Have, Have Not

Everywhere I’ve lived, I’ve been curious about the breakdown between two groups living there – the ‘have’s and the ‘have-not’s.  And maybe trying to figure that out here, the strange balance – the strange dynamic between the two – here in Fayette County has completely thrown me off.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with Fayette County, it’s the poorest of the counties in Pennsylvania.  It has more than its share of natural beauty spread across its land, but not the most fair breakdown of assets…

I’ve been a homeowner elsewhere (well, a condo/townhouse owner anyway).  Those were in different states and they always ended by being sold – and hopefully sold fairly quickly- when I moved to yet another state.  And, while these moves may have occurred for opportunities that presented themselves, those opportunities presented at the wrong times from a real estate market perspective.  Ugh.

Here in Pennsylvania, it’s just been about renting.  But house hunting has always been kind of fun and interesting anywhere else that I’ve lived so I expected that same situation here.  Finding the different neighborhoods, figuring out which is the ‘good’ side of town and which is the ‘bad’, places that are the best drives from the best places to go, areas that just feel wrong and, eventually, one that feels right.  But here in Fayette County…?  I just feel discombobulated.

Everything seems to overlap.  There aren’t many actual neighborhoods.  Not like I’m used to anyway.  There are some developments, but very few have a homey feel.  Most were obviously thrown up (Freudian slip?) quickly, on new roads that were built too narrow and are already disintegrating under the weight of passing construction vehicles.  And what ever happened to sidewalks?

Even these developments they are building seem to have been placed only based on what land was still available within city limits.  One of these areas that I recent checked out required a drive down a narrow alleyway followed by a winding congested hill, just to get to the entry to the property.  Hidden is one thing, trapped is another.  And if your first visit makes you feel claustrophobic, what would living there feel like?

There really aren’t many middle-class homes here though.  Some contractor or construction company has been putting up 3000+ square ft. houses of brick that look like office buildings.  If I had a friend who moved into one and invited me over, I’d pull up and think I’d typed the wrong address into the GPS and accidentally arrived at the dentist.  Around here it seems to be mobile home park, mobile home park, structure that should be condemned , huge monstrosity, repeat. And every nice home for sale in this area is massively overpriced and sits on the market for over a year in the hopes that the right sucker will eventually come along.

I’m not sure how necessary those types of homes might be around here though.  It’s far too common to see a falling down shack with a huge new Humvee or a sixty-thousand dollar tricked out pickup truck parked out front.  It reminds me of a couple of friends I had in high school who owned $300 cars with $3500 stereos inside.  It’s all about priorities.  And I’ve yet to find anyone here with the priority of building a nice neighborhood in a nice area that’s easy to drive to, isn’t surrounded by houses with bullet holes, used car dealerships with less than six cars on their “lots”, and isn’t within walking distance of a dollar store.  Somebody who’s priority is to build a great place to live that isn’t too small, isn’t too big, and doesn’t  need a sign out front stating that it’s not a business so please don’t just walk in.

And laying out in front of this house?  A sidewalk.

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