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Would like to live in 2 places after retirement...
Old 12-31-2008, 02:42 PM   #1
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Would like to live in 2 places after retirement...

My husband retired some time ago, but I am still working. I would like to retire in 4-5 years, and we would then like to live most of the year in the Mid-Atlantic region, and winters in a semitropical clime (Florida or elsewhere). Yes, we aspire to be snowbirds! Like husband, I will have a COLA’d pension, but no SS. Our investments are down by 40% or so…nothing new there! We have a good-sized mortgage payment, do not have children, and did not inherit any money. So, that is our situation.
Long-term, we are considering moving to a state that does not tax pension income. We have visited a couple of locations in Pennsylvania, but haven’t yet found what we’re looking for. I would love to hear from FIREees in Pennsylvania; guess that belongs in “Life After FIRE.”
I can’t imagine how I missed the FIRE forums before, since I’m always looking for ”real people” information on retirement planning and lifestyles. Better late than never! Please forgive if I post about a topic that was previously hashed out. You can be sure I tried to find an earlier thread. I welcome feedback to my posts.
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Old 12-31-2008, 02:53 PM   #2
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Watching my sister, who lives in two places, I see it as very inefficient and bothersome to live in two places. Besides the moving back and forth expenses, you have to purchase and maintain two of everything (or at least two of most things). Two sets of furniture, two sets of kitchen stuff, etc. Then you have twice as much home maintenance. Two phone companies, water companies, cable companies, garbage companies. You're always turning on or off service or paying for service you don't use. You've got stuff in the fridge that goes bad.

There are other things I'd rather spend my money on.
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Old 12-31-2008, 02:58 PM   #3
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Any relation to Amethyst, Princess of Gemworld, the great DC Comics heroine?

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedi...stprincess.jpg

I know we are deep into the holidays as I miss-read your title, thinking, no, I want to live in one piece.

Also, what TromboneAl said. Mind boggling to think that super-rich people have apts. and houses in ten cities/countries. Time to see the movie, "Come September."

Welcome, looking forward to hearing more of your story. BTW, nice avatar.
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Old 12-31-2008, 03:00 PM   #4
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Watching my sister, who lives in two places, I see it as very inefficient and bothersome to live in two places. Besides the moving back and forth expenses, you have to purchase and maintain two of everything (or at least two of most things).
I would rent a second place for six months (preferably furnished) before making such a move. It would be a shame to go through all that expense and decide it wasn't worth doing or that it was too much of a hassle.

I've heard of people on the East coast who've done this, and then they decide they'd rather live in one place year 'round -- often settling in some place halfway between the cold winters to the north and the mildest winters to the south (such as Virginia or the Carolinas). There's even a term for them these days -- "halfbacks," as in they moved "halfway back."
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Old 12-31-2008, 03:01 PM   #5
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Living in Florida I know tons of people with two houses . I agree with Al . It is too much trouble and worry . If you want to escape the winter rent for several months it will be cheaper than buying and you are not locked into one place or you could always buy in Florida ( no state income tax ) and rent in Pa. in the summer . I rented in Pa. one summer and it was really reasonable . It was in a ski area that had a lake and pools in the Pocono Mountains .I forgot to add Welcome to the forum.
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Old 12-31-2008, 03:43 PM   #6
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Having lived in several places since retiring (Virginia, Florida (2 locations), Central Ohio, over about a 30 year period. I would never buy 2 places, it is too easy to just go visit. We could easily afford doing it but it just seems to be a very big waste of money. Currently, I do have a Son who lives in two places and he has for the past 3 years - he likes it but I have seen him really waste money and time and a lot of effort, doing it and his two places are not too far apart (about 120 miles).

BTW welcome to the forum.
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Old 12-31-2008, 04:27 PM   #7
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My (former, late) in-laws always had at least two places, sometime three in retirement. It was their primary focus in retirement - buying houses, selling, moving stuff, worrying if heat was on when in Michigan when they were in Florida, worrying if Florida property was secure when they were in Michigan. Driving back and forth, looking for stuff that was MIA between the various houses. I could never understand the appeal, but I will say that it sure kept them busy.
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Old 12-31-2008, 04:43 PM   #8
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Owning two houses, especially if they are located hundreds of miles apart, is a job. Retirement means not having a job - at least to most of us.

