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Alaskans thinking of what to do after retirement
Old 02-04-2009, 01:19 PM   #1
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Alaskans thinking of what to do after retirement

My husband plans to retire from the federal government in about a year. We currently live in Juneau, Alaska and are trying to figure out our options.

We have a 32-foot sailboat that we would like to use in the Puget Sound area; maybe even living aboard for a period of time.

We are thinking of getting a Class-B camping van that we could use to travel around the US for a period of time.

The question is: what to do with our "stuff." I hate the idea of a storage unit. We can get rid of tons of stuff, but what to do with Grandma's china?

We consider selling our house in Alaska, buying a small condo somewhere, maybe in Puget Sound area, Seattle or Bellingham.

To add to our considerations, my 62-year-old husband has an incurable form of lymphoma (Mantle Cell Lymphoma) and will need medical treatment from time to time.

So, that's our story!

Any ideas?

Thanks so much,

Jane from Juneau
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Old 02-04-2009, 01:35 PM   #2
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Welcome to the forum Jane.

Do you have any relatives or friends that could store your items? Perhaps you could pay them a small fee thus eliminating any guilt.

It sounds like you have a lot going on now. I wish you and DH the best.....
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Old 02-04-2009, 03:20 PM   #3
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Can't help with what to do with "stuff". My method was to get rid of everything that did not fit in my motorhome. bbbamI's idea of "storing" with a relative is a neat idea.

Highly recommend traveling around the USA. I spent a year and half or so bumming around, visited every state in the contiguous lower 48.

If I could talk DW into it, would do it again. Alas!!!
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Old 02-05-2009, 05:54 AM   #4
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Welcome Jane.
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Old 02-05-2009, 06:44 AM   #5
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Welcome to the Early Retirement Forum, Jane, from another federal employee. I am planning to retire in November, barring the unexpected.

I like your idea of buying a small condo in Washington State. You could store most of your stuff there, but spend most of your time elsewhere - - living aboard your boat, or in a camper.

I know nothing about lymphoma or what one could expect with that type of lymphoma, but it seems to me that if the small condo is near hospitals and medical facilities that might be a plus. Then if your husband's condition requires treatments and/or hospitalization for a little while, you would have a base nearby and you would be just moments away from his bedside.
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Old 02-05-2009, 09:50 AM   #6
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Hi Jane and welcome aboard!

It does sound like a home base might be a great idea, and a condo makes sense to me if you're going to be away for extended periods.

Retirement is a good time to start de-cluttering, too. Perhaps it's a good time to pass Grandma's china on?

I'm glad you've joined us!

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Old 02-06-2009, 09:08 AM   #7
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I know a couple that have been full-timing for years. They early on discovered that it was cheaper to buy a small place to store the stuff they couldn't bring themselves to sell and then spend a month there from time to time. They found the cheap place to be in the Carolinas but I'm sure there are other inexpensive places. In there case they trading very expensive storage in New Jersey, so they actually came out cheaper. They have it setup so services can be turned on and off with a few days notice.

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Old 02-07-2009, 02:17 PM   #8
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I'm surprised by all the comments advocating buying a place purely as storage. A storage closet in NJ cost $100-$200 a month. Most condo fees will cost $100-$200 a month plus real estate taxes plus utilities, and that's assuming the buyer paid cash so that there is no mortgage payment. I just can't figure out how buying a condo as pure storage will turn out to be cheaper and less troublesome. Most big storage places have security cameras, a lock on the main gate, and two locks on your unit, one to be opened by the storage company's employee in your presence.
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Old 02-07-2009, 02:34 PM   #9
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They did pay cash for the house since they had also sold their house in NJ. They bought a small house not a condo, so all they have is taxes and upkeep. Security would be a problem in some areas but not a concern apparently for them. Utilities they left off most of the time when they were not present. Not sure what they paid for storage in NJ.

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Old 02-07-2009, 10:47 PM   #10
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In the PacNW if you want to keep your stuff nice you need to rent a heated storage unit, and even then they are subject to burglary. I don't think it is smart to buy or rent a house if you are going to travel a lot because of yard maintenance and security. In this market I would look to rent a two + bedroom condo. Use one bedroom as storage for excess stuff, make the rest your home.

