Evaluation of choices in retirement

joyfulguyApril 8, 2008

At just under 75, I'd lived a few years ago in a 2-br. 3-level townhouse, basement unfinished, rental about $780./mo. on the edge of a city of over 1/4 million, at terminal point of two bus lines, where I'd lived for over 15 years (about the longest period of about 20 locations in my adult life), sharing with another man for the first three years or so.

When stepmother's brother's second wife died, we were worried about his safety, as he'd had 3 hip replacements and suffered major pain in back, hip and leg and, despite being in mid 80's, as a beef farmer, and in spite of having no kids for whom to provide a legacy, kept cattle in the barn. No wife ... no one to seek help if he didn't soon return from doing chores, and at that time he wouldn't wear one of those warning systems ... so I spent a couple of months with him till his cattle went to pasture: we didn't want him falling into a snowbank and finding himself unable to get out.

I had done nothing to help Dad and stepmother deal with life as they aged, though they didn't need much care ... and brother and wife helped as needed.

A couple of years later, when uncle died, his executors wanted the place looking lived in, so I travelled about 12 mi. out there almost daily, usually sleeping there, for upwards of a year ... for which I was compensated. And uncle left me a legacy (which I doubt that he would have, had I not stayed with him after his wife's death).

The well was too close to the barnyard and the water then smelled, so I wouldn't drink it or use it in cooking. The executors of the estate found that it was really bad for e Coli ... and not good for coliforms.

When the farm was sold to a sod farmer, he said that he'd heard that I might be interested in renting the 2-br., L R, D R, family room, bungalow with unfinished basement and pull-down stair to unfinished attic, where they'd stored some things on boards thrown over the insulation. When he offered it at $450./mo., I quickly agreed. I've hauled drinking water before in my life (and boiled all that we used that way in Korea) so that didn't trouble me.

There's another well that served the barn, and now serves my landlord's shop ... that failed coliform test three years ago, but was O.K. for e-Coli ... I've used that water for the garden and landlord said that he's drunk that water without ill effect ... and I did, last summer when watering the garden, also with no trouble.

I thought that I could live here as long as I could drive a car ... but then would almost certainly need to return to the city.

I had a couple of auto accidents about a year ago ... so the motor licence people require me, being over 70 and having been involved in a chargeable accident, to take a vision, written and driving test.

I have passed the vision and written test, and have taken the driving test twice, failing each time. I haven't heard how many more opportunities I get until they shut me down.

For the past month, carrying a restricted licence, I have not been allowed to drive unless I have a licensed driver riding beside me, which is not the easiest to arrange.

I am considering whether I can continue to reside here, should I not be able to pass the driving test. Some who have ridden with me have no problems with my driving (but they're not examiners).

Old uncle lived here without a licence, for a couple of years when his eyes were not good.

He made arrangements with someone to drive him on errands about once a week and occasionally otherwise, but that was a bit of a problem to arrange.

When I consider that there'd be well over $300. more to pay for similar accomodation in the city, I feel that I can arrange for substantial hauling around for lower cost than that ... and in the city, one doesn't ride the bus for free, so there is less net cost to my paying for transport here than appears on the surface.

As I'm in reasonably good health, I think that I could sometimes travel by bicycle for part of the year. There's an old man who comes to the old guys' coffee hour at church on an electric bike ... I'll have to ask him how far he can travel between chargings. I'm about 8 miles from the village and about 15 - 20 miles from the various facilities in the city.

I would have much more flexibility of lifestyle in the city, of course.

Another thing that's better in the city is that I could have high-speed internet (which is somewhat more expensive) and must deal with dial-up, here. I could have cable television there, as well ... but didn't, for several years when I lived there.

I'm planning to do some hitch-hiking these days, to get an idea of how well that would work, here. I walked a little over a mile the other Sunday morning and an aboriginal guy who's part of a group of runners (there's a settlement of aboriginals near here) picked me up less than a mile fom home, dropped me at the church ... and picked me up at the church and dropped me at home, as his 17 km. run was finished about the time that I was.

