Okay, where's the paradise? This is Paradise Islan - 5/24/2012
I know that there are a few people out there that would just as soon throw rotten tomatoes at me for saying what I’m about to say, but I hate, hate, HATE living in Gulf Shores. I have been living here for four years now and I cannot wait to leave. Here's why:
1) If you came here to fish, the fishing sucks. Well, unless you’re a commercial fisherman. If you’re just a regular fisherman, you can only catch a maximum of two fish and you have to go very far out into the ocean to finally catch any fish. Considering the cost to fish out in deep water, that’s very expensive fish. Unfortunately, due to the aftermath of the BP oil spill and the commercial fisheries, this ocean is almost completely fished out. Consequently, the fish you buy in the stores here is very expensive. I pay more here for seafood than I did when I was living in Texas. Not to mention the lion fish will become an epidemic here sooner or later. They are finding them off our coastline. The worst thing about that is that they are killing off all the other species and, unfortunately, they have no natural predators. My understanding is one of their stings is like that of a brown recluse, which is also prevalent down here. Their sting is like a nerve toxin. You definitely will not want your kids playing in the ocean.
2) Speaking of the ocean, it’s brown, not blue and you can’t even see it, because of the tall sand dunes and the marathon row of high-rise condos lining the beach and blocking the view. Unless you own a condo, you will barely get to see the beach from the road. In a nutshell, it’s just not a very scenic city. Unless you stand directly on the beach, you’re going to be looking at a lot of concrete and steel. Really, the only scenery here is the beach and it’s hidden. If you want to take a vacation where you actually get to see the beach from the road, I suggest vacationing in Biloxi, MS instead. It’s much better. As a matter of fact, I went there last year, it’s beautiful. The city makes it convenient to where you can park your car just about anywhere and you can get out and enjoy the beach. You can’t park your can anywhere along the beach here or they’ll fine you and give you a ticket.
3) Yellow flies and sand fleas (they call them no-see-ums down here) – get used to ‘em or get used to spraying OFF on yourself every time you go outside. My husband and I have had nightmares of our kids getting bit by these yellow flies. My son got bit on his foot and couldn’t wear shoes and then had to miss school. The bites get red, swollen, and very warm, almost hot. After a day or two, the bite progresses into a rainbow-colored bruise sometimes the size of softballs on your body with a hole carved out in your skin where they bit. My kids can’t even play in our backyard in the spring and summer because of them. In the 30+ years of living in Dallas, I went through maybe three cans of OFF. Now, one can last about two weeks before we need to go buy another. We’ve gone through about 40-45 cans of off in the past four years and the stores know you need it, so it’s expensive.
4) The heat and humidity here is like living in Satan’s armpit. We get heat indexes here of 135 degrees because of the humidity. You break a sweat just walking to your mailbox. And I have a theory that the reason why this is the second fattest state in the country next to our neighbors, Mississippi, is the fact that it’s so uncomfortable that everybody stays indoors for the most part and as a consequence many people end up getting fat. Even after having five kids I maintained 125 lbs. and my husband has always been about 185. Since we moved down here both of us have put on 20 lbs.
5) As a result of the humidity, we’ve have had to become accustomed to mildew. You have to spray your house from the roof down with bleach, because it gets moldy too. When we lived in Texas, we would sometimes put our towels on a clothesline. You do that here and your towels will get moldy with a stench that can only be removed with more bleach.
6) You have some of the craziest drivers living down here. I have seen countless people fishtailing out of empty streets or national parks just to start driving 35 miles an hour on a two-way street that’s in a 50 mph zone. I guess they love it when they see fifteen cars pile up behind them. But between them, the swerving drunk drivers, and the Nascar wannabees who think they’re Dale Earnhardt junior, driving around town can be a bit of a challenge to say the least. Considering a lot of roads around here are two-way, it makes it really dangerous to drive. You have to drive defensively everywhere you go.
7) The schools are good if you don’t mind your kid having to do fundraisers once a week to support the school system and its lack of funding. Schools around here have fundraisers almost every week despite the fact that the city has the highest tax base in the whole state. It doesn’t make sense that the schools have to do this, but it tells me the state is corrupt and someone’s pockets are being padded. Surprise, surprise Alabama is famous for being corrupt.
