Wednesday, April 25, 2012

My Fantasy Retirement Home

     I've just come indoors after having spent 2 hours working in the yard. (I've been fighting a yard for more than 30 years and so far the yard has won). And I've started to fantasize -- fantasize about the true retirement home I'd like to have.

     I currently live in the suburbs, with a little less than an acre of yard, and a big garage to store all our lawn and garden equipment plus the two cars we need because we can't get anywhere in our town without driving a couple of miles.

     The suburbs have served me well. I've raised two kids who've been able to play in our yard, go to a decent public school, enjoy the benefits of Little League and lots of other community activities. And to be honest, I like to work in the yard. I like getting dirty and smelling the grass up close and trying to grow a tomato plant or two.

     Just not too often; certainly not as much as I used to.

     My fantasy house might have a little patch of lawn -- about as big as my bedroom -- and a small garden where I could grow a few flowers and an herb or two. The size of my retirement garden would be the equivalent of about two window boxes.

     I think I would like to live in a small town -- not too big or bustling, but with sidewalks and a coffee shop down at the corner where I could walk in the morning. I do worry about the noise. I've had problems with noisy neighbors in the past. But let's face it, the older I get the less I'm able to hear, so maybe the ambient noise from cars and kids and dogs and lawnmowers won't bother me.

     I don't really like the mountains that much; they always seem cold and remote to me. I'm a lowlander at heart, used to a thick, humid atmosphere. But I want something different from the generic suburb where I've lived for most of my life.

Maybe a place like this. Can anyone guess where it is?
    So, perhaps I should go down to the sea. I can't really afford the seashore, I know, because I've spent vacation time in Cape Cod, and Cape May, and Myrtle Beach, and Sarasota, and San Diego, and you can't buy anything within a block or two of the ocean for much less than $1 million, or rent for less than $4K a month.

     But this is a fantasy. So put me near the seashore. Maybe not oceanfront or on the beach, but somewhere nearby, in town, by the harbor or on an inlet, or possibly on a lake.

     I do like to play golf, but I don't want to live in a golf community. That's too much golf. And besides, I don't know if I want to live in the bubble of a gated community. But I do want a social life -- so I'd want to go to a town where there are some other newly retired people who are open to new friendships, not a town where everyone knows everyone else's parents and aunts and uncles and have been friends since 4th grade and aren't interested in meeting new people.

     I'd nevertheless go in search of a golf course where I could play a round once a week or so, with some of my new friends. I'd frequent the local library -- maybe there's a book club I could join. I'd get to know the proprietors of the local businesses down the street and around the corner, especially the barista at my local coffee emporium. Not a Starbucks. But someplace called Perks or The Beanery or Higher Grounds or Joe's Place.

     My house would be an older home -- definitely prewar. Yes, I know that means you have to make more repairs. But the place will have town water and town sewers (I own a septic tank and leaching field right now -- and boy, am I ready to give those up!) And not too big. Two bedrooms might be enough. Maybe three. Enough for B and me, with enough room for the kids to visit but not so spacious that they'd want to stay for too long.

     That reminds me, my new town would have to be easily accessible so the kids would visit now and then. Not too far from an Interstate or major airport. With a mild climate -- not too hot in summer or too cold in winter. And if I'm going to get the kids to visit, there have to be some attractions that would appeal to them. The beach perhaps. And some nightlife. A place where there's some live music or live theater. Besides, B and I have taken up ballroom dancing in our dotage, so we'd want a place where we could cut a rug.

     Should I insist on a one-story house? That would be hard to find in an older home. Some people say you don't want to climb stairs when you get older. And I have bad knees. How about a compromise? A place with a master bedroom on the first floor, with a guest room or two on a smaller second floor -- maybe bumped out like a dormer. We'd also want a good medical facility nearby, but I think that would come automatically with the kind of place I'm describing.

     Is my vision completely unrealistic? Or more to the point, can anyone recommend a place they know that sounds like the place I'm envisioning in my head? Don't worry, I'm not about to move in next door to you. This is still just a fantasy. First, I've got to go cut the grass.

   

23 comments:

schmidleysscribblins,wordpress.com said...

Oh Tom, I love this post. Have you been reading my mind? We have almost met the requirements you describe, but I am ready to pave the back yard, if you know what I mean.

Our house is two stories and I gripe about the stairs, but they provide the only exercise I get unless you count gardening. Our lawn, only in the front of the house, is small, about the size of our living room.

We do have a local coffee bar and the town is relatively flat so walking and biking are possible, if you can bike. Medical and health care are close.

