Breaking Away – When the Rubber Hit the Road in Jeff’s Retirement

Category: Retirement Planning

February 27, 2016 — Editor’s Note: This is part 2 of Jeff’s retirement saga. Last month we published his account of How a Minnesota Boy Came to be Retired in the Heart of the South. This installment provides more of the decisions made and surprises encountered when he actually pulled the trigger on his retirement.

By Jeff Alden:
I closed my office last July after thirty-five years practicing law in Minneapolis. For several years, my wife and I had talked about where and when we might retire. We read about and discussed different options, but never got further than the obvious: wherever we landed, it had to be on one floor. We even made a few exploratory trips and talked about the possibility of moving to those places. Almost right up to the last moment, it didn’t seem that we were really getting anywhere. Talk is cheap. But when we finally pulled the plug on our previous life, things happened fast. Kaboom! Like that.

I once had a law professor who liked to maintain that certain situations are “action-forcing.” If A happens, B must follow. Our transition to retirement was a case in point — the product of a series of forced actions on steroids.

My office lease was set to renew in August if I didn’t terminate it by May. In a very real sense, that lease called my bluff. If I was serious about retiring, why would I keep paying rent for another year? So I gave my notice.

A return to Greenville
That same month, we were in Greenville, South Carolina, where my writer-wife Paulette was researching a book. We’d frequently talked about moving to Greenville, her hometown, and visited many times over the years. As usual, we looked at a few houses while we were there, always for some unspecified time in the future. But last May the real estate market in Greenville was hot. A word to the wise: don’t look at houses for the future, when they’re selling in a day.

Of course we found the perfect place, a townhouse on one floor in the old part of the city, within walking distance of the “happening” downtown and big, beautiful Cleveland Park. That same afternoon we signed a purchase agreement. There was already another bid and we knew we’d lose the perfect house if we didn’t make a better offer. It was like a fish hitting your line and taking it deep. One minute you’re just sitting in the boat looking around at nature, and the next you’re reeling in like crazy. A week later, when we got back to Minneapolis, we signed a listing agreement to put our house there on the market by June 1st.

Lawyer to Retiree
One day I was a lawyer and the next day I was a “retiree,” not even fully recognizing at first that that’s what I’d become. After all of our thinking and planning, life just took over. The God of Retirement swooped in and hooked me off the vaudeville stage of adulthood before I could think about the matter any further. I’ve heard there are people out there who calmly and deliberately move into the next phase of their lives. Apparently I wasn’t one of them.

If you close your office, you don’t have a place to go to work. If you buy another house, you have to sell the first one fast, even if it’s the only one you’ve known for the last forty years. Once you sell that one, you’ll only have a roof over your head for a little while, in our case thirty days. While we were driving through Indiana on our way to South Carolina to meet the moving van, we got a desperate call from our realtor in Minneapolis. “We’re all here for the closing,” she said. “Where are you?” Let’s just say a few things fell through the cracks.

One of the reasons we did a lot of hemming and hawing before we got hit by a retirement hurricane was that I wasn’t really sure I wanted to do it. I liked being a lawyer. True, I often woke up in the middle of the night to make notes or plot legal strategies. True, I then needed a Xanax to get back to sleep. True, I worried that I might miss a deadline or, worse, a better argument (like the one the other guy might make). True, I worried that my clients wouldn’t pay their bills and sometimes they didn’t. But even though I didn’t always care for these aspects of my life I loved being in the real world, and I knew they were the price of admission to it.

Would the shoe drop?
After I retired, I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop. But it didn’t. At least it hasn’t yet. I don’t profess to any great knowledge of retirement as a concept. But I knew I really was a retiree when, for the first time in my adult life, I began sleeping through the night.

I have a lawyer friend who’s now trying to decide whether to retire or not. I recognize only too well the pros and cons he’s weighing in his mind because I’ve lived them all. The other day he asked me — almost innocently it seemed — if I like being retired. Such a simple question. Yes, I told him. I like it a lot. But I found it hard to explain exactly why. Somehow, sleeping well didn’t seem good enough. Perhaps I just should have told him to terminate his lease and sell his house — that the rest would take care of itself.

