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Old 03-09-2013, 09:45 AM   #21
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We've lived in our home for 29 years, and it's paid for. Our taxes are incredibly reasonable, but it's WAY more house than we now need since the kids are grown & gone. Every Saturday I *itch as I vacuum, and vacuum, and vacuum..... We've redone all 3 bathrooms, did the kitchen about 15 years ago, and usually paint or tackle one room a year. This year was the basement. DH is handy, so this keeps him busy now that he's semi-retired.

He waltzed into my office several months ago and announced that he wants to move. It's 2 story, and all the bedrooms are upstairs. He's got lingering side effects from chemotherapy, and his balance is poor. He's afraid he'll fall down the steps. Also, the yard is too big, but we pay someone to cut it, so that isn't our biggest issue.

Moving is NOT in my retirement plan. Maybe we'll just get him an electric lift he can ride up & down the steps. Who knows, but I'm hoping he forgets this idea (as he has many others) and is just content to stay here. I plan to die in this house, which very well may be the case if we have this "moving" discussion again.

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Old 03-09-2013, 11:20 AM   #22
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Originally Posted by SumDay View Post
He waltzed into my office several months ago and announced that he wants to move. It's 2 story, and all the bedrooms are upstairs. He's got lingering side effects from chemotherapy, and his balance is poor. He's afraid he'll fall down the steps.
In that situation I would want to put the house on the market next week. I never really minded stairs all that much but DH insisted that we buy our downsize house with no stairs. We had a 4500 SF house that had stairs and moved to a smaller house with no stairs. A year later I am so, so, so happy we made the move. It is so nice to not have any stairs. I did fall on stairs once (at work) and broke my ankle and I wouldn't wish falling on anyone. (I also still remember the acquaintance that I knew who fell on stairs in her home and died.) With poor balance I would move in a heartbeat.

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Old 03-09-2013, 11:32 AM   #23
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One of the points that some have brought up is using the house as a safety cushion in the event that finances become difficult. Sell the house... Reverse Mortgage... pay for Nursing home or CCRC or sell and downsize to rent etc.

This may not be the best plan, depending on circumstances... FWIW, I posted a comment on this thread
Sharing 23 years of Frugal Retirement
that you may want to read if you're not aware of the benefits of Medicaid. Depending on the circumstances, selling your house may be the worst choice.

Here's an excerpt from one of the posts covering this.

Perhaps the most important part of this thread on retirement, is the matter of protecting one's assets... and even more important, thinking ahead to protect the assets of a spouse, when health requires extraordinary expenses.

Since we, and our spouses will always be healthy, we don't think about what could happen. We just assume we'll both die at the same time.

Statistically that ain't gonna happen. If you already have a net worth of 2 Million dollars, don't read the rest... It doesn't apply to you.

Current medicaid law allows for payment of nursing home expenses under certain conditions. If you understand those conditions, you could save hundreds of thousands of dollars for yourself, your spouse, or your estate... (your kids).

Here are the things you should know about:

Current nursing home costs average from $75,000 to $90,000/yr. A friend on Long Island is currently paying over $135,000/yr. for just basic care.

The state (medicaid) does not automatically pay for this.

You should understand "exclusions".

Know that the "look back period" is now 5 years.

As long as a married couple have assets, if one spouse should have to go into a nursing home, the couple's assets will be used to pay for the medical care until the assets go below a certain level, at which time, the state medicaid program will pay for the nursing home care. The asset level varies by state.

Here's an example that happened to friend, that points up the importance of planning ahead. Bob retired with his wife May, to Florida from Maine. He sold his Maine house for $280,000 and planned to use this as his nest egg during his retirement. He bought a mobile home..(downsized)for $35,000. Shortly after retiring, May began a long slide into Alzheimers, and after three years has to go into a nursing home. (at the time $65,000/yr.) She lived there for 5 years before passing away. Because Bob and May had assets from the sale of their house, medicaid would not pay, and The nest egg was gone.
Now, here's what happens....
1. In counting assets, Bob is allowed certain exclusions. In General, the exclusions in his case, were... His house @ $35,000, His car $20,000, Cash (then, $40,000) and some smaller amounts like burial plot and non cash life insurance.
2. The logical thing to have done would be to give away the money in the nest egg, so the state wouldn't take it. That's where the lookback comes in. If he had given away the money to his kids, the state would not have taken the money... but... to prevent this from happening, the state will "look back" five years and deny medicaid payment,if this 'gift" transaction had taken place.

