Boomers Own Multiple Houses

Baby Boomers were to down size to a small home because they didn’t need as much space, supposedly because they are now empty nesters, but many have multiple homes.

We know a couple who got remarried and both keep their own homes. They stay in one for a while, then the other. Oh by the way, they have a lake house, a mountain condo and just bought another house in the foothills. I kidded him, who is 71,that he is a real estate tycoon.

Several other friends in their 70’s spend half the year or more in our Del Webb Community in North Georgia, and then head to Florida for the rest of the year. One of these lives on my street and actually has his primary residence in Florida, so he lives there 6 months and the rest here.

Some friends we know have a house in Big Canoe in the North Georgia Mountains and also a cluster home in Atlanta, then a condo in Sandy Springs. When they want a “city fix” they can spend some time in the city.

Many boomers were told to down size to a small home by the financial press, saying they could live cheaply and save money. I am not sure that is the case. Even moving to a small town in the suburbs is not that much cheaper than living in the suburbs, but there are other reasons to do so.

Many counties on the outskirts of large metro areas do offer a better property tax exemption for seniors and that will save you some money. It’s worth looking into when deciding where to live.

Why Do Boomers Own So Many Homes

Retired boomers like to have options and variety. Living in different locations during the year offers variety. Plus it’s nice way to offset harsher temperatures you often get in one location for part of the year.

Another reason boomers like to own homes, is that owning real estate has been a good investment to us over the years, dispute the big real estate downturn of 2007. Home prices have risen, especially in small towns that are growing and now have more to offer.

Some boomers just like to try out different homes and different areas.  Buying a retirement home and staying put is certainly not always the case. You may have bought a home that was too large.  Or maybe you found yourself in a home that is not large enough.  Selling and moving is not as hard to do once you already have downsized somewhat from that home you lived in for 30 years or more.

Don’t let the press tell you where to live and what size home you need in retirement.

It’s clear we baby boomers are not following the pattern of our parents in deciding where to live and what kind of house(s) we should have.

Discovering what living arrangement works for you is part of the fun we get to have in retirement.

Robert Fowler
Retired and loving it!

Don’t Be Stuck in the Suburbs After You Retire!

My wife and I were stuck in the suburbs in a 4 bedroom, 3.5 bath, three level home with a half acre lot. We were the only retired people in the whole subdivision of 25 homes! Retiring after working 45 years, we were now feeling a little out of place in a subdivision with large SUVs speeding past our house taking kids to their activities or even to their school bus stop at the entrance. I was 58.

We were good friends with our neighbors, who were 10 years younger than us and still working. We had even gone on 6 cruises with them and out to dinner most Friday nights. But during the week, we were stuck in our subdivision with no where to go except lunch.

Our city of Johns Creek did open a new senior center and we joined and became active members. I even served on the activity committee. We got a taste of how we liked doing stuff with those we liked and related to.

That was better, but that was not enough. We looked around, considering our options of where to live. Someplace that was not the suburbs that was clearly kid and work centered, something we were not.

We took our time looking around visiting Big Canoe and Bent Tree in the mountains, Destin at the beach, and small towns nearby.  We decided a small town on the outskirts of our metro area would be nice; kind of the best of both worlds. We could still visit the suburbs, be close enough to have lunch with our friends and make it back home without too much trouble. But nothing was jumping out at us.

Then we discovered Active Adult Communities and found 4 or 5 around our metro area. We made some visits to active adult communities of Del Webb and other builders.  We signed up for the program where you visit the community and stay in a villa for 2 to 4 days to see what the community is like. We did that program three times. We thought about it.

We really like the Active Adult Community concept. The locations were perfect. It would give us a welcoming community right off the bat. A lot of other people just like us were moving there. The Active Adult Communities were all in good places to live. They had done their research.

Then reality set upon us and we froze up. We needed to down size and get rid of a lot of stuff. What about selling our home we had lived in for 26 years in a down real estate market. This would be a major upset to our lives, a lot of unknowns. We procrastinated and our excitement about moving waned.

