April 14, 2014

To Move or Stay Put: I Can't Decide


Is it ignorance or apathy?  I don't know and I don't care.

Jimmy Buffett may have summarized my dilemma best with these lyrics from one of his songs. Betty and I have changed our mind on this one decision so often that our kids now just roll their eyes and ask, "What is your plan today?"

We have lived in our current home for twelve years. It was a major downsize choice after our daughters finished college and moved out to start their lives. It is a pleasant, older home with a big backyard, enough room for us and plenty of storage, room for the RV on the side yard, and in a quiet and stable neighborhood.

Unfortunately, it also has some items in the negative column: being an older home (30 years) it has maintenance and repair issues. The house has two stories which is not a problem now but might become one as we age. The windows are the original ones, meaning they are about as energy efficient as a hole in the wall.

The outside is a type of wood product siding popular three decades ago that requires repainting every 7-10 years (we are there now). While the backyard is pretty and relaxing and great for the dog and grandkids, it takes a fair amount of effort to keep it looking decent. We have replaced many of the plants with low water, low maintenance varieties, but there is still a lot of grass to be cut and watered and sprinkler heads to fix.


Over the past year or so, Betty and I have decided to move in seven years, then two or three, then back to seven, then maybe 13-15.....you see the pattern: indecision. We are motivated to move by the maintenance and cost of an old, energy-wasteful home. We have spent our entire married life (38 years in June), in the suburbs and are bored with that lifestyle. Actually all three of the houses we have called home over the past thirty years in Phoenix and Scottsdale have been inside a 5 mile circle. 

So, our thoughts have turned to a smaller condo/townhome type arrangement, in another part of the Phoenix metro area, in a community with a pool, fitness center, and outdoor maintenance is taken care of by someone else. We would like a place where we could turn things off, lock the door, and be gone in the RV for weeks or months at a time and not worry about our home.

So, there is the situation, - and we remain stuck. Moving is expensive, and involves lots of changes, even if only 20-30 minutes away. We are attracted to a more urban environment, like Tempe. It has an active cultural life, 60,000 students at ASU to bring energy to town, light rail, an excellent bus system, and a different feel than our current neighborhood. It is a bit closer to our kids and my dad, and is only 20 minutes from downtown Phoenix.

But, in our saner moments we say to ourselves, " We are comfortable here. Our friends, church, doctors, and familiar shopping choices are here. Tempe is only 30 minutes away. When we feel the urge we can drive there a lot easier than moving there."

So, here we sit. The house has recovered much of the value it lost during the 2007-8 real estate meltdown in Phoenix. But, what if we finally decide to move (or have to due to health) ten years from now and the market is back down again? We would have left a lot of money on the table. Part of me wants the stimulation that a move brings. The other part says save yourself the hassle.


As of today, neither part is casting a deciding vote.


80 comments:

  1. Had to grin at two of your comments - ie "the stimulation of moving" on the one hand and describing your house as an "older house" (at about 30 years old). An "older" house here in Britain means Victorian or prior. My thoughts...I've recently moved from a small city in England to a small town in Wales. It's surprising just how big the "culture difference" is in some ways and there's times when I'm trying to work out just what a particular difference is down to (different country/country v. city/different background of many of the people here). The house itself has produced a load of work I expected and its a LOT and is also producing a lot I hadn't expected too! There are other differences that hadn't even occurred to me that much (if at all). The weather here is a lot worse than I am used to. I'm not used to people keeping dogs outside - and those dogs bark - a lot. In my little urban English city, people have back yards or small gardens and dogs just aren't kept in them (that or they are trained not to bark). Here - AGH! and I find it difficult to get my head around that antisocial habit. I think the dogs are being noticeably quieter than they were (their owners probably heard me yelling at them to shut up sometimes....). Its little things that can make quite a difference. Also make sure you get accurate information and don't believe the first person you ask a question of. I asked one person whether something I hate/disagree with was the case in this town and she said it wasn't. She was wrong! I should have asked a variety of people and not just one person (who turned out to be misinformed).

    Motto - check out the weather/check out the social habits/don't believe an answer to a question about the vicinity unless quite a few people have given you the same answer. All stuff you might not take into account...

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    1. All good suggestions. The barking dog situation landed me in court several years ago. I used to work out of my home and the next door neighbor had a dog that barked at everything. I tried being polite but he took the position that dogs bark and I should move or get an office somewhere if I didn't like it. Luckily Phoenix has a law against such barking so I was able to force a change. But, it was a 9 month battle and left the two of us not speaking to each other.

      If we do move from our older home (old for this area!) we would stay in the Phoenix area since our whole family is here so the adjustment wouldn't be difficult.

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  2. It is a tough decision but all I can say is that most people wait too long and don't move until infirmity makes them. They miss out on making new friends and having fun. They also give up control of the move. I'm not looking forward to the effort and challenges of our planned cross country move when my husband retires in 3 or 4 years but I also don't enjoy living in this too big, 2 story, large yard, drafty windows, high upkeep house! I'd sell it now in the recovered market and move into a rental in the meantime if I were the sole decision maker. Good luck finding the right decision for you. Perhaps some new home shopping would help you decide?