I'm not counting on such good fortune in regular hitch-hiking ... I've done that, before!

I'd not be happy doing that for more than half of the year, at most!

I don't know of how much interest these musings may be to your consideration of various options that you may be considering as part of your planning for your latter years of life, but hope that you may find them of interest.

Good wishes for continued health of body, mind and spirit as good as is possible for you, given the circumstances.

ole joyful

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ole joyful,

I enjoy reading your posts and have learned much from them. I've lurked here for about a year. My husband is retiring this year (we're in our mid-50's) and I'm trying to educate myself about issues revolving around retirement.
So even if you don't get lots of replies to your posts I'm sure I'm not the only one reading your advice and "musings"!

Good wishes to you as well,


    Bookmark   April 15, 2008 at 3:39AM
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Joyful, I haven't been a regular reader here, but have read some of your posts. It doesn't sound as if you really need any financial advice, so I'd guess that you're looking for some other ways to approach the problem. As you say, you've got a $300 difference on paper; but that involves (what looks like to me) quite a bit of trouble. So it's really the quality of life that you are looking at. Can you afford to pay the extra $300? I know that "afford" is a tricky concept. What about getting a roommate? That should bring your costs down. It seems to me that you have to make a decision, for now at least, about what quality of life you want, what you like and don't like about living where you are; what you like and don't like about living in town. And if town clearly wins, what are you willing to pay (or risk) to live there. Perhaps you could earn a little extra money more easily in town. These are just my thoughts, from one who is in far different circumstances, but still contemplating retirement in a few years. Best of luck, Steve

    Bookmark   April 15, 2008 at 10:32AM
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I posted as an opportunty for folks to have a few ideas of some of the issues that relate to our lives as we age.

I have full expectation that I can pass the driving test soon, so would be more mobile again. I'm to have another session with the driving instructor on Sunday after church, and the next test is next Monday.

I had earlier thought that I could live here fairly easily as long as I could drive, but in the past few months have considered whether I could manage it if I couldn't. Earlier, it was pretty well a theoretical situation .. but it looks differently when it becomes a practical one.

As it is, suppose I am unsuccessful in passing the driving test, I have the summer in which to choose what I want to do.

As I have some investments and live on less than my pensions, I have adequate assets that I need have no worry about the extra cost involved in moving back to the city. Even in the highly improbable event that I were to live half as long again as I've lived up till now.

Part of my concern is that I have a lot of stuff that I'd have a hard time stuffing into an apartment ... but, as my cousin suggested, who did, it'd be doing my kids a favour if I reduce my goods substantially. Their mother had quite a few nice things in her home and it was a bit of a difficult time disposing of them. The things here are fewer and much plainer ... much of them would be given away, burned or junked.

I'm not actually looking for advice ... which is hard to give in a realistic or practical fashion, when one isn't close enough to get a full picture of what the various parameters may be. Part (most) of which is knowing the various relevant aspects of the life of the person involved.

ole joyful

    Bookmark   April 16, 2008 at 4:58AM
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The church where I was to meet the driving instructor is near the edge of the city, about 12 miles from here. I asked about half a dozen people whether they could ride with me to church ... but was unable to find anyone, so ended up driving alone ("naked") to church.

On the earlier occasion, the instructor's wife had driven their car home and I dropped him at his place, with my landlord's wife, who was going shopping, bringing him there to ride home with me.

This time, I'd arranged with a friend to have a family member drive him to the instructor's home to ride with me to his place, then I'd drive alone, cross-country, to my home.

The instructor's wife wasn't at church, I dropped him back at church for him to drive himself home, there was no phone readily available, and I was near the edge of the city ... so I drove home ... and called my friend to tell him that I didn't need him to make any trip.

I tried the driving test today ...

... and passed.

So - now I can drive wherever I want, whenever I want.

Proviso - until next January (my birthday month), when I'll be 80, as we must take a group course and pass a written test every two years, after that.

I say that it should involve a road test (which only happens if a red flag goes up related to our written test or for some other reason, I hear) ...

... for, in terms of whether we are a danger to ourselves and others as we drive - that's where the rubber hits the road!