We continued getting rid of stuff and business records going back 25 years that we no longer needed. Numerous trips to the shredders and to Goodwill. Selling stuff on Craig’s List and giving stuff away and dumping the rest in the trash.

Before we knew it years had gone by, then one day we made another visit to the Active Adult Community we most liked. We came back home and decided it’s time to do this. At age 67, we were finally making our move.

We hired a buyer’s agent to help us find a home in our Del  Webb Active Adult Community.  We looked at new homes and priced all the options. The buyer’s agent said we should considered resales and we found one, a 2,777 square foot ranch called the Cumberland Hall model. She helped negotiate a deal and we moved in!

Now 10 years later, after we starting retiring, we realize we should have moved a little faster. We love living here and it’s going on two years we have been here. Why did it take us so long?

We were stuck in the suburbs, having lived in the same house for over 25 years and in the suburbs for most of our working careers.  Moving and change is hard, but it turns out it was something we managed very well. We adapted to our new home and community almost right way. We never looked back. We know we made the right decision and feel for people who are stuck in the suburbs after retiring and do not quite know what to do.

Moving to a home and a community better suited to making you happy is the way to go.

Robert and Mary Ann Fowler

small town retirement

 

Remote Possibilities: Dubois Wyoming

“I wish we had known we wanted to move here 5 years ago,” my new neighbor Karen said rather wistfully a few days ago. “But we didn’t know!

She was speaking about one of the most remote places in the middle of nowhere: the town of Dubois in the upper Wind River Valley of Wyoming. Like so many who have chosen to retire here, Karen and her husband came once on vacation, returned and returned again, and gradually fell in love. Others have fallen in love right away.

When my husband suggested actually moving to Dubois rather than just visiting, the idea seemed crazy and impossible. Leave New York City for the wilds of Wyoming? But it’s only wild in a wonderful and different way, and 8 years on I’m deeply grateful that we moved here.

How is Dubois remote? It’s more than an hour’s drive to the nearest big towns (Jackson, Lander, and Riverton), and 3 hours to the nearest Interstate. Most of the surrounding terrain is public land, much of it officially wilderness, owned by the US Forest Service, the US Bureau of Land Management, or the state of Wyoming. By one standard, a survey from the US Geological Survey, is only about 40 miles away as the crow flies from the most remote spot in the lower 48 states, in the southeast corner of Yellowstone Park.

Nonetheless, we do have many of the advantages that residents from Washington DC, Chicago, even Paris and Stockholm may consider essential to the good life. Dubois has a choice of good restaurants with different cuisines, two places to buy a latte or cappuccino, and two taverns. It also has world-class Internet service, thanks to the fact that the head of the local telephone company was a prime mover in the national effort to bring broadband service to rural areas of America. (Telecommuting is a distinct possibility: I worked from Dubois for a large international corporation for 8 years before I retired, and others here also have Internet-based careers.)

Surrounded by some of the most spectacular vistas in the American West, Dubois (it’s pronounced “dew-boys”) is home to a diverse mixture of active and very interesting people who are deeply committed to maintaining what we love about this village of 1,000 residents that swells to 2,000 in the summer:

The variety and beauty of the landscape: Situated near the Continental Divide, we live about an hour’s drive from the south entrance to Yellowstone Park, on the ecological dividing line between high Alpine forest and red rock badlands. We are surrounded by two major ranges of the Rocky Mountains, the Absarokas and the Wind River Mountains. This may be the only place on earth where you can see all three mountain-building processes (tectonic, volcanic, and sedimentary erosion) from one location.

The nature of the community: A combination of the traditional independence of the American West and the vitality of its newcomers, Dubois’ community is deeply self-reliant and also welcoming. Generally, people here don’t care what you used to do or the size of your bank balance; they care how you relate to your neighbors. We mind our own business but respond quickly if someone is in trouble. What’s more, the proceeds from almost any event in town (and we’re ferociously busy in the summer!) go to local charities.