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    1. Like you, I lean toward renting the next home. I like the idea of someone else taking care of virtually everything and being able to just lock the door and taking off in the RV for an extended trip. Eventually we will move into a retirement community with assisted living and nursing care options, but that is 12-15 years down the road, I hope. By renting I don't run the risk of being unable to sell my home quickly or for the right price if we have to make the retirement community move quickly.

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    2. You might want to verify the physical ability requirements for being able to move into the type of retirement community you have in mind. By the time my parents thought they were ready they couldn't even qualify for assisted living as they might not be able to evacuate themselves in case of a fire. Of course each state has different regulations on those things.

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    3. My parents went through the same decision making process. Luckily, they moved in to a three level community before they needed it for exactly that reason. Within two years my mother's health took such a radical turn for the worse they would have not qualified.

      Betty and I are very much aware we run that type of risk if we wait too long.

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    4. Bob, Juhli said what came to my mind instantly...don't wait for a crisis! Being proactive and making a move now so you can enjoy a new adventure is a very good thing I think. You will figure out if it is financially smart I know. Then figure out what you dream of doing. Next, do it if it is at all possible. Life is much too short to be stuck in neutral! Doing the same thing over and over is greatly overrated. Tic Toc, TicToc. Tictoc!

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    5. Stuck in neutral about this decision is the problem. Thanks, barb.

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  3. Very pertinent post for us. My wife and I are two weeks away from moving back to town after living "in the country" on an acre for 10 years. We both have some chronic (but not debilitating yet) health problems that we see impacting our ability to live here in the future. Maybe the near future, too. We've loved living here but are very tired of the 10 mile each way drive to town where we shop, go to church, and just basically do everything. Mowing an acre has not been fun for a long time, either. So, when a somewhat similar house to ours in a great location in town went on the market, we jumped at it. Fortunately, our house sold in one day, something I never would have expected, and here we are. It's a BIG change even though the new house is only 13 miles away. It's very short commute to my wife's job, to church, shopping, etc. The yard is tiny- a tenth the size of our present one. We have some reservations about making the move, but we know it's the right one for us now.
    It's a huge decision to change locations; it's like changing lives. But for us it's the right thing to do.

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    1. I preach the importance of change in this blog, yet I am hesitating in this instance. Maybe i need to listen more closely to my own counsel.

      Good luck with your move, Jeff. Enjoy the tiny yard!

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  4. I'm in the Move Now column. You are as young, mobile, and energetic as you will ever be. it will give you more time to find your new church and activities. Start looking for a one-story, energy efficient home and keep us posted on what you find.

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    1. Another vote for me to get me off my lazy butt and make the "right" choice. OK, Florence, I am tallying up the votes.

      BTW, Betty is in your camp. She things we should make the change now that the houses in our neighborhood are selling quickly and for strong prices.

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  5. Maybe a first step would be to put your house on the market. If it sells quickly the decision is made. You're moving. Step two. You already have ideas about that so it shouldn't be a major challenge. Knowing you, I am sure you have considered the cost and convenience of storing the RV should you relocate to a condo. Also, is the travel thing going to be temporary or long term? If you are thinking long term, then condo is clearly the way to go. If you think it will be short lived, you may regret giving up a "family home"

    My house has been on and off the MLS for almost two years with only 2 offers so my dilemma is a bit different. We are ready to take the next step ("transitional") but are stuck in the big house. In the meanwhile, we see potential for a reasonably priced replacement slipping away.

    So, if you are leaning toward going, don't delay. Just do it. You are still young enough to undo a mistake in a year or two if that's how you feel.

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    1. The RV situation is an important point. The trip we are taking this summer will go a long way toward determining the answer to that question. We might decide we prefer lots of shorter, closer to home trips so the switch to a smaller condo isn't as urgent. On the other hand, if we want to be on the road for half the year, then a move to a "lock and walk" situation makes much more sense.

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  6. If only it were easy to make those choices!! One thing I have learned from watching my parents and in-laws transition to a simpler lifestyle, is that it never gets easier to accomplish the physical work required in owning many homes. My parents agonized when they sold their home in order to move into a condo, but it was the best choice for them (and us kids!). My in-laws, on the other hand, decided to sell us the family farm in order to buy a small, new home with a small yard. It sounds like you and Betty might enjoy the freedom of a condo--since you still enjoy travel and experiencing new things. I'd really do some soul searching and take the leap if you can find a simpler home that suits you. Good luck!

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    1. I worry about shared walls in a condo or apartment. A neighbor who plays music or TV loudly would drive me insane rather quickly. With a house that is nothing I have had to face since college days.

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  7. Obviously this is a decision that only you can make. Interestingly there has been a series of articles called “Living in Retirement” that follows a college teacher as she downsized from her large suburban home to a condo in a trendy downtown neighbourhood. She starts off all excited anticipating the move and then being downtown, to the realization that it isn’t for her (I'm not saying that would be you). She ended up buying a freehold townhouse back in the town she originally left. Below is a link to “Living in Retirement” and her most recent article is called “How I ended up with a $200,000 mortgage”

    => http://www.theglobeandmail.com/topic/Living%20In%20Retirement#dashboard/follows/

    - David

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    1. I will check it out. The experience of others helps add another piece of information to the puzzle.

