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Old 01-03-09, 07:01 PM   #1
Lamplight
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What are some nice towns in New England?

My brother and I desperately want to leave this awful state, and we've had our eyes on New England for some time. Our requirements for a new home:

1. Mild summers. We don't mind cold weather, but this wretched heat is too much. I'm not going to go to the trouble of moving if the summers aren't more bearable. I'm thinking no more than mid 80s on average at the hottest, and that's too much! This rules out the entire Southeast, Texas, much of the Midwest, and the Southwest.

2. Bike and Pedestrian friendly. This is very important. We do not own cars and have no intention to, so wherever we move will have to be bike-able and/or walkable, and have at least decent public transportation (unlike our town, which has 7 vans that operate only while I'm already at work and go to places that are bike-able anyway). We would like to be able to take a train to nearby larger cities, which is practically unheard of around here, but apparently just such a thing exists in some places. It's a foreign concept to me, and I like the idea. This rules out the entire Southeast!, at least what I've seen of it.
3. At least reasonably affordable. I basically have no white-collar-ish skills at all, so even $1000 a month for a two bedroom apartment is way more than I'll be able to afford. My brother is in school and can only work part time. I could probably afford a small house and would prefer that, but it would have to be in the middle of town and likely need to be under $130,000. This probably rules out the entire West Coast, and some of New England, I'm afraid.

4. Not too small, not too large. I like visiting small towns, but I don't want to live in one. They generally seem to be fairly limited in a lot of ways, and we don't want that. Heck, my town of 100,000 is severely limited in a lot of ways, but that also has to do with the region as much as the size of the town. On the other hand, I'm not sure either of us would be ready to live in a major city. NYC, Boston, Philadelphia, etc. I'd love to be able to visit them occasionally but I feel that such a move may be overwhelming to a couple of guys who have lived in medium sized town all their lives. Still, we'll at least consider just about anything.

Some cities we've considered:

1. Portland, ME. From what I've read this appears to be a decent choice which meets our needs pretty well.
2. Burlington, VT. Would probably be nearly perfect, but real estate seems to be rather high compared to Portland and others.
3. Plattsburgh, NY. Across the lake from Burlington, a little smaller than the other two, but also seems to be more limited in some ways.

We've looked at others but these three are the favorites so far, Portland in particular. But we also know very little about the entire area in general, so I'm sure there are many other towns that would be great that we wouldn't even know about. And so I'm asking for some advice from you good Foosters. Any suggestions or ideas you may have, please let me know. I've lived in this same town all my life, so this move will be a huge deal for me, as well as my brother. Thanks!
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Old 01-03-09, 07:09 PM   #2
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As far as weather, you may not want to be so quick to dismiss places that get hot. You're in the deep south somewhere, right? Where 90 degrees with high humidity may be completely unbearable, 90 degrees with very low humidity isn't so bad.

I'll go on a ride when it's 90-100+ degrees in Northern California. You can feel the heat, no doubt, but so long as you stay hydrated, it's bearable. Sweating is actually functional when the air isn't already completely saturated.
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Old 01-03-09, 07:13 PM   #3
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As far as weather, you may not want to be so quick to dismiss places that get hot. You're in the deep south somewhere, right? Where 90 degrees with high humidity may be completely unbearable, 90 degrees with very low humidity isn't so bad.

I'll go on a ride when it's 90-100+ degrees in Northern California. You can feel the heat, no doubt, but so long as you stay hydrated, it's bearable. Sweating is actually functional when the air isn't already completely saturated.

I've heard that, but you have to understand that if I had my way, it would never break 60 in the summer. The problem is, places like that are basically in the Arctic. And yes, I'm in TN. The lowest humidity I've experienced with significant heat was August 2007 when we hit 111 with about 20% humidity (which is extremely low for this area). It was awful.

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Old 01-03-09, 07:20 PM   #4
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I've heard that, but you have to understand that if I had my way, it would never break 60 in the summer. : o The problem is, places like that are basically in the Arctic. And yes, I'm in TN. The lowest humidity I've experienced with significant heat was August 2007 when we hit 111 with about 20% humidity. It was awful.
have you considered moving to scotland, ireland, the netherlands?
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Old 01-03-09, 07:30 PM   #5
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have you considered moving to scotland, ireland, the netherlands?
I guess you could say I've "dreamed" of it, but never seriously considered doing it. I've never even been out of this country! That's always been something I've just assumed I couldn't do, but perhaps I should give it serious thought.
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Old 01-03-09, 07:36 PM   #6
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I was going to say Ithaca, NY, but it's not technically New England.
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Old 01-03-09, 07:47 PM   #7
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Eureka or Arcada California.
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Old 01-03-09, 07:50 PM   #8
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I've heard that, but you have to understand that if I had my way, it would never break 60 in the summer.
Sure, I understand. I'm not a particular fan of heat, but as far as heat is concerned, the low-humidity kind is vastly preferable.
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Old 01-03-09, 07:50 PM   #9
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have you considered moving to scotland, ireland, the netherlands?
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Old 01-03-09, 07:51 PM   #10
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I was going to say Ithaca, NY, but it's not technically New England.
Ithaca is another one I have considered. It seems the housing is a tad expensive, though not too bad. I would be concerned that it might still get pretty warm in the summer, though I can't imagine it would be as hot as it is here.
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Old 01-03-09, 07:59 PM   #11
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Eureka or Arcada California.
Unfortunately housing appears to be quite expensive in either of those.
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Sure, I understand. I'm not a particular fan of heat, but as far as heat is concerned, the low-humidity kind is vastly preferable.
Oh I agree, and low-humidty heat is something I've never even experienced. But I'm having trouble finding a large-enough town on the West Coast that I could actually afford.

