Potential Move to the Upper Valley, NH

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tarheel
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Potential Move to the Upper Valley, NH

Post by tarheel » Sun Jul 23, 2017 7:35 am

Could some of you share your thoughts about living in the upper valley, NH? We anticipate that in the near future we might potentially have the option of moving to the Hanover area. We have now visited the area a couple of times (we have family in the northeast) and it is just SO rural. Coming from the urban environment of the Research Triangle in NC, we have real concerns about how drastic of a change it would be lifestyle-wise. Particularly finding things to do with our small children. Thanks!

tj218
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Re: Potential Move to the Upper Valley, NH

Post by tj218 » Sun Jul 23, 2017 7:41 am

Tons of outdoor stuff: Hiking, Skiing, water sports.

Hanover has quite a bit of cultural stuff especially during the school year.
New London has a pretty good theater scene.

For school systems the only two in the area that are public I would consider:
Hanover a great school, has a very rich entitled student vibe but its track record is something.
Sunapee a very small school district with good performance most students are middle class; few can afford to actually live on Lake Sunapee.
Last edited by tj218 on Sun Jul 23, 2017 10:15 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Aptenodytes
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Re: Potential Move to the Upper Valley, NH

Post by Aptenodytes » Sun Jul 23, 2017 7:49 am

You can choose how "so rural" you want it to be. In the town center of Hanover or Lebanon, for example, you'll have restaurants, movie theaters, bookstores, department stores of sorts, even some traffic and parking hassles. A mile or so out and you are in suburbia, and 5 miles out you are in the country. A little farther and you can be off-grid. The most urban of these locations won't trick you into thinking you are in Raleigh or Durham, but it won't feel like a cultural wasteland either.

If you are worried about things to do and your budget permits, I'd look at Hanover proper. The college brings in lots of cultural amenities that most towns of Hanover's size wouldn't normally have.

But the fact is kids find things to do no matter where they are; they just find different things in different places.

And you get to meet all the presidential candidates in person!

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tarheel
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Re: Potential Move to the Upper Valley, NH

Post by tarheel » Sun Jul 23, 2017 8:24 am

Thanks for the helpful comments. We were *ok* with Hanover, but the prices are high and more importantly very few houses come up for sale at any time in such a small market (and our budget isn't infinite, probably 550K or so at the top end). Lyme already seemed very small and outside of that you are basically off the grid (in our opinion).

We were expecting small, but these towns take small to a new level (wrt our experience).

I have a feeling we are just very spoiled in RTP in so many ways.

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TheGreyingDuke
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Re: Potential Move to the Upper Valley, NH

Post by TheGreyingDuke » Sun Jul 23, 2017 8:27 am

tj218 wrote:Tons of outdoor stuff: Hiking, Skiing, water sports.

Hanover has quite a bit of cultural stuff especially during the school year.
New London has a pretty good theater scene.

For school systems the only two in the area that are public I would consider:
Hanover a great school, has a very rich entitled student vibe but it's (its) track record is something.
Not sure I would agree with this assessment but Hanover shares a school system with Norwich, VT in an interstate district known as Dresden
"Every time I see an adult on a bicycle, I no longer despair for the future of the human race." H.G. Wells

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tarheel
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Re: Potential Move to the Upper Valley, NH

Post by tarheel » Sun Jul 23, 2017 8:41 am

TheGreyingDuke wrote:
tj218 wrote:Tons of outdoor stuff: Hiking, Skiing, water sports.

Hanover has quite a bit of cultural stuff especially during the school year.
New London has a pretty good theater scene.

For school systems the only two in the area that are public I would consider:
Hanover a great school, has a very rich entitled student vibe but it's (its) track record is something.
Not sure I would agree with this assessment but Hanover shares a school system with Norwich, VT in an interstate district known as Dresden
What part wouldn't you agree with?

Frugal_Not_Cheap
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Re: Potential Move to the Upper Valley, NH

Post by Frugal_Not_Cheap » Sun Jul 23, 2017 8:56 am

The area is nice and family friendly. You will enjoy it if:
1) You like winter. Real winter, not snow one day gone the next. Think November to April.
2) You/your SO have employment options. They are more limited then in a city.
3) You like the outdoors. Hiking, boating, skiing, biking, fishing and hunting are all good locally.

