HGTV buffs and fans of the renovation series, “Hometown,” Patricia and John Simmons, had been considering a move for a while. The closure of Patricia’s workplace of almost 30 years presented the family a golden opportunity.
They put their home in Redland, California, up for sale while researching the best places to retire. The goal was to find an affordable home where they could live by the beach and take their time deciding their future.
“Mississippi was a popular destination on YouTube and had a lower-than-average cost of living,” Patricia says. “We also appreciate that they don’t tax our Social Security benefits.”
The couple had never dreamed of living a mile from the beach, considering the prices on the West Coast. John works in real estate and finance, so home values were crucial to him.
“We never thought we could live in a brand-new home this close to the beach for what we paid,” he says. “It reminded us of the West Coast 40 years ago when we were kids.”
A PLACE TO BELONG
On their first visit, the Simmons’ Realtor brought them to view homes in Ocean Springs. After touring several houses and seeing how much further their dollars would go, they focused on new construction homes. Their Realtor then introduced the couple to Frankie Doyle, a new home specialist.
“We wanted a town with an excellent school system to protect our property values, and there are several great locations along the Coast,” Patricia says. “Frankie brought us to Long Beach.”
John was well-versed in real estate and knew the value of investing in a home in a good school district. “Quality schools make a district an undeniable magnet for buyers, helping maintain or improve resale value,” he says. “They are usually a tight-knit community that potential residents find appealing. Beyond the economic advantages, the sense of togetherness makes a neighborhood not just a place to live, but a place to belong — driving up the desirability and ultimately boosting the value of your investment.”
The couple fell in love with the Long Beach community and the incredible home values. However, it was a change from Redland, and they were unsure of the more laid-back lifestyle the Coast afforded. This all changed after a visit to a local bakery. The owners also were originally from California and shared how much they loved the Mississippi Gulf Coast.
“They reminded us (that) if you get bored with the more relaxed lifestyle and things to do on the Coast, New Orleans and Mobile are close by, as is the airport,” Patricia says.
PLENTIFUL CUISINE, LOWER COST OF LIVING
John adds that they then realized their home was in the perfect position to use as their home base when traveling, and the house’s affordability offered more opportunities to do so. Even utilities are much more affordable here, according to John.
“In California, if we ran the air conditioner all day and night, our electric bill would be between $1,500 to $1,800 monthly,” he says. “Even the water used to keep up the lawn would run around $200- $300 monthly.”
The family hosts friends and family with local attractions and visits to New Orleans and Fairhope.
“We love all the people at the Peter Anderson Arts & Crafts Festival and have friends looking to move here now, too,” Patricia says.
The couple are self-proclaimed foodies and love the diversity of cuisine the Coast offers. When family and friends visit, Patricia and John enjoy taking them to their favorite spots for dinner.
“There are so many types of cuisine that we recommend,” Patricia says. “You never get bored with places to dine!”
The pair had to adjust to their new home’s open-concept layout after coming from a mid-century modern ranch. Patricia has grown to love plants and incorporates them throughout her home.
“I used to have a 26-mile commute that would take me an hour and a half to get home,” she says. “The stress level here is much different, and I enjoy plants and local nurseries.” The couple also enjoys spending more time together indoors and out, and they have created a gorgeous outdoor oasis to take advantage of the beautiful weather.