We stopped (as promised) at the Outback for lunch Monday and while talking with our server this time, different fellow from before, that he’d recently returned to Texas from Iowa..up around Des Moines.
“How’d you like Iowa?” Inquiring minds want to know.
Well, turns out that it’s a pretty nice place – but that’s after you get past the winters. Those, we were informed in more polite verbiage pretty much suck.
I don’t mind cold weather myself. With enough firewood and coffee (plus back up power and a good library) it’s really not much different that living in Texas.
The main thing is in the Frozen North, there are two or three months when going outside is plum loco/crazy. Too damn cold.
Texas, has three months when going outside is also plum loco/crazy. Except people here call it “summer” and turn on AC instead of a fireplace insert. Too damn hot. The North and South have never worked out a good compromise, except Hilo and there’s a volcano, earth slide risk.
But you see the problem.
A long-time reader of ours (since 2000’ish) sent in a nice email as she is also on the quest to find the perfect place to live the next chapter of Life, The Adventure.
“So reason #1 for writing today is because out of the blue I decided to visit your site to see what has been going on during my long absence. I read your headlines and went to the article referenced in the Subject of this email. 5 paragraphs down I see the words Ocean Shores, WA which is exactly where I am looking at beach property since visiting there about
2 years ago. I am planning to relocate and buy a home by next summer.
What are the chances I would after years away, see the city name of a small little known place in the first article of yours I peruse. I just laughed and laughed.”
Then she got to the point:
“Given you know the son of the guy who developed Ocean Shores, any thoughts on whether this location would be a safe bet under any
circumstances? I have been up and down OR coast, as well as WA coast south of Ocean Shores but simply was drawn to it unlike any other area as the rightful location of my next life’s chapter…”
Yeah, damn fine question there. Let me share some of our thoughts because there are many things that argue in favor of Ocean Shores:
The wildlife is great. And, if you do the next big inlet south (Willapa Bay) there is also spectacular wild life and damn fine oysters, too. Island Center Bakery rings a bell, but those could be bats, too.
Ocean Shores has a very special place in my heart: Our family used to go out Saturday mornings from Seattle, drive down to Oyhut (near Ocean Shores) dig a limit each of razor clams, and drive home.
Except on one of these trips, I spied a $300 watch that someone had left behind, having taken it off to grab a clam. I treasured that watch – as it was an early electronic watch and I don’t have to tell you what $300 in 1957 would be worth in today’s funny money.
Sundays were then spent with a pound of bacon, 3-4 onions, about 10 pounds of peeled and diced potatoes, half pound of butter, some pepper and all the minced clams. Served with fresh French bread. We ate – and loved – razor clam chowder.
Back to the point, Ocean Shores has evolved as a fine community. Periodically, someone would propose they put in Vegas style casino gambling, but with an Indian Casino nearby nowadays, not much point to that. My late mom loved that casino when we took her.
The only three or four concerns I have are of a practical sort.
For one, there is always the risk of the ocean. We may not have another Molokai run-out collapse out in Hawaii driving a killer wave toward the northwest for another 10,000 years. Or, it could be tomorrow. Doom porners will insist it’s any minute…but we still visit the ocean.
Next is the little matter of Japan. Fukushima is still a mess, still polluting, and although the levels are down from peak, there is still stuff washing up on the coast, or so people up there tell us.
Wherever we land (if we don’t stay here in Texas as is the current plan) the things we are serious about are healthcare (Texas is very good in the larger cities) and internet connectivity. Then space and privacy, Hint: Privacy costs money.
I don’t know as I mentioned the complaint I filed with the FCC a while back. But it involved out terrestrial links (2) that are technically HDSL.
The basis of the complaint was that we were getting repeated bandwidth exhaustion errors and yet the (alleged) phone company kept signing people up for new service. Somehow, that just didn’t see right. And it has kept us – and times – from being able to use the internet as it should be – a reliable public utility.
