Thursday, June 04, 2015

Away for the Summer?

I emailed some colleagues the other day to suggest that we get together to celebrate a beautiful summer week, and was surprised to get an email back from one saying that he and his partner were gone for the summer.

This doesn't sound like a research trip, or a trip of any sort, more a moving away for two and a half months.  Nor is it spending the summer to be with a partner.

I don't know how he does it.  It's not like rent stops here because you aren't at your place, right?  And I don't think his partner's in a super lucrative profession.  (It is a mobile profession, though.)

It's clear to all of us that this colleague wants to leave, and we're all rooting for him to get the perfect job that he loves somewhere.  Leaving for the summer seems to me that it would make being here for the school year all that much harder.  Summer here is pretty darned good.  No, there aren't museums or amazing concerts or stage productions right here, but there's stuff within a couple hours drive.  And there aren't great sights to see, or the best national parks.  But I don't think that's why he's left.

It seems sort of, I don't know, undergrad?  Like, I'm going home for the summer?  Except I don't know if he's going to be with family (though he's going to the area where he grew up, I think).

The thing is, to me, summer is a time to get to know the area, to get to know people you don't know from work.  There are softball leagues, biking groups, free concerts, all sorts of ways to enjoy the community as a community.  For me, it's a time to do things I normally don't have time for, and to do summer things, especially, and doing those things makes me happier with the community overall.

I'm not being critical, just curious.  Why leave for the summer?  And how to manage that financially?

(I know a couple who leave their job area for a summer home on the beach, and a couple who leave for a month at an extended-family summer home on an island off the coast somewhere.  So this isn't unique, but it does make me curious.)


  1. Anonymous9:25 AM

    Given where I live, most people without kids are gone for the summer if they can be. Why? It's HOT.

    I'm one of the few people in the building right now who isn't staff or teaching summer school. (I don't know where my other two colleagues with kids are today... they're usually around.) Yesterday it felt like the a/c was broken. Today they seem to have over-compensated and I'm wishing I'd brought a sweater.

    Without kids it's a lot more manageable financially. With kids, getting a new daycare and paying for it is infeasible.

  2. Is this person truly gone or is this the auto reply? I always have "out of town" for the summer auto reply so people don't think I can come in for a grade appeal. :)

  3. NandM, wow, really? How do they afford two rents?

    Sisyphus, it was a personal reply, thanking me for thinking of him, and so forth.

    1. Anonymous1:00 PM

      If you don't have daycare and didn't buy too big a house here (that's a big if-- we definitely bought too much house), it isn't that difficult to afford two rents for three months, even if you're not an economist. It doesn't cost much to live here. My colleagues mostly go to places in the Midwest near their extended families where it doesn't cost much to live either, so it's not like they're hitting Florida or Hawaii or have extensive summer homes in Tahoe or Cape Cod. One of my colleagues is spending the summer with her husband in another state since the dual-career thing didn't work out. :( Two of my colleagues are spending the summer in the field in developing countries.

      Many of my single colleagues don't own homes and just don't pay rent here for the summer (there's enough over-supply that landlords can't demand 12 mo rents) and are able to go to more expensive locations for the summer (one of them just left to spend the summer at a UC and is living in their school-owned housing, another is conference hopping half the summer and taking a real vacation on an African tour or for the other half-- I suspect he's paying the minimum on his student loans and not contributing more than required to retirement... that and he's still mostly living like a grad student but has 4x the income).

      And then I have some senior colleagues who are making 200K+/year and have working spouses and kids out of college. They spend their summers flitting off to Europe. (And not for supervising study abroad!)

  4. Anonymous12:49 PM

    At the podunk school I used to be at, I knew a gay couple who only survived the school year because they moved to Manhattan for three months every summer. They needed the culture, amenities, etc. I did too, which is why I quit entirely and moved to Paradise. :-)

  5. Speaking as someone who leaves for most of the summer (and for all breaks): God, no, it doesn't make coming back harder. It's essential recharging time. Being in Deep South Town for eight months out of the year is fine; being here for twelve months would drive me nuts. (And it isn't that hard to swing, financially, as long as I'm frugal in other ways.)

    1. Anonymous1:15 PM

      And, come to think of it, they're probably paying in rent what I pay for a/c and keeping the grass from dying June-August. *sigh* But hey, January isn't so bad!

    2. Recharging is what I'm thinking, too. Especially if where you're working doesn't feel like "home."

  6. My childless friends (& esp single) friends often do this. Real estate is cheap here, and friends in more expensive cities tend to sublet their places. I love summers in my area, too--by far the best season, so why not enjoy?--but many of my friends still miss their hometowns, or a beloved big city.

    One Cosimo & I have fully consolidated our households and can reap the benefits of two incomes in a low-cost area, we'll likely start spending 4-6 weeks away. The whole summer seems like a waste, but when your job permits you to really live somewhere else and not just travel as a tourist, why not?

  7. Thanks, all! You made the summer away thing a whole lot clearer to me. I am a little sad that this colleague doesn't feel a bit more comfortable here, but that's my issue.

  8. I often spend summers abroad; I'm lucky enough to have a pied-a-terre in a glamorous city where I can also do research and write. Given that our library is not the strongest, I travel to have libraries. This summer I'm only going for just over three weeks, but still. . .

    In general, I travel from my base because I have family and good friends in many other places; I came here relatively late in life, and much of my deep support system is not here. So. . .

    (And yes, I have a ridiculously low mortgage, which also helps.)

  9. We live in a Paradise sort of place, but we're still usually gone for 4-6 weeks each summer, typically road tripping to mountain states to see Hubby's friends and family, and sometimes flying back East to see some of mine. We enjoy being on the road, and we like seeing new sights. But we love our time at home, too, and have talked about how we need to spend more time close to home, sight-seeing here in California.

    But I do love the feeling of piling the family and dog into the car and heading towards the mountains. It feels very freeing and minimalist, and we get to leave chores behind. And it's a good way for us to focus more on the kids after a busy school year. And now that the kids are getting older, it's a good way to get them to focus on us!

    But even when I lived alone, I loved taking road trips and exploring new places. The change of scenery was always stimulating for me.

    1. Oh, and financially speaking, our trips are quite reasonable since we often stay with friends or family, taking occasional breaks (a couple of days here or there) at places we pay for.