What I have to relate to you is probably nothing new and many of us pay little attention to it unless, of course, it becomes a MOBY. You know, My Own Back Yard. So, here's the tale.
Six years ago, my wife and I left the confines of our rather spacious three-bedroom, two bath, terrace apartment after the kids married and moved out. We decided we needed something to satisfy our thirst for water, deciding to escape the concrete jungle of New York. Now, bear in mind that most couples in our situation usually had a house first and then opted to shrink the responsibility and go to an apartment. Not us. If we do anything, it is usually offbeat. I guess we hear a different drummer.
So, my wife, Rosie, and I nailed down a large, three bedroom, three bath house. When I say large, I mean exactly that. Try bedrooms that measure 24'x14' and a dining room that is 19' in length. Just what a couple with no kids living at home needs, right? Plus landscaping, a backyard, and all the attendant gardening and lawn maintenance involved. It sits on a barrier island known as Long Beach. No, not California. This is Long Beach, N.Y., an island off the coast of Long Island, New York.
Rosie negotiated the contract price in her usual manner. The seller asks for x amount, Rosie counters with xx amount, and then decides that's enough negotiating so she tells the seller, we'll give you xx amount right now, this minute, take it or leave it. Guess what? Yeah, seller is oughta there. Moral? Don't mix with someone who comes from a heavy-duty international financial background. Not being a native American has other advantages. There is no moral conscience involved. No fair fights here.
We move in and what happens next is strictly out of a Hollywood script. Our house appreciates so dramatically that six months later, real estate agents are knocking on the door offering us 30 percent more than we paid for the house. Within two years, it leaps to 60 percent and just last year, we can sell for more than double what we paid.
Keep in mind this is not financial planning; it is simply luck.
Now, we get to the meat of the matter. When land values increase, businesses start to look again at the area and in our little corner of the world, a place that was once inhabited by more than two dozen nursing homes and care facilities, not to mention a glut of homeless, was now being reshaped. There are only a half dozen nursing homes left and the homeless fled. What came in? First it started with a Starbucks. That brought in younger people to enjoy the boardwalk and beach that sits in front of our eyes, or it may be the other way around. Then, the Waldbaum's supermarket was completely renovated so that it now looks like a Wal-Mart Superstore, followed by a complete multi-million dollar rebuilding of the Long Island Railroad terminal complete with new indoor parking garage.
But it didn’t end, there. Businesses are smart and soon we found ourselves staring at a Cold Stream Creamery and a Quiznos, and a Corbett & Reynolds, and some fancy new stores.
So, what we are dealing with is money following money. There's an axiom that it takes money to make money and money begets money. Or as the famed newspaper columnist, Earl Wilson, once wrote: "Benjamin Franklin may have discovered electricity, but it was the man who invented the meter who made the money."
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