband's company.  My husband was a hard sell on Asheville, but literally after just days of being here, he was planting his roots deeply in the beautiful Appalachian soil. I could not tear him away now.  There's a reason that people write songs about the Blue Ridge Mountains.  It's like a little slice of Heaven.  I can not imagine a more perfect place for us. The beauty and spirit af Asheville is nothing short of amazing, and even after all this raving, I don't feel like I've done it justice.  I could go on and on and on and on and on...


The one downside is that well paying jobs, particularly in a specialized field, can be hard to come by.  We were super lucky to move here with a job.  When folks ask us what brought us here, they generally seem shocked that it was for a job.  The primary industry here is tourism, which greatly narrows the demand for professionals.  My husband is in IT and looks every day for a new job, as he is not crazy about his current one, but has not found many leads to follow.  So, if you are interested in Asheville, I say come check it out, but keep a constant eye on job postings and jump on them asap if it is imperative for you to find a particular type of work.


Hope I didn't bore you!  ;) 

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#7 of 11 Old 12-09-2011, 06:05 PM
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Western Mass. is where its at! There is a fantastic birth and alternative lifestyle community in the Amherst/Northampton area. I live and have my doula practice north of there, toward the Vermont state line. There's also a really vibrate local food and farm culture here and good schools. Also Brattleboro Vermont is nerby, another great town with a similar culture. Come visit, it's great here! Gorgeous, friendly, accepting smile.gif
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#8 of 11 Old 01-31-2012, 12:09 PM
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one more (nak): Chattanooga TN

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#9 of 11 Old 02-09-2012, 10:22 AM
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I just came across this thread.  I live in Chattanooga.....and the city has gotten some good press recently.  I agree - it is a really great city.  I think it's a bit like Asheville, but I've only visited A'ville a couple of times so couldn't offer a very thorough comparison.  There's a lot to do here - tons of outdoorsy stuff - hiking, rock climbing, kayaking, etc. etc.  We have a nice aquarium, art museum on the river, kids' museum, some great restaurants, etc.  I think Chattanooga is a great city for its size.


I would never make the case that Chatt is walkable as a resident.  A visitor to the downtown area could easily walk to a lot of attractions.  The immediate downtown area and North Chatt are walkable.  Condos downtown are well above what any average family could afford in this area.  North Chatt has some more reasonable housing, but I wouldn't think it's affordable for a good chunk of the population.  We live east of town (in city limits) and my biggest frustration with Chatt is the lack of walkability.  I could walk to a CVS from my house, but I think I'd be taking my life in my hands!


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#10 of 11 Old 03-08-2012, 06:03 PM
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 Check out Hardwick, Vermont. I just moved here and I am loving it. Where I live I am .3 miles from the post office, a food co-op (very nice one), antique/thrift shop, a video rental store with a po;litical conection, art galleries, a small book shop, cafes, and the farmers market is basically on my doorstep when summer comes. There a few CSAs that deliver here in town. The surrounding towns are rural but you are 30 minutes from bigger towns with shopping.

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#11 of 11 Old 05-31-2012, 08:35 PM
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Hi, I am not sure that Front Royal is the perfect town, but I like it very much. I moved here last year from Hawaii. Honestly, I would buy a home in my very low price range ($50-80) in seconds if it was a major cute one that I see scooped up around here, but I also am very fond of Ithaca, NY and Asheville, NC - walking is a major reason for both but homeschooling is second. I feel like the price range keeps my freedom happy here and I can choose to rent a home for a month in both locations, but also many places around the world.. but if I pick one, it might work out that I only have enough freedom to be planted there forever more, YKWIM? The natural people here are low key and honestly more directly friendly to each other..maybe because we know we jive. Everyone here is rather friendly and nature love is popular with everyone that calls this place home. We have a free trolley service around town, but ten minutes of driving and 7 miles away, you can find acre lots which can be a starry quiet backyard with fruit trees and bountiful gardens. I love the thrift stores here too, the library, playground, grocery, health food, and farmers market. I feel the county lacks art in a major way though. We travel all over for festivals that offer different artist and free music, so I am not deprived. I don't feel depressed here because my pockets are tight.. so much natural beauty that it awakens my soul. I travel to DC for the epic culture and it is about $20 for the day trip (trans and food, free attractions mostly - well you know.) Honestly the art is represented really well in many outlying counties (and this one is the smallest in VA). The taxes here are really low, so are the gas prices and even private insurance rates. It is oddly a total bubble quality for price. 


I did check out the Fredericksburg area myself and felt really unsure. It would be dreamy to live in one of those $400k homes, but I still think the stars, quiet, birds, garden, vistas would be absent. There is something about these mountains and the people for sure. I think it helps the natural people areas stand out and really draws them to make roots. 


The people here are all over the place though and I had to sit and listen to many places. I would not like to live downtown but I would stay home a lot and garden. The hum of the city is too much for those aspirations. 

Leslie, organic semi-unschooling mama teaching my children 5 and 2.75, that love & happiness is most important. Letting their light shine, finding out they are teaching me. Love being in the moment & nature.

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