What’s Best for Will?

I’ve been very busy lately, and part of that was due to my work on a series the Cape Cod Times is doing called “Generation Exit.” It’s a 4-part series examining why the hordes of young people — ages 25-34 mostly — are leaving Cape Cod in droves. The whole idea is that it’s too expensive to live here, there aren’t enough high paying jobs and as a result this is turning into one big retirement community. Soon there won’t be anyone young enough left to work in the service jobs and an economic tsunami will crush the Cape.

If you’re interested, my contribution to the series can be read here, and involves a Daddy Files regular named Erica. Many thanks to Erica, Dave and their cute son Matt who allowed me to follow them like a crazed stalker to South Carolina.

But this story hit close to home for me. Namely because I am in the age bracket being discussed and I suffer from the high cost of living and a job that doesn’t pay nearly enough to make ends meet.

Look, I love living here. And by here I mean Massachusetts. It’s the only place I’ve ever lived. But in writing this series, it made me question what exactly I love about living here and why. Some of those answers are easy: friends, family and the Red Sox and Patriots. Seriously, I don’t know what I’d do without my friends and family. I need them like I need oxygen to live. I’m very much attached to them and I’m not sure I could function properly without them. And the Boston sports scene is crucial to my happiness. I know that sounds odd, but it’s true.

I also like having four seasons and can’t imagine living someplace like Florida, California or Arizona where it’s way too hot. And I like living in a fairly liberal, progressive area as well. The schools here are good and you can’t beat the choice of colleges and universities in the area.

But from there, things started to get fuzzy.

For instance, I originally thought I liked the attitude of the people in this area. Make no mistake, we’re a rude bunch. We don’t smile at each other on the street. And if you say hello to a stranger on the sidewalks of Boston, you’re asking for trouble. We like to keep to ourselves and go about our business. Any kind of unanticipated civility strikes us as odd, and we automatically wonder what the other person’s angle is. We also drive fast, but in a controlled way. And I’m someone who likes to get where I’m going quickly.

But now that Will is here, I’m thinking about putting things like that in the negative category. What’s wrong with being friendly? My excursion down to South Carolina was mind boggling because everyone was so damn nice. Some people even told me to “have a blessed day.” I’m not even sure what that means, but the kindness of strangers was sort of a nice change. And the cost of living differential is absurd. Just read the story and you’ll know what I mean. A house that costs $400,000 here runs $215,000 in South Carolina. And we’re talking a beautiful, brand new house. For $215,000 here I’d get…well, I’d get my crappy condo.

I’m worried about Will. I’m worried I won’t muster up the good sense to leave this area, and Will is going to get just as attached as I am. Only what if he goes out of his mind and chooses some godawful profession such as being a writer. Unless he hits the jackpot and marries a successful businesswoman like I did, he won’t ever be able to put down roots here. It’s too damn expensive. And then he might have to move away from us, which is depressing. But not as depressing as envisioning Will, 35 years old and struggling to get his writing career going, living with us in our small, crappy, aforementioned condo because he can’t afford rent or a mortgage here.

I always suffered the outrageous cost of living here because I figured I wasn’t doing anyone else any harm by staying here. It was just me who was affected. But now there’s Will to think about. I feel a definite responsibility to do what’s right by him. Except I don’t know what’s right anymore.

I wish I could pack up all my friends and family and take them with me. And no, not just so I could stuff them in the overhead compartment to shut them up. Because seriously, if not for them (and my sports teams), I’d leave. I may end up coming back, but I would make a go of it somewhere cheaper.

Maybe then a vacation somewhere out of state might be a possibility within five years. Maybe then we could stop living paycheck to paycheck, knowing that one hefty, unexpected bill could send us into financial disaster. Maybe then I wouldn’t be plagued with worry over the mortgage, the car insurance, the electric bill and milk that costs $4.

After all, what good does it do to stay in a state with prestigious colleges if you can’t afford to send your kid there anyways?

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10 thoughts on “What’s Best for Will?

  1. I thought that working on the article might have this effect. Don’t forget Aaron that my family IS in SC so it was easier for me to walk away from the Cape than it would be for you to leave MA. And it was still a really hard decision. Right now, with the holidays, we are missing all the things we used to do and people we used to see and it’s not easy. But yes, we do have money for vacation and can get in state tuition at USC! It’s not an easy thing to think about. Try not to stress too much! Speaking from experience it can wreak havoc on your mind for a long time before you can come to any conclusions.

