A little background my self and my family. I am just about 26 years old, and my wife is 24. We have a 16 month old daughter, and a second daughter due in a few months. Our current home is a small 2 bedroom house built in 1946. We bought it in 2008, and have lived there since. The house has a cottage kind of feel and was a good starter house for use while we started our lives on our own and started our family.

Now that our family is growing, we are considering moving to a different area. My wife's family lives south of us about 15 minutes. My family on the other hand lives about 35 minutes north. As do most of my friends from growing up. My problem is, the area I grew up has really good schools, and a lot of my friends still live near there. Unfortunately, the area is mostly older couples and less young families. It is also very expensive to buy into the area.

After looking at schools, and commuting options, as well as trying to figure out what the wife will accept, I have narrowed down the search to a few areas. 2 of them are in-between where we are now and where I grew up. It would be much closer to in the middle of our two families, but the commuting would not be any better. Currently, I can take the bus (free from company bus card), and get to work in 1 hour. Or drive in about the same time. From the 2 areas that are further north, there is no direct bus route, so my commute time by bus would actually be the same as if I staid where I am, or moved to the 3rd area, which is a few minutes south of where we are now.

The final issue is the schools. 1 of the northern areas has by far the better schools. But since my kids are so young, I am worried that things will change in 10 years. All of the families who are there now and paying the local taxes, will be empty nesters by the time my kids are starting school. This also means that my kids will probably be the only young kids of the block if we move there.

How do I figure out where is best? In terms of commuting by bus, and young families in the area, I think the area south of us is the best. But I'm nervous because it is so far south compared to the rest of my friends, and my work. Am I just being a baby about moving further south? Or does it make sense that I want to be closer to work and the area I grew up in?

The actual area's, if you are interested are.

Current: Auburn WA

#1. Lake Desire, Kent WA

#2. Maple Valley, WA

#3. Lakeland Hills, in Auburn, WA

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You should not look 10 years out in terms of school. When my daughter was in kindergarten they were using creative spelling; spelling words like they sound instead of the actual spelling. The teacher was writing words on the board like this and she claimed they would fix it in 1st or 2nd grade. By the time a child is 10 you can talk to them and know if something funny is going on at school.

Living in an area where you are surrounded by older couples is not as bad as you make it sound.

Lots of tradeoffs, to be sure.  I can make a few observations:

* I'd guess that the difference of being 15 min away from family and 30 min away, say, is not big.  You'll not see them w/o some planning, but planning is minimal.

* Schools are important

* I'm looking to move too, and am interested in my kids having other kids to play with.  I have conflicting advice from friends.  One says, my girls play with other kids when they're at school.  They almost never go down the street to play with friends they play with at school.  Another says, I'm always seeing neighborhood kids playing together.

I think it's here that I read that a shorter commute means greater happiness, statistically.

I'm about 15 miles from my parents and see them about once/month. I work long hours, and my husband and I plan outings well in advance. My parents just aren't used to filling in weekend leisure time before Saturday morning. So, try to take personalities into account in considering Will's "planning is easy."

"Neighborhood kids playing together" is not a dream I have for my un-conceived children. I just don't see it any more. I think this has to do with how we live both physically - size of the lots for each home, number of parks - and mentally - "stranger danger," more structured after school activities.

I was reflecting recently on how Prop. 17 has shaped my home town, a city of 39,000 people. Prop. 17 means real estate taxes can't increase until the property is sold. It has the effect of keeping empty nesters in the big houses in which they raised their families, so whole neighborhoods age. While the residents age, the infrastructure shifts. Children's bookstores and elementary schools close. Doctors' offices open. Youth sports leagues consolidate.

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