(Closed) Tell me about your city! (or suburb)! Pros and Cons?

posted 5 years ago in Home
Post # 3
3170 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: October 2012

We live in Lawrence, Kansas.

Diversity: Not a big deal here at all, interracial couples everywhere and very accepted!

Schools: Great schools on the west side of town, many choices as well! North side of town is pretty poor.

Culture: A college town, very active and very involved in local businesses. A very liberal town. All about being green and eco friendly.

General lifestyle/attitude: Exactly what you would think of a college town being. An amazing downtown scene, always live music playing somewhere, always something going on. Different types of people everywhere and everyone is really accepted and loved. We have a lake that is great for the summer and are right on the Kansas River which has a great bike trail. There is also an amazing dog park!

Commute times: Kansas city is 30-45 minutes away as is Topeka, the two main nearby cities.

Average price for 3 bedroom house: Depends on what you want but you can get a nice house for $150-250 right now.

I have lived in Lawrence almost my entire life and am ready to move on but only because I want to see other places. Everyone I know that has moved here (my husband) or lived here the majority of their lives is so in love with this town. It’s so homey and open. There are always people out and about enjoying the town. Really, it’s such a great option for a family. The college is pretty bound to a certain part of town so you don’t have to deal with college kids in the neighborhoods, they live in the college ghetto and stay there.

March gets crazy with basketball season because of course the Hawks are such a priority for townies but it’s really fun. If you love to go out and ‘people watch’ like my husband and I do, it’s the ideal town.

The only real con I have is that it snows but I doubt thats a deciding factor for you since you are in NYC. I just hate the snow.

Post # 4
734 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: August 2014

I’m in Camp Hill, PA!

I’m right outside of Harrisburg (about 5 min.), and about 45min. from Lancaster, 45 from York, and 1hr. 30min. from Baltimore. Those are the most common places that people around here work. Most people work in Harrisburg and have about a 10min. commute.

The diversity has grown a lot. I have a Vietnamese family, a Chinese family, an Indian family, a Jewish family, and an interracial family all on my little cul de sac. Most of the people in this area are white, but the diversity has definitely grown.

The public schools in this area are excellent, high quality schools.

The culture in Camp Hill has changed a lot. It used to be very snobby but now it is a community that has become much more eco-friendly. We have a lot of alternative health clinics (I’m a massage therapist and Reiki practitioner and business is booming) and many people are big on the farmer’s markets. And buying raw milk from Amish guys from Lancaster, haha.

Its definitely a wealthier area, but people are very welcoming and friendly. In the Camp Hill borough the kids walk to school and most people walk to go places. People are getting more and more involved in their community.

The median price for a house is about $166,000.

Post # 5
3947 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: October 2011

Richmond, Virginia!  (Just moved here from Northern Virginia a year ago but love it, so I’ll share what I’ve learned thus far)

Diversity:  It’s pretty black and white here.  Literally.  Of course there are other ethnicities, but I want to say that it’s about 60% white, 38% black, and the remainder most likely hispanic or so. 

General lifestyle/attitude:  A very very active city.  People ride their bikes everywhere.  There are sooo many things to do outdoors since we’re right on the James River.  On the weekends my Husband I will go to a little island called Belle Isle that connects to downtown.  You can hike, rock climb, swim, and lay out on the rocks all around the Isle.  It’s really awesome.  The river itself offers tubing, kayaking, canoeing, etc. 

Also, people are SO nice here.  It’s true southern living.  People hold doors for you, speak to you in the elevators, and your neighbors take the time to welcome you and make sure you know who they are. 

Schools:  Within the city, public schools are NOT good.  However, in neighboring suburbs they’re great.   The private schools within the city, however, are really fabulous.

Commute Times:  Traffic is pretty much non-exisitent here.  I laugh when people say that it took them “15 minutes” to get to work (being from Northern Virginia).  I live 4 miles from my work downtown, and it takes me 6 minutes to get to work.