I would definitely look beyond Hanover. Real estate prices there are unrealistic. $550K will get you a fixer upper. Most who move in there come with money (family or previously acquired)

Other school systems to consider include Lebanon and Kearsarge.
They each send their top 5% to tier 1 colleges.

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Re: Potential Move to the Upper Valley, NH

Post by tj218 » Sun Jul 23, 2017 10:14 am

I would also note that if you are going to be working in the Hanover area and living closer towards Concord that I-89 between New London and Lebanon gets treacherous during the winter. This is despite road crews treating the roads, the changes in elevation on that stretch creates black ice and accidents are fairly common.

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tarheel
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Re: Potential Move to the Upper Valley, NH

Post by tarheel » Sun Jul 23, 2017 2:13 pm

tj218 wrote:I would also note that if you are going to be working in the Hanover area and living closer towards Concord that I-89 between New London and Lebanon gets treacherous during the winter. This is despite road crews treating the roads, the changes in elevation on that stretch creates black ice and accidents are fairly common.
Enough to not try that? We'd hadn't looked at the Sunapee region before and it seems attractive......decent schools, decent prices......

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Re: Potential Move to the Upper Valley, NH

Post by vtMaps » Sun Jul 23, 2017 3:47 pm

tj218 wrote: I-89 between New London and Lebanon gets treacherous during the winter. This is despite road crews treating the roads, the changes in elevation on that stretch creates black ice and accidents are fairly common.
There have also been quite a few collisions with moose on that stretch of the highway. Moose bodies are much larger than deer, and are at windshield height... airbags don't help much.

--vtMaps (upper valley resident, vt side of the valley)
The optimist proclaims that we live in the best of all possible worlds; and the pessimist fears this is true. --James Branch Cabell

tj218
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Re: Potential Move to the Upper Valley, NH

Post by tj218 » Sun Jul 23, 2017 4:36 pm

tarheel wrote:
tj218 wrote:I would also note that if you are going to be working in the Hanover area and living closer towards Concord that I-89 between New London and Lebanon gets treacherous during the winter. This is despite road crews treating the roads, the changes in elevation on that stretch creates black ice and accidents are fairly common.
Enough to not try that? We'd hadn't looked at the Sunapee region before and it seems attractive......decent schools, decent prices......
Sunapee is a pretty nice town, plenty of people I know live there and make the commute up to Dartmouth for jobs at the hospital (big employer in the region).

You need to be honest about your driving. Are you impatient/speed demon (most of NH drives 70-75 on the highway but plenty go much faster), etc. Plenty of people make that commute daily. You would just need to be aware on those days. The I-89 Twitter feed is pretty good for any issues, bad spots, etc. Usually when it is bad it is posted to a lower speed limit and it is tweeted out yet some people ignore it and think an AWD car is enough to ignore bad weather. Good quality winter tires help and not driving fast in those conditions.

There are also backways (slower) up to Lebanon and Hanover from there. Personally I wouldn't let that be a determining factor.

stinkycat
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Re: Potential Move to the Upper Valley, NH

Post by stinkycat » Sun Jul 23, 2017 6:53 pm

Depending on your situation, it could be cheaper to live in Vermont. With the emphasis on could. Vermont has a progressive income tax, but housing is considerably cheaper. I know a guy whose wife does not work outside the home and he did the math and found Norwich cheaper.

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tarheel
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Re: Potential Move to the Upper Valley, NH

Post by tarheel » Mon Jul 24, 2017 5:50 am

tj218 wrote:
tarheel wrote:
tj218 wrote:I would also note that if you are going to be working in the Hanover area and living closer towards Concord that I-89 between New London and Lebanon gets treacherous during the winter. This is despite road crews treating the roads, the changes in elevation on that stretch creates black ice and accidents are fairly common.
Enough to not try that? We'd hadn't looked at the Sunapee region before and it seems attractive......decent schools, decent prices......
Sunapee is a pretty nice town, plenty of people I know live there and make the commute up to Dartmouth for jobs at the hospital (big employer in the region).

