Newbie with question

sistersunnieNovember 11, 2007

I've been reading for over a year, but never posted. Currently (and for the last 20 years) I live in a 1200 sq ft rancher. We were a family of 4, with various dogs and cats. When the kids were little, the house was always too small, and I spent years wishing for a larger one. But we had over an acre of cleared lawn and surrounding woods and fields plus a two car garage to spread out in. In the last 2 years, my husband got so ill he is now in a care facility, oldest daughter went away to college and we lost a dog and a cat. My last daughter leaves this fall for college. It will soon only be me, and two small dogs. The nest is emptier and much larger than ever! Its too big and too much for one overworked woman to care for. I find myself looking for a smaller place, with a smaller yard, etc. I retire in 6 years and this house is paid for. I have the luxury of looking in a 100 mile radius. Will always have a guest room for the kids and wherever I am will always be home for them.....but now they are VERY resistant to the idea of me selling the "homeplace"! It is a simple rancher, warm and sheltering but excluding our memories, nothing really special. Anyone else experience this and how did you handle it?

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Hi, sistersunnie...

Your children must have had wonderful childhoods to be so attached to their childhood home.

I come to your problem from the viewpoint of your children. I grew up in a very large, 3 story antique colonial. I loved that house. Several years after my parents divorced, my Mom decided that between the house and the yard, it was too much for her to handle. I was in my twenties at the time, the youngest of three girls, and I was determined to help her hold onto the house. I even moved back home to help with the bills and yard, etc. She was ready to move on to the next phase of her life, but I couldn't/wouldn't see that. In my mind, letting go of the house was like letting go of my childhood, when my family was all together in one place.

Finally, after a couple of years of attending college while working and still trying to help with bills, yardwork, etc., I saw the light (still reluctantly, though.) We put the house on the market and it sold the first day. My heart was broken, but after seeing how happy my Mom was in her new townhouse I gradually came to terms with it. I had dreams about that house for years, though!

I wonder if it is difficult for your children to comtemplate losing the house in part because of your husband's situation? Perhaps the house represents a happier time for them, as my house did for me.

My advice to you would be that you tell them that you will continue to live in the house if they can contribute time/money to its upkeep. Chances are they can't do that or won't be able to for long--then they'll see that the best course is to let it go.

    Bookmark   November 11, 2007 at 4:46PM
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I agree on that last point. If the only reason that you want to sell is because of the upkeep, then they could help out by paying for a gardener or cleaning person or agreeing to stop by frequently to do this work for you.
By the time you retire they may be in a position to help out. If not, then it seems hardly fair for you to be "saddled" with a house that you cannot easily maintain.

Are you thinking of selling now or in six years? If the latter, then there is plenty of time for the girls to grow up a bit more and see your point of view (and for the housing market to recover :)

    Bookmark   November 11, 2007 at 10:24PM
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I am widowed and moved into my small rancher to be closer to the kids. Had always lived in big houses with income acreage and tons of animals. It was very difficult to make this transition, but had no doubts as to what I was capable of, taking care of and the costs involved.

Still, with 2 dogs and 2 cats, a large yard and older home, there are times I feel overwhelmed with all. Am and always have been quite capable of remodeling, etc. And I love to garden which cannot be given up right now in my life by going to a smaller yard. Each year seems to add to needing additional help and admitting to the reality of such. I have a son and daughter who come to the rescue with hard stuff like electrical, plumbing, the stupid sprinkler system and climbing high. Their time is limited though and really hate intruding on them unless there is a substantial need. Plus I am stubborn and like knowing there remains an ability on my own in getting things done.

My plan is to live here as long as possible. When it becomes less than possible to take care of will consider a garden town home. Still need that little garden and will always have an animal buddy.

If you are attached to your home and can afford help, or as suggested the kids are supportive in helping, staying could be your best option. Kids though will continue to grow in many directions and what may be of help in the short term could easily change overnight. A new home without all the upkeep and yard expanse may do wonders for your well being. You are dealing with far more than just upkeep on a home with the care and concern for your husband too.

With the house paid for you do have some give Another thought here though in selling the house and should you have some gain from it. This may not be the best option regarding care facilities and their standards for billing based on income. Speaking with an accountant may be of importance to look at all options. Not knowing the situation I may be intruding regarding this.

You do sound like selling has some very positive points and the fact you have looked at the possibilites is actually a good thing. This isn't an emergency and allows you to go on an adventure to see what could be in making your decision. Moving may be the open window to spreading your wings and taking some weight off of all going through right now.

I think many of us have had to go through major emotional roller coasters in doing the same as you have shared. Letting go was for me, but time is allowing such to be softer as the days evolve. I'm creating my own space now and hopefully growing along with it.

