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"55 or Better" Community - Status Update
Old 04-25-2005, 07:37 AM   #1
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"55 or Better" Community - Status Update

As requested, here's an update on how Mrs. Grumpy and I are doing three months into our move to a "55 or better" community:

Background: Retired at 55 under federal CSRS. Mrs. Grumpy is retired school teacher. Currently we are 58 and 57.

The physical move went very smoothly. Since we were downsizing from a 4 bedroom, 2 story into a one level 2 bedroom and den home, we sold off a lot of furniture before the move. The movers dropped and broke our TV but the insurance paid for a new and better one (less the deductible). No hassles with collecting on the insurance.

The new community is about 50 miles from our previous home and in another state. Getting new driver's licenses and getting the cars inspected and registered was a bit of a pain; especially since they required almost $1000 worth of repairs before they passed the inspections. My wife came down with the flu and we did not have a doctor in our new area. She couldn't get an appointment as a new patient for weeks. We have now had our medical records forwarded from our old doctors to ones near here.

At first we had a hard time finding our way around. Thank heavens for MapQuest. Now we are pretty familiar with the area. We have been doing a lot of shopping for home furnishings.

The community is all that we were hoping for. We moved in on Feb. 1st. On the 6th we attended a Super Bowl party in the community center. The other residents welcomed us warmly. We met a number of people who share our interests. We have gone to two poker nights and to several social gatherings. I have been using the indoor pool and hot tub 3 to 4 times a week and either walking on the bike paths or using the state of the art fitness center on the other days. I have joined the chess group and the hiking group for activities. I have time to do a lot of reading and the local library branch is only 3 miles away. My wife is adjusting a bit more slowly than I have. She was a bit depressed at first but seems to be coming around now. She has signed up for a couple of sessions with a personal trainer to get a regular exercise routine going.

The builder has been very good about fixing some of the minor problems with the house. I mentioned to one of the warrenty reps that I was considering putting in a tankless hot water system because the HWH was taking up too much floor space in our small laundry room. The builder agreed that it was a good idea and put the system in at their expense! The system works great - endless hot water and lower electric bills.

I had additional insulation added to the attic to lower heating costs. We had a patio installed in the back yard. We had the kitchen counters that the builder provided replaced with granite counters. We met with a decorator last week to get some suggestions.

Financially, things are going better than I expected. We paid cash for the house and have no other debt. So far we are meeting all expenses out of current income (pensions plus dividends on individual stocks). I expect I will have to dip into our portfolio to cover some new furniture and other one-time expenses but we should be quite comfortable with a withdrawal rate below 4%.

My son is coming up from North Carolina this weekend for his first visit to our new home. We haven't seen him since December. All in all I would have to say I couldn't be happier.

Grumpy
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Re: "55 or Better" Community - Status Update
Old 04-25-2005, 08:31 AM   #2
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Re: "55 or Better" Community - Status Update

That's for the posting Grumpy.

My wife and I are serious about moving into an "active adult" community, and it's reassuring to hear reports like yours.

We really like the community in which we presently live, but few persons are "retired" (none of them FIRE'd), and I can't see myself living here in retirement. (One child lives 2,000 miles away, and the other says she is leaving as soon as she graduates from college, so there are no "family" ties.)

Thanks again.
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Re: "55 or Better" Community - Status Update
Old 04-25-2005, 12:09 PM   #3
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Re: "55 or Better" Community - Status Update

playaman,

I was surprised to learn that in our community there is at least one working member in half of the households. We had expected more of the population to be fully retired. The good side of this is that during the workday the community center is nearly empty. I usually have the indoor pool all to myself.

Grumpy
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Re: "55 or Better" Community - Status Update
Old 04-25-2005, 01:00 PM   #4
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Re: "55 or Better" Community - Status Update

I guess you'll have to name yourself after a different dwarf now! Congrats on that working out, wams my heart and gives me hope!
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Re: "55 or Better" Community - Status Update
Old 04-25-2005, 05:19 PM   #5
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Re: "55 or Better" Community - Status Update

Thanks Grumpy for giving us the update. It sounds very nice. It would be nice to have different activities available to you all of the time.

I hope your wife adjusts soon. The exercising can really help! When I told my doctor that I did not seem to have as much energy as I used to have, the first question she asked me was how much I was exercising. Hopefully, she will make some friends and enjoy your great life!

Dreamer
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Re: "55 or Better" Community - Status Update
Old 04-27-2005, 07:38 AM   #6
 
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Re: "55 or Better" Community - Status Update

Thanks for the perspective.

