June 7, 2023

What Will We Face?

Betty and I are steadily moving toward a relocation into a three-level retirement community. The original five-six year timeline is now more likely to be three or four years. Why? The maintenance and insurance costs for our 30-year-old home are starting to add up. Lawn work and keeping our 2,000-square-foot home clean are increasingly more expensive. 

The desire to become involved in a community is a factor. The amenities and meals prepared by someone other than us are draws. On-site classes and studios for art, woodworking, ceramics, and continuing education look attractive.

Even so, we struggle with what will be lost: living space, the privacy that comes with a single-family home, the huge upfront expense, and just the hassle of packing up and moving. Leaving a home for a retirement community can be a difficult decision.

Even if the logic for moving is sound, some basic research turns up these common reasons why this is so:

Emotional attachment 

Your home is likely filled with memories of your life, your family, and your friends. Moving away from your home can be a major emotional upheaval.

We will be been in this house for ten or eleven years...long enough for it to be our safe space. Memories of grandkids growing up, family dinners, and games in the backyard cannot be moved along with the furniture. Private space for both of us to pursue our artistic whims will largely disappear.

Sense of loss of independence

Many people move into retirement communities because they can no longer manage their homes on their own. This can be a difficult adjustment, as it can mean losing a sense of independence. 

We have never lived in an apartment, shared walls, or parking spaces. We will have to quickly adopt to noises and neighbors just one wall away.


The community at the top of our list has a very high move-in fee. Then, there is the monthly rental cost which will seem like a shock to us since we haven't had a mortgage for almost twenty years. Because this is an independently owned, non-profit situation, yearly rental increases are not excessive. The buy-in fee guarantees space in assisted living and a nursing care center when that becomes necessary, with no change in the monthly rental cost.

On the other hand, we will not be paying for electricity, water, cable, maintenance, real estate taxes, homeowners insurance, cleaning, and most of our food needs. 


Retirement communities can be isolating, especially for people who don't know anyone else there. That will be us. But, one of the motivators to move rather soon is to begin to establish friendships and begin to feel a part of this community. We have virtually no interaction with the neighbors now; recognizing familiar faces at meals, activities, happy hours, or the gym will bring a sense of belonging.

Changing Regular Routines

Though less than twenty minutes from where we live now, there will be adjustments, both big and small. On those occasions when we must grocery shop or pick up some medicine at a pharmacy, those errands will have to be at someplace new. Not a biggie, but we have regular stops that will need to change.

Just because it is a hassle to change, it is likely we will stick with our doctors and dentist. My barber knows what I like, so he is worth the 20-minute drive. A few of our favorite restaurants are close to us now. After the move, they may fall off our radar. 

Address changes with the Post Office, banks, investment people, credit cards, the DMV, and various state and Federal tax people will want to keep track of us. Part of life, but after a decade, it will take some work.

So as not to be a burden on our daughters, this is a move we are willingly undertaking. That doesn't mean it will be easy!


  1. It is a big upheaval for you Bob but probably for the best. We have been in our house 36 years, we moved here when our oldest daughter was 4 and our youngest had just turned 2 the month before. Now our grandchildren, 8, 6 and 1, come regularly to visit us at the same house their mothers grew up in. Logically, in our minds, we know a move is coming in the next few years but it is daunting to think about actually moving. Honestly, I don't know how we'll finally decide it's time to move. Perhaps it's like knowing when to retire, one day you just know.

    1. Our overriding motivator is to not put our daughters (or grandkids) in the position of having to act as caregivers for us. So, the timing is really a guess and a hope that we don't wait too long.

      Unlike you, we have had three different homes in the last 30+ years. Our grandkids really only know this last house where we have been for the past eight years. But, they are now of the age when time at the grandparents' house is not such a special treat. Since we all live within a few minutes of each other, popping back and forth is just part of our lives.

      My parents moved into the same retirement community we are going to when my dad was almost 80 and mom 76. Old age infirmity began to shrink their world within three years of their relocation. We would hope to move sooner to have longer to enjoy the lifestyle and amenities.

  2. I so admire your proactive approach to this. As difficult as change is, it's more palatable when you instigate it as opposed to it being "forced" upon you. My mom moved into a supportive living site 4 yrs ago. One of the staff commented that people don't move soon enough, when they can still enjoy the new living situation. Focusing on what's to come vs what's being left behind, not unlike the decision to retire, may help to ease the transition. I think about this transition frequently. There was a time when I had no intention of leaving my rural property. Watching my mom's transition & experiencing the challenges of maintaining this property as I age has changed my thinking.

