Saturday, December 18, 2010

How Does Bend Stack Up for Retirement? Truly Sucktacularly.

"Honey, I think we missed the Palm Springs exit."

The professional Bend-boosters have put a lot of time, money and effort into promoting Bend and Central Oregon as a terrific place to retire. They've even managed to get it included in several of those "10 Best Places to Retire" lists that magazines are always putting out.

Truth be told, however, Bend is emphatically not a good place to retire. It actually is one of the suckiest places to retire on the face of the planet -- or at least North America.

First, let's consider the climate. The winter in Bend is cold, it's wet, it's snowy, it's icy, it's gray, it's dreary -- and it's seven and a half months long.

We old farts do not like cold, wet, snowy, icy, gray, dreary winters that go on for seven and a half months. We do not like shoveling snow, scraping ice off windshields and slipping on the ice, falling on our ass and ending up in the hospital with a broken hip.

We like places that are warm and sunny. We like to put on our pastel Bermuda shorts and our white patent leather shoes with matching white patent leather belt and play golf or shuffleboard or croquet or (if we're Italians) bocce.

Or just sit in the sun and bask like lizards.

Then let's consider what to do for fun. In Bend, unless you go balls-out into all the outdoor recreation stuff -- and let's face it, despite all the propaganda, very few folks in their 70s and 80s are that gung ho for snowboarding, alpine skiing, mountain biking, rock climbing and running up and down mountains -- there isn't much.

Well, there's golf. There are plenty of golf courses around here, and people who play golf (I don't) tell me many of them are very good. But because of the suckitudinous nature of the climate, the golf season is only about four months long. (The boosters sometimes claim Bend offers "year-round golf," but that lie is almost as magnificent, towering and grandiose as "300 days of sunshine.")

We do have movie theaters, bowling alleys and bars, but you can find those anywhere.

Buying a retirement home in Bend or Central Oregon makes sense for only two classes of people:

First, those who are too poor to afford one in a warm, sunny place. (Bend really is a cheaper place to retire than many other locales, now that the real estate market has collapsed.)

Second, those who are rich enough to afford a second home in Palm Springs or some other warm, sunny place to flee to during Bend's seven and a half months of winter.

Since old Blackdog isn't in either of those categories, when he and Mrs. Blackdog finally retire (oh Lord, hasten the day!) we will be saying hasta la vista to Bend and all its suckiness.

ADDENDUM: I forgot to mention all the many ways in which living in Bend is unhealthy for old (and even not so old) geezers.

Because of the abundance and variety of vegetation -- especially the notorious junipers -- Bend records some of the highest pollen counts in the world during the spring and summer. It's hell for anybody with pollen allergies, or allergy-triggered asthma.

The dry air is brutal for anybody who has sinus problems. You''ll need to install a humidification system in your home.

The cold temperatures and continual wide swings in temperature and barometric pressure are torture for people with arthritis or fibromyalgia.

And finally, the short days in the winter and the general grayness and cloudiness that prevails most of the time except for the three and a half months of summer makes Bend a terrible environment for people with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).

How does Bend suck as a place to retire? Truly, it is difficult to count all the ways.


Anonymous said...

To be fair, much the same could be said of the Upper Midwest. MN/WI etc. have dreadful winters. The difference is, there's very little in the way of boosterism and... you can still buy a 3 bd home without having to pay thru the nose?

Another major difference is, MW's tend to "bloom where they are planted" and you'll be surrounded by people that walk, talk and THINK just like you do! Not to say what they are walking or talking is in any way correct ( just similar, that's all )

They tend to be much more social. Joining bowling leagues and all kinds of group activities.

My biggest concern though, is for my wife. Maybe the Beach Boys can release a follow-up album called "Endless Winter". There's no way this can be good for you?

blackdog said...

True, but nobody touts MN and WI as retirement havens.

The problem with Bend is that since its timber is gone it has nothing to produce and sell but bullshit.

blackdog said...

"you'll be surrounded by people that walk, talk and THINK just like you do!"

I can imagine few fates more horrible.

Anonymous said...

Right, welcome to Brigadoon.

Still, however 'pleasant' the weather might be in Austin etc. ( I really can't see any point in spending your retirement surrounded by people that utterly DESPISE you! ) Or having to keep your opinions to yourself for all of your remaining years? )

I respect you'd prefer keep the politics OUT of BendSux and I'll abide by that.

It is encumbent on all of us to find a ret. place that's as close to our 'ideal' template as possible. No one 'else' will do that 'for' us. Controversely, I understand Cincinnati is -very- conservative friendly!?

So like it or 'not', it IS a balancing act! I've seldom if ever heard a pol. ref. as applied to Bend as I'm told money is all that's on the mind of newcomers? I will say this though, I for (1) have had about enough of feeling isolated. Bad Weather, closed-minded people! What's not to like?

Bend Economy Man said...

My grandparents retired here from the Valley ... to be close to family (us). They never complained too much but they weren't the complaining types. I think they were surprised by the winters though. They lived out near Sunriver for a while and basically that whole area turns into a bog in spring (and in a warm winter) which SUX, I saw it with my own eyes. Standing water everywhere. Which is why a lot of C.O. would be nearly uninhabitable without mosquito spraying.

My grandmother eventually died (at age 95) from complications from a broken hip suffered on an icy sidewalk in Bend. Clearly you can't complain too much if you live to age 95 and you're up and around enough to break your hip, but anyone of hip-breaking age should be aware that icy sidewalks are a distinct possibility in Bend about half the year.

But as to the question of why Bend is marketed as a retirement destination: I think that's the wrong approach. Bend is marketed as a destination, period. Then they stick a word in front of "destination" based on what people might plausibly come here for. And it's been that way for at least 75 years. I have an old newspaper ad from the '40s or '50s that has pictures of an Ozzie and Harriet family fishing and camping saying "come to Bend". If meth were legal, Bend would be marketed as a meth destination. It's like that the world over with wide spots in the road.

H. Bruce Miller said...

"If meth were legal, Bend would be marketed as a meth destination."

HA! Watch out -- you might give the Chamber of Commerce an idea.

Bend Economy Man said...

I would also note that there's been a change in policy / direction at Visit Bend: they are now officially asking all people who come as tourists to move their families and businesses to Bend. What kind of tourists -- what kind of businesses -- are we selective? No. If you are a human being, we want you to move to Bend. Not a marketing campaign that inspires confidence.

H. Bruce Miller said...

"If you are a human being, we want you to move to Bend."

Hasn't that always been the policy?