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I'm flunking ER!
Old 09-20-2006, 07:51 AM   #1
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I'm flunking ER!

If grades were given out for ER, I don't think I would exactly make the honor roll. It started out great the first few weeks in July-early August (would go to bed at 12 instead of 9:30 to 10 when working, get up at 7ish instead of 5 a.m., felt relaxed and happy, DH even went off antidepressants). But then we got the neighbors from hell in the condo below us. Domestic violence type stuff, noise outside and inside (they stay up all night with friends and party, right outside our window. We had to call police twice for the noise and fighting that sounded like they were killing each other. One of them threatened us.) Affected our health (stress levels went way up---couldn't sleep) and is now affecting our finances.

After over 19 years of living in the condo and intending to remain here for another 20 (it's what we were counting on when planning ER), we have come to the conclusion that it's time to move on. We put a lot of money into the condo since we intended to stay there, but the people who are moving in have changed over the past two decades. Beer cans and cigarette butts dropped everywhere, homeowners who never even replace a broken window,
people much younger than us who are loud when coming home at 3 a.m., too many people crowding into one condo, and so on.

The condo was very inexpensive for this area when we bought it in 1987 ($62 K). It has since doubled in price, but is still very inexpensive compared to all the other housing in the area ($300 to 1 million plus). When owners are ready to move on, they decide to rent out their condos and we have way too many renters.

The condo was a key element in living below our means and allowing us to RE. But now, just months after we're retiring, we are upsizing---which seems crazy. Bought a condo twice as much for $250K, 1750 square feet instead of less than a 1000. (Yup, still a condo, but one of those quadraplex ones where you don't have people above and below---your garage is next to your neighbor's garage amd you share one wall with your neighbors behind you. Geared for "active seniors"---we'll be among the youngest since we are in our fifties.) Living in a condo with people above/below and common areas like a staircase where people hang out to party outside our bedroom just isn't appealing. Things were much better when we moved here 20 years ago, but I think people were different and more civil 20 years ago.

Technically this won't affect our net worth, but it will take more than $100K from our income-earning and growth investments. I know this runs contrary to how retirement should be----but it really wouldn't be possible to buy a smaller/cheaper place since we are already in as small and as cheap a place as can be found. For our peace of mind and enjoyment, we feel we need to move so that we can live in a less rowdy place where people will make some effort into not disturbing neighbors and taking care of their property. (These places really hold their value/
increase, whereas our current condo is on a downward spiral.)

Can someone please reassure me and tell me this isn't crazy to do?

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Re: I'm flunking ER!
Old 09-20-2006, 07:58 AM   #2
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Re: I'm flunking ER!

Tango, what SWR do you have now? If you are <4% you should stop worrying. Your peace of mind is worth $$$$$ and clearly your rowdy neighbours were causing stress that would impact your health.

The real estate cycle may be on a downswing but you indicated that you plan to stay in your new condo long term. You should be able to ride out the cycle before you need to sell and move into supported living!

Methinks you are a worrier!!!
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Re: I'm flunking ER!
Old 09-20-2006, 08:00 AM   #3
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Re: I'm flunking ER!

Quote:
Originally Posted by tangomonster

Can someone please reassure me and tell me this isn't crazy to do?
So you are investing $100,000 of your nest egg in real estate in order to maintain your sanity? I think you would be crazy not to do it.

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Re: I'm flunking ER!
Old 09-20-2006, 08:01 AM   #4
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Re: I'm flunking ER!

Complexes, neighborhoods and even whole cities can change their character and that's what happened to you. Not your fault, but you have to respond. I don't think you're crazy for moving to get away from an unpleasant environment. Retirement is certainly not the time you should have to live around a bunch of jerks if you can afford to live elsewhere.
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Re: I'm flunking ER!
Old 09-20-2006, 08:02 AM   #5
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Re: I'm flunking ER!

Gawd, I hate renters/neighbors. Not all are noisy, however. We have a situation where there's a rental across the way and the tenant with his *lowrider* (he's 40 years old ) thinks it's cool to pull in and out of the driveway with his stereo bass turned WAY UP.