    Bookmark   November 12, 2007 at 10:50AM
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I have no intentions of moving right now. It would be too complicated for many reasons. When I framed the conversation with the kids it was in the terms of 6 years or longer. Both of them will be out of college and at least launching on their adult lives. Neither is going to school near by, still in state but at least 3 hours away. Neither wants to live in this area when they graduate (or so they say).I suspect that with life being so fragile now, they need to hang onto what family life and memories they have, that includes the house.

Its just with retirement so close ( and eagerly anticipated) and I will be youngish for retirement (54) I want and worry about a lot of things. I will be alone-my husband's disease is progressing rapidly. Although I am fairly healthy, I do have a spinal condition and can not lift, tug, pull, etc. Cutting grass nearly kills me! When I think of that period in my life, I want a small manageable house with a small lawn, small outbuilding or garage AND a new neighborhood. One with cultural and recreational things nearby. Its a combination of wanting less to need to do, living simply and moving onto to another phase in my life.

    Bookmark   November 12, 2007 at 2:12PM
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I'm sure you deeply love your children, but they cannot and should not expect you to cope with a situation beyond your abilities. You perhaps need to be more honest with them and have a real conversation about this issue, not just the usual "Oh, Mom's complaining again, as always."

Our situation was reversed - my MIL wanted badly to hang on to her 2000 sq. ft. home after her DH died. But she had inadequate savings and no family or friends nearby. We are 25 miles away but over a bridge. The commute traffic in our area is one of the nation's worst. It was not unusual for it to take well over 90 minutes to reach her house from ours at certain hours.

We urged her to sell the house and she finally did. Now she is financially set, although it took us seven months to get her financial and legal affairs back in order. She now lives with us, not an optimal situation for me, but better for her. She's very old-fashioned and has a hard time dealing with the complexity of today's lifestyles.

There is the difficulty for you that your local RE market may be depressed. It may be worth waiting a couple of years to see IF it recovers. On the other hand, that's two years of being alone and stressed - I wouldn't wait, but that's just me.

Life goes through different stages. You are at a stage where you need to make a new life for yourself. Your children's desires should have no impact on your own. Only you can make yourself happy, and if you need or want to sell, that's all that should matter.

If my MIL had been able to logically analyze her situation, she would have realized it made no sense for her to stay in her house:

(1) she had insufficient funds to maintain herself into her old age, since genetically and medically she is very possibly going to live to be 100 or even older;

(2) she is incapable of taking care of a house adequately, especially a large, old, expensive house as hers. When she had a sink overflow and had to find a plumber, the very idea made her burst into tears and she completely forgot about looking in the Yellow Pages or even asking a neighbor what to do;

(3) all their old friends are dying, moving away, or disabled yet she refuses to make new friends or join any new activities. She's been going to the same church for 35 yrs yet still knows no one there outside of a couple of neighbors and her hairdresser.

In other words, she was as much in denial about getting old, as your children are in allowing sentiment to trump common sense.

Personally I'm looking forward to the time we can sell this house and go back to renting instead. This is because in our area, renting is much less expensive than buying. Less hassle and more time to investigate new interesting activities - what's not to like about that, LOL?

Like it says in Pete Seeger's song (lyrics taken from Ecclesiastes 3, 1-8), "to everything there's a season." One part of your life was with your husband, one part was with your children. But now this season is going to be yours - freedom is a scary but wonderful thing!

Good luck to you as you move forward. Remember, there are no wrong decisions, just some that are better than others.

    Bookmark   November 12, 2007 at 5:53PM
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I too retired early, 50, and never looked back. Gratefully my husband and I had 5 years of retirement together. One of the things so important to retirement is having a passion for something. There are many met who went into retirment without plans or thoughts as to what gave them a passion for life and having this in place before they no longer had scheduled days. Mine was the outdoors, photographer and artist. With the kids grown there was time to do this while working and loved even more when open days of retirement arrived.

You are quite young considering the current changes in your life. With the time frame mentioned it gives you the opportunity to look for many possibilities. You sound like there are many areas of interest and wants for the future and many easily reached especially with the timing of 5 years. The time also gives your daughters the ability to see the same and perhaps easier in adapting to letting go of the family home if this becomes your decision. Plus they can be part of your adventure for the future.

Regarding always seems to be around me too. Age, experience, knowledge can turn into worry and keep us from taking another road. Perhaps thinking of it as planning rather than worry to move ahead with less stress.

Wish you well on all, I am so sorry you are going through this with your husband.

    Bookmark   November 12, 2007 at 6:06PM
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