Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Where Do We Go From Here?

We are nearing retirement age, and are beginning to think about where to settle for the next chapter of our lives.
My husband would like to live in Michigan where he grew up, but we have ruled that out because of the cold winters. He has also suggested northern California, because that's where his daughter and granddaughter live. Every time we visit our friends in Philadelphia, we think of returning there. We lived there for sixteen years and were happy there. (As I have described many times here on my blog.)

Our friends live near Philadelphia in a condo building designed for ages 55 and over. They love it there. It's a nice place, full of fun, interesting people. They love that there is a Wegman's store just a stroll away. (If you don't know Wegman's, it's a foodie's dream with all varieties of gourmet goodies.) We looked at two model units in their building, and at several others that are available. They were gorgeous units, with all the amenities. I think we could be happy there. We would be in an area we love, with friends we miss. We would have an instant community. We have already met some of their neighbors and we all have a lot in common. This is a picture of their building. It is new, very well maintained, with all the up-to-date features.

The thing is... I have never thought I would want to live in a place without my own land, complete with trees and wildlife. I have always dreamed of a cozy cottage in the country. In my mind it looked a little like this:

Or this:

But how practical is that for retirement? Who would tend the yard? Who would repair things and do maintenance in the house? Who would our neighbors be?

Could I be happy in a condo? Should it be in Philadelphia? Should it be near a beach? How about something like the photo below? On HGTV's House Hunters, they often show couples who retire to places like Mexico, Panama, and South America. They seem very happy... but I'm not sure I could be that adventurous.

Could we afford to live in California? Would I like living in California? What about Hawaii? I have always wanted to live there... but could we manage it? It's very expensive. We know no one there. But look at this... how could you not love seeing this every day?

So, how to decide? Where to retire? Are my dreams of living near a beach too impractical? Do we want to be close to friends, or close to family?

Retirement... will we even be able to afford it? What kind of lifestyle? Am I daydreaming? What about being practical and realistic?


anya said...

Now don't get too practical, Judy. As far as I'm concerned there are three stages in the retirement years. You are young and going into the first. That one is a very special time...where I am now...when you feel and act youthful and can do most anything you want to do. Physically and mentally. I think this stage is for having fun and trying some things you've always dreamed of or things you haven't had time for. It is sort of vacation like. It's a heady time for sure.

The second stage is when we slow down some and start to become home bodies. Perhaps we don't want to drive on long trips much, don't want the burden of a lawn and garden, etc. That's the big difference and I'm sure the way one recognizes the second stage. Some things previously relished start to seem rather burdensome. Still...we're in decent health, and are opened to new things but at a much difference pace.

The third stage of course, is the one where health has deteriorated and that dictates more of what we can and want to do. This is the stage we all hope is the brief stage.

FH and I lived in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico for two years about 6 years ago. It was a perfect climate, breathtakingly beautiful and for the first year and a half it was a blast. After awhile, full time in basically a third world country (they may not call themselves that) became tedious. But so what? We had that experience. Then we moved back to the states, stored everything, bought a 40 foot motor home and traveled in it for a year. Then we quit, but what a wonderful time we had. Then we settled here and then of course we divorced, but I wouldn't take anything for those experiences. (This is too long, I should have emailed)

Point is, you don't have to think all that permanently yet...leave room for adventure, mind changes, and possibilities.

Oh yeah...I've got a lot of opinions about "retirement" alright!

At least you're thinking broadly. If you keep your plans open ended, you'll have a ball.

Bearette24 said...

It's your decision (but I think you would love Philadelphia :)

judy in ky said...

Anya, I appreciate your long comment. If you want to email me, I have switched from AOL to Gmail. My address is "".
I like your idea of the three stages of retirement. You make the first stage sound like a lot of fun... I think that's what we need, some adventure while we are still physically able. You certainly have had a lot of adventure. Sometimes I tend to worry too much about being practical.

judy in ky said...

Hi Bearette,
I do love Philadelphia. If it had palm trees and white, sandy beaches it would be perfect. But, it does have everything else that I love!