My family and I currently live in Eugene, OR a very liberal, progressive, and awesome city of 150,000+. We have 4 kids, 3 of whom are attending a really great alternative school that we really like (the other child is under 2). We love it here, but we are from NJ and our parents are getting older and we would like to be closer to them. NJ is just way too expensive and I hate snow and cold so your area is the closest we can really get to "home." My husband has lots of family in Newark, Baltimore and that area. His parents are most likely going to retire to that area and his siblings will move down there when that happens. I have never been to DE or MD except driving through on the way to Florida as a kid.
So, please tell me about the area. Are there any liberal, hippyish towns with good schools? How's the weather? Can you live in a rural area but still be close to a city? What places are crazy expensive or super conservative? Any info and towns to look into would be great! Thank you!!
Welcome to the area! You are leaving a great state, though. ;) I would move out to OR in a heartbeat!
I can tell you about central Maryland. I grew up in Howard County and am planning on staying here to raise my own children. Howard County and Ellicott City especially is a good place to have a family -- excellent, top rated public schools (but do your research on the neighborhoods of Columbia, MD, some places are better to avoid). It has a rural "feel" due to lots of land grants for farmers (especially Western HoCo - like Clarksville, West Friendship) but is about halfway between Baltimore City and Washington DC. the downside is that it IS one of the more expensive places due to being so close to the metropolis.
I've also been impressed with the Annapolis area. It's a beautiful town and I know there is a large homeschooling community in that area, if you are looking for alternative education.
I'm not sure that there is anything hippyish enough by your West Coast standards (and believe me, if there were, I would be THERE!) but there are pockets of it here and there. I know specifically the Mt. Vernon neighborhood in Baltimore City is more "artsy", but that is downtown.
Hope this gets you started! I'm sure there are lots of other moms who can chime in. I have a very limited knowledge outside of Howard County!
I live sort of the area previous poster is talking about - western howard county/frederick/lower carroll county area (in Mt airy, they all meet, but that area is farm area with 30 minute to drive to Frederick and Columbia, 1 hr to DC and Baltimore.) Carroll County has some good schools, at least rating wise. If you are considering public schools, that is. Carroll county is cheaper. I personally would love to move to the beaches of DE all year around, but that is just me. I think there are more alternative schools in Howard and Frederick counties, and Montgomery counties (howard and montgomery probably being more expensive areas to live, and then frederick the last on that list) Part of the reason for less hippyish then west coast is probably our proximity to DC, politicians and government businesses are the norm here. Many people work for government contractors, there are a few military bases, it is typical to meet someone who has government clearance or works for a government contractor or works as a government employee, at least within the 1 hr commute of DC and Baltimore
As to the weather...well, it still gets cold here. My sister lives in NJ, so not as cold as that, but still we have blizzards, but a month later can have 70 degrees. We tend to get bad weather in February and March. I don't know anything about OR weather. Typical summers could be like 80-90 degrees (could be higher, we have had temps over 100+) with lots of southern humidity, and winters can be cold with nor'easters. So we get the best of both, LOL. Most people can't drive in the snow because we don't get a lot (unless you move to western MD, and then it is like 100 average snow in winter) so we get some winters like this winter, where it is just grey all the time and cold (10-30s), but hardly any snow - I don't think we have any measurable snow yet, but then a few winters ago we had 2 blizzards back to back and like 25 inches of snow (Sorry to rattle on about winters - I am so ready for spring here)
I too would say overall conservative with some few spots mixed in. For instance, I want to send my daughter to the Lucy School in Middletown, md, an arts based school. However, eh, the area, Frederick, Middletown (I grew up in that area) not so much a place I would want to live, they have artsy community downtown, they have some hippyish stuff, but overall conservative. There are groups for alternative parenting, there are different schools, but I don't think there are any hippy type places to live.
I hope that helps!
Well, I live in MD and used to live in Eugene, and I will say you will not find anything quite like Eugene here. I grew up in DC and now live in the Maryland suburbs of the city. The town of Takoma Park is probably as close as you will come to Eugene if you choose to live near DC. As for schools, I would not say there are not lot of alternative schools here ( that is one of the reasons we homeschool). There is a good Sudbury school in Prince George's County ( MD)
Oh, and about the weather...I HATE the weather here. Summers are unbearably hot and humid, and it's just getting hotter. Winters are cold but we rarely get snow anymore, so it's not that enjoyable. We also have an aggressive type of invasive mosquito that has taken over and you can't enjoy being outside from May-Sept. Sometimes I miss the cool, wet weather in Eugene. I often want to leave the area just because of the weather.