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MarlaInTulsa

Moving to Irmo or Lexington?

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I am relocating with my family from Tulsa to the Columbia area. After much research, I have narrowed my preferences down to Irmo and Lexington. My husband will be working for Lexington Medical Center and I will most likely end up working in downtown Columbia. Our move is will be over the summer and our son will be starting in 1st grade in the fall.

Would someone please help me differentiate between the two communities? I want the best possible schools, but am torn between Lex 1 and Lex 5 school districts, and I would also like to know more about the family-friendliness of both cities.

Thanks!

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Irmo is a nice town. I think that its primary advantage is its proximity to Harbison. Harbison Blvd. is the major shopping area for that part of Richland county and most of Lexington county as well. Its where you'll find your big box stores, chain stores etc. and of course a mall. Irmo is not too far from downtown, and LMC (it has a branch of LMC there too). A disadvantage is that a commute to and from downtown requires that you take I-26, which gets really congested during rush hour.

Lexington I am less familiar with. Its advantage is that it is a small town, but well connected to Columbia. Its about a 20-25 minute drive over there, which makes it further to downtown, but probably the same amount of time to LMC (I assume you are referring to the main center on Sunset Blvd) I have no experience with the rush hour in that area. Lexington County is one of the fastest growing counties in the state so you will probably see more road construction there in the future. I am less enthusiastic about Lexington because of that.

Give this thread some time- Several memebers of our site will likely have more insightful responses than me :)

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Welcome to the Midlands!

My take is there really isn't too much difference in Lexington and Irmo. One town is on the other side of lake murray from the other. Lexington is growing really fast and is kinda "getting too big for its britches". The roadways there aren't at the level to handle the new growth it's seeing. Lexington until recently has usually been viewed as a small rural town. Irmo went through its growing pains a while ago so it doesn't feel quite as congested on the roads. Not to say that Irmo is not a fast growing community it just has a one up on Lexington in that category. Both towns are very "suburban environments, SUV, baseball, grandma, and apple pie". Of the two Irmo I think is probablly more diverse. Both towns have excellent school districts. My little sister graduated from Irmo HS and it wasn't uncommon for some her classmates to get accepted into Duke, Yale, Georgetown, etc... As far as traffic I believe both towns are a mess getting into and out of downtown during rush hour. But usually traffic isn't too bad Columbia has several major roads and highways that cut down on congestion.

I think If I were to choose I'd probablly go with Irmo becasue of its proximity to I-26, and I've always been able to zip around Columbia on the highways.

Good Luck!

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Man, where to start? I grew up in Lexington, but now live in Irmo. Cutting to the chase... I'd choose Irmo. The Richland/Lexington 5 school district is the best around. You can choose to live close to Harbison Blvd., where all the major retail and restaurants are located, or you can move further out around I-26's exit 97, which is where I live. We live in a nice new neighborhood just off the interstate, so it's easy to hop on and go to Harbison (about 10 minutes) or downtown (about 20 minutes drive).

The Irmo area has great schools, churches, entertainment, shopping and housing options. Lexington isn't bad at all, but I'd say Irmo edges them out in all these categories. And I just find the lay of the land more aesthetically pleasing.

If you want more specific info, let me know.

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Well I just bought my first house a couple of months ago and I had to decide between Lexington and Irmo. I work nearly an equal distance from the both (maybe slightly closer to Lexington) but I chose Irmo because of the I-26 access and proximity to the Harbison area. The downside is that traffic on I-26 is congested when I leave in the morning at around 7am and at 5pm when I come home. It's not bad enough to deter me from that area though.

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I'd focus on quality of life issues.

Irmo has what I'd consider younger and wealthier citizens. Lexington has older and more conservative residents. Lexington-area citizens (and those south to the county line) have long had an anti-tax attitude towards government. Low taxes have made Lexington grow fast requiring more services to be paid for by the tax base. The schools are good but perhaps not up to Rich/Lex District 5. I'd go to the SC Department of Ed site and compare schools, teacher student ratios . what is important to you education wise. You may also see what each district spends per pupil. I think the schools in Lex. have improved primarily because of the new residents demanding better schools.