Thanks for sharing your story Jeff!

For further reading:
My Big Southern Retirement Adventure – Jeff Alden
Jay Michaels Hops on the Retirement Tour Bus – 5 Years Later (a Series)
Sandy’s Active Adult Adventures
Kelly and Demaris: Army Couple Turned Innkeepers
Jane and Jack: Retired in Place, But Mighty Busy
Sandy’s 8 Year Adventure with Active Adult Communities
The Seafaring Couple Start an International Literacy Non-Profit

What about your stories? Do you have some adventures you would like to highlight on your retirement journey. Please feel free to add them in the Comments section below.

Posted by Admin on February 26th, 2017


  1. Thank you for sharing your retirement story Jeff. We are at that point in our lives and struggling with when and where.

    by Debra — March 1, 2017

  2. Retired from my part time job 8 months ago, mostly at my husband’s urging. He’s been retired for 13 years and kept telling me it was time for us to travel. Finally went along with him and gave notice at work. Yes, it was nice to look at all the travel ads and find places we’d like to visit. Also nice to take advantage of cheap prices on Tuesday movies. However, planning trips was time consuming, and, we were going places just to be doing something. My life didn’t have any structure. I was either sitting in front of the computer all day or reading books. I did volunteer one morning a week and joined a meetup, but still too much free time. When my ex-boss called and asked if I’d be interested in coming back to work, I said yes.

    by Robin — March 1, 2017

  3. Loved the article! My husband and I retired early from our career jobs and worked intermittently for the next five years until Medicare kicked in for both of us. We have been fully retired for 8 years and absolutely love the freedom and lack of stress which the article described.

    by Joanne — March 1, 2017

  4. Debra, Robin and Joanne — thanks for your good comments. Joanne, I appreciate what your’re saying as it was my big concern too. Fortunately I’m still liking retirement though. Maybe I’m just lazy. Jeff

    by Jeff — March 1, 2017

  5. Jeff…really great thoughts and reflections on you career/retirement experience Although my wife and i are 4+ years away (hopefully) from our actual retirement, I went through a similar experience when retiring from the U.S, Coast Guard Reserve after 30 years of service (statuary mandatory). The last 10 years I probably averaged 30 – 40 hours a week on a part time career that didn’t pay for most of my time, but absolutely loved it! I still (3+ years now) really miss it and the PEOPLE I interacted with/influenced, but I’m satisfied that I was able contribute and make a difference. I am encouraged to see that you seem happy with your retirement and encourage you to keep making a difference in your community and the world with your skills and talents!

    by Bob — March 2, 2017

  6. Greetings to All: I am wondering how you pack up your current home to move to another? Do you begin slowly, packing up a room at a time, do you hire movers to do it all? What do you do with the stuff you no longer want or need? Auction or Craigslist?

    So many questions, I know. I am a widow, and am very challenged by the thought of packing up my house and moving to a smaller home. Would very much appreciate thoughts and suggestions! Thanks in advance.

    by Lynne — March 2, 2017

  7. For Lynne: I am also a widow. and I moved from a large home to a new smaller one in another state. I knew I was moving in advance, so I started packing a few boxes each day, one room at a time…deciding what to keep and what to give goodwill. I could have sold a lot of stuff, but I just did not want to bother at that point. Doing it slowly was so much less stressful. Trying to do it all in a short period of time can be overwhelming when trying to downsize by yourself. Some things I had the movers pack for me. It all went very well, and I love my smaller home and my new life.

    by Loralee — March 2, 2017

  8. @Lynne: I had an estate sale and sold most of the furniture in my home in Minnesota. The condo I had purchased in Florida came turnkey. So I had two sets of everything. I had been snowbirding, so that was a good thing, but I got tired of the drive back and forth. Now when I go back to Minnesota I fly. And many of my Minnesota friends and neighbors spend the winter here.

    Have been selling off the furniture in Florida and replacing it with things more to my taste. I also gave a lot of stuff to Goodwill and continue to do so down here. I work better under deadline, so pretty much left it all until a couple of weeks before the movers were coming. That also allowed me to part with things I got tired of packing–such as bookcases full of books! My daughter pitched in and helped me pack as did one of my neighbors.

