Need your advice on our Plan

wonderinginnhAugust 2, 2014

Thank you for your advice and suggestions. We do not have family we can discuss our plans with so we reach out to this community. Thank you for being there.

We are about to sell this house that I have not, yes, not loved, just a place to live, for over 20 years and fish our way around our beautiful country in an RV. DH is retiring and I will work along the way and I'm praying that I can work remotely. We can almost financially accomplish this. By that I mean we have been saving for a long time and live very frugally and will continue to do so.

Our dilemma is that we own land that we have had for a long time that we had planned to build our dream home on but now of course, are actually planning it and are second guessing. This is due to the weather, it is very humid there in the summertime and we hate humidity. We thought that we would be snowbirds, but what happens after we cannot travel any longer assuming we age well enough to snowbird? We love this land and the area but do we want to build a garage for our stuff thinking long term.

The second part is we know we want to live about 2 hours north of where we live now in the summer. However, there are no over 55 or handicap condos for sale in our future summer area as it is very rural. So should we buy land and plan to build an over 55 or handicap accessible house before the trip and hope the price of this plan doesnt skyrocket or buy a condo not handicap accessible and hope we age well and maybe could rent the condo?

The more immediate question is what should we do with our household items we want to keep in the meantime? The storage units around our home are very expensive and we are on the verge of being able to accomplish this financially. Should we advertise locally for space to rent or CL or anyone have any other ideas?

Please share your thoughts, suggestions and advice.

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We don't have a lot of the details about your ages, access to and cost of healthcare. Do you own your home and land outright? Do you own the RV already? It sounds like you already have concerns about health if you are thinking about a handicapped accessible home as a must. Also does it HAVE to be a specific age 55 community? Those are not for everybody and often you will pay for amenities and services you won't even use. Especially if you are out in your RV a lot.

It's good you are trying to work this all out before pulling the trigger on anything. You already have the pros and cons going on in your head. Try putting them all down on paper and start there.

You are already in a home you say you don't love. Might it not be a mistake to pull up stakes and build on land where you hate the climate?

You say you love it in another place 2 hours away. 2 hours is really not so far away. While you work through all these issues, why don't you just stay put for a while in the house you don't love? Been there 20 years so what's another few, right? Why worry about getting rid of things or spending cash needlessly to store stuff?

Find a place to park that RV 2 hours away and trial run living in that area to see how it fits your needs 24x7. Can you work remotely from there (not sure what you do? Does it require internet access?). Take your fishing road trips.

Hold onto the land if it's not financially prohibitive until you get more comfortable in what direction to take.

It's always great to take worse case into consideration - like possibly being disabled. Or losing a spouse. What does it mean for the able bodied or surviving spouse? Often that means two social security payments and/or pensions become one. Can one of you live ok if that happens? On the other can't entirely live your lives assuming worse case. It's finding the balance that IS challenging. I know many people who lived independently into their 90's and some in their 60's already falling apart!

You say you are "praying" you can work remotely. If that income is critical, prayers aren't enough. You need to nail it down if you can or not and under what circumstances. You should plan around whatever income/investments you can count on. And again those health care costs can be significant depending on your personal circumstances. Even living frugally, there will always be something unexpected popping up that hits the bank account.

I wish you the best! DH and I retired just over a year ago and we LOVE it!

    Bookmark   August 3, 2014 at 4:26PM
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Phonelady did a good job of saying what I was going to say, and she probably did it better than I could.

Please do consider the worst cases, as Phonelady suggests. At least go over all the what-ifs that you can imagine. Here are a few of my ideas.

I'll suggest that you and your husband sit down and look at your own medical histories and the med histories of everyone in your families. For example, if either of you have arthritis, is there a chance that you'd have joint replacement surgery? Factor in availability of medical specialty services plus physical therapy. Two hours would be a lot of travel for twice weekly (or more often!) PT appointments.

Do you both drive? What happens if one person can no longer drive?

You say that there is no family to consult. No kids anywhere? Parents? Aunts and Uncles, siblings, nieces and nephews? How about your closest friends? It's good to talk to other people who know you. Perhaps there is a source for counseling, thru your church or community services. Call your local area agency on aging. Google your state and "senior services" for resources.

My husband just turned 67, and he will never retire. At least not before he develops a hobby that isn't his work. As long as he's happy. ;-)

    Bookmark   August 3, 2014 at 5:28PM
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>>I'm praying that I can work remotely. We can almost financially accomplish this.>>

"Almost" isn't good enough. I hate saying that, I really do. But it just doesn't sound like you've got enough "stretch" in your budgeting going forward.

I agree with Phonelady. Good planning means thinking about worst case scenarios - where two or three bad things happen at once - rather than "maybe this would be better". Because the "maybes" can end up all over the place, just as you've found, and then you're stymied.

We love retirement, too. But believe me, there was a goodly amount of padding that went into our pre-retirement budget, before we actually took the leap. Which is why we were able to retire on time, despite the Great Recession - unlike the majority of our friends and family.