Rent/Own. I believe home ownership is higher in Lexington versus Irmo. More apartments in Irmo. Property values would be higher in Irmo. There is still rural areas close to Lexington if you don't want neighbors.

Commuting. Watch a local TV broadcast of the cars commuting from Irmo to Columbia down I-26 in the morning. Driving to Columbia & LexMed would be a daily grind from Irmo. And the drive out in the afternoon is bumper to bumper for 90 minutes. But if you located down 378 towards Lexington or down US 1 where the congestion would be less I'd go that way. In the center of the town of Lexington there are traffic issues. But that's in the town center. You did not mention if you have an idea of where you will work in Columbia. If you are in a specific market sector I can tell you where those places are located.

Shopping. Downtown Lexington has decent retail but nothing like the Harbison area. The big malls in the area are in Irmo.

Dining out. I'd definitely give the edge to Irmo here. More places to go, more diversity.

Nighlife. Ok Irmo has it...and Lexington does not.

Lake life. Toss up. I'd expect the north side of the lake is more affordable than the Lexington side but emerging.me may correct me. If you fish I think more stripers habituate the southern shore.

DGPC (Density of guns per citizen). Lexington is about 12.5. Irmo perhaps 3.0.

Churches. Lexington means you will surely be Baptist. Irmo has more of a mix but still mostly Baptist.

Political persuasion. There are three registered Democrats in Lexington County and they live in Irmo. But they are working on the problem as we speak. You are far more likely to be lynched in Lexington than Irmo. But if you were in a robbery you could scream and there'd be 40 guns on site in seconds. Lexington has become more mature and less zenophobic with the rapid residential growth. The citizens don't hate Richland county like they used to.

Crime. Irmo has more because there are more apartments and more retail (not to imply that renters are more likely to steal than homeowners). In County politics the sheriff is the big shot. He controls his own budget and is the most educated and longest serving sheriff in the state. They are tough on crime there. They shoot litterbugs. Irmo has a mix of Richland and Lexington county police service.

In summary: If I could find the right schools on the Columbia side of Lexington I'd move there. You have quick access to LexMed, not too bad to Columbia, and conservative neighbors with a low tax base. Small bix owners have no business license fees.

My biases. I grew up in Richland. I've worked with both counties on and off for maybe 15 years. Rich/Lex 5 is a former client. They are frugal there just as at Lexington County. I dont like waiting in traffic so I avoid long commutes. I am moderately conservative on most issues. I find 'some' parts of Lexington scary. People not like the locals (yankees, democrats, liberals, gay, gun-haters, non-church people, communists or ethnic) may not like it there. Lexington has a new representative who is part Hindu..during the campaign people were sending flyers around about that cow-worshipper running against the good ole boy.

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aww, that was a low blow :)

.................................................................true though

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If you are from SC you have a reddish neck to start with. I like Lexington..but it's a weird mix of great people and a few nuts.

I lived in West Columbia for a while. I had a neighbor with 40 guns. He'd walk you through the house and show them to you. It was quite a collection. He'd get out of his car, wave and point a 44 magnum at you, laughing the whole time. His job meant he carried jewelry around so he had the correct permit. For some reason he hated cats. So he was shooting the cats in the neighborhood, one by one. One day he gets out of his car and points a rifle at an 80 year old lady's house. Now THAT got the cops attention.there must of been 30 police cars in his yard. But he just did not open the door..and the cops went away without an arrest. The next week he went back to being the weird neighbor who killed cats. College life on the avenues.

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Thank you all for your great input! What a friendly and welcoming group!