    Good luck! In the end, I believe you will be happy you have downsized.

    by Linda — March 2, 2017

  9. Hi, everyone. I’m Jeff Alden’s wife, and I’ve enjoyed reading your comments about your experiences. We did a lot of the obvious things when we moved, but there are a couple of things that might come in handy that haven’t been mentioned. One was getting a Bagster, one of those soft-sided “dumpsters” which we put in the garage several weeks ahead of our moving day so we could throw away a ton of stuff as we dealt with emptying the house. I had journals (big, heavy three-ring binders of typed entries) from 1973 on! I knew I’d have no place for them in the new townhouse (I kept them in the “archives” in the basement–MANY big blue bins) plus I knew I’d never look at them again. Into the Bagster they went. It was a relief to unload them. They had served their purpose at the time I wrote them. One day the truck came for the Bagster. It swooped it high into the air with a crane-like arm and then deposited it in the back of the truck: quite an image, seeing my “life” lifted up and away! I didn’t regret it. The other thing that we found very helpful was hiring the interior designer who had helped us during the 35 years we’d live in our Mpls house. We had her look at the floor plans for our new townhouse, and tell us what of our old stuff would fit and what wouldn’t, where to put stuff, and order new stuff that would work in the new place (our dog had scratched most of the upholstery off the armchairs by the window as he chased away school children on the sidewalk). Most people might not need/want to hire someone but it helps to have a floor plan with measurements. We didn’t take any furniture we couldn’t use (we gave it free to the young couple who bought the house, along with the snowblower and garden tools we wouldn’t be using in S.C.), and when the moving van arrived at the new house, we told them where to put things we did take. I think we were helped emptying our house because the pressure was on! We had bought a new place, sold the old place, and had about a month to get rid of stuff. It was a lot of work but it felt good to start anew, with less stuff. Keep what you love, but picture your new life less encumbered. A lot of stuff you’ve kept (if you’re like us) simply because you’ve never had to get rid of it. Good luck with all retirements and moves! Paulette

    by Jeff Alden — March 2, 2017

  10. Lynne, When my Mom passed away there was very little I took because my own home is ready to explode from my own stuff. I was really getting nervous as what to do with her things. First I was going to have a picker come to the house and take as much as they would take. However, by the time I got back to them they were bombarded with estate sales and couldn’t fit me in for months down the road! I had to get rid of the stuff to sell the house. First we rented a dumpster and my poor Hub made a thousand trips from the basement to the dumpster throwing stuff out and it was probably 90 degrees. Then by luck I was give the name of a charitable organization who would take almost everything I had. They would take as much as you wanted to donate. I had a whole house full! They brought a box truck and spent around 7 hours loading it. It was another extremely hot day and had to be 90 again. They left behind a few things due to wear or tear. So I had to hire 1800 got junk. They took the rest and had to make a second trip to pick up an ancient freezer from the 1950’s that must have weighed 1,000 lbs. They were expensive and would not use them again if I could find something else. I also donated stuff to animal welfare and Goodwill. I gave stuff to a neighbor, some pots/pans and things like that. The other thing my friend did was have a POD delivered to her house and it was loaded up with furnishings. The POD company comes and picks it up and delivers it to your new address. Personally, I would try the POD route and try to get rid of most furniture and buy new stuff at my new home. I am currrently selling stuff on ebay trying to get rid of stuff but that route takes forever. It is hit and miss. Be careful with Craigslist, have heard bad stories of people getting ripped off. Most people I know meet the buyer in a Walmart parking lot and not at their house. After my Hub retired he cleaned out some of his clothes and donated them to the Vietnam Veterans. They came to the house and picked up the stuff. They take small furniture too but has to be small because usually only one person picks up the stuff. I think Salvation Army will pick up too. I saw a truck in my neighborhood recently.

    by Louise — March 2, 2017

  11. Lynne, you might also contact some churches in your area. They may have people in need of furniture or clothing or even dog crates and bed linens.

