Long Beach drawing new neighbors from across the country
By Will Brown
The Long Beach community is growing. As of 2020, the U.S Census estimated the population of Long Beach to be over 16,000 people, which was up about ten percent since 2010. This continues an upward trajectory of steady growth in Long Beach and the Gulf Coast over the past several decades.
Those moving to Long Beach have come from all across the country, and the coastal amenities, friendly people, proximity to other cities along the Gulf, and premiere school district have been among several factors drawing people to the community. Social media has allowed those who are new to Long Beach to connect with their community, and the Long Beach Neighbors Facebook Group, which allows current, former, and future residents to connect with one another, has nearly 5,000 members. As the population of Long Beach has increased, new residents have used groups like this to express what brought them to Long Beach and what aspects of the community they like most.
Antonina Troyer moved to Long Beach earlier this year from Orange County, California. A mother of four who is currently studying criminology at Loyola City, she believed the move to Long Beach would be best for her children’s education.
“The quality of schooling is way higher than where they were before,” Troyer said. “The expectations of our kids are way higher, and I really like that.”
Troyer said she likes the culture of Long Beach, and that the community has certain amenities that Orange County could not offer.
“I like that it is a small town, that it is quaint,” she said. “I like the fact that housing is extremely affordable, and everyone seems to know each other. It was a small community, which was really new to me.”
The quietness of life in Long Beach compared to California also came as a surprise to Troyer, who was used to the constant lit up streets of Orange County.
“When night comes and the sun sets here, it’s dark,” she said. “That was the weirdest thing for me; it shocked me. It’s pitch black, and you can’t see anything. I’m not used to that.”
Lori Fehr and her husband Dean moved to Long Beach this past April. Originally from Merle, Wisconsin, the two reconnected thirty years after attending high school together. Dean had previously been coming down to Long Beach in the winter to escape the cold Wisconsin winters, and one year Lori decided to join him.
“We fell in love with this area,” Lori said. “It seemed like a very good fit for us, for what we wanted to do and where we wanted to settle down and live.”
Both Troyer and Lori agreed that the biggest change in Long Beach compared to where they originally were from was the weather, particularly the amount of rain this area receives per year.
“I think it’s neat that you get rain; we never got rain in California. You get as much rain here in a day as California got in a year,” Troyer said.
For Lori and Dean, the size and layout of the homes were much different from what they experienced in Wisconsin, as were the number of critters they found inside them.
“Not having a basement is different,” Dean said. “We never really sprayed for bugs up there, and we had a basement in our house, which you don’t see down here.”
While Troyer and Lori both say they miss their family and friends elsewhere, they have acclimated to life on the Mississippi Coast and the friendly community they now call home.
“It’s a nice area, and people are very friendly and helpful,” Lori said. “I like that it seems like there are a lot of people, but it’s not a lot of people.”
“It’s a small community that was really new to me,” Troyer said. “Your neighbors all know each other, know their history, and they come to your front door to say hi to you. In fifteen years in my old neighborhood, I never experienced that.”