Juanita,I'm in New Jersey and want/need to retire and get outta here. I'm thinking of Arizona. I too hate the snow and Southern Arizona sounds fine to me. From what I hear and read Florida will be going thru another downturn on Real Estate prices within this calendar year to early next year. So you may want to wait a while to see what happens. BUT the idea of buying a 2nd home now while you can is great I think. Consider also keeping the home in the North. It gets awfully hot in Florida during the summer and a nice drive back "home" in June might be the answer.So, buy a house in Florida and keep the old house too.
RE is going to take a while to recover - easily several years. When one is so near to retirement, even taking on a small mortgage is a risk. I'd strongly suggest you consider renting at first. Even if you don't get in at the 'absolute bottom', it is far better to conserve your funds until you are both sure that a long-distance move is what you want to to do.
A lot of people have found their ideas/plans changed when they actually retired. Two homes are twice the taxes, utilities, and maintenance. You may not mind Florida in August, but it's a good point that not everybody does. Take the time to really consider what you both want and can compromise on.
There was an article in the WSJournal saying that many retirement communities and CCRCs are offering rental trials so you can stay for a few nights or longer, to see what it's like. Usually (not always) it's cheaper than a hotel and might be a good way to try different locations in the state.
In these times I wouldn't do ANYTHING to increase my fixed overhead costs without being 100% sure it was advantageous in the long run. That would mean being absolutely certain about new location, amenities, culture, and services, by being thoroughly familiar with what the area is like for long term living, not just for vacations. Are all your family in one area, or are they scattered about? Do you want to live close by them, or 'need a little distance'? What's the downsides (every location has them)?
How bullet-proof is your financial planning? What happens if you or DH become ill or disabled? How does that affect your finances? What if you had to sell your home quickly for less profit; how will that affect your situation? These are just some of the questions you might want to ask yourself and DH in order to discuss fully the pros and cons of a long-distance move.
Good luck to you!
There is so much to think about when purchasing a home. For me, at this point when I am five years away from retiring from full time work, I would rather rent for now. Finding an affordable home is enough work for me at this time.
Thank you for sharing.
I concur. I can't tell you how many people I know who moved to a place with a lower cost of living or "better climate" on retirement only to find out that:
1) they missed their old friends/neighborhoods much more than anticipated.
2) they now have to travel more to see grandchildren and the cost of the travel is eating up any savings on cost of living.
3) the "better climate" is only partly true - and some of those "low pollen" sites such as Phoenix are not so anymore now that everyone has irrigated landscapes planted with pollen producing plants from wetter regions.
Bottom line - Do your research, carefully plan with input from family members - and then rent rather than buy in the new area and hang on to the old paid off digs until you are sure you don't want to return. The snow-bird model is not a bad one - own a house in one location and rent a house or apartment for a couple of months in the other location until you are ready to commit to a new location.
I would like to add to "checking financial condition of HOA for the past several years", inquire if there has been any Engineering studies on environmental controls, road condition reports, judgements, litigations, each with cost estimates if available since the HOA was incorporated. Get your answer in writing from the HOA and from the Realtor on the disclosure form. It is very possible these Engineering reports etc are being kept silent or under wraps because the HOA and some lot owners do not want to scare prospective buyers away. YOU PURCHASE, AND A COUPLE OF YEARS DOWN THE ROAD YOU GET HIT WITH A WHOPPER OF AN ASSESSMENT because the roads, etc need major repairs that they were aware of from an past Engineering report. Someone should make up a check list as a handout for anybody considering purchasing in a HOA.
I was talking to a co-worker today regarding the HOA and how these fees can be hidden on the contract. This process really makes me nervous. I am working on my research and this process just doesn't make sense to me regarding all of these hidden fees. WHY!! For me, I do not mind having maintenance, such as lawn care, snow removel and other amenities, however, I just want to know up front what they are.
I am in the BABY BOOMER GENERATION, the next GENERATION to retire. Also, I plan on telling everyone that I meet to be careful and mindful of these hidden fees. After taking all of your hard earned money to make this purchase and then get hit down the road WITH AN ASSESSMENT is SHAMEFUL.
While completing my research, I am going to look into a checklist that may be of some assistance to anyone that is looking to purchase any property in a HOA.
>>> canthony <firstname.lastname@example.org> 6/30/2014 11:01 PM >>>
canthony replied to the discussion
"Buy retirement home now?"
