Five years ago, when I heard that my sister-in-law was moving to Centerville, I remember thinking that the idea of moving back home was so lame. Don’t get me wrong, I had a really nice childhood. I spent my summers running around Stubbs Park, my teenage weekends roaming the Dayton Mall. I had fond childhood memories, for sure. But in the years since leaving, the idea of living in tiny ole’ Centerville seemed so boring and quaint.
Then I had my son. My mom came out to Saint Louis, where my husband and I had settled down and spent the first nine years of our marriage. She stayed with us for two weeks, and when she left, I sobbed hysterically (thank you, hormones!) and sputtered in jerky sentences: “Why.do.we.live.in.Saint.Louis? When.everyone.else.lives.in.Ohio?” Most of our family lives in or near Centerville. His parents and my parents live in Centerville. My sister in law and her four, soon to be five, kids live in Centerville. My brother in law and his fiancee are at Wright State. My sister is in Columbus – and feels way too far away!
In many ways, our prodigal return back was pretty much a done deal – and everyone seemed to know it except me. As we shared the news of our move, many of our friends expressed sadness, but almost nobody expressed surprise. In honor of our one year Warm-and-Cheerful Anniversary, I wanted to share some of the reasons why I am thrilled to once again be a resident of the 937.
- Going places is so simple. In Saint Louis, everything was a long drive. Saint Louis is really this giant connection of suburbs and I used to jokingly tell my mom that no matter where she wanted to go, from our house, it would be twenty minutes. At least! Plus – traffic! Here, I have everything I need in a ten minute by car radius, and many things are completely walkable. I love being able to walk to the park, library, coffee shop, etc. And, I almost never encounter real traffic. I am actually getting really spoiled. Sentences I used to say, “It’s only forty minutes, totally worth going to visit a friend.” Sentences I say now, “Ugh, I don’t want to go to the Greene. It will take fifteen whole minutes! Too far!”
- Family. This is a personal bonus, but I can’t lie – having family close by is amazing. We have a pretty open door policy at our home, and “Nana” is a regular fixture. When my son spiked a temperature, we had multiple people not just willing to watch my toddler, but happy to get to spend time with him. It warms my heart that he is getting a built-in community. Plus, free babysitting, role models, playmates, and so many hugs!
- Family Friendly Activities. Yeah, as a teenager, I wasn’t super interested in story time at the library. As a toddler-mom, though, I am thrilled about all of the activities for young families. Centerville has so much to offer and has actually grown a ton since I was a kid. The neighboring communities are also really great and welcoming! With the help of social media, we have found so many great activities to take our kiddo to in Dayton, Kettering, Springboro, and Miamisburg. And, I am sure there is more out there that we haven’t discovered – yet! Some of the things we’ve enjoyed this year include: Food Truck Fridays in downtown Centerville in the summer, seeing outdoor movies, exploring the different parks and Little Free Libraries, free story times at the Washington Centerville Public Library and the Barnes and Noble at the Dayton Mall and participating in organized hikes and classes through the Centerville Washington Park District. The park district actually has a ton of different events for kids and adults, some are free and some for an affordable cost, and registration is open to residents and non-residents.
- Minor League Baseball. For a hardcore sports fan, this might be a minus. And I will always be a Cardinals fan – don’t hate! But I have loved going to the Dayton Dragons games. Every seat is a good seat, and that makes going to the games really affordable! It also means I don’t have to feel bad if my toddler only lasts three innings. Still well worth the entry fee. Plus, I don’t have to feel guilty about rooting for a new team.
- Friendly People. This part is so legitimate. It really is Warm and Cheerful here. When we go places, people wave back and smile at my son. When we go to family-friendly events, strangers greet us and make us feel welcome. We see the same families at activities and story times. It feels like home.
Long story short, this is a great area to raise a family. If you’re new to the area, I’m happy to help you get connected. If you’re an old pro in the Centerville or Greater Dayton Area – I’d invite you to explore the surrounding communities or search Facebook for nearby events. We are thrilled to be raising our son where our parents chose to raise us!