Author Topic: Deciding Where to Live While Raising Only Child in FIRE  (Read 9144 times)

mamagoose

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Deciding Where to Live While Raising Only Child in FIRE
« on: April 15, 2016, 09:37:47 AM »
In less than a year we will reach a big change for our family, where my husband will no longer have the 9-5 grind job holding us in this particular location (central FL). I will keep working from home ( the work is enjoyable and location independent), and we are weighing our options of where to live. Our child will be 3 at the time, and we are deciding between relocating within our current city to a better school district (walking distance to school, 20 minute drive from grandma's house) or starting all over again in a new location (downsize the home, maybe move to the country with more land for exploring & fun projects, or moving out west... literally anywhere is an option). Things we are pondering:

-Moving away from grandma and our established "village" here (will our only child be lonely?)
-Lack of intellectual stimulation here (we are both graduate-educated engineers and often miss the intellectual environment of the SF Bay Area where we met)
-Lack of high quality education options here (we want our child to have access to amazing schooling options that just don't exist in Florida yet, such as Waldorf schools, residential STEM-focused high schools, top-notch in-state universities to name a few)
-Access to outdoors - living this close to Disney World means we have to drive a ways to get to nature

It's overwhelming speculation at this point and as engineers we're making pro/con lists, spreadsheets, projections... worrying about the weight of this decision and that no one place will be 100% perfect, so what do we compromise on. When "the world is your oyster" it is a lot of pressure to get it right. One particular compromise is the suburbs vs. country - we are an outdoorsy family but I also thrive in a close community and don't want to have to drive 30 minutes to meet people. Any suggestions on how to choose which priorities matter most?

Cassie

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Re: Deciding Where to Live While Raising Only Child in FIRE
« Reply #1 on: April 15, 2016, 09:55:39 AM »
I have lived in 5 different states but mostly for job reasons. It can be awesome to live by family and sometimes we were able to do that. Also at one point we lived in a small town in upstate NY and that part of the country does not accept new people for decades. When we lived in Kansas people were very friendly but very Republican, anti-abortion, conservative so hard to be deep, good friends with people.  since you would move by choice I would do a ton of research on all facets of the area.

mamagoose

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Re: Deciding Where to Live While Raising Only Child in FIRE
« Reply #2 on: April 15, 2016, 10:32:08 AM »
Yes, I grew up in the Bible Belt and left it as an adult seeking new perspectives, so I know we might run into those issues again if we move to that part of the country.

GhostSaver

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Re: Deciding Where to Live While Raising Only Child in FIRE
« Reply #3 on: April 15, 2016, 10:47:26 AM »
I have a young child and am happily married with roots back East.

I'm a big fan of the Rocky Mountain west and the pnw, though I grew up in New England and could happily live there, too. Many of the nicer cities in these areas are becoming more expensive. Do you need access to a large job market?

I wouldn't sweat making friends or finding good schools  too much. If you move somewhere with a population of people who share your priorities and values, that'll happen.

Moving farther away from family is a real trade off though, in ways that can be both bad and good.

mamagoose

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Re: Deciding Where to Live While Raising Only Child in FIRE
« Reply #4 on: April 15, 2016, 11:57:15 AM »
We won't need access to a large job market with being this close to FIRE and me still working from home. Thankfully that's not on the list of things to juggle :) We met out west and love it there, moved back here for lower COL and close to family. Have not spent any time north of California though, might be worth checking out.

Miss Piggy

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Re: Deciding Where to Live While Raising Only Child in FIRE
« Reply #5 on: April 15, 2016, 12:58:26 PM »
I'm sure Missouri isn't on your radar. My suggestion: keep it that way. This state has very few redeeming qualities.

Bikeguy

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Re: Deciding Where to Live While Raising Only Child in FIRE
« Reply #6 on: April 16, 2016, 07:30:26 PM »
Just depends on what you like best. 

I had a friend that traveled for 15 months around the world with his wife and kid.  They left at the end of the school year, home schooled for a year, and came back to the US to start school the following September.  Spent several months in Central America.  I know another family with multiple kids that are bouncing around Europe. 

