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Author Topic: Best State to Live?
RivalOfTheRose
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I am a public school teacher currently living in the wonderful state of NJ. With elections coming up tomorrow, it got me thinking that this is not the best state to be living in.

As some of you may know, taxes in the state are among the highest in the nation. If I vote democratic, they will support the teachers union but taxes will most likely go up even further.

I don't want to vote republican because it seems as if they are out to bring down public education. Mind you, I am not judging either party's reasoning, just how I expect them to act.

So between the choice of paying high taxes, and dealing with anti-education government, I started to ponder moving. Here is a list of things that I am looking for in a state:

Moderate weather, not too hot or cold.
Supportive of education
Moderate to low taxes
Free from most natural disasters (one good thing about NJ)
Suburbs close to a big city.

I was thinking maybe Oregon? Never been there and the people seem nice. Is it too rainy? I am also quite partial to Hawaii... that's where we honeymooned. Anything bad about that state can be trumped by "who cares, we live in Hawaii". Perhaps somewhere in Arizona, or outside Baltimore or Annapolis?

Thank you for anythoughts, even though we probably will not move... too far away from the wife's family and too much owed on the current mortgage. Thanks!

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mr_porteiro_head
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quote:
I was thinking maybe Oregon? Never been there and the people seem nice. Is it too rainy?
I live in Western Oregon and yes, it is too rainy for me during the winter. They joke that they turn the faucet on in October, and turn it off in March. Between that and the shorter hours than anywhere I've lived before, seasonal effective disorder has been a problem for me.

Besides that, the only big complaint I have is that, according to the law, Oregonians apparently aren't smart enough to be trusted to pump their own gas. Coming from New Jersey, that probably won't bother you as much (I understand New Jersey has similar laws).

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Herblay
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Utah.

Moderate weather (much nicer than the east coast), good education and taxes, free from natural disasters. The only concern would be whether Salt Lake City is a big city.

You suggested "perhaps somewhere in Arizona". Not if you're looking for moderate weather -- it's crazy hot.

I've lived in 15 different states, and I did an exhaustive study on pay versus cost of living. Utah is really the winner in the western US. And it's a great place to raise children.

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Baron Samedi
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I got used to the rain when I lived in Oregon, and after a while I kind of liked it. Totally worth it for the green, as well. But I guess your experience will likely vary greatly based on your personality.

As far as who you should vote for, I'd be a lot more worried about the taxes than the change in the educational structure. Taking down public education sounds like the kind of plank that works really well as a campaign promise, but in practice would be difficult to implement and politically suicidal to try.

Of course, you know a lot more about the specifics of NJ politics than I do. Maybe the Republicans have some special street cred that would make it seem like more than a threat. But just based on what you're saying here, I wouldn't be packing up the U-Haul just yet. Good luck. [Smile]

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Risuena
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Maryland's taxes are also amongst the highest in the nation, so Baltimore and Annapolis won't work on that count.
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Baron Samedi
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One other thing about Oregon--I guess this depends on how you define "Big City," but if you like the political structure of that state but you hate the rain, just cross the cascades. Eastern Oregon has a lot less rain than the coast. I lived in Bend for about half a year. It's nowhere near as big as Portland, but it's a good sized city with nice people, and it's absolutely gorgeous without a lot of rain. Great skiing, too.
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katharina
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quote:
Moderate weather, not too hot or cold.
Supportive of education
Moderate to low taxes
Free from most natural disasters (one good thing about NJ)
Suburbs close to a big city.


Northern Texas
Southern Michigan
Eastern Colorado
Virginia

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The Rabbit
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quote:
Supportive of education
Moderate to low taxes

I think that to a degree, these too are mutually exclusive, at least if by supportive of education you mean generous funding of public schools. Public schools are one of the (if not the) largest expenses in every states budget. That money has to come from somewhere.
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Nighthawk
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Florida!

(They told me to say that!!! They'll kill me if I don't!!!)

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BlackBlade
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quote:
Originally posted by Herblay:
Utah.

Moderate weather (much nicer than the east coast), good education and taxes, free from natural disasters. The only concern would be whether Salt Lake City is a big city.

You suggested "perhaps somewhere in Arizona". Not if you're looking for moderate weather -- it's crazy hot.

I've lived in 15 different states, and I did an exhaustive study on pay versus cost of living. Utah is really the winner in the western US. And it's a great place to raise children.