    1. If we had a strong tie to our neighborhood the decision would be tougher. However, our interaction with those close by is normally a nod, a wave, or an occasional brief conversation.

      Your suggestion to look forward to new experiences rather than think about what may be lost is powerful advice.

  3. I admire your plan to make the move so you can have relationships and get established in the new place. I figure we have a similar move, as one last move, but hopefully about 15-20 years in the future. Our last move was three years ago from a house we had been in for 12 years. I understand the loss of the place where great memories were made. But, after settling into our current home, I quickly got over that loss as we created new memories and experiences in our new location. I still enjoy yardwork and maintenance around the house, but can envision it not being so enjoyable as I age. Good luck with this move and keep us all posted on how the transition works out.

    1. I like our home a lot; I like the chores, expenses, and work less so. Having others take care of all that, cook most meals, and keep things tidy and working is attractive.

      Change is always a bit scary, even when it is the wisest course. The expenses of the move, the buy-in, and the monthly rent are somewhat daunting. But, I have projected we can handle it all with no serious damage to our desire to leave our kids a healthy share of the estate.

      Betty is moving full speed ahead in thinning out all the stuff we won't have room for and the kids have even less interest. As we approach 47 years of life together, you can imagine how much stuff is being discovered in the attic, closets, and a backyard storage shed!

  4. Could you share the name of the community you are going to. As a 72 year old Phoenix resident with a 66 year old wife we are facing the same future living issues. In addition with no children to help there is a greater impetus to perhaps making a move too early bad opposed to too late.

    1. We will be moving to Friendship Village in Tempe. It is non-profit organization originally founded by retired ASU professors.

      There is independent living, assisted living, and a full service nursing center with a memory care wing, multiple dining choices, a fitness center, swimming pool, and all sorts of creative activities.

      My parents lived here for several years so we are very comfortable with this choice.

  5. I'm enjoying your series of posts on this topic. We'll most likely be taking this same journey in the not distant future. Our biggest problem so far is how to identify the best place for us. I look forward to hearing more about your experiences.

    1. Thanks, Bobi. This is an important decision since it is usually someone's last move.

      I know people who have decided to die at home, go the apartment rental route until nursing care is needed, move in with family, or pick the continuing care model. Each choice has its pluses and negatives. The final decision needs to be yours.

  6. Upon your recommendation, we checked out Friendship Village and were favorably impressed. Still undecided here whether our next move will be in AZ or MN. Kids may not stay in MN - grandkids are almost grown so the MN roots are weakening.

    From what we saw I think you and Betty will be happy there. We spend about half our time in a 2 BR condo (MN) and half in a 2000 square foot house (AZ.) Love the privacy of the house & yard (but bigger than we need,) but also love the convenience of the condo (big enough and cozy in a walkable urban community.) FT in the condo is an interim option.

    We also have found making friends easy in the condo, even though not a retirement place. Don't let the closeness bother you. In addition, we noted how quiet the apartments were at FV.

    Like you, the cost first seemed daunting, but after adding up all the housing expenses it seems pretty reasonable. As for the convenience and amenities -- priceless. Who knows? Maybe we will end up as FV neighbors. Until the fall, best wishes from MN...

    1. Well, wouldn't that be great...you and Mary with Betty and me!

      Since we have no mortgage, selling our house will cover the buy-in and several years of what the total monthly expenses will be over what it costs us now.

      Keep us up to date.

  7. Though we have not yet personally experienced this, a good friend who was an older cantankerous, extremely opinionated lady moved into such a community kicking and screaming. Her son, based in London, felt it would be a better living situation for her rather than rattling around alone in a 4,000+ square foot house.

    I saw her a few months after the move. She said she LOVED it. She had new friends, plenty of things to do, people to eat with. She said she volunteered to lead a flower arranging course for the community, which she was loving.

    She had found her “forever place.”

    1. Her experience is one we will hope to duplicate, except for the screaming part.

      Seeing familiar faces at meals or in the gym or art classes will help us expand our circle of contacts.

      No more worries about what will break next or how high the property taxes might go will be a relief.

  8. If only we could get to the desired goal of being part of a new community without the actual moving! This week, I've had a front row seat to new neighbors (a young couple) moving into the house next door to mine; I feel exhausted just watching them. One of the ways I plan to make my own move a little easier when the time comes is by hiring a senior move manager to help with the process. I found the best way to identify the right community for me was to visit as many as possible; some were places I couldn't imagine myself living while others were places that I felt at home.

    1. I just learned about the senior move manager service a few weeks ago. We are pretty organized people, but moving companies don't have the best reputation in working with seniors, and having someone set up the new place sounds well worth the money.