You need to be honest about your driving. Are you impatient/speed demon (most of NH drives 70-75 on the highway but plenty go much faster), etc. Plenty of people make that commute daily. You would just need to be aware on those days. The I-89 Twitter feed is pretty good for any issues, bad spots, etc. Usually when it is bad it is posted to a lower speed limit and it is tweeted out yet some people ignore it and think an AWD car is enough to ignore bad weather. Good quality winter tires help and not driving fast in those conditions.

There are also backways (slower) up to Lebanon and Hanover from there. Personally I wouldn't let that be a determining factor.
Thanks for all of the responses......do the towns in the New London/Sunapee area "feel" a bit more like a real town (small shops, restaurants, city center) than Norwich/Lyme/etc.? Any recommendations on particular towns in that area?

Swansea
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Re: Potential Move to the Upper Valley, NH

Post by Swansea » Mon Jul 24, 2017 6:23 am

No so much in NH, but in Maine and Vermont, long time residents are often slow to accept new comers. This is probably less of a problem in more densely populated areas. I am from Mass. and remember Vermont residents referring to us a flat landers...

tj218
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Re: Potential Move to the Upper Valley, NH

Post by tj218 » Mon Jul 24, 2017 7:33 am

tarheel wrote:
tj218 wrote:
tarheel wrote:
tj218 wrote:I would also note that if you are going to be working in the Hanover area and living closer towards Concord that I-89 between New London and Lebanon gets treacherous during the winter. This is despite road crews treating the roads, the changes in elevation on that stretch creates black ice and accidents are fairly common.
Enough to not try that? We'd hadn't looked at the Sunapee region before and it seems attractive......decent schools, decent prices......
Sunapee is a pretty nice town, plenty of people I know live there and make the commute up to Dartmouth for jobs at the hospital (big employer in the region).

You need to be honest about your driving. Are you impatient/speed demon (most of NH drives 70-75 on the highway but plenty go much faster), etc. Plenty of people make that commute daily. You would just need to be aware on those days. The I-89 Twitter feed is pretty good for any issues, bad spots, etc. Usually when it is bad it is posted to a lower speed limit and it is tweeted out yet some people ignore it and think an AWD car is enough to ignore bad weather. Good quality winter tires help and not driving fast in those conditions.

There are also backways (slower) up to Lebanon and Hanover from there. Personally I wouldn't let that be a determining factor.
Thanks for all of the responses......do the towns in the New London/Sunapee area "feel" a bit more like a real town (small shops, restaurants, city center) than Norwich/Lyme/etc.? Any recommendations on particular towns in that area?
Sunapee doesn't really have much in terms of a town feel, there is harbor with a restaurant (seasonal) and some small shops that cater to tourists.

I wouldn't say any of those towns have a small city feel. New London is a medium sized town with shops, restaurants and it has a college (Colby Sawyer). A little further south and smaller, Warner does as well. Both towns go to Kearsarge schools which are okay, but as it is a regional school a number of students are from more rural towns with higher rates of poverty and some of the bad stuff that goes along with it. The bigger issue is setting school budgets are down at the town level, with a regional school it is more hoops to jump through.

I suggest using Google Maps and click around on the street view to get a sense of those towns. Since you have kids I would definitely research schools, there can be a huge gap in quality between neighboring towns. The statistics I would look at are standardized test scores and % receiving free and reduced lunch.

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Re: Potential Move to the Upper Valley, NH

Post by vtMaps » Mon Jul 24, 2017 7:56 am

tarheel,

There is just as much upper valley on the Vermont side of the Connecticut river as the NH side. Have you considered Norwich, Vt?

--vtMaps
The optimist proclaims that we live in the best of all possible worlds; and the pessimist fears this is true. --James Branch Cabell

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tarheel
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Re: Potential Move to the Upper Valley, NH

Post by tarheel » Mon Jul 24, 2017 8:36 am

vtMaps wrote:tarheel,

There is just as much upper valley on the Vermont side of the Connecticut river as the NH side. Have you considered Norwich, Vt?

