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Going out looking at houses today
Old 06-14-2020, 07:55 AM   #1
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Going out looking at houses today

My wife passed a year ago. We had moved to a resort town 4 years ago. Lots of outside activities. I wanted to wait a year to make any big decisions. Widower fog is real! We had been in Portland for nearly 25 years and I have much more support there. I spend about half time in Bend & half time in Portland helping MIL. In Jan-Feb I was leaning toward moving. And by May had decided. I'll buy first then sell the other home

I'm looking at 2 communities. One is a relatively new community (15-18 years) with lots of parks, a town center (that hasn't been super succesful) and a Primary school. There is a retail center within biking distance. All ages lots of kids. Lots are small. A few attached condos. No master on the main though. Small yards. I have a Golden Retriever puppy so would like a small place to put her out. SFH here are about $425k. HOA & Property tax run about $7k/yr

The other community is thought of as a 55+ community but there is no age restriction & there are kids in it. There is a very small community center but would require exiting the community & going 1 exit on the freeway to the retail center. The same center that I could bike to in the first community.
Most of the homes I'm looking at (Redfin) are attached but pretty private as the units are stepped up & back so you aren't in each others face. Most are 1 levels with at least a view of a golf course. Almost no sidewalks and few parks. But you do have your open space (common area) I'm looking at one unit that was redone recently. Very nicely done. But my personal preference is to change of the carpet for wood floor and change out a tub-shower for a walk in shower. Approx $40k. This unit is $485k plus improvements. HOA & Property tax run approx $9k/year

My carry cost on the Bend home is only Property tax at $3k/year. So either way it's going to hurt a bit. I'm really torn on the 2 communities. I'm 64 in a week and looking to hopefully age in place. Would the first community keep me younger? Or would the 2nd one be more my age cohorts & be more comfortable there? I was hoping to buy late summer. So I'll try not to get pushed into something not ideal.
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Old 06-14-2020, 08:04 AM   #2
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It's been a rough time for you and kudos for looking to the future.

Is there anyway you can rent in these communities first?

After having a partner to bounce ideas and goals back and forth, it might seem overwhelming to make these decisions alone.

My point is you can declutter, sell your house and move without making a long term commitment to one house. The cost of a storage unit and perhaps buy new furniture and such would be small compared to making an error and buying a house that isn't "perfect for you" You probably could find a rental that includes your dog as more and more people have pets. Second point no one really knows what real estate will do for the next couple years you can sell your house to ensure against a drop in value and just wait a little bit to buy.
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Old 06-14-2020, 08:33 AM   #3
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Sounds like you're giving very good consideration to this, despite the sad situation, so congratulations to you on that.

My only concern is where you mentioned "Almost no sidewalks". As I've gotten older I've really come to appreciate them. The ability to walk to shopping is something we haven't had at the last couple of houses, until moving here five years ago. It's one of the things I like best about where we live now, and I consider it a must for aging in place. Just my two cents. Best of luck!
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Old 06-14-2020, 09:14 AM   #4
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I was widowed years ago and even after a year I was still foggy but better . Take your time making this decision but I would go with your second choice . 55+ communities usually offer a lot of opportunities to socialize and meet new people .Plus they are single story which is great for aging in place.
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Old 06-14-2020, 09:54 AM   #5
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Sounds like you're giving very good consideration to this, despite the sad situation, so congratulations to you on that.

My only concern is where you mentioned "Almost no sidewalks". As I've gotten older I've really come to appreciate them. The ability to walk to shopping is something we haven't had at the last couple of houses, until moving here five years ago. It's one of the things I like best about where we live now, and I consider it a must for aging in place. Just my two cents. Best of luck!
I completely agree about the sidewalks and the ability to walk to retail. The OP says the town center hasn't been too successful and in todays retail climate might not actually be there for him when he needs it. He makes it sound like the newer development hasn't done that well, so I might be worried that in 5 years it could really go South. He also said that unit did not have a master on the main floor which is also pretty important as you start aging IMO. I would put one level living above sidewalk access just for safety's sake.
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Old 06-14-2020, 10:01 AM   #6
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When I moved I had two "must haves". One was be outside the city of Portland limits. Second was be outside of Multnomah County. That alone saves me $4k a year in property taxes.

Smart to get out of Bend. It will be interesting if it continues to be a strong market in the years ahead.

