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Honored Advisor

Story-time surprises!

Winn had his first library story-time session this morning. I was surprised that we were the only ones there. He did better than I really expected, listening to two cute picture books the librarian read to him. They sang a song...he's trying...and he scribbled on a coloring page, before we visited the nice stack of wooden blocks.

Nothing we haven't already done scads of times at home. I had really hoped he would get to see some other children, but maybe the librarian just hasn't spread the word enough yet. I told her I would call or email a couple of homeschooling families I know, and suggested she send the schedule to the local paper.

One thing she said that sort of surprised me is that the local daycares used to come, but don't anymore. Gasoline prices cut into that, which I understand.

What was unexpected was when she said several of them have closed. Once she mentioned it, I did realize that some of the old commercial buildings I had seen used as daycares throughout the county aren't being used anymore. It just hadn't registered on my radar, I guess.

Yet another sign of our times. I am seeing more and more "House for Sale" signs in every little town. Some are gorgeous historical houses, some of which had been bought by people trying to locate into small-town South, out of big cities, mostly up North. Evidently, it has been a poor fit.

Where before you saw dilapidated little houses going empty, it is big, pretty expensive ones now. I see new vacancies every time I drive in a different direction. It used to be outlying, isolated houses too far from workplaces. Now, it is houses in towns with blank windows, grass growing.

Empty storefronts are one thing. When over half of a county's schools have closed in 3-4 years, daycares are being shut down, and houses can't be sold dirt cheap, it is sort of scary.

Maybe this is a sort of harsh reaction to being alone at story-time, but it was just one more encounter with this realization : Our county is shrinking in on itself. I have to chair planning board tonight. Most months, we have a single lot or two to approve. Some months, we have nothing to do at all, and the meeting is cancelled. No wonder, with so many homes sitting empty all over the map.

Do you ever have stray information enter your mind, that suddenly adds up to a bigger picture. I don't like this one! It's already isolated enough out here, as it is now.





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Senior Contributor

Re: Story-time surprises!

This is a subject that really concerns me also. We first noticed it in IL a few years ago. Old empty homes and empty downtowns. Now here in rural southern IN it is the same. The towns are about gone except for the dollar stores and gas stations. When the post offices close it will do more damage.

 

About 25 years ago we had some French students stay briefly with us a couple of times. They told how the people there worked in the cities and returned to the rural villages on week-ends. But I don't think that will happen here. The French villages are a few miles apart like it was here 75 years ago. I it is very sad to drive through these small towns and see that the only ones living there are the elderly and the poor. The empty houses are multiplying fast.

 

I had not thought about the daycares being a tool to gage the towns but I see your point.

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Honored Advisor

Re: Story-time surprises!

It all goes together, I am sure. Small towns used to turn " gray", with lots of elderly homeowners in spells,then theybwould die or sell and move to nursing homes and such, making the homes available for younger families with children to re- popultae the area.

Now, there is no influx of " new blood". Instead of refilling the houses, the space sits empty and starts to go to pot.

When the daycares are not filled, then the schools have no census headed their way, either. I knew that a lot of kds were being siphoned off by private schools, charter schools and homeschooling. This new information says to me that there are just fewer kids, spread over more educational oitlets.

This comes too late to be a ripple from the mortgage meltdown. It could say that nobody can get financing to buy in, which is a sign that banks are scared to be that reckless ever again.

Friends with a house that is way overbuilt for one small town here haven't had but two interested buyers in a listing that has been up for a year, and neither one had sufficient credit to swing the deal. That is for a gorgeous, nearly new home.

It made me kind of sad...as I walked through this crazy old salvaged house, after Winn left for the day, I thought about how it was falling down when we bought this place 19 years ago, how it was one of three houses standing, one out of five homesites we could. Identify. I guess this area had been in decline long before we arrived.

If not for siting a hig farnpm, we would have never come. The farming operation is the only thing besides our child and her child holding us for now. I can see why ties get frayed, then break entirely.



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Senior Contributor

Re: Story-time surprises!

Re: daycare. There are too many Jobs that don't pay well enough to pay bills plus afford daycare. Cheaper to have grandma watch them or when more than one child it might be money ahead not to work for one parent.
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Honored Advisor

Re: Story-time surprises!

Agreed...she was talking about daycares that had been filled with kids...mostly small, in home care out here.
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Senior Contributor

Re: Story-time surprises!

I agree with your views. I recently talked to a woman who said it is almost impossible for a single divorced man to buy an older house or anyone now. They needed to sell MIL older house.  I see huge new homes sitting for sale too. This is leaving the small towns looking bleak with these empty house.

 

We are waiting on the cold front that is heading our way. Sure need rain with it but not much promised.

 

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Advisor

Re: Story-time surprises!

Glad that we don't have to deal with trying to sell the old house.   We do have a 1965ish constructed house that we want to sell after MIL's death or maybe before.   Since in-laws have owned they have:  new roof,  new 2 car attached garage, central air, new furnace, new deck, new vinyl siding.  some minor upgrades in the house.   We don't need it and don't want it.   In-laws seemed to have adopted this couple.  Rent is:  $300/month,   they get to pay as they can on our prepaid LP contract,   during an illness and unemployment  they got to live there for about 5 months  rent free.    The rent does not pay for the upkeep, maintenance and taxes.  There are 2 hog buildings 1/4 mile away.  We hope the owners of the bldgs will want to buy the house for one of their kids.   We would be willing to take just about any bid to get rid of the headache and income drain. 

Around here lots of  Chicago people see the price for some of these old  houses and think  they are great buys.   They'll buy one and then get hit with the reality of:  taxes,  maintenance,  lower job opportunities,  and there is no need for all those rooms in today's families.   I think too often they think they'lll flip one of these and make some good money.   Locals understand the economics of those old houses... many sit on the market for years. 

Now,  smaller houses  in the 50,000 to 80,000 range are gobbled up quickily by the Hispanic population living here due to the hog packing plant.   They have truely found the American Dream.   A job, with benefits,  free education, a pretty safe enviroment,  and a home.    And I wish to state that unless they have real good fake papers  they are all legal.   Just wish they would learn English. 

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Honored Advisor

Re: Story-time surprises!

I have just sat while Winn napped - he's out taking cold drinks to teh field now - and done the final accounting of Jenna's estate account.  Not the way I like to spend a day, but the last bills for some lingering issues have arrived and been paid, and it was just time. 

 

We are sitting with her small 3-bedroom home, c. 1995 built, in what was a very rapidly growing outlying town not far from Raleigh...just outside the Wake County super schools.  WE should sell it, and I am not sentimentally attached to it, really, sicne she only lived there a couple of years after college...her grandparents' home (which Mike owns) was her abode for almost six years, and she was happiest there.   

 

I ought to push the sale, and yet, it can earn way more than we would get for it in rent., even at the sacrifice levels I have let stay in place, which Jenna did for her former housemate and her daughter.  I raised it some, but not enough. 

 

Maybe that is part of the mission she left for us to complete...to let that girl get her child through the schools in that neighborhood.  If it's meant to be, everything else will hold up, and we won't need the money from a sale. 

 

I have two sisters who have huge houses, way too much for either f them and what littel family they have.  I was determined not to build that kind of a white elephant.  We have more money tied up in houses, but not in ONE house.  That way, we can rent out about 2/3 of what we own, and it's not such a dead drag financially. 

 

This is a long, dry spell for real estate, and I see no end to it anytime soon.  Good time to be renting, if you can find decent tenants. 

 

 

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