Anyhow ... for now, I'm doing the happy dance!

ole joyful

P.S. Part of my original reaction was that I wanted to preserve my capability to drive a truck ... but my friends were right when they asked how many trucks that I thought that I'd be driving, at age 79 and beyond.

Part of it is, I think, our reaction as seniors to try to keep the walls of our existence pushed back, as they start closing in around us.

I can't see as well as I used to, and always thought that I had really good eyesight.

When I attend the theatre, I must sit near the front ... and even then, miss part of the dialogue (even when I cup my program behind my ear).

I am thankful to have few aches and pains.

I haven't taken a pill in 30 years, at least, I think.

Oh ... and a sidelight.

We used to have Senior Men's Coffee Hour at the other church where I go, the one that I attended as a child, where I sang in the choir before my voice changed ... which I sometimes refer to as the "Old Farts' Club". Then they changed their name to "ROMEO" - "Retired Old Men Eating Out", they called it. I said that it should be "ROMDO" - "Retired Old Men Drinking Out" ...

... but in a church that, before they joined most of the Presbyterians and the Congregationalists in 1925 to form the United Church of Canada, was Methodist ... you can imagine how popular that designation was!!

Anyway, last Thursday, while I hitch-hiked to the old guys' gathering, I saw what looked like a lot of pop cans and beer cans in the ditch as I walked.

So I returned over the weekend and picked up a garbage bag of such cans in about a mile walking, I think. Usually there are far more pop cans (2 cents each) than beer cans (10 cents each, recycled) but in this case, I think that the proportion was nearly even!

I think that I should have done more walking, over winter, as I found my hips doing some complaining during that walk.

I'd walked the ditches in front of the landlord's farm picking up garbage, the day before ... and found the hips doing a bit of complaining then, as well.

Oh, yes ... and usually those pants stay up pretty well without a belt, but ... when I bent over to pick something up, they'd ride down a bit ... but when I straightened up ...

... they didn't ride back up again. So I had a continual struggle to keep my pants from falling down!

Don't life have those problems, though?

Good wishes to you for the rest of this lovely spring week ... in which I'll be doing the happy dance, my driving licence having been preserved intact.

For now.

ole joyful

    Bookmark   April 21, 2008 at 10:20PM
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Congrats on passing that drivers test. I know you use wisdom on the road and feel terrific that the only passenger you need in the car with you now is Michael or one of his angel buddies!!
Gabriel wouldn't be too bad he could announce ahead of time any traffic jams!!

    Bookmark   April 22, 2008 at 5:26PM
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There were about 95 pop cans and about 60 some beer cans and bottles, picked up in about a mile or so.

Didn't go anywhere Tues. or Wed., am to go the the Old Farts' Club tomorrow, then to a friend's to prepare their income tax return ... I was hoping to pass driving test, so that I wouldn't need to drive naked across-country to their place.

Did some work on my own return today. I'm hoping that I can pay something under 10% again, this year.

ole joyful

    Bookmark   April 24, 2008 at 3:15AM
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There were about 95 pop cans and about 60 some beer cans and bottles, picked up in about a mile or so.

Didn't go anywhere Tues. or Wed., am to go the the Old Farts' Club tomorrow, then to a friend's to prepare their income tax return ... I was hoping to pass driving test, so that I wouldn't need to drive naked across-country to their place.

Did some work on my own return today. I'm hoping that I can pay something under 10% again, this year.

ole joyful

    Bookmark   April 24, 2008 at 4:28AM
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When older folks tell a story ...

... often their related young folks say, "Dad, you told me that *before*"!!

ole joyful

    Bookmark   April 25, 2008 at 10:52PM
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LOL -I try not to be one of those who repeats..
I do so enjoy reading about your trials and blessings.

I am now a SAH-er for some 15 yrs, worked part time for a few years before that, and full time prior to that. So fortunate to have been able to stay at home when mom had her stroke and to have her live with me the remaining few years. I thank my husband every day for that, as it was his determination to buy our home within "his" means instead of our combined income so that I wouldn't have to work.