If you want your child in a regular classroom, versus being homeschooled, now would be the time for the international stuff, if that's your thing.

Also, 3 to 4 is the perfect time to learn a language with no accent.  If you have that desire for your kid, that may play into the decision.

GuitarBrian

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Re: Deciding Where to Live While Raising Only Child in FIRE
« Reply #7 on: April 16, 2016, 08:36:31 PM »
Have you considered Santa Fe or Los Alamos?  Lots of interesting people and a nice area. How about Salt Lake? Colorado front range? Montana? Pacific Northwest?

Of course the Bay Area is great, as well, to a lesser extent (IMO) southern California.

For outdoor activities, it is hard to beat the Rocky Mountain states.

mamagoose

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Re: Deciding Where to Live While Raising Only Child in FIRE
« Reply #8 on: April 17, 2016, 04:34:00 PM »
We've never really spent much time in Colorado, it's on our list of places to look. International is not a desire for us right now, but will be down the road (when it is easier to fly with a kid).

Frs1661

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Re: Deciding Where to Live While Raising Only Child in FIRE
« Reply #9 on: April 17, 2016, 04:55:11 PM »
What a great opportunity! I would look for a small town with a good college and access to the outdoor activities you prefer. Small college towns tend to have excellent public schools in my experience. They will have lots of fun activities associated with the campus, and many fellow intellectuals with more liberal perspectives.

This is more or less out FIRE plan, but our kid will be at least 10 before we hit our number.

Sent from my Nexus 5 using Tapatalk


Bracken_Joy

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Re: Deciding Where to Live While Raising Only Child in FIRE
« Reply #10 on: April 17, 2016, 05:03:46 PM »
Following. I have no suggestions, but I would LOVE to see how you decide to weight different variables. I have a hard time with country/suburb/city decision myself, and it's a fairly small geographic area we're considering!

mamagoose

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Re: Deciding Where to Live While Raising Only Child in FIRE
« Reply #11 on: April 18, 2016, 06:04:41 AM »
It reminds me of the movie "Away We Go" where the pregnant couple traveled the country looking for a place to start their family. The main difference is we have family ties here (little one's Grandma) and it's very very hard to leave that for a more adventurous locale with no social support network.

little_brown_dog

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Re: Deciding Where to Live While Raising Only Child in FIRE
« Reply #12 on: April 18, 2016, 08:49:41 AM »
It sounds like you are more “spacious suburban” than rural. Not a lot of people are really into truly rural living (as in, you can barely see your neighbor’s house if at all and the nearest grocery store is a 30 minute drive). Rural seems to work best for those who farm/homestead or really require a lot of space for their preferred lifestyle at home. Strategically situated suburban (close to mountains, a lake, etc) might work best for you since you do not want to give up the convenience of having community nearby. Also, the fact that you have 1 child means that a rural spot may not be best for the little one's social life. A lot of really rural families have multiple kids who entertain each other on a daily basis. You don't want to be forced to drive an hour each way for a play date.
New England is gorgeous and has a lot of outdoorsy activities while still being home to some of the best education and healthcare in the world. But you have to be willing to put up with a HCOL in many areas, frigid winters, and the brusque personality of many native New Englanders - we tend to be a bit clannish until you actually get to know us :)
« Last Edit: April 18, 2016, 08:55:46 AM by little_brown_dog »

mamagoose

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Re: Deciding Where to Live While Raising Only Child in FIRE
« Reply #13 on: April 18, 2016, 10:34:15 AM »
Well said little_brown_dog, you hit the nail on the head. Our big fear with super rural is the isolation, and I don't want to feel pressure to have more kids to keep the first one company.

Frigid winters, yikes! The HCOL isn't a big deterrent since we see a lot of value in public parks + public transportation + great public schools and our personal spending is still pretty low, but after living in Florida the idea of long snowy seasons would be an adjustment. I know personally I'm susceptible to seasonal affectiveness disorder and that's why we've stayed away from the Pacific Northwest so far.

