We Are Moving: Why We Chose Cape Cod

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Kait, Weston, Avett, and I are moving to Cape Cod.  Quite simply, this is something that Kait and I want to do, so we are.  I want to share our thought process and how we came to choose Cape Cod as our new home. (Read my last article to find out why we are moving.)

Kait and I have been together for almost seven years, and we have traveled a fair amount.  Traveling is one of our favorite things to do.  We love it and honestly can’t get enough of it.  Everywhere we go, we talk about if we could live there.  One of our first loves was New Orleans, but we both determined we love it as a place to visit, but not to live.  Since we first went there in 2014, we have explored the idea of moving there quite a bit, but it was always quite fleeting.  In addition to New Orleans, we have explored the options to move to the following places:  Iceland, Edinburgh, Florida (West Palm Beach, Miami, Key West, Sarasota, Tampa/St Pete, Orlando), Charleston, Savannah, Charlotte, Raleigh/Durham, Asheville, New Orleans, Austin, New York City, Upstate New York – Hudson Valley/Woodstock area, Bermuda, Phoenix/Scottsdale area, Tucson, Sedona, Seattle/Pacific Northwest, California, Colorado, Salt Lake City, US Virgin Islands, Hawaii, and Cape Cod.

If I were single, I would move to Hawaii for a year, minimum.  I would work on a farm in exchange for housing and food.  I would live as much without money as possible.  I find money to be my greatest stressor in life.  I hate it, but we need it in the society in which we live, and need a fair amount of it to be able to experience life a certain way.  To live off the land, in nature, with little care about money for a period of time is very appealing to me.  I think I would walk away from that with a deeper understanding of life and my true self.  However, I have a wife, an almost five month old son, and a three year old dog that I love very much.  That life, for a year, is not very conducive for all of us.  It could take 3-4 months just to get approved to bring our dog to Hawaii.  Instead, I searched for jobs in Hawaii.  I found one, I applied, I interviewed, I was perfect for it.  It was at a new luxury wellness retreat that I actually signed an NDA for, so I can’t discuss details.  They said I was perfect for it.  I didn’t get it.  No clue as to why, but I can only imagine that it was because they wanted me to come to Hawaii for the end of July, start of August 2019.  That was less than a month away from when I interviewed.  It was also at the very same time that Weston was due to be born, and was born.  I was told that wouldn’t be a factor, but I find that highly unlikely.  I also don’t think they would have offered the amount of money that would have been enough to get me to move my family from Philadelphia to Hawaii.  Hawaii, if you don’t know, is EXTREMELY expensive.  Like San Francisco and New York City expensive.  This job was on one of the small islands, near Maui, so it is much less developed and they weren’t even sure if there was a pediatrician on the island.  So there were concerns.

Side Note:  I know I have been rejected from other jobs for being too much of a strong and free thinker.  Or not having the right certification, getting pigeon holed into only being qualified for certain jobs because of a degree.  There is no better education than experience.  No online health, wellness, or life coach certification is going to teach more than ten years of experience in helping and guiding people.  Most of the job as a physical therapist is connecting to people on a level in which you can guide them to make the best decisions for themselves and be confident and comfortable with their true self, which connects to the body but goes beyond that.  I believe making people get certified in everything has had a negative impact on our society for many decades. Too many companies are focused on making money, not on helping people, society, and all of life.

I don’t know about you, but I really do not enjoy working just to make money.  I do not enjoy doing things to make money to then spend on bills.  I want to reduce our bills. Unfortunately, we have been drowning in the debt of our student loans and will be for many years to come, unless we strike it big and can pay them off in one lump sum.

