One of the interesting things I notice when I talk to other retirees and boomers is there are so many different choices as to where to live. I'm not necessarily thinking about city or state here, although that certainly makes a difference. I'm not really talking about house versus apartment versus other options-although I'm sure I'll be talking about them at some time. I'm thinking more here of the city/inner suburb/exurb/country/small town alternatives.
When I think about it, I know retirees and boomers who live in all of these different kinds of areas-and all with various incomes. Here in Denver I know quite a few single women on fixed incomes (as well as couples) who live in the center of town, and live on a budget, for example. I knew the same kinds of people in Washington D.C. I know a military retired gal who lives with her significant other in a very small town in Texas hill country.
It does seem to me that MOST folks either stay in the kind of environment they lived in before, or else moved to the extreme opposite (country living to a city condo, say). For me, Allen Texas was the most outer suburb I have ever lived in in my adult life (although considering the ring of suburbs around Dallas it was certainly not "outer" by any means). I've lived right next to Walter Reed Medical Center in Washington, on Capitol Hill in Denver, in an inner suburb of Washington DC (and would have lived on Capitol Hill again), just outside Frankfurt, Germany and then in Allen. Most of those living situations were by choice, and in fact we moved by choice from an outer suburb with an hour commute to living right next to DC itself.
I've learned along the way that I prefer this kind of environment because it gives me immediate access to most things at most hours, and still gives greens space for walking and other things. In Washington, I was a half mile from restaurants and a movie theater and the library-by foot. I also had a back yard that faced a green space and then a fire station and lived on a cul de sac. There were certainly down sides as well-the lifeline chopper landing in my back yard at two am on the occasion of serious accidents and 911, for example. But the ups overshadowed the downs by a great deal.
I also enjoy small or reasonably sized towns. I travel to many so called "art towns" and enjoy that environment and I also appreciate small seaside towns as well-at least to visit. In fact, my own parents moved from living in downtown London and then downtown Brussels to retirement in Beaufort, South Carolina (and my father, the ultimate type A international sales person, turned into a local crabber and the nosiest man in town). I had always in the back of my mind at least considered retiring in that general area. I can see the advantages of small town life-if it were the kind of town I could be in the center of. I cannot see myself having to drive much of anywhere. While I enjoy road trips in the extreme, I am a walk out the back door or drive a mile kind of girl.
Moving to the greater Denver area was already an adjustment to a smaller environment. Denver being half the size of Dallas (never mind the greater area and Fort Worth), makes a huge difference. In fact, Denver and DC are similar in size-it's the sprawl further out that makes a difference. When I began house hunting, we considered a variety of alternatives. We looked at living at the edge of the mountains or in the front range. We looked at older homes close into the city (which were ruled out by stairs as well as cost). I looked at downtown apartments as well as condos with small patios and green space (and ruled those out only because I have canine children). In the end, we concentrated our research near Old Town Littleton. It was close in, it has a light rail that goes into the city. It was the perfect location once we realized that with three dogs and my sister's desire to garden in the extreme (as opposed to my merely enjoying the garden and smiling as she works) moving further downtown was probably not viable now.
For me, at this time, this is the perfect medium. One block over is a canal and a walking path and the area is tree covered. On the other hand, when one drives out to the main drag, one can literally see down town twenty minutes straight ahead-in traffic. That old area is not quite as close as we had hoped (ten minutes), but there are main arteries south of uss
For now, suburban living is right for me, and I'll spend my time taking extended stays in those beach towns as road trip vacations. My friend who lives in the hill country? She's saving for a beach town condo in Port Isabel - on the south Texas coast.
Meanwhile, this week I'm dealing with some of the downsides of moving. While I like this house, I'm not sure what the previous owners were thinking-the walls in both the master bath and my bedroom are a dark clay type of color. I wasn't willing to wait for my stuff for painting, which means when the time comes, everything will be covered and in the center of the room. I'm thinking cream for the bathroom walls and I have not decided on my bedroom as yet!
Being me, of course, the next room after the living room and kitchen to be even slightly unpacked is of course, my studio. As long as I have beds and suitcase, every thing else gets to wait. The good news is that I have a sewing space, and I have finished quilt tops and prepared other quilts for quilting!
The bad news? All these quilts and fabric needs a home, multiplied by ten. I keep telling myself, a little bit every day. Just a little bit, and I will see the light eventually!