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    2. I just read the article, David. Besides the fact that Toronto real estate prices are crazy, I hope that is not a bind that Betty and I find ourselves in. After being mortgage free for a dozen years I have no intention of finding myself with a mortgage again. If I can't find something that works for us I will rent or stay put!

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    3. I am totally mystified why you would start paying rent when you are currently mortgage free?

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    4. Yes, it seems to defy common sense, and maybe it does. But, my reason would be to take advantage of a strong market for selling homes. If the housing market has dropped back down again at some point in the future (as it will), I won't get the amount of cash out of the house sale I will need for the buy in into a retirement community that allows for assisted living and nursing care.

      In 2008 my house lost almost 50% of its value from just 2 years earlier. It has now recovered almost all of that paper loss. I would sell now so the money would be available when I need it. I would rent for a year or so to see if my wife and I liked the new environment we had picked out, then buy a smallish condo for cash so again there is no mortgage. Even so, that move runs the risk of having to sell the condo during a weak real estate market.

      There are no easy answers, but I will not take on another mortgage, even if it means renting for awhile.

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    5. I don't think it's against common sense at all. Almost every retiree I know who rents is happy with the choice.

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    6. You are right Toronto house prices are crazy though once you are in the market it's all relative. The constant is that moving and then moving again is expensive no matter what market you are in. Our plan is to stay where we are in our modest (and paid off) side split until the house is more than we can manage and then rent. Hopefully we will be in our late 70's or early 80's by then but who knows - never say never.

      - David

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  8. Quite similar to our situation, Bob. Only our house here in the east is 85 years old (and solidly built, thank goodness). We looked into some 55+ housing developments for a while, but came to the conclusion that a) we love our current house, b) even with repairs and upgrades, the yearly costs are extremely do-able (no mortgage), c) we value our local network of friends and the nearby recreational assets too much to pull up roots, and d) thankfully, we don't need to significant principal that the house possesses. So, instead of downsizing, we are de-cluttering so that if and when we do need to relocate/leave, it won't be too overwhelming to us or our kids.

    While the house would/will make a good legacy for the kids, I think that being fully planful as we age is a greater expression of love and appreciation for them - less traumatic for everyone.

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    1. Our married daughter and son-in-law recently bought a home about 35 minutes away that they love. They plan on staying there forever. They have added solar panels, triple-pane windows, a patio, and other upgrades to make it great for them and our three grandkids. Our other daughter has no interest in owning a home. She is of the rent it, lock up and travel mindset.

      So, whatever home we own will not become part on an estate. Like you, we have no mortgage so there is a nice chunk of money that will eventually be freed up for something else. The only question is....when?

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  9. Two thoughts enter my head after reading your post.

    1. I don't believe you mentioned the financial aspects of staying put versus moving. Would your new house payment be cheaper? In my mind this is a huge green flag. Is your current house paid off so you could buy a condo and have extra money to put in your accounts? My personal feelings about condos is I would never live in one because of the noise level. I have never, ever lived in an apartment that I wasn't tortured by the neighbors music.

    2. My second thought is moving to a college town for the "energy". I get there might be a lot to do there, but for me I would prefer to visit and then go back home to peace and quiet. Remember, a lot of these people are teenagers.

    But, of course, you have to examine your own feelings about these issues.

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    1. We own our home free and clear so any place we move to and own we'd buy outright with extra cash available for living and travel. Your point #1 is a biggie for me. A condo or townhome would have to be either one that has no shared walls, or only the wall in the garage. Noisy neighbors would be miserable for me.

      As I noted in the post, your point #2 is one that we have added to the mix. Tempe is 25 minutes away. We can experience virtually everything it has to offer by just driving there, though living in a community cannot be replicated just by visiting it on occasion.

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  10. Well, I can speak to this because I'm in the midst of it. We've lived in our city house for 12 years and we love living here. But, the house is almost 300 years old. It's kind of the Roseanne Rosanadana house. We've had a summer home at the beach for 15 years. We decided last fall to sell both and move to a different beach town, Cape May, which is the best combo of both city and beach.
    We have had a very busy winter preparing, and selling, and buying. But miracle of all miracles this is how our next 2 months shape up...
    We close in the city May 15th, and the new owner is letting us rent until we can move. We close in OC on June 6th, and on our new home in Cape May June 27th. It's a miracle the way it worked out!
    We'll be moving to a house that is only 12 years old! I won't know what to do with all that new fangled stuff! Insulated windows? what?! When we saw their average utility bills we couldn't believe it!

    So, I say, make the move while you are able and prepare for when you might not be. Our new house has a bedroom on the 1st floor, which will be my studio until I break a hip and need it as a bedroom. ;)
    It has a small, manageable, yard which is enough for some gardening and little mowing. We are still pinching ourselves over our good fortune.