Anyway, after Hawaii was off the table and Weston was born in July, Kait got on board with the idea of moving (she had been skeptical but supportive of Hawaii).  She has been extremely supportive of my desires and need to experience something new.  We threw all of the aforementioned areas on the table and knocked them off for various reasons.  I wanted somewhere warm, so anywhere up north was out of the question for a while.  Kait refused to be on the West coast so Seattle and California were out.  We don’t want to live in Texas, so Austin is out.  New Orleans is way too vulnerable to storms, so is Florida – plus, it’s Florida.  We’ll keep both of those as love to visit but not to live.  The Carolinas and Savannah just didn’t feel like home and felt a bit stuck in the past with some of their ways.  I have been craving nature, spirituality, a collective that is open to these things, and a slower lifestyle.  

Arizona was a place of really big consideration for us.  We both had really good experiences there and there is a lot of what I want – nature, spirituality, a collective acceptance to it.  However, something didn’t quite feel right.  When Kait and I were there together exploring the Phoenix area and Sedona, it felt really good. But it also felt like a trip, not home.  Then, when I went out to Tucson by myself, it really didn’t feel like home.  There is a lot of great stuff out there, but it didn’t feel like the place I would choose to live right now—with or without my family.  There is no job or friends, or family, or really anything pulling us there or anywhere.  So this decision to move is really all about where we want to be.  Arizona is a place we will visit, but not live, at least right now.  It’s a bit too far away from our family, for Kait.  It didn’t entice us enough to go that far away. 

Plus, I realized that I wanted to be close to the ocean.  The powers of the ocean and the lifestyle that tends to go with leaving near it and with it are what I’ve longed to experience.

Kait has been questioning things for a while, and though she wasn’t the one pushing for a move, she was certainly supportive and agreeable.  After looking further into Florida, traveling to Charleston and Savannah, and looking into even the US Virgin Islands, we decided those weren’t right for us. And then Kait decided she would throw a new caveat into the mix.  She didn’t want to move too far away from our families, whether that meant an easy flight or drivable didn’t matter, but it does limit us to the East.

We considered the Hudson Valley, specifically the Woodstock/Kingston, NY area, where Kait grew up and some of her family still remains.  It just doesn’t feel like home to me (sorry family!).  Not moving there is very much me saying no, just like Kait is saying no to Hawaii and anywhere on the West Coast.

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We both agreed on Cape Cod.  When Kait first threw out the idea of Cape Cod, I was immediately open to the idea. This was not the first time we talked about buying property on the cape but those were pipe dreams about a second home or rental property.  This was different.

Having already deciding to put our house on the market and having already ruled out all of those other locations, I grabbed my computer and started searching what it was like to live on Cape Cod year round.  What the schools are like.  What is the weather like.  How many people are year ’rounders.  There wasn’t a ton of thorough info to be found, but what I did find was enough to make us much more intrigued. The biggest issues people mentioned were lack of jobs and the prominence drugs. 

There aren’t as many jobs on the Cape because it is a bit more remote, and a lot of jobs cater to the summer population boom.  Ahh, limited jobs, we can figure that out right!? Especially with the ability to work from home, we should be ok, we have been telling ourselves.  And drug problems, well shit, both upstate NY and the Philadelphia area have massive drug issues, especially with heroin. Likely worse than Cape Cod, just by the shear numbers of people. Kait and I each went to high schools with around 3000-3500 students. Sadly, we both know several people who have died from overdosing.  

Here, the Kensington neighborhood of Philadelphia is a known place for addicts to come from all over. It’s the “largest open-air narcotics market for heroin on the east coast”, according to this NY Times article.  And we also have Camden NJ, which sits right across the Delaware river from Philly in New Jersey.  It has had the honor of being named the most dangerous city in America a few times.  In high school, that is where a lot of people went to get their drugs.

My uncle is a drug and alcohol counselor and I remember him referring to my high school as heroin high. Drug problems are everywhere, unfortunately. It is definitely a huge concern that comes into my mind when I think of Weston growing up. But we will just have to do our best, our true best, to guide him properly.

