Retirement Talk

WHAT to do with the rest of your life?


Episode 182 – Retirement and Relocating Alternative


My wife and I were walking down this narrow street in Vancouver , BC . pedestrians only, Railspur Avenue , on Grandville Island . We heard this amazing cello music. It was a Bach fugue. It was so out of place and stunningly beautiful. We 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.

We could hear the fingers of the left hand as they tapped dance up and down the neck. It was magical. I asked him if he played with an orchestra. He replied, “I just returned from three years in China and I’m not 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 “It was made in1863” he said. And then went on to tell us of the builder, the wood, and the history of the instrument. It was an unforgettable experience.

Retirement can oftentimes bring the choice of staying where you have been living for many years, or moving: relocating. 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 neighborhoods, streets, shops, parks, or groups.

Sometimes we are torn. We like it where we live, but – we’re drawn by what we don’t have; the old, “grass is always greener” trick. There is a certain amount of comfort in staying put; having this “sense of place”. But there is a magnetic-like appeal for something new.

Here is a third choice; other than moving or staying. You can stay and move at the same time. No, it doesn’t seem logical, but it’s true. Here’s what we did.

This is Retirement Talk. I’m Del Lowery.

Just fifty miles away from our home lay the city of Vancouver , BC. It is in a different country. They have different currency; different politics; different headlines; a different mind set. 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 always enjoy the dramatic change from our own midsized town to this active metropolitan area. Survey after survey list Vancouver as being one of the top three cities in the world in which to live.

We had often talked about how wonderful it would be to be able to stay in the city rather than drive home. One day seven years ago, we stopped and looked at some pictures that were posted in the windows of a real estate office. Within minutes we were inside and talking to a realtor.

I had just finished getting my fill of investing on Wall Street. Continuing corporate scandals and outrages had made me feel like my mutual funds were being used for mutual destruction and certainly unethical behavior.

On this particular Sunday afternoon a solution popped into my mind. We could withdraw the modest sum of money we had invested in Wall Street, invest in real estate, and in one stroke also diversify some of our money into a foreign currency. Financial planners had always told us that was a good idea. Little did we realize that our entire life was about to be dramatically changed – and all for the better. Buying a condo just fifty 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”. We would treat it like a cabin in the woods only it was in the heart of a city.

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. Being young, they were short on down payment money, but with good jobs they could easily afford monthly investment payments.

Seven years have passed. The customs people call us ‘seasonal residence’. We drive north each Sunday afternoon and return home each Wednesday afternoon. 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. The symphony and Opera are only four blocks away. 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.

This is Retirement Talk.




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