Since our last visitors departed this past Monday, we haven’t had a breath of wind, so we’ve stayed put allowing some time to reflect on the cruising life. So, short of suddenly changing Chrissy’s mind to hop across the pond to Europe, what changes do I want from our previous land life that have been inspired from our travels as we prepare to return home?
In a nutshell here’s what I would like to prioritize:
Walking distance to a downtown area that has local culture events, live music, dining etc
- I don’t think this needs much explanation. Walking is good for you and if you can walk there, you will go because it is convenient.
- Charlottetown, PEI was one of my all time cruising favourites for this reason. We were docked downtown, the people were friendly, they had live local music, live theatre and more all within walking distance. That reminds me, I should see who’s hiring there.
Cities are actually fun. Its the sprawling suburbs and associated traffic I don’t like.
- All those years I thought I had a dislike for cities. Turns out it was the suburbs and urban sprawl and how far apart everything of relevance is that drove me nuts. Good thing I bought a boat to learn the truth.
Not too downtown for peace and quiet.
- Seeing as it is up in the air if we will still have a boat to fill this requirement, it is nice to have a relatively quiet place to sit in your backyard.
Ideally more than 8 feet between houses, just in case we swing at anchor.
- More seriously though, I don’t want to repeat our old house where the kitchen and dining room windows of 4 houses lined up allowing you see straight through. We had nice neighbours, but really, why even bother with the windows. They don’t want to see me have my morning coffee in my underwear and I feel the same about them.
Walkable to a bakery or grocery store.
- We loved being able to stop in quickly for fresh lettuce or bread at the bakeries in some of the french islands. Sure we will do most of our grocery shopping with a car, but why hop in the car to go pick up one fresh ingredient. Suddenly that $3 item just cost you $8 and was a hassle to get.
Nearby natural areas or at least parks for walking with Magnus (about the only amenity our old house had)
- I enjoyed hiking for a few hours on the weekend mornings in the winter with Magnus. I used to contemplate the news I digested with my morning coffee in a quiet and beautiful scenery. I do the same now, I’m just not trudging through the snow. I don’t want to give this up, and I’d like to get into cross country skiing too when we get home instead of just my other sporting hobby of downhill skiing.
NO commuting. This sucked my soul and wallet dry.
- I’m convinced people really do underestimate what it costs to commute in a car. Here’s a hint: the government posts the rate per km that your employer needs to give you when you drive your car for business – and it isn’t so you make money off it.
- As for the sucking your soul dry, if you like sitting in traffic daily you should be warned there is something very, very wrong with you or your home life.
Transit and cycling options to places of employment.
- Oh how nice it would be to read then news in traffic on the way to work, or ride your bike from door to door. Or maybe I’m just saying this because I’m just jealous of those superior lady drivers I regularly saw putting make-up on during their commute or those guys in the family minivan with the newspapers unfolded across their steering wheels.
1 car lifestyle
- Hey, if you can take transit to work or walk or ride why not? That second car money could cover a weekly Friday dinner out to enjoy the place where you live and an annual vacation. Although if you walk or ride you might live longer so you’d better plan for a longer retirement. Maybe the second car is cheaper after all.
Local farm markets that grow or raise quality produce or meats.
- Why North Americans put up with all the genetically modified crap that Europeans don’t is beyond me. I have become much more aware of it since we visited the french islands. Heck you can get a bakery sandwich for the price of a Tim Horton’s one, but they use real ingredients, not processed crap. If Tim’s made the switch I’d eat lunch there a couple times a week. Fortunately, I know local farm markets exist. Chrissy was good at finding them in the KW area where we once lived.
A city with waterfront would be great, but…a Hobie Cat might suffice.
- There is something about walking along the water that is just simply therapeutic.
- But, I did get a lot of the same benefit sailing a beach catamaran before we ever contemplated buying Altera.
The place also needs to be affordable without sacrificing the rest, so Vancouver is out -at least until their housing bubble pops.
- I don’t want to have to chase money. I’d much rather just be an average engineer as far as salary is concerned if the work and coworkers are interesting too.
Strangely enough, Waterloo has neighbourhoods that we know meet most of those requirements, the transit and waterfront being the weak links. We could end up closer to where left from than I ever would have guessed.
