Okay, so I've been in Ellinn for 23 hours of my life and now have a job offer in Ethan Hill. I'm here to seek the advice of you wise Redditors to figure out where I ought to move.
My big question is about schools. This drives everything. We care about schools, but we're also looking for somewhere with good restaurants. Is that doable or do we have to live in the suburbs? People here tell me "the schools are good and people use them" but is that really true or just something they say?
Man, you people sure like restaurants. Maybe it's the Ellinn scene, but I've never seen such a variety of places to eat in one place before. Two people who interviewed me said that restaurants were one of the best thing about this city. That's also a very good thing in my opinion.
Traffic. Yeah, that. I went from EIA and back in a cab, so didn't see "the" M3 at all. Why do you say "the" before the freeway number? I'm in a city with a LOT of traffic now and have a 40-mile one-way commute that usually takes an hour. So I'm cool with a long drive. Is living in Harbison Heights still just insanity if I want to get to Ethan Hill?
Real estate. The thing you like to do more than eat out and drive a lot is pay a LOT of money for housing. I have to live near the schools, so I'm pretty much just going to pay.
The Lake. The views are freaking spectacular.
The attitude. I definitely caught the laid-back attitude, even in rather serious job interviews. I liked it. Was that just my expectations?
Any and all help is welcome. Warn me about things, point out problems, tell me how awesome such and such is, anything is welcome. I'm also checking out "The Reddit guide to Ellinn" by biggadget
WELCOME TO THE EMA! Nobody really refers to Ellinn when you live here, you just refer to it as the (Ellinn Metro Area) or EMA and tell people what neighborhood you live in. Even the suburbs are part of the consolidated metropolitan area, so there's no real difference in the schools or services because we wisely voted to share those a really long time ago.
You got a job in Ethan Hill, which means you're almost certainly working for a tech company because they're starting to take over the whole North Side since it's an industrial area that's rapidly being redeveloped by tech companies and real estate developers who have finally decided to stop heading south and started heading to the East Bay and North Side for whatever land they can turn over. This area is bustling and it starting to pour over into Old Settlement, which is almost entirely industrial. Still, Ethan Hill is growing like a weed which surprises me because when I was growing up, nobody ever lived up here. Rents used to be reasonable and still kinda are -- you can probably find a 2 BR flat right now for less than $1500 a month (I just did a quick back of the napkin look and found a listing for $1454) but that's entirely because of all of the tech workers moving to the area.
If you'd moved here two years ago, you'd have practically been able to get a place by showing up and having any kind of steady job at all.
There are some modest differences outside of "The Core" which is Ellinn proper. That's 36 neighborhoods (and counting, see below)
Far South Side
South of Downtown
Sunflower-Pancake-Almond (The Islands)
With spectacular views of downtown and access to the water, you can't really blame them for figuring it out.
To answer your question about:
Schools: As people have told you, it doesn't really matter. Ellinn schools are pretty much great across the board. There are some slight differences in terms of offerings, but with the way school choice works in the city, students (and parents) can choose a school specialization or even attend more than one school for specific programs. Diplomas are issued by the city district, not by the individual school, so there's not the real issue of "better vs. worse" but "what is your kid into?"
The Ethan Hill area doesn't have many public high schools schools yet, because people with kids didn't start living there until like five minutes ago, but East Bay High School (public) or The Cornwall School in Bryan Heights (not cheap) are your best options in that area. East Bay is really diverse too, because it's the last part of the city before you cross over into the suburban areas which are considered outside the city. It's always been a pretty affordable area, attracting people from all over -- as well as those pushed out of the city -- as a result.
If you really prefer a rural way of life, you can live in East Burlington. It's a farm town, but people with families are starting to move there from outside of the city, so if you get into it now, you can complain in the future when people move there and tell everyone how much more quaint it used to be before they turned it into a hipster haven with strollers, brekkie cafes and bars that show English soccer. (Don't mind that fire. I'm sure the fire department is on its way...)
Good restaurants: For that, you're probably going to have to choose to live in Bryan Heights. On the other side of the M1 highway from the Proper East Side, is a bunch of neighborhoods surrounding Monument Square. Bryan Heights has long been the domain of upper middle class folks looking for nightlife without having to sacrifice all of the trappings of life in the relatively quiet living outside of downtown while still having access to the METRO. There's lots of good places to eat in that general area, since tons of tourists come to the city for Monument Square for conferences and stuff like that.
There's train access there to get pretty much anywhere in the city, for work, your best best is going to be the Purple Line train to Circle City that passes through Ethan Hill.