Monday, September 8, 2014

The Peak of Good living

When we first moved to North Carolina, we rented a 3 bedroom house in the town of Apex. Apex seemed like a happy medium: not as big and pricey as Cary and not as small and undeveloped as Holly Springs. 

Apex, so called because it is highest point on a portion of the Chatham Railroad which ultimately extends between Richmond,VA and Jacksonville, FL,  is a lovely suburban town on the western edge of Wake County. The Historic part of town, like many in this area, is built around the old train depot (which is now the adorable chamber of commerce compete with picturesque little red caboose).  The railroad was the life line for the tobacco industry which had been vital to this area.

While it's central location to Raleigh, RDU airport and the Research Triangle make it a desirable location,  it is also an area of immense growth because it is both business and family friendly, living up to it's motto "Apex, the Peak of Good Living" 

 Even while expanding it's population and it's borders (with new boundaries being drawn into neighboring Chatham County) Apex has continued to plan carefully to include what families look for in a place they call home. TWO new schools are being constructed (Apex West) Friendship High School which is due to open next year and Scotts Ridge Elementary which just broke ground this summer.

                                                                                                                                                          Another part of Apex
good living is bountiful FREE family friendly leisure activities. The recent construction of 2 new parks are a welcome addition.  The first is Seymour Johnson Athletic Fields which includes areas for Basketball, Volleyball, Soccer, Tennis as well as a play area for kids

The  second part of this area is the Apex Nature Park which features Nature trails, an  18 hole disc golf course, an adorable little amphitheater which hosts outdoor concerts as well as family movie nights, and finally a TWO ACRE dog park!

These are just the most recent additions to a town already dedicated to  good living with Greenways, lakes, numerous parks like Jaycee Park which hosts little league baseball, soccer and even has permanent club houses for the local Boy Scouts

 And Apex Community Park which boasts

3 ball fields and 2 batting cages

  • 2 soccer fields
  • 3 sand volleyball courts
  • 6 tennis courts
  • 4 basketball courts (1 fenced for roller hockey)
  • Child’s playground and swings (ages 2-12)
  • Restroom Facilities
  • Over 3 miles of developed nature and fitness trails
  • Picnic Areas
  • Grills
  • Outdoor courts for tennis and basketball
  • Fishing dock
  • 50+ acre lake
  • Link to Apex Community Park here :

    With affordable median home values between aproximately $250,000-$300,000 - and lots of convenient shopping and access to our beautiful traffic-free highways, Apex really IS the Peak of Good Living!

    ......PS...... This is I540.....kind of our version of the L.I. Expressway...Yes, this is typical traffic

    Thursday, February 20, 2014

    Winter in Raleigh


                                                                                                                                          Photo: Meth Swanson

    Recently relocated Yankees are always very amused by the school closings that happen on the mere threat of an inch of snow here in the Raleigh area.  I know, I was absolutely dumbfounded by their ‘ridiculous over-reaction’ my first winter here as well.  But once you have lived through a couple of ‘Raleigh Winters’ you start to understand why it’s not as crazy as it sounds. But, before I explain why, let’s take a look at some facts about this crazy winter of 2013/2014.

    Late February 2
    It is mid- February.  Yesterday it was in the upper 60’s and today’s high is 72 degrees. I am writing this entry on a laptop on my patio in short sleeves, facing the warm afternoon sun.  In New York yesterday it snowed most of the day again, bringing the city's total for the winter to a whopping 56.6 inches. The frigid temperatures have kept most of that snow hanging around piling up one storm after another, and the winter is not over yet for the north. For North Carolina, spring has now arrived.  It always does by the end of February… about 2 months before NY. 

    Don’t get me wrong, it has been a VERY NASTY season for the south.  It was bad EVERYWHERE this winter, with Snow on the ground in in every continental state except Florida.  While it was odd to see consistently freezing temperatures for several days on end due to the “polar vortex” here in the Raleigh Triangle, it was by no means the worst or snowiest.  That record was set in 2000 which gave the area just over 20 inches. This year didn't even come close with a cumulative 2013/2014 snow fall of 2.70 inches at Raleigh Durham Airport, according to National Weather Service weather stations.  Still, the Raleigh metro area (and the metro area of Atlanta, Georgia) made headlines with panic and chaos this month.

                                                                                   Photo:  Lindsey Webb
    What is wrong with these southerners? What is it that makes them go so crazy about an inch or 2 of snow?

    The answer is – it’s NOT ABOUT THE SNOW at all.

     The reason the south panics about 'a little snow' I have learned, isn't the snow itself so much (although they are truly unprepared to deal with much...wait until you hear about them "brining" the roads with salt water...I still don't understand the logic behind watered down road salt) it's more about the rapid melting and refreezing that happens here which makes for very dangerous conditions for any kind of movement.

