A Moving Question

We have had a decent amount of rain in our corner of Southern California over the last several weeks. Our succulents are happy, and the weeds are ecstatic.

The other day, as my husband and I were enjoying spending the afternoon in guilt-free, rainy-day lazing about, we became aware of a drip, drip, drip sound coming from the downstairs guest bathroom. That couldn’t be good… and it wasn’t. Upon inspection, we discovered water dripping through the ceiling vent onto the bathroom floor. Not a lot of water but no amount of precipitation traveling from the outside to the inside can be considered acceptable. So, when we had a short break in the rain, we climbed on our roof and laid out a tarp, then we called a roofing company to schedule an inspection.

Of all the things that can go wrong with a house (structural, plumbing, electrical, etc.) this certainly wasn’t the worse, but it restarted the conversation we have now and then about where and how we want to live at this time of our lives. Has our house become too much of a burden when what we really want to do is spend our time enjoying our retirement while we are healthy and able?

We love our house and our neighborhood so if we made the choice to relocate, it would be a very difficult decision. We’d give up a lot but living in a home that is virtually maintenance-free (for us, anyway) is tempting. A condo or a townhome, for instance, could mean that our repair responsibilities would end at the interior walls. When we left for a trip, all we’d have to do is lock the door and go. Yes, we’d have to off-load a lot of our stuff, but we’ve been doing that over the last few years anyway. Yes, we’d probably have to give up some luxuries (like having two separate offices), but I’m sure we could work things out.

As with most major decisions there is give and take, and both positive and negative outcomes. When we’ve discussed this in the past, we decided that what we’d lose outweighed what we’d gain. Lately, though, we’ve begun to realize that our priorities are changing. Do we want to spend a large amount of time doing yardwork and house projects, or would we rather let go of house-related stress, have more time to explore our interests, and travel without concerns?

Obviously, there are financial impacts that weigh in a decision like this but, right now, we are thinking about emotional and lifestyle considerations – both short- and long-term. If we move, would we soon regret what we gave up? Or, if we stay, would we look back and realize that we spent too much time caring for our house and not enough time enjoying our retirement?

So, I’m curious. Have any of you thought about moving – or, maybe you have moved – for similar reasons? What were some of your considerations in making your decision? What did you decide? Are you happy with the decision you made? Do you have any regrets? And, those of you who decided to sell your house and buy a low-maintenance alternative, are you now spending your free time in ways that you thought you would?

I know we aren’t the first – and won’t be the last – to think about this. Maybe we can learn from each other.

Author: Janis @ RetirementallyChallenged.com

My blog is about travel, relationships, photography, and whatever else pops into my head (even, sometimes, issues surrounding retirement and aging).

146 thoughts on “A Moving Question”

    1. There are definite pluses and minuses to each decision. If my husband wasn’t so handy, I’m sure I’d have various, trusted repair people on speed dial (why do leaks and outages always happen on the weekend when repair prices go up?).

  1. Janis, we had to do some serious thinking about what kind of house we wanted when I retired 20 months ago and we decided to move to Vancouver Island. As this area is a popular retirement destination, there are many single-level 2-bedroom ranchers on the market. Most are on tiny lots and many are strata developments. Also, there are lots of “patio homes” and condos. We hated the sameness of the ranchers and the neighbourhoods they were in. We didn’t want to have to deal with a strata council. We enjoy gardening and outdoor work, and liked the idea of having some land. We have lots of hobbies, some which require lots of space (Rob’s workshop and my painting studio). Also, because the smaller single-level homes are in high demand, they are relatively overpriced.

    So we did the opposite from most retirees. We bought a big two-storey house on .62 acres, with a big yard and garden. The living area is on the second floor, so we climb stairs. We love it. We plan to stay healthy enough (!) to live in this house for 10 years.

    The house is big enough that family members could live here with us if need be (my son lived with us for the first year). Also, the lower level is a suite which we could rent out if we needed to financially, or move into ourselves if we become too decrepit for stairs. We have nice neighbours and already have a great circle of new friends here. So far, it has worked out well for us.


    1. Hi Jude! Your house sounds ideal for your lifestyle (my husband would be seriously envious of Rob’s workshop). I think having stairs to climb when we are relatively young is probably a good thing (although, I appreciated having a downstairs guestroom when I fell and fractured my hip a couple of years ago). I’m really looking forward to our visit to Vancouver Island later this year. I’m not sure what the immigration policies are, but, from what I’ve heard about it, it sounds like a beautiful place to retire. I love the thought of having easily accessible hiking paths all around. Overpriced? Have you seen the housing prices in Southern California? 🙂

  2. My wife and I reached the “retirement” years several years back. Since then we have moved from New England to FL and after 4 years we’ve relocated to VA. We think and hope this is our forever home.
    We’re renting for the moment but not a day goes by that we don’t miss having our own home – with a garden, privacy and a sense of belonging. Our thinking is we’ll always have something to do to our house whether it’s inside or out. Deferred maintenance can be a cause of lots anxiety. With a condo it’s true you can forget about doing outside maintenance, but you’ll pay for it. For us, having our own home without having an hoa or noisy neighbors on the other side of the wall can’t come quick enough!
    And, you’re as old as you think.

    1. So far anyway, it looks like we will be staying here for a while. We are even meeting with an architect to discuss how we could rearrange the downstairs to add a master suite at some point. I enjoyed reading your post about house hunting and your ongoing interaction with LBF upstairs. Although here in SoCal, we live close to our neighbors, at least we don’t share walls or ceilings. Thank you for your comment… and good luck on your search!

  3. I 64 and hubby is 63. Hubby has not retired at this point, and we live in a house. I don’t like the maintenance issues, but I think I’d like an HOA even less. While it’s true that in a condo you don’t have to fix the roof yourself, you have however many number of people that have to agree whether or not to get the cheaper roof or the more expensive roof when a new roof is needed … and I’d not like dealing with the arguments, etc. I personally would like to rent a place if we ever moved, but hubby would not like that for sure. I think no situation is perfect 🙂

    1. I guess we need to figure out what works best for our particular situation. I’m not sure I’d like to rent and have a potential forced move (landlord wants to see it or move back in, crazy rent increases, etc.) over our heads. I completely agree about the issues with too-close neighbors and HOA disagreements in the case of condos. We’ll probably stay where we are for now… the roof is currently being fixed and – for now – nothing else is requiring our attention. Thanks for your comment!

  4. Great to hear news from Southern California! Home maintenance can become a burden in terms of time, energy and money. I have moved from our family home to a much smaller apartment and have fewer concerns about maintenance and much more time to follow my interests and try new things. No more worries about the garden and moving the lawns but I do have lots of pot plants on my patio. It’s been a very positive experience for me.

    1. Sorry that it took a while to respond (your comment got lost in my flood of emails). I’m glad that you had a positive experience. My husband and I still go back and forth with this. I guess for now we’ll just stay put. I imagine we will know when the time and circumstance is right. Enjoy your freed up time! I envy you that, for sure.

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