By Bruce Carlson

Greetings, to our blog readers! I’m thrilled to share with you the incredible journey Karen and I have embarked upon in our new home, the enchanting town of New Athens, Illinois. Nestled in the heart of the Midwest, this vibrant community has welcomed us with open arms, offering a delightful blend of friendly neighbors, idyllic weather, and convenient transportation options. So sit back, relax, and join me as we dive into some of the interesting points that make New Athens an absolute gem!

Neighborhood Nirvana

From the moment we arrived, the warm and inviting atmosphere of our neighborhood instantly put a smile on our faces. The sense of community here is truly remarkable, with neighbors eagerly greeting us and sharing their knowledge of the area. It was very different from our North Aurora experience when we moved in 22 years ago.

In our old home people would walk by and at best say Hi. Our new neighbors come over like we have been lifelong friends. One important point we have learned, a good/bad point, is everyone knows what is going on here. Karen was talking with someone from church and mentioned our next-door neighbor and they knew who they were. Note to self, be careful what I share.

Our street is lined with picturesque homes, that’s ours above, each one telling its own unique story. Apparently, the builder who built the neighborhood was a well-known local contractor. His work is excellent. Our home is very solid. Everything fits together very well.

One interesting point we noticed while we were looking at houses was the electric ranges. We saw very few gas ranges. I must admit it is a little different way of cooking. Something as simple as boiling water can be an adventure.

No cooking with gas

On our gas range in North Aurora, the water kettle would stop whistling then the gas was turned off. With the electric range, it keeps going. You must remove the kettle. It takes several minutes for the cooking surface to cool down. There’s even an indicator that tells you the cooking surface is still hot. I think it is best if I stay away from cooking. I’ll defer to Karen’s skills.

When you first drive into New Athens, you get the impression that it is a sleepy, older community. It was officially recognized as a town in 1866, according to Wikipedia. New Athens’s claim to fame was the town was originally named Athens. However, near Springfield Illinois was another town named Athens and it was there first.

People pointed out to us very quickly that the name was pronounced as New AAAAAthens, not New Athens. That is now locked into our brains. New Athens is part of the Metro East area of Illinois.

As mentioned, the core area of the town is older. It has the feel of a farming community. I don’t think this area of the town has changed in a long time. The Ace Hardware store reminds me of the hardware store near my house when I was a young kid. It was small, but there were bins full of everything you would need.

As you get out towards the south and east side of town you start to see newer houses. I have to say our little subdivision is one of the newest. In talking to the neighbors, the initial houses were built just over 25 years ago. Our house is 16 years old.

Climate and Weather

One of the reasons we decided to move down this way was the weather. Now I like the four seasons. One of our friends who grew up in the Metro East area said, “Fall and spring are longer, and winter isn’t as cold as North Aurora. I have to admit that kind of climate is a little more inviting these days. We are finding the summer days are 5 to 10 degrees warmer than North Aurora.

Since we moved here at the beginning of May, we have seen nice warm days. I’m looking forward to the fall. There are many wooded areas around us and I’m hoping the colors will be out for a longer period of time. With the Mississippi River being close by I hope we will have some very scenic drives as the leaves change colors.

Transportation Convenience

One of the things we were a little worried about moving here is the distance to Scott and Nachole’s home. For that matter getting anywhere in the area. As I said this is a farming type of community. We are out in the sticks, compared to North Aurora. The drive to their house is 26 miles. It takes just over 35 minutes.

A similar drive would be to the diocesan office back north. It was 24 miles and was easily 20 – 25 minutes longer. A lot more traffic and stoplights, 45 on my last count. I think there are 12 stoplights we go through on the way to Scott and Nachole’s. It is an absolute breeze.

Getting to the rest of the area, for shopping and things we need, isn’t too bad. Freeburg, the next town 8 miles up the road, has basic items. There’s a nice market and a big, more modern Ace Hardware store. Lowes, Menards, and Schnucks, a full-service grocery store, is a 35-minute drive. We’re getting better at finding our way. The need to use GPS to find places is declining.

In Conclusion

Our transition to New Athens has been nothing short of extraordinary. The warm and friendly neighborhood, coupled with the delightful climate and easy driving options, make this town an absolute paradise. Each day brings new adventures, new friendships, and new discoveries. So, if you’re thinking about moving someplace very nice, then look no further than New Athens, Illinois. Come, join us in this exhilarating chapter of our lives, and unlock the endless possibilities that await!

Happy exploring and see you soon in our charming corner of the world! We hope you are enjoying these articles and are willing to continue to follow along as we move through the process of selling our house, buying a new house (to become our home), and the adventures of learning about life in southern Illinois, Bruce & Karen.