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If possible, talk to several people who have lived there for several years. Just make certain they are not Board members. You will probably get only the positive side of things, but that is OK.
Thank you for sharing this information.
>>> canthony <email@example.com> 7/1/2014 10:01 PM >>>
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In my mind, a HOA is just one part of the purchase. Most of us wouldn't consider buying a house without having the roof, electrical, plumbing, etc. inspected. It certainly makes sense to spend a couple hundred more dollars and have an attorney inspect the covenants and by-laws for any red flags. They may not be able to tell you the condition of the streets or sewage system but they can tell you about limits of assessments and fee increases, and who makes the decision to apply them.
I have very little experience with HOAs and have only owned two properties that had them. One was in a college community where primarily college student's families bought and sold every couple years (they called them Kiddie Condos) and the HOA was pretty much a dictatorship. It was not a good situation and we were happy when our son graduated and it was our turn to move on.
The other was a more stable development that was well established and the HOA board was elected by popular vote of the homeowners. Board members are typically well informed and professional people who work hard to do what is best for the development. It's a much better situation where the board's willingness to explore options and negotiate contracts provides good amenities and saves us a lot of money.
Thank you for taking the time to share this information. I will make a note about your opinion in expressing the HOA. I am hearing some good reports and not so good reports. What may be good for some people may not be good for others.
I want to encourage everyone as well as myself to take note of these fees and make sure this is what you are agreeing to before signing on the dotted line. This way there are no surprises about hidden fees.
One important item to watch for prior to purchasing a HOA, The covenants may be perfect, have everything covered but chances are the covenants are ignored by the BOARDS to suit their own purpose. There is virtually nothing you can do about it because the Municipalities refuse to get involved in any legal matters in HOA. A good protective device and find out if it has been followed, that there are term limits, two years on the BOARD and you are out no matter what. Can only come back after six years have past. It has been a practice that the same people get elected back year after year. This is an absolute NO No. Good question for the people who live there.
Outside my experience - but I am filing this information away in my brain, such as it (my brain) is.
Enjoy your retirement.
>>> BoBraxton <firstname.lastname@example.org> 7/2/2014 5:01 PM >>>
BoBraxton replied to the discussion
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I totally agree! for me, I just do not want the burden of having to worry about these expenses of home owner-ship. Also, I do not want to spend all of my retirement money trying to keep up a home. I will be sure to pay attention to the HOA fees while I am searching for my next home.
We were in the same situation as you are. Currently living in Chicago and will not stay another winter. Did a lot of research, especially on the internet and kept watching the manufactured home listings in "over 55 communities" in Arizona.
Kept watching the prices drop for the houses. Usually the community or corporation owns the land, so real estate taxes on individual houses in the community are very low. You do have to pay a monthly fee to the community. This fee will vary depending on what amenities the community offers and other items covered in the rental agreement. Such items may include an activity director, swimming pools, club houses, golf course, etc. Monthly rental fee may also cover some utilities, garbage pick-up, even taxes. Agreements are all different depending on the community.
Found a house we fell in love with and flew down for a few days to check out the house, the community, activities etc.
We are not impulse people but we bought the house before we left AZ. We will keep our current house in Chicago (near family) for a few years at least. We will start out by splitting our time between Chicago and Arizona.
The price of the manufactured house was so good that we can sell it and make a profit if we want a bigger home later or if we do not want to stay in AZ. We had the home inspected (2006 model) and it was in great shape. Right now looking forward to our first full winter away from the snow and cold. Hope this helps. Contact me if you want more information.
We have a very good friend who taught school in the Chicago area. We were all raised in an area far north of there. She built a beautiful house on property right on the beach of one of the Great Lakes. It was "just the best place on earth". Then there was that trip to AZ in the winter. Then longer trips. Then a 2nd small house in AZ. Now it's all winter in AZ. I guess you can't blame her when the average snowfall back home is measured in the 100's of inches. I can never recall that Chicago ever broke 100 inches of snow, but then it is a huge city where snow is more than just an inconvenience. Ask a past mayor about that.