    We want to be able to travel more. There won't be any concerns about what might fall apart while we're away. It's close to everything we want or need, and not too far from family. If moving to the other side of town affords you that kind of peace of mind...go for it!
    b

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    1. Betty and I both need being near water on a regular basis. Living in the desert does make that a bit more difficult, I must admit. San Diego is 6 hours away and the lakes and rivers of northern Arizona are only two or three hours away. Of course, we also love Portland and the Oregon coast, but now we are talking serious distances from family.

      I envy your solution. I am not sure winters in Cape May would be my thing, but a home near the ocean and not far from a few major cities and family makes it sound exciting and stimulating: something the artist in you will love.

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  11. Well,Bob, as you know Ken I made a big move right after he retired. (Actually we had been sort of kind of house hunting in our favorite woods for the past 2 years..finding JUST the right property at the right price in the right location spurred ACTION.) We had not been "SURE" about making such a huge move up to the MINUTE WE BOUGHT THE HOUSE! It's such a big change. And therin lies the BLISS. We are very very happy we got out of the suburbs.The lifestyle just got so stale for us.I can truly see you and Betty in Tempe enjoying the vibrancy of the college town and all the amenities it offers... especially with your new RV interests--I bet you two will be on the road more and more! Yes, moving is a HUGE venture.. it has been tiring at times, a bit expensive, difficult to give up some of my beloved furniture that just won't fit here, but it is so worth it.It has been MOSTLY invigorating. We're still in process of joining a new church, finding our volunteer activities, and we have already met the new neighbors and been invited to two pot lucks! I think the more and more you two contemplate moving, the answer will come to your heart and you will know--especially after your big RV trip--as you know it's a GREAT TIME in Phoenix area to sell.You would have to be prepared that your house would sell within the first 30 days you put it on the market!! Are we 100% sure this is the right decision for us..heck no! But we are as sure as we CAN BE and we don't miss Gilbert. In 10 years or 20 years we may also have to move again if our health changes.. but that's a long ways down the road..we decided to LIVE THIS DREAM we've had .. great post as always Bob!

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    1. Actually you and Ken are an inspiration to us. To make such a dramatic move from the suburbs to the mountains has opened our minds to new possibilities. Houses near us are selling quickly and for top dollar. I would need to check with a friend who is an agent as to whether we should put $15-20,000 of upgrades into the home or just sell it as is. She could tell us if the extra cost would pay off.

      Betty and I are still planning on a trip to your area in mid May to test our new towing arrangement on the RV.

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    2. Ken and our son and 2 buddies will be hiking the Grand Canyon May 1-4 but I will be here in Pine! Give us a heads up when you're in this vicinity and we'll arrange a visit!

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    3. I am aiming for mid May, so things should work out.

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  12. Do it! We were in the same situation last year at this time. We sold the California house we had lived in for 25 years in 7 days and then had an estate sale to sell all furnishings, dishes, everything! We had previously sent 12 boxes to ourselves at our new address in Northern Virginia and made a rule that everything else had to fit in our Prius. It made for an exciting, invigorating adventure as we drove across country and we have had no regrets. Our new apt bldg is super quiet, has a fitness center and is close to DC Metro. And while making new friends is a slower process, it is happening through volunteer work and other activities. The area has all kinds of free cultural attractions and we are close to a major airport for our travel. And we are still exploring different area(s) of the east coast. If we had stayed put we would be putting our energies into home improvement and pool maintenance and still be in a town that lacked activities for us to do. The great thing about this has been the realization that if the grass looks greener somewhere else or the kids need us we are able to pick up and go! It just takes a little research. Good luck in the decision-making....definitely the hardest part of the process.

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    1. Your move story is inspiring, but you are absolutely right: simply deciding that now is the time is the hurdle we must clear at this point. After that, the process and excitement keep you moving (pun intended) forward. After 30 years living within a 5 mile radius, it does get stale.

      I am a little surprised that virtually all the comments so far are telling me to move!

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  13. I understand your dilemma but I focused in on your comment about selling that you prefaced with
    - "what if we finally decide to move in ten years...". There has been a great deal of death and loss around and in our family recently - including some unexpected tragedies that have brought us up short. I no longer think in 'what if's' and 'maybes'. I am making decisions based on today: what do I need to do today to ensure my and my family's happiness? I may not even be here this afternoon and I am making sure that my decisions are about what I want and what is best for me and my family.
    I have chosen not to move as I love my house, it's 'old' but updated, energy efficient, and it makes me happy. I will know when it is time to move just like I knew when it was time to retire. If the stairs get to me or the kids need me closer (45 and 90 minutes away) or I just want to, then I will move. I live my life a day at a time but I'm paying more attention and making those days count even more than before.

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    1. The first strong comment from someone who is staying put! Your thoughts about planning for tomorrow when you might not even make this afternoon are important. Who knows how much longer we have? What is best for Betty, me, Bailey the dog, and our family at this moment should be the primary focus.

      Thanks for the critical perspective.

