That is not how things progressed. This is in no way a complaint, just an observation that I got where I am now through accident of circumstances, rather than planning or conscious decision making. Widowhood and the mandate to change locations quickly required some down and dirty and emotion based decisions. Follow that by the lack of job opportunities and financial disaster. Mix in few other normal life events and there you have it. I am where I landed but after all this time I'm still not sure if I'm where I'm meant to be planted.
Previously, I've talked about my financial planning and decisions. In spite of much thought and numbers crunching I've been unable to make financial or housing decisions for my future. In this past week or so, I have realized that I may be going about this in the wrong way. I believe that I need to figure out what I want my future to hold and the financial situation will follow (one can only hope).
Obviously it's an ongoing process, and I'm still working that process. I have come to some conclusions (I hope) and more will follow. Since I always try to share the reality of frugal retirement on my blog, here are some of my thoughts in no particular order.............and with no conclusions drawn so far.
- I love my house. I love that I have a single level (no steps, even to the front door) open plan house. I don't need all the space I have, but I love it none the less. There is nothing I don't like about my house.
- I truly enjoy my small business and income streams. I would NOT want a real job (read, dress up and go to an office and answer to someone else) under any circumstances. I also would not want my hobby/job income to be necessary for life in the long term (but would not object for a year or so if it would bring long term stability)
- I'm a laid back retiree/person at heart. I need lots of free time for spur of the moment "stuff". For example, while I've learned that I love learning new things, full time school is no more right for me than a full time job. I need time to read, smell the roses and daydream. If I want to spend the day canning tomorrow, I want to be able to decide that today.
- I don't love my yard, or my neighborhood. Please understand that I don't hate my neighborhood. People move here because of he gigantic high school and the gigantic football stadium and any retirees are empty nest folks who moved here for that reason. I'm used to an extremely diverse, multicultural and multi age lifestyle. This is the same reason I'm not interested in living in a "retirement" or fifty plus community.
- In the same vein as the above comment, I'm not used to living in an outer suburb where one has to drive everywhere.
- Sometimes we live in a catch 22 situation. I have a forty thousand dollar downpayment invested in this house, and with current housing costsi n denver I would reap that if I sold. However, with no savings, I don't have the money to repair the foundation, meaning that I would need to sell it now as is. It's a conundrum.
- I love my dogs. When these guys leave my house (and I have no idea if they will remain with me or go with my son), I don't know if I will have another furry family member. But any home I have will need to be dog friendly. Letting the dogs go is not an option, for financial or other reasons.
- Travel is important to me. I don't need to take a cruise, or even fly to Europe. I do need three or four long vacations a year-road trips or otherwise. I also need some day trips and overnights throughout the year.
- Church and it's attendant social activities are important to me. More than that, the right church is important to me. I drive over twenty minutes (on the freeway) to get to my current church. In an ideal world I would like to be closer to a progressive church who considers outreach it's primary mission.
- Being able to volunteer, both in terms of time and finances, are important.
- In theory I can live in any climate, but the reality is that if I live in Denver or somewhere else, I would be a hermit for a quarter of the year. My knee issues are not cured by surgery, and cold weather makes them more painful. On the other hand, it would be nice to live where it wasn't triple digits for three months. Since I'm not going to be able to live a snowbird life, per se, this is an ongoing discussion with myself.
- If I didn't live in Dallas or closer to family, my perfect life would be Texas Hill country in a walkable town, or along the coast.
- When I hear that my sister went over to my brother and sister in law's for a barbecue or to see a football game, I have to admit I feel a pang. I don't have that kind of relationship with my in laws although we do get together for holidays and special occasions. I would love to be able to visit my sister or brother every week or so.
- Housing is more expensive in Denver, period. My 2300 square foot house built in 2010 would be $300 thousand in Denver and cost me $180. As for the rest, I don't know.
- I cannot plan my future based on my children. I can commit to a house with enough space that kids can "come home" and let them know they are always welcome. Other than that, my son has to take responsibility for himself as best he can, with non financial help from me. The economy is the economy and there is no easy way to deal with that. I can help him in any way but with money, and he will always be welcome to live where I live. I'm not planning my future lifestyle based on his needs, however.
- Although I need a place to live, a "home" if you will-I see no reason that it has to be this house, or even a house. For me at least, from my perspective, my home is neither a financial asset nor an investment. Had I lived here for five more years, it might be a different story.
- Finally (and I've said this before), I want to run my home, not for my home to run me. This means I am unwilling to be house poor in terms of time, money, or effort. As I mentioned at the top, I love my house. Even so, I'm unwilling to spend every weekend on upkeep and every penny on improvements. Many folks (including my late husband), would consider that heaven, or at least acceptable. That's not me, and pretending it is simply will not work.
As always, I'm interested in your opinions, thoughts and experiences. Armchair recommendations, anyone?