Searching for a new home

cabinFrom my previous posts you know about the construction and destruction of the neighborhood where I now live. I have engaged a realtor, an old friend of mine, and am actively engaged in finding a new place to live.

This is a daunting task in many ways. First and foremost is the fact that I will soon be 70 years old. It’s not easy pulling up stakes at my age. I have lived at my present location for 15 years, which is the longest I have lived at one place in my lifetime. Being a Navy brat, my family moved a lot. I have lived in Florida, Texas, Virginia, Rhode Island, and New York. I have lived here in Virginia since the 11th grade. In the time I have lived in Virginia I moved 7 or 8 times. I am hoping this move will be my final move. I plan on dying where I move next.

All my friends, family, doctors, church, everyone I know, live in the Hampton Roads area. Ideally I would like to find a place to live in this area. The only problem with that is that I have grown to hate this area. I have a bit of a nomad still in me, and 50+ years in the same area is having its toll on me. Add to that the relentless development, construction, traffic, and just total urbanization of the area is distasteful to me. I want some country, not endless condos, new homes, shopping malls, etc.

I am trying to find a place where I am not elbow-to-elbow with people, I want some peace and quiet. I want to be able to look out on my back yard and see a deer, or a fox, or a racoon once in a while. I used to be able to do that here, but not any more. Plus, the cost of housing in this area if very high. You really can’t get much for what I am able to afford. If I find a house that I like, I find I don’t like the neighborhood, or if I find a nice location, there is something about the house I don’t like.

I also have a medium size dog, which adds to the difficulty of finding the right home. I would like to have a fenced yard for my dog, but I don’t want too big a yard because I will not be able to maintain it by myself for much longer. Plus I don’t need a house with a lot of square footage to take care of since it is just me and my dog. When I have found a home that suits my needs and that I can afford, it is usually too far from the church that I attend, and in which I am very active, to be able to commute to daily.

When I look at properties in the western part of the state, outside of Hampton Roads, homes are much more affordable and you can get so much more for your money. But then I would have to give up attending the church I have attended for so many years, and be distanced from my friends and family.

So as you can see, I have a lot of decisions to make. I have to prioritize what is most important in my life. And the decisions I make will be ones that will affect every aspect of what time I have left in this world. I have a great Realtor and she has been very helpful and supportive. I told her I would be finicky about where I would live. It has been tougher so far than I thought it would be, but it has also helped me to set some priorities about what is most important.

So the quest continues. I haven’t given up yet, I have placed it all in the hands of God. I will find somewhere to move to, somewhere where I can find a little peace and quiet, and hopefully escape the relentless encroachment of progress, at least for a little while. Pray for me or wish me luck, or both.

Progress

As I sat in the far back corner of the house to escape the construction noise, I thought I would give vent to my frustrations as to what is happening just outside my front door. I have lived in my present location for 15 years. When I first moved here it was a quiet, peaceful neighborhood. There were only seven houses in the entire neighborhood. Granted, it wasn’t exactly in the country, but it was nonetheless a nice place to live.

Today, 15 years later, there are 37 houses in the same neighborhood as well as a self-storage business. The self-storage was the first new construction, built on what had been protected wetlands. Somehow a waiver or exception was had and the storage facility built. Oh well, there goes the neighborhood I thought. Then the street I was on was widened, curbing and street lights added. Starting to loose it’s charm now.

At the end of the dead end road I live on there was a big parcel of land and two houses, one of them an old, beautiful, three story brick ranch. The adjacent acreage was eventually sold by the owner of the three story to a developer after a falling out among family members. Within a couple of years an additional 30 homes were built on the land. This of course resulted in a lot more traffic coming down my street, but at least the homes were a good 50 yards from us.

Which brings me to today’s construction noise. The two homes that were directly across from me were built on about 4 acres each, for about a total of 8.5 acres. They were both beautiful houses with many mature magnolia, oak, and fruit trees on them. Truly beautiful to look at. I enjoyed the view from my front porch for 15 years. Both owners died recently and both properties were sold to the same developer that built the 30 houses previously mentioned.

