Retirement Talk

WHAT to do with the rest of your life?


562 Snowbird (part 2)

This is Retirement Talk. I’m Del Lowery

Temptation lies in the south. At least it does in the winter. Our brief attempt at traveling to warmer climes - 7 weeks - has now ended. We spent one week driving south ( I find it hard to climb into a plane and I do like a road trip). One week in California visiting our daughter and family, and 4 weeks in Tucson. We then took eight days for the return road trip to return home.

Being a snowbird does not include how you get there it is just the time spent in those clear skies and sunny days. That was really just 4 weeks for us.

That is not enough time to be an official snowbird. We spent much of our time playing tourist. We visited the sites: places that if you really lived there you might not ever visit - at least not more than once. Of course there is much in southern Arizona to take in: the desert museum just outside of Tucson, the University and its many museums, the downtown and specific neighborhoods, Sabine canyon and a myriad of other places. We also took a very interesting overnight trip to Ajo and Organ Pipe National Monument.

Other than visiting these sites we tried to live a life with some sense of regularity. We tried to bike most days or lift weights (Health being most important). We also liked to maintain our afternoon ritual of having a good cup of coffee. We did find a great local coffee shop and became regulars.

We also started to check out opportunities to buy a small place that was within our budget for future years. We visited my brother who moved into a new house in Green Valley just south of Tucson. He got a beautiful place and the price was unbelievably low compared to what we are use to. Everyone in the neighborhood seemed very friendly and welcoming. It raised the temptation temperature.

Traffic and dealing with the car culture deal an almost impossible barrier to us. We live part of the year in Vancouver, B.C. We don’t drive or need a car in the city. We love the freedom that brings. Out the door and walk for everything we need. That is so desirable to us. It would seem to be impossible in Tucson or Green Valley. Those people drive cars. And they drive cars on multiple lane roads and drive them very fast.

Of course one reason all of these people live there in the winter and drive their cars every where is because it is so nice. The warm weather feels good on old bones. Lots of people enjoy sunshine, clear skies and relatively inexpensive living. I certainly don’t blame them.

Our home town is very easy to get around in with just a bike or with the bus. Oh, sometimes we take our car out of the garage but it isn’t often. Maybe to the doctor or a late night event. We can walk for groceries, drugs, coffee, banking, books, restaurants, etc. It has become an integral part of our way of life. I think this may be the deal breaker.

Friends also figure into what we missed as snowbirds. We have some good friends in our home town and it would not be easy to leave them for any length of time. Of course we could go for just a bit of the year. I guess that is what a snowbird does. They go for just part of the year.

I leaped to the extreme in my thinking to considering buying something that would be full time. That is my nature - I seem to always go to the extreme. I have to keep in mind that we could stay in place and only go for a few months. That makes all the difference for me. I need to keep that in the front of my mind.

We just got a letter from some Alaskan friends who love their RV. But they bought a small house (casita it is called in the southwest) on the edge of Phoenix. It also has a designed parking pad for the RV right next to the house. It is like a condo that includes using your RV as part of your normal living quarters while there. Then there are the condo amenities: pool, golf, shuffleboard, tennis, etc. And of course other people that enjoy many of the things you do. Easy access to new friends.

If you are considering such a move I encourage you to give it a try. It is so hard to not like clear sky and sunshine in the middle of winter. There are many ways to go about it. The possibilities are endless. Best of luck in checking out this challenge. And as my daughter always tells me, “Don’t wait to long”.

This is Retirement Talk.



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