The seasonal economies of tourist destinations like Cape Cod, Massachusetts, create dramatic differences for year-round residents. When the crowds of summer give way to the quiet of winter, these local residents enjoy the peaceful part of seaside living.
Name: Hope Schwartz-Leeper and Zak Fagiano
Where we live: Orleans, Massachusetts.
Why we live here: We own a small business but love the beautiful beaches all year round.
Orleans, Massachusetts, lies on the southern end of Massachusetts’ Cape Cod National Seashore, the famous summer tourist destination. Though technically in the Barnstable Town metro area, Orleans is in the less densely populated eastern part of the county. And when summer crowds dwindle, the locality takes on a decidedly more rural feel and pace of life, according to year-round residents Hope Schwartz-Leeper and Zak Fagiano. The couple runs a small sea-salt company in Orleans. Hope and Zak tell the Yonder why they chose Orleans as home and what they like about winter on the Cape.
Daily Yonder: Tell us a little bit about yourself- who you are, how you spend your time.
Hope and Zak: We met in college our freshman year and have been together ever since. We both love spending time at the beach or cuddled up at home with our pets. Hope runs our business, Wellfleet Sea Salt Company, and Zak works a full-time job in addition to helping with the business.
DY: Where do you live? Paint us a picture.
H&Z: We live on Cape Cod, which is famous for its summer tourism. When you’re on the Cape, you’re never far from the beach and fresh seafood is always at your fingertips. Every town is full of quaint little beach shacks and the atmosphere is generally pretty laid-back. Summertime is always super busy with visitors, but winter is just as beautiful in its own way.
DY: How did you come to live where you do? How long have you lived there, and how long do you plan to stay?
H&Z: As a kid, I (Hope) came to Wellfleet almost every summer with my family. Now, Zak and I run a small business here that we started in college, so we relocated from just outside New York City to a town called Orleans on Cape Cod and we love it! We’ve lived here since May of 2013. We see ourselves staying here for the foreseeable future.
DY: In what ways is the place you live now similar or different to where you grew up or have lived in the past?
H&Z: Cape Cod is very seasonal, which is a huge change from where we’ve both come from. Summer is all about the tourism, and the entire Cape region is packed to the brim with people looking to enjoy everything it has to offer. But in the winter, nearly everything closes down. It’s starting to become a more year-round place for the people who live here, but it’s been an adjustment coming here from your average towns that are more or less the same all year.
DY: What are the benefits to living in Orleans, Massachusetts?
H&Z: We love that we have such easy access to things that most people wait all year to enjoy. We’re usually pretty busy, but we always try to make time to head to the beach for a little while. We also love that winter is such a reprieve; it gets really quiet and peaceful, and we like the feeling of taking a pause in between the madness of summers.
DY: How does work/employment factor into where you live? Does living in a rural place affect how you make your living?
H&Z: Around here, most people work more than one job, and finding employment can be difficult because it’s a small area and many things close down for the winter. Hope runs our business full time, but to pay the bills, Zak works a regular full time job as well. There isn’t the same flexibility here as you might find in a city like Boston or New York because there simply aren’t as many employers that can hire year-round, and many of the business here cater specifically to tourists.
DY: Do you have neighbors? What’s your community like?
H&Z: We do have a few neighbors, but we live at the end of a little dirt road so it feels very private. Our town is one of the busier ones, so we have everything we need day-to-day close by. We were so pleasantly surprised at how friendly the local people are here and have really enjoyed getting to know them. The community of Cape Cod as a whole is starting a change a little bit. For a long time, it was only the real locals who had been there for generations and retirees. Now, it seems like a lot of young people are deciding either to stay here where they grew up and start businesses of their own or are moving here to get involved with something. Just in the short time that we’ve lived here we’ve seen more people our age starting their lives here, which is something that a lot of Cape Cod communities were starting to grow concerned about. Everyone knows everyone, which is really nice.
DY: What are the drawbacks of living in a rural place?
H&Z: The main drawback is the inconvenience. We’re fortunate that the town we live in is one of the busier towns on Cape Cod, and we live just outside of the town proper, but often we find ourselves having to make long, special trips for certain things. We don’t have many big box stores or even fast-food chains around. People don’t usually bat an eye over long commutes or trips here because there often simply isn’t any other option. Even getting off Cape Cod is a major trek, and depending on which part of Cape Cod you live in, it can be a huge hassle because it’s such a uniquely shaped piece of land and for much of it, there’s only one major road. Sometimes you can take a ferry across the sound straight to Boston, but otherwise you just have to drive all the way through.
DY: What’s your favorite thing about your town or home?
H&Z: We love living here for so many reasons, but probably the best part is how close to the ocean we are. We both love the water, and Cape Cod is one of the best places to really enjoy that kind of environment. We particularly like to go up to Race Point in Provincetown, where you can walk all the way to the outermost tip of Cape Cod and look out across the Atlantic Ocean. It feels like you’re standing on the edge of the world. We usually go in the off-season, which for us is just as nice as the summer.
Hope and Zak own Wellfleet Sea Salt Company, a small business out of Wellfleet on Cape Cod that makes a natural gourmet sea salt. Hope and Zak met their freshman year at Skidmore College in upstate New York and now live on Cape Cod year-round with their many animals. They hope to start growing more of their own food, and they can often be found at farmers' markets throughout the Cape selling their salts.