Collingwood meets pretty much all your requirements. Not as expensive as you might think, at least off the ‘Mountain’, waterfront, small but active downtown, industry in the area, growing community, excellent trail system, lots of spinoff agribusiness ventures in the region ie wineries and cideries.
Check out ‘Experience Collingwood’ on Facebook sometime to get an idea of number and range of events in he area.
That’s a good point. It’s been a while since I’ve been there other than to ski, but the gentle lake breeze would make for some good walking and biking in the spring and fall.
There is a lot of wisdom in the observations you are making and you draw attention to the fact that, somehow, most of us seem to prefer to live in the suburban “wasteland” (I do not exempt myself from that folly). One thing you might add to your considerations – whether in general of applicable to yourselves — is that we do not make “downtowns” or “near-downtowns”, as you allude to them, family friendly, not just pet friendly. And, regrettably, single family dwellings and their cozy little gardens do end up being the cause for urban sprawl. None of my three own kids, with families of their own, have opted to live where they would prefer to live if they had no children.
Walter, I fully understand your point. There are really only a couple of city blocks in Waterloo that fit my criteria, mostly because 50 years ago when they were built the city was just a town. Here we could have a yard and be within 2km of downtown and the schools are supposed to be good there too. But of course there will be a premium to be paid for the location.
Of course today with few long term careers with a single company, a few years down the road that neighbourhood may result in an hour and a half transit commute across the city which would lead to a second car again…
Unfortunately transit infrastructure, particularly to the suburbs, is poor in southern ontario. Without big investments and a long term view that the investments may actually be less than the socio-economic costs of unproductive/unhappy labour from wasting their hours parked on expressways as the traffic continues to get worse…. But maybe I’m the only one that has an intolerance for traffic.
Jeff, Everyone is intolerant of traffic, but no one is willing to give up the car. As to the lack of infrastructure, there is a cautionary tale their. Looking at Toronto, we see now the results of at least 30 or 40 years of lack of foresight, lack of planning, lack of political will, lack of whatever it is that permitted urban sprawl without commensurate investment in public transit other than buses and a few other things, all of them insufficient. Democracy, when it comes to these things, is not perfect, it seems.
Another excellent post, Jeff, and good on you for getting your priorities out front & center, rather than letting them roll around in your head where they’re prone to second-guessing.
I haven’t read a ton of Mister money Moustache’s blog (and what I have read , I don’t 100% agree with, since he can be a bit over-the-top) but he has very similar views when it comes to cutting your dependence on cars as much as possible:
I agree Mr. Money Mustache is interesting, but a bit extreme. He would be extremely offended that I use a 2 stroke motor and didn’t select a rowing dinghy, or that I do want to own a Tesla someday, just because I think they are cool.
My view is to identify what qualities or luxuries are important to you and pursue those while not succumbing to the societal or marketing pressure for the things that aren’t important to you.
As always you think things through with that logical mind of yours. Your wisdom astounds me, I am sure you and Chrissy will come to the right decisions for you both. Enjoy your becalmed hiatus.
Nan and Grandad ? ?
Hopefully all this thought pays off. I still think it is going to be a difficult adaptation. Don’t think Magnus knows what’s in store either.
Thoughtful and interesting post, Jeff.
You might consider Picton/Prince Edward County as a place to look. Probably less expensive than Collingwood area (mentioned above) as those fed up with city lifestyles are moving there and driving up land prices. Mind you, I have no idea what the employment situation is like and the winters can be harsh, but that’s the price we pay for living in Canada.
All that said, given the price of hydro in Ontario which continues to skyrocket (another increase is in the works because we didn’t use enough last winter – figure that one out; conserving costs extra in the long run) why not settle semi-permanently in the Caribbean?
We are still keeping options wide open and the current thought for what might work changes every few days.
We actually did contemplate buying a bigger boat that would be a more comfortable home and looking into work or business options in the caribbean, but for now I think we miss the change of the seasons too much and it would be nice to be closer to family for a few years.
Jeff many interesting comments especially about the house windows and coffee. Did u ever wonder why our blinds were always closed. If u miss the old neighbourhood Dennis and I might be moving within a year as I contemplate retiring next summer and Magnus always felt at home here lol. Keep in touch
Lorraine and Dennis
Retirement sounds like a great idea, enjoy! We will let you know where we wind up and if it is in KW we’ll find some time for a visit.
PS. I never noticed your blinds were closed all the time as ours were too!