Reviews & Comments
Virginia Beach, VAGreat Place to Grow Up
I lived in the Kempsville area of VB growing up and loved it. There's no way to be bored when you have so many public and neighborhood parks, libraries, events, activities, restaurants, etc. all around you. One great thing about the area is that the military installations meant there is a lot of transience, which means that more local people are used to making friends with the new family on the block. Like with all big city/suburbs, there are the richies and the struggling, but most of VB is middle class, and have good schools. The only bad things about VB are the traffic, the mosquitoes, and the storms.
Winston-Salem, NCNot My Cup of Tea
I lived in W-S for 2 years while my husband was in grad school at Wake Forest. Our first apartment was on the bad side of town where there were strip clubs and bars on every other corner and cops guarding the grocery store exits. We moved to a nicer area over near Bethabara Park, so I got to see both sides of W-S.
First off, W-S is hyper Christian. If you are not a Christian, it is hard to fit in. Second, the roads are horribly designed, Silas Creek Parkway had an on ramp at an on ramp in one spot for a private residence.
When I lived there (2005-2007), the big tobacco culture was still strong. It was not unusual for a company to let people smoke at their desks or to see people smoking in the middle of a McDonalds. That may have changed in the years since, but given the area and how much $ the industry spends there, I assume the culture is still strong.
Arlington, VAExpensive, but Nice
I lived in an apartment building near the Ballston Metro Station for 2 years before I had kids. Even back when I lived in the area, we were renting a 1 bedroom apartment for over $1600/month, so living so close to everything was expensive! It was nice to be in easy walking distance from restaurants, bars, doctors, coffee shops, entertainment, movies, groceries, and everything else. One thing I really miss about the city is having everything so close. The mall there was always so-so, but they've since closed it down for renovations and is supposed to be much nicer when completed. I lived there before the Silver line was around, but the commute to DC was nice and easy, no car required. If you're looking for a family-friendly area, it's probably way out of your budget though.
Shady Side, MDThe Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
Shady Side, like most of South Anne Arundel County, is a tight-knit community. I moved here for almost 9 years ago without knowing anyone in the area. It wasn't until my children started school in the area that I was really invited into the community though. This would be a very hard area to live in if you have little to no friends/family nearby.
Every community is near the water and most have community parks. Very family friendly. Schools are good, especially the local Elementary school! A local grocery store nearby makes it easy to grab supplies, but don't expect to find a wide variety of food, shopping, doctors in the immediate area. Most people I know drive 30-45 minutes to do major shopping, medical appointments, etc.
The area has a small town rural feel, with some oddities. There is literally a United Methodist church right next door to a United Methodist church with congregations divided by race. The area is fairly conservative and a bit redneck.
The area here is prone to flooding because of its topography and all the houses are on well water, which is very prone to iron and sulfur deposits. My house has a water chlorination and softening system to help mitigate the issues, but fighting rust stains in toilets/tubs is an uphill battle.