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Mama_Michelle 08-13-2008 06:57 PM

Triangle mamas, I need your help.

I have mentioned in a few other threads that my DH will be starting a job in RTP and we will be moving to the area this fall or winter. I have really been struggling with the idea of this move - I love where I am at. Small college town, pretty crunchy, fairly liberal. We own a house near the "downtown" so we walk to the library, farmers market, restaurants, stores, the campus etc., which I love.

Originally, we were looking to live in Chapel Hill because I was looking for a scientist job at UNC and I wanted to work in the town our DD went to school (DD1 starts kindergarten next week!) and the commute is OK for DH . It seems to have the most small/college town feel. But over the last few months I am really considering staying home, having a third child and possibly homeschooling. My DH just finished his PhD so until now we depended on my salary (although his job is a post-doc and still doesn't pay much). With me not working our budget has obviously gone down and now we cannot afford a house in Chapel Hill.

Anyway, there are these cluster houses in Morrisville that my DH likes. Close to RTP. Decent sized. Walking distance from parks and a grocery store. Ponds and a pool in the neighborhood. Good schools (although the one is not taking new students). Seems to have decent turnover and appreciation seems pretty good. Centrally located with regards to the cities in the Triangle so my hope is that if we stayed in the area we could move in a couple years.

There is always the possibility of renting a place but for some reason I really want to buy a house. As I said earlier this whole thing has been hard for me and I guess I just want to feel settled, if that makes any sense.

Thoughts? Ideas? Insights?

lizabird 08-13-2008 07:55 PM

Morrisville is certainly fairly centrally located between Raleigh, Cary, Durham, and Chapel Hill, so you'd have a great pick of outings /shopping /restaurants /etc when you are going out and about. I lived in Raleigh for about 4 years and liked it a lot. Now I have lived in Chapel Hill for about 3.5 years and I like it very much as well. I don't know that Morrisville has much of a "community feel" - I tend to think of Morrisville as more of a commuter town for people working at RTP. Certainly if your DH is working at RTP, it's nice for him to drive less, so in that sense Morrisville makes a lot of sense (we moved from Raleigh to Chapel HIll because my dh was in school at UNC and the drive from Raleigh to Chapel Hill was, well, let's just say unpleasant. I'm sure there are nice neighborhoods in Morrisville. And if you decide to rent for a year or so when you first move to the area, you can always get a feel for the region and then decide where would be best to buy a house when you're ready.

PicnicBear 08-14-2008 02:13 AM

Feel free to PM me. We are scientists and have done/are doing the postdoc thing etc. What field are you guys in?

brookie514 08-14-2008 12:57 PM

Morrisville is a small town, soon to be taken over by Cary. Soon meaning like 10 years from now. There is definitely plenty of things to do, places to go with kids. And there are lots of homeschoolers, too. Don't go by what Wake county says about where your kid will go to school, that changes yearly. Unless you litterally live right on top of a school you're bound to be redistricted at least once. But there are a few really good private schools in the area, too. GL with the move!

Mama_Michelle 08-16-2008 01:10 AM

Originally Posted by brookie514 View Post
Don't go by what Wake county says about where your kid will go to school, that changes yearly. Unless you litterally live right on top of a school you're bound to be redistricted at least once.
This whole redistricting concept is new to me. Why do the Wake County schools redistrict so often? Is it because of overcrowding? How often do they redistrict? Also, do the Chapel Hills schools redistrict fairly regularly?

Mama_Michelle 08-16-2008 02:00 AM

thanks for the info. When DH and I visited the Triangle in May I got the impression that Morrisville was a "commuter town". I am warming up to the idea of renting a place in Morrisville, if we can find one. That way we check out the whole triangle and I can figure out what I want to do with my life

Originally Posted by PicnicBear View Post
We are scientists and have done/are doing the postdoc thing etc. What field are you guys in?
We are both in neuroscience. How about you guys? I finished a while ago but I am still not sure what I want to do next.

PicnicBear 08-18-2008 10:02 PM

I hear you on not knowing what to do next!!! We are in environmental science. You might guess what federal agency we are at from that info!

Renting in a central area, either Morrisville or the Southpoint area of Durham for a year is a great idea. You get a much better feel for the area. Unlike some places where you just need to decide which part of town to live in, here there are many towns to choose from. We rented by Southpoint for a year and then bought a house in Cary.

kattykay 08-19-2008 09:59 AM

It would be a great idea to rent. The Triangle is so big and varied that you will def find what you want, but you may not see it right away.

As far as schools go, Wake Co is just in a transition right now because the place is growing like gangbusters - especially the western part near Apex/Morrisville/Holly Springs, etc. Hence the redistricting over there to curb overcrowding. It will even out at some point. CH has its own smaller school system because it won't join a county system with Orange Co. So it doesn't go through major redistricting unless a new school is built (and several have been built in the last 5 years).

