Here's a summary of the responses we've thus far received:
"Taryn" recommends to us Springfield, MO--to which I am automatically partial, since MO is the home of Mark Twain and Robert Heinlein--plus, of course, the Simpsons are from ... one Springfield or another. Taryn tells us the weather in Springfield is "unpredictable." But being from San Diego, Cat and I are excited by the idea of any weather at all. "Tornadoes do tend to track through southern Missouri," adds Taryn, "but your basement will be fine for that." There's a detail I'm not likely to forget.
"Gretchen" (who works for what sounds like a superb ministry called His Mansion) swears by New Hampshire. "New England is the best place on earth," she says. "I would live no where else." Man. That's a serious recommendation. Plus, right away I'm partial to any place that starts with "New." Pfft. Old Hampshire. How can it compete?
Sam Burton recommends--well, tells us about--Aroostook County, Maine. "We have four seasons," says Sam. "Winter, Deep Winter, Mud and Bug." Three years ago, Sam and his wife bought a house in Aroostook, on 10 "beautiful acres," for less than $100K. "If my camera ever thaws out, I'll send you a picture," Sam adds. This sounds like a neighbor I could really … borrow beer from. I checked out homes in Aroostook. I loved it. It’s an Actual Contender. Except Cat (true to her name) hates being cold. On the other hand, she totally wants to live in the snow. She’s … a complex woman.
"Snowhite" writes to tell us of the little forest cabin she lives in with two extremely elderly dwarves, Gummy and Longevity. Kidding! Snow was actually a veritable font of real estate info. She's originally from San Antonio (where "you can watch the Spurs play--wootwoot!!!" she enthuses), but now resides in Tallahassee, FL (which, she says, "may be a bit of a culture shock for someone from the West coast."). We were especially taken with her recommendation of Austin ("It's a little more 'west coast' in mentality," she says), and have been checking homes there. Definitely a contender. Texas rocks.
The only real non-recommendation we got came from "Tony." "DO NOT CONSIDER southern West Virginia," he wrote. "It can be nice and scenic ... but very, very inconvenient. I would move my family from here in a heartbeat, if I could." Wow. Tony really likes convenience, apparently. As do I! Tony goes on to highly recommend Charlotte, NC.--which has "pro football, pro basketball, minor league baseball, a nice sized amusement park, pro hockey just a short drive away, auto racing, and several lakes in the vicinity." That does sound convenient! Sweet.
Betsy Thraves succinctly reminds us of all there is to love about Atlanta--which is a lot. "It’s hip and cosmopolitan," she writes, "yet with a lingering touch of southern charm and hospitality." Cat and I already do love Atlanta; it's good to be reminded why. What we didn't know is that Atlanta is home to the world's largest aquarium. Wootwoot!!! I love aquariums. It’s also, writes Betsy, “in the heart of the Bible belt, so there's lots of religiosity here. But there's also a lot of real Christianity happening as well." I love that. Atlanta's definitely on the top of our list. Thanks, Betsy.
"Ronald" starts by getting right down to business. "For $490,000," he writes, "you can live in the best home in Jackson, Tennessee. You would be considered a wealthy person with a house costing that much." He goes on to tell us that Jackson "is a very fast growing city with 61,000 people," and that it's home to five colleges "and a technical school." So I'm thinking this is the most educated population in America. The thing about smart people is that they always cut right to the bottom line. Ronald proves this--and again makes Jackson proud--by finishing his note with the no-nonsense: "If you want some cheap living and affordable housing, come to Jackson, Tennessee." I love it. I've actually been looking at homes there. No kidding on the money: $200K will buy you a huge, brand-new, mansionette there. I'm totally tempted to move there. I was, after all, born in Nashville.
Finally, Esther puts in a serious plug for Seattle. "You like water?" she says (referring to our beloved San Diego). "We are surrounded by it. [We've got] the Sound on one side, and Lake Washington on the other." Seattle also boasts "beautiful mountains nearby, and tons of parks." Of course it rains there, she adds, "but not as much as everyone thinks." Good to know! Everyone I've ever known who's lived in or visited Seattle is crazy about the place. Total contender.
If you'd care to recommend your area to us, please do here! We're definitely listening.