Average price for 3 bedroom home:  We’re looking go buy now.  We’re looking at 4 bedroom, 2.5 bathroom, 2,000+ sqf homes and our budget is $240,000.  It’s VERY doable.  You could probably do a 3 bedroom for under 2k.

I’ll also comment on my most FAVORITE part of Richmond…the FOOD.  I was never a foodie until I moved here.  It’s hard to find a McDonalds.  It’s rare to see a Starbucks.  Most everything is family run, Mom and Pop, and INCREDIBLE.  I’ve had some of the best food I’ve ever had in my life living here.  I know you’re from NYC, and there are amazing restaraunts surrounding you constantly…but imagine if they were all affordable?!

Post # 6
6825 posts
Busy Beekeeper
  • Wedding: June 2011


  • Diversity – I live in Western Suburb of Minneapolis (perfer not to say what citiy) Very Diverse all over metro of St Paul/Mpls
  • Schools – I live kitty corner from a spanish immersion school and there is another school about 6 or so blocks down from us. All public
  • very cultural!
  • Laid back
  • Commute times depends on where you work to where you live.  15 miles from daycare and back takes me average about 30 to 45 minutes one way
  • The average price for a nice 3 bedroom house? We paid 4 years this april little over 325,000

Post # 7
3886 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: September 2011

I live in DC and I love it here, although it really is not for everyone. I’ve got quite a few friends raising kids in DC, in a mix of public and private schools, so while I don’t have kids of my own, I do have at least some idea what it’s like.

My comments are strictly on DC the city, although the same will be true for many of the suburbs.

  • Diversity – DC is an incredibly diverse city, and in fact is just barely white majority for the first time in its history. We have a huge Ethiopian community, which is the biggest outside of Ethiopia itself, to the point where the city council member presiding over the most heavily Ethiopian ward will make a trip to Ethiopia every few years, to meet with government officials and cultural leaders, to learn  better ways to serve his constituents.  People in general are very tolerant of people of all backgrounds. One of the reasons I love it here.


  • Schools – DC public schools do have a lot of problems, but they have made significant progress over the years. If you consider relocating here, you may want to look into the charter school system, which is a joint public/private venture, at little additional cost to the parents, and some of those schools are top notch. Schools are also required to accept any DC resident as a student if their enrollment is not full, not just kids from the neighborhood, and many parents will line up the day before school begins to enroll their kids in the higher performing schools


  • Culture. It’s DC, we have it all: nightlife, dining, incredible museums, festivals, parades, you name it. Great zoo (but crappy aquarium– go to Baltimore instead). The Cherry Blossom Festival, Kennedy Center Open House, and Folk Life Festival are some of my favorites. No shortage of music, theatre, or just general cool things, and a lot of them are free. Oh and GO NATS!


  • General lifestyle/attitude: If you’re not in politics, law or lobbying, it’s a totally different city; there is a bit of a hurry-hurry pace to things, but not what I’d call rat race. Most folks are nice and polite but not overly chatty so it can be hard to make friends, but people aren’t downright rude.


  • Commute times: Depends a lot on where you live and where you work. Public transport is efficient if you can manage to live on the same train line as your work, or limit it to one transfer, or a train and a bus. If you live in the city and work in the city, chances are your commute will be less than 30 minutes by car, and a lot of people will bike to work using rental bikes from Capital Bike Share.


  • The average price for a nice 3 bedroom house?  Again this depends on where you live, plus is it new construction, a short sale, etc; I just had my house appraised at $560k for 3br/2ba/3 levels plus attic/1-car garage in a decent neighborhood but you will find homes ranging from $190k all the way up to several million

One of the things I really love about DC is being able to take a $7 taxi ride home from having a few cocktails; there are a lot of neighborhood bars and pubs as well as the big dance clubs. I also love being able to walk a block for a loaf of bread or some milk if I’ve run out. I can go all week without driving, although I do telecommute; but when I worked on K Street i would bus to work, and still would only drive about once a week. We spend about $40/month on gas.