So before long I was a front seat observer to the destruction of those beautiful properties. The hardest thing to watch was the destruction of all those beautiful, old trees by heavy construction equipment. I have never been a tree huger but to see those beautiful trees destroyed like that, their beauty never to be enjoyed again, was heartbreaking. I will be grieving over their loss for a long time.

Now every day for the last month, until about November I am told, I have to see and hear the transformation of those beautiful acres into another housing development. Twenty five houses jammed into 8 acres of land. Look-alike houses, each sitting on less than a third of an acre. When it is all done, I will have a total of 55 new houses that did not exist when I moved here those 15 long years ago. Gone forever is the peace, beauty, and charm that once brought me to live here. I used to watch geese migrationsĀ  every year, watched foxes hunt rabbits at night, had the occasional racoon, deer, and other wildlife. All of that is gone forever now.

And that is what is called progress. So as I finish writing this, thinking about all that has changed in the last 15 years, all that has been lost, I feel this ache inside me that I know will be a long time in fading. I am actively looking for somewhere else to move, somewhere where I can perhaps regain some of that lost peace, quiet, and beauty. Wish me luck.

 

Progress Sucks, Mostly

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I have lived in Virginia for 51 years now, most of my adult life. I will most likely die in Virginia. Virginia is a beautiful state, rich in natural beauty, history, culture, and with wonderful people. I have seen much change during my life here. Going to 11th grade in Virginia Beach I remember how rural it all was. I used to go surfing at the Navy Dam Neck base and the road leading in was a two lane one, with a country store on the corner.

Today the areas I remember as a young man are almost unrecognizable. Progress has brought more roads, much larger roads, along with shopping malls, countless gas stations, banks, convenience stores, and housing development after housing development. Every city I have lived in in Hampton Roads has changed dramatically. Traffic has gone from a nice drive down a two lane road to a nightmare of constant traffic jams, endless tolls, and just a miserable experience trying to drive anywhere.

And for all this progress, I can honestly say that I much prefer the Hampton Roads of my youth to the monstrosity it has become. I understand that progress is inevitable, but one would hope that progress would make life more enjoyable, but that seldom seems to be the case. Progress seems to be a lopsided trade-off between improving your life and making your life miserable.

Maybe progress is not the right word, rather growth. I just wish cities would do a much better job of managing growth so that as the area where you live grows, you don’t end up becoming a stranger to the place where you have lived your entire life.

I have often thought about moving, but the fact that my entire family still lives in this area has kept me from doing that. But it is coming to the point where even that will no longer constrain me from moving.

I have lived in Chesapeake for almost 12 years now. When I moved to where I live now, there were only five houses in the area. Two of them are beautiful properties sitting on six acres combined, both with beautiful trees and dirt roads leading up to the house. The two houses on either side of me are beautiful houses too, with great neighbors.

In the 12 years that I have lived here I have seen a self-storage facility built across the road just up a block from us. Then the old farm at the end of the dead end road I live on was sold and 30 houses built on that land. Now the owners of the two properties across from me have both died and the land has been sold to the same developers, who plan on building an additional 20 homes. So I have gone from living in a beautiful, rural area to just another over-developed area of the city.

There used to be a family of foxes that lived on the land that used to be the farm. I would see them almost every day. There was also the occasional deer. Since the 30 houses were built the deer have gone, along with the foxes. Now I see an occasional fox on the two properties across from me, but soon those properties will have houses on them and the foxes will have nowhere to live.

So the transformation is complete. My neighborhood that was once a joy to live in will soon become completely unrecognizable from what it was 12 years ago. I can’t even back out of my driveway any more without having to wait for a car to go by. And what has all this progress gained for me? How has it improved my life in any way? As I get older all I want is peace and quiet, and that is becoming increasingly hard to find anywhere in Hampton Roads.

So I think I have reached the point where I may be forced to leave the area I have lived for over 50 years. Progress has driven me out finally. Don’t know where I will go, but I hope I can find a place where progress will not find me for the rest of my days.