Tag Archives: Housing

Retirement Living, Your Retirement Home Could Be Any Place in North America, Or Anyplace In The World

If you’re a recent retiree, like me, you might be casting around for the perfect place to call home during your golden years. Retirement means freedom! Not least of all is the freedom of not being tied to geography like a serf in feudal Europe. You can live anyplace you choose (subject to a possible veto by your significant other.)

Here in the U.S., retirement locales that come to mind first are Florida and Arizona. For those with a little more imagination, nearly every place in the U.S. probably has something special. It all depends on what you like.

For the adventurous retiree, the possibilities are boundless. You could live on a mountain top, in an abandoned lighthouse, on an island. You could live in Alaska or New Orleans, or a thousand places in between.

But why limit retirement life to the U.S.? Yes, I know, you plan to travel during retirement, including international travel. You’ll travel as frequently as you want, depending on your degree of wanderlust and, of course, your budget. But I’m not talking about travel, I’m talking about your home base. Why limit yourself to the USA? Canada offers many agreeable retirement options, at least  for part of the year. Plenty of Canadians are snowbirds, living North in Summer, and going South to Florida in Winter. As good as that sounds, we can be more imaginative than that.

You’ve probably heard about people who’ve retired in Mexico, for the climate and the cost of living. You might be able to live pretty comfortably on your Social Security check in Mexico.

I’ll let you in on a secret: The U.S., Canada, and Mexico are only the beginning. You’re retired, you’re free, and your Social Security and pension dollars are welcome EVERYWHERE!

And what good luck: the folks over at “Above And Beyond Travel” have done the research for you. The information in their post, “The Best Countries To Relax And Retire,” written by Chelsea Petersen, will take your breath away and set your imagination on fire.

“With the cost of living rising every day, everyone dreams of a comfortable retirement. We compiled a list of some of the best places to retire to, taking into account several factors; including living costs, healthcare, and community.”

Some of the “Best Countries” are Panama, Malta, Spain, Thailand and Ecuador. Click over to “Best Countries” for more.

I’ve heard that Spain offers retirement real estate deals that are beyond belief. You could check out this NPR report: “In Spain Entire Villages Are Up For Sale And They’re Going Cheap.” Hard to believe, but would NPR lie to you? Many villages and individual homes within are said to be available at rock-bottom prices, by American standards. Seems that times have changed and so has the economy. NPR explains what happened:

“Many local Spaniards just don’t want to live in villages anymore. They migrate to bigger cities for jobs, education, access to public transit and health care.”

I won’t bore you with the details. If you want details, read the NPR story, or listen to the radio version.

But here’s an idea: Some retirees like the concept of living in an “intentional community.” This might be particularly appealing to those who fondly recall the hippy communes of the 1970s. Some enterprising senior citizen, possibly a former hippy who’s now a retired Realtor, could buy a village in Spain and sell shares to like-minded retirees who’d like to live in a community where they might actually know their neighbors. You have to agree that a village in Spain sounds more romantic than, say, a suburb in New Jersey. (Sorry New Jersey.)

Is your passport up to date? You could organize your travel itinerary to check out possible home bases. Remember, it’s as much about the journey as the destination.

I’ll be talking a lot more about searching for the perfect place to live in retirement. I’m in the hunt a home base myself. I need a place with an affordable cost of living. Enjoy the search.

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Scary Times In The World’s Stock Markets, Expensive Housing In My Own Back Yard

Dollars and cents have been on my mind ever since I retired in 2013. I had known for a long time approximately how much my income would be after I stopped working. I naively thought it would be comfortable enough. I knew that I would bring almost no personal savings into retirement, for reasons I might or might not go into in another post.

Actual retirement focused my mind on my financial situation, and I got the housing equivalent of sticker shock. I discovered that — in 2015 dollars — my retirement income didn’t stretch as far as I thought it would a few years back. The cost of living in general has gone up, but the cost of renting or buying a home in the county where I grew up had gone through the roof. (I call housing, “Shelter From The Storm.”)

As a result, I’ve been preoccupied for the past year with searching for the right place to set down retirement roots for the long run. It has to be affordable over the next ten or twenty years, at least.

I’ve done a lot of research. Back when I was sixty, I started a blog intending to focus on living a simple and frugal lifestyle. It became a general-purpose blog, but I did write a number of posts, early on, about the differing costs of living in a number of geographic locations, such as North Dakota and Maine. (What made me think I’d ever want to live in such cold places?)  I’ll have to provide links to some of those earlier posts, but not tonight.

