5 Year Plan


I recently received notice from my landlord that the house I have been renting will soon be for sale. I may either buy it, or move out. I have one year to make up my mind.

I moved into this house because it was within easy bicycling distance of my old job. I no longer have that job, and my current job is 16 miles away, so this house really doesn’t make any sense anymore.

In the process of thinking about this, it occurred to me that one of the reasons I took the job that I currently have, is because it was “feasible” to ride to it from where I currently live.

So, in a very short time, I will work where I work because of where I used to live. And where I used to live is where it is because of where I used to work.

Here we have a chain of causality untethered from from any foundation in reason. It’s not exactly circular reasoning, but it does have a certain elliptical groove to it.

I was 23 years old when I moved to Harrisburg, and many of the things that drew me here are no longer applicable. When you grow up in a rural area, most of the ‘cool kids’ plot and scheme how to ‘get out of this town’ because “there’s nothing to do around here.”

I was one of those kids. In those days “nothing to do” meant nowhere to go get drunk, chase skirts, and act foolish.

This made the never-ending frat party on 2nd street in Harrisburg an irresistible attraction; one which I enjoyed for the first few years I lived here.

For the past several months, I’ve been under doctor’s orders to abstain from drunkenness, I’ve given up the chase, and I’ve learned that I can act foolish anywhere I happen to be.

Long story short, I think my time in Harrisburg has run its course. I think would like to go back home. I miss the mountains. I miss getting stuck behind farm equipment on my drive home from work and calling it a traffic jam.

There are (as always) a few flies in the ointment. I actually kind of like my new job, which has a supernaturally awesome retirement plan that takes 5 years to vest. I also have about 3 years left to wrap up my degree at PSU, if I stick to my slack-a-daisical pace of 12 credits per year.

So, I’ll still be here for 4 or 5 years. Which brings me back to my original problem of where to live. Four years is right on the cusp of when financial-planner type people tell you you whether or not it makes sense to rent vs. to buy a house. I’m tempted to rent the rattiest shithole I can find and save up money to buy a house when I move home.

I’m considering living in Duncannon, which (believe it or not), is actually closer to my work than my current house is. Duncannon is also about 30 miles closer to home, which should shave some time off my weekend runs to visit friends, family, forest-spirits, etc. Additionally, the Appalachian trail runs right through the town, so I can walk out my back door and go hiking if I want to.

Hawk Rock
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I took this picture about 2 miles from downtown Duncannon. With a little bravado on the highway, I’m pretty sure I could ride to work from there, too. It would be about 12 miles each way, which I’m confident I can handle.

There is the lingering problem of how I am going to support myself once I get back to the hinterland. I manage enterprise datacenters and big, hairy computer networks for a living, and there aren’t many of those in the country.

I have a few years to figure that one out, and no, I haven’t ruled out joining the clergy 😉

6 thoughts on “5 Year Plan

  1. I like your idea of moving to a shithole and saving money to eventually buy a house or whatever. By the time I realized that would be a good idea, I was too committed to family, etc to make such a change. And if you believe Kunstler and assume recent trends are to continue, the price of a house is going to become more affordable.

    BTW, awhile ago when I was contemplating uprooting the family and relocating, you suggested Mifflinburg. I did some research into it, and it seemed delightful. I spent some effort trying to convince my wife, but she remained skeptical (she’s always skeptical). Of course, as you know, I didn’t move, but Mifflinburg was high on my list and continues to be a destination that I think about sometimes.

  2. I just noticed that non other than HRH Sheldon Brown was riding in Mifflinburg 2 years ago.

    (http://www.sheldonbrown.org/journal/journal-0507.html about halfway down the page)

    I would imagine that there are Mifflinburg-like places in rural Minnesota, too. Although we probably have a longer growing season here. In many ways, it is idyllic, but if you’re not involved in agriculture, it’s very difficult to find work that doesn’t involve a long car commute, which kind of defeats the whole idea. There are already two full service bike shops ion town, and since most of the cyclers are Amish, they tend to patronize the Amish shop.

    HC probably wouldn’t get a lot of local business if it were to relocate there.

    The next time I go riding up there, I’ll take some pictures. If you’re ever in the area and want to ride, I’d be happy to show you around.

  3. I remember Duncannon. When my wife and I thru-hiked the AT in 2001 we spent two nights and a zero day in Duncannon. We camped at one end of town in a campground by a river that was full of fisherman who partied all night. It had railroad tracks running next to it. It seemed like frieght trains came by every ten minutes all night long. Good memories of a time when life was a lot more free and easy going!!

  4. As soon as this snow melts, I’d like to get out on the AT for some dayhikes up that way. I’ll try to post some pics, maybe bring back some memories.

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