I think while the LO is still little we are tentatively planning to stay in this part of the country (near family and our comfort zone, plus the walk/bikeability of our particular neighborhood), and using vacations to suss out other locales like the NC mountains and Colorado. In a few years when we're both FIRE the urge to relocate might be more in our faces. I recall vividly visiting Hawaii and thinking "I could live here, if only I could bring my whole family and all my friends too" and I worry we'd run into the same feeling leaving our now hometown. I'm a very social person, but a mountain town with only 500 residents only offers so many opportunities to make new friends. If Grandma ever decides to relocate, we'll definitely revisit this issue.

MayDay

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Re: Deciding Where to Live While Raising Only Child in FIRE
« Reply #14 on: April 18, 2016, 11:11:21 AM »
I'm sure Missouri isn't on your radar. My suggestion: keep it that way. This state has very few redeeming qualities.

Dying at this.  Saw a perfect job for H in Rolla, did about 5 minutes research on city-data forums, and NOPED it. 

MayDay

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Re: Deciding Where to Live While Raising Only Child in FIRE
« Reply #15 on: April 18, 2016, 11:18:40 AM »
In seriousness, the family part is really hard.  I would say it partially depends on how mobile your relatives are.  My in-laws are homebodies who don't like to travel, period.  When we lived far from them, we saw them once a week for a year, and they were retired!  My parents both work, yet they visit us ~3 times a year, and we visit them, twice usually.  And if/when my mom retires she would definitely either come stay with us for a couple months or relocate near wherever we live.  This might be a good reason to look near major airports- if people can hop on a cheap, direct flight it is easy to visit compared to puddle jumpers between small city airports. 
 
I highly value living near like-minded people.  That is the top of my list (and why I could never do FL, bible belt, TX, etc).  If SAD bothers you, you might consider that sunny places, while cold, will be significantly better for you- I think CO, NM, AZ, etc are very sunny even in the cold areas.  We like the culture of college towns- they have things that bigger cities offer with typically a lower price tag and smaller community feel, and are usually super walkable/bikable.  They tend to have great K-12 schools with lots of opportunities, and they are used to people coming and going so making friends is easier IME. 

Bracken_Joy

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Re: Deciding Where to Live While Raising Only Child in FIRE
« Reply #16 on: April 18, 2016, 11:33:21 AM »
Well said little_brown_dog, you hit the nail on the head. Our big fear with super rural is the isolation, and I don't want to feel pressure to have more kids to keep the first one company.

Frigid winters, yikes! The HCOL isn't a big deterrent since we see a lot of value in public parks + public transportation + great public schools and our personal spending is still pretty low, but after living in Florida the idea of long snowy seasons would be an adjustment. I know personally I'm susceptible to seasonal affectiveness disorder and that's why we've stayed away from the Pacific Northwest so far.

I think while the LO is still little we are tentatively planning to stay in this part of the country (near family and our comfort zone, plus the walk/bikeability of our particular neighborhood), and using vacations to suss out other locales like the NC mountains and Colorado. In a few years when we're both FIRE the urge to relocate might be more in our faces. I recall vividly visiting Hawaii and thinking "I could live here, if only I could bring my whole family and all my friends too" and I worry we'd run into the same feeling leaving our now hometown. I'm a very social person, but a mountain town with only 500 residents only offers so many opportunities to make new friends. If Grandma ever decides to relocate, we'll definitely revisit this issue.

There are PNW areas that do indeed get lots of sun. Look into somewhere like Bend Oregon, which would likely fit all criteria except being near family.

little_brown_dog

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Re: Deciding Where to Live While Raising Only Child in FIRE
« Reply #17 on: April 18, 2016, 07:13:49 PM »
Well said little_brown_dog, you hit the nail on the head. Our big fear with super rural is the isolation, and I don't want to feel pressure to have more kids to keep the first one company.

Frigid winters, yikes! The HCOL isn't a big deterrent since we see a lot of value in public parks + public transportation + great public schools and our personal spending is still pretty low, but after living in Florida the idea of long snowy seasons would be an adjustment. I know personally I'm susceptible to seasonal affectiveness disorder and that's why we've stayed away from the Pacific Northwest so far.