You will be so glad you rented! Even if it's just for 6 months!

Marimami 08-20-2008 12:28 AM

Okay, too funny! In my former life I was working on my PhD in neuroscience!

When we moved to NC in 2003, we rented a house in Cary. It worked out well, and we are now living pretty much exactly where we had thought we would (we had narrowed it down to where we are now or Hillsborough). We're in Chapel Hill but N. Chatham and we love it.

From your posts I just don't get the sense that Morrisville would give you the community feel you are seeking. If I were you, I would rent if the location is good to get your bearings (which is why we did it).


Mama_Michelle 08-22-2008 01:23 AM

Originally Posted by Marimami View Post
Okay, too funny! In my former life I was working on my PhD in neuroscience!
My days in neuroscience may be numbered!

We liked the N. Chatham county area when we visited. Do you know anything about the schools? Like I said in a previous post, I am considering homeschooling but I am not certain (or for how long) so I would like to live in an area with good schools. That area seemed to be building up a lot too.

I am really warming up to the idea of renting, even if its in Morrisville. My DH made the point that if we are going to have another baby, the shorter his commute the better for our whole family. Is the Southpoint Area of Durham close to RTP too? We went to the mall but I don't have a clear idea of the distance from RTP.

Thanks for everyone's input. It is really helping me accept & get excited about our move!

PicnicBear 08-22-2008 02:04 PM

Yeah, Southpoint is really close to RTP. It's basically there.

I know you are not asking for any advice here, just info about the area. But I hear a lot of myself if your statements and I think renting (i.e. not committing to an area right away) could be really good. When we lived at Southpoint for a year and I was home with DS for 6 months I found it was a real pain to have to drive to (the other part of) Durham or Chapel Hill for everything -- yes there is stuff by the mall and more is coming but I still found myself driving a lot. Even though DH was close to work, it wasn't worth it.

Also, I had this grand idea of being home with my kids after my Ph.D. and homeschooling (not mocking your idea, just mine) but I have found I just need to work outside the home. I am very well suited for a professional life but not full time baby/toddler care. And I never knew till I was home for a while . . since I do believe motherhood is the noblest of all professions it was kind of hard to accept, of course I am still a mother but I have a professional life as well. We ended up in Cary which is more of a commute than Southpoint or M-ville (we work in RTP, too) but it only takes about 30 min more out of our day (15 min more each way) and the same would be true if we lived in the main part of Durham or CH, but in parts of Durham, CH, Cary, or Raleigh (which is a further commute from RTP) you will find it feels much more like you are in a "town" and the conveniences are close by if you don't want to feel like you are driving all over God's creation each day, IMO. Of course, if one goes for the rural thing that is a totally different experience with it's own set of pros and cons. Definitely rent first and get a feel for the area and SAHMoming!!

PicnicBear 08-22-2008 02:14 PM

Another thought is that, if you are coming from somewhere where housing is more expensive (which is pretty much everywhere) you may think you want a "starter home" here and then in a few years move to something bigger/better. But here, the housing is cheap enough (with the exception of a few areas/neighborhoods) that you may not really need to do the "starter home" thing. You can probably afford a home that will be big enough for your family indefinitely, if you can afford a home at all (other than studio condo or something). If your DH is a postodoc for 2-3 years at a low salary, you probably won't have saved much, if anything, more to "move up" anyway, so if you rented for a year and kept the $ from the sale of your current house in savings, you could probably jump right into the perfect home at the end of year!

Marimami 08-25-2008 10:01 AM

Originally Posted by Mama_Michelle View Post
We liked the N. Chatham county area when we visited. Do you know anything about the schools? Like I said in a previous post, I am considering homeschooling but I am not certain (or for how long) so I would like to live in an area with good schools. That area seemed to be building up a lot too.
Well, it depends on what you're looking for in a school system. As a liberal democrat, I applaud Wake County's continuing efforts to try to ensure fair access to good education regardless of race and socio-economic ranking. However, as a parent, I greatly worried about my sensitive child's ability to handle the uncertainty of school changes on a yearly basis. So, for me, personally, I was not looking forward to facing those issues nor dealing with my conflicting feelings as a person in this society and as a parent, if that makes sense.

Chapel Hill/Carrboro school system is applauded for its top quality education. However, in speaking with parents of children who have gone through the system, I realize that I don't really want a system that focuses heavily on academic prowess or excellence. I'm okay with her not going to the "best" school because what I define as "best" is not necessarily what the community as a whole does.

There are many other private school options, but honestly, I've come to realize that it's not as easy as looking at school reports for private or public schools and picking the "best" one. "Best" is variable and personal.

Wow, that was longer than I intended!!

ETA: I didn't mention Durham only because I have no personal experience with them as I have with Wake, CH, and Chatham.


