Every week on Monday, the WoW! community and our invited guests weigh in at the Watcher’s Forum, short takes on a major issue of the day, the culture, or daily living. This week’s question: What Do You Most Like And/Or Dislike About Where You Live?
Don Surber: West Virginia is Almost Heaven but also God’s Waiting Room. On the one hand, the scenery is lovely nine months a year (when the trees lose their leaves, it is pretty dismal with black sticks poking in the air). I love those mornings when green hills beneath the blue skies await the yellow to burn off the morning fog. A bird feeder hanging off the back porch — a metal roof keeps the squirrels from the feeder — invites the neighbor’s cat to sit and wait, and hope. But either the dog next store barks at his fence, or I arrive at the back door, to chase the cat away. He’ll have to hunt voles again this day.
On the other hand, this is one of the three oldest states in the Union. More than 320,000 retirees live in the state. Nearly one in five people. The economy is moribund. The young and ambitious leave. Left behind are, well, we lead the nation in opioid abuse. Directions often are given in used-to-be’s. You go down to where the Dairy Queen used to be and hang a left…
I am retired. My days are divided in two categories, Top Down Days and other days. My red convertible (a 2010 Mustang GT) is as common a site as a Marine flag; they outnumber Confederate ones 3 to 1 here.
My roots are in Cleveland. My butt is here. The wonder of it all is that from my living room in Poca, I can reach people throughout the country, and even the world. Just mailed an autographed copy of my latest book to Australia. Arrived within days via the post office, where they know me for the books I mail hither and yon.
I hope you like where you are as much as I like where I am.
Laura Rambeau Lee: Florida is one of only nine states with no income tax, which is a major attraction for many people and why the state continues to grow.
Living in the suburbs of Tampa we have the feel of country living while enjoying the benefits of a big city. Our neighborhood backs up to a two thousand acre conservation area so we have alligators, bobcats, black bears, wild boar, and I have counted twenty-six deer wandering through the back yard in one night alone. Yet within a half hour drive we can see Broadway shows and attend music concerts, visit the zoo and aquarium. Cruise ships leave out of Tampa to New Orleans, Mexico and many islands in the Caribbean. Tampa International Airport always rates in the top three best airports in the country. Some of the most beautiful beaches are nearby along with plenty of lakes and rivers with natural springs, so if you like any kind of water activities this is the place for you. There is plenty to do for all ages. These are the best features of the area.
What I dislike most is the heat and humidity, which makes it difficult to enjoy the outdoors for much of the year unless you are on or near the water. It’s hard to imagine life here before air-conditioning. But all in all, the Tampa Bay area is a great place to work and raise your family.
Rob Miller: Coastal California’s virtues are pretty well known. The climate is wonderful. If you dislike shoveling snow or dealing with frozen pipes it’s definitely the place. Even in the cities there’s a surprising amount of green and open space. There’s a diverse population here that can add a lot of fun and verve to living here if you’re so inclined. There are lots of cultural opportunities.
That’s about where it stops.
The cost of living is absurd, especially if you migrate here from elsewhere. Taxes are extremely high, among the highest in the country. If you are renting, rents are ridiculous in most of the coastal areas where the majority of population lives. Los Angeles also boasts a 10% ‘carbon tax’ on power, something the city council sneaked in when no one was looking. Property taxes are grandfathered and relatively low, but I wouldn’t count on them staying that way as the state becomes desperate for money to give to the public employee unions and other assorted scams. The public schools are mostly dysfunctional, and so is the essentially socialist state government, whose answer to anything is to raise taxes, spend other people’s money and pass more arcane, byzantine regulations. Since there’s essentially no political opposition, they do whatever they want, no matter how insane or ridiculously expensive.
Traffic in the major cites is abysmal. As an out of towner friend of mine once said, ‘Yeah, the beaches are OK, but what’s the attraction if it takes you hours of driving in L.A. traffic to get to them?’ I live in an area that isn’t very crowded and somewhat rural (most people in Los Angeles couldn’t even tell you where it is, which suits me fine), but I can sympathize with what he’s saying. And even if you get to the beaches, they’ll mostly be incredibly crowded too, especially in the summer unless you know where to go. It definitely didn’t used to be like that at all, and it wasn’t that long ago.