We also have a fantastic, efficient airport at Washington National (DCA)(don’t call it Reagan National or people will know you’re not from here); good, frequent service all over the country, and a remarkably organized and well-run airport. Our International airport, Washington Dulles (IAD) is one of my most hated places,  but from there you can get a nonstop to almost any major city in the world so it’s worth putting up with.

Also the employment rate is really good, especially if you are white-collar or skilled blue-collar (plumber, electrician, etc). With the federal government and the seat of the military here, we are a lot more recession-proof than other areas; but by the flip side, property values did not fall anywhere near as badly as the rest of the country in the real estate meltdown, so it’s expensive to live here.

The crime rate has fallen significantly in the last decade or so, and what crime is still here tends to happen in very specific areas.

The downsides to DC:  as mentioned, there are some challenges with the public school system and housing prices. There’s no really good Chinese restaurants in the city, nor Indian, and I’m still trying to find a really good sushi place (but we have outstanding Ethiopian and Salvadorean); parking can be a pain; and traffic can really suck, especially if you’re commuting from the virginia suburbs into the city.

Post # 8
3947 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: October 2011

@fishbone:   I grew up and lived in the DC area for 26 years and I have always called it Reagan Airport!

I have to be honest that I’m totally shocked at how low your housing is for living in DC.  You can’t find that price for that in surrounding suburbs.

Post # 9
11234 posts
Sugar Beekeeper
  • Wedding: August 2013

@sarahbabs:  Come back to Michigan!

I live in the Kalamazoo area.

  • Diversity – Mostly white people, though I guess it depends on which area you’re in.
  • Schools – Lots of ’em. Kalamazoo schools have the Promise (fully paid tuition for any child who graduates from a Kalamazoo school system from kindergarten-12th grade), Portage schools are great, and then there are a ton of other schools, too.
  • Culture – Lots of bars, festivals, “stuff to do.” We have three colleges here, so it’s fairly lively downtown.
  • General lifestyle/attitude – Laid back, usually. Portage gets pretty busy around the holidays because we have the largest commercial traffic corridor in the state, or something.
  • Commute times – Short. My commute to work, from one side of town to the other, is 15 minutes or so.
  • The average price for a nice 3 bedroom house? – Again, depends on which part of the city you’re in. Could be anywhere from $30-200k+.

Huge pro: Great food. I’m a huge fan of local places, and we have a ton of good ones, especially if you love beer.

Huge con: You need a car. All we have here is a bus system (well, the train, too, but that won’t get you around the city), and it does not go everywhere.

Post # 10
10367 posts
Sugar Beekeeper
  • Wedding: September 2010

@sarahbabs:  I’m answering for the San Francisco Bay Area!

  • Diversity – we are an interracial couple and will have mixed children, so this is important to us
  • The Bay Area is ridiculously diverse! You can find a locally owned version of every cuisine out there. I love that there are so many cultures melting together!
  • Schools – Good public schools are in Berkeley, Rockridge, Albany, Piedmont, Alameda, Burlingame, Fremont, and some of the ritzier parts of San Francisco. People who don’t live in those areas tend to put their kids in private school.
  • Culture- Very liberal, laid back.
  • General lifestyle/attitude Lots of outdoor activities, lots of great restaurants and shopping. Lots of wine and microbrews!
  • Commute times. Depends on where you live and where your job is. Some people live down the street, some people commute over an hour into the city. Depends on your budget and where your job is.
  • The average price for a nice 3 bedroom house? 3 bedrooms are pretty hard to come by here – the majority of homes are 2-bedrooms. A 3-bedroom in Berkeley will run $600,000 on up for a better part of town. The same thing will cost $800,000 on up in the city, if you can find it.

Post # 11
1850 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: April 2015

Philadelphia, represent!

  • Diversity – Lots of different people here. It really depends on where you go in the city, but it’s very diverse all the same. I’m in an interracial relationship and I can’t wait to have babies here.