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  14. Admittedly this is a tough decision. It seems so final! Not to mention the hassle that goes with every move. One thing that my husband and I discovered the 2 months we were in Florida this winter was that we each really need our own "space" to retreat to at times. At home we each have our own office, where I can read, Sudoku, or just get some alone time. Our space in FL was not quite big enough for this, but being able to be outside most of the time helped to alleviate the close quarters feeling.

    However the one thing we loved about where we stayed in FL was the ability to walk out the door and just go. The car stay parked most of the time. At home, living in the suburbs, we have to drive to almost all of the things that are important to us.


    No stairs is a plus as we age, plus downsizing house and lawn maintenance requirements are important. So much to think about. It looks like you have identified the issues that are most important to you and Betty. I think the decision making is a process that takes time, as you sort out what is important to you, and weigh the pros and the cons. Eventually it becomes clearer as time goes on.

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    1. Thanks, Carole. Yes, it is a process that has been speeding up in our minds over the last 6-9 months. I think by this fall we will be in a position to make the decision for the time being and then do what is required.

      I am sure that during our trip this summer this will be a major point of discussion.

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  15. We are not far behind you in decision making. In the next two years we have to be out of this home. The work of keeping 17 acres is too much.
    We are thinking a one bedroom in a 55+ community condo down the street from the kids AND a 1 acre house with a workshop in Delaware. We will build the house first since that is where we plan on living most of the time. The condo is like your RV- fun to have- but don't want to live there full time---for now!
    Now I understand why my dad didn't want us to move away!

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    1. 17 acres...that would be quite a bit to maintain. I like your idea of the one bedroom place near the kids and then something with just a bit of elbow room in Delaware.

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  16. I can certainly relate to that! We retired only 4 months ago and agonized over the decision to move or not. We took the plunge and downsized i to a 55+ mobile home park. A lovely community in a home with very little maintenance. Just enough yard to keep us happy without being overwhelmed. We apply the rocking chair test to major decisions...when we're old and in our rocking chairs, will we regret that we didn't do it? What is important end the end? What do we want to look back on? What is the very worst that could happen, and could we deal with it? Change is scary as hell, but it's the stuff of life. Good luck!

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    1. If we move and aren't happy it is not an irreversible decision....you are so right. I like the concept of the rocking chair test.

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  17. I am definitely not a mover (lived in my previous home 25 years); and I thought about my last move A LONG TIME before I made it, but I agree with moving BEFORE your health forces that move. I am SO pleased I made the move; ironically this is the largest home I've ever lived in but the smallest yard. It's close to many shopping areas, to public transport & we're in a great area.

    I've found condo's vary greatly in their soundproofing; if you decide to go that route, definitely check it out before moving in. Also if you move to Tempe, & rent a condo/townhome, worst case scenario, the student noise will mean you move again. We have a college town near us; you might check that out carefully ahead of time. Noise & parties have been an issue for friends of mine (think the recent Deltopia in Santa Barbara), On the other hand, I do know many other folks who totally enjoy the college town excitement & who have never regretted living near a university. I see you & Betty casually strolling downtown, enjoying the weather (of course until it gets too warm) & if you have a community with fitness equipment & a pool, that can make life wonderful. If you are the "I always love to garden" person, you may miss the garden, but if you are only doing it to ensure the place looks good, you may have put your time in. If you must garden, maybe a balcony with a few plants would work.

    One of my good friends passed away, less than one month after a cancer diagnosis (no one even realized he was ill, least of all my friend himself) & my partner has recently dealt with some minor heart issues. I agree with catlady above; planning is a good idea certainly, but go for what you enjoy now! Tomorrow might not come & you may regret spending time gardening instead of RV'ing.

    The bottom line is, you & Betty ---with input from Bailey, I am sure! ;) --- will make the decision; thank you for letting us all put our two cents in --or maybe more with inflation.

    pam

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    1. All of these comments have been very helpful. I didn't expect such an outpouring of comments on such a simple post. But, it is a subject we can all relate to at some time in our life.

      I do know that we are not ready to move into a 55+ community. That is one of the few things we are very sure about.

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  18. When facing big decisions I try to remind myself that almost no decision is a 'Forever; decision, most times they are simply 'For now' decisions. I suspect you will love the benefits of downsizing, but if for some reason you do not, you can always upsize should you so wish down the road. It's really not a do or die, even if there are some financial costs involved.

    This may sound a bit simplistic, but one way to test your real desire is to flip a coin, with one side being "Stay here" and the other being "Downsize!" Pay attention to your initial gut reaction at the side that comes up. Could be quite interesting . . . and telling.

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    1. Maybe you and Mike can flip the coin for us next week in Tucson!

      When I mentioned to Betty that we would have to downsize another 50% if we went ahead with the condo/apartment option she groaned, but didn't say no.

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  19. Lots of good suggestions here. My thoughts are you might rent an executive, furnished apt. for one month if that's an option, in the area where you might want to relocate. That way you really get the feel of what the daily living would be like there. And if you like it, step 2 would be to get a realtor to show you homes to purchase, like single story, low maintenance and/or townhouses with double walls for insulation. If you got excited about a place, that would give you the push to do the work to move out of your present house and sell it.

