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Old 10-06-2014, 09:23 AM   #21
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Active 55+ community. Always peaceful, but be sure to go there first, and make sure it's a younger old group.
Many 55+ communities allow 20% of the owner resident to be under age 55, but under no circumstances children.
Our current Illinois home is 1570 sf, 2BR, 2BA, 2car garage...relatively 'new' at 11 years old, and it's a perfect size for us. HOA is great, well run, and the fees are much less than the private cost of lawn and snow care. In 10 years, our only cost for upkeep/repair has been for a replacement HWH, and a fan for the A/C.

Many of the people who rail against senior/retirement communities, have either not been to one, or have been to a community that has become old because they haven't worked to keep up the activities and amenities that attract younger people. All senior communities are not created equal.

We moved in to our first retirement community in Leesburg Fl, at age 53 25 years ago, and it still has an excellent mix of young and old... with most of the old... being young and active.
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Old 10-06-2014, 10:10 AM   #22
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Live in a 3000sf house and in planning/permits stage of doing a 1400sf detached garage/workshop on a property behind our house that fronts on a different street. We own another house about 1400sf across the street from said garage that was a rental and we are slowly renovating. Idea is to eventually downsize to the smaller house and either rent or sell the larger. The garage/workshop could eventually have a small living space in the same shell--its designed to look like a house. That might be the last downsize or a selling feature depending on how our health holds out.
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Old 10-06-2014, 10:11 AM   #23
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Not FIRE'd yet, but close.

I've been thinking about our eventual downsizing after we are empty nesters.

We would have a pretty penny in the equity we have with our mortgage almost paid off, but I don't think I could adjust to apartment or condo living again.

The thought of noisy neighbors throwing parties, arguments you can hear thru the walls, fighting for parking spaces, the rule Nazi's on the HOA committee...been there several times - don't want to go back.

If we downsize, it'll have to be to a detached but smaller house in a 'peaceful' neighborhood.

Am I over reacting to what 'downsizing' means?
As others have pointed out, 'downsizing' doesn't have to mean "parties, arguments you can hear through the walls, fighting for parking spaces, the rule Nazi's on the HOA committee". It just means downsizing.

So, be choosy when you downsize. If you want a detached but smaller house in an especially peaceful neighborhood, do that. Problem solved!

Of course, a detached house requires exterior maintenance. You can always pay to have the lawn mowed and the yard cared for. But that requires monthly expenses, somewhat like HOA fees I suppose.

Before I bought this house, I had gone back to apartment living. The noise did bother me but it could have been worse. The apartment was older with thick walls that muffled sounds to some extent. I did have to carry my groceries a long way from the car, though, and that was no fun.
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Old 10-06-2014, 10:20 AM   #24
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"Going to kick us out" - sounds exaggerated. I know of no legal way a HOA can evict owners (much as they'd like to, sometimes!) Their lawyer will send nasty letters to notify the owner of the violation(s), citing the legal basis for such, and threatening fines if the violation isn't abated within a certain time period.

No doubt the HOA could have a moving company remove the offending couch and bill the owners for the hauling cost Unpaid fines accumulate interest and will result in a lien on the property. I've heard of an HOA taking an owner to court over large amounts of unpaid fines and dues.

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While I don't care for HOAs there is a place they're needed. Below is an honest to goodness clip from a person my DW grew up with:

'Where she lives there are many gated communities and you have to constantly maintain your house to their standards. They were going to kick them out for having a couch on their porch.'

I wouldn't want to be her neighbor!

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Old 10-06-2014, 10:22 AM   #25
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Am I over reacting to what 'downsizing' means?
No, you are absolutely correct. Downsizing means the end of life as we have known it.

Ha
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Old 10-06-2014, 10:25 AM   #26
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It means that all the striving, bother and expense one went through to achieve a larger, fancier house was actually for nothing.

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No, you are absolutely correct. Downsizing means the end of life as we have known it.

