Some 30 or 35 years later our kids and their friends all graduated from high school and also went off somewhere else -- first to college, then to look for opportunities in New York City, Boston, Atlanta, California, or somewhere in between. Hardly anyone stayed in their suburban hometown.
And now, most of us parents, when we get ready to retire, start looking around for a place to relocate -- Florida, the Carolinas, sometimes Arizona, Oregon or Washington, or even overseas.
When B and I decided to retire to Pennsylvania, I thought: Who retires to Pennsylvania?!? I even wondered if we'd ever meet any retired people. I figured they'd all left and gone to the Sunbelt.
Boy, was I wrong. There are retired folk all over the place in Pennsylvania -- as well as the resources to cater to them. My town has a senior center. It has a Center for Learning in Retirement at the local university. There are plenty of cultural events catering to older people -- an independent movie theater, lots of mid-level restaurants, lots of churches, flower shows, a museum, an arts fair, a chapter of the senior women's social group Encore. And there's a hospital much larger than you'd expect for a town our size, along with literally hundreds of doctors doing a land-office business in colonoscopies, knee replacements and cataract surgeries.
In turns out, according a January 2019 WalletHub report, that Pennsylvania in the 9th best state to retire in, behind Florida and Colorado but ahead of other retirement meccas like Arizona and the Carolinas.
So we've found that the people around Philadelphia behave nothing like the people around New York (even though they are only an hour-and-a-half away from each other by train or car.) They do not leave home when they retire. And their kids don't leave either. They stay close to home, in Philadelphia, working in the city or the suburbs or across the river on Pill Alley in New Jersey (a stretch that houses a number of drug companies such as Merck and Johnson & Johnson).
When we meet people who tell us they've moved in from New Hampshire, Chicago, California, North Carolina -- as we do -- then we find out later that they've lived and worked in Chicago or California for 20 or 30 years, but they grew up in the Philadelphia area. They wanted to come back, mostly because they still have family here.
But where we come from in New York? Nobody goes back. Maybe because it's too expensive to live there on a fixed income. Maybe because our kids aren't there anymore. Or maybe it's because the ex-New Yorkers have established lives in their new homes and don't want to leave.
So I wonder, is your town or city more like New York, or more like Philadelphia. Do people leave, or do they stay?
B likes to volunteer and be helpful. But the real draw for B is that she gets to stand around, fold clothes, and chat with all her old friends, catching up with their kids, their spouses, their activities and comings and goings.
Meanwhile, we'll have dinner with our old neighbors (who are both still working), and another dinner with an old friend of mine (his wife is still working). I've persuaded my son to come out from Brooklyn to have lunch. I will also play golf with three old friends at a familiar public course. The last time I played there was in August 2017, the day after we attended the funeral of a friend of ours.
I plan to take a drive past my old homes, and maybe take a pass by the school where my kids went to high school, and the old office building where I worked for 25 years.
It's only been two years since we left. I wonder if everything will look the same?