    by Louise — March 2, 2017

  12. Everyone, what a timely article with questions and solutions on moving. My wife are in that process at this very minute. As Jeff mentioned one event leads to an action. We sold our home within 3 days and close March 31st. We downsized many things knowing the house was going on the market. Many trips to Goodwill and picks by other great charities. The children have chosen the things they want and next week a great charity call Bridges will take many of the furniture pieces. Some goes to our apartment a two bedroom from a 5 bedroom house.. The things we want to keep for our new location will be put into a POD. It a big process, but take it a room or even a closet at a time. Like Jeff the dumpster arrives on Thursday. We feel not having the house gives us the freedom to take different paths, do we rent someplace or buy/build? South Carolina is a great place and I really love Charleston. We have had the southern influence as we spent 15 years in Knoxville before the transfer to St. Paul, Mn.

    by Bruce — March 2, 2017

  13. Retirement has been very easy for me. I wasn’t in a career that I loved and it was very stressful so when I got laid off at 58 it was a relief. Now caregiving my elderly mother and looking forward for the day when we sell our condo in Sandiego and moving to the coast of Oregon. Selling and getting rid of everything and starting out fresh…less stressful. SORRY, but I don’t have a problem with trying to fill my day with things to do….

    by mary11 — March 2, 2017

  14. I retired 14 months ago. I left a position I both loved and hated. The stress won out and I chose to quit working full time which in my mind at the time was not the same as retiring. Fourteen months later I don’t regret my decision one bit and sleeping through the night is just one of the benefits. We moved to where our children and grandchildren are and are thoroughly enjoying having the ability to spend time with them at our leisure.

    by Dennis — March 2, 2017

  15. Mary11

    You are lucky that you could retire at 58. I am divorced and I do not have a spouse to support me or even to share expenses. I am happy for you. The relief of being able to choose not to work of work only part time must be wonderful.
    Keep us posted on where you move on the Oregon coast. My brother keeps telling me he never has a bad day there–they love their home in Lincoln City.

    by Jennifer — March 3, 2017

  16. It is encouraging to read how people manage and adjust well to downsizing. I live in a 5 bedroom, 140 yr old farmhouse–but getting ready to move. Years ago my husband died, I still had one minor child at home, and the house was in the midst of upgrades, so I stayed. And then, I stayed through her high school and junior college years. Then I remarried, and we stayed. Now we are both 61 and looking at retiring in 5 years–not to stop work completely, but to work less, and have the money to go on road trips and visit our kids and grandkids that live scattered from the east coast to the west, and we have decided it is time to downsize. I never realized how emotionally hard this would be. I also did not know how difficult it would be to find a smaller home, 2-3 bedrooms on an acre or three. Why are there so many 4-5 bedroom homes? And who needs 2-3 full bathrooms? We have decided against living in associations because membership is an additional drain on funds. We have monitored taxes–and decided against some homes because the yearly taxes are high. So, we have chosen a smaller home, not exactly what either one of us truly want, but we can always sell again. It is difficult, however, and I have many emotional days, but keep telling myself it will get better on the other side—and that is what I have read in many of these posts. It gets better.

    by Paula — March 3, 2017

  17. Paula, I too have a lot of emotional ties to my home. We built it as a newly married couple and have never moved. We have lived here for 42 years. It is not my dream house and I will probably never have a dream house but it has been a good home over our heads. I always thought if we were to ‘start over’ like you are doing I would like to sell most of our furniture and then when we got the new place it would be like a new beginning. I can remember when we were first married and everything was new and exciting! How much fun we had. I had a Volkswagon Beetle and we went to Service Merchandise and bought everything in sight. Pots, pans, silverware, dishes, and much more! We loaded up that car to the hilt and probably looked like the Beverly Hillbillies but we had so much fun! Think of you new home/life as a new adventure full of new fun things to come! Leave the baggage behind!

    by Louise — March 3, 2017

  18. Greetings All: Thank you all so very very much for responding to my questions regarding packing up and moving. I am so grateful to all for sharing your experiences and wisdom! I have not yet listed my house. I think it will take time to empty it out (we have lived here for 20 years, and my Husband never threw anything away). I will try packing up one unused room at a time, and am toying with the idea of having an auction company come out to sell off tools and man cave stuff. It is a huge process, and doing it alone is no fun. But reading your comments has given me hope and courage that I can do this!

