Monday, November 14, 2011

If you could live anywhere at all.....

When Bill retired in 2008, it really hit him hard. You name it, we lived through it. Sleepless nights, self-pity, feelings of failure. I knew he needed to get his mind on something else.

Eureka!  Nothing says positive self-image like a  project!

We agreed that he would research the various places where we might consider retiring. He would do online research and then travel to places he'd identified, and narrow them down for us to consider together. At around the same time our daughter, Julie, was living with us, trying to resolve some similar issues. She had recently graduated from the University of Vermont with a double major in Psychology and Art and was clueless about her future. Julie and her boyfriend, Ben, traveled to North Carolina to explore it as a possible place to live and work. Alas, it didn't work out for them, but we shamelessly poured through the materials they brought back, and thought this might be a good location for us.

We have a bit of history in NC. Bill's mother and father moved to Chapel Hill after retirement, and they built a mountain retreat in Blowing Rock a couple of years later.  We visited often, and loved the pervasive laid-back ambiance. Bill's mother, Betty, now lives in Durham, at a wonderful retirement center that's associated with Duke University. Also, the barbecue is outstanding. (The sweet/hot/vinegary sauce is pretty special).

Aside from our warm and cozy feelings about North Carolina, we had some requirements for where we eventually end up. These are in no particular order:
  • Easy access to the arts - visual, music, theater. We love this about Tampa. Between the Straz Center, Freefall and Gorilla theatres, all the museums and music venues like Skippers, there's always an answer to "what's there to do this weekend?"
  • Top notch medical facilities: Neither one of us is Peter Pan and eventually we expect to have medical issues. We want great care, close by.
  • Proximity to excellent colleges/universities: I love school! September rolls around and I'm ready to fill a new backpack with highlighters and spiral notebooks.  Lifelong learning: that's important. (I'm the obnoxious one in the front row)
  • Closer to family. My family lives in the northeast, including our kids, who have migrated to New York and Massachusetts. My mother and brother are in New Jersey and sister in Pennsylvania. As mentioned above, Bill's mother is in North Carolina. Meanwhile, we've lived in in the deep South, upper Midwest, overseas, and now Florida. For the first time in years, I'd love to be within a day's drive of those near and dear.
  • Outdoor activities. We've had a couple of sailboats, like to hike (sometimes it's more of a stroll), bike, kayak, and just be outdoors with our dog, Charlie. We have skied, golfed and played tennis, but it's been a while, and we'd like to pick back up on those activities. So it would be great to be near exceptional public places like parks, lakes, ocean, woods, that sort of thing, among other people who value these activities.
  • The sense that we could blend in with a community easily. We no longer have the entree that young children provide through schools and other activities. Nor do we have a lot of time to spend making inroads. We aren't interested in a tightly-knit, closed off, social system. You know what I mean. I feel the same about gated communities. Ew.
  • A moderate climate. After enduring the dark, icy winters of Minnesota and the steamy, humid SpringSummerFall of Tampa and Hong Kong, we are ready for a reasonable 4 seasons and a reason for a fireplace. Granted, with global climate change and all, there's no guarantee, but we can try.

  • I'm not much for shopping, but when I need something, I like to be able to find it in a local store. We're pretty spoiled in Tampa, especially with International Plaza. Neiman Marcus, upscale Dillards, Sephora, Nordstrom. On-line ordering is great, but I really have to try on clothes before I buy them.
  • And let's not forget great food.  This should be at the very top of the list, but I'm trying really hard not to come off as a glutton. I just don't see how life is worth living if you can't eat wonderful things. We exchange menus and photos with our kids of great meals we've eaten, are in the process of eating or are cooking. Here's one I sent last week of an incredible lobster entree from Nana's restaurant in Durham. OMG it was fabulous.

    Where would you live, if it could be anywhere at all? Overseas? Hometown? New and exotic? What is most important to you?


    1. The food shots are making me hungry! I'm actually finding myself impressed at the places you've (we've!) lived and the hobbies and activities undertaken.

      Goes to show putting it all down (whatever "it" is) goes a long way in quantifying something.

      As for me -- I see more space at some point -- Westchester, perhaps the outskirts of Paris, a shack on the beach?

      Though I could be getting ahead of myself......

    2. We HAVE had some pretty amazing experiences. Life is full of possibilities, you just have to recognize them.

      Carpe diem

      (I vote for Paris)

    3. I realize that there are many places I DON'T want to live (or live in again) -- cities with gridlock on the beltway at all hours, for instance. But where I DO want to live is as close as possible to our kids. Meantime, we love being here in the mountains of WV. And retirement is another 4+ years in the future.

    4. It's a tricky thing, moving to be close to your kids, cause kids move! We had neighbors in NJ who moved across the country to be near their daughter and her family, and then son-in-law was transferred out of state. Oops. But I'm with you - family is important. Good luck with your plans, Kris.