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:
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?