Monday, May 01, 2006

Excitement and uncertainty

For several years, Joe & I have kicked around the idea of living at the beach. Its kind of been a lifelong desire for both of us. We really love being near the beach, all year round. Occasionally we'd talk about how our lives would change if we moved away from the area where we both grew up, and if the changes would all be for the good.

If we moved to the beach we wouldn't be able to see our family as often. Joe couldn't slip down to Alexandria to meet his sister for lunch, and we wouldn't be able to continue our standing Thurs night dinners with Evelyn. We wouldn't be able to call up the Newlyweds with no notice and see if they wanted to go to dinner. We wouldn't be able to accept an unexpected invitation to join Kerry & Hugh for a movie and fried food at the movie cafe. Without a doubt, there would be some cons to moving to the beach, so mostly it has been a lot of talk, without much real thought about doing it.

But then about a year or so ago, I began giving more serious thought to it. Despite the cons, I could think of a whole bunch of pros. First of all, we'd be living at the beach! There is no sales tax or personal property tax in DE, and the real estate taxes are slight. (Over $500. a month of our current mortgage goes to pay the real estate taxes on our house. In DE the real estate taxes for a house of the same value would be about $100. a month. It would be like getting a $400. a month raise!) Also, VA currently has an initiative on the Nov ballot that would render same-sex couples powerless to will their assets to their partner when they die. (There's already a law prohibiting same-sex marriage in VA.) The cost of housing is cheaper in DE, and although the incomes are also less, a job working for the state or another large employer would provide a good salary and benefit/leave package. Not working in Herndon anymore would mean I'd save about $40. a month on tolls. And if I took my job with me and worked from an office in my home, I'd save about 75 minutes a day and $160. a month from not commuting. The pace of life in Sussex county DE is just a little bit slower. When you call Reed's plumbing, the likelihood is that Mr Reed will be the one to fix your faucet. There's not the same 'hurry up and get out of my way' attitude up there, and there is only 1 Starbucks in Dewey, Rehoboth, Lewes, Milton, Georgetown, Ellendale, and Milford - combined. And as often as we go out to the beach for the weekend, we could just as easily go back to DC for the weekend if we lived at the beach. We'd still have lots of opportunities to see our family and friends, but it would need to be planned. All in all, I think we could have a nice life there.

For the last 4-5 months, I've been checking the DE state jobs website. (Since the state is so small, instead of there being County jobs as there are here, there are state jobs.) In early April I found a job for Joe. He liked the sound of it, the pay scale was good, and he was qualified for it, so he put in an application. About 2 weeks later he got a letter in the mail indicating his qualifications had been reviewed and that he met the requirements for the position. Then last Fri he received a call requesting an interview. It will be this coming Thurs. My job is rather portable, so I'm pretty sure my boss will allow me to take my job with me. We started getting excited about the possibilities!

By coincidence we'd planned to go to the beach Fri night. So, with the potential that he might like the job and be selected for it, we ended up driving around Rehoboth and Lewes looking at the different neighborhoods, picking up real estate fliers/info sheets, getting ideas of prices, and starting to figure out what/where we liked. On Sat we went into an open house (they do them on Sat instead of Sun up there) and had an informative conversation with a realtor. He directed us to some neighborhoods we didn't know existed and we got to go into 3 more open houses. But mostly it was fun to see the wide variation in home sizes, prices, neighborhoods, construction types, and locations. I couldn't believe how quickly the day passed by. We went back out on Sun for more of the same, and by the time we went back to pack up, we'd driven 125 miles! From Fri night when we filled up the Civic's tank until we got home on Sun, we'd driven 390 miles, and the tank was empty again. (You'd never guess by all that driving that gas is $3. a gallon.)

On Sat evening we met up with some new friends in Lewes, Robert & John. We'd never met them before, but we were given their names and number by Kerry, from her friend Maura. We met Maura at Kerry's house quite a while back, and after talking about going to Lewes so frequently, Maura suggested we meet her friends Robert & John who live there. Later she gave their info to Kerry who gave it to me, but we didn't try to contact them for quite a while. Lots of times when we come up there during the season we have friends with us. When we go off-season its to relax, so Joe never wants to feel like he has to get dressed and go meet someone new. His shyness makes that idea unappealing even if he's already dressed and ready to walk out the door! But with the potential of moving to the area, Joe finally agreed to meet them. They were nice, and a great resource for information about the area. They moved to Lewes 6 years ago, but never really seemed to establish a close network of friends, so they say. (Not exactly encouraging, but I think that had more to do with their personalities and less to do with the area.) They return to DC and also travel to NY to be with friends and get a dose of city life when they want it.

After returning home yesterday evening, we looked on at all of the inventory in Lewes and Rehoboth. There's a ton of homes for sale, both new and previously owned. Then we went to the Taco House for dinner. It was a little chilly so I was surprised Joe wanted to eat on the patio, but we did and it was great. Then we came home and watched the Sopranos and Big Love. Joe went to bed and I returned to There's so much to look at; it can get addictive.

This evening while Joe was at his 6 & 7 pm appointments, I was looking at, comparing features, looking at the additional photos and the virtual tours. I made fish and pasta for dinner. Tomorrow Joe has just one appointment, and then on Wed he has 3 back-to-back appointments. (Finally...) Thurs he'll drive to Dover for his interview, then back home. Fri is Cinco de Mayo so I'm thinking of inviting friends to join us at the Taco House. We'll see...

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