Can you contact the home owners association and complain? These are renters. The HOA/property management company should be placing the owners on notice about their tenants. There are common area rules and regulations that owners sign. If the renters are in violation of such rules and regs, I would push and push until action is taken.



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Re: I'm flunking ER!
Old 09-20-2006, 08:19 AM   #6
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Re: I'm flunking ER!

Quote:
Originally Posted by cube_rat
Can you contact the home owners association and complain? These are renters. The HOA/property management company should be placing the owners on notice about their tenants. There are common area rules and regulations that owners sign. If the renters are in violation of such rules and regs, I would push and push until action is taken.
Cube's right. Go to the HOA wih both guns blazing. If the HOA is being derelict, maybe there is legal recourse there, too. Even if you plan to move out this is your property and your life. Quieting the place down will only help your property value.

It's your lifestyle at stake here. Also, start documenting: pictures of the trash in the common areas, recordings of the loud fights at night, records of the police calls, contemporaneous notes about each incident. These will come in handy.

Good luck and while this will be a big hurdle to get through, don't ignore the more positive things in your new retirement. Travel comes to mind .
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Re: I'm flunking ER!
Old 09-20-2006, 08:25 AM   #7
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Re: I'm flunking ER!

If moving to a better community would save your sanity, health and well being and not affect your retirement then the extra $100k is money well spent. The time and effort to fight over the problems in the condo are not worth your time and probably won't change. That doesn't mean you shouldn't to at the HOA and see what can be done but it sounds like things have already gone too far or the HOA doesn't care.
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Re: I'm flunking ER!
Old 09-20-2006, 08:26 AM   #8
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Re: I'm flunking ER!

There's absolutely no question that you are doing the right thing. Quality of life is the most important thing, otherwise what's the point of being ER'd.

In addition, the way you have described the two places, it seems the new condo over time will be a much better investment than your old one.

Congratulations to you for changing an unbearable situation and enjoy your new "digs".
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Re: I'm flunking ER!
Old 09-20-2006, 08:34 AM   #9
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Re: I'm flunking ER!

I have no problem going toe to toe with the HOA and property management (but then I'm a in your face b^t#h) company. If the property is noisy, trashy, etc,, it is their responsibility to ensure the upkeep of the property. Yes, this type of behavior devalues the property. You pay a HOA fee to ensure such rules and regulations are complied with and in effect protecting your asset. I would digging out CC&R's and CAM rules and putting the HOA on notice.
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Re: I'm flunking ER!
Old 09-20-2006, 08:47 AM   #10
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Re: I'm flunking ER!

You are absolutely doing the right thing! There's a reason for "over 55" communities - and it's because people want a quiet, safe place to live! Don't bother with the condo management - if there are a lot of renters you will always have these problems.

Audrey
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Re: I'm flunking ER!
Old 09-20-2006, 09:10 AM   #11
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Re: I'm flunking ER!

My old condo was a quadriplex. Private entrance, nobody above or below me, and much less crowding. The only wall I shared with another unit was where my kitchen and dining room were. They adjoined the stairwell and spare bedroom of the unit behind me. However, I did have 4 garages underneath me. My garage was under my living room/dining room. The next one in was under one of the bedrooms and the kitchen. Third garage in was under another bedroom and the bathrooms, and the 4th garage was under the master bedroom, dressing area, and walk in closet.

Most of the people didn't go into their garages that much, because they used them mainly for storage. However, the people with the second garage in put up a pool table down there and used it for a rec room! That violated several of the rules we had. First, you couldn't convert your garage into living space. Secondly, you were supposed to keep your door closed unless you were going into or out of it. I could hear their hollering coming up throught the HVAC ducts, and it sounded almost like they were in the room with you. And the places were poorly insulated, so my place actually heated those garages indirectly. If someone would leave a door open, it ran up my electric bill.

Our Condo Association was pretty useless though, and picked what rules they wanted to enforce and which ones they didn't. There was a cranky old man on the board who didn't like me, and told the boardmembers that it was ME who had the pool table! Umm no, it was ME who REPORTED the pool table!

We had a high percentage of renters, but these people were buying. Some of the renters in the area were cool, but others definitely brought the place down. Another big problem we had was parking. People would park in your reserved spot, or park so they blocked you in, or parked taking up two overflow spots, etc. And people would let their dogs run loose and not clean up after them.

