Livable City Recommendations

So after our miserable vacation a few weeks ago you know I posted that I had second thoughts about moving out of my lovely area of Northern New Jersey. Denis and I pretty much decided we’d buy some land next summer in the general vicinity (further west than we are now though) and pay it off over the course of a couple years and then build a custom house on the lot.

So ever The Planner, I went online and began researching the things we’d need to know in order to buy land and build a house in NJ. Apparently, it ain’t easy. According to various message boards I’ve visited about building homes, NJ is the TOUGHEST state in which to build a house. So many rules, regulations, fees and ordinances that it’s almost not worth the hassle because just to get your HOME PLANS approved and stamped can take up to $7-10K and lots of hoop-jumping.

That made me go back online in search of info on “best cities to live in the US” and I once again entertained the thought of Asheville, NC because of it’s affordability and location. However, upon doing more researching I found that Asheville is very much a town with an “enclave” feeling – meaning that they don’t like outsiders coming in and messing with the status quo. It’s also a tough tough place for outsiders to make a living because of that same enclave feeling – locals go to locals, not transplantees.

So now I wonder: Where IS the best place to live? A place that:
1) allows one to live comfortably without breaking his/her back to scrape bucks together,
2) has good family foundations (meaning lots of activities for kids/families to do),
3) decently priced real estate and tax structure so that a family can entertain the idea of building a house and being a single-income family,
4) an arts culture that encourages local artists, local theater, local craftsman and has a good reputation for all three,
5) low crime, and
6) great climate (read: low to no humidity in the summer).
Update: One more thing!
7) Must be within 45 minutes of major metropolitan area (i.e., New York, Chicago, San Diego, or any other “major” city like that).

Give me suggestions. You can mention specific cities or suburbs of cities. They can also be small towns near big cities – but they have to be within a 30-minute drive of the city.

Have at.

Update: So I did one of those “find out where you want to live” things online and you know what came up in the number one spot? BERGEN-PASSAIC, NJ. I just had to laugh, considering we live 2 blocks from the Passaic border and 5 minutes from Bergen County. Second place was St. Louis, MO.

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If you liked that post, read on...

Okay, I'm Ready To Move Back Now on April 21st, 2007

I Hate Parades on March 17th, 2004

Sun bathing on E. 37th St. on May 5th, 2002

Rising Costs on September 9th, 2005


  1. Here is a link for Phoenix, AZ.

    I am not sure if you would like to be on the east coast, but Humidity is going to get to anywhere on the east coast.

    The Greater Phoenix area offers you, great shops, theatre, Museums, fine dining (when you need a break from the kids),lots and lots of land and I have read that its even the golf capitol of the world. I don’t know about the crime rate, but you could look into it. My mother used to travel there all the time for business and vacations. She loves it out there and wants to retire there.

  2. Manchester, NH
    Portsmouth, NH
    Derry, NH

    You know that I love New Hampshire ( No state income tax, no sales tax, short summers, close to Boston, mountains, beaches.

    My friends in Syracuse, NY (suburbs like Manlius) love it and won’t live anywhere else. I’ve seen Manlius and it’s a lovely town that you’d never know is right next to a city, but it’s right next to the city.

  3. I think the summers in NH are so short Jen, because the winters are 10 months long. Its very very cold there in the winter and snow is always on the ground.

    Its a nice place for the Fall Season. *grin*

  4. Phoenix in January is absolutely the place to be. Warm, dry, brilliant sky, all the amenities. Fabulous.

    Phoenix in July and August is not fit for human habitation. When the temp gets to be above 110, even though it is “dry,” it’s simply too hot to go out. The locals all huddle indoors. They don’t even go out to swim, it’s too hot to be in an outdoor pool, and the time to sunburn is a couple of minutes, tops.

    So, Phoenix isn’t the Paradise it would like you to think it is.

  5. Jane is so much the planner, she neglected to tell me we are planning on buying land next summer to build on eventually. Yes, we talked about something like that in vague terms, but we never agreed to that plan. We’ll see. And Phoenix is out.

  6. Oh yes we did, mister! I distinctly remember – we had just gotten back from Memphis and we were driving down our street the next day and I commented that I really liked our neighborhood after all, and YOU said, “Well, we’ll see about buying land by next summer so that we can pay it off before we actually begin building.”

    And that’s a near-direct QUOTE.

  7. May I suggest Lewisburg, PA? It’s pretty close to Harrisburg/State College, unbelievable school system, *very* kid friendly, Amish country, big on arts, home to an amazing chocolate festival in February, no crime, and if I recall correctly, it was voted 13th best small town in america in some book that listed out the top 100 best small towns in america.

  8. Um, I can verify that you talked about buying land after your Memphis trip – there was talk in the van on the day we went shopping.

  9. Land. I see land. Go west, young man. Yes, we talked about buying land one day, but I never remember saying we’d do that next year or any time definite. Especially since we don’t know where we want to buy the land. Why would I agree to something like that? Doesn’t sound like me. I may have said, we can start saving to buy the land. But we still need to pick it out first.

  10. Nope – wrong! You said we’d scout over the next year for a town in which we’d like to buy land with an eye on buying some next summer. YOU SAID IT!

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