Sunday, June 22, 2008

Fairfield County Sucks for Young People. And?

I just found a quality blog called Connecticut Local Politics. Politics hurt my head, but I found a post about “Brain Drain” I can relate to. CTLP author Genghis Conn writes about a post from Mayor Malloy’s blog (who knew!?) that referenced an Advocate article about how young people are leaving CT because of the high cost of living.

Me to husband: What should I blog about today? I just found an article about Brain Drain, but aren’t we just bitching about the same old stuff?
Husband: Yeah, but it’s interesting. That’s what people want to talk about.
Me: Should my post be on what we should do about it?
H: There’s nothing you can do about it.

Then I guess my question is, why do we stay?

I stay for a few reasons.
I have a good job.
I like being around smart, educated people.
I was too lazy and torpid to move 5 years ago when I really, really hated this area.
Now that I’ve met my husband, I am happy. I can deal with Stamford. Sure, I’d like to be somewhere where there are more cheap music and art events that I don’t have to drive to (yup, I idealize Charlottesville, VA), but my parents-in-law are in Long Island, and we want to be close to them.

I also like that Stamford is diverse and has interesting issues to talk about. Much as I complain about the area, it’s not boring; frustrating, maybe, but not boring.

I like Stamford, but I can’t say I actively like this area. If I had a house on the water and a boat, I might be more psyched about it. Truth be told, I’d love to move somewhere where people are more into just hanging out. I'm tired of all of my friends (the wonderful coworkers I’ve had for ten years) not being able to hang out because they live in Trumbull or Fairfield and have to put the kids to bed. F that! Why can’t we all just BBQ in the backyard like we did yesterday? Why does that only happen once a year?

I’ll tell ya why: because most people who work down here can’t comfortably afford a house here. I’ll rent for the rest of my life before I commute from Norwalk again (worst year of my impatient life), so I feel pretty certain I’ll be in Stamford for a while. I guess I'm staying here for my job and my family, then.

Well. Turns out bitching about the same old stuff isn’t boring, because that rant was very satisfying.


Greg said...

Ohh, I did a post about this a few months ago (in fact it was my very first!). I've thought about this subject a lot. I moved here from Manhattan to be closer to work because I hated doing the commute. Now that I'm here I'm realizing the commute wasn't so bad :-) I think, at least for the young professional crowd, it "sucks" here because you can't compete with New York (at least in terms of culture and entertainment options), and our proximity makes it impossible to talk about Stamford without New York coming up.

JT said...

all the cool people are blogging it seems.

I am a young professional I suppose. I like being close to NYC and being able to take advantage of all that offers but also enjoy a 15 commute and some of the room of the burbs to run, sail, etc. I moved to Stamford because it was close to NYC and seemed to have a few things going for itself as well as a growing city.

People are around and looking for some kind of scene. You can see that with everyone in the happy hour club. I don't think it would take much totally turn Stamford around socially. Hmmm, thats my next post idea StamfordTalk. With all these voids maybe we should be opening businesses, look at Capriccio, he seems to be making a killing.

Anonymous said...

You bring up a good point about your co-workers not living near by. I work near White Plains and my co-workers (some of my best friends in the area) all live in Manhattan, Queens, Rockland County, or NJ. It's nearly impossible to just hang out without it being a 1 hour drive for someone. Even if I was free to move someplace else in the area, I would not be able to pick a central place located near all my friends.

The only option is to work and live in Manhattan (which I would never do) and then you could be closer to your friends and co-workers.

If this were a perfect world, all my family and friends would live in San Diego and I would have a kick ass job making zillions to be able to afford a house on the beach.

Jeff said...

I'd've moved years ago if I weren't in a couple of bands and a most excellent relationship. I grew up around here and still can't believe I wound up back in the area.

I'm waiting for Fairfield County to collapse under the weight of its own exclusivity--ask teachers, cops, firefighters, etc where they live. A really high number (given my own informal survey) don't live where they work. Does anyone else find this to be a problem?

Unknown said...

AH - something I have known for a looooong time. When $50,000 is a too low salary for living in area, there is a problem. I would say I am fortunate because I bought a house, with a close friend in the early 90's and so can afford to live here. My city salary would not come close to letting me live here otherwise. My reason for staying - I am in the same job 28 plus years and retirement is set-up in place away from here where COL is 50% of this place and it still is a big city.

Anonymous said...

At 37, I'm not sure my age necessarily disqualifies me from "young person"-hood, but I'm pretty sure my married-with-kids status does. And I'm here to say it ain't just young folks leaving town because of the high cost of living.

One of my biggest beefs with the FC has always been how many cool people we've met and gotten psyched to have as new friends, only to find that they were moving away, because of (DING DING DING!) expensive housing. This happens so frequently that each time I meet potential friend material, I assume they're gone within the year (and I'm right much of the time). Your ideal hometown shouldn't weed out the people you'd want in your inner circle.