  • Schools – I’ll be honest…I didn’t go to school here. I went to school in New Jersey, which has some of the best school systems in the nation. From what I’ve heard from parents and my Future Brother-In-Law who happens to be a vice principal for the school system, it depends on where you are. Philadelphia does not boast about its school system, but I know some good schools here.


  • Culture – Good! There is never a dull moment here. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been walking in the city with Fiance and we’ll stumble upon a flea market/block party/gathering of some sort. I love this city also because of the amazing food. Any type of food you want is here.


  • General lifestyle/attitude – I used to live up by NYC, and I never really liked the attitudes of the people living there. I guess it’s a city thing, because Philly does have a city vibe. Some people can be rude, but most people aren’t. Philly tends to be a pretty guarded city in terms of its people. However, crack some of those people open with a smile and it’s all over. I’ve had great, random conversations with the people of Philadelphia.


  • Commute times – You can get to NYC by train in less than 2 hours. (Though I would never wish that commute on anyone.) Anywhere in Philly in about 45 minutes. By bus, it’s slower but SEPTA is one big system and you can easily get around using it. DC is 3 hours away, Lancaster is about 2, and the shore is about 2.


  • The average price for a nice 3 bedroom house? – It depends on the area. Not so nice area? $120,000 easy. Nice area? Close to $200,000, from my house hunting adventures. By $200K, I mean move-in ready, backyard not the size of a bathroom, and close to better school. In center city? Oh boy. You’ll be paying upwards of $400K+ (I don’t look for homes in that range, so you can probably go even further up) for that same space. The houses are gorgeous though.

Philly isn’t perfect by any stretch, but I have friends who have come down from Jersey (nice big houses, space in between homes, surburban as hell) to visit me and they all are so impressed with how Philly isn’t a big, imposing city. It feels like a town, almost. A bustling town. When you hit Market and go towards Front Street, you feel like you’re not in a city. It’s gorgeous. Philly does have its own issues but I’ve never felt regret about living here and I’m not in a hurry to leave!

Post # 12
7311 posts
Busy Beekeeper
  • Wedding: October 2011 - Bed & Breakfast

We used to live in the Columbia/Ellicott City section of MD, which may be a good option for you. I don’t think our new area in the countryside would be a very good fit. haha So answers are provided for Columbia/Ellicott City.

  • Diversity – Extremely so. When we lived there, the couple next door was from Africa, the family across the street was from korea, and no one blinks twice at mixed race or same sax couples. it’s a very tolerant area
  • Schools – Consistently ranked as one of the very best (e.g. top 5) school systems in the natio (10 of the 12 county high schools made it onto the US News list of the top 1000 high schools in the country)
  • Culture- Easy access to Baltimore AND DC for museums, shows, etc. It’s the best of both cities, really. And Merriweather Pavillion is a great outdoor ampitheater that hosts wine festivals, music festivals, concerts, etc. i’ve been there for numerous events, and it’s located in the heart of Columbia for easy access. Oh, and there are tons of good restaurants in the area
  • General lifestyle/attitude- It’s the east coast, so we’re not exactly super friendly and laidback, ya know? But the Columbia motto is “Choose civility”, which, IMO, is an accurate reflaction of the polite attitude that people both exude and expect from others. The area is very outdoor-oriented with lots of lovely parks (e.g. centennial park), walking paths, etc. It’s been named as the greenest city (so many trees!) in the US and as one of the fittest cities in the US. It’s also made the list of the best places to live by Money magazine (it ranked #8)
  • Commute times- In rush hour, 45 minutes -1 hour to the very center of Baltimore City, 1 hour-1.5 hours to DC, depending on where you are going in DC. there are mass transit options for either city. Mr. LK rode the commuter bus that left from our village center and dropped him off 2 blocks from work. it was very convenient. And more and more companies are locating right in Columbia, virtually eliminating the need to commute
  • The average price for a nice 3 bedroom house? About $400k for a single family, .25 acre lot with trees in a neighborhood filled with well maintained walking paths, tot lots, a community pool, community fitness center, etc.  