We are now located in a place where there is very little snow, but the temperature from May through September is far above that I ever liked or encountered. But when you factor in the very long Spring and Fall, it sure can get pleasant in the collar periods. And "winter" lasts for maybe 6 weeks followed by random events. We thought it was hilarious when somebody said that they were going south for the winter. But then the 100+ temperatures in AZ in the summers would be by my definition of "Hell on Earth". But each to his own. ENJOY!! :-)))
We plan on AZ from November thru March. Both my wife and I plan on working part time back in the Chicago area from April thru October. She works for a landscaping company that closes down in the winter and I teach the computer to seniors in their homes. So, we just need to stay healthy, that's the plan. We may buy a small car for AZ, leave it there and fly down in the future. It is a very long road trip, but we have to do it the first time as we have a lot of things to bring down to set up a household.
We have tried all parts of Florida, liking the West Coast best, but do not like the humidity in Florida. It does not do well with Mister Arthur-It-Is. So, we will be off to our new journey in a few months and see. That's the thing about retirement, you can change your venue.
Thanks for writing
Larry, if you look at the photos on my profile you can see one of those "random events" siting on our deck one spring at our retirement home, 22" worth of snow in one day in a place that rarely sees 10" in a winter. The next picture shows what real winter looks like at a Great Lakes harbor light house just up the road from where we were raised and my spouse worked in summers.
While some areas of Florida are recovering, the hit was so bad in other areas they will take years to recover. We visit a friend on the east coast and drive past huge condo developments that are almost half empty even after several years of recovery. Perhaps you could find a rental in a place where you think you would like to live and spend some time there getting familiar with the area etc. If you buy a 'bargain" now but aren't happy, you will lose more money trying to resell it than you will spend waiting a year to buy something else. In NC we are familiar with the "halfbacks" . These are people who left the north for Florida, didn't like it so moved here - half way back to the north.
Condo fees are also a consideration. We have a friend who has an ocean front condo and the fees and repair levies have become more than his mortgage payments. He has the condo on the market now.
We have a second (small cottage) on the Virginia shore (Chesapeake Bay) - where by the end of the century water-level rise is expected to go up another 66 inches!
It sounds like you have a good plan for retirement. For me, I would buy the retirement home now and use it during your vacation times. This way both you and your husband would be getting familiar with the area. Sort of like a trial run . Florida is a wonderful place to retire if you like the heat. Who knows what the economy holds in a couple of years?
I say, go ahead and make the purchase now for your retirement home. You will have less to worry about when you retire.
I read an article from the syndicated columnist, Scott Burns, who had a series of six or seven questions to determine if you should purchase a home or rent. Basically, he recommended you rent instead of buying if you are less than 30 or greater than 65. In both cases he thought freedom to move & promotions for the younger group, and freedom to travel & not be hitched to a house that requires lots of work for the older generation. I understand his points but still like having my own place.
Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts regarding this article. I do agree that is a good idea to strive and have your own place. As one that is reaching retirement and do not their own place, I believe that renting maybe a better option for them. Personally, I do not want to hitch myself to a mortgage at 65 .
We moved from the North East to Western North Carolina and love the weather, not too cold in the winter, a few snow days, and really only hot in July. I will warn you from our experience, we always owned our own home and paid our taxes to a municipality. Mistake was purchasing a home in a HOA, what a mistake. I've always liked to make my own decisions, within reason but in a HOA you are giving away your heart and soul. Very few are run without favoritism and the vote can change things instantly. If you still want to live in a HOA complex, make certain it is a well established community that has been around for a minimum of 10 years and talk to as many community members as possible.
What often happens in NC a developer will start the HOA and then sell the remaining lots to another "developer" who now has the controlling votes for years. The HOA becomes a one person rule because He/she has the number of votes to change the covenants and do what he pleases. Our example was that no home under 3000 sq ft and a double car garage would be required. The new developer immediately changed the covenants to 1900 sq ft and a single car garage, so he could sell the lots faster. Nothing you can do about it and the public courts will not in any circumstance get involved in HOA. Beware and do your homework first.
It's interesting you bring up HOAs. We own a townhouse that is part of a HOA development and they can annoy me to no end, but they definitely have a brighter side, too. Our fee includes landscaping, streets and grounds maintenance, pool and tennis court maintenance, sewage, basic cable TV, semi-monthly interior pest control and trash pickup. In the 12 years we've been there I've had 2 or 3 minor disputes with the (elected) board but nothing major. I'm currently looking for another building site and will definitely consider one with a HOA.
All that said, your point is a good one. If you're thinking about purchasing a home in a HOA run development, read and study the covenants and do your homework. There are horror stories about the bad ones!