Tonight, the news is focused on a stock market meltdown in China, and reactions in stock markets  around the world. You might think China’s general economy is in a shambles, but that must be hyperbole. Despite problems, China’s economy is reportedly still growing. But growing how much? How’s that for burying the lead? What I’m saying is that you’ll read more about the difficulty of finding affordable Shelter From The Storm in future posts. A lot more! Establishing a permanent retirement home is Job One, for me.

But tonight, all eyes are focused on financial news. Makes me realize how fortunate I am, not having any money invested in the stock market. Also reminds me how important money and frugal living are for retired people like me. I file everything about money under Dollars And Cents.

I was glued to CNN for a couple of hours tonight, and I imagine many other retired folks were too.  The news is perhaps most riveting for those who plan to retire in a few years. If you’d like some analysis, try Stock Market Bears Are Growling.

A lot of folks postponed retirement during and after the recession of 2008. One would hope we all learned a lesson from that one. However, the U.S. stock market returned to apparent health, and I suspect many people plunged right back in. Some have been trying to recoup losses from the recession. Many others awaken, late in their careers, to how little they’ve saved, and hope to make up for lost time.

Breaking news: this just in! The Shanghai market was reported declining late Tuesday morning, China time. But other Asian markets were trying to rally. In the U.S., investors must be nervous as hell waiting for New York markets to open Tuesday morning.

Background: Last week saw a general selloff in world stock markets. In the U.S., the S&P 500 was off 3.2 percent on Friday alone. The Dow-Jones Index fell 1,000 points, or 5.8 percent, for the week. The Dow opened the new week with a 600-point loss on Monday.

You want to know what financial advice they’re talking about on CNN? I can summarize it in two words: DON’T PANIC!  Thank goodness I’m not writing one of those retirement blogs that try to sell you on investing all your money in stocks, or bonds, or gold. Hog bellies, anyone?

If we’re not about investments, what are we about? “Retirement Made Simple” is now into its third week, a good time to remind readers, and myself especially, what it’s all about. I outlined the general scope of the new blog in this third-day post: Housing And Money And Cars, Oh My

Simplify Retirement By Downsizing Your House, And Your Furniture

One of the main focuses of this blog is, as the title says, making retirement simple for you and me. Put another way, how to simplify our lives in retirement. Here’s some spot-on advice from AARP: Downsize from your Big House to a smaller residence appropriate to your needs. Specifically, AARP recommends:

“Consider making this decision as soon the kids are gone rather than when you’re ready to retire. Even if your home is already paid for, there are still significant costs in owning more space than you really need, including taxes, utilities, insurance and repairs. Plus, it will force you to downsize other belongings, too. You’ll also have an excuse for why the kids can’t move back in with you later!”

You can find a quick slide show with concise information about specific categories of possessions to consider parting with, here.

In my opinion, might as well sift through all this stuff, sort it out, and get rid of it now, rather than move it to your new, smaller digs, where it simply will not fit.

Here’s a secret I learned from personal experience. Look at the large sofa, dining table, and other furniture that’s comfortable in your spacious manse. If you try to stuff large pieces of furniture into a small one- or two-bedroom condo, or maybe an efficiency apartment, you’re going to have no space to walk between the furniture. You’ll feel like the place is overflowing with furniture and the walls are about to explode. Point is, furniture should be right-sized for the size of your new abode.

Appropriately sized furniture fits more comfortably into smaller spaces. Replacing  that sofa with a loveseat will make the room look larger. Do you really need a dining room table for twelve in your new two-room condo? You might consider an intimate table for two in the kitchen.

It’s a pain in the neck to sell used furniture. But furniture in decent condition is always needed by many people. Find someone in your family who can use it, or give it to Goodwill. Some charitable organizations will send a truck to haul away your excess furniture. They’ll either pass it along to needy families, or sell it in a thrift shop to raise money for the charity. They’ll give you a receipt so you can deduct the donation from your income taxes!

I’ve given away a ton of stuff over the past seven years. Life is simpler with less.

Saturday, August 16, By The Numbers

The numbers for Saturday are, 95 degrees Fahrenheit in the part of Maryland where I was out walking. People keep telling me not to move to Florida because it gets too hot there in the summer. Go figure. It gets hot here in summer.