Ha
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Old 10-06-2014, 10:33 AM   #27
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Originally Posted by Amethyst View Post
"Going to kick us out" - sounds exaggerated. I know of no legal way a HOA can evict owners (much as they'd like to, sometimes!) Their lawyer will send nasty letters to notify the owner of the violation(s), citing the legal basis for such, and threatening fines if the violation isn't abated within a certain time period.

No doubt the HOA could have a moving company remove the offending couch and bill the owners for the hauling cost Unpaid fines accumulate interest and will result in a lien on the property. I've heard of an HOA taking an owner to court over large amounts of unpaid fines and dues.

Amethyst
There have been a couple of cases in Canada where the HOA's right to evict owners has been upheld in court.

Rose Jordison's Forced Condo Sale Upheld In Court
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Old 10-06-2014, 11:23 AM   #28
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Originally Posted by Amethyst View Post
"Going to kick us out" - sounds exaggerated. I know of no legal way a HOA can evict owners (much as they'd like to, sometimes!) Their lawyer will send nasty letters to notify the owner of the violation(s), citing the legal basis for such, and threatening fines if the violation isn't abated within a certain time period.

No doubt the HOA could have a moving company remove the offending couch and bill the owners for the hauling cost Unpaid fines accumulate interest and will result in a lien on the property. I've heard of an HOA taking an owner to court over large amounts of unpaid fines and dues.

Amethyst
Don't disagree with you. It was a literal quote from someone my DW grew up with. The attitude DW's 'friend' expressed is typical of her. That type of thinking is prevalent where we grew up, a major factor in why we would never move back there. Pretty place, unique people.

But if my neighbor in a gated community had a couch on the porch for a length of time I'd be complaining.

All said we had friends that bought over 100 acres way out in the county. Built a beautiful home. Barn, garden, wildlife feeders; it was their paradise. Another person bought the adjoining 40 acres, built a nice home and barn too. He was part time DJ, many weekends were full of late night practice sessions in his 'party barn'.

Guess the point is you have to be prepared to deal with folks that may not value what you do. Where ever you choose to live.

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Old 10-06-2014, 11:58 AM   #29
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My parents downsized from a high COL area 4-bedroom house to a small town (low COL), 3 (smaller) bedroom house on 5 acres of woods near a lake.

Downsizing isn't necessarily about the house size; to me it is more about the "cost" size. We live in a townhouse but plan to retire to a small house in a low LOC when the time comes. It doesn't make sense for us to move now, but I can't wait to have a yard again for the dog to run free!
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Old 10-06-2014, 12:08 PM   #30
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We went from 2900 sq ft to 1450 sq ft. Both detached homes. The original home was in a family neighborhood, the new home is in a 55+ active adult community. The new house is perfect. We use every room and every room is uncluttered since we donated or trashed alot of the stuff that we weren't using. The new home is in a community filled with activities (27 holes of golf, 2 community swimming pools, active clubhouse with dozens of clubs). This is PERFECT and I can't wait to ER so I can start enjoying more of what the community has to offer.

Our reasons for downsizing were to:
* reduce the run rate of maintaining a home (lower taxes, lower insurance, lower maintenance costs, lower electric)
* reduce the amount of work needed to maintain the home - smaller yard, no pool
* reduce the frequency of "screaming and crying children" sounds
* move to a community that provides opportunities to engage in social activities
We have done the exact same thing this year. The only differences are the size of the houses. We went from a two story to a one story (much newer home too). We dumped about 1/3 the belongings also, many of which have not seen the light of day for 10 years. Gave away two rooms of furniture, threw out a lot of stuff.
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Old 10-06-2014, 01:32 PM   #31
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Also, living in a single detached house--either as a homeowner or renter--does not insulate you from neighborhood noise, yapping dogs, neighbor kids having fun and making "kid noise," neighbor musical bands rehearsing, lawn mowers, etc. I learned that after living in the same detached house on its own park-like 2/3rd of an acre. The three barking dogs on various sides of the residence sometimes got out of hand, particularly one that they let outside for an hour or two every night and who yapped and yapped until allowed back inside. They eventually moved away. The kids on the trampoline on the other side of the house. The neighbor pruning his bushes with a loud electric gizmo. And so on.
Ain't that the truth! Even out in a semi-rural area like me, it's amazing how the sound can carry. We had some people move in across the street, and their house is towards the back of its lot, easily 350-400 feet off the road. They have three dogs, the yappy/howly kind. There have been times when I've been at the very back part of my yard, which would put me about 1000 feet from their house, and with a buffer of forest, and I can still hear those dogs when they start up.

