On this week’s episode of Mid Bay News Update: The Interview, Christopher Saul speaks with former Niceville Artist and podcast host Alanna Campbell of ‘I’ve Been Thinking.’
Campbell is from a small town in the mountains of Eastern Kentucky and has degrees in Political Science and Emergency Management.
Christopher and Alanna talk about her and her partner’s decision to move away from Niceville – and what can keep people like in-betweeners (people in between high school and having kids of their own) from moving away from Niceville long term.
After all, we should do our best to retain as much talent as we can that we develop at one of the best high schools in the state. Right?
Campbell’s theory is that there are four things reducing the number of ‘in-betweens’ who live in Niceville.
If you want to listen to the whole episode, click here.
“First of all, I will say, ‘love all of our breweries, love all of our little restaurants,’ all that fun stuff. Niceville, well, it’s not fun. It’s just not fun. Like, and people are probably rolling their eyes and saying ‘like, whatever.’
I love a night at Bayou Brewing. I love a night at 3rd Planet. I love a trip to Doc’s Oyster House, which is technically Val-p. But you know, same it’s the vibe. It’s a vibe. But, there’s nowhere for young people to stay out after 10 p.m., and that is something that a lot of young people, I’m sure, who are from Niceville want to be able to experience. Because if everything closes at 10 p.m., you might as well still have your parents’ curfew of being home by 1115. You know, like, what’s that going to do for you? That doesn’t feel like freedom. That doesn’t feel like a choice. Second of all, people who are like me and come to Niceville because their job brought them here, or their partner’s job brought them here, or their parents’ job brought them here and they stick around for a little while. It’s not what you’re used to. And I’m not saying nice fall has to be open 24/7. We’re not New Orleans. I know that. But, come on? Midnight? Like, give us a little some sort of something to do. So that’s one of my big things that actually really bothers me about Niceville is that I’m literally home by 1015. I’m 28. I still like to go out and have a little fun every once in a while, and I don’t like having to Uber to Destin or have a friend drive to Destin just to stay out till midnight.
Alanna: “Point number two, and perhaps the most important point that I will make, is it is very hard to find a decent place to live here. And it is nigh impossible to afford a decent place to live here.
There are plenty upon plenty of beautiful homes and beautiful apartments and all that stuff. But to afford one is nearly an arm and a leg. Since we moved here at the end of 2021, we have not been able to. Even like dual income, I don’t make a ton of money, but I make enough. And my partner sure makes enough that we should have been able to and would have been able to, in most other parts of the country, afford to purchase a home. And that was never an option for us here. And that is very frustrating for a lot of young people.
“Why, why live here if you have to pay rent to somebody who owns three other homes in the same place, and that’s why you can’t buy your own home. Because everybody either owns four places and rents them out, or they’ve just been sitting on something they bought 40 years ago, for $50,000. And now it’s worth 2 million, like ‘good for you.’ ‘Good for you.’ I’m really thrilled for you. I’m not being sarcastic, but it makes moving here, living here, making a home here. Very, very difficult.
Christopher: “So you’re not like you’re not mad at those people. But you are like, Hey, you asked the question, Why am I not staying here? It’s because I can’t find a place to live.”
Alanna: “Exactly. Yeah, I’m not mad at those people. I’m a little annoyed at people who own like four houses and, you know, kind of lock up the housing market, and they rent them all out. I’m a little annoyed at those people. I get it, but I’m annoyed, which, I think is fair. Because, if you want something and somebody bought it all up, that’s annoying.
“I have been very frustrated by the lack of dog friendliness in the area or at breweries [is] great. The state park is dog-friendly, it’s great except on the beach. I get that’s like a county ordinance thing, but Turkey Creek isn’t dog-friendly. There are no like there’s there’s one specific dog park in Niceville that I know of.
Alanna: Another thing that has just been something I’ve observed in the area is it is very, very conservative. And that’s perfectly fine. It feels like if you don’t have those same ideals if you don’t have those same political or religious beliefs, it feels a little bit less welcoming, it feels a little bit less like you can be open about that. And that is something that is very genuine; it’s less, less niche and funny as the dog park; it’s a very genuine concern of mine, because I don’t always have the same political or religious beliefs as people here in Niceville. And that is fine. And I think that that’s important, and it creates diversity.
And it creates opportunities for growth, for change, for really beautiful things. But I have been, at times, very unlikely to speak on those things for fear of some kind of backlash one way or another. So I think that would be a fabulous thing for the people of Niceville, just to think about. And if you feel bothered by that, maybe you should consider why you’re bothered by my saying that. Because I believe that Niceville could grow in good ways. And I know a lot of people don’t want Niceville to grow and be a big developed place. And that’s perfectly fine. That’s, that’s perfectly fine. When I say to grow, I mean to improve, to be more welcoming to people who want things to do at 11:30pm, to be more welcoming to people who want to take their dog to splash in the water, to be more welcoming to people who want to buy a house, want to buy a home and live their life here and raise a family here or be a part of the local community. And to be more welcoming to people who don’t identify the same way that their neighbor does.