The down side:

1/ the median age is about 13, just kidding but as America's most healthy place (Forbes?), you know most of our residents are young and fit. We don't have an excess of children so you have probably guessed the modal age here is 24.

2/David and I together make less than the middle income. I would add inexpensive to your list of characteristics. Gotta make that SS spread.

Water, we are near the ocean a mere 3 hours away and bad traffic, and mountains, a mere hour to the west.
Our home was built in 1977 and has been upgraded throughout, wouldn't want anything much older.

Is that all?

I am going to San Diego to visit my son in October. Don't know if I would move there or not. I lived there in 1959, but that was long ago. Dianne

schmidleysscribblins,wordpress.com said...

Oh Tom, I love this post. Have you been reading my mind? We have almost met the requirements you describe, but I am ready to pave the back yard, if you know what I mean.

Our house is two stories and I gripe about the stairs, but they provide the only exercise I get unless you count gardening. Our lawn, only in the front of the house, is small, about the size of our living room.

We do have a local coffee bar and the town is relatively flat so walking and biking are possible, if you can bike. Medical and health care are close.

The down side:

1/ the median age is about 13, just kidding but as America's most healthy place (Forbes?), you know most of our residents are young and fit. We don't have an excess of children so you have probably guessed the modal age here is 24.

2/David and I together make less than the middle income. I would add inexpensive to your list of characteristics. Gotta make that SS spread.

Water, we are near the ocean a mere 3 hours away and bad traffic, and mountains, a mere hour to the west.
Our home was built in 1977 and has been upgraded throughout, wouldn't want anything much older.

Is that all?

I am going to San Diego to visit my son in October. Don't know if I would move there or not. I lived there in 1959, but that was long ago. Dianne

rosaria williams said...

You're much more focused on what's important to you than we were when we retired. On the top of my list was a house by the sea. Well, once we found that, nothing else was as important. My advice is to prioritize, and then go for what's most important to you.

As I read this I turned to my husband and said, Honey, we are in a good place! No, I don't have all the things I want, and they are many.

But, I do have what I longed for decades, a quiet place by the water. And that makes all the difference on how I view everything else.

Stephen Hayes said...

Is this photograph somewhere in Maine or Massachusetts? It has a New England feel. Great light. When I retire it must be somewhere with great light. Maybe Spain or Portugal.

Gabby Geezer said...

The only place that leaps to mind is Port Washington, WI (pop. about 11,000). You could find everything you specify there or a mere 30 miles away in Milwaukee, except possibly a community of retired folks. But maybe there is such an enclave I don't know about.

If Port would be a great retirement place, why don't you live there, geezer? Good question, which has a good answer, but I don't want to go into it.

Olga said...

I liked this. There was town discussion here in our small VT town about housing for the elderly. The nearest grocery store at the time was ten miles away. Medical services even further. There still is not public transportation. It's a nice place to live right now, but I will certainly not stay here forever.

Janette said...

You inspired me to write down what we have been discussing as a retirement home as well.
You asked if we knew such a place. Currently we are looking at Hilton Head NC, Solomon MD, Whidbey Island/Gig Harbor, WA and outside of Virginia Beach. In the next few years we plan to visit each. They all have pros and cons.
I have promised my husband four more years at our current location - which makes him 66 when we move. Any longer than that- I would not be able to pry him out of here! I am going to start renting in MD/ VA in the next year- so we can get the real feel of the area....

Jono said...

"First, I've got to go cut the grass."
Nothing like a reality check to bring you back. Most places I know with those amenities are college towns.
Cape May? I spent about fifteen summers across the Delaware Bay from there. I could see the lighthouse at night.

Arkansas Patti said...

Your dream sounds pretty ideal to me. If you can't find it, build it and they will come. Then when you do, let us know where it is.
I can remember thinking I wasn't sure I wanted this place for it was only an acre. Now I moan about just how big an acre is as I battle weeds.
Guess till I no longer get enormous satisfaction looking at the results of my efforts, I will stay put.
That picture sure looks New Englandish.

Sightings said...

Stephen and Patti, you're both close. It's Chatham, Mass. on Cape Cod, a place where I've vacationed -- but as a place to live, it's a little too chilly for my delicate constitution and a little too expensive for my moth-infested pocketbook.

Jono, are you talking about Rehoboth? I've been thru there for the ferry, but never stayed there. I do know a couple that retired to Newark, Delaware, which seems to be a nice college town, but I think I'm more likely to follow in Janette's footsteps.

And Gabby ... boy, does your comment beg for a blog post!

Anonymous said...

I am in Edmonton where minus 10 is considered warm. Love it here.

