Where’s My Golden Pond?

Retirement GameIn the game of Financing Retirement, there are two sides of the ledger. I’m dedicating various other posts to the Money In side (IRA’s, 401k’s, pensions, savings, Social Security, home equity, etc.), but the only way to figure out when we have enough in that column is to estimate what we’ll need on the Money Out side. One of the two biggest expenses we anticipate in retirement is our housing.

My husband and I got into home ownership a a little late – three children and ten years into our adventure together. We never really owned a small starter home. We started with three bedrooms, 1-1/2 bathrooms, a large family room, and a big yard in an established family neighborhood.

This is where I digress to speak to younger folks:  If you live in the US, don’t own a home, and plan to be in the area where you live for a while, talk to a real estate agent about incentives for first time buyers. Right now, interest rates are low. So far, congress hasn’t taken away the capital gains exemption for home sales or the tax deduction for mortgage interest (which is considerable), and you can sell a house or condo if it becomes too much. But if you are paying rent every month, you will never get a penny of that back.

OK, I’m back.  The bottom line is that we do still have a mortgage. One of my retirement tasks is to research places my beloved and I might want (and be able) to live once he doesn’t need to be in commuting distance of his current job. There are a number of facets and parameters to this search, and money is only one of them.

We want a simpler, but still comfortable, quality of life, and for the next ten years or so we still plan to travel whenever we can. We have to decide on the characteristics our new home will have, taking into account a lot of very subjective qualities, like proximity to family, weather climate, and daily routines. For example:

  • City, suburbs, or country?
  • Proximity of neighbors?
  • Proximity of services/recreation?
  • New England? Mid Atlantic? Upstate New York? Another part of the US? Another country?

We know we want to be somewhere we can kayak/canoe, walk, easily obtain medical services, find a church, and still visit our grandchildren when we can. We know we want to be able to get into a city occasionally for cultural events, and that we don’t want to be where it’s too hot. We know we’re not ready to share walls with our neighbors. We want a place where we might find part-time work to fund vacations. We think we’d like everything on one floor. A place where my beloved can play in his wood shop and I can play with family history and photo archiving.

We know we don’t want to stay where we are. We’ve moved many times since we married 43 years ago, so we aren’t tied to a single home. This isn’t where our kids grew up, so we aren’t inclined to “retire in place” like many people our age. In fact, our current residence has never completely felt like “home” to us.

So, where to?  We’re trying to envision where we want to be 10, 15, and 20 years from now. We’re looking for a place that’s on the upswing, and for that elusive feeling of home. Over the holidays, we’ll be down in Pennsylvania and will be looking at some areas there. We looked around some places in Upstate New York over the Thanksgiving holiday.  We have a little time to keep funding for this, but not much.

I’ve been researching the financial climate in various states – income taxes, senior services, costs of living, and  things like that.  Pennsylvania and New Hampshire get some points there, depending on the community.  But that’s a whole other post…

For now, we are champing at the bit, anxious to find our “Golden Pond” – that place that will feel like home, where we can welcome our family, and be self-sufficient for many years to come. It’s out there, and we’re zeroing in on it.  We just have to keep looking, because I really believe we’ll know it when we see it.

Soon. Fingers crossed.

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13 Responses to Where’s My Golden Pond?

  1. eof737 says:

    Wishing you all the best in your efforts. I agree that it’s important to plan ahead and do the work. Sadly, some can’t afford to do planning because they earn so little… Even with home ownership, it’s a great dream to own but not all ever get there… More incentives would help but if one lives hand to mouth, the reality is renting… for now. Great post.

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    • I agree – it’s especially hard for young people starting out, but really it’s not easy for most. One thing helping us is that we did put a small amount into 401K savings plans each month, as soon as they were available. At the time it seemed like a lot and retirement seemed forever away, but then we didn’t miss the small contributions after a while, and over time, we saved enough to make a real difference now. Thanks for your visit!

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  2. Amy says:

    Big decision. Good luck!

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  3. adinparadise says:

    Good luck with your search. We’ve definitely found our Golden Pond here in Florida. but still need to have one foot in South Africa, because of family there.

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  4. I always enjoy reading about the allusive search for the Golden Pond and how one gets from point A to point B. How does one decide where in the world he/she will fit? We kind of did things backwards in our married life. We retired in our 20’s, then again in our 30’s, and once in our 50’s..each time for a year. In our 20’s we traveled the perimeter of the U.S. searching for a place to settle down and raise kids. In our early 30’s we became back-to-the landers, but after we had children, we became back-FROM-the landers. For the next 15 years, we traveled from state to state during our summer vacations, and when our son was in his teens, we started traveling throughout the world in search of our Golden Pond for retirement. We spent a year in “pretirement” in Nicaragua…and it just felt so right for us. Now, that we have found our Golden Pond and we are comfortably settled in a new boomer nest in Nicaragua, I am feeling the urge to move on. I don’t know if we will ever find a Golden Pond that fits us perfectly. I think we’ll use Central America as our home base, and do some more traveling. But, the problem now is that we’ve created another anchor…3 kittens…10 chickens…and 2 houses(we still own our house in the states) full of ‘stuff’. What a dilemma! Sometimes, I just wish that I could let it all go and live out of a backpack. It’s a mighty big world out there…with miles to go before we sleep. Thank you for your insightful reflections. Your posts always make me think more about the future.

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    • Wow! Thanks for your comments on my post and for sharing this! You totally anticipated my next (challenge) post – this is a perfect response! All the best in your quest to find your own Golden Pond. I know you’ll keep us posted in your blog! 😉

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  5. sharechair says:

    Let me tell you about Bethlehem, PA….. really! It is an awesome place and getting awesome-er. They have turned the old Bethlehem Steel into ArtsQuest. We have festivals all the time. Sand casino is now here and we’ve see Kathy Griffin, Neil Sedaka, Mannheim Steamroller and were home in 5 mins. Housing is widely varied. $11 for the bus (for seniors) to NYC. Downtown Bethlehem is wonderful (and all decked out for Christmas). And tons of restaurants. We just made Zagats world foodie list.
    http://blog.zagat.com/2012/12/20-awesome-winter-foodie-destinations.html
    Really, I don’t mean to gush, but I’ve lived here 30 years, and it is only getting better.

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  6. Pingback: Future Challenge: On Golden Pond | The Retiring Sort

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