The history: The first visitors to the area were the trappers who opened the West. Next came the hardy homesteaders and then the tie hacks who cut logs that supplied the railroad ties that opened the rest of the West. Butch Cassidy lived and owned property here. One of the best preserved gold-mining ghost towns in the US, South Pass City, is an easy day trip away near Lander. A recent and surprising discovery atop a nearby mountain, the remains of a Shoshone village, inspired a curator at the Natural History Museum in New York to call Dubois “the epicenter of Rocky Mountain archaeology.”

The activities: We may live in the middle of nowhere, but we have plenty to do. Artists, photographers, and musicians gravitate here, so weekends are busy with jam sessions or performances by musicians, art or photography shows, speakers about history or archaeology at the local museum, an eye-popping quilt show, or pack-horse or chariot races. You might join the tourists at the weekly square dance or rodeo. It’s often difficult to set aside time for what you might really want to do instead: fish, hike, golf, or get away in your camper.

The climate: The Shoshone natives settled here centuries ago partly because of the mild climate. We call it the “valley of the warm winds,” sheltered from wintry blasts by the Tetons over near Jackson and our hovering wedge of local mountains. Summers in Dubois are cooler and more pleasant than elsewhere in Wyoming (or almost anywhere). We often find the winters more temperate and tolerable than back in New York City. It may snow sideways for four days, but then it all blows away.

The economics: Real estate prices are modest. We traded a small 3-bedroom second home in Connecticut for a very large 4-bedroom log lodge with a cathedral ceiling. We don’t find prices of necessities any higher than anywhere else. There’s no Macy’s or Nordstrom’s, but we do have a Family Dollar.

The downsides: Dubois has only a part-time doctor, a full-time nurse practitioner, and a dentist. It takes over an hour to drive to a specialist or a hospital (but that could take just as long in New York City). Shopping is limited (but now, of course, there’s the Internet and FedEx). US mail generally takes a day longer than in a large city. The produce in the supermarket in winter is often disappointing, and you may have to wait for your next trip to Jackson if your recipe calls for chipotle-flavored mayonnaise or dried seaweed.

About this time of year, my husband and I begin to discuss exactly when we should head back east to spend the holidays with the rest of the family. I anticipate my return to New York City with pleasure, because it’s a chance to relax in a place where nothing ever happens (that I can’t miss) and where I hardly know anybody (after four decades). Before long, I’m dying to get back home to Dubois.
(Read more about daily life in Dubois at www.livingdubois.wordpress.com.)

Dubois WY

Retirement Living in Small Towns : Is It for You?

Retirement Living in Small Towns : Is It for You?

Some people looking forward to retirement have their sights set on adventure and travel. Others may want the hustle and bustle of a big city, to enjoy cultural pursuits they never had time for during their working years. Many, though, would like nothing better than to relax in a quiet, homey environment with friendly neighbors and low stress. If this is you, small town retirement may offer the peace and quiet you seek, as well as a surprising number of other benefits you may not have considered:

Lower housing costs. Rural land is generally less expensive than that close in to urban areas, homes usually cost less to build, and property taxes are often significantly lower than those in the city.

Lower cost of living. Although transportation of goods may mean that some groceries and household items cost a bit more outside of urban areas, most other expenses of daily life are lower. In general, utilities, insurance, home maintenance, car repair, and many other goods and services are less expensive in smaller towns.

Lower crime rates. With less concentrated populations, small towns avoid much of the crime you might experience in big cities.

More parklike, natural setting. If you are invigorated by exposure to the outdoors, trees, and wildlife, you can get these benefits by stepping right outside your door into your back yard. You could even plant your own garden to reap more benefits of the time you spend outdoors. Small towns also have

Peace and quiet. Unlike living in the city, you don’t hear “noise pollution” such as sirens, yelling, traffic, horns, and the general rumble of thousands of people living in close quarters. The lights you see at night come from the moon and stars instead of the “overglow” from neon signs, traffic lights, street lamps, and headlights. The reduced sound and light distractions can lead to less stress, and an improved ability to relax and sleep.