I think while the LO is still little we are tentatively planning to stay in this part of the country (near family and our comfort zone, plus the walk/bikeability of our particular neighborhood), and using vacations to suss out other locales like the NC mountains and Colorado. In a few years when we're both FIRE the urge to relocate might be more in our faces. I recall vividly visiting Hawaii and thinking "I could live here, if only I could bring my whole family and all my friends too" and I worry we'd run into the same feeling leaving our now hometown. I'm a very social person, but a mountain town with only 500 residents only offers so many opportunities to make new friends. If Grandma ever decides to relocate, we'll definitely revisit this issue.

Definitely do not come to NE if you have SAD...Nov through March are depressing enough on their own up here. I really like the idea of travelling around to find your preferred locale. I have heard great things about the carolinas....

calimom

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Re: Deciding Where to Live While Raising Only Child in FIRE
« Reply #18 on: April 18, 2016, 09:42:58 PM »
It reminds me of the movie "Away We Go" where the pregnant couple traveled the country looking for a place to start their family. The main difference is we have family ties here (little one's Grandma) and it's very very hard to leave that for a more adventurous locale with no social support network.

I remember that movie! I loved the journey and the search. Can't remember where they actually chose in the end? New Mexico?

In California: what about Nevada City/Grass Valley Auburn? San Luis Obisbo? Ojai? Just some random thoughts. Those are some of my favorite towns that offer a lot but still have a community feel. Former Bay Arean here, now live waaaaay north.

JustTrying

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Re: Deciding Where to Live While Raising Only Child in FIRE
« Reply #19 on: April 18, 2016, 10:20:11 PM »
I'd really encourage you to remember that regardless of where to live, you're not "stuck." I've found for me that the things that matter most in a place to live are: Sense of community/belonging, and outdoors opportunities. However, I've lived in 4 different states, and typically I didn't know how much I would like or dislike a place until I actually moved there. I lived in FL for awhile, and it was the worst place for me to live, but that doesn't mean it would be the worst place for YOU to live, we might have very different values. So, I'd say if you're itching to try a new place out, figure out where that place is, and RENT for a year. Then you can evaluate if you want to stay, or move back to your current area.

mamagoose

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Re: Deciding Where to Live While Raising Only Child in FIRE
« Reply #20 on: April 19, 2016, 09:11:13 AM »
It reminds me of the movie "Away We Go" where the pregnant couple traveled the country looking for a place to start their family. The main difference is we have family ties here (little one's Grandma) and it's very very hard to leave that for a more adventurous locale with no social support network.

I remember that movie! I loved the journey and the search. Can't remember where they actually chose in the end? New Mexico?

In California: what about Nevada City/Grass Valley Auburn? San Luis Obisbo? Ojai? Just some random thoughts. Those are some of my favorite towns that offer a lot but still have a community feel. Former Bay Arean here, now live waaaaay north.

They landed in Florida - where we currently live. We're thinking in terms of the next couple of years, then a few more years, then a few more years. So for right now maybe we stay here, but in a few years try something else. Yes, renting first is a great idea if we move out of state. Next summer as part of our get-ready-for-FIRE adventures, we are planning to rent a house for a few months in a new locale (possibly Boulder).

mamagoose

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Re: Deciding Where to Live While Raising Only Child in FIRE
« Reply #21 on: April 19, 2016, 09:14:00 AM »
I'd really encourage you to remember that regardless of where to live, you're not "stuck." I've found for me that the things that matter most in a place to live are: Sense of community/belonging, and outdoors opportunities. However, I've lived in 4 different states, and typically I didn't know how much I would like or dislike a place until I actually moved there. I lived in FL for awhile, and it was the worst place for me to live, but that doesn't mean it would be the worst place for YOU to live, we might have very different values. So, I'd say if you're itching to try a new place out, figure out where that place is, and RENT for a year. Then you can evaluate if you want to stay, or move back to your current area.

I will also say we don't want to be "serial renters" with a kid in tow. We want her to have some sense of permanence when she's older (middle/high), I moved around a lot as a kid and don't keep in touch with any "old friends", vs. my husband who still hangs out with his high school buddies weekly (we live in his hometown).