As it happened, May died, and Bob had nothing but his Social Security left to live on.

Here's what I took from this...
Nine years ago, we owned a mobile home, and a park model trailer in a campground. Understanding Bob's situation, we took some of our savings, and purchased a home outright. This took the money out of our assets and put it into the house "exclusion". Now, if one of us shold have to go into a nursing home, the state may take from our savings account, but they will not take the house... Essentially this means that one of us will still be able to keep some substantial assets, hopefully enough to stay above the poverty level.

This is just one of many, many reasons to look ahead to the future.
See the link to Elder Law on Exclusions. (website)

Most of you probably have some understanding of the laws, but the matter of elderlaw is extremely complex.

IMHO, when a case involving medical expense, or the legal position of any older relative, the very first thing to do is to contact an geriatric or eldercare lawyer. Not just any lawyer, but one who is deeply involved in elderlaw.
Bookmark the site on Elderlaw. There is a series of Q and A's bout real life situations, that should shed much light on a difficult subject. I thought I was relatively knowledgeable but found that in more cases than not, I had no idea of how the law treats estates and legal matters involving older people.

I have more nightmare stories about friends or neighbors who lost literal fortunes because of small errors in handling legal matters, either because of mistake in timing, or failure to obtain proper legal permissions. Anyone who has dealt with estate administration will understand what I'm talking about.

FWIW, I don't pretend to be a legal reference, and so some of the above may be wrong. Feel free to correct errors.
One of the "Lucky Few"
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Old 03-09-2013, 12:34 PM   #24
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We're in a condo in Seattle. We consider it part of our net worth but not part of our retirement assets. We don't plan to sell it.

We bought near the height of the housing crash, and thus ended up with a much nicer place than I ever thought we'd live. I think of it as our palace in the sky. It's a nice building, but the big perk to me was the view. Views of the city outside every window. Gorgeous at night. We have half the space we used to, but the city is our backyard, which is perfect. Parades go by, parks are just a bus ride away, and we can see holiday fireworks from our living room. I feel very spoiled here.

We had a nice home before, but it came with a lot of commute time and a fair amount of maintenance and worry. Gutters overflowed. Our yard was a constant battle. Petty thieves broke into houses nearby. It was expensive to heat, and took hours to clean.

Our HOA fees here are fairly hefty, but include all maintenance, a capable staff, and some really nice amenities. Once we pay our condo off, our HOA and taxes will add up to the equivalent of a modest rental payment, but should be manageable on our retirement budget. Or if we relocate (doubtful) we could rent this place at a nice monthly cash flow.

In an ideal world, I can see us paying our home off right around ER time then alternating between relaxation and travel. We have many retirees for neighbors who seem to be doing just that.


Who never thought she'd be a condo person!
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Old 03-09-2013, 01:32 PM   #25
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In July it will be 30 years since we bought our house. Four bedrooms and two full bathrooms (2BR and 1 bath on each floor) and an attached 2 car garage. Paid off the 30 year mortgage early. We plan on staying. We raised the family here and still like the area and the neighborhood. DH loves having a yard and garage and I cherish our deck with a big awning in the summer.

As we age I see us being able to stay in the house. We can downsize by just not using the upstairs. The laundry is in the basement but if needed one of the first floor bedrooms that's next to the bathroom could be converted to a laundry although I don't know if that would make sense, resale wise.

Our ties to the area are my Dad (almost 87), our sons (28 and 26) and my sister. As that changes I would consider another area of the country that didn't have such difficult winters. Most of DH's family are in the Denver area. I would consider moving closer to them but that's not much of an advantage, climate-wise.