In the overall scheme of things it wasn't that bad. It could certainly have been worse though. Still, I'm glad to be out of it, and in a house. The biggest annoyance I have now is the occasional Jehovah's witness!

I can definitely see how an over 55 community could go a long way toward peace-of-mind. Sounds like it's definitely worth the $100K spent. Plus, if you stayed in that condo too long, if the renters got out of hand, prices might have started tanking. You're probably lucky in getting out now.
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Re: I'm flunking ER!
Old 09-20-2006, 09:38 AM   #12
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Re: I'm flunking ER!

From what you have said about yourself and your net worth, if I were in your position I would sell and move asap. It seems to me that you folks are not up for a battle with the HOA . You worked and saved hard. Find a place where you can have some peace and quiet.
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Re: I'm flunking ER!
Old 09-20-2006, 09:47 AM   #13
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Re: I'm flunking ER!

Quote:
Originally Posted by tangomonster
... one wall with your neighbors behind you.* Geared for "active seniors"---we'll be among the youngest since we are in our fifties.)* Living in a condo with people above/below and common areas like a staircase where people hang out to party outside our bedroom just isn't appealing.*
....
Well, there goes the new neighborhood!* Imagine your new neighbors thinking about the youngin's* moving in next to them.* Not only that, but they come from a really rowdy, partying condo complex.* Will the new kids be loud and noisy?* After all, they are only in their fifties!!!
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Re: I'm flunking ER!
Old 09-20-2006, 10:02 AM   #14
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Re: I'm flunking ER!

Get outta there pronto--you deserve better!

You might consider taking a vacation while your condo's on the market (removes the stress of keeping it continuously showable). If you don't want to spend a lot, consider visiting friends or relatives who cheer you up.
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Re: I'm flunking ER!
Old 09-20-2006, 10:50 AM   #15
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Re: I'm flunking ER!

Hi,

Too bad bad neighbhors screwed thing up for you.

I sold out original house in 2001 after the Dot Com bubble burst. That hit and fear of Real Estate collapse wiping out what we had left let me convince DW to try apartment/condo living.

DW hated condo style apartment and then we bought a condo. It was gorgeous 4000 sq ft, one floor but there were 6 condos over us and we could hear everything in the building. Alarm clocks started going off at 4a.m until 8 a.m and we could hear every one. Not to mention large woman in high heels tap dancing for two hours whild getting ready every morning.

It was good we found out we aren't' condo folks before buying on for ER. I highly recommend house people rent for a year or so before diving in and buying condo.

In another thread I read alot about people's concerns with Houses in strict associations. This is one of the reasons we bought where we did. Noisy neighbhors and parties aren't tolerated. It's gonna be weird not being able to change things outside without approval but it will save me money as I am a jack ass of all trades and make projects for myself..

Good luck.

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Re: I'm flunking ER!
Old 09-20-2006, 12:14 PM   #16
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Re: I'm flunking ER!

It sounds like you've already got all the consenual validation you need tangomonster, but I'll add mine just the same. You're definitely doing the right thing! "Get 'er done" and start enjoying asap.
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Re: I'm flunking ER!
Old 09-20-2006, 03:05 PM   #17
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Re: I'm flunking ER!

Quote:
Originally Posted by LOL!
Well, there goes the new neighborhood!* Imagine your new neighbors thinking about the youngin's* moving in next to them.* Not only that, but they come from a really rowdy, partying condo complex.* Will the new kids be loud and noisy?* After all, they are only in their fifties!!!
When we were buying a house we always took the time to introduce ourselves to the surrounding neighbors.

Aside from allaying the neighbor's fears about us, we learned a lot more about the sellers and our new neighborhood than the sellers or their realtors would ever tell us...
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Re: I'm flunking ER!
Old 09-20-2006, 04:02 PM   #18
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Re: I'm flunking ER!

Oh your not flunking anything. One of the nice thing about FIRE is that the FI part of that word means you have options to shape the RE part any way you want. You can't take it with you and you should be as comfortable as you can be. What good is a bucket load of money if you cannot live in comfort. Make the move and be happy. All your really doing when you get down to it is shifting assets to improve your standard of living. You will own the new place, It can be sold at a later date and for a profit, you have not lost anything.