Keep up the wonderful stories and good advice you give!

    Bookmark   June 10, 2008 at 12:18PM
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A month and a half later ... I'm feeling more complacent about the driving situation.

And find that I drive less than earlier (apart from the gas-cost issue!).

I've been working on my substantial garden, recently ... but have pretty well run out of space, with quite a few seeds let over - but the corn's sort of spotty, so unless some of the laggards come up pretty soon, I'll be putting more corn seeds into those blank spots.

And no potatoes planted, either: no room.

Planning on some major travelling this summer - to Mom's family's reunion at my retired brother's farm near Regina, capital of Saskatchewan, north of ND-Montana border, with possibly visiting with some KT people en route.

Plus travel to a reunion of former Korea missionaries at Methodist Conference centre at Lake Junaluska, NC, at the end of July, with a visit with my niece and family in nw GA ... and possibly a visit with a KT person or two (visited Pooh Bear, near Chattanooga, three years ago).

Plus ... daughter, who recently bought home near Phoenix, tells me that I'm to visit her for 80th birthday, next Jan.

Who knows ... maybe I'll stay on till spring??

I've been looking for someone who'd share two houses with me - here in Ontario in winter ... and in FL or AZ in summer ... but it seems that folks willing to agree to such an arrangement are about as scarce as ... hen's teeth (as Dad used to say).

Just some more musings as I make my way through the interesting experience called "retirement" (or something).

ple joyful

    Bookmark   June 10, 2008 at 11:33PM
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Ole Joyful, how is your trip coming along?

    Bookmark   July 27, 2008 at 8:45PM
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Had a lovely trip to Saskatchewan and renewing old friendships with many of Mom's family members, plus making new ones - which was spoken of on the KT forum.

I stopped at libraries along the way to message my offspring to let them know that Dad was in fine fettle - as they worry when I travel alone.

Plus stopped in North Dakota to visit Caroline and Wes, having a great visit with them, then visited again on the trip back east.

That included some pictures, which must have brought some satisfaction to some KT members, as they've been asking for some time for my pic.

Also visited another member of the KT who moved from Saskatchewan to Alberta a few years ago and recently back to Saskatchewan - which included some more pictures.

After a few days at home, which included weeding garden and picking a big box of beans, giving some of them away and freezing others, I came to enjoy the missioanry reunion in NC and now am visiting my niece.

She's busy tomorrow through till night, so expect to head back up I-75 to Detroit about tomorrow (today) noon.
I've suggested meeting some of That Home Site people en route, but so far no takers.

Rather an unusual amount of gadding about during the last month, for me.

All of it enjoyable - had a really fine time.

Good wishes to all of you and to your loved ones.

ole joyful

    Bookmark   July 31, 2008 at 3:12AM
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I would join the meetin' up but I am too far from I 75 to take the jaunt. But sounds like you have had a great trip thus far!!

Good traveling and best wishes to you also.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2008 at 9:09PM
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The two trips, including a small amount of driving in the few days that I was here at home in between, took within 5 km. of 10,000 km. (6,250 mi.).

It's been an interesting, eventful and enjoyable summer.

But my garden got somewhat neglected, I fear.

Just had cataract surgery last week, with follow-u check-up on Tuesday this week.

I found it hard to believe that, after the short surgery, with slight resulting discomfort and the Tylenol that they gave me, after a couple of hours there was next to no discomfort ... and after 9 - 10 - 12 hours ... when I thought of the feeling of my two eyes, if someone asked me which, according to the feeling, had been operated on ... I couldn't have told him/her!


I was (as required) staying with my son overnight and using his computer. Flat screen, at some distance, small letters ... I found it hard to read, and there was a ghost image of some of the letters, so when I had to edit, I found it difficult.

Then, when I was ready to send a message (to the KT) in two cases, I hit some wrong key ... and the message disappeared!

When I returned home, on Friday (surgery Wed just before noon), I was pleased that I could read my computer well - regular monitor, fairly close, large letters.

When one is retired ...

... every day is holiday!

ole joyful

    Bookmark   August 21, 2008 at 8:43AM
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