Another requirement I just thought of: Trees! I don't think I could take living in the desert, heat or not.
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Old 01-03-09, 08:08 PM   #12
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Ithaca is another one I have considered. It seems the housing is a tad expensive, though not too bad. I would be concerned that it might still get pretty warm in the summer, though I can't imagine it would be as hot as it is here.
You might find a house in your price range, but it would need to be small.
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Old 01-03-09, 08:12 PM   #13
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Well,
I live just outside Portland Maine. Cycling here has improved a lot in recent years in terms of the cars being nice. The roads, however, are not as good.
Maine weather is unpredictable. You can go an entire summer without a single really hot day. And then there was a day about 15 years ago when it went up around 108.

We have a saying in Maine, if you don't like the weather, wait 5 minutes.
Went on a Spring ride back in the 80's, it was sunny and in the 60s and sunny, perfect weather, with a prediction of a nice day. It snowed on the way back and my right leg went numb.

Just so you know.

The good side is that we have a zillion miles of rural roads that make for nice riding, and plenty not far from here. I have toured up and down the coast, done week long loops into NH and back, thru the lake country. We drove up to Burlington once and rode around the lower half of Lake Champlain. Nice ride.

It's a good place to live.

One other thing, while houses are cheap here, renting is expensive (relatively speaking). Most people (like me) live outside Portland where the housing prices are lower. But if you don't have a car, it can be an issue.

The job market is definitely an issue. The Maine economy was bad before the
national economy tanked. People live here because they like it here. It can take a long time to get yourself established.
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Old 01-03-09, 08:25 PM   #14
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Funny you ask, I'm moving to Northampton, MA tomorrow. It's very walkable, has a really nice downtown with tons of restaurants, odd stores and live music. As far as I've seen the outskirts are sprawl free and gorgeous roads surround the town, occupied by friendly drivers. There's tons of places to go mountain biking and hiking as well. Not sure about the summer, but fall was cool and beautiful.
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Old 01-03-09, 08:34 PM   #15
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We have a saying in Maine, if you don't like the weather, wait 5 minutes.
Went on a Spring ride back in the 80's, it was sunny and in the 60s and sunny, perfect weather, with a prediction of a nice day. It snowed on the way back and my right leg went numb.
Eh, that's not much different than TN, though it sounds like a quicker switch. Normal winter weather here is 70+ one day, then a high of 25 the next. This pretty much goes on all winter, and many people around here are constantly sick because of it.
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Old 01-03-09, 08:52 PM   #16
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Salem might be nice - if you're not a witch.
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Old 01-03-09, 09:12 PM   #17
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burlington/ithaca- good luck with any sort of local transportation and a big city is not nearby. It is not to bad otherwise. If I had my choice of places to live, both of these would be in my top three.

Portland...already mentioned

Plattsburgh- well not the nicest of places, there is a train but your looking at a couple hours just to get to albany. There is a ferry that runs to burlington although it is seasonal (unless you take the southern crossing, which you will need a car to get too).

My suggestion would be somewhere in MA. Salem wouldnt be bad. You are going to be north of boston, near awesome biking in NH/ME however will still have train access into Boston. However Salem can be a tad pricey (mass taxes suck) but nothing nearly as bad as other cities mentioned.

why no car?
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Old 01-03-09, 09:15 PM   #18
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I would like Salem if I didn't grow up there. Ithaca was something else, a good 8 yrs there. Definitely isolated though. I would try to move to Ottawa before there. Bangor... really that whole NE is just a summer bug hell, maybe not as much as the deep south though.
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Old 01-03-09, 09:36 PM   #19
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why no car?
I hate driving and everything associated with owning a car.

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... really that whole NE is just a summer bug hell, maybe not as much as the deep south though.
I always joke that our summers here are like that of a rainforest, but with more bugs.
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Old 01-03-09, 09:41 PM   #20
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It's not bug hell here. Not at all.
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Old 01-03-09, 09:51 PM   #21
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hrmmm Grumpy has a point...actually anything south of Albany might be your best shot. Something like Poughkeepsie. There is a train that runs to Albany and NYC, small town, pretty bike friendly from what I have experienced. I have trained a bit in Poughkeepsie. My buddy lives down there and loves it.

What are you and your brother thinking about for work?

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Old 01-03-09, 10:01 PM   #22
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Northampton ain't bad. Burlington and Portland are kinda far. I hate to change your state preference but you have to give boulder, berkeley and Austin a shot. Well Austin is hot.
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Old 01-03-09, 10:13 PM   #23
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Bridgeport CT is lovely. Bring a firearm.
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Old 01-03-09, 10:17 PM   #24
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I loved my little town in Vermont, Proctor, which was near Killington and
close to Rutland. Rutland was a dump, however, proving just cuz its in NE
doesnt make it quant and postcardish. The thing that wore on me about VT
was the neverending winter - darkness. After 5 months you were nuts, by 6
you were looking for a passing train to jump in front of. Plusses are, spectacular
scenery. Nice people for the most part, I never even took the keys out of my car
or locked our house, and if you like long distance riding, you can find roads
that can keep you in awe for miles and miles...the two cars that pass you will also
be very friendly about it. If you do VT, Id suggest renting in Burlington to
see if you can do a job and a winter. If you can do both, you will like it a lot.
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Old 01-03-09, 11:00 PM   #25
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It's not Northeast but try the Delaware and Mountgomery counties near Philadelphia. The hottest summer days are around 105F. Delaware county is all pre-sprawl suburb so everything is walkable with no cul-de-sacs or generihomes. Montco is perhaps a little less walkable in that it is more rural with small main streets, and offlying streets with every store you'd need. Delaware County is close enough to cyclocommute to the city in a reasonable time (40 mins - 1 hour). You can get a nice brick home in the nicer, solidly blue collar areas of Delco for $115k easily.
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