While I have loved living here in Utah, and in many respects it fits what she is looking for I really can't say Utah supports education. It has the lowest spending per pupil in the nation. Since this recession hit, education has taken some of the harsher cuts compared to other programs the government spends money on.

It has some very nice private schools though if you don't want to go to public schooling.

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Mucus
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Statistically and in terms of feeling, Salt Lake City seems closer to the size and scale of a suburb rather than a big city (senses calibrated by Toronto suburbs).

(This could be both a bad and good thing having grown up in suburbs myself)

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mr_porteiro_head
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quote:
Originally posted by Baron Samedi:
I got used to the rain when I lived in Oregon, and after a while I kind of liked it. Totally worth it for the green, as well. But I guess your experience will likely vary greatly based on your personality.

I grew up in the Texas Panhandle. All this green still seems a little "unnatural" to me. [Smile]
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kmbboots
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quote:
Originally posted by The Rabbit:
quote:
Supportive of education
Moderate to low taxes

I think that to a degree, these too are mutually exclusive, at least if by supportive of education you mean generous funding of public schools. Public schools are one of the (if not the) largest expenses in every states budget. That money has to come from somewhere.
This. If you want good public anything, you have to pay for it.
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Tinros
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Not Ohio. Just... no. Been here most of my life, and... no.
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Amanecer
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quote:
Northern Texas
In terms of taxes/ cost of living, this is a great place. The "supportive of education" is more questionable. You have some cities where it's absolutely true, and some where it's a joke. While I think there might be teacher's unions here, I believe it's illegal for them to strike so they don't really have much power. Teacher pay is fairly good compared to many places though.
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MattP
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In aggregate Utah public schools aren't awesome, but individual schools are better than others. When we moved into our neighborhood they had just opened up a new elementary school nearby so the facilities and materials were brand new and in excellent condition. A few years later another new school was built right in the middle of our neighborhood, again with all the latest stuff.

Our middle school and high schools haven't been as great, but our kids have still done fine.

I grew up in San Diego so Utah was a step down in big-city-ness for me. I often couldn't find the type of store or restaurant that I might have easily located in San Diego, but there has been a lot of development since then and now there's rarely a retail/dining/arts itch that I can't satisfy locally.

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Tresopax
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quote:
Moderate weather, not too hot or cold.
Supportive of education
Moderate to low taxes
Free from most natural disasters (one good thing about NJ)
Suburbs close to a big city.

I recommend Northern Virginia. Support for education is very high and it seems to fit your geographic/climate criteria. The state leans Republican, which keeps state taxes down, but local politics in the north is mostly split evenly so the more conservative policies you might find in the southern two-thirds of the state generally don't exist in the north. Major downsides are expensive housing and heavy traffic.
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RivalOfTheRose
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Just curious, where is house prices the cheapest?
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BlackBlade
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Detroit I think. *ducks*
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Kwea
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I love FL, and I have friends here who work in education and they like it. Houses are cheap, and Northern FL has a great climate. There is no state income tax, and the cost of living is fairly low as long as you don't live in Orlando.
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rivka
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quote:
Originally posted by RivalOfTheRose:
Just curious, where is house prices the cheapest?

Usually those places lacking most or all of the things on your list.
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MrSquicky
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I'm constantly upset that so many people want to go to the cool things I want to go to and want to live in the really nice places I want to live in. I mean, they're making it more crowded and expensive for me. Inconsiderate jerks.
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rivka
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You're telling me! I don't mind the earthquakes here in sunny SoCal, it's all the people -- and the traffic that comes from there being so many people.
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mr_porteiro_head
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America's most affordable cities
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Geraine
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Nevada, Florida, and Texas don't have any state income tax, but could be too hot for you. I think the hottest we got in Vegas this year was 109 but it is a dry heat.

The education system in Vegas however is one of the worst in the nation.

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Xavier
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quote:
You're telling me! I don't mind the earthquakes here in sunny SoCal, it's all the people -- and the traffic that comes from there being so many people.
Definitely. I absolutely loved San Diego, but it seemed like all of the problems (smog, traffic, unaffordable housing, etc) came from the fact that so many people wanted to live there besides me.
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Sala
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Delaware isn't too far from NJ. It's really all a suburb of Philly, though there are some places in Wilmington you wouldn't want to go. No sales tax. Schools are decent.
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katharina
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Google Maps doesn't know Deleware exists.

