Sunday, March 28, 2010

Life near the beach

A lot of folks go through life with the hopes of retiring near the beach. It is a dream that gets under your skin.

You feed the dream by going on vacations to those same beaches. When retirement gets near, you start looking and trying to figure out if that summer love can become a year around one.

We managed to make it from the dream to the reality. There are some things that we have learned which everyone should consider before making a permanent move.
  1. Is you dream beach home area so different that you will end up making major lifestyle adjustments?
  2. Are you willing to roll with the punches as your favorite beaches become everyone's favorite beaches during the summer?
  3. Does your chosen area have the services and shopping to keep you happy?
  4. How do you feel about making new friends?
  5. Can you find enough to entertain yourself after the novelty of walking the beaches wears off?
I often recommend that people visit their potential homes during at least three of the four seasons. Life at the beach is more seasonal than it is in many places. You need to understand those seasons, and how they might impact your life.

Some beaches almost close up shop during the winter. Then there are beach communities with significant year around communities. Make sure you know what your community is like in January and are happy with those winter differences.

Some beach areas have a lot of traffic in summer. Others have very manageable traffic. If you have been visiting the same beach area for years but have only gone in June, you should make a trip in July just so you can see the traffic and people at their peak.

Residents usually appreciate the visitors since they keep the economy going. Along the Crystal Coast where we live, for a half dozen weeks during the summer, we avoid doing our major grocery shopping on Friday, Saturday, or Sunday.

We also tend to eat out at unusual times in order to avoid crowds. Beyond that our behavior changes very little. We usually hit the beaches later in the afternoon. Most visitors have headed for the showers by then.

When we decided to move to the Crystal Coast, we had already looked at some areas where shopping required driving long distances. We knew we did not want that. We wanted competitive grocery shopping and at least the basics of shopping available within a twenty minute drive. We found that in Carteret County.

We also came to our new area determined to make some new friends, and we have. It is always an effort when you move, but it is well worth it. We have seen couples move and end very unhappy because they have not reached out to neighbors or found activities to occupy their time.

Before we picked this area, we knew we wanted a place to boat, fish, hike, bike and walk the beaches. We clearly understood that this area was no Myrtle Beach. It actually was exactly what we wanted. We were not looking for night life beyond beach walks.

Life at the beach can be a lot of fun. You end up being much more aware of the weather since it impacts your life so much. Our move from Roanoke, Va. to Cape Carteret, NC has been a successful one. Any move has challenges, but we have managed to work our way through them.

I highly recommend beach life to those who want an active life in beautiful surroundings.