We will be visiting the area over the Christmas holidays, and this gives me some very good insight into the two areas. From the posts so far, it sounds like Irmo might be best for us. I don't consider myself to be a "liberal" -but I am passionate about tolerance and acceptance of others (not Baptist!). I prefer a more eclectic community, and it sounds like Irmo might fit the bill while still providing a top-notch school system. I have always had a strong aversion to moving to the suburbs, but I have lightened up a bit since having a child & seeing the benefits of new neighborhoods with lots of young families & little crime/traffic.

We are planning on buying a home & have been impressed so far with how far our $ will get us home-wise. One question though, do you think that the real estate values in Irmo will continue to improve? I just don't want to buy into a neighborhood that has topped out.

Any other additional input would be much appreciated also!

Thanks!

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I would say consider the Northwest/Dutch Fork area of Richland County and the Irmo-Chapin area.

My wife and I bought a new home near exit 97 off of I-26 and the property values are already on the rise. We have an Irmo address, but we're further out than Irmo proper. This area is highly desirable, but growth is being limited by an active rural-preservation citizen organization. This is only going to make the property values rise further -- supply/demand. Are you hoping to move into an established neighborhood, a new development, a standalone home in a rural setting or what? If a new neighborhood... what are you looking for in terms of BRs/BAs and sq. footage? I've got a couple of realtor friends I could recommend if you don't already have one.

I'm with you on the anti-burbs notion. We really wanted the urban lifestyle, but decided this move was the smartest thing for us right now -- close to our current church and to the schools that are our favorites. Maybe one day. As you've probably seen here on our board, the Columbia downtown area is experiencing some exciting new growth and revitalization. It's a good time to be in the Midlands. :)

[Corrected: I had written NorthEAST when I meant NORTHWEST]

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We don't really know for sure where we want to move yet - will know more after our visit over the holidays. I have heard good things about the Dutch Fork area. Right now I am open to older homes as well as new homes. We enjoy remodeling projects & enjoy customizing our home to suit our tastes, but a new home has appeal as well. One phenomenon that I have noticed & wondered about is the lack of attached garages in a large portion of homes in Irmo & Lex. This puzzles me as most of the existing & all of the new homes being built in Tulsa have 2 car attached garages. The most important factors to me are listed below:

1. Good school district

2. Family neighborhood with many young children.

3. At least 3bd/2ba home with attached 2 car garage.

4. Relative ease of commute to work/school/shopping, etc.

5. Property value increase probability.

6. Pool or nearby neighborhood pool.

Do any of you have recommendations on specific communities/neighborhoods? I would be interested in talking to a realtor if you have some that you would recommend.

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Here are a couple of suggestions on new neighborhoods in the Irmo/Dutch Fork area.

Milford Park - New phase starting soon.

Waterfall -- Almost built out.

Lakeshore at the Grove -- Starting construction soon.

I think those are all pretty nice. You might get the most bang for your buck in Waterfall.

And, this is totally on the other side of town, but given your urban tendancies I have to recommend checking out Harborside Town Village at Lake Carolina, a master-planned community in Northeast Richland County.

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I generated a couple of maps for you. This reference map shows the area of interest. These are high-res large maps to show you detail. This map shows the number of kids aged 0-4 for 2003 in the census block groups. Two areas standout around Hollingshed & Kennerly Road area (map center northeast of I26). Calling the dark green area 1 and the pale yellow area due north area 2 I have these numbers

For area 1 - 2003 kids aged 0-4=838, 2003 kids aged 5-9=821, 2003 kids aged 10-14=731, 2008 projected kids aged 0-4=885, 2003 projected kids aged 5-9=841, 2003 projected kids aged 10-14=858.

For area 2 - 2003 kids aged 0-4=375, 2003 kids aged 5-9=387, 2003 kids aged 10-14=392, 2008 projected kids aged 0-4=436, 2003 projected kids aged 5-9=419, 2003 projected kids aged 10-14=450.