    I'm in a 2 story house in CA w/a downstairs bedroom that I use and in a really quiet neighborhood, plus can walk everywhere so I plan to stay put. My house is my retreat, and moving into a townhouse or apt. to me is living how I did in college, what the loud music and noise from neighbors and I just couldn't stand that, not now, not at my age of 61. I've been here since 2005 and hired a gardening service who come 2x a month to mow for only $30 a month. I have not mowed the lawn front or back one time and never plan to. The house is paid off and the maintenance is minimal and I really like the peacefulness of the neighborhood and never hearing other neighbors. I sleep in the downstairs bedroom, but each day, for exercise I climb (run really), up and down the stairs 20 x kind of like a gym, stair-stepper and it gets my heart pumping and is good for me. I have 4 grandkids who visit, so it's nice having the extra space available for them when they do. Good like with your decision! And doing nothing is a decision too! Sandy

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    1. I probably go up and down our 14 stairs 30 times a day which, now that you mention it, is probably pretty good exercise.

      I have a lawn service 2X a month from March-October. Since the lawn doesn't grow in the winter months I handle the minimal clipping myself the rest of the year. I does help but the weeding, fixing the drip system, and replacing plants that die is getting old.

      Our neighborhood is quiet with generally nice people, but we do have to drive to do anything. I think living in an area where neighborhood shops and restaurants no more than 1/2 mile away would be fun for a change. And, I'd love to be close enough to light rail to use it to get to downtown Phoenix when we wanted to.

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  20. Bob, although Deb and I took the opposite tack four years ago (much bigger house on 4 acres to maintain), we still think we made the right choice for ourselves, particularly now that we are both retired. We also thought about RVing for awhile, but with multiple timeshare units and a # of yearly points within the Wyndham Vacation system, we will continue to go that route instead. So for us a big home (it is only one story, though) in a low cost, quiet area of the country will be the route for the forseeable future.

    In the case of you and Betty, though, if you have truly embraced the RV lifestyle and traveling for weeks/months at a time, I would have to vote with downsizing and moving. When we thought about doing exactly that we intended to get rid of our home completely, making a large RV our home. That might not be practical with the size of the unit that you have, although it is more than enough for some to declare it their only residence. If it is not and you wish to keep an abode, think about the condo situation. If you can get an end unit you will not have neighbors on one side. Otherwise a small, more easily maintained house might be in order. But a move is always tough. Deb and I moved about 98% of everything ourselves four years ago, and it felt that it almost killed us. But if you are planning on using movers, go for it.

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    1. The RV trip this summer will likely be what become our tipping point: lots of time away = small, walk-away condo or apartment. Shorter though frequent trips = stay where we are and do some energy upgrades.

      Neither of us is interested in full time RVing. Even the 45 foot monster units are just too confining....our 30 footer would never do - we aren't even sure it will be spacious enough for 75 days!

      I know you and Deb are happy with your choice, and that is ultimately the answer.

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  21. We are in the same situation- big house, big yard and big expense.

    We started looking around, found a nice house, put in an offer and then thought " what are we doing- trading one house for another". Took back the offer. Since then, we replaced all the appliances, cleaned out all the closets, garage, etc and now getting a new roof ( we had a major hail storm here and about 80 houses had significant damage and ours was one of them- our ins. co. paying for the replacement), we feel our house is now even more sellable.

    But do we want to move? We love the big house, having company over ( a friend and her husband and 2 kids are arriving today for a month), shopping and restaurants are nearby, our friends are here, a community pool and tennis courts that we do use. So, we think another few years, then sell.

    I am thinking a condo or townhouse, nearer our daughter and grandkids. We are only 15 minutes away from her now, but there are many condos near her area.

    It is hard to leave the house you built and lived in for 12 years. But, we know the time will come to sell and will feel good about the decision. Guess it is not now!

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    1. Wow...that was close: putting in an offer and then realizing now is not the time. Good for you.

      We have been in this house for 12 years, after 10 years in another 2 miles away and 8 years in a house two miles from that one! We had to simplify by 50% to move into this one and I'm guessing a similar cut will occur with the next one. Betty isn't wild about it, but slowly we have been giving stuff to our kids, donating to charity, or tossing. We have accepted that maintaining five full sets of china is silly!

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  22. When you said "in saner moments," it seems deep-down you know what the best decision is.

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  23. Oops, I missed reading a few comments somehow. Having viewed them all, I would vote for Banjo Steve's advice as perhaps the best.

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    1. If I had to bet today, I would guess we will do what Steve suggested....stay and fix up where we are.

      With the RV allowing us to sample other areas of the country and all the different areas of the Phoenix metro so close, moving would be to simplify rather than experience a different section of town.

      I will revisit this topic in the fall after the trip.