    We hover between 30 and 40 degrees in the winter just long enough to melt/thaw during the day and freeze at night, creating vast sheets of ice or patches of that invisible ‘black ice’.  There is simply NO traction, even for the hardiest of 4 wheel drive vehicles.  I have come to respect many of their warnings, albeit with a dose NY cynicism.

    Rapid melting then refreezing
    We transplanted Yankees have NO FEAR when it comes to the dustings of snow…but we learn fast that dustings melt and turn to water

    and then freezes. It doesn’t melt again until noon the next day.  The reason the schools close, is because they don’t want to be liable for school buses losing control on the ICY roads. So technically a lot of our "snow days" are really "Ice Days".

    Two days after snow storm -
     snow almost all gone
    The good news is – even if we get several inches of snow – it only takes a few days for it all to melt away.  Just enough time for the local kids to have a little fun. At most it's a minor inconvenience, not like the endless shoveling out the northeast gets hit with year after year. I don’t miss that one bit!

    Tree Blooming late February 2011

    Tuesday, November 12, 2013

    Fall -in love with NC

    Change of Seasons

    Much lament the Northerners
    who move to warmer climes
    "I'll miss the change of seasons,
    when there's only palms and pines"

     But travel south I implore,
    From Maine to Holly Springs
    to marvel at the palette
    that a southern autumn brings

    Vermillion of the sourwood
    The scarlet of Black Gum 

     The russet of the Oak and
    Poplar yellow as the sun                         

    Lakes reflect the golden bronze
    of Hickorys near by

    The ever changing Cherry
    against a temperate azure sky

    From the ocean to the Blue Ridge
    Carolina is ablaze
    So, come enjoy the beauty
    of our changing season days

    Words and photos- BJ Barratt

    Saturday, March 23, 2013

    Lets Talk Taxes and Such

    I just recently read an article in the  Long Island newspaper Newsday,  March 15th 2013, titled

    “Tax burden shifts to homeowners in Nassau”

    My heart sank and I got a lump in my throat knowing that for so many friends, this would be another nail in their already buried financial coffins.  This is nothing new for Long Island.

     In 2011 CNN MONEY reported that Nassau County had the 2nd highest property tax in the entire country.

     In 2008 The New York Times reported taxes on Long Island were a ‘serious problem’ and that between 1997 and 2005, Long Island property taxes increased 14 percentage points above the rate of inflation     
    How much more of these tax burdens can families endure? 
    The answer for me and my family came in 2010 when we could no longer endure a $13,000 tax on our 2,400 square foot home, a major factor in our decision to move to North Carolina.

    Clearly, we are not alone.  In another article out this week,

    FORBES hails Raleigh, NC as THE fastest growing city in America, saying:
     “The population of the Raleigh, N.C., metropolitan statistical area has expanded a remarkable 47.8% since 2000, tops among the nation’s 52 metro areas with over 1 million residents. That is more than three times the overall 12.7% growth of those 52 metro areas.”
    Why Raleigh?
    For us it was job opportunities, EXTREMELY low cost/high quality colleges for residents, lower cost of living, and residential tax relief…oh, and the weather is great too.
    I imagine those are the main reasons why most people are flocking here. For Long Islanders, these reasons are magnified.

    Think about it. Long Island:  You’re a captive audience adjacent to the most expensive city in North America. You have to take a boat, bridge or tunnel to escape. Thus, no matter how high the gas, rent, taxes, or price of a gallon of milk….you’re stuck paying it. What are you going to do? Go to Jersey?  It will cost you $26 and a half a tank of gas to get there. Oh, and the weather is terrible!

    Out here in the real world there are choices.

    Cost of Living Gas, for example can vary as much as 8 cents a gallon from place to place…and if you shop at the right supermarket….you can get as much as five cents per gallon per $100 of groceries off by using your rewards card at the pump! Just today Regular Gas was $3.44/gallon I got it for $3.14!

    Jobs – Let’s talk about what’s happening here.  What we have here in Raleigh at the moment is a self-propelled economy driven by a well-run State.  The State keeps costs low, which attracts more and more people to the area… the more people that come, the more homes, schools, shopping centers you need to build…the more of those you build…the more jobs there are….the more jobs there are….the more people move here…the more people move here…the more we build, and so on.
      On Long Island, this cycle played out just after World War II when Levittown was the model for post war suburbia, but it stagnated when Nassau County reached its capacity around 1980.

    Taxes – Remember that 2,400 Sq Ft house we were paying $13,000/year taxes on? 

    We now own a 3,200 Sq Ft home here, and pay $2,700/year

    Now, the question is….. Why are you still in New York?