Foley, Alabama, Here Comes Poor Me!

By Greg Schwem | April 5th, 2024

A retirement option for those runnin’ on empty?

Cruel sea, for humorous article on Foley Alabama

Reeling from a recent “life change” that has sorely affected his finances, humorist Greg Schwem explores Foley, Alabama, as a retirement option.

Don’t expect anyone to pick up your dinner check in Foley, Alabama.

Nestled at the southern tip of the state served by Senators Tommy “I haven’t actually read the Constitution” Tuberville and the now infamous Katie “My kitchen has no appliances” Britt, the city of 22,000-plus was recently named by Travel + Leisure magazine as “Best Place to Retire with No Savings.”

That’s right, zero, zip, nada. If you don’t have an IRA, still don’t understand cryptocurrency, had the misfortune of knowing Bernie Madoff, or thought the Mega Millions jackpot in that Vegas casino was “bound to hit eventually,” come to Foley.

If you’re “runnin’ on empty,” “chasing chips,” “rummaging for rubles” or “trawling for treasure,” or have “less dough than a Pizza Hut,” head to Foley.

I may soon be joining you.

Mind you, I do have a nest egg, but one that has shrunk significantly due to a, um, how do I say this politely, “life change.” Instagram hasn’t gotten that message, as my feed is still dotted with ads from investment firms featuring distinguished-looking, gray-haired gentlemen standing outside horse stables (because rich guys own horses, apparently). Accompanying their mugs are thought bubbles with questions like, “I’m 60 with $1.2 million in an IRA. Should I convert $120,000 per year to a Roth to avoid required minimum distributions?”

I want to smack these guys so hard they’ll need to make hefty withdrawals to cover their dental bills.

Foley, I learned from its website, was incorporated in 1915, some 13 years after John Foley, a Chicago boy like me, began buying land to expand railroad service in the area. Today, Foley contains a “historic downtown business district” and “world class attractions,” the website boasts.

All of which certainly require money to enjoy. I mean, how can one shop downtown with a savings account ledger that says zero? Is there a side door in the Foley Railroad Museum, allowing one to sneak in and avoid the $4 entrance fee? That money could easily go to rent!

Luckily, Foley housing seems fairly affordable, with rents averaging $840 per month between 2017 and 2021 and the median value of homes around $205,000, according to the website.

Also, there are plenty of free activities. Just ask Guy Busby, the city’s marketing and communication manager, and a Foley-area resident for more than 30 years.

“We’re only about 11 miles from Gulf Shores,” he said, referring to the Alabama resort town where, I assume, it’s free to throw a towel on the sand and spend all day staring at the Gulf of Mexico, while contemplating your bad financial decisions. If I packed my own lunch and commandeered an abandoned beach chair, I could probably return to my Foley domicile even, or just slightly in the red.

Busby also recommended the 500-acre Graham Creek Nature Reserve, Foley’s springtime concert and movie series, and the recently renovated, $1.2 million Sara Thompson Kids Park. True, nearly half the park’s cost was offset by grants but the price tag shows that somebody in Foley has bucks.

He also mentioned the Tropic Falls at OWA water park, but I don’t think that’s going to happen. I took my kids to loads of water parks in their youth and, at day’s end, the only thing dry was my wallet’s interior. Corn dogs, greasy pizza, and beer (Dad’s treat for suffering through a day at a water park) aren’t getting any cheaper.

Maybe I’ll move to Foley and take on a side hustle for extra income. There’s something enticing about driving for Uber, as I doubt I would encounter the traffic congestion in Foley that one finds in Chicago. Plenty of snowbirds and tourists visit the city, Busby said, and they’ll certainly need transportation, as well as recommendations from a “local” like me. I will welcome them into my (hopefully) paid-off vehicle, introduce myself, and tell them there is only one rule they must abide by.

Cash up front.

Greg Schwem is a corporate stand-up comedian and author of two books: Text Me If You’re Breathing: Observations, Frustrations and Life Lessons From a Low-Tech Dad and the recently released The Road To Success Goes Through the Salad Bar: A Pile of BS From a Corporate Comedian, available at Visit Greg on the web at

© 2024 Greg Schwem. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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