Our decision to move into a 55+ retirement community is firm. It promises an easier environment with noise, congestion, and more like-minded people. RETIRE-AGERS™!!! We fear that a single residence home could possibly be in a neighborhood that suggests lots of children running around, cars dashing back and forth and a house that needs more maintenance and repairs based on its age.
So, we visited a 55+ development this weekend. We’ve been watching it in development and as more and more information was released, we were able to see some floor plan options. Of course, I began to visualize furniture placement and some landscaping in the patio area!
Our choice, of course, is one level and smaller square footage from what we have now. What we saw was very nice, indeed; they show you the updated version – all bright and shiny and new. The plans that I thought I liked on paper and on a virtual tour were not our first choice when we saw them in person; the one plan that I didn’t like turned out to be the best one! Go figure!
The rooms were smaller than we imagined. We found ourselves measuring the floor space, placing one foot in front another because we forgot to bring a measuring tape. What my eyes saw was how we would arrange the furniture and soon realized that most furniture that we own must be left behind. When we say downsize, we really mean downsize!
This was hard to take at first, I spent the night thinking about what I should let go of and I how I felt about it. I woke with a more determined approach to find new homes for our things.
The cost of these homes is not cheap…and doesn’t really save you any money. They cost about the same as a single residence home in a nice neighborhood. The models reflect the upgraded version, but they quote you the base price. On average, the rep told us, the upgrades can go up to another 60K…what1? That was an Ouchy! Do we really need the optional French doors or the super-duper shower faucet? Hmmmmm…. Everything is brand new, so you won’t have the potential maintenance and repair of an older home…but still, that is a lot of money.
Then we have the HOA dues. You must evaluate what you get for another monthly payment. Will you use the clubhouse and all the facilities there? Will you join in on all the activities? What else does it cover? Some landscaping, some basic utility – and that’s about it. I calculated what we pay now for gardener, pest control, etc. and it comes out to be a little less than their fee, but then again, we don’t have a gated entrance or common areas to pay for.
I was thinking that a downsize of a home and lifestyle would leave more funds in our wallet for travel, activities, and fun! Now we have educated ourselves to the fact that this might not be the case. One should never be “house poor” but that is what this seems like. It emphasizes the importance of retirement exploring to make sure that all the pieces fit into this new journey.
A shift in our thinking is taking place. It’s time to completely let go of the old and bring in the new, into a smaller home so we can be truly successful in downsizing in every way to accommodate our physical stamina, state of mind and our wallet so we can retire well.
We are on it!
Photograph of Helene’s wallet from the Personal Collection of Helene and Zaf
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