Which gets me to the Ocean Shores deal point (or wherever you land): Make damn sure you have super high speed internet connectivity. I mean fiber and good enough to stream four 4K streams at the same time.
We have some friends that just built a new home in a 55+ community near Phoenix and they love it. Besides being a new palace (seriously nice) they have fiber to the house and that gives them 50+ MB up and down speeds.
Not to be missed though, Excede (which took over from Wild Blue) for satellite services here in the Outback of East Texas, is now providing us 1.5 MB uplink and 5 MB and better down speeds for $59 bucks a month.
The problem that comes with Excede, however, is something back in my microwave field engineer days was described as “precipitation path loss…” When it rains heavily, or a thick layer of thunderstorm goes over, you lose the ‘net.
This only matters if you need to use the ‘net on a schedule, as we keep to around here, although someday, if I grow up and retire we’ll be done with schedules.
Elaine’s skeptical. Ure a type A is how she sees it.
The only other things that rule out Ocean Shores to me are the relatively long response times to a first class hospital.
Aberdeen and Hoquiam are up river a ways, have better hospitals, more people, and yes, some modest hills in the couple of hundred foot class that might be useful. Not yet overpriced. But give it time.
They also have an airport and a prevailing wind from the West. But countering the cheap flying is the lack of easy ditching (pattern is largely over water) and lots and lots of gray weather. Salt air is hard of aluminum. Hangared and waxed in Texas is fine for it.
My family used to joke about Aberdeen being about an equal mix of bars and churches. When the area grays out the time to sunshine can measured in months. If you like fog, there’s no better place.
The Long Beach Peninsula of Washington is nice, too, though further south. I mentioned Willapa Bay, but Long Beach has more of a tourism vibe to it.
It’s also not far from Astoria, and there’s plenty of elevation to be found there, a bit less gray (prevailing weather up and down the Columbia gives a bit more circulation).
Most of the real deals in Astoria real estate have been soaked up, but there was a time when an old ready to restore Victorian era home could be had for less than $50K. Times were, huh?
If the leave the Washington Coast, the next place to look would be up the Columbia a ways, around Longview/Kelso. Granted some pulp mill smell, but it was not terribly expensive, good airport, good hospitals, and fairly cheap. Thing of the mills smell if it’s still there like living in a high fart density area.
We found a couple of homes up there in the $250K range that looked interesting, but my buddy pointed out the pictures looked a little too “photo-chopped” if you know what I mean, so we didn’t pursue it.
We have taken a very close look (on paper) at much of the territory from Goldendale, Washington, down to Washougal, which is just up the Columbia a short snort from Vancouver/Portland.
I used to love Portland to death. The Rose’s Deli sandwiches and gnosh are still delish, but the traffic? Yee gods…That’s something else.
Portland has grown people faster than concrete, and consequently, the first place you get into bargains (and out from behind bumpers so much) is down around Eugene, or at least south of Salem. State Capitols are often overpriced for what you get. In office holders and homes.
Oregon has two screaming superstars, where a home would likely be a good investment for a young family: Eugene is great and green, while Bend (and Redmond) Oregon up in the high desert on the other side of the Cascades are very nice. If I were a young professional, Nampa and Twin Falls Idaho would be on my list, too. Fortunately, I;m no longer young or professional so much…
I also like Deschutes River territory, south of Sun River, Oregon but until we get into the hard living part of the Second Depression, I’m waiting for prices to come down. Even then, there’s the medical response issue.
Which then gets me to the sneaky-Pete]s.
This includes places like Cascade Locks, Goldendale, and places like that along the Columbia River Gorge.
With a few wind machines as an up front charge, and a whole bunch of 2 by 6’s, a person could build a phenomenally well insulated home with wind power for lighting and such with some expectation that it would work. Always blowing in through there. Some waterfalls on the Oregon side are nice to look at, but an hour from Portland up river is like a different country.
