'Depression Amidst The Fun' — See Lost On The Shore

Posted on March 4, 2010

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I want to call your attention to a very though-provoking article on the state of the Worcester County economy over at Lost On The Shore, which is one of Maryland’s best political blogs.

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The post is entitled “Depression Amidst The Fun,” and as you might gather from the title, it paints a gloomy picture. The post focuses on the situation of low-paid workers in Ocean City, many of whom are year-round residents, living everywhere from Pocomoke City to Snow Hill to Berlin to Ocean City. Many work hard for low wages during the season, and draw unemployment compensation in winter. Health insurance? What’s that?

Depression Amidst The Fun also states that rental housing for workers is too expensive during the summer. Housing can be a problem for many of the thousands of young workers who come to Ocean City every summer from around the Mid-Atlantic region, and from Europe. Employers have made some efforts to improve that situation. For instance, the town of Ocean City provides quality housing for some Beach Patrol workers.

But year-round housing in Worcester County is different. It’s a little-known secret that the general cost of living is significantly lower here than in the Baltimore-Washington megalopolis. You can rent or buy a place on the Lower Shore at prices unheard of in the big suburbs.

Reasonable year-round rents are more the rule than ever now in Ocean City and West Ocean City, because of the depressed condo market. Owners who can’t sell would often prefer to have one good, year-round tenant, than struggle to rent a condo week by week through the long season.

Depression Amidst The Fun provides a good jumping off point for a continuing discussion about the economy in Worcester County.

Here’s the text of the  comment I added to the post at Lost On The Shore:

“Good post. You’ve opened a subject with lots to ponder, particularly in this time of painful economic change. Low wages and winter unemployment. That about sums it up for many Worcester County residents. Thank goodness for unemployment benefits in the winter, but they’re not enough to live on. I don’t know the answer to the jobs problem.

However, the low cost of housing in Worcester County, relative to the metro areas, is a plus. You can buy a nice house on the southern part of Maryland’s Eastern Shore for $150,000 or less, if it’s not waterfront. It’s always been possible to rent at reasonable prices in Ocean City, West Ocean City and Berlin, if you can sign a year-round lease. With the condo market depressed, many owners are unable to sell and are seeking long-term renters. In other words, it’s a renter’s market.

Not only housing, but the cost of most everything is lower here. I can get a haircut for $8 in OC, gasoline is lower than in the cities, and car insurance is much cheaper. And the Ocean City and Showell elementary shools are excellent, so parents don’t have to pay for private schools.

The reason I moved back to OC from Montgomery County is the low cost of living. I recommend year-round living in Worcester County to many folks who are struggling in the cities and suburbs.”  — John Hayden

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