WORK ON A HOUSING development began in early 2000 about a mile from where we lived. This was right around the time that my wife Lisa and I were starting to feel like we wanted some more room for our family. In addition, we were concerned about our current backyard. There was a swale—a shallow ditch—that ran the length of the yard, parallel to the house.
When we bought the house, there was grass in the base of the swale and nothing looked unusual.
WHEN I LAST REPORTED on our retirement journey, we’d decided to put our search for a second home on hold. Well, in the immortal words of Saturday Night Live’s Emily Litella, “Never mind.”
We looked at many properties in several communities earlier this year, but we didn’t find anything we wanted to purchase. We decided on a cooling-off period, while we pondered what our next step should be. We kept a casual eye on properties coming up for sale,
WHEN MOST PEOPLE retire, they have a good idea where they’ll live. It might be where they currently reside, or where they vacation, or a place near their children or grandchildren. Whatever the case, there’s usually a limited number of possibilities.
But what if you move to a new city for the last two years of your working life, never vacation in the same place twice, don’t own a vacation home, are childless and—upon retirement—sell your home,
MY PARENTS RECENTLY moved out of the house they’d lived in for 50 years. A half-century might sound like quite an accomplishment. But they stayed too long.
Their home was a 1940s two-story gray stone house north of Pittsburgh, with a three-quarter acre yard. At the 40-year mark, when my parents were in their mid-to-late 60s, the house began evolving from a safe shelter to a hidden hazard zone. The comfort and familiarity of four decades overshadowed the emerging challenges that would affect them as aging seniors.
I BOUGHT AN EXPENSIVE new water heater last year for my house in Maine. The old heater had a ring of rust at the bottom, and I was spurred to act by an $800 rebate offered by the state of Maine, which was contingent on buying a heat pump water heater. The new water heater draws its heat from the surrounding air, and is two-to-three times more efficient than my earlier model.
I filled out a rebate form at the appliance store counter.
SHOULD A REASONABLE real estate buyer expect the multiple listing service (MLS) to provide a reasonable description of the property being purchased? What if it doesn’t?
All the previous times I’ve purchased real estate, the MLS accurately described the property I was buying. I realized that disclosures were also provided by the seller, and those specified the finer points of what was being purchased. Still, I’d come to expect a certain amount of integrity from the MLS listing itself.
IN THE CENTER OF the Maine village where I spend my summer, a few residents live in a makeshift encampment. It consists of four popup trailers—the kind towed by cars—plus some cars, dilapidated lobster boats and a couple of pup tents, one containing children’s toys.
The residents live without running water, so they bring it to the site in gallon jugs. Their laundry hangs on clotheslines strung between trees and a lobster boat. The site looks forlorn and temporary,
I’VE NEVER RENTED TO cats. The opportunity came my way recently via an email from my property manager. An elderly couple was interested in renting our flagship duplex, which would become available in August.
The prospects were smitten by the location near their church and grandchildren, and they seemed like a landlord’s dream. No undergraduate mayhem and no complaints from neighbors about beer cans strewn on the front lawn. They were also likely long-term renters,
ONE REASON I WAITED so long to sell my house was my extreme reluctance to move all my belongings. I didn’t want to deal with the hassles involved—because I’d gone through that less than a decade earlier.
In 2013, I had the house renovated. I replaced almost all the flooring, with hardwood downstairs, carpet upstairs and tile in the bathrooms. I also updated the kitchen cabinets. That meant, of course, that every single thing in the house had to be moved.
I FOUND OUT A YEAR ago that my Aunt Ina Lou, then aged 95, had designated me as her agent in her financial and medical powers of attorney. She also named me as executor of her estate and the trustee for her trust.
She wasn’t well and needed more help than her thoughtful neighbors could provide. Within months, my brother, my wife and I had our aunt settled in an assisted living facility near her townhome in Burke,
“I’D BE HAPPY TO JUST come here every year,” I told my husband. We and our two daughters had arrived on Maui 72 hours earlier. It was May 2000—and our first trip to Hawaii.
We’d signed up for a timeshare presentation in return for discounts on tours and activities. By the time we got to the meeting, I’d fallen head over heels in love with the place. The timeshare salesperson had an easy time persuading me to buy.
WE BEGAN IN 2019 to think seriously about what we wanted our retirement to look like. My husband had retired in 2018. I was aiming to leave my job in 2022. We were hoping to have a plan in place long before my final day of work.
Our first step was to decide where we wanted to live. We were both eager to escape the Pacific Northwest, so we zeroed in on a couple of potential destinations.
I’M ABOUT TO MOVE OUT of my home for four or five months. Yeah, this takes some explaining.
In February 2020, when I was planning my move to Philadelphia, I wrote down 10 criteria I’d use to pick my new home. I recently re-read the article—and realized I broke the final two rules I’d laid down for myself.
To be sure, the home search didn’t go quite the way I planned. For starters, there was this little hiccup called the pandemic.
EVERY TIME I HEAR the sage advice to pay off a mortgage before retirement, I wince. Not only will I have a mortgage in retirement, but also I won’t even make my first payment until after I retire—just as my salary plummets to zero.
I hate going against the conventional wisdom. But I really have no choice. As an active duty military officer who, for the past 20-plus years, has had to move every few years,
SPRING TURNS A MAN’S fancy to… wait for it… outdoor power tools. Every April, I’d haul out the gas mower to prep it for the summer season. That meant a trip to the hardware store for oil, a spark plug and an air filter. Then I drove to the gas station for some new fuel.
For an hour, I would pretend that I understood the manly art of maintaining an internal combustion engine. I would gap and change the spark plug,