571 Relocating Alternative
This is Del Lowery with ‘Retirement Talk’.
In the last episode of Retirement Talk I talked about relocating after retirement. In this episode I want to give you another option to consider. I call it a relocating alternative.
Several years ago my wife and I were walking down this narrow street, pedestrians only, Railspur Avenue, on Grandville Island in Vancouver, BC and heard this amazing cello music. It was a Bach fugue. It was so out of place and stunningly beautiful. We past the edge of a building and there sitting in a small patch of grass was our cello player. We sat on a small bench and enjoyed the music. It was so quiet you could hear the fingers of the left hand as they tapped dance up and down the neck. It was stunning tranquil and beautiful. After he finished I asked him if he played with an orchestra and he said 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 experience.
I tell you this story as an example of a what can happen if you opt for a third choice.
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.
Just fifty miles away from 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 doorstep. It is so close and yet so far away.
We use to load our bicycles into the car and drive north where we could bicycle around this beautiful city and it’s famous Stanley Park. We would stop for coffee, music and perhaps a dinner. It was all done in one day. We would enjoy the dramatic change from our own mid-sized town to this thriving international city. After all, 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 that I felt my mutual funds were being used for mutual destruction and unethical behavior. And I never felt like I understood the stock market at all.
On this particular Sunday afternoon a solution popped into my mind. I could withdraw what modest sum of money I had invested in Wall Street, invest in real estate, and in one stroke diversify some of my money into a foreign currency. Financial planners had always told me 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 sixty miles from home changed everything.
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 furnishing 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.
Fifteen years have passed. The customs people call us ‘seasonal residence’. We drive north each Sunday afternoon and usually return home each Tuesday or Wednesday evening. We are splitting our time between two places that are only an hour apart via the road but were 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 and new people come into our life; like that cello player.
It can be done. Think about it.
As a brief postscript 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 an 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.
Presently we are ending this phase of our lives. It has been 15 years and a very good run. We would not have traded it for anything. But we are now in the process of listing our condo for sale. Right now we have our eyes on the winter sun. After a visit to the southwest we are ready for spending a few months there on a regular basis when the rain and clouds cover the pacific northwest. We have now had over thirty years of that and it is time for a change.
What about you when it comes to retirement and relocating? Have you enjoyed a similar experience? Let me know. Remember, we are looking for suggestion that might work for others. Or, we are looking for suggestions for avoiding some of the problems that may have jumped up and taken a bite out of your plan. Drop us a line at Retirementtalk.org.
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