Bellingham has a lot going for it. Well located for the sailing set, it is a college town and has Amtrak service (when it runs). The disadvantage, for me, would be the lack of a hub airport. I don't know if suitable health care is available for the OP's husband (the drive to Seattle is 2 hours under good conditions).

I would first nail down where my spouse would get the best health care in the NW and plan on living near that facility. Then I would look for moorage Bellingham north that you can get to easily. Find a location with a very good boat yard nearby, scope out provisioners (even Safeway delivers these days), and a secure place to park your car.

If you had Portland Metro on your places to live list I could provide concrete suggestions in that community. My son thinks nothing of sailing over the Columbia River Bar to the Gulf Islands, but IMHO it is fair weather boating in a 32 footer. There are boat haulers that work I-5, yours should be a snap . Washington and Oregon have two different tax structures that can be significant for boat owners so the choice is situation specific.
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Old 02-09-2009, 12:17 PM   #11
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Bellingham has superb medical care and getting better. Super-special stuff can be arranged in advance and Seattle is only about 2 hours away, as noted. We have no reservations of any kind about health care in BH--except paying for it.

A while back, BH doctors were not taking new patients who were already under medicare--you had to be a patient first, then get medicare. However, that has improved.

Bham also has a small airport that offers connections to Seatac and Vancouver, BC. You can get a shuttle to Seatac (with an advance reservation) for about $40, IIRC. Our little airport has direct flights to Los Vegas, incidentally.

Just over the border, Abbotsford has an airport that I use extensively. There are four border crossings. Most of the time there is no wait at the Lynden crossing and we get to Abbotsford in 40 minutes from the house.

There are many places to moor between the Canadian border and Seattle (check out Everett).

Crossing the Columbia River bar? The Coast Guard has their rough water training at the mouth of the Columbia for a reason. Do your homework.

One possibility may be Vancouver, Washington, just across the Columbia from Portland. You get no income tax in WA and no sales tax in OR. You can live aboard on the Columbia--lots of moorage where the Columbia and Willamette join.
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Old 02-09-2009, 10:38 PM   #12
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Better check on those Abbotsford flights. There was a couple on our boat in South America a couple weeks ago who ended up driving from Blaine to SEA because air service had been cancelled. Flights in the winter, be it Abbotsford or Bellingham, can be a dicy affair.

Bellingham is a nice town. If the medical care OP needs is available I would choose that community over Vancouver, particularly if they intend to purchase. Federal retirees over 65 have Medicare as primary, federal health insurance is secondary.

In the past moorage has been tough to find in the Puget Sound, including Everett. Things may have changed with the economy; and as always dependent on location, the size of the boat and services desired.

Frankly I am not a fan of crossing the Columbia River Bar, although I have done it several times when the water was flat and the winds gentle. Yes the Coast Guard uses it for training, and we lost a Bar Pilot this year in rough weather. My son, is a Maritime Acad graduate who sailed the north Pacific (mostly out of Valdez), is also very careful about when he crosses. That is why I suggested the truck transport.

It is my opinion that the service provided by state and local governments must be paid for some way and the cost for a given level of services is about the same. The tax burden for a given tax payer depends on the tax payer's life style when trying to choose between Oregon and Washington. Remember OR has only an income tax (which is deductible on the Fed return), while WA has a substantial sales and boater's licence tax (which is not deductible.. usually). This couple needs to research their specific circumstances to determine what makes sense for them.

Planning for retirement is a part of the fun.
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Old 02-10-2009, 06:50 PM   #13
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Hi, Brat,

You are right about canceled flights out of Abbotsford. It snowed like crazy and my flight was canceled. We must have been there the same day. Vancouver, BC, airport (YVR) was also closed. Sometimes flights are canceled due to bad weather further east or as far north as Fort MacMurray, so it is hard to tell, even up to the last minute. I didn't remember this because my schedule is usually flexible. It does not happen very often, though. If I were planning an important trip, I always buy trip insurance and wouild probably fly out of Seatttle myself.

I llike your recommendation for truck transport.
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Old 02-11-2009, 07:02 PM   #14
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My son and his wife have a boat yard in Portland. Transport trucks arrive regularly with yachts to lift and launch.
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