Gift to Myself

Kathy Wilhelm  |  Apr 12, 2024

LATE LAST OCTOBER, I was one of the first to move into the new building at my chosen continuing care retirement community, or CCRC. Now, more than five months later, I’m more confident than ever that I made a good decision.
I’m in my mid-70s, single and childless, with relatives 3,000 miles distant in both directions. Both bathrooms at my old home were up 15 stairs. Aging in place was not a good option.

Read More

Aging With Others

Sundar Mohan Rao  |  Apr 10, 2024

IF SOMEONE TOLD ME 10 years ago that I’d end up living in a 55-plus community, I would have laughed. Our plan was to stay in the home we loved and age in place.
What happened? Our initial move to a 55-plus community was driven solely by convenience. My company transferred me to Atlanta in 2021. We wanted to downsize to an apartment, but finding one close to work was challenging. Our son pointed out that there was a 55-plus apartment community close to my workplace.

Read More

Getting in Line

Howard Rohleder  |  Mar 29, 2024

WE RECENTLY MADE a down payment on our next home. After several months of research, we joined the waiting list for a continuing care retirement community, or CCRC.
We’re in our late 60s and only relocated to our current home four years ago. It’s in a metropolitan area two hours’ drive from our daughter and her young family. We know that perhaps 10 years or so from now, we’ll want to be closer to her,

Read More

They Pitched We Swung

Jeff Bond  |  Mar 18, 2024

WHEN I FIRST CAME across HumbleDollar, I just lurked on the website, convinced that everyone knew more about investing and personal finance than me. After a while, I started making occasional comments.
Finally, I’m ready to share some of my financial stories. My first topic relates to my misadventures with real estate limited partnerships. Note that all references here are to my then-wife, not my current wife.
I was in my first job as an engineer.

Read More

What I’d Keep

Ken Cutler  |  Feb 15, 2024

IT WOULD BE GREAT if my wife and I could stay indefinitely in the two-story colonial-style home where we raised our two children.
Right now, in our early 60s, taking care of the place doesn’t seem like a huge burden. The lawn is only a third of an acre and mowing it helps me stay in shape. Before I retired, we updated the kitchen and had a new roof installed. In the near term,

Read More

Cooking Up a Kitchen

Andrew Forsythe  |  Feb 6, 2024

I’VE WRITTEN BEFORE about the financial benefits of learning to cook and then preparing meals at home, rather than frequently eating out. I still heartily endorse that notion. Still, our recent decision to remodel our kitchen can’t be defended as a wise financial choice.
In fact, the consensus is that almost all remodeling jobs result in an increase in home value that’s less than the remodeling project’s cost, and that includes kitchen renovations. Instead,

Read More

Our Money Pit

Jonathan Clements  |  Jan 20, 2024

CALCULATING THE RETURN from homeownership typically involves some mix of delusion and dubious math—and that’s never truer than when it comes to remodeling projects. On the numbers alone, it’s all but impossible to justify a major renovation. Trust me, I’ve tried.
We just finished a project that proved so expensive that, if I revealed the cost, my reputation for frugality would be in tatters. The cost was comfortably—or perhaps uncomfortably—into six figures. What if we sold our Philadelphia townhome tomorrow?

Read More

Getting Real

Steve Abramowitz  |  Jan 18, 2024

WHEN I STARTED OUT as a mom-and-pop property owner 40 years ago, I was burdened by both my naivete and the shibboleths promoted by the real estate industry.
In particular, I had to overcome two egregious misconceptions: that a well-written lease is the key to successful small-property investing and that aggressively raising rents is the surest way to maximize profits. Adopting an alternative management philosophy has saved me both money and heartache.
Character counts.

Read More

Making Our Move

Richard Connor  |  Jan 16, 2024

VICKY AND I ALWAYS knew our retirement home would need to be near our two sons and their families, so we could be part of our grandchildren’s lives. It’s taken a few years and a pandemic, but we finally made that happen.
We purchased a new home in Monmouth County, New Jersey, in September 2023. We’ve now moved in, and we’re already enjoying more time with our grandsons. We’ve also met some very welcoming neighbors.

Read More

Are We Qualified?

Richard Connor  |  Jan 16, 2024

WE SOLD OUR PRIMARY residence in the Philadelphia suburbs and moved to our New Jersey beach home in March 2021. The sale allowed Vicky and me to take advantage of what’s arguably the most valuable tax break available to everyday Americans: the capital-gains tax exclusion on the sale of a primary residence.
But while the tax break is valuable, it comes with strict and often-confusing rules—and those rules may work against us now that we’ve moved home yet again.

Read More

Settling Down

Michael Flack  |  Dec 15, 2023

THESE WORDS STRIKE fear into the heart of any husband: “Honey, the [insert: A/C, heat, refrigerator, roof, foundation] doesn’t seem to be working.” But from 2017 to 2021, they were mere words to me, no different than, “Honey, let’s go out for coffee.”
For four glorious years, my wife and I traveled around the world and the country, unfettered and unburdened. If we ran into any equipment issues, they were immediately referred to the landlord for rectification.

Read More

They Made the Lists

Ken Cutler  |  Dec 12, 2023

THERE’S AN OLD SAYING: Good things come in threes. That’s certainly been true for one aspect of my life. I’ve lived in just three locations—and all of them have been featured in national “best places” lists.
My early years were in Moorestown, New Jersey, a quiet town with a population of some 20,000. It’s an affluent suburb of Philadelphia that defies stereotypes about New Jersey. In 2005, Money magazine identified Moorestown as the best place to live in the country.

Read More

Seeking Higher Ground

Ken Cutler  |  Oct 26, 2023

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.

Read More

Never Mind

Richard Connor  |  Oct 24, 2023

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,

Read More

On the Road to Home

Michael Flack  |  Oct 18, 2023

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,

Read More