And one more place – though off the wall a bit: Baker City Oregon. Last time we were through, it was beautiful, nice mix of climates, but again, they do have winters, which sort of makes up for the tsunami risk going to zero. Unspoiled by bureaucracy, at least on the surface (see earlier Salem Disease note).
Every place we look, though, it has come down to more mulling than action.
It’s like the old Three Bears story co-starring Goldilocks.
“Ocean Shores is close enough to the kids, but too gray, and too far from services….”
Cascade Locks and up the Gorge is nice, but we worry about Oregon taxes and left of rational state government. Not that Texas isn’t going down that road, but for now, it’s not there…yet. The Bolsheviks of Austin are in the organizing stage.
Bend, Oregon is already big enough that rush hour traffic causes sleep disruption and PTSD (post traffic stress disorder).
Eugene is nice on all counts, we know the perfect airport and mechanic (at Creswell, OR), but it’s a day long ordeal through the Portland Traffic Gauntlet for the kids to come visit.
The Bellingham Washington area is already over-run with Canadians.
The San Juan islands are great, they have the airports, but what would they be like without waterfront or should a Ferry Strike happen, again? Which they do every so often.
Mason County (Shelton, WA and environs) is mostly second and third growth logging country. First class medicine is down in Olympia, and Shelton is not (how to to put this mildly?) kind of downscale compared to what we’ve seen in big cities.
Remember, Elaine’s experience since we’ve been married has been a) Seattle yacht scene, b) San Francisco yacht clubs, c) Boca Raton, FL, and Meisner Square concerts d) Burbank, CA studio scene…and now we’re here outside of Palestine, TX. (I am one hell of a salesman, huh?)
E likes the shopping and misses the nightlife in years of then. We both suffer extreme nostalgia for the “good old days” when people went out to party and listen to music.
Today, you stay home,have your own studio and don’t dare drive after anything stronger than mouthwash. In terms of dressing to the 9’s? These are my dress Carhartts, dear.
The other afternoon, having a toddy in the sunroom, I asked Elaine “What do you want to give up?”
“The shop with every power tool on the planet?”
“A choice of places to set up your easel and paint?”
“Having no mortgage?”
“Having 29 acres to do whatever we want with?”
“Give up the recording studio and drums…which may not place nicely in a crowded urban setting? Rules our condos…”
“Expect me to give up my 60 foot ham radio tower and wide-spaced beam? HOA hell.”
“Or that 900 foot long wire antenna on the drawing board? Take a city slicker govercrat 4 seconds to find some bs rule against it…”
“Give up a guest room with shower and privacy in the other building?”
We add this stuff up every so often, and so far, Texas wins.
Elaine’s fond of saying “But I don’t want to die HERE.”
Yet when I ask here “Where EXACTLY do you WANT TO DIE?” we never seem to get that part sorted out.
About here (and perhaps on the second martini) I suggest the old family sayings on the relocation question.
Home is where you is.
And if you need a different place to be happy, then you’ve got a software issue more often than not.
Happiness and joy can be created from anything. It’s not the location that makes it. It’s the attitude.
That is, as long as it’s not over 90, not under 50, not raining and gray every day, and you have a long growing season, and the local people are complete idiots, and the roads are… well, you get the idea.
Can I Stop Being Right, Please
From reader Alan:
I know this is not news to you but I did read the following blurb on the Fox News website today:
“Wendy’s, one of the world’s largest fast food chains, says it will replace human employees with automated self-service kiosks in many of its approximately
6,500 restaurants. According to Wendy’s CTO Todd Penegor, the sweeping move is an effort to counteract minimum wage hikes.”
I believe you have been forecasting this trend for awhile :)
Yessir, buckeroo…there I go being right again, but I don’t take all that much pleasure in it.
Well, maybe later this week when I do the victory lap on CoastToCoast with George Noory. Not to kick sand at the professional doomsters who would have had us all sucking wind by now, but the market did bottom in Feb and we may hit our new all times highs in May. But someone is bound to be right…so I volunteered.
Write when you get rich,