I’m sitting in my home here in Pacific Grove, on the beautiful Monterey peninsula, enjoying the tree-house like view and trusting that a buyer who will appreciate it as much as I do will come along soon.
I’ve always loved it here and had always wanted to live here–one wish that I was able to make come true. It didn’t come cheap, but I’ve never regretted it.
But now it’s time to move on, and it feels a little strange. Oh, I still love it here. But it doesn’t seem like the right place for midlife and beyond.
With one bedroom shacks going for $750,000, there is a baseline assumption of wealth that makes me uncomfortable. Plus no employment– just low-paying jobs in hospitality and tourism. It takes too much to have a life here, and I want to back off, to scale down. I’d still like to live well, but don’t want it to cost so much.
It’s interesting to me that I’ve never really “rooted” in a place like other people do. Maybe it’s because I never had children, nothing to tie me down to an area that I knew I’d stay in forever. I grew up in Rochester, NY, moved to Tallahassee, Fla. for a dozen years, then Silicon Valley for another dozen, then Tampa for a few, and then back/forth between the Monterey peninsula and Tampa.
Where is home? If you’re the IRS, it’s Tampa, but if you’re asking about where my soul lives, it’s been California for 24 years.
When I moved to the San Francisco Bay area in late 1984, I took to it like a duck to water and thought I’d always stay. I loved its beauty and free-thinking culture. Working in Silicon Valley in its heyday–the 80s and early 90s–was exciting and fun. When I’d hear of folks leaving because of the cost of living, the traffic, the population density, I’d always wonder how they could bear to leave. All those things were the cost of living in this paradise, I thought, a cost well worth it.
Not any more… here I am in midlife, feeling the same things. I don’t want to have to work as hard as is needed to make a fat, six-figure salary. I don’t want to work for someone else. I don’t want to commute in traffic, pay $3000 a month for a “decent” place to live. I don’t want to live on top of my neighbors. Deal with smog.
I am a recovering Californian. One who will always love it but knows it’s bad for me. There is natural beauty in many other places, I now can see, and the peace and calm of a more mellow lifestyle is appealing to me at this age.
When I tell people that I’m done buying property, many of them wince. After all, prices haven’t been this low in ages. It’s a good investment. Tax deductions and all.
But I don’t want property taxes, insurance and a mortage–but mostly, I don’t want to feel tied to a place because of property.
The Beau commented that his brother bought property to have someplace that would be his “base” for the rest of his life. And that works for him.
But to me, my “base” has nothing to do with real estate. My base is the place where I’ve built a life, a community. It’s people and natural beauty, not a deed to a piece of land.
And that’s what I’m looking for in Life 2.0.