The infrastructure, particularly in Los Angeles was never meant to accommodate the number of people who live there, legally and illegally. It’s in poor repair in a lot of places.
To sum up, if you’re rich, don’t mind high taxes and cost of living, really bad traffic, a hostile climate towards business and a far Left political environment, California’s coastal cities should suit you just fine.
Mike McDaniel: Living in a quiet, rural suburb of the Dallas/Ft.Worth Metroplex offers unusual opportunities. The small town where I teach is just far enough away from the urban areas to still be quiet, relatively crime-free, and a great place to work and raise a family. My commute to work is five minutes by car, a bit more by bike, and always stress-free, unlike the commutes of the poor people forced to daily endure the eternal traffic jams of the main highways into and out of the cities.
My life is generally quiet, calm and rewarding. Yet virtually any good or service one can imagine is available within a 25-45 minute drive. Where else can one regularly sing with a first rate symphony orchestra in world-class venues? Where else can one, with a 25-minute drive, be a paid, professional singer?
Surprisingly, Internet access in my town is mediocre at best–a small annoyance. It’s sort of Bermuda triangle of the Web.
The climate is mild in the winter, and often, there is no snow. Last winter, school wasn’t closed once due to ice, which is a bit rare. The summers can be hot, and for extended periods, but not always. It’s often windy, but for bicyclists, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It’s rather like a Kendo dojo where I trained for many years. At the ends of training sessions, we used to half-joke: “much blood on floor! Good training!” The same goes for wind for bicyclists: “The wind is actually forcing me backward! Good training!”
Our ice storms are just infamous, and actually somewhat hilarious. Texans have no idea how to drive on snow and ice, so that kind of weather tends to paralyze the area. Mrs. Manor and I simply go out for a spin and have fun driving with abandon on the kinds of roads we both grew up navigating. I do miss the changes in seasons, however. In North Texas, one season sort of mushes into every other. Our lawns are green and the trees leafy until as late as December. I rarely put the lawnmower away until mid November. The colors–and smells–of fall often pass us by. And I do miss winter, particularly the snow.
I have a fierce internal furnace, producing prodigious body heat. As a result, I’ve never found cold daunting, and there is nothing like a fresh snowfall. During my police patrol days, I worked the midnight shift–by choice–and always enjoyed new snowfalls as they covered the ground, and occasionally, revealed the tracks of bad guys. They never caught on.
Perhaps the best part of Texas is the cost of living is relatively low, particularly compared to the rest of the country, and the economy continues to thrive. It’s a great place to live.
Dave Schuler: I won’t bother telling you all what I dislike about Chicago—you probably already know.
Chicago has a wonderful cultural scene. It’s probably the best major city for music, drama, and the arts in the country. It’s a great food city—some of the best restaurants in the country and restaurants in amazing profusion and variety.
But what I like best about Chicago is my neighborhood. I’m in easy driving distance from the Loop, Chicago’s downtown, and O’Hare, Chicago’s major airport. Indeed, I’m about 20 minutes from just about anywhere one might want to go.
And the very best thing about my neighborhood is my neighbors. We’re very diverse. I have black neighbors, East Asian neighbors, South Asian neighbors, Hispanic neighbors, and Chicago Irish neighbors. Catholics, Orthodox, other Christian denominations, Hindus, Muslims, and Jews (I actually live in an eruv).
We shovel each others’ walks when it snows, look out for each other, care for each other. We have block parties together. We rejoice at each other’s children’s graduations and weddings; we mourn each other’s dead. It’s like living in a village in the best sort of way.
My neighborhood is a frequent topic at my blog. Here are some of my posts to give you the flavor.
The Sauganash Fourth of July Parade, 2016
Dining in My Neighborhood
His friends turned out for him
Well, there it is!
Make sure to drop by every Monday for the WoW! Magazine Forum. And enjoy WoW! Magazine 24-7 with some of the best stuff written in the blogosphere. Take from me, you won’t want to miss it.