    by Lynne — March 3, 2017

  19. Paula,
    Your situation was similar to mine.
    My Spouse passed when 3 were teenagers and 2 in grade school.
    I am blessed to have married another widower. Our plans changed a lot, however due to the housing market crash in 2008.
    I totally understand the emotional impact while trying to downsize. I shed many tears as I was forced to sort and purge my previous life. I felt so inadequate to make such difficult and quick decisions about everything.
    One non-profit that will pick up many items is The Epilepsy Foundation. Check out their website for additional information.
    My best to all of you through your transitions……..

    by Caps — March 3, 2017

  20. We took about a year to sell or donate excess “stuff” to downsize from a 5-bedroom colonial to a 3-bedroom ranch. Much of it was my husband’s collectibles of 30+ years. Furniture and other home furnishings were easy to sell on Craigslist (for larger items), an estate sale and a garage sale. We donated lots to Goodwill. Habitat for Humanity and Salvation Army also may pick up furniture depending on where you live.
    It was great to feel the lightness of starting fresh!! We moved to Florida 2-1/2 years later and STILL had too much stuff. Letting go of things never or rarely used leaves room to focus on what’s really important – people – friends and family, exercise, hobbies, enjoying the little things like a leisurely cup of coffee in the morning and the sunset in the evening. Enjoy the process and think of the goal!

    by Jeanne — March 3, 2017

  21. Thanks Jennifer. ….I can’t work because of my mother’s situation but happy to finally be filing for Social Security next week!! I like Lincoln City a lot but we haven’t decided where to settle yet.

    by mary11 — March 3, 2017

  22. Lynne, When you pack your boxes, you might want to have some kind of a system to identify what is in each box. Such as a numbering system #10-100 and have a notebook to tell you what is in each box or at least what room it belongs in. Or you could label each box as Kitchen, Bedroom 1, Bedroom 2, Garage. If you just box it up and have dozens of unmarked boxes it could be overwhelming when you get to your new destination.

    by Louise — March 4, 2017

  23. I was also widowed after being a caregiver for a completely disabled spouse for 12+ years, and raising our children (from ages 10+ at the time of my spouse’s disability) through grad school. I was relocated for work after my spouse died, and “downsized” to a house that’s about 3,000 sq. ft. I was forced to get rid of a lot of stuff quickly. I used everything from an ebay sales services, 1-800-Junk, the Salvation Army and Goodwill. I gave lawnmowers and tools away, and threw a lot of stuff into the sale of my home (buyers got a “free” riding mower, pool table, chest freezer etc.). I still ended up movng 30,000 lbs of stuff to the new home. My kids are starting professional careers and not in a position to take their stuff yet. I’ve given each of them a large storage bin, and said I’ll only store what fits in their bin. Every weekend I clear out another drawer, box or closet. It fees great! I wish I had the money that I had spent on stuff over a lifetime. Did I really need three Christmas trees? Of course not! Did I need to buy all those books, instead of borrowing them from the library? Absolutely not! Why did I buy all those cookbooks, when I never had time to cook? I discovered clothing in a range of 4 sizes, as I went up & down over the years. You get the idea. Downsizing is liberating, and I’m optimistically looking forward to a big reduction in the size of my next home. For ex., I foolishly started out thinking I needed at least 3 guestrooms for kids & their friends as I thought ahead to retirement. It’s a learning process, but I’m getting more sensible. We might gather at someone else’s house now, or I’ll use a hotel for the very few occasions where there are overflow guests.

    I’m not completely sensible though. I’m still hanging onto the family sterling, crystal and bone china. I haven’t sold valuable jewlery. The kids don’t want it, but it carries a lot of memories and emotions for me. Maybe it will come back in style, and have some meaning for grandkids. If not, it will be the kids’ turn to downsize. We’re entitled to draw the line on downsizing wherever we want.

    by Kate . — March 4, 2017

  24. What qualifiea for downsizing these days? I’m guessing it’s a lot less than 3000 Sq ft. Sorry , when I’m retired I want less than 1500 ft to have to clean.