They didn't plan for anything going wrong, and as a result ended up with delayed retirement and sometimes, fewer options as well.

I strongly suggest you not build anything, and actually try the RV lifestyle for a year before deciding where to live. A lot of people think they're going to love it, and then find out they don't. That's why there's always been a large supply of used RVs in the last 50 years.

Who knows? You may find your Perfect Place while you're RV'ing around the country! Be conservative, be prudent, and stay open to all possibilities. Good luck!

    Bookmark   August 3, 2014 at 5:28PM
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I cannot tell all of you how much I appreciate your help and advice. So many words of wisdom! I can't believe I missed those details, thank you again.

We do own the land and DH is 6 yrs older and we both are in decent health, albeit having to lose a few. We are thinking about handicap accessible only because we could not have kids (2 step kids married with kids) and DH does already have arthitis in his back so thinking of the future.

Driving is a unique thought, yes we do drive and do not have the RV yet, we do have the truck for it. What interesting thoughts, thank you so much for your insights, we so appreciate it!

    Bookmark   August 4, 2014 at 8:38AM
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I forgot to add that we will be able to afford the trip if we sell this house we don't love. The taxes are horrible here. For what we will save in taxes we can almost pay for the trip! We will be able to buy a condo or something in the future but keep wondering what to do with stuff we want to keep in the meantime.

Thank you, phonelady, we agree we should not build until we live in that area for a year to really know the climate. And the issues about healthcare we had not thought of. Living in the RV near where we would most likely want a condo/over 55 place is a great idea!
Then again, back to the storage issue?

Thank you again.

    Bookmark   August 4, 2014 at 9:08AM
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If storage is too costly in one location, look at another location/company. Plan to only put into store items that you will not touch for the time being. ot ever. Once things are in there, forget it. It's not like running out to the garage or down to the basement for something.

So with that thinking, you should be able to look in a much larger area, even 100 miles away.

    Bookmark   August 4, 2014 at 9:57AM
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Great points sushipup! I live in AZ so temperature control is always a consideration here. Same thing in frigid climates. Whatever and wherever you decide to mindful of the effects of temperature fluctuations on the contents. You may need to pay more for a temperature controlled environment vs a "pod" somewhere. Otherwise you could end up with dried out, cracked or mildewy goods which would be a shame. Also......don't store candles in the garage in AZ. Cheap but useful lesson learned :)

Balance the cost of the goods against the cost to store it. The more you store, the bigger the unit. The greater the cost. Better to tag sale or CL some items if that makes more sense and replace later.

    Bookmark   August 4, 2014 at 2:11PM
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We never thought about climate control. Furniture, an antique secretary, my grandmother's is what I would worry about. I wonder what cold winters would do ?

Thank you so much again!

    Bookmark   August 5, 2014 at 9:07AM
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Cold winters with low humidity have a drying effect on wood furniture. Wood can shrink, legs can loosen, cabinet doors might not shut properly. Wood veneers can crack and peel up. I have to run a humidifier here most winters. Climate controlled storage would be the way to go.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2014 at 2:09PM
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More to think about - this is getting complicated!

But God Bless all of you. We never would have thought of any of these issues.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2014 at 3:51PM
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Better to have it complicated now than later! You're absolutely doing the right thing now by "stress testing" any future game plans. It will be worth it in the end!

    Bookmark   August 5, 2014 at 4:18PM
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God Bless!

    Bookmark   August 5, 2014 at 7:49PM
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jim_1 Zone 5B Illinois

For many years (while still working) we cruised. We visited many foreign lands and have collected many local artist's wares. They are all over our 1750 square foot house. We talked about RV for the ease of going where ever we wanted. But, then what to do about all of those things we have collected?

So, maybe downsize significantly first? A possibility. We can get rid of the spare bedroom stuff easily. The computer and such can be put in a closet with a bi-fold door. Some of my grandmother's furniture we could let go (after all these years, we just put stuff on or in it - depending on which one it is).

However, what to do with all the other collected items. In our wills, we have an entire page devoted to what to do with them should we die earlier than age 85 (both of us in our late 60s now). But what would we do with it all should we decide to downsize to 800 square feet or go the RV route?

If we don't talk about it, maybe it will resolve itself - right?! We aren't spending too much time agonizing about things like that, we have another cruise coming up soon. I have my new photography hobby and the missus goes knitting with the girls five afternoons a week. We're content. Oour health is OK, but who knows what might happen suddenly that would change everything.

We'll get by somehow.


    Bookmark   August 12, 2014 at 11:32AM
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Thanks, Jim, that is exactly what we are going to do; I've started CL and yard sale and plan to investigate any and all storage ideas for our few keepsakes.

Love this website!

    Bookmark   August 12, 2014 at 7:38PM
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TIP ... before you put your stuff in storage ... get rid of all but the absolute "must keeps". For the difference in price of large versus small storage unit for a couple of years, you can replace a lot of kitchen doo-dads.