The green plus signs are shopping centers..bigger pluses are more leasable area. I have 2004 data around but not installed yet. But you can see where more kids are. I should have divided 2008 by 2003 to show you a map of % growth. If you want me to cherry pick one spot I can tell you similar numbers. A note of warning..block groups on average represent 700 people (nationally). But they have to follow road boundaries. This center (green) block group is pretty large. Contrast it with one of the downtown blocks. Eventually more roads will be built and the Census Bureau will subdivide the block. The block group boundaries are light grey. with roads/water bodies on top.

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Since you have kids this may be of interest. These are the sexual predators in the area as reported by the State predator registry. The buffers around each are 1,2 and 3 miles. Green dots are exact predator locations. Yellow dots are predators that could not be exactly located by address. These are tagged to the centroid of the zip code. So yellow dots may be (but most likely are not) at the map location. This map is the same area as the other maps. And this map shows the entire state.

I planned to enhance this with parks/schools so you could see hot spots. Perhaps in the future. Check out downtown Columbia and you can see predators are an urban problem.

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Wow, I didn't know that there were so many.....

Its interesting to look at the state's map. It looks like there are less in the Irmo area than other areas of Columbia. Thats just based on my knowledge of the growth patterns in the area.

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Unfortunately there are many more. I believe 10 percent are incarcerated, 10 percent have moved out of state. Out of 7000 or so I mapped perhaps 5500. The buffer is simplistic because the predators will go where the prey is. But it helps to visualize proximity. The database is likely populated with many 18 year old kids who got caught with their teenage girlfriend.

Criminals usually work close to home..close enough to have an escape path but far enough to not be a suspect. With predators I think the smarter ones drive 15 miles to find their prospects. But then you read about the dumb ones who get the child across the street.

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Wow! Thank you all for the great information! I had no idea that such maps & research were available to the gen. public! I have printed everything off & will be taking it with us on our trip over Christmas. I'll check back with you all after I have had a look at both areas if that is okay. Thank you again for everything!

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Some data can be acquired from the Census but the block group data is from data licensed to me. Sex offenders data was on a State web site..I just mapped it.

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Wow!  Thank you all for the great information!  I had no idea that such maps & research were available to the gen. public!  I have printed everything off & will be taking it with us on our trip over Christmas.  I'll check back with you all after I have had a look at both areas if that is okay.  Thank you again for everything!

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Excellent! We look forward to hearing what you think of our fair city :)

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Between Irmo and Lexington I would choose Irmo because I believe it has more to offer. I think you should consider living in the city, however. Elmwood Park is an awesome in-town neighborhood, which is both close to downtown and to Lexington Medical Center. You would be 5 minutes from downtown, 10 minutes from the hospital and only 10 minutes from Harbison for shopping. The communte from either Lexington or Irmo would be probably a half hour to and from downtown during rush hour. I'm biased towards the city because I live in-town, but I think it's the place to be. I believe Elmwood is zoned for Logan Elementary, a recently renovated school and Dreher High School, one of the best in the city.

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Between Irmo and Lexington I would choose Irmo because I believe it has more to offer. I think you should consider living in the city, however. Elmwood Park is an awesome in-town neighborhood, which is both close to downtown and to Lexington Medical Center. You would be 5 minutes from downtown, 10 minutes from the hospital and only 10 minutes from Harbison for shopping. The communte from either Lexington or Irmo would be probably a half hour to and from downtown during rush hour. I'm biased towards the city because I live in-town, but I think it's the place to be. I believe Elmwood is zoned for Logan Elementary, a recently renovated school and Dreher High School, one of the best in the city.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

As a former Elmwood Park resident and neighborhood president, I have to second waccamatt's comments. Elmwood is a beautiful early 1900's restored neighborhood. It is very convenient. You are ALWAYS going opposite of the traffic. I worked between St. Andrews and Irmo at the time and could drive 65 almost the entire way. Get on I-126 and it's free highway until you get off the interstate.

It is zoned for Logan, but unless it has changed, the High school is Columbia, not Dreher.

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