Jan 10, 2012 by Jennifer Chasse in General
It’s been over a year now since our family relocated from Providence, RI to Blacksburg, VA and I can honestly say for us it was the best move we ever made. It all started with an excise tax bill from the state of Rhode Island. The cost of living in RI is about 20% above the national average, and although my husband and I both made very comfortable salaries we never seemed to get ahead. Spending over $15K a year on day care certainly didn’t help nor did our inflated personal and property taxes. One year we realized we spent over $5k on oil to heat our house, a nice but modest 2 story cape. On that day the bill arrived we had been shoveling snow regularly for about 6 months and I looked and my husband and said “I quit RI” and he agreed.
We wanted a fresh start someplace, preferably with much warmer weather. We also wanted a lower cost of living so I could spend more time with our children. We wanted a vibrant community that would provide a healthy backdrop to raise our family. And perhaps most of all, we wanted a creative employer with opportunity for Joe to use and increase his skills set. We found this in Blacksburg, VA. Our family and friends thought we were crazy. We each quit good paying, stable and established careers. We sold our house at a huge loss, and moved to a state where we had no friends or family; basically no support system.
It’s now been over a year, and I love living in the mountains. The air is sweet and clean and still I find the view to be a treat for my eyes every day. The hiking is exceptional and the mild climate allows you to enjoy hiking year round. I find the area full of outdoor athletes and it’s a healthy place to live. Biking, fishing, caving, rock climbing, hunting, kayaking, tubing and other outdoor pastimes offer good clean fun at little cost. Not to mention there is a big time college sports program here with Virginia Tech.
There are many contrasts between New England and Blacksburg. In New England, everyone walks around with a Dunkin Donuts coffee in-hand. In Blacksburg, everyone walks around with a reusable water bottle, and maybe a dog. I LOVE Dunkin Donuts coffee unfortunately, there are no D&Ds nearby. Deep down I know my body appreciates the increased intake of water.
Perhaps we just lucked out, but our neighborhood is like turning back time. The kids run from yard to yard, neighbors pop in for a cup of coffee and we all help out with one another’s children. My children are delighted to have some freedom and enjoy playing outside for hours doing what kids do best.
I find the community offerings to be very strong. We are active in both Cub Scouts and Girl Scouts and my children have participated in numerous recreation center programs that are reasonably priced. Soccer, football and wrestling seem to be popular here, and there are plenty of music, language and theatre programs available for children.
The pace of life really is slower here. I still drive like a New Englander, but for the most part I’ve slowed down. A traffic violation within the first 30 days of moving here helped that process along. I find the folks in the New River Valley to be exceptionally friendly. For months I questioned the motivation of all these strangers sharing the best places to hike, eat, shop and more. After all, why weren’t they in a rush? I remember one particular day where my impatience nearly got the best of me, waiting in line to buy gas and watching the clerk having conversations with not one, but two customers in front of me.
I stood impatiently fuming as they discussed Billy-Bob’s (slap me for being stereotypical) foot operation. The same thing happened at the hardware store, dry cleaner, and even the dump. Errands are meant to be enjoyed here, not merely rushed through. I now chat with Jack at the dump each time I go.
If you are willing to try new things there is plenty to do here. Parades and festivals are offered regularly, and VA Tech and Radford University draw in national acts on occasion and offer all types of opportunities ranging from lectures and art displays to planetarium shows, and big-time college sports. Bluegrass music is vibrant here, there’s a NASCAR racetrack nearby, several caves and thousands of hiking trails to explore, decent museums and features the 2nd oldest river in the world, the New River (2nd only to the Nile).
Of course there are a few trade-offs; local restaurants are served for or by the college community; wings and pizza are legitimate food groups here. The theatre and music scene are limited and gone are our days of catching huge national events. I miss Trader Joes and my husband misses going to Celtics and Red Sox games.
However, this is a very small price to pay considering I now get to spend more time with my children. The quality of life here is amazing and it’s no wonder that Blacksburg was recently named the #1 place to raise a family in America. Modea is thriving and full of opportunity.
After a year, Blacksburg feels like home. And now that I’ve attended driver safety training I’m learning to slow down.
To learn about family friendly events in this area visit www.nrv.macaronikid.com