Specifically, the last time I was driving through Deleware, my GPS couldn't find me as long as I was in the state lines. Before and after, sure.

Heh.

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Shawshank
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Nashville area isn't too bad either. Tennessee has no state income tax, and housing prices are quite low comparatively. Some of the suburbs have great education systems (that's the system where I grew up).

Summers get hot, but nothing extravagant. And the winters are quite excellent there. Lot's of nature and green all over the place. We get some tornadoes- but that's about it for natural disasters.

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Risuena
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Having spent a fun weekend in Delaware this summer with my best friend, I had to give up my belief that Delaware doesn't exist outside of the I-95 corridor.

This makes me sad.

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Herblay
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Yes, Utah is the 41st lowest in education spending per capita, but the quality of education is still high. Unlike a lot other states, students here still get their own textbooks, lockers, etc. They don't count the free land (from the state), large number of older (but still well maintained) schools, and other factors that affect cost.

Look at test scores, that's all I'll say. My children's charter school is in the top 5% in the nation.

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Lyrhawn
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quote:
Originally posted by BlackBlade:
Detroit I think. *ducks*

The suburbs outside Detroit meet all of her criteria, except possibly weather. Frankly I think our winters aren't too bad, and probably wouldn't seem especially cold to someone from New Jersey. The hardest thing about leaving Michigan when/if I have to someday soon is going to be the natural beauty. Within a couple hour drive of almost anywhere in the state, you have beautiful fresh water beaches with soft sandy shores, dune hills to go buggying or sandboarding, forests and tree-lined drives and paths. When the seasons change, you get fall color tours throughout the state as all the green turns to yellow and red. I live in the hills, and looking down on the forest next to the campus I go to is like looking at a red and yellow ocean. It's quite spectacular. But you get to enjoy all this while living comfortably in a suburban neighborhood in the shadow of a city with a decent theater and orchestra scene, not to mention a couple good sports teams. I love having the convenience of the big city and the countryside so close at hand.

Housing is of course cheap even in the suburbs. Education hasn't taken any more of a hit here than it has in any other state, and teachers in the suburbs are pretty well paid.

We get the occasional tornado, but no one ever gets hurt and really nothing ever gets damaged. Flooding is only a problem is a very small number of places.

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Kwea
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I lived in Utica, right outside of Detroit, for 13 years or so, and the schools there were excellent.

I really miss the Great Lakes, for sure, but the state has major problems. They are actually ripping up pavement in northern MI and going back to dirt roads because they can't afford to pay to maintain them. Taxes are fairly high, and the winters are very cold and feature a lot of snow.

I'll just visit, you couldn't pay me to live there these days.

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SoaPiNuReYe
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Northern VA is great. The only thing is that if you're commuting to DC for work everyday then you should plan for some serious traffic. The beltway is a mess. But literally everything else is fine, and the education system is actually very good.
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Lyrhawn
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quote:
Originally posted by Kwea:
I lived in Utica, right outside of Detroit, for 13 years or so, and the schools there were excellent.

I really miss the Great Lakes, for sure, but the state has major problems. They are actually ripping up pavement in northern MI and going back to dirt roads because they can't afford to pay to maintain them. Taxes are fairly high, and the winters are very cold and feature a lot of snow.

I'll just visit, you couldn't pay me to live there these days.

Lots of snow in southeast Michigan? You wimp! [Smile]

On the west side of the state where you get the lake effect snow and in the north, I certainly agree. And yeah, I've been reading about the return to dirt programs, but, that's actually a facet of a lot of rural communities nationally at the moment with road construction costing so much and federal funds drying up post-stimulus.

I probably won't be here a year from now, but I'll miss it.

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theCrowsWife
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quote:
Originally posted by Kwea:
They are actually ripping up pavement in northern MI and going back to dirt roads because they can't afford to pay to maintain them.

Honestly, I kind of wish they'd do that around here (rural eastern Ohio). Maybe it'd slow the idiots down a bit.

--Mel

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Kwea
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quote:
Originally posted by SoaPiNuReYe:
Northern VA is great. The only thing is that if you're commuting to DC for work everyday then you should plan for some serious traffic. The beltway is a mess. But literally everything else is fine, and the education system is actually very good.

I agree. I loved living near VA when I was in the Army, and if I had not liked FL the plan was to relocate to northern VA. You get all of the seasons, but winter only lasts 2 months, and snow rarely sticks for more than a few days.
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