B and I sold our family home last summer. We've been living in a one-bedroom condo while we decide where we're going to settle down in retirement. Now we have finally found a destination. We've put in an offer on a house. We'll see if it works out.
Where is it? Well, be patient and I'll tell you.
First, I have to explain a little bit about our thinking and how it's affected where we're going -- because the issues we considered in deciding on a retirement home are more relevant to most retirees than the actual destination we chose. Don't you think?
One issue is that, like a lot of people, we thought we might want to retire someplace different from what we're used to. We love Cape Cod. A lot of people from the Northeast (and some from Canada) make their retirement home on the Cape. We have one friend who lives in Falmouth. But for us, Cape Cod seems too far away from our children, who are in New York, New Jersey, North Carolina and South Carolina. It's a long way for them to come visit -- and a long way for us to go visit them.
Plus, another issue. Those Massachusetts winters are long and cold and desolate. A few years ago we spent a weekend in November on the Cape. It was beautiful in a stark, lonely kind of way. But stay there for more than a few days, much less the whole winter? I don't think so. My preference would be to retire somewhere that's warmer, not colder.
I might even consider Florida. I've been going there for a couple of weeks in the winter, for at least the past 15 years. But B does not like Florida. So we're not going to Florida.
We did not consider the West Coast. B has a sister living in Seattle, and I have a sister in Phoenix. But all our kids, and our friends, are in the East. That's definitely an issue. And besides, we like the rolling farmlands and forested hills of the East better than the stark mountains and empty spaces of the West. We like living in a more settled area, where the towns are close together and even the major cities are not that far away. Currently, we can get to New York City in a little over an hour. Boston in three. Washington, DC, is an easy train ride. We'd like to keep it that way.
We tested out South Carolina for a month this winter, principally because B has a son -- and now a grandchild! -- who lives in Charleston. I also have a friend in nearby Myrtle Beach.
B and I both liked the Charleston area . . . as a place to visit. But to live? The city seems small, and it's not near anything else, so there's no other place to go. And there is a lot of traffic. The area is growing like crazy, and the road-building has not kept up with the influx. As B's son reminds us, Charleston is located along three rivers. All the traffic has to go over a few bridges, and they form major bottlenecks. If you want to go anywhere during the week between 7 a.m. and 10 a.m., or 3 to 6 p.m., you're going to get into a traffic jam. It's that simple.
We also thought about Washington, DC. We like the city. But it's too expensive. We made a couple of visits to Annapolis, MD. It's a nice small city, near Washington, but while Annapolis is not quite as expensive as Washington, it's still too dear for those of us on a fixed income. We don't know anyone who lives there, and we wouldn't necessarily fit in with the Navy men and the resident boating crowd.
We want to be able to afford the place we're going to live, not just for the next few years, but presumably for the rest of our lives. And I think it's important for any retiree to feel like they're going to fit into their new environment -- and it sure helps if they have family there or at least know someone who lives in the area.
So anyway, now we've finally decided on a place. But before I tell you, I have to say the whole process makes me think about my car when I was younger. I liked to drive a Saab. It was a practical sedan, with four doors; it was good in the snow, but also had a sporty feel and a little of the European pizzazz. But it doesn't matter why I liked the Saab; the point is, I did. I bought a used Saab in 1976, then a new one in 1978. My wife and I got two more Saabs in the 1980s.
By 1994 we were ready for a new car. I was sick and tired of fixing my Saabs, which had a well-deserved reputation for not being very reliable. And besides, by then we had two small kids and were looking for something more practical.
We looked at a Honda Accord and a Ford Explorer and some kind of VW, I forget which model. We also, I must admit, looked at the new Saab. But I was determined . . . it was time for something different.
So finally, after shopping around for months, we bought a Volvo. A different car. But then I realized, a Volvo was a four-door sedan from Sweden. It was good in the snow, but also had a little bit of a sporty feel and a little European pizzazz. The Volvo was as close to a Saab as you could get, without actually being a Saab.
So why the story? Because B and I have decided to move to a different place. But in many ways it's very similar to the place we've been living for the past 40 years.
It's . . . wait! Tune in next time for Part 2, and I'll tell you.