There Goes the Neighborhood

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A division of an international Bay Area tech company just set up shop down the street from my house, smack in the middle of a post-war neighborhood in the South Bay. With it, many young engineering types, mostly singles colonizing with other singles and a few young families, have been rapidly snatching up homes in our neighborhood. In fact, one of these modest prefabricated houses with poor insulation and no storage just sold for more than $2 million.

But I'm not here to moan about Bay Area real estate. What troubles me is that many of these homes were owned by older retirees. And while I'm glad they're able to capitalize on this market, my young family is paying a price for the departure of an older generation.

My husband and I are transplants like many who live here. When we bought our house a decade ago, we were the only young family on our block. Across the street in both directions live couples now in their late 60s and early 70s. Down the street live a retired social worker and a retired nurse. My entire extended family lives across the Pacific and my husband's entire family lives across the Atlantic. So for my young children it's our elderly neighbors who have provided the regular contact and interactions they're not able to get with their grandparents.

It has been not only a great help to us parents but my kids have been exposed to the crucial life-wisdom and ethics of this older generation that I don't think they get from my own. Many of my neighborhood's retirees play the role of grandparent-figures to my children. My sons are often invited over to cook, to knit, to sew and to play with "old" toys. My sons love Grandma Alice, Grandma Joy and Grandpa Marty. To us, my kids have several sets of grandparents.

I don't want to see any more of the older generation leave but it is what it is and besides, something's gained whenever something's lost. Maybe this new generation of high tech entrepreneurs can teach my kids how to convince venture capitalists that their lemonade stand is really worth millions even though they have no revenue whatsoever.


With a Perspective, I'm Isabella Hill.

Isabella Hill is a mother and piano teacher in Mountain View.