Many small towns have 55+ communities within their borders or just outside of town. Even if you choose to live in your own home outside of a retirement community, small towns may provide similar benefits: a close-knit community, helpful and friendly neighbors with similar lifestyles, and a town center where you can engage in social activities. For a retiree seeking rest and relaxation, a small town retirement is a lifestyle worth considering.

Advantages of Small Towns
More Reasons to Live in a Small Town

Retirement Areas in BC Canada

British Columbia offers a long list of benefits for seniors residing there. Canada’s solid economic position, the high demand in B.C. for older, experienced workers, and, of course, the Canadian health care system all create a very hospitable environment for retirees, be they Canadians or American expats.

BC CanadaWhen I started thinking about where I was going to retire, the obvious came to mind first: The Sunbelt. Florida. Arizona. Texas. Southern California. In addition, every time I started seriously considering any of these alternatives, I started to sweat. I am really not an all-warm-weather kind of person. I enjoy seasonal changes, low humidity, and mild summers. I actually like snow – especially if I no longer have to go out in it to go to work. Therefore, I started looking into less-cliché retirement destinations, and happened upon an article about retiring to British Columbia, Canada. I was hooked.

British Columbia, the westernmost province in Canada, sits along the Pacific Coast. The coastline stretches over 17,000 miles, and boasts deep fjords, bays, and inlets, as well as thousands of tiny coastal islands. Alaska and the Yukon Territories are to the north of B.C., the province of Alberta is to the east, and the U.S. states of Washington, Idaho, and Montana border B.C. to the south. With its metropolitan areas of Victoria and Vancouver, British Columbia offers some choice urban retirement communities for those who enjoy the multiculturalism, nightlife, and easy access to amenities found in cities; but the real draw for me was the wonderful selection of active adult communities in B.C.’s many small towns and suburbs.

British Columbia offers a long list of benefits for seniors residing there. Canada’s solid economic position, the high demand in B.C. for older, experienced workers, and, of course, the Canadian health care system all create a very hospitable environment for retirees, be they Canadians or American expats. Add the strong banking system and low, predictable inflation rates, and you can see that there are many reasons why the financially savvy 55+ crowd may seriously consider a Northern migration. Consider, for example: The average retiree in the U.S. will incur approximately $250,000 worth of medical expenses during retirement. Canadians, on the other hand, who are fully insured through government-provided basic health care, need only worry about 30 percent of those costs – or roughly $75,000. On top of that, the B.C. labor market provides a wide range of opportunities for older workers who still want to work part-time after retirement..

But finances aside, the climate, landscape, and social aspects of retiring to British Columbia are what drew me. Summers are glorious, with temperatures usually in the high 60s and 70s and a distinct lack of humidity – perfect for outdoor activities like golf, fishing, hiking, bicycling, boating, and camping (but bring your DEET!). The fishing rivals that of Minnesota, with thousands of lakes, streams, and ponds as well as unparalleled salt-water fishing along the coast. And the scenic beauty and recreational opportunities make British Columbia seem like one giant national park, with old-growth forest, gorgeous ocean views, gemlike glacial lakes, and the commanding presence of its snow-topped Canadian Cascades mountain range.

When I trekked up Interstate 5 to British Columbia to see for myself what retirement would be like there, I found some of the most pleasant, neighborly people and inclusive communities I have come across in my decades of travel. B.C.’s small towns offer the perfect combination of multiculturalism, open-mindedness, and isolation; you get a sense of belonging, acceptance, and mutual interdependence not found in many U.S. towns. The people are warm and welcoming. Neighbors help each other and engage each other at a personal level. I immediately felt at home, before I even decided where I wanted to live.

