"No experiment can be more interesting than that we are now trying, and which we trust will end in establishing the fact, that man may be governed by reason and truth. Our first object should therefore be, to leave open to him all the avenues to truth. The most effectual hitherto found, is the freedom of the press. It is, therefore, the first shut up by those who fear the investigation of their actions." --Thomas Jefferson to John Tyler, 1804.

Stressful oceanside living

rainey BARRETT


Most of us move many times in our lives. For whatever reason exists at the moment. Life’s exigencies as it were. In the process, we’re deluged with changes in nearly everything. New environment – new and different shopping – new geography and place names to learn – sometimes different local customs or practices – new driver’s licenses or passports. Leaving friends. Meeting new people. The whole moving experience is often change top to bottom. We get used to it.

I’ve moved many times. Many and often. Across town, state-to-state, coast-to-coast and border-to-border. Life’s adjustments caused by relocating have been regular and varied. So often, in fact, I thought our most recent was just another “pack-‘em-up-and-move-‘em-out.” Wrong.

The first time we moved to the edge of the Pacific was a decade ago. We did it because we’d never lived there. Simple as that. Lots of exciting new things to experience and a very different living environment. My flat land artist wife has been ocean-smitten for years. So when the moving bug hit this time, like Brigham Young, she pointed westward and the family wagons moved. And we learned all over again.

Coastal living – Oregon coastal living – is a whole new deal. Take shopping, for instance. Most communities are small with limited store selection. If you want a Costco or Mode or Best Buy, you have to drive more than 50-75 miles inland. Then back. There may be an occasional Safeway or Fred Meyer but most grocery outlets are small, regional types like IGA or Ray’s or Grocery Outlet or Mom & Pop’s.

Prices for everything – everything – are higher. It’s a lifestyle premium you pay for rainfall that can exceed 90 inches a year. Yes, Virginia, 90! And there’s the fog and cold and other things that aggravate your arthritis and rheumatism. Lots of seniors try living near the ocean but find some of the frailties of age can make it a painful experience. So they either develop a tolerance or move inland again.

You can’t just go to a store near the ocean and buy anything you want or need at any time. One June, I was looking for a long-sleeved shirt at the largest chain store in Brookings and was told they only carried long-sleeved shirts between September and April. If I really wanted one in June, it would be a 180 mile drive. Until September, of course.

Medical care is most often sketchy. Hospitals – where they exist at all – are small and specialists are few. So major medical needs result in 100-200 mile drives inland or, in the case of a real emergency, air ambulance. Cost for that? Don’t even think about it.

You get used to two-lane highways at all times. Or occasionally one-lane. No Interstate or beltways. And you know, in nearly all cases, North and South are the only ways out of town. Until you get to the next two-lane heading East which could be many miles away. In the small coastal towns, don’t even think of trying to turn left off Highway 101 from May through September. Backs up local traffic for miles.

Then there’s mold and mildew. Everywhere. In, around and through everything. If you store household goods commercially, you must have heated and climate-controlled lockers. Dehumidifiers are as standard in most coastal homes as air conditioners further inland. Houses that look in good shape outside can have rotten footings and mold-despoiled electrical systems. You learn to deal with mold and mildew. Or you move away from the coast.

Winds can be a problem. In some of the more exposed places they can hit 50 to 70 miles-an-hour during the larger storms. Things in your yard that aren’t battened down disappear regularly. Replacing all or part of wind-damaged roofs or fencing is as permanent a job security as being a mortician. And a not-unexpected additional homeowner cost.

Weather can change on a dime. We’ve experienced 75 degrees on Christmas day followed by a dusting of snow on New Year’s Eve. It can rain for an hour – a day – three weeks straight. Living permanently near the Pacific requires a change of wardrobe. Rainproof outerwear or slickers. Water-tight shoes and boots. You keep an umbrella in the car at all times. Even though most “coasters” think using one is for tourists.

These are just some of the issues you face when taking up permanent residence near Oregon’s Pacific shoreline. Very different from the blue skies of August when you and the family spent that week in a rented condo and you thought maybe this would be a good place to retire. That week doesn’t really represent the struggles of year-round residence. Over a 12 month period, living by the sea can be a very trying experience. It ain’t for sissies.

So, here we are. Again.

“Why,” you ask? “Why do it again given all those drawbacks – the irritation – the problems?”

Well, I’ll answer that. In a bit. Right now, the sun is out. The sky and the ocean are blue as a baby’s bright eyes. And the surf’s really pounding. Gotta go. I’ll get back to you.

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