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  24. Obviously, you've struck a chord here ... to move or not to move, that is the question for the 60+ set. All I can add is that I lived in a townhouse from 2002-2007 after my divorce and I loved it, with one exception. Most of the neighbors were nice; it was great to have the grounds taken care of; great to have a community pool. The only downside: the neighbor with the two barking dogs.Drove me crazy for a while; then fortunately, she moved away.

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    1. There is a loss of control of one's environment in a condo/townhouse/apartment that worries me. Your dog story is a good example.

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  25. It does sound to me like you and I have similar ideas about what level of noise we will accept within our home from other people - ie none! Like me, you won't accept dogs barking/neighbours tv or music and the like. When you say "condo" - I take it you mean flats (in English). I would never live in a flat again. I've had a couple of bedsits when I was young (ie 1 room with mini-cooker in and having to share a bathroom with strangers) before now and hated the neighbours noise. I've had a flat before now and hated the neighbours noise. My last house was a terrace house and I hated the neighbours noise. Do you see a theme emerging here? and I suspect that this would be a problem for you in a condo. Hence, whatever you do, then it looks as if you need a detached house to live in. It may be that what you need is a smaller detached house than you have now with a smaller garden than you have (U.S. translation "yard"). Something reasonably easy to maintain and that you get this place whilst you are still young enough to do any work that needs doing on it. I've taken on a 1970s house here in Wales and it needs a LOT of work - pretty much gutting. I am steadily doing that work - and hating to have to go through the process - with all the disruption involved. Dust/noise/having to sleep in a makeshift bed at the moment (so that's one stage worse than literally climbing over lots of stuff to get into my normal bed). I am doing this in my early 60s. I honestly don't think I could face having to do all this in my 70s - so its just as well to get it done and over with now. I think its going to take about 9 months in total to get the inside of the house itself sorted out (and that doesn't include a new kitchen - because I cant afford new kitchen units yet). Then there's the outside of the house and the garden to sort out. Overall, I guess I'm saying = go for it now, but make it a detached house and be very careful about what the neighbourhood is like.

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    1. If I have a real weak spot in my relationship with neighbors, it is the noise issue. Apparently this has developed over time, since I survived living in a dorm with 50 other men in the Army, in a fraternity house in college, and plenty of apartments while growing up. But, now, a neighbor who puts a dog outside and ignores its bored or unhappy barking for hours at a time, deserves a grisly death (just kidding.....to a degree). Public civility and being aware of one's effect on others is generally a mark of maturity - something that seems to be severely lacking in our modern world.

      I think you are quite right: either a townhouse with double insulation, or a detached townhome would be the only acceptable, long term solution. I don't really want another single family home because that puts the maintenance back on me again.

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  26. I have gone through the same "to sell or not to sell". Last summer I put up and took down my "For Sale by Owner" sign numerous times. I live outside a very small town, rural area, in a downsized house. The yard is .4 of a acre or 45 minutes to mow. House is paid for with very cost of living in the area and the cost of maintenance is nill. Yet, like someone mentioned above "it never gets easier to accomplish the physical work required in owning a home". My dad enjoys that type of work on his home at 87 years, but at 62 years I don't. I want to spend more time traveling but the 10 acres of hay and woods behind my house is great from my bloodhound and two basset hounds.

    So maybe you can tell, I have gone through the same indecision as you only with different players involved. It's a tough call. It's hard to get around the "what if's" and "maybes".

    I may have to apply "The Rocky Chair Test", even at my age.

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    1. I have taken my kitchen faucet apart three times over the last few years to replace leaking O rings. Do I enjoy fixing that blasted faucet? No. But, would I be happy paying a plumber $150 each time to do it or spending $200 to replace it? No.

      No matter how small or well maintained, owning a home means fixing, replacing or repairing an endless list of things. I should take the view that billions of others in our world have no home and would find my complaints ludicrous.Logically, I understand that statement. Emotionally, I remain tired of playing fix-up.

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  27. Ahh, if only we could predict the future. Sometimes you have to make a decision and move forward and like Tamara says, it's a for now decision, not a forever decision as long as you're willing to shoulder the cost of moving, not just financially but the cost emotionally and energetically. I just hope to be proactive about any future moves. I have 12 steps up to my front door and that's my tipping point - when I have difficulty managing those steps or can't maintain my yard, it's time to move. After the responsibility of home maintenance I look forward to someone else doing it and the walk-away freedom of a rental. There are pros and cons wherever we go. Think about renting and waiting for the maintenance man to show up!

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    1. You have to wait for the maintenance man? Hold that, that changes everything!

      Our 14 stairs to the second floor and the inability to put a bedroom downstairs will be our final straw if we are still in this house at that time.

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  28. We sold our house 18 months ago and bought a condo and have not looked back. We spent 5 months away last winter and this winter and it was great to be able to lock the door (and have a friend drop by every couple of weeks to pickup mail) and just travel.

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    1. That's what I'm thinking would be nice!

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  29. Since you seem to still be attracted to your current location, yet not as much to staying in your current house for the long haul, I would suggest that you sell your house and then rent a similar (or newer smaller) house in the same location. That way you gain more flexibility for future plans while not losing out on your present house equity.