Needless to say, those concerns are concerns to us everywhere. They don’t deter us, though. We were very intrigued by the Nauset school district. The high school sits in the National Seashore in Eastham and has about 1000 students.  The district pulls from Wellfleet, Eastham, Orleans, and Brewster.  Diversity isn’t great, but it’s not terrible either and is actually better than some of the good schools in the South Shore area.  It seems similar to my high school, which isn’t saying much, but just a comparison. The district seems to have a great student to teacher ratio and appears to offer a wonderful array of programs in the arts, which means a lot to us. This really helped us cozy up to the idea of the Cape and where on the Cape to look for a house.

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When you narrow all of these things down—not too far from our families, nature (including the ocean), a bit remote but not too remote, still has culture and community close by— Cape Cod hits every mark.  The only two it doesn’t hit for me is a warmer climate and diversity.  Those were big factors for me, but since I have been driving the whole idea of moving, I gave those up so we could be relatively close to family. We agreed that we would continue to make travel a high priority for us so that we and Weston can get the diversity and we can get away from the weather in the Northeast, if we choose to (and can afford it).

Actually, the weather in Cape Cod seems to be more similar to Philadelphia than it is to Boston.  It tends to get less snow and to be 10 degrees warmer in the winter and 10 degrees cooler in the summer, so the internet says.  We’ll see how this all holds up when we are up there, but being surrounded by the ocean and bay makes a huge difference.  We have heard Cape Cod has had a very rainy end of Fall so far this year.

Cape Cod does, however, consist of a lot of second homes and retirees.  We could have neighbors that might only spend 3 months out of the year there.  We could be surrounded by homes that are used primarily as rentals, for about 3 months out of the year.  The realtor selling the home we are buying said we have a lot of year ‘round residents on our street, but who knows!?  We will find out in time.

Living with nature has been the greatest factor for us wanting to move.  We do not think that all of the technology is the best thing for living a happy, healthy, and exciting life.  We like it in small doses, but I believe it has been just as, if not more detrimental to society than helpful. It’s okay to get lost and not know something.  It’s great to wander and wonder.  Cape Cod offers this.  Our house is surrounded by nature and is about two miles from the bay and two miles from the National Seashore. The 25 mile bike trail is a short ride from our house, where we can ride bikes and longboards.  I have been craving nature for a while. Growing up in Woodstock, NY, Kait’s roots are in nature.  We want that for Weston.

Actually, Nature Valley recently put out this great commercial about what kids in the past did for fun vs kids now – it’s really good:  https://www.mostwatchedtoday.com/nature-valley-rediscover-nature/

We are looking forward to the quiet falls, winters, and springs, as well as the extreme influx in population in the summer.  We will figure out what we love and what we don’t.  We will still travel.  I don’t foresee us leaving Cape Cod and moving our permanent residence again, however I have no clue!  We might hate living there, and we are totally cool if that were to happen.  We might love it and never want to leave, and we are totally cool if that were to happen.  We don’t go into anything thinking it will be short term.  When we bought our home in Philly we thought we could be there for the rest of our lives and treated it as so.  Things have changed, and we still ended up better because we approached our home and life with this outlook.  No reason to predict the future, though I do envision it often. But I know predicting the future is really just based on past experiences, so if we let go of any expectations, then the more we will enjoy every aspect of the experience.  Kait and I actively work on that.

 

We chose Eastham specifically because of it’s location.  Eastham is on the Outer Cape, which is the forearm part of Cape Cod.  Eastham is in the Nauset school district. We didn’t want Brewster because we like the idea of being on the outer cape. Brewster is in the Lower Cape, but closer to the Mid Cape, so closer to the mainland.  Orleans, I don’t know, we just kind of ruled it out.  Wellfleet was generally too expensive and little further out, so Eastham seemed right.  We are a bit closer to Provincetown, which we love.  We can hit the ocean beaches, bay beaches, bike trails, the National Seashore, many restaurants, and hiking trails by walking or riding a bike.  We never spent much time in Eastham when we visited, usually just drove through or stopped quickly at a store.  That is how a lot of people seem to think of it, and we are okay with that.

