Hi there, I am an Irish single mammy (with US papers) with 6 year old son - used to live in DC, been away for a few years, thinking of moving back to the US now. Can anyone out there give us any suggestions? Above all, I'd like to live in a (small to) medium-sized town in an area of outstanding natural beauty, with a not overly expensive cost of living (and I'd also like a pony for Christmas). Right now I am looking at Bellingham, WA (Sudden Valley in particular looks lovely) - hence my post on this particular forum - but to be honest the country is my oyster as I work from home. And I've never even been to the west coast, or anywhere north of NY!
Here's what's on my mind:
1) I am pretty interested in alternative (not home, though!) schooling for my son, something that emphasises creativity, sensitivity and independent thinking. A school along these lines is one of the few concrete things that could tie me to a particular place. I have been looking at Waldorf, but am terrified by some of the stories I read about a cultish "all or nothing" approach. (I have strongly held beliefs, but they are fairly eclectic and I would easily end up on the wrong side of any type of fundamentalist approach.) That said, I'm still open to Waldorf if I can confirm that a particular school is tolerant and open minded. Any info you can give me on "cool schools" in "cool towns" (along the lines below) would be SO VERY appreciated.
2) Fell in love with the Canadian Rockies but unfortunately Canada won't have me as I'm not a plumber or an accountant etc. But that's the kind of landscape I am so massively drawn to - big mountains, evergreens, lakes, snow, big wildlife etc. From what I can see, that really points to WA, even more than OR, right? NE US is a possibility (and it's a lot closer to Ireland), but I think the landscape is gentler there, right?
3) I also can't take hot summers and tons of bugs any more. Had enough of them! Noone is wild about rain I suppose, but being from Ireland I can hopefully handle it!
4) I am very liberal in outlook and need to be somewhere I don't feel like any more than a minority of my neighbours are toting guns and that they also care about the environment and the less fortunate in society. I also have a pretty feisty, spontaneous personality, tend to say what I think, so I am looking for somewhere where people are not very reserved, and are tolerant of difference. A high quotient of foreigners would be good as we exiles always seem to understand each other best, but that's probably a tall order outside big cities.... hmmmm.
Would very much appreciate your thoughts, thanks so much!
Portland, OR sounds very, very much what you've described. Lots of different schooling options, not only Waldorf but other options. Beautiful scenery here, with access to the mountains and beaches and deserts. Very liberal town. I love it here.
You may also want to consider looking at Burlingame, VT.
Dear Lovely, thanks so much for your response - I had begun to think I wasn't going to get any! Thanks in particular for the insight on Oregon. I have to say, being very landscape focused, when I google "Oregon landscape photos", the results are wonderful, but when I google "Washington landscape photos", they leave me absolutely breathless. I think what I am going to have to do, if my son's school will let me take him out that long, is spend 6-8 weeks exploring the 2 states. What is the story with Portland, in particular? I am not too wild about the idea of cities, and Portland is rather big? If you can point me to any smaller towns that sound like they might be a good fit, please let me know!
Thanks again so much for taking the time to answer.
You also might look at Olympia, Washington. It does not have as much deversity as Portland, Oregon, but it is quite a bit smaller but still has lots to offer as far as non-traditional schools, and the weather is very mild.
oAlisha- eternal companion to mike:, mother to three energetic boys (02):, (05), and (07) and one sweet little girl 3/13. Two in heaven.7/21/2010, 11/05/2011 .
I just saw this on the main page so although unfortunately I don't know anything about Washington/Oregon/Idaho (although they sound gorgeous!) I thought I'd chime in another option... Portland, Maine. I'm actually in NY for now, but grew up in Maine, visit each year and it does fulfull the requirements of great natural beauty (ocean, mountains, forests) for sure, and the cost of living there is decent (at least compared to NY!). I couldn't say for sure what the educational scene is currently. But it's a thriving little city with lots of culture, right on the coast.