Retirement is often a time when the necessity of a large American-style house, whether in the suburbs or in the city, is questioned. Are all those extra bedrooms necessary now that the kids are not living at home? Is that huge lawn really necessary when no one ever spends time sitting or lying or playing on it? Are three cars really needed? Is that massive freezer a resource or a burden? Is it really useful to have kept those walls and walls of books that will probably not get read again? And all the garden implements bought in a mood of good intentions quite a while back -- are those projects really going to get used?
Approaching retirement is often a time of re-thinking one's life, and what is really important. I would like to tell you why cohousing is definitely an option to consider, especially if you are thinking of moving to a new area in order to be closer to children and grandchildren. I live at Daybreak Cohousing, which is a lovely building with new construction (opened a year ago) in Portland, Oregon. We are in North Portland, which is very close to downtown. Two buses run right by us, and we are about six blocks from the light-rail train, which here is called Max.
We don't need extra bedrooms in our apartments because we have two community guestrooms. When I have a guest coming, I just reserve the guestroom, and am responsible to see that it is set up and then cleaned and ready for the next guest. I don't have to have a spare bedroom, just for the two or three times a year that I have visitors, and that means I don't have the upkeep of the spare bedroom either.
We have a lovely grounds with flowers and garden, but everybody gets to enjoy them while the people on the garden team (made up of people who totally enjoy gardening, and aren't doing it out of any sense of keeping up with the Joneses) oversee it and do the routine work. Last weekend we had a big work party, and within three hours we got the grounds and garden ready for winter. We have pooled all our garden instruments, and have kept the ones we want (including a few exotic ones) and given away the ones we dont' intend to use and all the extras. And all of that is kept in one shed. So, individually, no one has to worry about cleaning out the garage periodically.
Extra cars are not necessary. Families can get along with one car because, in those emergencies, when different members have to go different directions, and taking public transport just isn't realistic, we can borrow another community member's car. I'm stuck in an office building most days, and my car isn't really being used. I'm glad to let my neighbor who has an at-home business borrow it for those meeting that are on the other side of town where it would be hard to go by public transport. One couple has a very spacious SUV, so I don't have to worry about picking up big boxes at IKEA in my little sedan. A lot of sharing goes on in a cohousing community.
All of those dishes that are nice to have every once and a while, but which hardly get used are all stored in our community house. We have bigger meals there and we need those big platters and relish dishes for community dinners, and if, by chance, I am entertaining in my apartment and need a big platter, I just go over to the Common House and bring it back and use it. But I don't worry about where I will store it because it lives in the Common House.
Room for an exercise bicycle in my apartment? Dont' have to worry about that. The exercise bicycle lives in the community space and is open to use by all of us. Much more economical because it gets ridden a lot more by more people.
We have a community library, and all those books that I enjoyed so much once, and hate to get rid of are there on the shelves waiting for others to read them, and I don't have to set aside space in my apartment for them. And when I have a book that I absolutely love, at one of our dinners I can rave about it and offer it to others, and if someone takes me up on it, we have great discussions about it later. I didn't have that opportunity when I was living in my own isolated, typical, American existence.
Even things like having community members check in on me when I get the flu is something I get from cohousing. Everyone in my building has joined because they want to share their lives and care about the others in the group. Sure, moving to an independent living apartmernt building is an option at retirement, but that kind of guarantees neighbors who are also retired. In cohousing I get to share the life of young people and kids and other members who are still very entrenched in the work force. They are all a very interesting, dynamic group of people. if you have never heard of cohousing, or never thought it might be a good thing for you, I urge you to consider it as a very useful option if you are downsizing or moving to a new part of the country. There are cohousing groups all over the place, and their numbers are growing. It's intergenerational living -- the way humans were meant to live.
I give to our church rummage sale twice a year but still have lots of stuff in the basement. There are a few items that my father-in-law made that I'm keeping for may son and his family (coffee table, lamps etc). Hopefully they will want these itms when the kids are a little older.
When my mother and mother-in-law died, we had two houses of items to find homes for. I advertised in the newspaper, and sold items . It took me quite a while and I think I put the items to good use. I took some items to an auction house in Pennsylvania.
I would like to downsize items in my basement. My husband is taking about moving because our taxes are high. We started to look at over 55 communities, but I'm not thrilled with them. We have a ranch house now and I like eveything on one floor. The new communities are not inexpensive and everything is an upgrade.
Any suggestions on where to move to. Our famililies are in Ithaca New York and we have friends in central New Jersey.
Thanks for your opinion Sandy. We are moving this year to Del Webb The Haven outside Hilton Head, SC. This is a 55+ community which is only 12 miles from the ocean, 17 from Savannah and 90 min. from Charleston. So far, none of the residents in The Haven, nor the huge nearby Sun City, have given any negative feedback. Many have lived in Sun City for a decade. As one woman said, "It is not about the house, but about the community".
Dear Yorkscat~Do you have family/relatives who might want these items? Find out before you do anything else. Then, get the furniture (clock,rifle) appraised; some appraisers will come to your home; go to several serious antique stores and ask them to recommend someone. Then, yes, you can put your items on EBay and discover that selling is not an obstacle. Go on EBay first and look under furniture, antiques, etc. There are antique items that are on sale for thousands!!! You might also try Craigslist for your area-region; just be sure to put in pictures-a picture is a thousand words! I have bought beautiful furniture from both EBay and Craigslist and have sold a lot of furniture through Craigslist. Look for high end consignment stores in your area; go to antique stores in your area and ask about the market for your items-you may find a dealer who will buy your items and put them in her/his store. Good luck!
Have you all run into anyone who regularly does the NY Times crossword puzzles down there?
The rebound in the D.C. area is so much already that the prices are turning away first time buyers who already cannot see themselves affording the increased prices in this area.
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