MoneySense magazine recently published their ranking of Canada’s 10 best retirement areas, with five of the top ten in British Columbia. This is likely because of the province’s relatively mild marine climate. The city of Victoria was at the top of the list, for its very cosmopolitan and international flavor and the fact that it sits within the Olympic “rain shadow” (getting less than a quarter the precipitation of Renfrew, just 80 miles away). The metropolitan area of Vancouver, B.C. and its many suburbs was next on the list. The smaller B.C. communities of Courtenay (on Vancouver Island), Salmon Arm (central B.C.), and Vernon (in the Okanagan region) also made the cut.

If you are looking for a retirement area with spectacular geography, beautiful seasonal changes, a mild climate, economic strength, an atmosphere of social unity, and vibrant multiculturalism, British Columbia, Canada may be the place for you.

City Living Touted

Is city living better than living in the suburbs or rural and small town living?  According to two institutions, one in New York and one in Boston, city living beats small town living.  I recognize there are advantages to city living, in fact my site CityRetirement.com focuses on exactly that.  Let’s take a look at each urban expert’s points and take them under consideration.

This weekend I watched on Cspan’s BookTV a hour long lecture given at the Manhattan Institute in New York by the author of a new book titled “Triumph of the City: How Our Greatest Invention Makes Us Richer, Smarter, Greener, Healthier, and Happier”.

The author Edward Glaeser argues that the city is humanity’s greatest invention and our salvation for the future.  Glaeser says that the 2/3 of Americans who live in cities (which take up only 3% of the country’s land mass) are healthier, more prosperous, and more environmentally conscious than other Americans.  Edward Glaeser is a professor of economics at Harvard University and director of Harvard’s Taubman Center for State and Local Government.  Mr. Glaeser is also a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and a contributing editor at City Journal.  You may watch the video here.

Mr Glaeser says that it is a paradox that in this Internet age that you can operate from anywhere in the world, but that cities are more successful than ever.  He says cities have remarkable productivity levels and that if
productivity levels rose in the rest of the country to the  level of New York’s, then the country’s GDP would rise by 43%.  The relationship between urbanization and economic prosperity is strong.  Cities are the paths out of poverty to economic prosperity for so much of the world.  He continues that cities also are fun, they are green, they are healthy,  they are exciting places to be where the magic of human interaction makes a place so much more exciting.  They are great places to learn from the people around us.

Next comes Joseph F. Coughlin, Director of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology AgeLab. His research focuses on how the convergence of demographic change (specifically aging) and technology will drive innovation in business and government.

I watched Mr. Coughlin video of the lecture: The Future is Gray, Small & Female: Disruptive Demographics and Transportation Tomorrow and was delighted to find the Age Lab and all it’s resources.  The lecture covers a lot of ground and if you have interest in the subject of aging you might find it fascinating as I did.   But more to the point of this post, regarding aging and transportation, 70% of Americans over age 50 live in suburban and rural areas where transit is unavailable or a poor alternative. Mr. Coughlin points out that should we be so lucky we will at some point in time give up driving and when that occurs you better be near the people and services and you will  need.

He points out that as we age there is diminished physical capacity and the desire to navigate tough roads and highways and even transit systems.  This will limit where we go and how often.  By the way he figures the big box stores will soon be on the way out since they were made for a large family and they hard to navigate for shopping for only one or two peoples.  Anyway since we will be limited on our trips and it will be hard to get out, services will need to be come to us in our homes.  Also people need to work longer and will need to get to their jobs.

Bottom line is that urban areas will be better suited to have home services available nearby to come to your home to deliver the services you need if you are restricted in your mobility.  They also have better access to transportation. Mr. Coughlin warns about going out to live in retirement communities in the outer areas, which are attractive but transportation opportunities are few.  Instead look for a livable boomer ready community in an urban area.  There are not many around but they will be coming. So maybe think about cities as a place for retirement living too.

So there you have some compelling reasons to age in place in an urban area.  More advantages of city living are listed here.  To balance things out a bit, check out advantages of living in a small town.