Episode 339 (revised 009)– Retirement and Relocating Alternative
This is Del Lowery with ‘Retirement Talk’. Last week we tought about the possibility of moving or relocating. Retirement can oftentimes bring the choice of staying where you have been living for many years, or moving. Sometimes we are torn. We like it where we live, but – we are drawn by what we don’t have; the old, “grass is always greener” trick. There is a certain amount of comfort in staying put. Our friends, perhaps our family and community have all played a role in nurturing us. As we have nurtured them. There is a certain amount of pleasure in having this “sense of place”.
On the other hand, there is a sense of beauty, or excitement that comes with moving; new friends, a new community, a new challenge with each day’s exploration of different shops, streets, parks, and groups. It’s almost like being reborn.
My wife and I found that there is another choice; other than moving or staying. You can stay and move at the same time. No, it doesn’t seem to logically follow, but it is true. Here is what we did.
Last summer, we were walking down this narrow street (pedestrians only) Railspur Avenue, on Grandville Island in Vancouver, BC. when we heard this amazing cello music. It was a Bach fugue. It was so...out of place and stunningly beautiful. Then we came past the edge of the building and there, sitting in a small patch of grass, was our cello player. We sat on a bench and enjoyed the fugue. It was so quiet you could hear the fingers of the left hand as they tapped dance up and down the neck. It was beautiful. I asked the player if he played with an orchestra. He replied that he had just returned from three years in China and wasn’t yet playing with anyone. I commented on the beauty of his cello and he beamed. He brought it over and told us all about this 1863 instrument. It was an unforgettable incident.
Just fifty miles north of our home lies the city of Vancouver, BC. It is in a different country. They have different currency; different politics; different headlines; a different mind set. And it is only fifty miles from our door. It is so close and yet, in a sense, so very far away.
We used to load our bicycles into the car and drive north where we could bicycle around this beautiful city and it’s famous, Stanley Park. It was all done in one day. We would always enjoy the dramatic change from our own mid-sized town to this thriving metropolis and all that it had to offer. After all, for years surveys have listed Vancouver as being one of the top three cities in the world in which to live.
One Sunday afternoon after biking around the Sea Wall, we chanced to pass a real estate office. We had often talked about how wonderful it would be to be able to stay in the city rather than drive home. On this particular day, we stopped and looked at some pictures of real estate posted in the windows of the office. Within minutes we were inside and talking to a realtor.
I had just finished getting my fill of investing on Wall Street. So many corporate scandals and outrages had recently surfaced. I felt my mutual funds were being used for mutual destruction and unethical behavior.
On this particular Sunday afternoon a solution surfaced in my mind. We could withdraw what modest sum of money we had invested in Wall Street; invest in real estate, and in one stroke diversify some of our money into a foreign currency. Financial planners had always told us that was a good idea. Little did I realize my entire life was about to be dramatically changed – and all for the better. Buying a condo just fifty miles from home opened a new door.
Within a month we had looked at over twenty units and made our decision. We would buy a small condo, a very small condo, in a great location, right downtown and use it as an investment and perhaps as “a home away from home”.
It wasn’t a lot of money. We cashed in our mutual funds to cover the down-payment and furnish the thing. The monthly payments on this investment were twice what we had been saving each month in mutual funds so we invited our grown children to become co-investors. They each bought one quarter interest in the condo. Being young, they were short on down payment money, but with good jobs they could easily afford monthly investment payments.
Ten years have passed. The customs people call us ‘seasonal residence’. We drive north each Sunday afternoon and return home each Tuesday evening. We are splitting our time between two places that are only an hour apart via the road, but are very far apart in terms of experience.
The city is cosmopolitan. Three grocery stores are within two blocks. Bookstores, coffee shops, libraries, theaters, doctors, health clubs, concert halls, football, basketball and hockey stadiums, bike trails, and all of the wonders that accompany large concentrations of people are at our doorstep. Opera is four blocks away. Our car never moves. We are afoot in the city and it is very liberating.
Continuity in our lives is still anchored in our home and community of many years. We have thus managed to stay at home and yet move at the same time. Each week, new corners are turned; new people come into our life; like that cello player.
As a brief post script to this story: Our children love to come and visit our home. Then they take turns leaving their children with us for a few days while they enjoy the condo. We enjoy the grandchildren and our children enjoy a few days in the city. And we all enjoy our investment.
Usually an investment is someplace where you send your money and read monthly statements for many years before you reap any benefits. This is completely different.
This is Retirement Talk.