We like owning. Our property taxes are only $2400/yr so we couldn't live any cheaper by renting. The upkeep is constant so that will be a consideration as we get older. The simplicity of a condo is interesting but I'm hesitant about condo fees and HOA rules. We like our privacy and autonomy.

We are deeply rooted and staying, but open to change down the road. Seeing the changes my Dad has gone through makes me think about the aging issues more.
Married, both 61. DH retired June, 2010. I have a pleasant little part time job.
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Old 03-09-2013, 04:17 PM   #26
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Mi casa bonita...

First off, the climate here is awful from Dec-Mar. It snows here. A lot.

I live out in the country, as in a dairy farm is very close by. East Nowhere is dull, but it has its charms in other ways. Fresh air, low crime, very little road noise. A small lake within 5 miles and a nice little boat club with walk-up slip for my powerboat. Once the snow melts and goes away for good, it is fabulous here. Lush green, very few critters to contend with, nice cool nights for sleeping.
Did I mention fresh air ?

I live in a 1977 vintage raised ranch, approx 1700 sq ft, that was purchased and moved into in 1984 when I was 25 years old, a fresh newlywed (5 months to be exact). The price was right...gravel/dirt driveway, lawn in terrible shape, back deck starting to rot, really awful magenta carpeting and rooms full of that wild large print design wallpaper from the 70s.
Hubby and I were happy to start out with a nest that wasn't rented, without wierd neighbors.

Over the years, each room has been redone and/or painted, the kitchen and bathrooms overhauled, a dividing wall removed and replaced with a peninsula, and red oak wood flooring put in by hand (yes by hand by a friend who is also an excellent carpenter). That small open air deck was replaced with a roofed screened in room (used Apr-Dec) and a lower large open deck.
If this house could be transported to a high rent district, it would be very desirable to own.

After I was widowed in 2004 at age 46, I really thought about selling and getting an apartment. I'm glad I didn't give in to that impulse. No mortgage was the main reason to stay put. 100% equity is a nice thing to have.

I have often thought of downsizing to a smaller house...however I know what has been repaired/upgraded here versus buying into someone else's history. It ain't broke, so I ain't fixin' it.

When the upkeep gets too tough on me physically, I will most likely buy a condo in a larger town. Where? Who knows?

For now, I await the catalyst to change my zip code.
I'm having a ball exploring upstate NY.
"All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them." - Walt Disney
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Old 03-09-2013, 04:33 PM   #27
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My DW and I bought our dream house in 1995. The kids were approaching teenage and our house was too small. Since we had always been LBYM the downpayment was two thirds of the purchase price. Never a burden it has become home base for our family. I never consider it an investment, it's where we live.
In 2001 we embarked on a new adventure and built a lakehouse. And I mean built it. As the ultimate family project the kids started by removing the sod and topsoil and digging the foundation by hand - in Michigan by the way 42". As a family we poured the footers, laid the blocks, framed and enclosed the structure. We hired the pros for the HVAC, drywall and plumbing but did all the grunt work ourselves. We finished the interior trim around Thanksgiving and hit the lake the following Spring. This place is our plan B. Still not considered an investment but it's there if we need it. However the attachment is pretty strong and hopefully we'll enjoy it with the kids and grandkids for years to come.
"What's the worst thing that could happen - I keep my job."
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Old 03-09-2013, 05:25 PM   #28
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We live in the house I grew up in. Bought from my dad when he was looking to downsize. The equity does not play into our retirement plans other than as a "plan B" if we outlive our investible nest egg and need some dough to buy into a CCRC. The nice thing about buying from my dad is that we were able to transfer his Prop 13 property tax rate... saves us about $5000 per year in taxes. He did not give us a break on price... he was as cheap as I am. LOL. It's the perfect size for a family of 4 - about 2000sf. Unfortunately bedrooms are upstairs.

We built a 1 bedroom detached granny flat for my inlaws. It's completely handicap accessible since FIL is in a wheelchair. It was designed with his physical needs in mind, but also with pscale touches to make it marketable in the future. He went into a nursing home in January so they are unlikely to move back in. Our plan is to rent it out while the kids are home.... bringing in about $12k/year. (Have my friend's parents moving in, in a few weeks.). When we're ready to downsize we'll rent out the main house and move into the casita ourselves. Even more income that way.