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    1. Not a bad suggestion, though I'd make it an apartment or condo. That way we'd already have downsized for a more permanent solutipn.

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  30. I've been quasi-retired for 2 years. Quasi because I reorganized my job to become completely self-employed and totally online, which gives me the flexibility of not going to an office everyday and taking my "job" with me when I travel or visit my family in all corners of the country. I wish I had moved to this mode years ago, but I probably wasn't convinced that I'd saved enough money to not have a "real" job with benefits and retirement contributions. I'm not sure whether this will sustain me financially, but other lifestyle changes (selling and moving from a house I'd lived in for 37 years and buying a condo) should make this possible. I love being able to extend my visits to the grandkids, both in length and frequency, and organizing my days around my schedule. I do feel a little unchallenged mentally, but enjoy the relaxed mode I find myself in most of the time. Meeting new people and making new friends is my new focus as I moved to the country from my city home. It's all been good, so far.

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    1. Nice story, Jan. Being more in control of your time and your future are two of the best parts of retirement. It sounds as though the move worked out well, too.

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  31. 2) What has been your biggest surprise about being retired?
    How absolutely good I feel, both physically and mentally! The total lack of job stress (aka FREEDOM!) has made me feel human again. I didn't realize how much life my job had sucked out of me. Towards the end of my working life, the younger coworkers viewed experienced folks like me as overpaid dinosaurs. A 2 hour 5X per week round-trip commute-to-hell-and-back has been replaced with 90 minute cardio workout and weights 6X per week.
    A walk after lunch fends off the tendency for to take a "siesta" in the afternoon. I find I like the structure of getting up early, doing my workout, back home to shower & change and get going on a project or two, yardwork, etc. (for about an hour each). In good weather my spouse & I go cycling, kayaking (flat water!) on our local river, or take a walk in the park, bad weather = go to the movies, museum, etc.
    We try to take 1 week vacations in early spring & late fall, plus several visits to the grandkids @ 6 hrs away. Yardwork and snowblowing in the New England winters are becoming less fun though! Active involvement in the care of elderly parents in a local nursing home is going to keep us in the area for a while. The plan is keep the hacienda maintained so we can sell and head somewhere they don't know what a snowshovel is when the time is right.



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    1. A nicely structured life. Replacing healthy stuff in place of those dreaded commutes is one of the major benefits of retirement that probably doesn't get mentioned enough. The average American spends 187 hours a year commuting....retirement gives you back all that unproductive and unsatisfying time.

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  32. Bob......move. If you don't like it, move back. Seriously, what do you have to lose? A little money perhaps, but take the chance. I sold my home in the 'burbs' after my last daughter left for college. I bought a small bungalow in a downtown area, close to work, shops, dining. I love it. People thought I was crazy. I sold most of my furniture and possessions, and couldn't be happier.

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    1. That's the picture I have in my mind.

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  33. Why not rent your home for a year, and rent a condo/townhouse in Tempe to see how it goes. You can always move back home later.
    I'm trying to decide whether to pay off the mortgage quicker, or move to a cheaper location. I do not like noise and I worry about choosing the wrong neighborhood.

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  34. I am a 63 year old single female w/o children who has just put her home of 23+ years on the market. Although my home is paid for, I am still able to handle the garden work, my immediate neighbors are great and I love my home, the sword hanging over my head was/is the cost of maintaining my home long term: the roof, the 2 air/heat units. A new roof (the earlier ones will need removed too) and both units will need to be replaced in the next 5 years, is my guess if not sooner, and that is going to cost me over 25K and that doesn't include the cost of painting etc. I will never get that money back out of my house in area of the city I live. Although the value of my home has come back some over the last several years the damage of foreclosures and renters moving into my subdivision have made me question whether it will be more marketable in the next couple years. My thoughts are that the process is NEVER going to get easier or cheaper. Clearing out clutter and preparing the house for sale has been one of the most physically and emotionally difficult jobs I believe I have ever done. I believe I have made the correct decision for what I have discovered over the years is that taking the easy, comfortable path has always in retrospect been for me the wrong choice. Enjoy your blog and wish you the best.

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    1. You've identified the real risks all of us assume if we stay in an aging home. My roof should be good for another 10-15 years, but the house needs painting. The AC unit is 5 years old but will probably be too energy inefficient to not replace in 10 years if that is when we sell. The two upstairs bathrooms will need upgrades before selling, too.

      I agree completely that the easy solution is usually not the best in the long haul.....then why do I still lean toward staying here for the foreseeable future?

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  35. Hi Bob! Your posts on retirement are very informative, and for the second time, we featured you in our Weekly Digest. You can read it here http://www.ltcoptions.com/weekly-digest-retirement-medicaid-elderly-depression/. I hope you and your wife come to a decision soon. Whether you resolve to move or not, just go with the choice that will be suitable for situation and needs. Good luck and more power to your blog.

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    1. Thanks so much Holly. We are on a short RV trip as I type this and have used the time to discuss the decision and our options. I think we are coming to a decision that will, in large part, depend on how we feel after our long RV trip this summer.

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