One of the most challenging aspects of choosing to move, and it not being for a job, is that we don’t have any work or income set up.  Kait left her corporate job and I am leaving all of my clients in Philly.  I will continue to work with some remotely, but that doesn’t work for everyone.  I have to rebuild in Cape Cod and build more of a remote/online/telehealth presence, and I am honestly looking forward to it.  But I found it rather challenging telling people with whom I have worked with for up to five years that I am moving. My clients look to me as someone to help guide them with their health, fitness, and life in general.  I hope to build another strong community on Cape Cod, or become a part of an already existing one. 

Moving to an area with more of the small town vibe will be interesting and challenging for me.  Generally, in the past, I liked to keep to myself and get lost in the crowd.  I don’t need to stand out, though sometimes I wish I had, and I don’t have to or want to know everyone.  Though, I think it will be really good for me to not shy away from any of these things anymore. I will grow more to know myself by opening myself up to these somewhat uncomfortable situations.  This will further allow me to grow beyond my shyness and really be true to myself in more aspects of my life.

As we have been going through the moving process of selling our home, visiting homes in Cape Cod, and so on, there is also the aspect of telling people that we are moving.  We have had many mixed reactions, which we expected.  I think a lot of people have difficulty getting past only viewing scenarios only through their own perspective, but usually they do in time.  Regardless, a lot of responses have been along the lines of, “Oh wow! Why Cape Cod?” or “Oh wow, good for you!  I could never move away, but good for you.”  or  “I’m not happy to see you go, but I’m happy for you.” or “Oh, that’s cool.”  Some people had very negative reactions because they didn’t know how it was going to affect their lives. 

My friend Nick, who grew up the first eight years or so of his life in Wellfleet, which is the town just north of Eastham, said he felt compelled to tell us that his Mom would warn us that it gets very quiet in the off-season and that we might find ourselves commuting to Boston to find work – which is definitely not something we want to do.  That is about three hours round trip with no traffic, and there is always traffic.  Nick’s opinion however, “Awesome! You guys will be great there.”  He and his wife, Renee, are on a similar path for their family, as in figuring out how to live the life they want right now.  We look forward to living closer to them, which was also a considerable factor in deciding to move to the Cape.

I went to Penn State with Nick and Renee.  Nick and I met in a mandatory but random English class freshman year and were almost immediately as tight as you can be. Kait and Renee are childhood best friends.  Kait and I met at their wedding.  There are a few people other than family that Kait and I would move just to be closer to them — Nick and Renee fall into that category.  They live on the South Shore, which is between Cape Cod and Boston.  Another strong positive for our move to Cape Cod.

Kait’s parents were huge proponents of the move from the start because they LOVE Cape Cod.  My mother-in-law grew up going there for summer vacations since the 1950’s.  She then introduced it to my father-in-law’s family, for whom it also became a tradition.  Though they have never been year ‘rounders, having only vacationed there in the summers, their affinity for Cape Cod has always been extremely evident.  Kait grew up going to North Truro, Cape Cod every summer of her life.  Most of Kait’s “coming of age moments” happened during her summer weeks in North Truro.

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Over Thanksgiving, my mother-in-law gave us a book called We Chose Cape Cod by Scott Corbett.  This book was first published in 1953, however, the start of the book is eerily similar to ours.  This family of three was moving to the Cape from New York City, to a town they had never been to before, to an area where most people have second homes or are retired, dealt with people having difficulty understanding why, people constantly questioning the weather and telling them it’s not like the rest of New England because it’s surrounded by water, and they were even moving in the end of January!  It turns out that they moved in on a weekend that the Cape got hit with the worst snow storm it had in 15 years.  I hope we don’t have the same experience.

We are only about 100 pages into the 300 page book (which we are reading during Weston’s bedtime routine), and it is good so far.  Some things are so similar, such as people making a big deal that they walked, rather than drove somewhere.  The author actually wrote that people get in their car to drive two blocks, which is still so true today.  Having lived in a city for eight years, we walk everywhere.  Kait and I always find it so strange when we visit areas and no one is walking around.  It makes no sense!