Understand the desire for maybe some kind of "community". Walkability is certainly key and fun. If I was going into any attached housing it would have to be an end unit or something with minimal shared walls.
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Old 06-14-2020, 10:01 AM   #7
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It's been a rough time for you and kudos for looking to the future.

Is there anyway you can rent in these communities first?

After having a partner to bounce ideas and goals back and forth, it might seem overwhelming to make these decisions alone.
Almost no homes to rent in either community. Apartments are going in like crazy in the "younger" one. But that's not my gig. I think since I'm undecided I won't make a decision yet. I'll see what is out there. I have a friend in the 2nd community & we talked (phone is social distancing!) for an hour & a half. She loves it there. Sounds like the little neighborhood groups really socialize a lot. It's just the driving thing (thanks braumeister) that really gives me pause. My folks driving really was poor the last 3-5 years at 84 y/o. So I guess I have 15 years. The "younger" community I worry about not fitting in as many have kids. I'd be the dirty old man on the bench in Laugh In.
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Old 06-14-2020, 10:12 AM   #8
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While I would prefer a 1 level, a two level stair issue can be solved with stair chairs.
These range from about $3,500 for a straight stair to $11,000 for a double bend stair.

Our neighborhood has sidewalks which are great in Spring/Summer and Fall, but are lousy and unusable in Winter.
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Old 06-14-2020, 10:18 AM   #9
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Iím younger, but I second the opinion regarding a walkable neighborhood. Iím walking distance to large grocery stores, plenty of restaurants, etc. I couldnít imagine living somewhere where Iíd be dependent on a car to run basic errands.
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Old 06-14-2020, 10:20 AM   #10
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Almost no homes to rent in either community. Apartments are going in like crazy in the "younger" one. But that's not my gig. I think since I'm undecided I won't make a decision yet. I'll see what is out there. I have a friend in the 2nd community & we talked (phone is social distancing!) for an hour & a half. She loves it there. Sounds like the little neighborhood groups really socialize a lot. It's just the driving thing (thanks braumeister) that really gives me pause. My folks driving really was poor the last 3-5 years at 84 y/o. So I guess I have 15 years. The "younger" community I worry about not fitting in as many have kids. I'd be the dirty old man on the bench in Laugh In.
If it's the driving don't discount Uber and such services..in 15 years some of these services will probably still exist IMO....when you get to be mid 80's walking, especially with a dog and/or carrying packages can be more hazardous. Also you have Instacart and such,
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Old 06-14-2020, 11:18 AM   #11
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I would definitely want a bedroom on the main floor. You already have a friend in the second community who will introduce you to others. You can always use Uber.
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Old 06-14-2020, 11:19 AM   #12
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Iím younger, but I second the opinion regarding a walkable neighborhood. Iím walking distance to large grocery stores, plenty of restaurants, etc. I couldnít imagine living somewhere where Iíd be dependent on a car to run basic errands.
Well I know a ton of older people whose walkability issues became a problem. Sometimes it's stability, sometimes it's eyesight. Balance can be an issue when carrying packages. If all things were equal and one place was walkable and one wasn't that would be an easy decision. But it doesn't sound like that is the case.
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Old 06-14-2020, 11:49 AM   #13
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I would go for the 55+ plus type community. Down the road, perhaps there could be better dating opportunities if so inclined.
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Old 06-14-2020, 02:06 PM   #14
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If it was me, I'd watch both neighborhoods like a hawk for several years, delving into the walkability and possible issues with neighbors, and looking for "the perfect home" to come on the market.

I am 72 and bought my Dream Home at age 67 after a 4-5 year search. One of the things I love about it is that it is already very expertly set up for the elderly or disabled in every way that I have ever read about online. The bathroom grab bars are unusually sturdy, the doorways are wide, there are no steps anywhere, and so on.

Of course you can modify a home afterwards to be appropriate for aging, but if you see one that is already set up that way then that's one less thing to do. After buying my house I had the yard completely re-done to make it extremely low maintenance in our climate, and for me that is a good improvement with aging in mind. So if the yard is already low maintenance, that's a big plus too I'd think.

My neighborhood is very walkable but first I could not walk because I needed knee replacement surgery; then I was recovering from it, and then the lockdown didn't help either due to my perhaps irrational fear of encountering strangers with the virus, or tripping on the broken and jagged sidewalks. We are just now starting to go to the gym again, and that is wearing me out. So I really haven't walked as much as I thought I would, yet, but it's nice to have that to look forward to.

