Vacation Here and You’ll Never Want to Leave

Have you ever visited a place so wonderful that an urge came over you to just stay?  Not, just stay for another day or two, but to stay forever?  I have this feeling during most fantastic vacations.  The first time I remember this occurring was when I was 10 years old, while on vacation with my family at Ocean City, Maryland.  The August temperature was a perfect 85 degrees and the salt air was filled with fudge, French fries, and cigarette smoke (I’m a weirdo who loves the smell of cigs at the beach).  My pockets were jammed full of quarters and my brother and I were knocking down 40 pt scores on skee-ball like it was our job.  My parents had dropped us off at the arcade at the boardwalk and life was perfect.  If a genie had jumped out of a video game and asked us if we wanted to live at the OC Boardwalk forever, there’s no doubt I’d currently be sleeping on the beach with a belly full of fudge and the title of skee-ball world champion.

More recently, in 2017 while taking our Airstream to Bend, Oregon and Flagstaff, Arizona, and after spending a nearly perfect couple of days at each location with my wife and two young children, I thought both were the place to be.  We had ideal camp sites for our trailer amongst ponderosa pines, the summer temperature was 72 during the day and 50 at night, the local restaurants served up healthy and tasty treats, the people were friendly, and there was enough single track to keep me and my mountain bike occupied for a lifetime.  What wasn’t to like?  Thankfully, no genie jumped out of our campfire and asked me if I wanted to stay in Flagstaff or Bend – I would have disappointed him and said no.

While both trips and locales were fantastic at the time, I don’t think I would have been happy growing up on the boardwalk in Ocean City, MD, or raising my children in Flagstaff or Bend.  Living at the boardwalk would have sucked for obvious reasons (you can’t subsist off of Thrasher’s French Fries and Candy Kitchen’s Saltwater Taffy – or can you?).  Moving to Arizona or Oregon would have been tough for less obvious reasons.  The couple of days I spent in these towns seemed perfect and there was plenty to like about each.  However, if I had made a decision to move there, when I was there, I would have been using severely skewed data.

My friend Ethan likes to say this is “vacation bias.” Vacation bias is confusing a narrow and awesome perception of a place and time while assuming the place is always like that. Thus, you are using a data set of absolutely ideal information to make a determination on whether or not you want to live in a locale.  It is a completely misleading scenario for a variety of reasons.  Here are just a couple:

  • You are visiting the locale during its “best” season
  • The time you spend there, you visit the “most fun” spots and “best” restaurants
  • The people you interact with are most likely in customer service, so there is a higher probability they will be friendly
  • You stay at a nice AirBnB or hipster hotel, thus seeing the area’s best and potentially most expensive neighborhoods
  • You aren’t working, thus you have unlimited free time and have a lower level of stress
  • You have maid service and don’t need to worry about other “home chores” like dishes, laundry or mowing the lawn
  • The money in your pocket is “for vacation” and you spend more freely without concern

Overall, you are seeing and experiencing the best of the location and making an evaluation of whether to live there based on incomplete data.  To really gather an honest opinion as to what life would be like living at this vacation destination, this is a sampling of what also needs to be considered:

  • How much is housing, food, taxes, etc.?
  • Will my kids like living here?
  • Can I find a job here?
  • What would the commute be like?
  • What are the winters like?
  • Will I miss my friends and family?
  • How easy is it to make all new friends?
  • In addition to keeping a job, parenting children, and maintaining the house, how much time will I realistically be spending mountain biking, skiing, rafting, hiking, etc.?

When I moved to London, England to be with my girlfriend, I was pretty sure it was going to be the best place in the world for me.  We were going to be living in a fun part of town, the flat was paid for by her employer, there were tons of Premier League Football (soccer) matches to attend and I got to be with the love of my life (not Guinness extra cold, but my future wife).  However, after living there for a couple of months, I woke up one day and realized I was pretty damn depressed – I hadn’t seen the sun in months, my stomach was constantly upset from the food, I had trouble conversing in British English, I didn’t really know anyone besides Jenny and overall, I felt out of place.  While I eventually made some friends and figured out how to manage the city, it was a tough transition and I definitely had ideas about leaving.  Two years after moving to the city, I’ll never forget the thought as I packed my bags to leave and head back to the states for good.  As I stuffed the last bit of clothes into my suitcase, I thought to myself, “I’m leaving now and this place JUST started to feel like home.”

After getting fired a couple years ago, family and friends frequently asked the question, “now that you can live anywhere, are you going to move out West?” Most assumed because my wife and I love the outdoors that we would bolt Maryland for the adventure that locales such as Denver, Santa Fe, Portland, Seattle, Flagstaff, or Bend present.  However, after traveling to 40+ states and some 20 countries around the world, there isn’t a place I’d rather live than Frederick, Maryland.

Frederick, Maryland???

Yeah, Frederick, Maryland.

For me, Frederick is the best city in the whole entire world to live in.  It’s the best because it fits the preferences and lifestyle of me and my family, at this current time in our lives.  With a population of around 60,000, the city has just enough of everything that I want.

  • Coffee shops, bars, restaurants, and shops – check
  • Walkability and bikeability around town – check
  • Good schools – check
  • Parks, trails, and outdoor activities – check
  • Friendly community – check
  • Parents who live nearby to babysit so I can spend a night out with my wife – check

All of these things make Frederick an ideal place to call home.  Someone who needs a big city or has to drive into DC or Baltimore everyday or who wants to be at least 1,000 miles away from their parents, Frederick might be the WORST.  For me, there is no other place that I want to call home…at this time.

Don’t believe me that Frederick is the best?  I have a full proof way to convince you to move here.  Take off a couple days between the months of April and June OR September and November.  Book an Airbnb overlooking Carroll Creek or 2nd Street.  Spend some time shopping on Market Street, hitting the single track at the Frederick Watershed, and strolling around Baker Park.  In the evening, throw back a couple of pints at Attaboy Beer, grab a bite at The Tasting Room, and then check out a show at the Weinberg.  After a perfect weekend vacation like that, you’ll never want to leave.


“Vacation bias” aside, Frederick is a great place to live and we would love to have you as a neighbor. If you are considering relocating to the area, contact me and I’d be happy to give you some more reasons to move here.

Photo credit goes to C. Kurt Holter

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