18 Replies Latest reply on Apr 23, 2014 2:24 PM by BoBraxton

    Relocating and Downsizing

    portlandapd

      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.

      Laura

      www.DaybreakCohousing.org

       

       

       

        • Re: Relocating and Downsizing
          JerryD
          Sounds better than 5 hours to cut the grass which, as probably a unique male, I hate, especially when it's 90+ degrees. I do wonder how one will be able to maintain a big place after the problems set in and the energy wains.


          • Re: Relocating and Downsizing
            sarahsadeyes
            The cohousing is certainly an option.  I am roughly six years away from retirement and I've asked my husband to consider downsizing now.  It would give us a chance to get things under control and pay off extra debt that I don't wish to have when we retire.  He is in denial at this time but I'm still working on him (: to move forward.  I would someday like to return South to our hometown.   
              • Re: Relocating and Downsizing
                JerryD
                If saving money is the objective moving from IL to AR saved us a lot of money in both house price (even got a bigger house on a creek which we never could have afforded in IL) and real estate taxes. Also, you can pick up an old 20+ year old car/truck and fit right in - no salt damage either. People are nice too.


                  • Re: Relocating and Downsizing
                    GoletaGuy
                    As one who has done substantial downsizing, I have found it very liberating.  It was nearly an even financial trade for me to sell my 5000 sq.ft. house in Indiana and replace with a 1200 sq.ft. condo near the mouintains and ocean in Santa Barbara. It was tough initially to sell the house and give away a lot of furniture and other things (memories you know), but that was more than offset by the happiness it gave others who needed the "stuff" and the fact that I am not nearly as tied to taking care of the material things in my life now.  I'm not finished right-sizing yet, but I am a lot "lighter" and much happier.  Instead of mowing lawns, raking leaves, shoveling snow, etc., I'm riding bikes with friends on the cliffs above the ocean or hiking beautifiul mountain trails.  I am happier and healthier now than I could possibly be if I hadn't downsized house and possessions.   GoletaGuy
                      • Re: Relocating and Downsizing
                        Yorkscat
                        You mention "giving away" possessions. I've started taking bags of stuff to the Goodwill pickup and setting aside other things for a future yard sale.
                        But what about possibly valuable items? I have a lot of (large) furniture made by my great grandfather and my parents were pack rats, never throwing out a thing. If it was just junk it would be easy but I worry that that old clock might be worth a lot more than the $10 in pennies my mother paid for it!
                        I don't know much about auctions except that the local auction house wants you to bring stuff in for appraisal (march through the city with a Civil War rifle -- I don't think so!) I'm not sure about Ebay, especially for large things like furniture. Anyone have experience with selling?
                          • Re: Relocating and Downsizing
                            albuquerque

                            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.

                              • Re: Relocating and Downsizing
                                As far as getting rid of extra things, try keeping a gargage bag in each room and place items you do not need in there.  When it is full, donate it or call Purple Heart, National childrens Center, Lupus, etc to pick up your donations.  Keep the receipts-the donations are tax deductible.
                                  • Re: Relocating and Downsizing
                                    JerryD
                                    For a few items you might try Craig's list for your area. Costs nothing and worth a try. Also, our local paper lets you run free ads for some types of items. Then there are lots of sales bulletin boards around most towns.

                                    For a large number of items look into an auction. Knew nothing about auctions when we closed the in-laws place 400 miles away. Couldn't believe the turn out and the auctioneer said to to leave everything, even old "junk". You wouldn't believe what collectors cherish as antiques. We sold everything including the house in a couple of weeks and even the wood pile in the basement. Just be aware to check out the reputation of the auctioneer if you are not familiar with him. They collect all of the money and sometimes settle up later. Make sure you get a receipt for every sale before he leaves the premises.
                                  • Re: Relocating and Downsizing
                                    Sandyshoes
                                    Hello Albuquerque--You asked about over-55 communities. I'm from Florida--practically the birthplace of retirement communities. And I have friends who enjoy living in them. Big downsides for me were location (most are in the boonies) and the issue of my kids having a hard time selling when I die (remember they can't live there themselves until they're over 55). Also those communities tend to age as their owners do and in older communities most of those over-55s are all over-80s. I'm sure you're aware of how much Florida real estate has tanked, but nowhere more than in retirement communities. Rentals and resales are age-restricted, and when you have a lot of units not paying their monthly fees, maintenance goes down quickly.

                                    I've lived in Florida all my life and have family here so my retirement choice was easy. Three years ago I sold the house, bought a condo near the beach and enjoy every minute of every day. If you do decide to move to a different area, spend some time there first.  And try to visit the location you're considering at different times of the year. It's good to be near family and friends, but remember, they may move away, so you want to be in a place you love as well.

                                    Good luck with your choice.


                                      • Re: Relocating and Downsizing
                                        TroutBum
                                        Sandyshoes said...
                                        I've lived in Florida all my life and have family here so my retirement choice was easy. Three years ago I sold the house, bought a condo near the beach and enjoy every minute of every day. If you do decide to move to a different area, spend some time there first.  And try to visit the location you're considering at different times of the year. It's good to be near family and friends, but remember, they may move away, so you want to be in a place you love as well.

                                             
                                                        
                                        I am so glad to hear someone who shares my thoughts on that. I'm still a couple years from retirement but have researched a variety of housing options. Retirement communities just are not for me and I can't imagine living somewhere that doesn't make me happy. I too own a beach condo in Florida. Right now it serves as a vacation home and rental unit but I believe I can be very happy there in retirement.

                                        The snag for me is that, while I love it at the condo about 8 months of the year, I wouldn't enjoy being there in the summer months; Too hot and too many tourists! Because of that I'm now looking at the possibility of a 2nd home in different area. Nothing large or expensive but just a place that keeps me in the kind of surroundings where I can enjoy life.


                                          • Re: Relocating and Downsizing
                                            Sandyshoes
                                            Guess I'm lucky to love hot weather--last summer was a record-breaker here in Ft. Lauderdale. When you do retire and are a Florida resident most of the year, don't forget to file for your homestead exemption. That will make a big difference in your property taxes. And good luck with your plans.
                                          • Re: Relocating and Downsizing
                                            smurphy

                                            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".

                                             

                                        • Re: Relocating and Downsizing
                                          Beachlover

                                          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!

                                      • Re: Relocating and Downsizing
                                        BoBraxton

                                        Have you all run into anyone who regularly does the NY Times crossword puzzles down there?

                                      • Re: Relocating and Downsizing
                                        ang
                                        I see your point and it is a good one. I am also 6 years away from retirement. I agree that it would be good to downsize now rather than wait. My problem is the housing market which will most likely kill all profits made on the sale of the house. Perhaps better to wait for a housing rebound.
                                      • Re: Relocating and Downsizing
                                        SalJ
                                        Wow!  That sounds fantastic.  I wish I had known about that option before buying the condo I downsized to just 6 months ago.  The community idea sounds wonderful!
                                        • Re: Relocating and Downsizing
                                          BoBraxton

                                          very persuasive