We're in our 40s with two kids who are very academic, so we need to find an area with great schools. I can work from anywhere in the US but my husband needs to be near a subway area. My husband is a computer scientist. He currently works in the defense industry, but has a wide range of skills that are relevant in almost every subway area we studied. In smaller areas that we like, like Asheville or San Luis Obispo, it just gets a lot harder.
I'm done with the suburbs. I want a small, liberal city with festivals, local culture, a walkable city center and fun outdoor activities. We like four real seasons and make about $ 300,000 a year. I love San Luis Obispo, but there isn't enough industry for my husband. Where else should we look?
With best regards,
Sick of the suburbs
What an exciting chapter in your family's life. Change can be good for a family and I am glad to hear that you are considering making this move with everyone's needs in mind. It gives me confidence that wherever your family ends up, you will be in a place where every member is happy.
I've compiled a list of places around the country that I believe will suit your family's needs.Where should I retire? "Feature created by my colleagues at MarketWatch. The tool is primarily aimed at retirees, but many of the options you can choose from apply to families at any stage in life.
As your endeavors in this search, I would like to offer a warning, at least if it comes to one of your main "needs": be prepared to do your own research on the school districts. You certainly aren't the first parents to want to keep their children's educational ambitions in mind when looking for a new neighborhood to call home.
However, brokers are generally not allowed to comment on whether or not a school district is “good” or “bad”. That's because such questions can often serve as an encoded way to talk about the racial and ethnic demographics of a particular neighborhood. And a real estate agent can violate the fair housing rules by moving a family to one neighborhood over another on a school district basis.
An aerial view of the Northwestern University campus in Evanston, Illinois.
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Chicagoland: Based on your list of wants and needs, I have a feeling the Chicago suburbs might be the place for you. For starters, many of these cities have some of the best school districts in the country, as ranked by the education search site Niche. Of the five best school districts in America, four were in the Chicago suburbs. With close proximity to major colleges like Northwestern University and the University of Chicago, your children would have plenty of opportunities outside of the classroom to enrich their education.
Plus, these cities are close enough to Chicago itself that your husband should find plenty of work opportunities within a short commute. And don't worry, you won't just find bedroom communities in the Chicago suburbs. And places like Naperville and Evanston have accessible downtown areas within walking distance.
Austin is perhaps best known for its music scene and hosts major festivals like South by Southwest.
Austin, Texas: The capital of the Lone Star State has another of the best school districts in the country, the Eanes Independent School District, according to Niche. Yes, Texas is a more conservative state, but Austin is a blue point in the Red Sea so you're sure to find plenty of like-minded people there.
The city may not be the most accessible on foot, but downtown has a thriving entertainment scene. It's hard to find a restaurant in Austin without live music. The city also hosts major festivals each year, including Austin City Limits and South by Southwest. It's not the largest city in the state, but the thriving tech scene should offer your husband plenty of job opportunities.
The Harvard University campus can be seen along the Charles River in Cambridge.
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Cambridge, Massachusetts: The Boston suburb is in the top 10 cities to start a family, according to Niche. It's not hard to see why: the city has an urban feel with walk-through sections filled with bookstores, cafes, and restaurants; and it has highly rated schools. Of course, you are only a short subway ride from downtown Boston and all of the amenities it offers.
In addition, its proximity to major universities in and around Boston provides plenty of educational opportunities for students outside of the classroom and during the summer vacation. The only downside you might find is that it's quite expensive and home prices are only going up. If so, there are plenty of other smaller towns in the Boston area that offer similar amenities at a lower price.
The Old Port neighborhood of Portland, Maine has cobblestone streets, clothing boutiques, and many bars and restaurants.
Portland, Maine: The largest city in Maine has one of the hottest real estate markets in the country – and that should give you a sense of just how attractive a place is. The city has a beautiful inner city in and around the Old Harbor with cobblestone streets, delis and bookstores.
The adjacent city of Falmouth has the best school district in the state of Maine as rated by 24/7 Wall St. High school students can take classes at the University of Southern Maine and even earn college credits along the way. An added bonus, Portland is just a two-hour bus or train ride from Boston and is close to an even larger subway area.
A new upscale neighborhood of single family homes near Raleigh, North Carolina.
The North Carolina Research Triangle: You were right to think that a place like Asheville might not be the best choice for your family, but North Carolina could still be a good landing spot. Instead, I would turn your attention to what is known as the “Research Triangle” in the Piedmont region, which includes the cities of Raleigh and Durham and the city of Chapel Hill.
The region got this name from the home of three major research universities: North Carolina State University, Duke University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. There are many other smaller universities and colleges in the area, with academic talent drawn in by the collegiality of the area. The region is a major hub for the high tech and pharmaceutical industries with key employees in the region including IBM, Lenovo, Pfizer and GlaxoSmithKline.
The Chapel Hill school district is consistently ranked the best in the state of North Carolina, with the district spending far more on average per student than other counties in the state. At the high school level, the percentage of students attending at least one Advanced Placement class is twice the national average.