Cognitive Miser

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Re: Deciding Where to Live While Raising Only Child in FIRE
« Reply #22 on: April 19, 2016, 12:41:58 PM »
Would Grandma consider moving to wherever you end up?  This may eliminate one of your concerns.

I live in Colorado and while it is nice, housing costs are getting insane because everyone wants to move here.  There is a huge boom right now.  People are extremely worried (for good reason) about the water supply and other infrastructure keeping up with the population boom.  Wild places/open spaces are getting sold to developers.  It's sad.

FLBiker

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Re: Deciding Where to Live While Raising Only Child in FIRE
« Reply #23 on: April 19, 2016, 02:26:03 PM »
I highly value living near like-minded people.  That is the top of my list (and why I could never do FL, bible belt, TX, etc).

Just as a counterpoint to this -- I totally would say the same thing about myself.  I've lived all over the place: RI, Boston, St. Louis, London, Taiwan, Honolulu, China, Tampa.  When I started out here in Tampa, I felt that, culturally, I wouldn't be able to make it work (not enough like-minded people).  However, I got involved with a community garden, a bike co-op, and a Buddhist group, and now I feel like leaving here would be hard because there are so many like-minded people.  I guess my point is that, for me, the ambient culture ended up mattering a lot less once I found my niche.

mamagoose

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Re: Deciding Where to Live While Raising Only Child in FIRE
« Reply #24 on: April 20, 2016, 06:57:44 AM »
I agree about finding your niche. When I first moved to Central FL from California it was tough finding people with similar interests, but once I knew what to look for that was not as much of an issue anymore. It is difficult to find people with the same level of education, but it's kinda hard to match the brain density of Silicon Valley almost anywhere else.

I don't think Grandma would move, and even if she did, I wouldn't want the pressure of us being the only people she knew in the new town.

Bracken_Joy

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Re: Deciding Where to Live While Raising Only Child in FIRE
« Reply #25 on: April 20, 2016, 07:01:25 AM »
I do think, if you can FIND a group of like minded people in an area where not everyone is of that general ilk, it can really create a strong community. Whereas otherwise, there is less reason to get close to people, and it has seemed to me that friendships take longer to develop- lots of acquaintances, but few close friends. YMMV.

mamagoose

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Re: Deciding Where to Live While Raising Only Child in FIRE
« Reply #26 on: April 20, 2016, 01:48:49 PM »
I just remembered that since having a child, we have applied for jobs out of state (twice) and were completely on board with relocating if it were for a "dream job". Somehow relocating for FIRE "just b/c we feel like it" has a sense of guilt attached to it. Hmm.

MayDay

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Re: Deciding Where to Live While Raising Only Child in FIRE
« Reply #27 on: April 21, 2016, 12:09:49 PM »
I highly value living near like-minded people.  That is the top of my list (and why I could never do FL, bible belt, TX, etc).

Just as a counterpoint to this -- I totally would say the same thing about myself.  I've lived all over the place: RI, Boston, St. Louis, London, Taiwan, Honolulu, China, Tampa.  When I started out here in Tampa, I felt that, culturally, I wouldn't be able to make it work (not enough like-minded people).  However, I got involved with a community garden, a bike co-op, and a Buddhist group, and now I feel like leaving here would be hard because there are so many like-minded people.  I guess my point is that, for me, the ambient culture ended up mattering a lot less once I found my niche.

This is definitely true and a good point.  I think any bigger city you can find like minded people.  We have been mostly looking at small-mid sized towns and they worry me more! 

dinkhelpneeded

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Re: Deciding Where to Live While Raising Only Child in FIRE
« Reply #28 on: April 21, 2016, 01:40:49 PM »
Definitely look at housing prices in the Bay Area before you make the decision. 1M for housing alone in silicon valley with good schools. It can make or break your FIRE plans.

Slow&Steady

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Re: Deciding Where to Live While Raising Only Child in FIRE
« Reply #29 on: April 22, 2016, 09:05:13 AM »

-Access to outdoors - living this close to Disney World means we have to drive a ways to get to nature


I don't necessarily have any recommendations for where to move but I do have a recommendation until that time comes.  I am not in FL but I am a part of the Hike It Baby group in my state/city and it is amazing the outdoor opportunities that we have found with this group that I completely didn't know existed.  It looks like there are 3 HiB groups in FL and one in Orlando (you said Disney World) that might help you get outdoors more often and even met a few like-minded people.  I will say that a large % of our group is SAHPs so not all that engineer-y but there are a couple of us that like to do weekend hikes.

