Great Lakes retirement location advice…

I based my mine comment on the satellite map view. There are very large grey areas that appear to have large equipment in them. Are these sod-farms or some other type of agricultural areas. They don’t appear to be a type of crop - as the area is monotone in the image? These are North of the River and near the coast. There also appear to be non-natural lakes near that area. Do you know what is there?


We live in the Dayton, Oh burbs. Our Lake Erie experience is mainly from Port Clinton to Marblehead. We camp at Kelly’s Island twice a year. My small amount of experience between Lakes Erie, Huron and Superior is that property prices are higher, there is more development, more on-water traffic and rough water comes up more quickly on Erie (since it is generally shallower).

We found a house that we liked in Bay Village - West of Cleveland. Only looked at it online so far.

We appreciate non-chain restaurants of all types and a Summer outdoor music scene. We are fine with not going to the symphony in a short trip as a trade-off for less traffic and development. Don’t really want to live out in the sticks. We pretty much like medium sized to smaller towns.

Thanks for the info.

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I’m a little jealous. I would go back, but the grandkids live here in the South, so I’m not going anywhere.

My wife, best friend and his wife all went to UD, so I’ve visited many times.

I lived in Bay for a few years, but we now live in Westlake. Bay’s taxes are one of the highest on the west side, while Westlake’s are the lowest, so something to consider. The east side of Westlake (look for the intersection of Westwood Rd and Walter Rd) is affordable, and offers several advantages worth considering; we’re halfway between I-90 and I-480 with easy access to both (actually, two points of access to 90). We are convenient to Great Northern and Westgate shopping, but not in either traffic patterns. Westlake has a lot of businesses, which keep our taxes very low, but none of them are near the area I’m describing.

Our city government does a great job of managing its finances…we have great services, schools, and recreational facilities. By contrast, adjacent North Olmsted is broke and hurting. We’ve had the same mayor since the mid-80’s, so he must be doing something right!

Comparing to Bay, Westlake’s access to freeways is MUCH more convenient and our taxes are MUCH lower. We are a bit further from the lake (3 miles vs basically on the lake). Oddly for a lakeside community, there aren’t any particularly convenient ways to put a kayak in the lake in Bay, however, so it’s not especially salient. Most people in the western suburbs put in down in the Rocky River metroparks (google Emerald Necklace Marina) or go to Wendy Park, which is closer to downtown. If you did end up in Bay, you’d likely be better off heading farther west to Lorain county for put-in locations.

There is actually a small beach just north of Westlake called Bradstreet Landing. It’s been under construction for the past year or two and will probably be nice when they finish it, but it experiences mild to heavy surf conditions at times, making launching more challenging.

Bay is an older community than Westlake, which may/may not be important to you. I think the schools are probably similar, but don’t quote me, as my kids are long grown and never attended either. Bay is close to Crocker Park shopping (a very upscale shopping experience) but much farther from the more practical stores like Walmart, Target, Home Depot, Lowes. Westlake has much more convenient access to the nearest Metropark entrance (5 minutes down Columbia Rd).

Feel free to hit me up offline if you’d like more information, and good luck with your search!

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Most of the inland lakes are used for, Duck & Goose season.

Thanks for more info - we can start to fill in the puzzle pieces and get a picture of our options as more folks add valuable info!

Thanks for taking the time to add useful detail to the discussion! Not being familiar with these areas sure makes it great when someone who is adds context!

We may contact you offline as our search continues…

Thanks for the info and the offer. More data points = a good thing.

Thanks for taking the time to provide some detail about your area Bud. We sure appreciate it. The launch site link you provided points to what looks like a nice place. There is so much shoreline on the Great Lakes that it’s a bit of a huge effort to narrow down the places we might like to relocate to. Superior is a bit too far and the Winters last too long. The Western shore of Lake Michigan (Illinois, Wisconsin) and Lake Ontario are further than we want to be from family - so that narrows it down somewhat. Still a lot to choose from though!

Thanks again,
Steve & Linda

Can you tell me what activity exists in the attached image (courtesy of Google Maps) sugar production - from sugar-beets, or something else? Are the large open areas where beets are grown? Are the non-natural lakes part of the sugar production? In one map photo one of these lakes has rust-red water in it.

The area I showed you is close to 4 hours from where you mentioned staying close to. It is an easy drive mostly hugging the lake shore on I90.

Pa just got a small piece of the lakefront. Originally NY came across to a point blocking PA out. Some deal was struck and we got some 50 miles or something.
Where we live now just 30 miles from the lake is the water divide. Our river French creek flows south and if we go a few miles north all water flows north to the great lakes.

Housing costs around here can be all over the place. Something fancy on the lake bluff might be over a million and you go a quarter mile inland and you can find something for 100k. The little town I retired in is kind of odd but also typical around here being 30 miles from the city just a little too far to drive daily and the work just isn’t here like it once was. We bought a distressed short sale property that sat for a couple years. A 1870 well built city home that feels like the country. We offered the bank 24k and they took it. I took about a year working on it in the evenings and put maybe another 20k into it minus my time and we have a nice cozy home now. The house flippers just seem to pass on these places because of the location. Something kind of nice about these little “Mayberry” towns though.