My neighborhood is NOT over-55, but the houses were built around 1965 so most of them are still owned and occupied by the original (now very elderly) owners. We like that. They keep their houses and yards looking nice, and they are not noisy.
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Old 06-14-2020, 03:17 PM   #15
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Back from touring. The "retirement" community was ok. I had thought there was a coffee shop in the town center. But no there wasn't. And a restaraunt space was empty. The house was fine. IMO a bit overpriced. But that is mostly because I would want to make some changes that might be $40k. (floors & walk in shower). None of the other development homes knocked me out. Our company has worked in that development since the start. So I've been there quite a bit. The earlier phases are better (imo) because they were pre recession. The later phases street design & amenities (parks) are not as nice. Toured a couple of national builders homes from bitd. Everything I hate about them. 6-7 year old homes & still the production builder (cheap) carpet. Try to dress up the pig with fancy stainless & granite.

So before we left I said i wanted to walk down this 2 block street that I liked. The houses face into a greenway with sidewalks on each side of the greenway. And alley load garages. The look & feel is of a small village. A guy happened to be outside & I started chatting him up. He got his GF out of the house & she chatted too. Apparently she has a Master on the main. I did not know there was any masters on the ground level. My excitement level went way up. So I think I will wait for one to come up for sale. The realtor will send out letters to the owners on the 2 block street looking for any interest. I think I have found the project that i want to be in. Now to encourage someone to sell!
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Old 06-14-2020, 04:04 PM   #16
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Smart to get out of Bend. It will be interesting if it continues to be a strong market in the years ahead.
There have been 2 homes sold on our street this year. One sold in 4 days over asking. The other sold in 3 days at asking. We aren't in the "hot" area. But it has a nice feel & the neighbors are good. New Elementary school in the area. So the development around it will increase pretty soon. Am a bit worried about an economic event lasting a few years that would put a break on home sales. If that happened in the middle of the buy-sell time frame it might hurt a bit

One driver (but not the main one) is healthcare in Bend. I'm used to Kaiser in Portland area. I have had a couple poor experiences at the hospital system in Bend and don't want to get caught in a life event over there
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Old 06-15-2020, 05:33 AM   #17
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Personally, I would do the opposite of your plan. I would sell your home first, as the market is hot for sellers and homes aren't having issues selling because of inventory is low.

That may change in 4 or 6 months as the housing market may move from a sellers market to a buyers market as the economy takes a bigger hit and many come off unemployment benefits and their stimulus checks are spent.

Maybe rent for a year and get to know the new area or community you are moving to first. You might be able to get a great deal on buying a home in 6 months or so.
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Old 06-15-2020, 11:40 AM   #18
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While I would prefer a 1 level, a two level stair issue can be solved with stair chairs.
These range from about $3,500 for a straight stair to $11,000 for a double bend stair.

Our neighborhood has sidewalks which are great in Spring/Summer and Fall, but are lousy and unusable in Winter.
I never liked the idea of stair chairs as advertised on TV. I will never need one anyway since I live in a Ranch style house. However, I was curious about residential elevators and saw this on a search. Because they were cylindrical and glass enclosed all I could think about was being lifted to a second floor by a pneumatic tube like at the drive up window at the bank.
https://www.vacuumelevators.com/pve30-home-elevator/

Cheers!
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Old 06-15-2020, 12:57 PM   #19
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I never liked the idea of stair chairs as advertised on TV. I will never need one anyway since I live in a Ranch style house. However, I was curious about residential elevators and saw this on a search. Because they were cylindrical and glass enclosed all I could think about was being lifted to a second floor by a pneumatic tube like at the drive up window at the bank.
https://www.vacuumelevators.com/pve30-home-elevator/

Cheers!
That actually looks pretty neat, but it doesn't look like it could even come close to fitting a wheel chair.
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Old 06-15-2020, 01:00 PM   #20
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Scrapr, not that it really matters because I couldn't offer much advice on either, but I'm curious if you are looking to stay in Portland or Bend? I haven't been able to make it out from your posts. I loved Bend when I vacationed a week there a coupe weeks ago, very much in the sense that I think I'd love to live there. But I'm not looking to go anywhere right now.
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