I guess my comment is to seek out a few groups in your area between now and then, you might find that there is more for you to enjoy in that area than you thought.

mamagoose

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Re: Deciding Where to Live While Raising Only Child in FIRE
« Reply #30 on: April 22, 2016, 10:15:29 AM »
Thank you for the tip about the hiking group. Our nearest state park is a good 45 minutes away with the traffic & freeway construction, although we do camp quite a lot (10+ times a year). I would love to be able to walk to some type of natural beauty, whether it was a hill to climb up, a creek to splash in, a lake to stare at.

gardenarian

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Re: Deciding Where to Live While Raising Only Child in FIRE
« Reply #31 on: April 23, 2016, 05:21:34 PM »
We moved to Ashland, OR from the SF Bay Area. There are terrific schools (lots of choices at elementary level.) Lots of kids! Home of the Ashland Shakespeare Festival and Ashland Independent Film Festival, lots of bookstores, cafes, good library (lots of kids programs), parks, nice people. It's a university town (SOU) and so you get the benefits of that too. I like the seasons - not extreme, but there are definitely 4 seasons here. It's just beautiful here. Nearby lakes, rivers, mountains - whatever you want. We actually get involved in a lot more cultural activities here than in SF because there is no hassle, you can walk to everything, or ride a bike. Lots of moms with kids on bikes. Great farmers' market, food co-op. We don't have ocean beaches, but everything else.
I can't imagine ever wanting to leave.

mamagoose

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Re: Deciding Where to Live While Raising Only Child in FIRE
« Reply #32 on: May 23, 2016, 01:23:48 PM »
Ashland is now on the list to visit :)

SimplyMarvie

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Re: Deciding Where to Live While Raising Only Child in FIRE
« Reply #33 on: May 24, 2016, 12:40:59 PM »
As a serial expat, I would value those family connections very highly while they are still available. B'H, my mom and my husband's parents are currently healthy enough to visit us, but that is not going to last forever and it's a lack I feel very acutely in my kids' lives, having moved them from a house that was 6 blocks from their grandmother's to a whole other continent.

Also, you can look for those strong middle and high school options when your kiddo is closer to that age. You might have a child who doesn't want a residential STEM-focused High School and is more into the arts. You might decide that boarding school is the best option. Your kid might not be academically-minded at all, but really want to learn plumbing. Look for what you need for this age now (close community, good elementary options, parks, museums, classes, whatever.) and let them lead the way.


KisKis

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Re: Deciding Where to Live While Raising Only Child in FIRE
« Reply #34 on: May 24, 2016, 02:16:10 PM »
-Moving away from grandma and our established "village" here (will our only child be lonely?)

To me, family (or at least a solid support system) is highest on my list, but for my sake and not the child's.  My in-laws provide our childcare, so we never had to use daycare, and they also give me and DH many appreciated date nights.  DH's sister and her family are also close, so it's great for my kids to have cousins.  We also swap out and step in from time to time with them.  We have a good second tier of friends as backup, but family is just easier. 

I grew up in New England but have lived in deep Bible Belt territory for the past decade.  I have a few relocated-West Coast friends that I can discuss culture shock with, and the school system is good for the state but not competitive on a national level.  If I could have it all, I would wish for a better school system and more educated community, but DH and I do a lot of outdoor nature exploration with the kids and they learn a ton outside of school.  Also, the school does provide a lot of online resources for us to explore independently.  With the internet now, global exposure is only a few keystrokes away.  As a parent, I also appreciate the safe feeling of a small, tight-knit community.  My family is scattered internationally, so I hope to keep exposing my children through travel.  I don't necessarily see growing up in a Fox News area as a negative for my children, because DH and I will always encourage them to question and think independently.  If anything, it might be a good opportunity for them to hone some debating skills.  Not sure if they will end up debating us or their friends, but it'll be fun either way.