    by mary11 — March 4, 2017

  25. You’re absoutely right, Mary11! I grew up in a family that lived in 1,400 sq. ft. home, and it felt like it had plenty of space. Somehow in the 80s it was easy in a booming economy and a state with a lower cost of living to get into one of those 4+ bedroom homes with gameroom, family room, office, living room etc…and with a house full of kids, the extra space seemed great at the time. Giving up spaces like the gameroom seemed like downsizing when I was forced to make a move quickly. I get it. I’m rolling my eyes at myself too, and planning to be much more sensible for my retirement move!

    by Kate . — March 4, 2017

  26. The most I want is two bedrooms…even that seems a lot to me. I hate to clean but I know that living away from family I will definitely have company from time to time.

    by Stacey — March 4, 2017

  27. Hi Kate:

    I too downsized from 4,000 sq. feet after a divorce in 2001. I live in a 1200 sq. foot one bedroom apartment in a co-op. I own my unit but the monthly fees may cause me to consider a studio apartment in the future. It is not easy to think of down sizing to 600 sq. feet as I too have kept things I am emotionally tied to. It is very cathartic to get rid of things, but I do not want to get rid of kitchen things as I love too cook–same for cookbooks which I have collected and use for reference as well as recipes. When you said you had down sized to 3,000 sq feet….I thought that would still be way to large for me. I have investigated the tiny house movement…the only thing is that I feel safe here and I am concerned that a single woman might be vulnerable in a tiny house–and the communities that I have looked at seem rather remote.

    by Jennifer — March 5, 2017

  28. Stacy, you could always buy/rent a one bedroom and with the money you save you could afford to put up your company in a hotel for a few nights. OR buy a sofa bed and you could sleep on it and give your bedroom to your guests. Another idea would be a murphy bed that folds up against the wall and looks like a cabinet when folded up.

    by Louise — March 5, 2017

  29. I too am looking for something much smaller. Two bedrooms and two bathrooms sounds good to me. My current house is 3 bedrooms and 3 bathrooms, built when our children were living with us. About 2500 sq. ft. Since it is now just me, and the chance of the kids and grandkids visiting is remote, I am looking for something that I can easily manage and pay for on a widow’s pension. Have been looking mostly in S. Carolina. I am currently living in the woods and would like to live in a subdivision with people! lol Any community suggestions?

    by Lynne — March 5, 2017

  30. Lynne, If you live in the woods, you might be unpleasantly surprised how annoying your neighbors can be. I have seen some real estate where the houses are so close to each other that you can put your arm out a window and ask your neighbor for a cup of sugar. My neighborhood used to be tranquil and I live on an acre of land. Over the years things have changed. However, one house has two 20 year olds who are constantly out in the yard revving up motorcycles, 4WD vehicles with loud mufflers. Another house there is a guy who has a car with a manual transmission with a loud muffler and he leaves the house early and wakes up the neighborhood with the noise. Another neighbor had sheep for years with two sheep dogs that constantly bark if they see the grass blow in the breeze. I live on a corner and parents bring their kids to the corner in their cars to wait for the school bus. They leave their cars running for 15-20 minutes and it happens to be on the bedroom side of my house and it wakes us up. I would opt for the woods myself. My neighbors are driving us nuts! Just be careful when chosing a new location!

    by Louise — March 5, 2017

  31. Hi Lynne,
    Try using the Retirement Ranger to narrow down your choices. If you have a specific state or area in mind, you can look for information under the state guides. The search engine is useful for additional information.
    Hope this helps!!

    by Moderator Flo — March 5, 2017

  32. Stacy, if I were to go to a studio or small 1 bedroom, like Louise, I’d look into a Murphy bed. It looks great when folded up, and can have storage in front. The comfort factor is a big decision maker. Most sofa beds become uncomfortable over time as the mattress is folded up and put down daily. A Murphy bed mattress stays unfolded, and in the long term that will be a better, decision, despite the difference in initial cost.