8) Speaking of taxes, my husband pretty much had to close his business because Alabama taxes the begeezus out of businesses. If you’re gonna try to live the American dream, they will punish you for it down here. And considering this is one of the poorest states in the country, it doesn’t make sense to have the highest tax bracket in the U.S.
9) The local airport which used to be small is now starting to let in jets and the noise level is starting to get loud. And since the airport is in the middle of town it’s pretty much unavoidable.
10) Many homes are made out of plastic. They build ‘em cheap and sell ‘em as if they are made of brick. Very expensive. Almost all the homes have pump grinders that screw up on a regular basis. Many homes are also built with rubber hoses instead of copper pipes. We found out from a plumber that ours was built with the hoses going up through the attic of all places instead of the foundation. So we have ice water that takes forever to warm up for showers in the winter and literally boiling hot water that takes forever to cool down in the summer. Oh, and our water tastes like a rubber hose. Light bulbs go out all the time. I don’t know why, maybe it’s the humidity or the salt air or just simply redneck engineering when it comes to building homes down here. But it’s getting old. It was like that in the last house we were living in as well. I had four large freezer bags packed full of light bulbs before I moved down here four years ago and they’re almost all gone now.
11) Unreliable communication here. Satellite, DSL, cable and TV are down on a regular basis. All of it overpriced. You get locked into a two-year contract and they charge you about $480 dollars to cancel TV. $370 to cancel DSL.
12) The cost of leaving here is steep. Our electric bill is $250 a month. Cable/internet/phone in Texas was like $160 a month, here it’s almost $200 for satellite landline and DSL. And we spent about $160 a month during the summer to water our lawn last year.
13) Also, I love gardening and always wanted to grow a garden once I had my own house. But between the orange soil and the sand, nothing grows for squat and what does grow has no flavor. The locals here claim Silver Queen corn to be the best corn ever. Nope its “silver” or rather white, because it grows in sand and therefore has no nutrients and therefore no flavor. The darker the vegetable, the more nutrients it has and therefore more flavor. You’re better off just buying a bag of frozen yellow corn if you want corn and you’ll get much more nutrients. But don’t bother growing a garden, your tomatoes will suck in this soil, if you can call it that.
14) If you want overpriced crappy food just throw a dart, you’ll find one. We’ve come to learn if the sign at the restaurant says “World’s Best” anything stay the hell away from it. Doc’s Seafood has their sign saying World’s Best Gumbo, so we ordered their gumbo. If they’re going to have a sign up for years saying it’s the best, I’ll try it. I should have known it was going to be crap when the waiter acted shocked when we ordered it. My bowl didn’t even have any shrimp in it. My husband’s bowl had three shrimp and the Minute Rice was still crunchy. “World’s Best” anything around here is the running joke.
15) The nearest hospital is 25 minutes away and the general consensus among everybody here is, don’t go there unless you can’t make it to the next hospital which is 45 minutes away.
16) Sam’s Club is 30 miles away and the nearest Costco is 170 miles away. I got used to several different supermarkets in Texas that carry a lot of different brands. Don’t expect much here. It is a small town. There are only four stores, Publix, Bruno’s, Winn-Dixie and Walmart. Publix is probably the best thing about this town and even their selection is much limited.
17) Limited shopping. A lot of things we want and need, we have to drive to Mobile or Pensacola where the shops have a better selection. The Tanger Outlet is an outdoors mall and is somewhat of a joke. I just wanted to find a simple dress and it took me over two and a half hours to find a store that sold a dress that wasn’t frumpy. What was available were boring, plain dresses that would cost about $150 – $250. Most of the stores that did have dresses had only one rack with only four dresses to choose from. The Walmart had a better selection of clothes. The only stores worth a damn for shopping were TJ Maxx and Vanity Fair, everything else was overpriced crap.
18) No jobs to be had. If you’re not retired and have a good pile of money saved up, you won’t make it. We are amazed at how little the pay is compared to the cost of living and how few jobs there are.
On the flip side, I think the crime rate is really low, but that’s probably because not too many people actually want to live here. Stephen Colbert said it best, “there’s a problem with people living in Alabama… one, you live in Alabama.”