So our house and the casita provide an income stream (rental) in our retirement planning - but not counted in our retirement assets. As a bonus the casita allowed MIL to care for FIL for 5 or more years before he went into a home... a very good thing for them, and for our entire family. The equity in our house provides a very nice cushion as a plan B.

Because San Diego prices are so flippin' expensive - our equity is about 40% of our net worth. But you can't spend a house. Mortgage will be paid off Jan next year.
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Old 03-09-2013, 05:26 PM   #29
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Interesting topic. DW & I have owned our Midwest home for ~25yrs, and now mortgage-free (yeah!). Clearly more space than we need, but pretty nice suburban location for our current lifestyle (at least Apr-Nov). Have thought about moving but sales fees & moving expense would eat up much of $$ gained by downsizing. And we cannot agree on where to move after ER anyway (Midwest vs FL vs AZ). I suspect after ER we'll prob stay put for a while but take more Winter trips to warm places. Very blessed to have this as our ER "problem".
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Old 03-09-2013, 05:50 PM   #30
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Originally Posted by Amethyst View Post
Wherever I live must be beautiful. All else is secondary.
I am sure it is! I assume you mean the outside and the view? Like most of us, I imagine you decorate and improve your home until the interior is beautiful to you. I do that, anyway, so I am surrounded by beauty (by my definition) but my view is not breathtaking.

Originally Posted by gardenfun View Post
I have a little front yard, and I can walk to a family owned grocery store plus Safeway/Trader Joe's/Whole Foods, CVS, the PO, a bead store, a quilting store, the bank, several great restaurants, and the BART station to head into SF and Berkeley/Oakland, and the airport. Only use my car once or twice a week. It's heaven.
What a great location! I agree, it really does sound like heaven.
Originally Posted by freebird5825 View Post
I have often thought of downsizing to a smaller house...however I know what has been repaired/upgraded here versus buying into someone else's history. It ain't broke, so I ain't fixin' it.

When the upkeep gets too tough on me physically, I will most likely buy a condo in a larger town.
Your 1700 square foot house doesn't sound too big at present, and like you said, you know the house very well by now. My house is about 100 square feet less than yours, and it hasn't been too bad, although I do have help with the yard and I am reluctantly considering having a housekeeper eventually. If I got another house, I am thinking somewhere between 1200-2500 square feet. I don't need 2500 but if it was in the right location (like gardenfun's rental, see above) I would move there and close off a few rooms.

I might consider moving to a condo on the lower floors of a large highrise someday, with parking, near everything, but there aren't any here within my budget that I would like.
"You can never cross the ocean until you have the courage to lose sight of the shore." - - - C. Columbus
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Nowhere Like East Nowhere
Old 03-10-2013, 04:22 AM   #31
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Nowhere Like East Nowhere

Freebird, I echo your feelings about East Nowhere. However, if your search becomes anything like mine, you may find NY hard to beat. I grew up in an East Nowhere on Lake Ontario (western NY), and only left because my dad had always dreamed of moving to CA. (So the family did, as soon as I graduated HS.)

After 25 yrs. in CA (San Diego co., then northern CA), I was grateful for its many opportunities and unique beauty. However, I had also headed back to East Nowhere at least every two years to (as I would tell the friends and relatives there) "inhale the chlorophyll."

The silent country roads under the stars at night (save for occasional passing cars), the symphonies of crickets, knowing most folks at the local coffee shops----- running into my elderly Sunday School teachers at the church where I grew up.......there's nothing like it.

When DH and I looked to transfer outside the SF Bay Area, back in the 90's, we ended up in NE Ohio (in a town similar to East Nowhere). Love it here, for the same reasons you haven't left upstate NY.

But East Nowhere still does beckon us. We were up there in Oct. for a mini-reunion. Then back again in Dec. for a wedding.

Enjoy roaming your emerald hills and lush forests. (Personally, I wouldn't want to leave!)

"Everything becomes more itself." --C.S. Lewis
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