    by Lynne (from CT) — March 5, 2017

  33. Must admit, the thought of living hand in glove with crazy neighbors is very uncomfortable. After living for 20 years in the woods, with no neighbors, subdivision life will surely come as a shock. But being so isolated is not a good thing for me, and I cannot manage the property by myself. I would not mind a smaller home in a mature subdivision, and I will be using the Retirement Ranger to help me explore the options. Has anyone gone from a house to a townhouse, condo or apt? What has it been like? Any difficulties adjusting? I am in the process of clearing out my house, and I expect it will take much more time to get things to a manageable level, but will eventually need to move. I would like to move to a warmer location, but have only ever lived in Michigan, so am nervous of making such a big transition on my own.

    by Lynne — March 6, 2017

  34. Lynne, you definitely will suffer subdivision shock. Maybe you can find a house in a cud-de-sac which would be in a subdivision but more isolated. Even when you find a perfect fit, you just never know when your perfect neighbors will move and who will be your next neighbor. My ‘perfect’ neighbors moved next door with one baby and another followed. They have been next door for over 20 years. Now those babies are in their 20’s and one works seasonal work so only works about 6 months, the other has started a scrap yard next door and bangs on cars and has junk cars over there. I have been tempted more than once to call the authorities but we have known the guy for years and keep hoping the kid will stop and move on. Neither wants to move out of the home because they don’t pay rent or anything! By law they are not allowed to operate an unlicensed scrap yard in a residential area. I pine for your home in the woods! LOL!

    by Louise — March 6, 2017

  35. I live in the Los Angeles metro area; so tolerance for other people is something you must have to maintain good mental health. The alternative would be total insanity!!!

    by Bubbajog — March 6, 2017

  36. Lynne, Your situation sounds quite familiar. We too live in the country and have been (for years actually) considering someday moving in to a (perhaps) more “elderly friendly” situation (condo?) with amenities all around. We’re near the break even point financially when considering all costs of whether current home or town condo would work best.

    At times I think the ease of getting groceries, being in town with services, etc. would be so much easier to deal with. At other times what is dominant in my thoughts about moving into town is the NOISE and minimization of privacy. When people visit us, the almost constant comment is how quiet it is where we live. And I value that immensely. There can be no such peace living surrounded by neighbors (regardless of housing type).

    But today we have a minimum 10 minutes just to go to a convenience store — add 5-10 minutes to get “downtown”. Yet 20-30 minutes takes us to almost anything we would need in a high tech college environment. Moving into town, increases convenience, but for the most part it mostly matters relevant to the “convenience store” idea. Consider walking across the street vs driving a bit.

    Emergency services are frankly a near break even also. We have had emergencies both here at home and when visiting in the heart of a significant city. “Time to rescue” is just (in our case) nearly the same since we live only 20 minutes from one (or two) of the best hospitals anywhere. Frankly, long ago I came to an accommodation with the idea that a few minutes might mean the difference between living or not — so be it.

    So for me it comes down to the joys and the occasional angst of our current “inconvenient” near-Shangri-La (once called by a friend our “enchanted forest”) vs what I expect might be the continuous irritations of urban convenience. I personally have yet to resolve that.

    I hope my thoughts may aid you in deciding what you choose for yourself. One big difference is that my current situation is a “known” (for 25 years). I know you must consider a change either way. (BTW, we live in the center of NC. I was a teen-aged Yankee transplant 55 years ago, my wife is a native. Over the “other” 30 years, we have mostly lived in this region but also on the Gulf coast, urban Northern Virginia, remote Appalachian mountains, and some other urban areas.)

    by Rich — March 7, 2017

  37. Good points Rich! Yes in the end it all comes to what makes you smile and feel at peace about.

    by Virginia — March 8, 2017

  38. Lynne, it has been several months since this discussion took place about you moving out of the woods. Just wondering if you have transitioned yet and how did you make out and what have you learned? I reread some posts and wanted to throw in one other concern about condo living. I have two dogs and it seems they want to go out for potty breaks quite often during the day/evening. I have a raised ranch so I have to go down a half a flight of stairs to my front door. I have a big front yard and I have a rope at my front door so I can hook them up and let them wander a bit but I watch them due to coyotes. If you are in a condo, you will have to walk them on a leash, clean up, and if you live on the second floor you are going to be busy going up and down stairs to walk the dogs. If you should have any dogs. Not to mention, my one dog is particularly alert and barks whenever anything is out of order which is every day! He saw some birthday balloons that landed in my yard yesterday and had a hissy fit over them till the hub got rid of them. Barking dogs in a condo could present problems for sure! If you have no dogs none of this will be a concern but others may have dogs to worry about. My one dog is amazing! He does what I call boarder patrol in the garage and paces around the entire garage and if one thing is out of place or wasn’t there yesterday he has a fit! He will bark to let us know something is out of place.