Rent, buy a motor home, or do a house swap (good luck with that ), but don't strap yourself down with the never ending task of maintaining two residences.
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Old 12-31-2008, 06:14 PM   #9
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Thank you all...We will definitely give careful consideration to the concerns that everyone has raised. When we thought about the "two of everything," we somehow assumed the "second" home would be considerably cheaper to maintain, since it would be smaller, and costs are generally lower in the South (or so we thought). Maybe that is a faulty assumption.

Even more than the "two of everything" issue, we are concerned about the security of our "main" home, as in: keeping bad people out of it while we're gone, and preventing bad things (fire, freezing pipes) from happening to it. We don't have relatives who can check up on our house while we're away.

(Cuppa, what an imagination. Sometimes it is all one can do, to "live in one piece" and not fly apart! I had not heard of Princess Amethyst, but enjoyed seeing her picture. I love comic strips and manga. Actually, I picked the name because I have always liked the word "amethyst," and also like the gemstone).
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Old 12-31-2008, 06:20 PM   #10
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I have 2 homes - 1 in NY and 1 in NC. Escalating financial issues aside, the logistics are a bear. Things happen. The only way we keep it stuck together, is by having our daughter and SIL and new grandbaby live there, pay all the bills and take care of the details. We visit often and stay in a the renovated apartment (basement). I works just fine for us.

Also keep in mind that somebody (Bernstein?) wrote that "owning more than one home in retirement is financial suicide." I believe its a loaded gun and should be treated accordingly.
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Old 12-31-2008, 06:22 PM   #11
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Even more than the "two of everything" issue, we are concerned about the security of our "main" home, as in: keeping bad people out of it while we're gone, and preventing bad things (fire, freezing pipes) from happening to it. We don't have relatives who can check up on our house while we're away.
Check your homeowner's insurance if your home is vacant. Although it varies by state, many HO policies won't cover losses if a home is unoccupied for 30 days or longer.
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Old 12-31-2008, 06:30 PM   #12
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Owning two houses, especially if they are located hundreds of miles apart, is a job. Retirement means not having a job - at least to most of us.

Rent, buy a motor home, or do a house swap (good luck with that ), but don't strap yourself down with the never ending task of maintaining two residences.
I agree. Have a primary residence and rent something 3-5 months a year as lots of Canadian's do every year. Plus it gives you the flexibility to go to different places every year.
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Old 12-31-2008, 06:37 PM   #13
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Check your homeowner's insurance if your home is vacant. Although it varies by state, many HO policies won't cover losses if a home is unoccupied for 30 days or longer.
For a few months, we "maintained" two residences -- we were selling our house in Houston after we moved up here, and we had to get a modified insurance policy for the Houston home. It was something like 25% cheaper than before -- but that's because a few perils were excluded (most notably water damage caused by broken pipes and vandalism).

Obviously, it's best if you have someone who can occasionally spend a day or two in the vacant home (at least once a month), because that might allow you to keep your existing policy as-is without being considered vacant for insurance purposes. But this can vary by policy and by insurer, so make sure you don't get caught with your pants down by having a loss that's not covered because you're not regularly living in the home.

Having said that, I think most insurers in the northeast deal with this on a fairly regular basis so I"m sure they know how to handle it.
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Old 12-31-2008, 06:52 PM   #14
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Or, consider a condo or co-op in one or both places.

However, the 'rent first' idea is vital!

ta,
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Old 12-31-2008, 07:56 PM   #15
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Whatever happen to the old fashioned way - free loading off friends and relatives.

My list - greater Seattle, Portland, San Diego, Pensacola, New Orleans and outside Fort Huachuca, AZ for a start.

Of course we do Seattle and Portland in August. .

heh heh heh - and greater D.C., Chattanooga.
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Old 12-31-2008, 08:38 PM   #16
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Well, I have two houses, both are in AZ.

Our main home is in the desert metropolitan area (73 degF high today), while the other is at 7000ft elevation, where the temperature dropped as low as 5 degF a few days ago. The distance is only 2.5-hr driving at posted speed limits. Hence, we can play "snowbirds" in the same state. Quite a few of Arizonans have the same arrangement, though many have a simpler cabin-like place in the mountain, which they close down for the winter.