Anonymous said...

Seabrook, NH on the MA line on the ocean. Buy a mobile home in a co-operative. No maintence, decent size yards, low taxes. Just like the small town of Seabrook, vote in the co-op. Quiet, 3 miles to great beaches (Hampton Beach) 1 hr to downtown Boston for social events, 1 hr to the White Mountains and 3 minutes to the NH countryside headed west of Route 95.
Google Route 107 from Seabrook and follow the road (use the little orange man for street views) Life can be found in great affordable places if you really look! We've been retired 10 years here now. Every store you need on Route 1 2 blocks aways, but it seems like a lifetime. Seabrook Village is at the corner of Route 1 and Route 107. Take a look.

JHawk23 said...

Funny how our concepts change over the years. In my mid-50s I used to tell my wife I'd like to own two places, one for summers in the central plains of Kansas where it hits 105 in the afternoons; the other place for winter around Juneau, Alaska, which by report has a pretty mild climate. But I was saved from that, I guess, by not being able to afford two places!

Nowadays if we dream of change at all, we tend to think Caribbean Island. But could we be sure that, in our 90s, climate change wouldn't put us knee-deep in water? And from living in the tropics before, we know that after a year or two, the absence of seasons gets very boring.

So for now, at least, we are staying put, about seven miles from the US Capitol.

Anonymous said...

Picture looks like it was taken in the Lakes Region of New Hampshire.

Kathy Sterndahl said...

Sounds like you're looking for my house! I have two bedrooms plus a small guest house for the kids - all on one floor. My backyard is a patio with flower beds and herbs in pots.

I'm one block from the largest lake in Mexico. I live in a town of about 20,000. We have sidewalks and I can walk from my house to just about everything I need in town. I can get coffee next door at the American Legion.

The library isn't huge, but we do have one. And two different golf courses. Guadlajara has an international airport just 20 minutes away from here.

You don't even need to speak Spanish since there are so many Mexicans here who speak English, but you'll get lots more out of the experience if you are bilingual.

Andews Hayes said...

Oh, I love the sea! I like your idea of the perfect retirement home and someday, I would like to have one just like what you’ve described. The sea side is an absolute paradise! Great choice!

jillyヅ said...

If my husband could have enrolled in college in San Diego, we would still be living on Coronado Island. We rented, not something I am sure you are going to do. Between his job income and Naval retirement, we still got into "low-income" housing. Here is the link
http://www.coronado.ca.us/egov/docs/1312577294_198089.pdf

I believe Coronado has everything you are looking for. We nearly lived at their big, beautiful and very friendly library. The "natives" on the island are much more friendlier than those in San Diego in general.

We did have military privileges due to my husband's retirement. Free movies on base, cheap, cheap camping at Fiddler's Cove, but I still was shocked when I found out about the affordable housing program with Coronado!! Even without our military perks, there is still tons to do on the island that are free or low cost. You just have to do a little searching.

And yes, they have a wonderful corner coffee house.

Maybe an extended vacation if possible would help you decide.

blessings, jilly

Cara Larose said...

It's alright to see yourself in a place where you want to grow old, with good environment, and people who cares. Your idea of a retirement home is quite beautiful, calm, and refreshing. Anyway, a good retirement home is just around the corner! :-)

Retirement Living In San Diego said...

Hello,

A retirement home is a multi residence housing facility intended for senior citizens. Typically each person or couple in the home has an apartment style room or suite of rooms. I like the way you start and then conclude your thoughts. Thanks for this information....

Cara Larose said...

Your vision is not unrealistic. In fact, it sounds pretty great! The seashore is a good place to spend your retirement days. Imagine waking up every morning with a beautiful view of the sea, feeling the cool breeze of the ocean. You can walk on the shore in the afternoon, or sit on your porch while reading your favorite book. That is absolutely lovely!

Kirsty Fabron said...

The view of the blue ocean is refreshing! A retirement home is merely a place where you can relax and retreat from the busy-buzzing factors of life. Wonderful vision! =)

Carl Brighton said...

Nice dream! For my retirement house I would like to live by the riverside, have a small flower garden of mostly lavenders and lilies, and at night I would be listening to the waves while looking at the stars. If I could have that one thing, I can finally be at peace.

Cara Larose said...

Living in a retirement home near the ocean is, quite simply, one of the best ways to retire. Enjoying the sea breeze while listening to the sound of the waves hitting the shore – there’s just nothing like it. You can have fresh air and beautiful view of crystal clear water. Absolute paradise! I also dream of living by the seashore with a small garden where I can plant my favorite flowers. It’s so satisfying.