They don't bark often, thankfully. Another problem is that, in the country especially, it seems that sound really carries at night. I like to sleep with my windows open, although probably won't be doing much more of that, with the changing weather...
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Old 10-06-2014, 02:44 PM   #32
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DH and I will be downsizing next spring and are slowly figuring out what we want. Definitely no shared walls. We looked at the fancy empty-nester townhouse developments and they're as expensive as the house we want to sell, with similar property taxes and frequently on 3 levels. DH has a bit of a balance problem and we're hoping to avoid an upstairs; he has to be very careful on stairs because of the danger of falling. And all the rooms have cathedral ceilings which are pretty but expensive to heat/cool. I want some yard to putter around in, but not a lot, and we're ready to get rid of the swimming pool.

We've gone twice to open houses in an area near us that's got a lot of well-maintained older houses, built before the developers all became enamored of McMansions, and will likely settle there. The prices are lower and there's even a large community pool nearby. That's where we'll likely end up.
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Old 10-06-2014, 06:16 PM   #33
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You might find this thread from a month ago useful:

House vs. townhome vs. condo

That's what made me start thinking of a smaller detached home with no yard, which appears to be hard to come by in my city. Checked out one that was two bedrooms and one bath (just under 900 square feet). I think we could make it work, although another 300 square feet would be nice.
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Old 10-06-2014, 09:52 PM   #34
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You might find this thread from a month ago useful:

House vs. townhome vs. condo

That's what made me start thinking of a smaller detached home with no yard, which appears to be hard to come by in my city. Checked out one that was two bedrooms and one bath (just under 900 square feet). I think we could make it work, although another 300 square feet would be nice.
Houses this small will tend to be in so-so city locations, or 1950s and earlier suburbs. Some of these suburbs are having crime problems as bad or worse than less expensive city neighborhoods. Since you want more space anyway, these places may not be good. Also, these homes are getting old, and many 50s homes were not built quite at well as high end houses built 30-50 years earlier.

I think people are irrationally afraid of a common wall. Most of the world lives this way, and I am not referring to poor people. Ask and British city dweller. I walk in my neighborhood, and the typical so-so townhome with one party wall is $550-600k. Nicer ones that have used the entire lot of the bungalow or 20s Craftsman that preceded it cost $750k and up, but these are new, attractive and well constructed.

Most newer party walls are very well built. My younger son lives in a townhome with one common wall. I have never heard a sound from next door when I was there, and he reports he never hears anything. You can't buy junk, it pays to pick a good neighborhood where the builder can make a profit on a well built house. In my opinion, the bigger problem with townhomes is that many of them, in cities anyway, are essentially vertical, and perhaps not the best idea for someone who is getting to the age where orthopedic or other issues may make a lot of stairs less than ideal.

Overall, if I were someone committed to a conventional SFH, I would stay in some fairly new suburb and buy a typically sized tract home. It will be easier to find, easier to finance, and easier to sell.

Ha
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Old 10-06-2014, 09:53 PM   #35
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For DW and me, "downsizing" will mean moving back to whence we came - a more rural community - after 13+ years in the urban center of our state, making good incomes and living in an 1,800 sq ft condo. Our condo has great views of the ocean, but also less desirable views of our neighbors' condos, some of whom are better than others at protecting their privacy...

Our back-to-the-future rural "downsizing" (scheduled for my ER date of early 2017) will likely be to a SFH with complete privacy. I incorporate our current HOA fee into my future budget for maintenance work on the exterior grounds of our future home.