Originally, my idea was to have a place to escape the 115-120 deg summer heat, then to consolidate to one house somewhere in the Puget Sound, once my children all finish college in a couple of years. Then, I recently found out that a nice house in the Sound near the water costs as much or more than both of my AZ houses. Yes, Seattle and its surrounding are expensive. And the real estate tax of such a nice house is significantly more than both of my AZ houses combined.

The close distance minimizes the hassle of commuting back and forth, and the logistics for maintenance. In fact, we have been so spoiled by being able to just hop into our car and drive up to the mountain. Three weeks ago, driving to our timeshare in Puerto Penasco (Mexico), we forgot to pack our toothbrushes!

As to whether that's worthwhile, it's up to the individuals. Similarly with foreign travel, some people wonder if the experience is worth the expenses and the hassle of flight. Why not be an armchair traveler? It's up to you to decide. Even if you can afford it, it may not be worth the hassle if you don't use the 2nd home enough, or if it requires too much maintenance. It amazes us that several nice houses near my mountain home are always deserted, even in the summer.

So, I still have a couple of years to make up my mind on whether to consolidate to the PNW. But my wife loves our mountain home too much! We both have family (parents/siblings/nieces/nephews) in town. We may just keep the existing houses. Or I will sell one place. We are only 52 and, who knows, in 10 years we may like something else. For now, my son and I still enjoy riding the motorcycles deep into the national forest, where we have seen deer, elk, wild turkey, javelina, and foxes (no bear or mountain lions yet!).
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Old 12-31-2008, 08:51 PM   #17
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Hey, UncleMick

Give me a PM in July. At the very minimum you can join us for a drink on the deck and watch the ships pass by.
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Old 12-31-2008, 10:31 PM   #18
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Hey, UncleMick

Give me a PM in July. At the very minimum you can join us for a drink on the deck and watch the ships pass by.
Yes - perhaps you can dial up some good weather for August.

heh heh heh - Got one family member visiting from Missouri outside of Portland right now - alas they drove.
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Old 01-01-2009, 06:30 AM   #19
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Amethyst,

I have two places and it's worked out fine for me. I want to point out that my two places are exactly one hundred miles apart, one in the city in NE New York and the other on a dirt road off dirt roads in SW Vermont. That's what I was looking for: city/country. I love the winter, and all five seasons (mud included). I need to be in the mountains.

I hardly spend more than ten minutes planning my trips, since I already organized things with two places. There's a box or two were I toss stuff at each house to make sure to take to the other one. It's easy. I also made sure to buy a small, very well maintained place in the country, already having an old city house that needs TLC. I got a great deal on the property too.

I have friends who are snowbirds, with a house in NY and a small condo in Florida. They enjoy it. They don't travel back and forth. They get there and stay. Sometimes they drive, sometimes they fly. I also know New Yorkers who returned because they couldn't stand Florida.

As Ziggy pointed out, the Carolinas are a very nice option if you want one place.

Just my long and windy two cents.

Kate
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Old 01-01-2009, 09:10 AM   #20
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Amethyst, my parents had two places for something like 25 years before eventually selling the "city house" and moving into the "country house" permanently. The two were a roughly 2 hour drive apart and I spent many a weekend as a kid being shuttled back and forth (also spent summers in the country). The place in the country was lower maintenance and they had the advantage of my grandparents living nearby to handle any sudden emergencies. But it was still somewhat of a PITA and we were pretty much committed about every weekend from April through November plus the odd winter weekend. Being there so often meant that any lingering issues or problems got caught reasonably promptly, but I don't know what would have happened if they had been gone for months at a time.

Were I in your shoes, I would definately try renting the first season or two if only to find out if you really like an area. I am constantly amazed at the variety of places for rent at places like www.vrbo.com, let alone through local realtors. If you like an area enough, you canthen do some serious investigative work on what the trade-offs between buying and renting might be over the long term.

We definately have the itch for a second place, but I have refrained because I have had enough on my plate to not want to deal with the expense and hassle of maintaining two places. I suppose that could eventually change, but for now we have bought a small travel trailer instead. You might give some thought as to whether an RV of some sort might skin this particular cat for you.
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