We decided that we didn't really want to rent for several reasons: 1. our huge moron of a dog, 2. the frustration of spending without equity, 3. rent is as expensive in our area as most mortgages, 4. the American dream of a little house with a yard, 5. wanting to provide roots for our kids, and finally 6. fear of being displaced again with at least one baby (we ended up pregnant again 3 months later).
After an exhaustive search for an affordable neighborhood with decent schools and a reasonable commute for me, we settled on my home town. It was a mistake. The schools are fine but the town itself is in a massive depression and has serious self-image problems. The parks suck, the politics are kind of shady, the people are xenophobic and many are racist, and the renter to owner ratio is way out of whack.
At the same time, the commute is as good as I can afford, the schools still have strong art and music programs and free preschool for all. The shop owners are friendly and warm -- they stop to smile at my kids and give them treats. It is a 15 minute drive to the ocean, nicer parks, the woods, swimming ponds, and the city. People stop on the street to talk to you, the library is welcoming and family friendly, and the food is great and affordable.
The town tries to make itself something better, but almost everything they do makes no sense. Do we stay and try to make this a better place? Do we go and find something closer to what we want? I feel like a quitter if I cut and run, but at the same time I have no idea what one person can do to change a whole town. Any ideas? What would you do? Seriously, I'm at a loss, and I want your opinions.