Sometimes in life one has to hit the "restart button" to get your head on straight. Grannie and I have been toying with possibly relocating to spend our remaining sunset years. In order to decide we have been checking it out.
Our son lives in the L.A. area of Southern California. We visited at the first of the year. Cold here and his neighbors complain if it gets down to 50 degrees there. Weather is a plus but the traffic there is a bit discouraging. Love being near grand kids but the price of rent is a mite steep and California is proud to extract every bit of tax possible.
Next place we looked was the Air Force Village West near Riverside. It was built on the site of former March Air Force Base, now a civilian/reserve base. That is a plus in my book, real live airplanes plus a significant air museum filled with retired warrior aircraft that I flew and loved. I could volunteer there every day just to keep the blood pumping. We have service-connected friends living in the Village. The housing is Southern California Western and first class. Buy in or rent. Thirty miles from our son all good. Then again, it is "tax me state" California plus the worst boss that I had in my career is retired there.
Next stop Scottsdale, Arizona, next door to Phoenix. There is where I have gone to flight simulator school for the past decade plus and I could have a job teaching pilots in the airplanes (electronic facsimiles bolted to the floor, no flight physical required) that I've known and love. But gee it knows how to be hot in the summer. No matter how "dry" the locals claim the heat is, it is still hot! Rent too is a bit high compared to here.
To further test the water we visited friends, former residents of McCook. They are happy in their nice, too big, houses. No lawn unless you count the carefully manicured rock and gravel yards. The main activity seems to be visiting each other, comparing their latest medical procedures and deciding where to eat out that evening. Nothing like hitting a large chain restaurant at five o'clock and being told you have an hour wait just to get in the door. Friends didn't mention the hot, again that is dry heat, but they seem long on the many local golf courses. Golf a sport that I got over long ago. Actually I am not knocking their lifestyle. It makes them happy and that is good. It just doesn't fit Grannie and me.
A big topic of conversation there was how great their medical community is. I spotted a huge hospital looking building sporting the "Mayo Clinic" logo. Recent memory reminds that they don't accept Medicaid -- hmmm.
John Steinbeck reflected back on his own retirement location decision in the novel "Travels with Charlie." He spoke of visiting far northeast U.S. residents who look with longing in their eyes for retirement in Florida especially at the annual approach of another long cold Maine winter. "The very name Florida carried the message of warmth and ease and comfort."
Steinbeck opines, "I've lived in good climate, and it bores the 'heck' out of me. I like weather rather than climate. In Cuernavaca, Mexico, where I once lived, and where climate is as near to perfect as is conceivable, I have found that when people leave there they usually go to Alaska. I'd like to see how long an Aroostook County man can stand Florida." (Aroostook potato country is in Maine but applies to my Nebraska also.) "The trouble is that with his savings moved and invested there, he can't very well go back. His dice are rolled and can't be picked up again. But I do wonder if a down-Easter, sitting on a nylon-and-aluminum chair out on a changelessly green lawn slapping mosquitoes in the evening of a Florida October -- I do wonder if the stab of memory doesn't strike him high in the stomach just below the ribs were it hurts. And in the humid ever-summer I dare his picturing mind not to go back to the shout of color, to the clean rasp of frosty air to the smell of pine wood burning and caressing warmth of kitchens. For how can one know color in perpetual green, and what good is warmth without cold to give it sweetness?"
Ah ha, there is no place like Nebraska!
Well, when we returned home, we looked each other in the eyes and asked "Where would you like to live the rest of your life?"
Without hesitation the answer from each our throats was "Right here!"
Yeah it gets too hot in summer, dry, too, sometimes, and it is habit to grumble about the cold of winter. If we wanted cold and humid we could go to Omaha, hot and humid too, for that matter.
A recent study (don't remember were I saw it) showed the medical facilities of rural Nebraska equal to anywhere. Our local hospital is staffed with especially friendly personnel. If one's condition is beyond the local capabilities there is 24/7 ground or air ambulance, staffed by the best, to take one to the next level of care. Crime is almost non-existent and taxes -- well compare what we pay with what is demanded in California. Nebraska is even talking about not taxing retirement pay and that would be about $3,500 per year in savings for this retired couple.
Besides that, it is home, started out that way and now we have come full circle, it is still home. We lived as far east, Cape Cod, south, the Rio Grande Valley, west, the San Joaquin Valley and north, the Upper Peninsula of Michigan as one can in the States plus three times in Oklahoma smack dab in the center. So we had a chance to experience it all. Right here in Southwest Nebraska is the spot to stay. And note we didn't even take a vote of all you good people who also choose to live here to see if you wanted us to stay -- didn't dare.
That is how I saw it.