Good luck on the search and if you need any help in the PA section just ask.

I’ve been thru Sebawaing during harvest and can offer some interpretation. There is a description of sugar beet processing in wiki. The view is much clearer on Google Earth.

That plant processes almost a million tons of beets a year and there are still some beet piles in the spring. The large open areas are where they dump the beets that come in on trucks. On Earth you can see stacker conveyors, and you can see trucks lined up and beet piles in the 9/2013 shot at the beginning of harvest.

The black pools are settling ponds; aeration fountains are clearly visible on Earth.

Thanks Bud. We sure appreciate folks taking their time to provide valuable detail about their area. These insights are just something that you can’t get from other sources.

The distance there is just a bit further than our optimum. We may shift our criteria as we learn more about different Great Lake area towns.

Thanks again!

Steve & Linda

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Thanks for the explanations. I never would have guessed that the large areas were for beet-piles and that the, apparently man-made, lakes were part of the sugar production process.

Steve & Linda

Another reminder of why I am glad I no longer live in West Michigan. Note that the religious beliefs of this tenured ass in the news item linked below are Calvinist (I.e. Dutch Reformed) which is the most influential organized church in the region. Betsy DeVos and her clan of Amway founders and Prince Corporation (of the Blackwater professional mercenary group infamy) are among that cult as well.

I “rescued” a young friend from Saudi Arabia (a practicing Muslim) from attending Ferris (the college where this guy taught until his recent dismissal) when I heard he intended to go there in 2005. Knowing full well how reactionary and intolerant so many of the population of that small town and the region in general were, particularly after 9/11, I feared for my young friend’s safety and mental health. Pulled some strings to get his student visa and enrollment transferred in short order to my alma mater, the University of Pittsburgh. He did wonderfully here, finding a welcoming community and going on to earn a master’s – he now is the Spain-based European manager of marketing for a leading US office furnishings manufacturer (ironically, it is headquartered in Grand Rapids!).

Frankly what surprises me about this news item about the idiot instructor in Big Rapids, Michigan, is that the college actually ousted him – I am willing to bet he is not the only faculty member who holds such egregious views. Perhaps they just had to because it became publicized and this is damage control. Apparently he spent 27 years there and earned tenure while randomly assigning grades based on his warped beliefs in “predestination”, a central tenet of Calvinism and his contempt for his students.

Other grotesqueries of this midwestern iteration of extreme Calvinism that I encountered during my years in the place were their conviction that being wealthy “proves God loves you” and having struggles or bad luck “proves God has predetermined you offend him.” Plus their nasty habit of excommunication and family shunning of any member of the church who even questions their dogma. I belonged to a Unitarian congregation there that had many members who joined because of that kind of ostracism and cruelty from the Calvinist churches and families of their origin. I equate the Dutch Calvinist extremists with the Afghan Taliban, short of actually murdering or maiming apostates physically. But they certainly scar them emotionally. Holland kicked them out a couple of centuries ago and now southwest Michigan is their “homeland”.

Michigan has a lot of natural beauty, and my family roots go deep there, back to the early 1800’s. But there is an undercurrent of nastiness and intolerance in some parts of it that eventually reveal themselves if you are there long enough. I worked for and with people there who were as odious and outspoken about it as this guy.

Barry Mehler is Jewish and doesn’t hold Calvinist religious beliefs. He does call his grading “calvinistic”, but it has nothing to do with his religious beliefs except as perhaps a stab against said belief.

I grew up in western Michigan and I’ve been to Afghanistan (twice) and your comparison of the two groups is “grotesque”, baseless and not founded in reality.

We get it. You really don’t like (hate?) western Michigan, so perhaps you should step away from the thread and take a deep breath and save the rants for another forum.


Willow, please get help. This is the equivalent of someone saying the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting is a reason not to paddle in PA.
As far as any criticism of Michigan as a retirement destination for paddlers, my answer is this simple image.


And that picture doesn’t even mention the Great Lakes


What town are you in - if you don’t mind sharing? I’ll look it up in mapping and on Zillow.

Thanks again!

Steve & Linda

Hi Steve & Linda

I grew up in the town of Fairview Pa and that was the town I showed you the location of the Lake Erie access point for paddle boats and such. It is a suburb of Erie about 20 miles west.

I now have retired just south of there inland about 30 miles to a little town called Cambridge Springs PA the little town is Cambridge Springs and the township around it is Cambridge. For a small town it was rich in history in the late 1800s early 1900s and we even had a college that closed in the 1980s. Now it is mostly a destination point for people from Erie and Meadville to come to our brewery and dinning shops and golf courses. With French creek being the water attraction.

Bud & Holly