I posted earlier about our retirement “adventure” this past year of moving from Kansas to Florida, selling our home and belongings and downsizing, and then essentially starting over in Florida. This post is to add some details for that adventure.
As I look back a year from moving into our new condo in Florida, it’s hard to believe where we were in January of 2014—mentally, physically, and financially!
he first three months of last year were spent facing a new phase in life where we were both retired. My husband was 67 and I was 66. Both my parents had passed on at this age, so I really hadn’t planned past 66. My husband had retired as a letter carrier a few years ago and became a landscape engineer of sorts for our small farmlet. My retirement meant a significantly reduced income and that forced several of our other decisions. We had made a crucial error in not planning to have the house paid off when we were both retired. The first decision was to seriously consider either paying the house off or sell and use the equity to downsize and have no mortgage.
As we considered options, selling and eliminating that debt looked increasingly enticing. Because we didn’t know how much time we had left, we wanted to be as stable financially as possible. In addition, at our ages, the work and expense to maintain a home with three floors and 2.9 acres was getting too much for us, especially after a really tough winter. All of our children had moved to locations across the U.S. from the east coast to west coast, so we just needed to be close to an airport. By March, we had weighed options and decided to at least put the house on the market and see what happened.
While we waited, we explored other living options—mobile homes, cruisers, and then other locations. I have always loved California and the beach, but it was too expensive. Texas and Florida both had attractive incentives for retirees. We had spent time in Texas already, so we decided to try an extended trip to southwest Florida and see what options we might have. My husband had been researching places online and had connected with a realtor for 55+ communities. We had made one previous trip to the Fort Myers area and really liked the community and the weather. So, we scheduled a week-long visit—just to look at options for us. We were planning just to use the equity we had and get something small that fit our budget (no new mortgage). That week, we found three places we really liked—two were condos in 55+ communities with lots of amenities and one was a mobile home court, also 55+.
The house sold with the closing set for October 1, so we needed to move fast to make a plan. We contacted an auctioneer and had a sort of going away auction/party to sell our belongings, collected over the last 25 years. We chose one of the condos because we liked the view and updated rooms, our offer was accepted, and we closed on November 6 (no mortgage) and were settled in by the next weekend (but with no stuff)! We spent the next weeks accumulating new stuff—furniture, electronics, etc., almost like newlyweds again.
We have had three months here now and are beginning to feel like part of the community. Friends and family members have visited and like our location and all the amenities. We don’t mind the smaller space—it’s easier to maintain and really, at this age, four main rooms is probably enough. We love the water view and lanai and we have so many new places to explore and nearly perfect weather. The entire move has been renewing and affirming—we survived the transition and are stronger for it.