Back to the original question, my wife and I have owned our homes for the past 35 years. I can't imagine changing that as long as I'm able to care for a house.
My main objective was to inform people that covenants can be changed when one person or a partnership has a controlling number of votes which happens frequently when developers sell out in the early years. . Votes in NC are purely on how many lots you own. I have often asked why a limit on votes, no matter how many lots one owns be put in the covenants. Falls on deaf ears. This change in ownership is a common game which is played in order to change the covenants. That is why, I feel it is of utmost importance to check prior to purchasing in a HOA to see if this situation exists. Does anybody or any group control the voting? My suggestion would be a limit of not more than 10 percent no matter how many lots you own..
It appears that you live in a very nice community with all those amenities paid by the HOA. Are you willing to give your monthly HOA fee? Just curious.
This is actually our vacation property. There are about 200 homes within the development and each deeded property has one vote. Monthly HOA fees are $280 and there is a 5% maximum allowable increase which is determined annually. My situation is currently changing and I'll almost certainly end up going elsewhere where there are fewer amenities but lower fees.
I am with you on this one.
However, I do love having all of those amenities, however, I know that with my financial situation I would definitely end up going some place with fewer amenities but lower fees. I personally do not believe that when we retire, we should be penalized with all of these fees. When do we get a break? I want my day in Congress, so that I can tell them face to face the issues that are going on with the aging population. Of course, they already know, but I just want to have my say to those in power.
>>> TroutBum <email@example.com> 6/19/2014 11:06 AM >>>
TroutBum replied to the discussion
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I am glad that you decided to share the positive side of a HOA development. Just like in everything there are some bad seeds and good seeds. It is important to let others know so they can do their homework. I often tell others as well as myself to take the time and do some research. What is good for someone else may not be what is good for you.
Personally, I do like the brighter side of a HOA development and having all of the amenities included. Again, everyone has to do their research and decide what is best for them.
Thank you so much for sharing this information.
>>> TroutBum <firstname.lastname@example.org> 6/19/2014 8:32 AM >>>
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I believe that selecting the right neighborhood - HOA or not - is as important as selecting the right house, and I strongly agree with what you say about what is good for one person not necessarily being good for another. When we bought the place we now have we knew we had to cover some of the costs by renting it as a vacation rental during the peak seasons. Because of that we wanted a place with pools, tennis courts, playground, etc. Now, as we approach retirement and begin making plans for a permanent home, things like a garage, workshop and private outdoor space become the priorities.
Yes, selecting the right neighborhood is very important along with all of your other priorities at this time in your life.
>>> TroutBum <email@example.com> 6/19/2014 12:57 PM >>>
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Now this is some powerful information that everyone can use who are planning on taking this route. Something needs to be done about this situation. I personally believe that you should not have to go this situation. Why should these controlling votes be factor in the first place. I am glad that you decided to post your situation and give others an opportunity to do their homework. This is very disturbing to the Baby Boomer Generation.
The Baby-Boomers are the next generation to retire and we are going to swept this nation by a storm. I am one of those who are in this crowd. I am going to tell all to make sure they do their homework regarding this matter.
I do hope that in some way you and family will be compensated and not penalized for making this move.
Keep us posted and Best Wishes!
>>> canthony <firstname.lastname@example.org> 6/18/2014 10:23 PM >>>
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My suggestion would be to forgo the multiple house deal. I had 2 vacation homes and numerous other toys (RVs, SUVs, ATVs, Wave Runners, Ski and Pontoon Boats, etc). When you have lots of things you just have lots of headaches. Something is always broken down, you are being robbed, someone is getting hurt on your property, etc. etc. You will go crazy trying to find some reputable person to fix these problems when you are living 1,000 miles way from them. My suggestion is to just have one "right sized home". With the money you safe from downsizing take a yearly (3 week) trip around the US and another 3 week trip to a foreign country, while you are still physically able to do so. When my parents turned 80, they had no dept, their lives slowed down to the point that they could not figure out what to do with their money, so they gave much of it to their grandkids education. Now they are 90 and are basically home bound and hardly spend any money. They live in a retirement home In Fla on $4K/month, which pays for everything, but additional medical expenses. If you lived well off with $90K in your 60s, then you only need $80K in your 70s, $60K in your 80s and $50 K in your 90s. So the 4 to 6%/year for using your retirement money is valid for only the first 10 to 15 years after your retirement unless you want to go on 5- 2 week cruises per year as some of my friends do. Buy 4 and get the 5th one free. Well I easily get tired of all the eating, drinking, gambling, and buying useless trinkets for my family.