--vtMaps
Norwich real estate looked pricey, and as a Boglehead it's hard for me to pay the state income tax. I know people say it ends up a wash, but the property taxes in Norwich versus NH looked pretty comparable. It's hard for me to see why it could make sense financially.

I honestly haven't given VT much thought at this point. Although I am the first to admit this may be my mistake - and I am open to everything at this point! :)

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Re: Potential Move to the Upper Valley, NH

Post by alpenglow » Mon Jul 24, 2017 8:56 am

tarheel wrote:Norwich real estate looked pricey, and as a Boglehead it's hard for me to pay the state income tax. I know people say it ends up a wash, but the property taxes in Norwich versus NH looked pretty comparable. It's hard for me to see why it could make sense financially.

I honestly haven't given VT much thought at this point. Although I am the first to admit this may be my mistake - and I am open to everything at this point!
The whole area is beautiful and my wife (a Dartmouth grad) and I will likely retire there in the future. As others have noted, there are lots of things to do outdoors as well as sports and arts at Dartmouth. We have good friends in Norwich. It is a wonderful community but I agree that the property taxes are very high. There are other towns in VT that will be much more reasonable in terms of taxes. Perhaps parts of Thetford and Hartland (outside of the QLLA - a large HOA in the area). If you reconsider living in the middle of nowhere, I have a 40 acre parcel of land at the upper edge of the Upper Valley I can sell you. :twisted:

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Re: Potential Move to the Upper Valley, NH

Post by Frugal_Not_Cheap » Mon Jul 24, 2017 8:13 pm

Tar Heel
Definitely do the math between VT and NH. My math tells me Norwich only compares positively to Hanover. Other surrounding towns (NH & VT) have better cost ratios. Definitely look at school ratings closely though or else you could end up with private school in your future ($$$).

Also think about your commute. If you get too far from 89/91 the commutes get lengthy, especially in tough weather.

It's not RTP or RD NC but also isn't Fargo or some other far flung place. Boston in 2 hrs, Burlington Vt in 2, Cape Cod in 3 and Montreal in 4.

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Re: Potential Move to the Upper Valley, NH

Post by 3hrs » Mon Jul 24, 2017 8:46 pm

Never thought my first Boglehead reply would be about the Upper Valley. Very long time lurker. Thanks to all the contributors who take the time to log the smart, helpful, and entertaining posts and responses which draw me daily to this site.

30+ year resident of the NH side of the Upper Valley of NH/VT. Our 3 children were born, raised, and attended the local schools. They enjoyed many of the typical kid activities. In addition to the cultural activities offered through Dartmouth College there is a surprising variety of other local cultural offerings for all ages. Lots of opportunities for easily accessible outdoor activities. Sure, there were times we wished for a few different things to do but are very happy to live in this wonderful area.

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Re: Potential Move to the Upper Valley, NH

Post by crg11 » Mon Jul 24, 2017 9:43 pm

Grew up in the Lake Sunapee region and dream about going back to retire there. It's home. I wouldn't trade my childhood for anything. Even in my adult life, living in the "big" city now and quite used to the big city amendities, every time I visit "home" I never want to leave.

New London is a bit underrated in my opinion. A nice, walkable, classic New England downtown area and absolutely wonderful houses/views down nearly every side street. Kearsarge is a solid school district.

Sunapee is a great town, but extremely small downtown. It's a classic everything is 20-30 minutes away town. Very tight knit community and excellent schools. Plus the Lake is wonderful in the summer and the mountain is wonderful in the winter if you are into winter sports.

You can definitely commute outside of Hanover. I had family and friends for years commute from the Sunapee/New London area to either Hanover or Concord, as it is pretty much right in the middle (~30 min commutes). Put on snow tires, drive carefully, and use commons sense (don't drive if you don't have to, and if you do, drive smart). You'll be fine.

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tarheel
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Re: Potential Move to the Upper Valley, NH

Post by tarheel » Tue Jul 25, 2017 4:56 am

Frugal_Not_Cheap wrote:Tar Heel
Definitely do the math between VT and NH. My math tells me Norwich only compares positively to Hanover. Other surrounding towns (NH & VT) have better cost ratios. Definitely look at school ratings closely though or else you could end up with private school in your future ($$$).