Can you tell me what brand/model of tankless water heateryou got, and the cost? Thanks!
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Re: "55 or Better" Community - Status Update
Old 04-27-2005, 08:51 AM   #7
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Re: "55 or Better" Community - Status Update

Gumpy, what part of the country are you in?
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Re: "55 or Better" Community - Status Update
Old 04-27-2005, 11:11 AM   #8
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Re: "55 or Better" Community - Status Update

Tankless water heaters...
we put one in at the wifes old house, it was the low end Bosch unit, sized for a one bathroom house.

These more or less are sized by how many concurrent open taps might be running; this one is a one-tapper...you turn on the shower and then turn any other hot water in the house and your water pressure drops...not enough to turn your shower into a dribble but its a lot less.

The one we got was ~$500; the next step up (two tapper) is $995. I cant even guess at the install cost because my brother in law had his plumber come over and put it in N/C. It was a pain in the butt though.

We were replacing a 40gal regular heater in a little closet on the back of the house. The unit is fairly lightweight (I'm going to guess 25-30lbs tops), mounts on the wall. Curiously the one-tapper we got requires a 5" exhaust rather than the standard water heater 4", yet the two-tapper uses the 4" exhaust...go figure.

So we had to enlarge the hole through the roof (no biggie as we had the roof ripped off at the time), put in the 5" pipe offset to accommodate the new wall-mount location. The rest was simple plumbing.

These top draft straight up through the roof like a regular WH, although they have a sidedraft kit with a blower fan that lets you vent it sideways through a wall.

Some models have a pilot light like a regular WH, some have a little impeller wheel in the water line that spins an electric start to fire the gas; the latter is nice if its going to be installed in a cabin or some other infrequent use area.

Since it lacks internal insulation, this is not suitable for installation in any area where temperatures at the WH will drop below freezing. You also need a LOT of ventilation as these things fire off like a jet engine; so installing it indoors is improbable. Our 'cabinet on the back of the house' was fine. A garage with a couple of screened air vents in the wall nearby would also do.

Internally they're pretty simple, a huge burner and a heat exchanger that looks like a radiator. Both can be replaced independently. Cheap ones are aluminum. Larger more expensive ones use stainless steel. If your water is not too corrosive, the exchanger should last 15-20 years or more. Removing and replacing the entire unit once installed is not that hard; if you can install a kitchen faucet and know enough to use yellow putty for the gas line you could replace one of these with a similar model in under an hour.

The only other oddity is that these do not have a thermostat per se. They have a knob that controls how high the burner runs...sort of like a stove top gas burner. They do not create water at 160 degrees, they boost the temperature of the inlet water by a certain number of degrees. So if your inlet water is really, really cold...you're not going to get really hot water. You'll also need to tweak it throughout the year as the inlet water temperature changes.

What do you get out of all this peculiarity?

You can take six one hour long showers one right after the other, then do dishes and laundry. They tend to last a lot longer than regular WH's. And you'll save on the average about $30-50 per year on gas, and thats todays prices...I'm betting 15 years from now gas will cost a wee bit more. Considering a 15 year period (although it will probably last longer), you will get $450-750 in gas savings...pretty much paying the extra $ for the WH.

If your inlet temp is really low, or you want to keep the costs down, you can also daisy-chain these together so the hot water from one runs through a second one. You can also 'zone' a house and split the duties between two smaller tankless units rather than one big one.

Yes, I know...'tanks' for the info... :P
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Re: "55 or Better" Community - Status Update
Old 04-27-2005, 03:15 PM   #9
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Re: "55 or Better" Community - Status Update

Quote:
Thanks for the perspective.

Can you tell me what brand/model of tankless water heater you got, and the cost? Thanks!

TromboneAl,

We were replacing an 80 gal. electric hot water heater. The system is a PowerStar AE125. This model is available from Home Depot. The cost was $599. The installation was done at the builder's expense so I don't know what that would cost you. The electrician had to run three heavy lines from three separate breakers and the plumber had to mount the unit and connect the cold water input line and the hot water output line.

This model was the highest capacity electric unit I could find. It is rated at 3.7 gal. per minute (capacity depends on the temp. of the input line). The unit is 15" x 15" x 4" and mounts on the wall. It provides more than enough hot water for a very hot shower of unlimited length. We have not tried running the washing machine or dishwasher at the same time as the shower.

Electric bill for first month after installation was $20 less than the month before. So far we are very pleased.

Grumpy
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Re: "55 or Better" Community - Status Update
Old 04-27-2005, 03:16 PM   #10
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Re: "55 or Better" Community - Status Update

Quote:
Gumpy, what part of the country are you in?

Rich,

We are about 30 miles from the White House in Northern Virginia.


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Re: "55 or Better" Community - Status Update
Old 04-27-2005, 07:49 PM   #11
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Re: "55 or Better" Community - Status Update

Grumpy...thats the electric version of the one I installed. You wont have much luck running more than one shower or other appliance at the same time as a shower. Most showerheads run about 2.5GPM; open faucets, washing machines and dishwashers can do 3-5GPM.

