We just returned from a Thanksgiving trip to the East Coast. We spent the holiday with family in Washington DC and the week preceding it on the Eastern Shore of Maryland – one of our top contenders for retirement. It combines access to water (the Chesapeake Bay) and relatively easy access to big cities (Baltimore and Washington DC) and (fairly) reasonable real estate prices.
We’ve been there a few times over the years in St. Michael’s and Oxford and have always enjoyed our visits. Both of those towns are quite small, though, and in the summer months are crazy crowded with tourists (and housing is accordingly pretty costly with limited availability). So for this trip, we decided to explore areas that we hadn’t seen before. We based ourselves in Cambridge, MD, staying at my niece’s house. Cambridge sits on the Choptank River (that feeds into the Chesapeake) and boasts a lighthouse, a wildlife refuge and a walkable downtown with lots of restaurants and even a winery. We spent a day with a realtor exploring the various neighborhoods of Cambridge – housing options are all over the map from lovely old homes to fairly new townhouses. We next branched out and headed to Ocean City on the coast by way of Salisbury which is the biggest city on the Eastern Shore and has some lovely parks and is home to the Ward Museum of Wildfowl Art. Before going I wouldn’t have guessed that a museum about duck decoys could be so interesting – but if you’re ever in Salisbury it is well worth a visit!
We spent another day exploring Easton, which is about 20 miles north of Cambridge and is a bit bigger with real deal shopping centers and a fair amount of new construction. Prices were a bit higher there but we found a development called Easton Village on the Avon River that I really liked. It had a community center and pool and a walking path to Easton’s old town. Houses ranged from huge two or three floor 5 or 6 bedroom monsters to 2 bedroom single story homes. Any kind of water view meant a higher price tag (that’s a universal truth everywhere you go) but since all of Easton is close to water (heck, anywhere n the Eastern Shore is relatively close to water) the water view didn’t seem to be a big deal (or worth the markup). The town of Easton is much more bustling than Cambridge (and also larger – it even has a Lowe’s!). We heard that in the summer you should avoid downtown on the weekends – it gets that crowded.
Our last day took us to a place that a realtor we spoke to in Easton recommended – Chestertown. Chestertown is north of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and is quite small (about 6,000 people live there). Being north of the bridge means that it isn’t as subject to the summer craziness that you find heading south. The town is really charming and we had a great time exploring some of the shops and looking at the neat old houses. Prices are close to Easton but with less availability. So if/when we get serious, we’ll have to keep all eyes open and on alert for offerings.
We haven’t made any firm decisions but really liked the entire Eastern Shore. I’m beginning to think we could spend the next 20 years just looking for that perfect place (and would that really be so bad?), for that Eureka! moment when we just know we found that perfect place. For now the search continues and I’m grateful we aren’t under any time pressure to make a quick decision.
For now, it’s back to getting ready for our African safari (only a month away – squeeeeee!!!).