Now this is straight and to the point. I really do believe that everyone has to evaluate their own situation. My God I want to help my grandchildren too, but I do want to take some trips while I am still physically able to do so. I really do love your suggestion and that is to have one right size home. Take the rest of the money and enjoy it while you can.
>>> DRJJG <email@example.com> 7/2/2014 3:37 PM >>>
DRJJG replied to the discussion
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Totally agree, have one home which you can call your base station, and then rent a place at your other 2nd base station for any time period you desire.. The idea is to eliminate worry and responsibility as much as you can. I always love that bumper sticker I see occasionally on a RV, “We are driving our son’s and daughter’s inheritance.” I’m sure their kids are understanding and if they are not “Tough Tootsie”.
As far as grand children are concerned, who knows in this day and age, they will probably end up splitting it up through two or three divorces. ou worked and sacrificed for it, enjoy it .
My parents are in their 90s and have 1/2million in CDs that they will never use. They should have used it when they were younger. They never traveled, lived in the same home, and drove the same cars, because that is what their parents did. I will not make the same decision. My wife in retired and I will retire next year. We don't need their money either, so we will give $100K each to pay off my son's law school debt and daughters medical school debt. After that well I guess we will spend a lot of time traveling around the world in first class vacation resorts and maybe leave some to our grand kids and favorite charities. We bought 2 week time shares in Aruba and 2 weeks in Park City Utah. Time shares are expensive and not particularly good investments. You pay yearly upkeep dues and taxes. You buy them for $30K or more and sell them for $5K, if you are lucky. However, if you like vacationing in one or 2 full bedroom modern luxury apartments in beautiful resorts with lots of room for family members or friends, they are hard to beat. Buying your own food at the local grocery store and cooking it your self in a large modern kitchen will save you $100/day. If you rent the same vacation resort apartment in Aruba in Dec you will pay about $700/day or about $500/day In Park City any time during ski season. You can always exchange them for out of the country resorts like Tuscany, Costa Rica, Belize, Australia, New Zealand, etc. for a $200 fee. If you can't afford that their are RV vacation resorts, but a nice RV will cost you $250K or more or maybe you can get a pop up trailer for $5K. I have done them all including a $100 back pack tent hiking on the Appalachian trail for free. The world is at your disposable so drink it up, while you still can. Once you reach your 80s you won't have the energy or desire to do so.
We must take some time out for ourselves and enjoy.
>>> canthony <firstname.lastname@example.org> 7/2/2014 11:14 PM >>>
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My sister-in-law is 72 - four years ago her (older) husband died. Having one house in Montana and one in AZ is turning out to be a bigger chore than she / they anticipated. Making a choice is quite difficult for her now.
I did not read every post to this thread, but at the risk of being too obvious, I would like to recommend something. Before you "rush" off and buy that dream place far from home, be sure to visit there during all of the seasons for more than a day or two. This will help to insure that there isn't something that you missed and just hate about the place.
We traveled to our current place for short trips over the course of 10 years in various seasons because a kid was there or close by. When it became a candidate for relocation, we started looking at specific areas first before looking at houses. We did Internet searches on a large Realtor web site. We contacted the three largest Realtors in the area and called the sales manager and asked to be connected up to the best relocation salesperson that they had. We talked to each in person or by phone and communicated our likes and dislikes. On some new construction, we just popped into to see what you get for what you pay without a Realtor pushing for a sale. As we always do, we "collected some paper" or sales literature in the Realtor boxes by places of interest. In the end, we looked at very few houses. Got a beauty of a place that I never thought we could afford that is very different from the places we lived in while in the earning stage and it fits our background and early roots very nicely. GOOD LUCK!!!
Thank you so much for sharing the valuable information with us. It really does pay to do your homework before relocating. I am going to take my time in searching for an affordable place to live my remaining years. I do not like to move around too often. Visiting these areas is a great idea.
>>> JerryD <email@example.com> 7/9/2014 6:06 AM >>>
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Home work pays off in the long term and with the Internet you get a head start. Ther rate places to live for you.
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