Part of our retirement home planning was based on the desire for a better climate, and reasonably available health care.

Don't sweat the "ADA bathroom" - most 1-level houses can be adapted to have one. An open plan or classic ranch plan is easy. And don't worry about the over-55 walled communities. Look for the climate and weather you want, the cost of living, then start looking for houses.

It's cheaper to do some remodeling than to build custom.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2014 at 7:52PM
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Lazygardens, thank you for that advice. So much to think about! Any snowbirds we would appreciate how you decided on where to go during the cold months.

God bless!

    Bookmark   August 13, 2014 at 8:26AM
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jim_1 Zone 5B Illinois

Ya know we care - otherwise we wouldn't be here.

Keep us informed of how things are going. We'll cheer for you if warranted and offer raspberries if warranted.

And...if you are ever withing 100 miles of my house in central Illinois, you are welcome to stop.


    Bookmark   August 13, 2014 at 3:40PM
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I second or third or fifth the advice to go lean. Downsize and minimize. I wouldn't be surprised if you find that "stuff" is actually less valuable and more burdensome to you than you realize.

Get rid of anything that's not absolutely precious and unique. Craigslist is your friend. Travel via RV and get the lay of the land. Mull how you'd like to end up for as long as it takes without immediate pressure and if and when you decide to commit to building you'll be certain.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2014 at 4:28PM
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This is indeed, the best advice we have received! Thank you! We have loaded the car (many times) to the Good Will store and continue to do so!

Great advice here! Now we are thinking of leaving September/Oct '15 and spending some time in either panhandle FL or gee, some fishing spot near warmer weather in our RV? Any suggestions on a good place for Oct/Nov/Dec for a guy with asthma would be very much appreciated!

    Bookmark   August 27, 2014 at 8:58PM
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The shrinkage and splitting of wood furniture may be much less of a problem if stored in a cold place.

It's when those things are kept in a heated home in winter, where the heating makes the specific gravity of the cold air brought in from outside and heated real low that the drying gets substantial: becomes about as dry as the Sahara inside, when it's really cold outside.

I agree that you need to give careful thought to how precious the various items may be, for larger storage space increases the cost substantially.

Any rural friends with surplus space which you might be able to use? My son's lady friend's Mom just downsized and moved to this area from over 500 miles away, rented a storage unit in the city. We have a couple of old barns here, and we considered building a rodent-proof space in the corner of one of them to house her things, but she wanted occasional access and we're about 20 mi. away.

ole joyful

    Bookmark   October 21, 2014 at 3:46PM
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Hi, all. I just joined this morning and posted a question & am now reading. Ya'll are wonderful friends with so much good advice.
We have a situation of owning a home in GA but wanting to move back to the west coast to be near our children in the next few years. Thing is we don't want to be rushed into buying when we get there & like you we have a lot of stuff we need to keep. Many things handed down from grandparents & great-grandparents and other things that are irreplaceable that we plan to hand down to our kids as well.
Our daughter and her DH own a house in CA, and want to eventually add some outbuildings and maybe even a guesthouse as they can afford it. So I had the idea that maybe we could put up a building on their land per their specifications, except instead of windows, plumbing, etc., we would just rough things in. We would have to run electricity for climate control. But it would basically be a glorified shed until they're ready to fix it up to be whatever they eventually want.
Then we could store our things there for a few years until we know what we want to do. It would probably cost about the same as renting a storage unit for all that time, but there would be something useable at the end of the tunnel.
Maybe you could do something similar on your property? If you planned it right, it could increase the value of the land in case you decide to sell it, and if you decide to build, you'll have a great shop, garage, whatever. Just a thought.

    Bookmark   November 18, 2014 at 9:42AM
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We are now thinking of storage close to where we want to be, which is a pain because it will mean more trips now. But thanks for all the advice and suggestions on this website, wonderful folks here!

    Bookmark   November 18, 2014 at 7:03PM
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You all are so right! CL is my friend, also the local thrift Goodwill store that take items they can sell. Also, the Autism Epilepsy Society does home pickups!!!! This is wonderful to know as I have a grand nephew with both. Thank you all for great info! It is comforting to read this website. God bless!

    Bookmark   November 22, 2014 at 9:25AM
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The one thing you have not covered is the cost of the RV/Truck/Gas/ etc. We traveled for years before we retired and were use to a RV. We had some membership parks, but probably would not do that again, Some are very good, many not so good. Even parking in regular parks is so different today, as compared to 10 years ago. Safety is a BIG issue. There is expenses to consider. Without a permanent address, you might have trouble getting insurance, and even Driver Incenses require permanent addresses. Upkeep on the RV and truck is iffy, IF there is a major problem. If you want to know more about traveling around, email me and I can give you additional information and the Good Sam organization has some excellent books on full time RV'ing.
Good luck

    Bookmark   December 4, 2014 at 10:10PM
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