Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Leaving Up and Coming for Down and Out

Did you ever get the feeling you are out of sync with the rest of the world?

That is how hub and I feel about leaving our hometown of four decades and moving to the Jersey shore.

We left behind a town - actually, a small city, but let’s not quibble over definitions – in the midst of a rich agricultural area dotted with smaller towns and farms. We relocated to a resort area bustling with activity during the summer months, calm during the spring and fall shoulder seasons, and nearly deserted in the darkest winter months of January and February.

Our usually peaceful, mostly residential new hometown butts up against the infamous gambling mecca Atlantic City, just over a mile walk along the Boardwalk from our home. AC received lots of publicity lately, almost all of it bad. From Ray Rice of elevator bashing fame to the closing of four hotel/casinos in one year, the town is in trouble. Hopeful expectations of a depressed city reviving and revitalizing, rising like a phoenix from crumbling buildings with the arrival of gambling, never materialized.

The flip side is our old hometown – located in the south central Pennsylvania county known as the place where the Amish live – is now a hip place. Downtown Lancaster is a hub of trendy restaurants and pubs, art galleries, boutiques, and cultural hot spots. When we first moved to the area the only city dining establishment (besides mediocre white-bread-sandwich-type places) was the worst Chinese restaurant in the Northeast, and possibly the entire country.

Lancaster County has also become a retirement magnet, attracting people from all along the Northeast corridor seeking a calmer lifestyle and lower cost of living than nearby metro areas.

Meanwhile, approaching life in retirement, hub and I relocated to one of the most expensive cost of living states in the country (the main reason being high taxes), a place never found on best places to retire lists and sometimes on a short list of worst places.

But right now we love it. Barring storm damage (Sandy) resulting in being displaced for several weeks, hours and sometimes days-long electrical outages (Irene and a couple of other unnamed storms), and municipal water issues resulting in an inability to use our city water system (temporarily), life is good.

I am sure everyone heard the saying: It is darkest before the dawn. I think that describes the current situation in Atlantic City. There are a lot of reasons AC is in the dumps, including years of government overspending, neglect, political corruption, shortsightedness in viewing gambling as the savior of the city…on and on.

But the city has hit bottom (only my opinion, of course), and bright minds with an interest in more than lining their own pockets are coming forward with a new vision. Maybe there is some light at the end of an interminably long dark tunnel, and we will see it soon.

We are in a great location. Philadelphia is an hour’s drive or a $9 round trip train ride (special senior citizen rate). Manhattan is a 2½ hour bus ride away, about $35 round trip. A long, sandy, beautiful beach fronting the Atlantic Ocean is a three-block walk.

Sometime soon we will return to Lancaster, spend a First Friday strolling downtown, enjoy one of the new restaurants, visit with old friends, and consider that maybe, when the shore becomes too expensive or ends up underwater (literally), we can move back.

Before then we are going to celebrate hub’s birthday with dinner and a comedy show at the Borgata, one of the AC resort casinos still open and apparently successful. We are not usually party people. In fact, we are rarely party folks. The biggest excitement this month (aside from the birthday night out) is eagerly awaiting hub’s first social security check. But I digress…

To summarize, we left up and coming for down and out.

Maybe crazy/unwise/foolish/reckless (choose one, all, or add one of your own descriptive adjectives), but we followed our heart.  


  1. Ah, one never knows everything, and that's what life really is, right? If you are happy, that's all that matters. And if things become too dicey, well, you can move somewhere else. That's how we feel too; we moved to the shore following our hearts' desire, and we'll remain here until our hearts have other needs unmet here.
    Meanwhile, cease the day and don't count the pennies.. or something like that...

  2. I've always dreamed of retiring to the beach. But I wonder if the beach dream is kind of like dreaming of getting a boat -- much better in theory than in practice. I dunno. You tell me. Meanwhile, we're headed to Lancaster (where B's mother lives) for Christmas. (But if we're going there, it can't be that "hip" -- the last hip thing I did was in 1992!)

  3. I know Jersey very well. I got married there in the seventies to #2. I traveled there hundreds of times on business, and developed economic scenarios for my large corporation.

    I am imagining the area where you live. We used to take my kids to the shore nearby. Beautiful beaches in those days. I imagine it is much more developed these days. People who liveDianned there paid more in property taxes than their original house payment had been. This makes me sad. For many years the poor were the only ones to live along the East Coast owing to the storms. Today the poor have been driven away by the high cost of property (and taxes).

    My Ex and what remained of his family have moved South to the Mecca of Myrtle Beach, which was paradise when I lived there in the 1940s.

    David's brother who helped develop the SC coast died extremely wealthy living in his beachfront property on a barrier island off the NC coast.

    This is when my radical left-wing gene asserts itself and I want the federal government to seize the land, I.e. Buy it, and turn it into National Park land.

    I do understand why development is important, however. As I say, I know Jersey and have known it a very long time. And I mean all of Jersey, not just the shore, although I know it best.

    Okay, I'll shut up. Have a happy holiday!

  4. My hub and I did the very same thing.We left the Valley of the Sun and all its entertainment, restaurants, bookstores, and culture, to move two hours north to a tiny hamlet in the middle of the woods of Northern Arizona.It SNOWS here,even! (I don't yet own snow boots but I will be getting some..) Somehow, at this our life (age 60) we simply decided we wanted a new lifestyle, a natural one, a quieter one .We used to "DREAM" about doing this, and then, we sold our business and well, we just DID IT. We tend to live that way-- we have had major upheavals on a semi regular basis, we sort of just FOLLOW OUR BLISS. Even when it seems crazy to others.We're pretty happy --we have to drive an hour or two to get back down to the social scene, and we visit our son in Tempe once a month while we go visit and maintain a rental property we have in the Phoenix area. Such a big change as you and we have made is not for the faint of heart!! But we are thriving, making new friends and enjoying a life of pine trees, deer and elk, and small town living.. I highly advise following the "Path with Heart.." HAPPY HOLIDAYS and thanks for sharing.PS: Ken and I got married on the beach on Ocean City.We hail from South Jersey-- I still love the beach and we usually visit once a year...

  5. p.s. forgot to mention: our costs are also somewhat higher in certian areas than what we paid to live int he valley: higher property taxes, it's 13 miles to the grocery store, and we have to contend with heating bills again (but we DON'T have to air condition..) Still. your Heart will tell you what's worth it and where to compromise.. it all comes out in the wash... we spend a WHOLE LOT LESS On going out to eat, as there ARE no nice restaurants in Pine, where we live.

  6. I grew up spending my summers at the shore and loved AC then, but you know how I feel about Lancaster! Only thing I can think of that would make it even better is more family and friends joining us here. So . . . please know you'll be welcome, should that day arrive, and in the meantime, we'll look forward to those visits.

  7. I am originally a PA girl--but since I was born in Scranton, pretty much anywhere I have lived since has been an improvement. Still, I have secret nostalgia for the coal piles.