Having said that, Stamford has really grown on me, and I'm stubbornly optimistic that it is only going to improve. I feel Stamford needs to be evaluated in the context of what surrounds it, and compared to our wealthier, more homogenous neighbors, Stamford's relative dynamism puts it ahead. I love that my son's Toquam class is like a Bennetton ad from the 80's. (The cheerful multi-culti ones, not the dying Jesus with AIDS ones.) I love that we can go catch a performer like Wynton Marsalis at the Palace Theatre, and we can WALK DOWNTOWN cause we live in the Bull's Head region. I love the IDEA of downtown events like Alive @ Five, even if I'm not always up for the crowded frattiness of it. All the new development (Harbor Point, Mill River Park, etc.) has me giddily anticipating its completion. Yes, Stamford is only getting better.

I just wish someone would truck in some sand to upgrade Stamford's public beaches. Why can't there be a Stamford Beach Collaborative that overhauls Cummings and West Beach? I wouldn't mind having to pay more for a beach pass if it meant nicer sand instead of the driveway gravel that's there now.

Stamford Talk, you are welcome to backyard BBQ at our house any time, as long as you don't mind the presence of my attention-hound kids.

Anonymous said...

On Sat night I sat in my pyjamas in my neighbors backyard drinking wine and watching fireworks.

Technically I'm middle aged, not young. And I live in Cos Cob, not Stamford.

But it was awesome backyard hanging outness. And I didn't have to even get changed to crash into bed.

Unknown said...

Okay, Okay so I don't qualify for being young - age - 53, but Ill wager I go out on the town than most of you - so I will stand by my comments and say very young at heart. Now to business... the beaches are pretty much what they are cause nature makes sure they stay that way. Stamford did truck in a bunch of sand a number of years ago - about the time we bought the Government center and surprise, surprise the first Northeaster' returned it to what it always has been, a rocky road with a little sand and lots of oysters and clams. Sorry Anon - nature won't cooperate.

Stamford Talk said...

I knew I shouldn't have said young; I knew at the time I really meant anyone who likes music/conversation/music/unusual events/movies, etc. I think I said young because that's what the original Advocate article talked about: 25- to 34-year-olds. I should have mentioned that in my post but I was fatiguing- I posted at 1030pm and had not yet packed for my flight the next AM to Mississippi (I've been here 6 hours and already a tiny ant-like creature bit me and my nephew found a black widow in a pinecone.)

So... what do we do about this... I'm probably going to bite the bullet and buy a house that's not as nice as I'd like (yeah, sob sob, life is tough) OR just keep renting. In the meantime, I think we are building a community of people- like JT of Blog Stamford points out, Fairfield County Happy Hour Club and people who go to the Avon Theatre events- who want to have fun and socialize and meet new people.

Anonymous said...

We left Darien after four years because we couldn't afford the house we needed there. (I say needed, because we have a fairly large family spread out all over the country and they visit a LOT, and we want to keep it that way.)

There were several other factors, of course, one of which was related to the astronomical cost of housing in Darien. It bothered me that our kids would not be able to settle in their "home town" unless they were bankers.

Having said that, I come from the other end of the spectrum. I grew up in a lovely town in the Arkansas Ozarks, where a few of my classmates did not have running water. It is a beautiful area, and my family settled the area and never left. I am the only member of my entire family who does not live there. Even though it is no longer as economically depressed as it once was, there is still very little professional opportunity there. Oh, and nightlife? Ha! It is a dry county full of white, republican Baptists.

So, what am I saying? (I'm never quite sure.) I know there must be a happy medium, like your Utopia of Charlottesville, VA, but I have a good friend who left Charlottesville recently to seek his Utopia of Portland, OR.

No place is perfect, right? And every place is exclusive to some folks. Stick around the FC, Stamford Talk. I like knowing you're out there, and moving around chasing the perfect place is quite possible a sucker's game.

We like you here, and your influence on Stamford is already being felt, you know. Keep up the good work.

JT said...

StamfordTalk, you need a stop on the bar tour with me to set you straight again. Are you game?

meg said...

My husband grew up here in Stamford and he always has had such hometown pride, and now after living here myself for 3 years, I can finally see why. Like you, Stamford Talk, I long for a more spontaneous, laid back social scene, but I think it's out there if you really search. Plus I am often out and about in surrounding towns shopping and eating in their restaurants, and while they are very nice, I find there's something about Stamford - don't people smile more around here?Really, pay attention. Stamfordites are a happy bunch and I love raising a child here. Don't leave us!

Spike and Roxy said...