I can relate to what you are going through. I FIRED in May as the result of a large inheritance. It is an adjustment to let your money work for you instead of you working for your money. But You know what? Getting used to it gets easier every day. All I have to do is think about going back to work to know that working through this adjustment is easier that going back to nursing.
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Re: I'm flunking ER!
Old 09-21-2006, 09:15 AM   #19
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Re: I'm flunking ER!

Thanks everyone for your replies. We are convinced that we are doing the right thing by moving. At first we were upset thinking that we were allowing the neighbors from hell to win by us moving (they blatantly stated that they were not willing to modify any of their behavior---that this was THEIR home and that we should move to a single family home if we didn't like noise), but now we see it as an exciting adventure to move to a new home after 20 years---to go along with our ER.

And yes, the HOA is involved. The owner didn't leave a phone number or address, so it take a while to get hold of him. He has now finally received the letters stating the problems and ordering him to evict by October 1st or pay a $25 fine. He claims that he is willing to comply, but needs to check with his attorney.

We're not moving solely because of these specific neighbors---but just because of the type of people who are now moving in as renters or owners (and in a 260 unit complex, there's a lot of turnover). If the people below are evicted, we don't know who we'll get below as renters or across from us (unit for sale).

I don't know whether my diminishing tolerance for communal living (stacked garden condos) is a reflection of my aging---or whether people really have changed. As you noted, Leonidas, neighborhoods can change, although I can't quite pinpoint why ours ahs changed so much (they were always inexpensive condos in an expensive area----that hasn't changed). I truly believe that some of the problem is the diminishing civility of society in general. For example, when we moved in 20 years were either nonexistent or fairly rare, so when people came home late at night walking outside our bedroom window, they would tend to do so quietly, especially if alone. But now almost everyone comes home yakking on their phones!

And no, Meadh, this won't impact our SWR. It's just that it's so counterintuitive to upsize a residence (in terms of cost and square footage) upon retirement. But we feel we paid our dues, living in a small, cheap place to get to ER. Now that we 're there, maybe it's time to treat ourselves to better housing, especially since we are spending so much more time at home. It's going to be great not to hear and feel the door slamming below us.

You're right, Surreal, about the adjustment to not earning money but instead savoring the freedom and decreased stress. I was also in a human service profession and know the toll it can take on your physical and emotional health while helping (or at least, trying to help) others.

LOL, thanks for the chuckle about the current residents of our new complex fretting about the youngins moving in---and from a noisy, rowdy, partying condo complex at that!
I guess one way to feel young(er) is to be 50-something in an environment where people are 10 to 40 years older!

Andre, you scared me a little with the problems in your quadraplex, but I really think these are well constructed and that there won't be any problems like pool tables in garages. The developer has similar complexes that are up to ten years old and we've not heard any complaints from those residents and the property is really kept up by the residents (unlike where we are now where a neighbor/owner has a broken kitchen window because his roommate was locked out and therefore broke the window glass so he could open the window and climb in since they live in the ground floor---and he hasn't bothered to replace it for months).

I don't know that I agree with people who blithely say that "change is good." (This was a favorite catch-phrase of managers where I used to work, in order to justify why we were experiencing negative consequences from their previous decisions and why we had to make changes since those decisions didn't work.) But in this instance, I do think that the change is good. I won't worry about the financial part anymore---but I'm sure not looking forward to the packing and unpacking! One mover's website said that a 3 bedroom home should order almost 200 boxes of varying sizes! I'm sure we don't need that much, living in a 1000 square foot place with minimal closet space and not buying a lot of extras. Really, all we have are a limited number of clothes, kitchen stuff, books, and some electronics. Oh and about 20 pieces of small wooden figures----we have collected some Mexican folk art, some paintings, and then our furniture. We lived without too much "stuff" over the years, so hopefully that will pay off in a smaller, cheaper move!

Thanks again, everyone, who replied. I like how you all emphasized that quality of life/peace of mind/emotional and physical comfort is so much more important than just some extra money in a mutual fund----but then, I guess that's to be expected on a board where people value these things more than a paycheck or job title!
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