As we get older we accumulate new issues in the areas of stamina and balance. It’s important to be aware of this when deciding where to live as we age. Not only that, going onto fixed incomes will have its impact. Let me show you some of the challenges, choices, and housing options we have been talking about.
My husband and I have been sporadically discussing this over the past couple of years. (That’s one reason for my need to plan ahead.) When I was asked if I would take my mobility-impaired father in for a month, it sparked a lot of conversation. Turns out he went elsewhere, because we deemed our place unsafe for him. We have some challenges built into our house that make me wonder if we should move.
Our house is a very fine house
Our house was built for a family of five. It has a wonderful kitchen, a basement full of shop area and garage bay, three bedrooms, a bathroom, a huge craft room and a small room in which I store my wool. One of the bedrooms is given over to Dearest’s photography. We have a good bit of space.
Originally we got the extra space for guests, but they rarely come this far, so we’re down to my brother, who flies in from New York alone once or twice a year. We are full of clutter, but that’s another post.
The main attraction for me was having no neighbors, but we also get our driveway plowed by the town because they need to turn the plow around. We’re on the end of the road. We have lots of security with Border Patrol watching our northern property line for us. Free plowing and armed security are nothing to sneeze at.
We also have lots of wild flowers and fruits, acres of woods to wander in, a stream, and did I mention no neighbors? We have a good mile-and-a-half loop on the roads nearby to take a walk. And we’re close enough to town to keep the shopping trips short. So what’s not to like?
For one thing, our very hilly terrain makes the yard a tough place to mow. It’s a great place for sidehill goats. Not so much for riding mowers. In addition we have some poorly drained areas that the rider won’t go through without getting stuck.
Dearest has a push mower too. Because of slopes he is often pulling it back from the brink of disaster as it tries industriously to go after the brush on steep hillsides.
All this has made Dearest fervently wish for a flat yard. He says he is OK with mowing if it doesn’t involve all the struggles that hurt his back currently whenever he mows. He, like me, likes to be out in the country.
So with this, we have choices. We could move, let much of this mowed stuff go back to the wild, or hire someone young to do the work. Letting the wild encroach means it’s more convenient for the mice to get inside, more bugs, and so on. Not our best option. Maybe we can hire someone. Maybe we’ll move, but not just for the lawn.
Our house is a ranch over a full basement. The stairs down are just a bit old and a little rickety here and there. Downstairs is where we keep the laundry. In days of yore, I had a laundry closet in the bedroom hallway where the washer overflowed periodically, soaking many square yards of carpeting in two rooms. As handy as this is in terms of carpet cleaning, I saw a long-term downside for the floor, so in this house I was happy that the laundry was in the basement.
Getting up and down the stairs with full baskets of laundry is not exactly fun. It’s still OK and I feel safe for now. If my walking gets wobbly, though, it could get dicey.
We are already talking about moving the laundry to another spot in the basement. That would allow us to update our plumbing and connections to the septic system, which got updated a few years ago. For the sake of mobility, we could also consider putting the machines upstairs, or fixing the stairway to be even and less wiggly.
On to the lone bathroom. We have a shower in the tub, which was fine for all these years. With Dad possibly coming, that was absolutely not going to work. What worked for him was a seat in a walk-in shower, period.
Not only that, but he used a frame potty that fit over a standard toilet. We have an elongated one that is badly located for a frame potty to be added. At the very least we’d have to put in a new toilet.
As for the shower, we could put in a transfer seat to get in and out, and to support us in the shower.
Or we could rip out the bathroom and spend a couple grand putting it back. Or we could call it good and move.
The costs of just being here
Finally, the expenses of a larger place like ours gives me pause. Heating with oil, we are paying about $2700 this year for space and water heating. That’s over $200 a month. Then property tax of nearly $3000, even with a little taken off by the state, is a bit much. We also run insurance on the place, and though it isn’t much, a smaller place would be cheaper there, too.
We use little electric because it’s pricey in our region. For power outages, which are common and can last for days, we got a generator that runs on gasoline. We cook with gas, which I very much enjoy. It’s great to be able to make breakfast without having to wait for the wood stove when the power goes.
Choices, options–the discussion goes on.
So, we’re adapted but our place might be too much for us after a while. We can keep adapting and stay, or we can find another similar but cheaper place, sell this one, and go. I guess it’s a discussion we will continue to have.
What challenges does your home have? What choices and options do you see for addressing them?