Also think about your commute. If you get too far from 89/91 the commutes get lengthy, especially in tough weather.

It's not RTP or RD NC but also isn't Fargo or some other far flung place. Boston in 2 hrs, Burlington Vt in 2, Cape Cod in 3 and Montreal in 4.
Thanks for the thoughtful replies everyone.

Specifically regarding school districts, is there a website that everyone trusts for the ratings/the gold standard? This is not something I've ever researched before.....

Agrippa
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Re: Potential Move to the Upper Valley, NH

Post by Agrippa » Tue Jul 25, 2017 5:01 am

There is a lot to like in this area - very beautiful and lots of outdoor activities. Just be prepared for some real winters!
Agrippa

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Re: Potential Move to the Upper Valley, NH

Post by ks289 » Tue Jul 25, 2017 5:13 am

tarheel wrote:
Frugal_Not_Cheap wrote:Tar Heel
Definitely do the math between VT and NH. My math tells me Norwich only compares positively to Hanover. Other surrounding towns (NH & VT) have better cost ratios. Definitely look at school ratings closely though or else you could end up with private school in your future ($$$).

Also think about your commute. If you get too far from 89/91 the commutes get lengthy, especially in tough weather.

It's not RTP or RD NC but also isn't Fargo or some other far flung place. Boston in 2 hrs, Burlington Vt in 2, Cape Cod in 3 and Montreal in 4.
Thanks for the thoughtful replies everyone.

Specifically regarding school districts, is there a website that everyone trusts for the ratings/the gold standard? This is not something I've ever researched before.....
Very simple yet revealing starting point is https://www.greatschools.org/
Ratings are 1-10 and test score based. IMO this is largely reflecting the socioeconomic profile of the school/district for what that is worth.

tj218
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Re: Potential Move to the Upper Valley, NH

Post by tj218 » Tue Jul 25, 2017 6:25 am

ks289 wrote:
tarheel wrote:
Frugal_Not_Cheap wrote:Tar Heel
Definitely do the math between VT and NH. My math tells me Norwich only compares positively to Hanover. Other surrounding towns (NH & VT) have better cost ratios. Definitely look at school ratings closely though or else you could end up with private school in your future ($$$).

Also think about your commute. If you get too far from 89/91 the commutes get lengthy, especially in tough weather.

It's not RTP or RD NC but also isn't Fargo or some other far flung place. Boston in 2 hrs, Burlington Vt in 2, Cape Cod in 3 and Montreal in 4.
Thanks for the thoughtful replies everyone.

Specifically regarding school districts, is there a website that everyone trusts for the ratings/the gold standard? This is not something I've ever researched before.....
Very simple yet revealing starting point is https://www.greatschools.org/
Ratings are 1-10 and test score based. IMO this is largely reflecting the socioeconomic profile of the school/district for what that is worth.

Greatschools can give you a look, but I think they are too skewed based on individual reviews. When you are talking about 2 people reviewing a school their personal grievances can stand out. Likewise, schools can be inflated by a couple outstanding reviews on that site.

I'd suggest to look at the NH Dept. of Ed ( https://my.doe.nh.gov/profiles/ ) to look at some raw data and compare that data between the districts.
Information that I have found to be useful: 1. Standardized Test Scores 2. AP courses 3. % of students on free and reduced lunch. 4, College placement, though this is less of a factor as many families are sending kids to 2 year schools to defray costs, NHTI in Concord has a large enrollment for this reason.

Information that is not particularly helpful: 1. Graduation rate: smaller schools like in NH and one student a single year can skew this data. Also, I've seen some schools that boast of a 100% graduation rate but has horrible test scores and have simply lowered standards to graduate. 2. Diversity, it's NH a state that overall lacks diversity, basically meaningless info in this state.

The other recommendation would be to look at multiple years of the US News and World Report Rankings. The reason to look at multiple years is to develop trends. I've seen a school go from top 5 to out of the top 20 in one year and then back in the top 3 the next. Multiple years gives you a trend.

I would definitely tour the area and depending on the age of your kids have them tour the schools too.

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