Yet, some things are so very different from the time of the book and now. They seemed to do a lot of community events, such as minstrel shows with reference to blackface.  I had never heard of minstrel shows before, so I did a quick search and found out that “while there was never an overtly racist intent, the format of the minstrel show carried a bias that wasn’t subtle. The jokes often supported the stereotypes of nonwhites as being lazy, superstitious, and always happy.” (Read more about minstrel shows here)  Even without knowing exactly what minstrels shows were, just reading that section changed my perspective on the book and the time a bit.  Luckily, minstrel shows no longer exist, at least I hope.

Minstrel shows aside, back in the 1950’s, people actually talked on the phone and made house visits to introduce themselves.  They also talked in-person.  No cell phones, computers, internet, social media, and so on.  On the flip side, we also have the ability to generate income remotely.  This author was, well, an author which does allow one to work from anywhere, but back then the possibilities were much less than they are today.

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I do hope to build and be part of the community in Eastham and the Outer Cape like I never quite felt I did while in Philadelphia.  With that being said, in the We Chose Cape Cod, Corbett talks a lot about “newcomers” vs “natives”.  Newcomers being the people who transplanted to Cape Cod in the recent years and natives being people who have been there for generations (but not Native Americans who were truly the natives of Cape Cod).  Again, the book takes place around 1950, but the commonalities amongst human conditioning are so similar to today. 

In time and space, 70 years is not long ago at all, so it’s not surprising that humans have not evolved beyond the idea that being part of something exclusive or private or familiar means something.  We have not evolved beyond the idea that unfamiliar is often good in many ways. There always seems to be a process for people to accept change, to accept something or someone new.  As humans, we tend to get stuck in our ways, thinking that those are the best ways.  This is something I hope that we, as a society, can move away from.  To do so, we must first be mindful of our inclinations and embrace chance and embrace different.  I don’t like cliques that exclude others without trying to understand them.  I hope my family can be a catalyst for change wherever we are.

Over Thanksgiving, we were in Woodstock, NY with Kait’s family.  When we go up there we are able to let Avett roam freely, without a leash.  He has grown up so much now, that we felt he was ready to do so the last time we visited.  He did great, so we continue with it.  He tends to be hesitant at first but then goes sniffing all around the woods surrounding my in-laws.  This time he took off, following a scent and just sprinting. He loves it more than anything we have ever seen, other than being with his family (he has attachment issues).  Then, at Kait’s sister’s house he started to chase their chickens.  He was absolutely loving life, chasing them all around the yard and into the woods.  Avett is meant to sprint and roam the yard.  At our new home on Cape Cod, the first thing we are doing is having a fence put up around much of our three quarter acre property for his playground.  We’ll have to watch out for coyotes, but his ability to be in nature will change his life and ours.  We will finally be able to take him to the beach too!

The first few months will be interesting. Though we will own the house in early January, we will be getting some work done prior to moving in so we won’t actually be living there yet.  We also head to St. John for a few days, so we may not actually move into our new home until almost February.  We have a lot to figure out, such as me figuring out my business and generating income, and Kait establishing her next pursuits, such as real estate, personal shopping/stylist, and her sustainability blog LittleFootLiving.com.  Not to mention, acclimating to a new society, way of life, and home.

This paragraph from We Chose Cape Cod summarizes one of the reasons we also chose Cape Cod:

“For me, the beach in winter was an unexpected dividend of our move to the Cape.  I had not previously realized that to visit the beach only in summer was to miss some of the greatest moments it had to offer.  The beach was a thing of many moods, some of which were more memorable than its brightest summer mood; it was a  place worth knowing in all seasons and all hours and all weather.  To enjoy the shore when beach umbrellas dotted its sands and bathers frolicked in the surf was a pretty thing; but to walk alone on a deserted beach, the shore as that magical and mysterious interspace across which life first crawled to dry land, could be infinitely more exciting.”

In January we are off to nature, epic sunsets, off to new experiences, off to Cape Cod.

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– Shaun✌️

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