    by louise — July 3, 2017

  39. I have really enjoyed this discussion. I am an urban to country transplant. As I move into retirement, I hear about people saying downsize, move to a condo or into town. The thought of again, looking out my window into my neighbors house makes me shudder. When I lived in the Chicago suburbs, I recall changing from work and having to dive into the closet because my neighbor pulled into their driveway and could see in my bedroom window.
    Moving to rural Colorado with 50 acres gave me a wonderful taste of country life and solitude. I was single and loved the quiet after a hard day at work with meetings, calls and emails. Now looking to down size from a 3600 sq ft post and beam home into a nice, small, easily cleaned house. But I will look for land as I have horses which are a large part of my life. I am looking forward to retirement, smaller house and yard to be able to spend more quality time working with them. Still love the yard work, the smaller scale yard is so enticing.
    Thanks all for your comments and insights.

    by Daisy May — July 4, 2017

  40. Hi Louise, Thank you for asking. I am still in the woods, however have been slowly moving towards my goals. I got a job, which has helped tremendously. Sadly, am now down to one dog as my Irish Wolfhound, Libby, died a few weeks ago. I am still afraid of being in the woods by myself, but am forcing myself to go one day at a time. I am still looking for a much smaller home than what I have now, and I would prefer a low maintenance home or even a condo. I have not lived in an apartment or condo before so doing that would be quite a challenge. But I realize that I am not able to do the maintenance required on a house by myself. I really like the idea of the managed, 55+ sub-divisions that are popping up. I have been looking into them on this lovely web site, and think that might be an option for me. Am having my husband’s things in the garage and basement handled by an auction company. Only getting pennies for the things, but at least it is getting them out of the house. So much more to do before I am in a position to move!

    by Lynne — July 6, 2017

  41. Lynne, sorry about losing Libby. Sounds like you are plugging along with things and taking it slow is best. Where have you seen the 55+ subdivisions going up? Some I have seen advertised are so expensive. Oxford, CT comes to mind.

    We were lucky for so many years with good neighbors. We still have good neighbors but they seem self absorbed and don’t realize that they are making a racket that disturbs others. One neighbor had a bunch of sheep! Why on earth he got them is beyond me! He passed away this year and his wife got rid of them. The sheep actually were not the problem. The problem is the two dogs that are very territorial and bark a lot and are outside all day long. Another neighbor took in some one to live in their home. He has a very loud car and he spends way too much time revving it up in the driveway then roaring down the road at 6 am. Then there is the kid next door operating an illegal scrap yard. Very annoying to say the least! I also live on what is considered a scenic two lane road. My house faces the road. Every single weekend we have tons of motorcycle riders roaring up and down our ‘scenic’ road. Not so bad if they have normal bikes but most have outrageous mufflers you can hear a mile away.

    Good luck on finding a home. Let us know about the 55+ communities popping up!

    by louise — July 7, 2017

  42. Wow, Louise, sounds like a nightmare! I’m not sure how you define ‘good’ in good neighbors. My heart goes out to you!

    by ella — July 8, 2017

  43. Yes, ella, that is why I warn anyone who lives in a ‘too quiet area’ to rethink about what they have and to be careful moving to a more populated area. Some people need the hustle bustle of a big city. I am a country bumpkin and like the wide open spaces and enjoy my quiet time when I can get it. Most of what I described is sporadic but still annoying at times too. I like where I live. We are only about 3 miles from downtown. The hospital is there too. Our town is cut in half by a river. To get to most of the bigger stores we have to go over a two lane bridge. It is a bottle neck and everyone complains about it. Not the end of the world but it would be nice if they redesigned the road and put in a 4 lane bridge.

    A large percentage of my neighbors are Seniors and are good people.

    by louise — July 8, 2017

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