Ten years. That’s all we have left until our last child graduates. Now my husband is quick to remind me, and he is right, that just because our youngest son graduates in 10 years, doesn’t mean that he is out of the house forever. There is still college. But it will look different. It is amazing how fast time flies. Just a few days ago, we were celebrating our Littles turning 9 and 11 (seriously, how are they that old already?!) and then last night it hit me that Andy’s parents were just shy of turning 45 when he and I got married. I will be 44 in November. Obviously we won’t be following their path but it does make me think that now is as good of time as any to talk about the retirement house with all of you.
My in-laws have three grown kids and 10 grandkids. We all live within 4 miles of each other. Growing up, both sets of my husband’s grandparents lived within 10 minutes of his home. I think that is a great thing and I would love to be so lucky with my own four children. I remember one of the boys pointing to all of the neighbors’ homes around us and saying that he and his brothers could each have a neighbor’s house and we could all live close by. While I certainly don’t want to get rid of my awesome neighbors I do have to confess that it would be pretty cool to literally be surrounded by all of my kids. But it doesn’t always happen that way.
My dad’s parents lived in Perry Township until I was 10 and they retired to Florida. We went from spending holidays and more at Grandma’s house to seeing them once a year. At the time, I didn’t love that. But as an adult with a family of my own, I now realize that it was their life and they needed to live where they wanted to.
So the kids are grown. Now what? Well, what do you want your retirement house to look like? Maybe you have a big five-bedroom house that you raised your kids in. You don’t know what you are going to do with those five empty bedrooms but you can’t sell the house because you are emotionally attached to it. Then don’t sell it. Keep it. What are your needs and what is important to you? Maybe all of your kids live out of the area so you want a house to accomodate them spending the night when they come back to visit. Perhaps you have aging parents and want a home that will work for them to live with you. Maybe all of your family lives locally and you host regular get togethers so you want a really big family room in your retirement house to fit everyone.
Perhaps a condo is your preference because you either don’t want to care for a lawn anymore or aren’t able to. Maybe you are anxious to live somewhere else, anywhere, that doesn’t have snow! On my grandpa’s last day of work, my grandma met him in the parking lot and they drove straight to Florida to move into their retirement home! There is no right or wrong answer – there is just your answer.
The main thing is to have a goal and a plan so that, assuming that health is good, your retirement years can be living exactly where you want to be. And for those my age, it is definitely time to start having those conversations because time goes by fast!
We have a plan. Our plan isn’t right for everyone but it is right for Team Andy. In 10 years, when Gavin graduates, we will be keeping our current home. Our home is small enough that it won’t ever be too much house for us so we will keep it until we are no longer able to live independently. We know that, no matter where our kids settle, our home will always be here because Andy loves the Ohio seasons. But we want flexibility to travel when we want and where we want. We might be 60 and have a conversation like this:
“Hey Esta, are you showing any houses tomorrow?”
“No. I don’t have any showings scheduled for tomorrow or the next day.”
“OK. Want to go to lunch tomorrow?”
“Um, how about flying to Vegas instead for the next two days?”
There are so many options for the years post kids and retirement. Maybe you need a different house, maybe you don’t. Maybe you need a local house and a house further away. Just make a plan to enjoy life together. And you are never too young to start.
I have two sets of client friends. Both couples started planning for that time post kids in probably their late 30s. Both couples are only a few years older than us. One couple is already living their dream life on a lake and the other is taking those steps now. Both had a plan when they were young and set it into motion. And how much fun they must have had over the years as a young married couple planning their future together! Now their retirement, or pre-retirement years, are exactly what they had dreamed about.
Not sure how to start thinking about those years? There are three steps. The first one is to talk to each other and share your dreams.
Step two is talk to a financial adviser to see what you need to do financially to prepare. Step 3 is talk to a realtor far enough in advance that they can go on this journey with you.
One of the couples talked to me months in advance and for the other couple it was a few years in advance. It was really exciting for me to watch the things they had dreamed about as a couple happen for them. We were able to come up with a plan and timeline together to make everything work out for them the way that it needed to.
So even if it seems like these plans might be way out in the future, follow these three steps to get the right people on board so that your retirement house can be exactly what you planned, whatever that plan might be!
Esta Ryder, Realtor
Ryder Realty, LLC