Its a good unit for a single hot water outlet though. I installed one of those Moen pressure balancing shower valves that solves the problem of someone turning the hot or cold on somewhere else in the house...no scalding or cold water from the shower head.
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Re: "55 or Better" Community - Status Update
Old 04-27-2005, 08:14 PM   #12
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Re: "55 or Better" Community - Status Update

Thanks for the update. Your situation (having sufficient pensions without very little or no withdrawal from saving to live) demonstrates the benefits of working for the government.
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Re: "55 or Better" Community - Status Update
Old 04-28-2005, 09:58 AM   #13
 
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Re: "55 or Better" Community - Status Update

Thanks for the info, Grump.

Sorry for getting this thread off track. *I started a new thread on tankless water heaters.
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Re: "55 or Better" Community - Status Update
Old 08-22-2005, 03:59 PM   #14
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Re: "55 or Better" Community - Status Update

Here's an update - we've now been here 7 months:

The house decorating is about 75% complete. After consulting with a decorator, we had the interior painted. We got a new leather sectional sofa for the family room and a sleep sofa for the office. There are now blinds on the windows. We have hung pictures and added some accent pieces. DW is still searching for the perfect coffee table and lamps but overall we are very pleased with the results.

We have gotten to know our neighbors and alot of other folks in the community. The immediate neighbors (eight houses) have been holding biweekly "happy hours" hosted by a different neighbor each time. We are getting much better about finding our way around the northern Virginia area and are quickly learning alternate routes to avoid the worst of the I-95 traffic jams.

Yesterday a group of 25 from the community went for a down river tubing trip on the South Fork of the Shenandoah River about an hour from here. The weather was warm and sunny, the water was 80 degrees and clear. We tied a floating cooler to one of the tubes and spent three blissful hours drifting down the river and enjoying the views of the river valley and mountains.

So far our move here has turned out to be even better than expected. I'll provide another update in a few months.

(a lot less)Grumpy
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Re: "55 or Better" Community - Status Update
Old 08-22-2005, 04:57 PM   #15
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Re: "55 or Better" Community - Status Update

Thanks for the postings.

My wife and I are actually scheduled to spend a couple of nights in an "active adult" community just north of Austin, Texas, over Labor Day. From what I read, the socializing/ daily options for activity are a major part of "retired life" in those communities. I get bored easy, so think that would appeal to me ... but am not really sure quite yet.

I look forward to Grumpy's next posting in a few months ...
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Re: "55 or Better" Community - Status Update
Old 08-22-2005, 05:51 PM   #16
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Re: "55 or Better" Community - Status Update

Grumpy: "So far our move here has turned out to be even better than expected. I'll provide another update in a few months.

(a lot less)Grumpy"

Grumpy, do not, I repeat, do not visit your old office. It will cause a morale problem and if too many people stop working who will pay taxes for your benifits?

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Re: "55 or Better" Community - Status Update
Old 08-22-2005, 09:02 PM   #17
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Re: "55 or Better" Community - Status Update

What are the options in your community for people who have hobbies that require shop space? Things like metal and woodworking, car and motorcycle restoration/building, stuff like that.

cheers,
Michael
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Re: "55 or Better" Community - Status Update
Old 08-22-2005, 09:14 PM   #18
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Re: "55 or Better" Community - Status Update

Hi grumpy,

Glad all is working out so well for you and DW. I may in the same boat as theotherMichael... i think i need a garage big enough to house a couple tons of shop tools. the cars can stay outside.

BUM


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Re: "55 or Better" Community - Status Update
Old 08-22-2005, 09:16 PM   #19
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Re: "55 or Better" Community - Status Update

I can see why you are alot less grumpy now. It sounds really nice. I probably could not get DH to someplace like that unless he could still do the car restoration that the other Michael was talking about. He loves his cars.

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Re: "55 or Better" Community - Status Update
Old 08-23-2005, 09:12 AM   #20
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Re: "55 or Better" Community - Status Update

Quote:
Originally Posted by The Other Michael
What are the options in your community for people who have hobbies that require shop space? Things like metal and woodworking, car and motorcycle restoration/building, stuff like that.

cheers,
Michael
The houses all have two car garages. The builder offers an option for a finished storage area with stairs above the garage that also extends the length of the garage 4 feet. I didn't spring for that option (now I wish I had). I keep our two cars in the garage which doesn't leave room for the kind of things you would like to do. However, a lot of folks keep there cars on their driveway and use the garage for their hobbies. I know a few who have extensive woodworking equipment in the garage. Also, most of the homes can be built with basements depending on the configuration of the lot. We did not want to deal with steps anymore so we got a single level home on a slab. Most of my hobbies revolve around the extensive community center facilities like the pools and fitness center. I also use the billiard room and the card room. I don't need a lot of shop space.

Grumpy
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