Thursday, April 6, 2017

Best Place to Retire (for Us): Part 1

     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.

27 comments:

gigihawaii said...

Interesting post. I lived in New York City for 5-1/2 years and visited Boston, Miami, and Washington DC. I guess if I were to live anywhere else than Hawaii, I would want to return to NYC to live.

Janette said...

:) . Waiting....

Jono said...

Do we have to wait long? I used to live in Delaware, which would be a pretty good central location for your needs.

Anonymous said...

Just listed: best places to retire are up north.

My condolences.

Rian said...

You've definitely got me curious. We're retired and stayed in place. But then we've never lived anywhere but New Orleans, Florida, and Texas. And although I'd love to see other areas, can't imagine living anywhere else permanently but here (or possibly the Texas Hill country). Can't wait to see what you decided on!

Tom Sightings said...

Are the best places up north? Not for everybody ... but thanks for your condolences, I might need them! And Rian, you certainly get my point, which is that it's hard for retirees to imagine permanently living anywhere else except for where they're used to ... altho' plenty of people do it!

Stephen Hayes said...

Cheeky to make us wait. Mrs. C. and I are starting to think about a move to a warmer, drier climate if only we can agree on a place.

Trudi said...

My guess is the NC Triangle area... near your daughter.. cities close together with plenty of activities and good medical facilities for when they are needed.

Olga Hebert said...

OH! You meany!

AH, the Saab stories we could probably tell. My dream car until it became a nightmare.

Celia said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Celia said...

I can hardly wait to find out where you two are going. :-) I lived in Seattle and Portland OR, much of my adult life and sure get it about traffic in and around water and bridges. It was bad 18 years ago when I left and it's just worse now. No time a day without a traffic jam now.

Morgen said...

Are you moving to SWEDEN? Omg, that would be incredible. Though unlikely. ;)

Meryl Baer said...

Cruel and unusual punishment to make us wait. Post again SOON!

Red said...

Well, you've got me making predictions! I think Sweden!

Savoring Sixty said...

I love the suspense!!

retirementreflections said...

I agree with your other readers who say 'meany'! You've definitely made me curious!

Tom Sightings said...

Sweden?!? Clever guess; but no, not Sweden.

Tom Sightings said...

Jono -- Actually, we did look in Delaware, in Newark, Del. Too much of a college town. I couldn't mention ALL the places we looked. Would've made the post way too long!

Joyful said...

I enjoyed reading your post (the first one I've read on your blog I think). You think like I do about the ins and outs of where to live and even the way you view a car. I do like to assess as many pros and cons as I like and make a decision based on all the information at hand. I am sure you and B found just the right place to live. I look forward to reading Pt. 2.

joared said...

Enjoyed your thought processes deciding where to live. Will be interested in your final choice. Have been up and down both Fla. coasts and central Florida -- even had lot when Cape Coral, I think it was called, was being established but got rid of it as I wouldn't want to live in Fla. either, but understand why it's such a draw for east part of country who likely have family in that part of country. What little family I have is east coast and Great Lakes area but I've spent enough years living various places others chose so am staying now where I want to be in So Cal.

scott said...

What a fun post - looking forward to Part 2!

DJan said...

I got all the way to the end and still don't know where you're moving to. Okay, I'll wait because I don't have a choice. Good choice on a car, though. They are very reliable. :-)

Tabor said...

Well, that wasn't fair!

christina neumann said...

Ohhh, such suspense. Please let us know soon??? Back in NY?? no, it'd have to a warmer place I would think. When I left NY in 1970 and moved west( Tucson for college, then California) I knew I'd never go back to the east.

Anonymous said...

You know Tom, when you get right down to it, IF you have grandkids and those kids depend on you then it is very, very hard to consider moving away from them - even though you realize their folks might have to pull up stakes and move on due to a job move - and leave you and your decision in the rear-view. However ... I wish you and your bride well in your decision and I look forward to the unveiling of your next life chapter decision. Best from MI.

Karen D. Austin said...

I'm guessing Maryland--north of Baltimore? You could fly in and out of BWI, drive to DC to Philly and even to NYC. You could do the Skyline drive. You can hang out with the Amish in PA or go to the Bay in Delaware. And you could take the train up to Boston.

I used to live in DC and Alexandria and the Eastern Panhandle of WV (Shepherdstown). I do like the mid-Atlantic region. Oh, and I drove a Saab for three years. I had vanity plates: SNAAB1

I'll be coming back to see where you and B are landing!

Wisewebwoman said...

Lol you tease you but yes it's a huge decision.I'm sure glad I made mine too, so can relate.

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