Post # 13
497 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: October 2013

@sarahbabs:  I live in Omaha, Nebraska

    • Diversity – Lots of diversity. There are large parts of town that are more culturally clumped though.
    • Schools – Many public schools to choose from, feels like one on each corner
    • Culture lots of museums, fairs, festivals
    • General lifestyle/attitude everyone is very laid back, easy going.
    • Commute times Traffic is light but for main roads twice a day (7-9 am and 4-6 pm) but even then not much longer than 20-30 min drive times to most places.
    • The average price for a nice 3 bedroom house? 125,000 to 130,000

    Now what to do on weekends is the kicker. In winter you shop, drink, hang with family or fiends. Pretty much stay inside. Summer opens more for swimming and other outside stuff.

Post # 14
847 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: December 2015

@sarahbabs:  I live in Glasgow, Scotland. 

I live and work in the inner city and even though I think it’s quite a nice area the primary school I teach at (not quite local but not too far away either) is in quite a rough area. The kids are great though, and so are their parents. 


  • great architecture

  • I live near a huge librarY

  • Glasgow has a lot of arty things to do

  • A growing amature roller derby leaguE

  • West of Scotland’s best independant cinemA

  • Great Universities- Glasgow School of Art in particular (the graduate shows are free!)

  • A definite mix of people

  • Parks even in quite busy areas

There are things about Glasgow you sort of have to be Glaswegian to get, as obnoxius as that sounds. 


  • The highest knife crime rate of any city in Europe

  • lots of junkies

  • A lot of beggars- homelessness is quite bad here

  • Lots of areas of Glasgow are very poor and have gang problems

  • Football rivalry- Maybe one of the biggest problems. You could be murdered for wearing the wrong team’s top. I worry constantly about my brother, a proud Celtic supoorter, going out in Football colours.

  • Lots of NEDs

  • Expensive house prices 

That said, I really love my city. SO and I are thinking about maybe moving to Edinburgh in a few years and I’ll really miss Glasgow. 


Post # 15
3028 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: June 2013

I have lived in NYC, Portland, OR and now Ann Arbor, MI.  Since it’s snowing and I dislike MI primarily for that reason I will give more input on Portland, OR (plus NYC has been covered.)

  • Diversity – There are a few minority areas, overall it’s really white BUT really tolerant/progressive so bi-cultural couples wouldn’t even be noticed.  Really LGBT friendly!

  • Schools -I am a DINK, but per friend’s it’s good/bad depending on where you live.  There are def. good/great schools in the “better” neighborhoods.  As a whole Portland is very kid-friendly and dog friendly!

  • Culture– For a college town and a pretty large small city (pop: 500k) there is always something to do, especially in the summer.  Downtown is fantastic and I never felt bored in 5 years. Great live music, brewery, great food!!!

  • General lifestyle/attitude- Although most people are really nice and friendly (making friends was pretty easy,) some people can be pretenious in the way only a hipster city can be.  There is an attitude of being too laid back IMO inwhich the Portland stereotype is true; some people work 10 hours a week as a barista, live in a he with 6 other people, smoke pot a lot, drink PBR and are able to get by and be okay with it.  People are really outdoorsy (even in the rain) so if you like to hike, climb, ski, camp this is for you.  It’s also really beautiful- we drove cross country, I have lived in 3 states and it is a postcard!

  • Commute times– The public transit system is awesome if you live in Portland or close to.  Depends of course, but most people; train/bus= 30-45 minutes, drive= 20-30 and bike (super bike friendly)= 30-45mins.

