We’re still looking for a new location/real estate. I have to keep clinging to my optimistic attitude that we will find it, even as we broaden our search from the area near where we currently live to practically the entire state. I’ve also concluded that our search cannot be conducted via the newspaper want ads and the computer. What we are looking for can really only be found by crawling through the neighborhoods and reading faded signs.
We’re really pretty open about what we want, because of this uncertainty about what it is we really want. Maybe that’s why the crawling through the neighborhood system might be best–we will know “it” when we see “it.” Okay, so we may see many potential “it” locations, but we also see many more that are a case of “I don’t think so.”
We’ve seen a lot of those, and granted some of them are way out of our price range, but barring desperation for a roof over my head, I don’t see me as enthusiastic even with unlimited funds. New houses, in small developments, cookie cutter identical on the road, with brick siding and cement driveways and all of the character of a $1 loaf of bread in a gas station.
Yeah. Like we would want to call that home?
I did notice one thing, besides the overall tendency to use brick siding and make cheap houses. The houses are shrinking, the McMansion days are apparently over. I think about the work of keeping up with a 2000+ square foot home, and I cringe. I’m too old to start living for a house, those days are behind me. My days of dealing with a large yard and garden are also numbered, as are the days of coping with stairs.
It’s tough to acknowledge that you are on the downhill slide of life, but if we’re over age 40, we’re definitely headed there. We may stay spry and healthy a long time if we’re given a bit of luck, some good genes, and healthy living. We may fail in the not-so-distant future too, if we’re inflicted with injury, disease, etc. With that on the horizon, why would we be bothered with a giant sized house and a lot of stairs that are essential to daily living?
As empty nesters, we’re best suited to looking at homes that are single story or 1 1/2 story, with the master bedroom, bathroom, etc. located on the main level and only storage or guest rooms upstairs. We can have our office or studio upstairs while we’re still spry…and then as we lose the ability to make that climb regularly, we’ll be forced to give up that upstairs space except for visiting children and grandchildren. To plan on climbing stairs in our twilight years is foolish, just as buying a 1 bedroom home and planning on living in it for 20 years right as we embark on our marriage/child rearing phase of our lives would be. Our lives are filled with phases or stages. Embrace them.
The same is true in our yards. That giant yard and garden we love when we have the time and energy to devote to it is wonderful. But, as we become frail with age, it becomes a burden and we’re forced to either abandon it or hire someone to help with the work. Planning ahead for this stage is also wise. Do we really want a high maintenance garden when we’re 80 years old? It isn’t hard to start planning portions of the garden to naturalized perennials, etc. when we’re younger, gradually expanding it as we become less inclined to dig out the roto-tiller each spring and spend hours bent over planting seeds, plants, and pulling weeds.
Oh for the days of multi-generational households…
Then, the McMansion would have been a bit more practical, although smaller rooms especially for bedrooms and private sitting rooms would have been desired. One small wing for the elders, another for the resident young family, with sitting rooms and nurseries as appropriate. In those days, there was continuity and a love of the land and the work that went into making it a real home place. Today, as we age, we are faced with elder care professionals and probably a nursing home or assisted living, not staying at home with our families. Our homes are typically sold by a realtor to someone who knows nothing of what we put into it, and doesn’t care about the prize roses or rhododendrons that have been carefully maintained for decades. They won’t know that the apple tree has two varieties, both grafted to the special root stock by Uncle Herbert fifty years ago, or that the mulberry tree has always fruited twice a year with the sweetest berries known to man. They simply see it as a past-its-prime apple tree and a tree that makes the birds’ poop stain the sidewalk. Their lawn mowers will quickly demolish the vast herb gardens and turn it into turf suitable for mowing.
Maybe those thoughts inspire many to stay healthy long past the days when they would have succumbed to the frailties of age. For others, such thoughts are enough to send them into profound depression as their frailties send them into decline.
So what do we want? How much can we handle? Can GM manage the development of a raw lot into something we love? Can I cope with a small house forever? What is important to us?
We know we don’t want to buy a home without access to amenities such as internet and telephone. We need those things at this point in our lives, and they are available in most locations. I’ve also discovered I can’t get a definite answer from the cable companies about locations, but am instead forced to call them with each and every address of a property we’re interested in. The telephone company is even more unreliable about defining whether or not dsl is available at an address–I’ve actually personally observed them (AT&T) install dsl, run it for six months and THEN decide it wasn’t available and disconnect service. Obviously, I’m not too impressed with dsl or the telephone company’s ability to deliver reliable service. With dsl, it really is a case of asking the neighbors whether they have it and whether it is reliable in nature.
Realtors, Craig’s List, the newspaper, and the drive-by routine are all part of our search. We’ve also noticed that if we don’t get an answer when we call a listed phone number about a piece of property, we’re only about 1 out of 10 calls going to get a call back within 48 hours, even on “distressed” properties. It may be a “buyer’s market” right now, but sellers are obviously not worrying about selling either.
In the meantime, we’ll continue scraping together our pennies, being frugal and establishing our nest egg towards our new location. Wherever it may be. Whether its a rural lot, a rented house, or a caretaker’s position…we will find it.