We've enjoyed being in the "middle of things" but have begun to yearn for the privacy we once had. Of course, the COL difference between our current urban condo location and our anticipated rural/suburban home location will allow us to either expand our square footage or bank the difference to cushion our ER. We'll make that decision based on the market in those few short years.
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Old 10-07-2014, 07:12 AM   #36
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We are kinda/sorta looking at condos (i.e. being lookie-loos at open houses) because we would consider it a treat to move from a close suburb sfh to our oceanside dream location. But I admit I am scared off by the great unkown (to me) of condo living. Articles like this don't help: http://www.boston.com/realestate/new...he_condo_trap/

We visited an open house recently for a "penthouse" condo (i.e. the top floor of a converted four-family) at a beach location. Nice view, with another buildings parking lot the only thing between the condo and the water. When I expressed concern that the view could be ruined if that parking lot was developed, the respone was "Oh, that won't happen they need the parking". When I asked what happens when a dispute arises about needed maintenance when there is an even number of 4 units in the building, the response was " I don't know, that hasn't happened before". I bid them good-day. I realise the potential losing the view issue is more a general buyer beware concern, but the thought of sometime down the road being in a 2 against 2 (or worse 3 against me) over some special assessment gives me the willies. Is the grass always greener? At least you don't have to cut it, I suppose.
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Old 10-07-2014, 08:35 AM   #37
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Thanks to everyone who has shared their experiences...keep 'em coming.

To answer an earlier question - our SWR is between 3 & 4%, depending on the 'phase' of retirement in question (I have a spreadsheet that splits FIRE into Phases with different expense estimates) - some phases the SWR is about 2%.

So - no we don't need or will depend on cashing out our home equity as part of our plan.

It is tempting though to take the equity, downsize to something appropriate, and use it to globe trot in high style. But, I'm a lbym type of guy, so is the DW - although she has indicated she would like to travel more in FIRE after we are empty nesters (with no boomerang post college move backs!)

Maybe part of our early FIRE 'travels' will be to find the right downsized abode - for now - gotta be detached SFH.
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Old 10-07-2014, 10:29 AM   #38
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We have been going to open houses for several years and so far not found any place we would rather live, except for maybe 55+ retirement communities. So for the short term I have talked DH into staying put until the kids are settled in careers and unlikely to need to live with us again.

We stayed in a 1,400 sq foot condominium over the weekend with a friend and that seemed to be a perfect size for two of us. It really wasn't crowded with three either. It was kind of calming because it was a rental so there wasn't a lot of clutter around.
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Old 10-07-2014, 11:04 AM   #39
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We are kinda/sorta looking at condos (i.e. being lookie-loos at open houses) because we would consider it a treat to move from a close suburb sfh to our oceanside dream location. But I admit I am scared off by the great unkown (to me) of condo living. Articles like this don't help: Home sweet hell: Falling into the condo trap - The Boston Globe
Just read that article. Another reason why I will never buy a condo.
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Old 10-07-2014, 11:11 AM   #40
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We've talked about downsizing. I went through our house with a fine tooth comb and got rid of a lot of stuff we didn't need. Took about a year. Been updating the house a bit, for resale value and our own enjoyment. But - at the moment - we have no reason to move. Our four bedroom house is way too big for us, but it's paid for. If we moved, it would be closer to our son - who's 2 hours away - and there's no guarantee he's going to stay in the area. So, he's close enough, getting on his financial feet. We may (probably) decide to move to another part of the country eventually, so to buy a new home now, then one a few years later, would be an unnecessary pain. There's not much expense to maintain this house - low property taxes, and as we travel our utilities - which we've always kept to a minimum - are even less, now. So, there's no real reason for us to go through the downsizing effort now. When we relocate, it WILL be to a much smaller home or condo, or maybe a patch (patches) of land on which to park the RV. I wouldn't mind owning four or five properties strategically placed about the US/Canada area...


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