Because of the 95 degrees In spite of the 95 degrees, I hit 10,284 steps on the Fitbit. Only the second time I’ve reached the 10,000 steps goal. Attention fellow baby boomers: Sitting is the new smoking. You need to get up and move. If you sit there, it’s hazardous to your health. It might be hazardous if you go outside and walk in 95-degree temperatures, but what do I know?

I had a good reason to be out walking. I was pursuing one of my goals, which is to find a place to live that I can afford on Social Security. I sometimes rant about the high cost of housing in certain well-known cities and suburbs. Other people rant about taxes; I rant about the cost of living.

Also by the numbers, I found a one-bedroom apartment which rents for $650 per month. Plus utilities, of course. And another apartment for $625. I’m not kidding. I am not going to tell you the location of these low-priced apartments. It’s my secret. Plus, I don’t want to start a stampede.

I realize everyone’s wondering, how far is 10,284 steps? I can answer that question to the decimal point. It’s 4.76 miles, according to the Fitbit. I probably burned 2,314 calories, also according to the Fitbit. But some of my steps included walking into a pizza restaurant for supper. I probably consumed more calories than I burned.

Some people may wonder, how much is 95 degrees in Celsius? The answer is, I don’t know. Who do you think I am, the answer man?

My Saturday was not all work and no play. I also watched a little bit of the Little League World Series on TV at McDonald’s. I went into McDonald’s to get out of the 95 degree heat.

And that’s all I’m going to say about Saturday. Not a bad day’s work, for a Saturday in summer. But then, I’m retired.

Housing And Money And Cars, Oh My!

Quickly, without overthinking it, here are some of the retirement issues that fascinate me.

Shelter from the storm

First and foremost on my mind right now is:  Where am I going to live? Not as simple as it sounds.

One of the wonders of retirement is that we have freedom, perhaps for the first time in our lives, to choose our geography and environment. Stay put? Or resettle in Florida, or Alaska, or Panama, wherever?

It’s not simply a matter of what part of the country or the world; it’s also, what kind of environment? City, rural, small town? How important is it to be near family?

And critically, what kind of housing? Big house, little house, condo, apartment, tent, travel trailer.  For the sake of completeness, the options for some are reduced to: Sleep on a park bench, or a heating grate, or in the woods.

The many aspects of where and how to live are a consuming interest for me at present.

Dollars and cents

Financial issues loom large for many retirees. As I said in the previous post, Retirement Made Simple is NOT a blog about saving and investing for retirement. Too late for that, for me and for many! From where I sit, the money issue is about making do with what we have. How to conserve and use wisely the limited resources available?

The scare tactic favored by the investment industry is warning workers that if they don’t save and invest enough, they risk running out of money before they die. Talk about morbid advertising! For those of us not in the investment class, that is, for the rest of us, the issue is more immediate and more pressing.

The issue most retirees grapple with is: Retirement resources are limited. In the absence of a winning lottery ticket, or returning to paid work, my retirement income is fixed. It’s not going to increase, beyond the paltry annual Social Security cost-of-living increase, which is at the whim of Congress. Given the  present political climate, the cost-of-living adjustment could very well disappear.

Cut to the chase: For the rest of us, the retirement imperative is budgeting and economizing. Scrimping and saving. Or to put it in a more positive light, living a simple and frugal lifestyle. I suspect I’ll be talking about budgeting and simplicity a lot.

Hell on wheels

My car is an important resource. It grants the miraculous freedom of going to the grocery store or going on a cross-country road trip.

Most of us dread the moment when some responsible relative might confiscate our car keys. Or the day the state replaces our DL with a mere ID card because we can’t pass the eye test. Or even the time when we simply can no longer afford the luxury of a car.

There are other alternatives to a car, but those alternatives are closely related to local geography (see Shelter from the storm, above). In all too many modern American suburbs and rural areas, a car is not a luxury, it’s a necessity. We should seriously look into alternative modes of transport before the car issue becomes a car crisis.

And the list goes on

There are other issues of concern to retirees. Primary among them is health and illness. I’m not very well informed about health issues, but that probably won’t prevent me from writing about it.

I won’t avoid issues such as aging gracefully, playing a positive role in our family and community, and simply enjoying life. These are important parts of retirement, but I’m nearly clueless about such things. Nevertheless, I look forward to learning about those other aging issues, and probably writing about them.

And that’s a quick preview of what I hope to explore with you on this blog. Have I left out anything important or interesting? What would you like to talk about? Your suggestions are welcome.