Why do I stay in this urine-stained hellhole that is Fairfield County? (Ooops, I mean pee-pee stained heckhole. Excuse my language)

1. Statistically, it's one of the safest places in the U.S. No earthquakes, forest fires, tornados or hurricanes.

2. Scalzi Skatepark (and hopefully more concrete on the way in the future)

3. Work & commute

4. Too lazy to move. But if we do, it's gonna be big. Just haven't decided where yet.

I just wish they would throw a few "alternative" (Ugh. Yeah, I said it) bars & clubs up around here like they have in those faroff places such as Brooklyn and Philly. Would it be too much to ask for cheap beer on tap & Drunk Injuns in the jukebox?

It was mentioned that we need a Toad's Place down here on that other site. Agreed. The Globe Theatre is wasting away in Norwalk. Is that place ever gonna reopen, and if so, could we get a few touring bands to play there every once in a while?

Anonymous said...

The expensiveness of Stamford doesn't drive out ALL the creative types, but it certainly drives out the ones who

a) are OK with their reduced standard of living compared with what they could have if they lived in, say, Fairfield (even that's not cheap).

b) don't have trust funds

c) don't have spouses with trust funds or investment banking jobs.

But I have to believe that if someone could just manage to plant the tiniest seedling of a "scene" here, artistically, musically, etc., then others would follow. I think the film industry's burgeoning presence here is encouraging.

Anonymous said...

whoops. That post made no sense. I meant a) AREN'T OK with their reduced standard of living etc. etc.

(I'm a little schnockered. My neighbor and I were having mojito Tuesday on my deck!)

AmyBow said...

As opposed to writing about why I don't leave the Stmaford area (okay, I live in Norwalk) I will tell you why my husband and I made the concious decision to live here.

1. It has a family friendly atmosphere, with events, activities and amenities attractive to families (we determined this before we even had kids).

2. It's close to NYC, but doesn't have the same sense of urgency and ambition.

3. There are real places to work - unlike Charlottesville - while lovely, there are not the same quality and quantity of professional opportunities.

4. Family. We are close to my parents on LI, and my in-laws in Fairfield and I don't have to live on LI (a thing I swore I would never do).

5. Location, Location, Location. My husband works in BPT, I work in Westchester. Hey, at least one of us has a reverse commute:)

For all of the problems, you have to admit, there are some benefits - not to mention the fact that it isn't a great time ot sell your home...

Anonymous said...

I'm 22, just out of college and living at home with my parents (which I actually don't mind...) BUT I have the feeling that I urgently need to get away from Fairfield County. In high school it seemed like any place else and my friends and I always seemed to be able to find something to do. Now that I'm back home I am keep asking myself where all the people my age go to hang out other than their friends' living rooms and the local bars. I like Alive @ Five and am pretty excited that Eve 6 is coming to sing soon, but other than that I am at a loss as to where everyone my age is on this Friday night. Anyone know?

Mae said...

I am in a similar situation anonymous. There really isn't much to do around here especially if you're on a budget after leaving college like I am. Perhaps a film, bowling, the beach and if you're into the night scene...there's that. But otherwise you lounge around and wait for the next big thing to stroll in through town. Festivals, concerts, etc. Nothing cultural and I find it hard to meet people. I've been living here for most of my life and still have trouble finding things to do. Am I missing something too?

Anonymous said...

Having recently moved down to Stamford with my wife (ie 8 months ago) we've come to a few conclusions. Yes owning a house in Stamford propper is going to be expensive, eventually kids will come along. For the time being, we have found that a 1300 square foot condo, which is almost as big as some of the older houses here is a great alternative, because I don't want to mow the lawn just yet. There are 1 & 2 bed condos to be found from 200 to 300k here, which isn't ideal in terms of cost, but lets be serious if you're working in Stamford you're probably getting a decent salary. Stamford, as compared to Boston is a much better place to own than to rent. In other words you pay more in rent for the same property here than you do in nearby suburbs in Boston. Sure owning a house with an acre of land will cost you a fortune here, but it will no matter where you go here in the Northeast. Bottom line, Stamford's housing is not out of reach, people need to be more realistic with their expectations. Now in terms of meeting people, I will agree the social scene here is a bit smaller, but what would you expect from a city comprised of a downtown with 1 major mall and a towncenter barely bigger than a few square miles. So far that's been our biggest issue is meeting younger couples such as ourselves. Aside from that Stamford has been great and the proximity to NYC helps with the social concerns.

Anonymous said...

I totally agree with the guy who said Stamford needs another Toad's Place. A bar where local and nationall acts play. A place where people can meet for God's sake. A freaking scene. I lived in Stamford for two years and met literally no one.

The biggest problem with Stamford, besides the huge illegal immigrant problem, is that the social scene is utter crap!!! All you have in Stamford are blatant Manhattan wanna-be clubs and overpriced bars!!! This has and will always be the case. There isn't one real cool bar to hang out in and that's weak!!!

As for the TV/Film industry changing things in this state… that's a crock!!! That dream is totally DEAD.

I haven't even touched the subject of taxes…
Hey, Governor Malloy!!! Drop DEAD please!!!!!!!!!!!