  2. We both know that if I didn’t marry the sucessful businessman that is Big K I would be struggling to live here as well. Working 2 jobs etc. But, it is SO worth it! The Cape is an amazing place and I feel so lucky that I’m still here. How dare you take Will away from the Red Sox or the Patriots?!?! When you take him to a game and he’s old enough to get the magical feeling of watching the Patriots kick ass or the Red Soxs spank the Yankees or God forbid the Bruins win the Stanely Cup and he’s with you while it’s happening it will all be worth it!

  3. We bought a nice 3 bed 1 bath with sunroom, mudroom, 1/2 acer dead end road for 245k and that included the down payment program…really the house cost 229….
    i know you’d have to sell the condo-but its possible around here…but i know how u feel (sorry 1 hand typing) bobby got offered a job out in buffallo ny, huge houses going for 100,000…but fact is (you might not be thinking of this now) we’d be so lonely in a huge house away from fam-we bought probably a little more than we can afford to be in our expensive town and waited for the rght time…also we have amazing healthcare, schools, art around here-not that there arent those things across the country-but my philosophy is you get what u pay…

  4. I agree witht the old guy…your friends and family will support you no matter what you do….mine have! You know what he wants you to do and you know what your friends will want….but at the end of the day all that matter is what is good for you, MJ and Will. In my case it was moving, because living near a big city we have more opportunity for personal growth that we badly needed for ourselves while still living in a kid friendly area which will be good for Matt. It is not going to work for everyone and maybe someday we will regret it but we would never know if we didn’t try.

  5. After 12 years on the Cape, work took me to Houston where $180,000 bought me a very comfortable 4 bedroom in a nice “development” … although it was hotter than Hades, the people in the shops were very pleasant and the drivers courteous (relatively speaking). Coming back to the Cape really drove home the high costs.

    All I can say (based on watching HGTV and TLC), housing is even worse on the left coast.

  6. You know, you can get some of the stuff you talked about by moving NORTH. :) I live in Maine and the people here are pretty friendly (myself excluded, of course). We still have all 4 seasons, everyone here likes the Red Sox & the Patriots and it’s got a cheaper cost of living. Of course, there aren’t a lot of high paying jobs here either but… you know.

  7. Oh believe me, we’ve considered Maine. I love Maine, southern New Hampshire and southern Vermont. Western Mass is where we went to college as well. Those are all definite possibilities.

  8. I’m all for you moving south like maybe North Carolina. Home for me is where ever Victor is, but its tough being so far from family. Think about how out of sorts you were just at the thought of not seeing family for the holidays. Now imagine not having a choice. Besides, you would just end up broke anyways from paying for gas or airfare back to Mass! Just a thought but you could always try to win the lottery. That’s what i’m after. So far I have won 9 dollars on a ten dollar ticket!LOL

  9. It is a tough tough decision to move. My husband and I just moved from CT to WI. We weren’t’ finding any jobs that could support our family in CT and my husband received an offer for a great job in WI. It is so much cheaper out here it isn’t’ even funny! I thought we’d be able to get a house in 10+ years. Over here…1 or 2 years. It is amazing! Being away from family is so so tough, but we knew that we needed to think about our girl’s futures. We wanted them to live in a house, go to good schools (the towns with good schools in CT are way too expensive) and we wanted all of us to feel less stress. The move was the right thing for us, but only you know if it would benefit your family to move or not.
    Best of luck! If you do move I advise you do not go to CT…taxes are expensive and houses are expensive.

  10. I wasn’t keen on moving to Jersey (of all places) from Massachusetts nor had the thought of living in Baltimore ever crossed my mind. Nevertheless, they were and have always been the right decisions. Your friends will always be your friends. One of my best friends lives in Plattsburgh, NY about 30 minutes from the Canadian border, which is roughly 500 miles from Baltimore. That distance doesn’t stop us from being friends. Really, it does the opposite because I realize how far away we are and I make it a point to call him on a quasi-regular basis.

    I now live over 400 miles from you and MJ, but that doesn’t stop us from being any less of a family. Do we see each other as often as I would like? Not even close, but this move was important to Michelle’s career and our life as a whole. In the end you have to do what is right for you, MJ, and Will. The number one issue that causes fights within a marriage is money. If you can alleviate the pressure of financial strain, everything else seems to just fall into place. It’s hackneyed, but it’s true, home is where you hang your (Red Sox) hat.

    Oh, and I wouldn’t worry about the Pats and Sox. That’s the beauty of cable/Direct TV/the interwebs; you can watch them without being in the region.

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