Why didn’t we move here sooner? It’s the question I hear from many who are new to the coast, as I am. Sure, the beach, the views and less-unaffordable housing are all draws. They might be why we move here, but is it why we feel giddy about living here?

Well, yes, but there’s more. 

What startles us newbies is the community. We never knew we could like people as much as we do here. Go figure. With any important relationship, we must actively maintain and develop it. So, for all my fellow newbies, I offer this simple list for thriving on the coast:

  • Plan extra time for errands because you will meet someone you know.
  • Learn people’s first names. No one uses last names here. I’ll give you a starter set: Harvey, Clay and Annie. If you don’t know them, you soon will.
  • Don’t tell your old friends that the coast isn’t really foggy anymore. It only attracts more weekend visitors.
  • Friends don’t let friends drive on warm weekend evenings. See No. 3.
  • Smile and say hello when you meet a stranger. It’s OK here.
  • Shop locally. You know why.
  • If you mention a beach to a local, be ready to talk about which beach you mean. It seems that most beaches have several simultaneous names.

Here are some other handy translations:

Over the hill = Everywhere that isn’t here;

Ocean Shore = Ace Hardware in Half Moon Bay;

“DOO-arts” = Duarte’s Tavern in Pescadero;

Highway 1/2, Moon Bay = Waze directing you onto Highway 1, Half Moon Bay.

  • Prepare for Pumpkin Festival. No joke. Your neighbors will happily give you specific tips in October, but for now just know that you will underestimate what’s required.
  • Join a community organization that does work that excites you. Donate, volunteer and participate in programs and events. 

Let’s explore that last one. It’s important. In any small town, we can’t expect that our taxes will supply everything the community needs. Local nonprofits spring up to do the rest. Name one of your interests and I bet there’s at least one group that supports it. You can see many of them at “Coastside Gives,” which focuses support for nonprofits into one busy day each year. The website has more than 40 nonprofits listed and it will grow by this year’s day of giving on May 2. Look at the list and pick one or two that capture your imagination and jump in with money, time or even just your enthusiasm.

So, now you know how to thrive on the coast. Let’s just promise to leave it even better than we found it.

Douglas Howatt is a local writer who loves writing “local writer.”

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