Mama_Michelle 08-26-2008 04:38 PM

Picnic Bear, I really appreciate hearing your experience. I do worry about making the right decision with regards to working outside the home. I am committed to try SAHMing, then I will know what works for me instead of me just wondering if the grass is really greener on the other side. I work part-time right now, which is a great balance for me and I may look into part-time work when we get there.

And thanks for the info about distances. It is hard for me to create a map in my head from my one visit. I do not want to be driving all over, that is one of the hardest things for me to accept about the move. Right now we walk/ride bikes most places and are no more than 2 mi from work, daycare, shopping. And we are 1 block from DD1s new school. There are certainly countless amazing things to do in the Triangle area but it is definitely going to take me a while to get used to driving/traffic.

Marimami, I really appreciate all the info about the schools. We are just getting into the whole school thing - DD1 just started kindergarten last week. From what you said we have similar philosophies on schools. Community Independent School looks very nice - I am glad you have found a place for your daughter to blossom.

Again, all the ideas and input are really helping me think through things!

doctormom 08-28-2008 10:27 PM

I'll echo what Holli said about the Wake County school system - school changes and reassignments happen annually here. Although growth is certainly a factor considering in school assignment, the other issue is that the school board is committed to maintain exact racial and socio-economic balance at every school in the district.

That sounds nice in principle, ensuring that all children have equal access to a quality education, but the reality is that re-assignment "for the good of the community" frequently neglects the welfare of the individual parent or child. Children may be re-assigned to a new school two or three times in elementary school, and while a gregarious child may adjust easily to a new school, shy or sensitive children may not transition as well. Kindergarden-aged children may spend up to two hours a day on a schoolbus, traveling across town to their assigned school. Neighborhoods are divided into different schools, and the School Board has openly admitted that part of their mission is to eliminate neighborhood schools. Some children may thrive in this system - but as the mother of a child with sensory issues who transitions v-e-r-y slowly and has considerable difficulty adjusting to new people and environments - redistricting would be absolutely misterably for our family. (I live in Cary, two blocks from our assigned elementary and middle schools; we bought a house practically in the school parking lot to minimize the likelihood of being reassigned midway through the boys' education.)

The other issue to be aware of with Wake County Schools is that some of the elementary and middle schools are moving to a year-round schedule with four "tracks" rather than a traditional calendar. I personally prefer a year-round schedule, but there are parents who have strong feelings about keeping the traditional school calendar, resulting in lawsuits and lots of drama over the issue. The move to year-round was probably inevitable eventually (addressing overcrowding at lower cost than building new schools) but the school board just sprung it on parents, without really making an effort to solicit parent buy-in. It could have been handled better.

Overall, I think Wake schools are above average, but you want to know what you're getting into here - as with any metropolitan area, there are some issues that may not be apparent on the surface. I think your idea of renting for a year is a good one.

mommietime 09-03-2008 05:34 PM

Originally Posted by doctormom View Post
the School Board has openly admitted that part of their mission is to eliminate neighborhood schools.
Which is one of the most foolish wastes of time, money, and resources I have ever seen. It's truly awful, and if we can't find a charter or private we are happy with when the time comes, we are absolutely moving. Schooling is an issue everyone moving to Wake county needs to seriously consider.

kattykay 09-04-2008 02:30 AM

It's so intersting to hear people from cary and apex talk about redistricting, because in Raleigh there seems to be so little. Our area has gone to the same schools for ages, like 15 years or more. the only drama was that one elem. school was going year-round and those that didn't want that had to figure out a different plan, but most went to the trad calendar school that was one school over.

I am only mentioning this so that people know there are school-stable places in Raleigh - that is obviously not the case in cary and apex.

beanma 09-04-2008 11:01 AM

MamaMichelle, there are some housing bargains in Chapel Hill/Carrboro if you know where to look. I think I have seen some for under $200000. You most probably will get more house for your money in Morrisville, though. It just depends on if the house and proximity to work is more important to you or the town. There's a fantastic homeschooling community in Chapel Hill/Carrboro/Durham, too. Durham is a very interesting/vibrant city as well and you might want to check out Pittsboro and Hillsborough. I know folks who have commuted to RTP from those areas, too. Chapel Hill/Carrboro have a lot of pricey condo developments downtown in the chute and I'm concerned that we're just getting more and more wealthy people in town.

Mama_Michelle 09-09-2008 03:58 PM

Again, thanks for all the input everyone! It is very interesting to hear about the schools in Cary/Apex - I am not sure my DD would do well with change. And I really think I need "community" so I don't think we are going to buy in Morrisville after all.

As of now, we are leaning toward renting in the Durham area right near RTP (I guess in the neighborhoods below 40 & 54 - I have never been there - we did go to Southpoint Mall one evening but did not really drive around). Is that area nice? Houses seem pretty affordable to buy and there are quite a few on the market. I am not really sure what to make of that. Is it because the Durham public schools are not as good as the schools in the surrounding areas? Does anyone have any info on the Durham schools? A few people I have talked to send their children to private school, is that common?


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