  • The average price for a nice 3 bedroom house? As always depends, right outside of city/burbs= $200k, Portland iffy neighborhood= 200k+, in good nieghborhood or even dowtown= $300k+


  • Largest homeless population in the US, they are not aggressive and well taken care of (compared to NYC at least)

  • Gangs…so one of the suburbs has had a good amount of gun violence in the last 2 years BUT just don’t go there. Portland is VERY VERY safe!

  • RAIN: OMFG it rains, a light cool drizzle 300 days a year on/off.  It’s not like a downpour but for me after 30 days straight I am needing some Prozac and Vitamin D supplements

  • Hipsters

  • It’s not cheap!  It’s not expensive per se, but the rent prices/home prices for someone working FT for a non-profit is not within my reach even as a DINK

We are considering moving to Charlotte, NC after this summer…Anyone chime in about information about there?  My criteria is pretty much the same as the OP but I need more warm dry weather than Michigan, NYC or Portland.

Post # 16
8453 posts
Bumble Beekeeper
  • Wedding: April 2013

Transplant living in Charlotte, NC (which is strangely similar to KateByDesign description of Richmond, VA)

My Fiance are an interracial couple (he’s white, I’m asian)

Diversity:  Mostly black or white in the city, much more diverse on the outskirts/suburbs where a lot of northerners have transplanted.  I’d say the next largest population would be hispanic, then asian.  In my community (I live on the outskirts of the city) our neighbor across the street is Mexican, my other neighbor is French, and we have Indian, African American, Chinese heritages all along my street.  Everyone is super friendly and nice, and there are nothing but spoiled pets on our block.

General lifestyle/attitude:  Laid back, southern living.  There are a few trendy gastropubs and wine bars, as well as a fairly active nightlife, especially during certain times (Nascar race week, college basketball, etc) or if you like to drink (I don’t drink).  The weather here permits hiking, fishing, camping, horseback riding, etc for a large portion of the year.  The Blue Ridge mountains are within driving distance is amazing in the fall.  In my community there are a ton of parks, as well as activities for kids (drive in movies, kids triathalons, pool parties, etc) if you plan on having a family.  My Fiance and I are homebodies that like to cook, so the low cost of living and available local ingredients are a good match for us.  Plus, where we live has golf, tennis, bocce ball, walking trails, fishing ponds, swimming facilities and an outlet mall all within 5 mins.  Another thing I love about this place is I don’t have to work, something we would never be able to afford in CA or NJ.  The weather here isn’t as good as CA, but it’s way better than NJ; and the air quality is leaps and bounds better here (I have athsma and it makes a big difference).

Culture:  Oh and another thing KateByDesign is right about is Southern Hospitality.  People go out of their way to say hi, hold doors, learn your name, and everyone waves to each other in my neighborhood.  A perfect example of this is getting a hot mug of apple cider when I walk into the farmer’s market in the winter.  Also, BBQ is big down here, and they have the most delicious smoked wings that I never had until I got here.  It is Bible Belt territory though, so not quite as liberal as CA (where I’m originally from).

Schools:  Charlotte, NC public schools are not great, but the surrounding areas have amazing schools.  The private and charter schools are really good too.  The community I live in actually has a private elementary and middle school for it’s residents that are very highly rated.

Commute Times:  Pfft, coming from CA, the traffic here is a joke.  My Fiance takes country roads to work and it takes him less than 15 mins to get to his office.  The only thing I would advise, if you end up working in Charlotte, is stay away from I-77, there isn’t always traffic, but it does happen during rush hours (8AM-9AM, 5PM-6PM). 

Average price for 3 bedroom home:  Well I don’t know if it’s average, but I can tell you that we just purchased a 3 bedroom, 2.5 bath single family home (1900 sq ft) for $150,000.  It’s built 2002, ready to move in, with a fenced yard. 

I’d like to note that there are hardly any native North Carolinians (sp?) that I’ve really run into here.  Almost all of my neighborhood is from CT, NY, VT, NJ, PA, etc.  If you do end up in Charlotte, NC go to Prices Chicken Coop for fried chicken, it’s delicious.

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