Jun 16, 2021

Growing Older - Making Your Home & Life Retirement Friendly

During the last three years, we have watched many of our friends deal with serious illnesses requiring hospital stays and or even die.  We too have had minor surgeries that were not as serious.  What we have learned is that people over 65 really need to be prepared for what may come their way.  My grandfather used to say in Italian that growing older was like the bull poking you with his horns everyday.  In many ways, it is true.  So, thinking that life will go on business as usual is not realistic once we turn 65 or older.  

It is time to look around at your home to make it retirement friendly.  It may even be time to move to a one story house preferably in a warm climate if you live in a place that gets a lot of snow.  Falling is the biggest risk for older people that often leads to major health issues and surgeries.  So at all costs everything must be done to avoid falling.  If you live in a two story home, as much as possible, you should try to convert it to one story living.  So bringing the washer and dryer upstairs is a good idea if it is currently in a basement. Not hard to do with stackable units.  

If you can create a master bedroom suite on the first floor that would be good too.  Some people install the stair elevators to allow for going up stairs easier.  That can be done quickly so no real need to do it sooner than necessary.  However, bathtubs should be converted to showers with grab bars and a bench.  You are probably saying, I don't need any of these things right now.  Sadly, we have learned that everything can change in a day.  

Next, simplify your finances.  Make sure that both husband and wife can deal with your finances if the one managing them today is suddenly gone.  There are so many situations where a remaining spouse is clueless about their finances.  And, once the spouse managing their money is gone, it can become very stressful.  It should not be that way and with a little planning it does not need to be chaotic.  The time to deal with growing older is NOW.  So, make a check list of To Do's and get them all done.  

Jun 15, 2021

Quality of Life - Different For Everyone

Quality of Life can mean very different things to different people.  After working very hard their whole lives, we moved my parents to a very nice 55 or older gated community.   They were able to pay cash to buy a new 1,600 square foot patio home, which was actually much nicer than the older 1,200 square foot home they left behind in North Hollywood, California.  This community had an 18 hole putting course and and a great club house and pool for activities.  For my parents, who never traveled except to go to funerals back in Ohio where they were from, quality of life meant paying their bills without worry, having plenty of food, golfing on the putting course for my Dad who never golfed in his life and activities for my mother with new found friends at the club.  My mother used to attend the garden club luncheons even though she never gardened in her whole life.  Oh Yes and they discovered baseball on TV.  That was it.  They were comfortable and content.  They did not need anything else.  My Mom was still cooking until she was 87 years old.  

Most important, no matter where people live, I believe that family and friends are critical to quality of life.  Interaction with people seems to be what makes people happiest.  It is not about money; but rather the ability to share life experiences.  And, this becomes really important when people need moral support to deal with life's challenges; mostly health issues as we grow older.  While family may be there when these life events occur, friends often provide the most support.  

We often hear people say, "when I retire I am going to travel".   Unfortunately, travel often requires mobility.  As we grow older, it could be that many trips that require a lot of walking may not be possible.  So as someone who has traveled all over the world, I would suggest that if traveling is on your bucket list, if you have the means to do it sooner than retirement, go for it.  You can always go on cruises later in life, which require less mobility.  

Everyone needs to define Quality of Life for themselves.  To many, it may be a very simple life.  For others, they maintain a busier calendar in retirement than when they worked.  Not so sure that is the best idea; but if it works for them; then fine until it does not work for them.   

Jun 14, 2021

Buying A Tiny House

We are starting to see a trend especially among younger people to buy  "tiny" homes.  These are usually custom built homes on wheels that can be transported anywhere.   They are a cross between a manufactured home and a mobile home.  These tiny homes are usually between 500 and 700 square feet including second floor space.  The cost can be somewhere between $60,000 and $100,000 depending on amenities.  Sometimes, they will have a pull out deck once parked. 

There is only one problem and that is where to park a tiny home to connect it to electricity, gas and sewer.  Tiny home parks are springing up all over the country and or it is possible to park a tiny home in a mobile home park.  Either way, unless somebody owns a lot to park it on, there will be monthly payments to rent a space.  Those spaces could cost $500 or more a month depending on location.  The good news is that since a tiny home is on wheels, it can be moved.  However, it would usually require a large truck to haul it to a new location and that can cost $3,000 or more depending on distance.  

Even so, this could be a great alternative for a young person, or couple seeking a starter home especially now with home prices going through the roof.  A tiny home is probably not a good alternative for a family with children.  There just is not enough room to accommodate more than 1 or 2 people. It is not "real property" in the sense that it is real estate because it is not attached to the land.  Instead, it would be considerer personal property just like owning a car or truck so that probably means some kind of license fee each year depending on the state.   Tiny homes could be the wave of the future for retired people, as well, just seeking a little space to call home.    

Jun 12, 2021

Fixing Up Your Home

Years ago, when I was a school teacher and had more time than money, I hired some kids and together we landscaped our new home entire yard.  I hired a landscape architect to complete the design, which we followed.  I did have cement poured for the patios in front and back; but otherwise, we installed sprinklers, a railroad tie retaining wall, about 40 trees,  hundreds of plants and sod.  It was a huge job that took two summers to complete.   I was young then and had lots of energy and took the time to learn how to do the job right.  It was a tremendous amount of work; but our yard looked great once done.  Though we don't live there anymore, the home is still there and the yard still looks great; though a little over grown.  We probably could have planted half the number of trees and it would have been enough.  Remember, plants grow.  

I never attempted a major renovation within the home.  And today, I have a guy for everything; electrician, plumber, handy man, gardener etc.  I am just not that handy with tools and I don't have the time or the energy to take on big jobs.  That ship sailed long ago.  However, younger people can save a lot of money by attempting small jobs around the house.  Of course, the trade off is time.   Time you spend doing a renovation is time you don't have to spend with your family.  Years ago, when our sons were young, I hired a gardener to avoid spending my Saturdays dealing with the yard so I could spend more time with my family.  

But be advised, projects always take longer than you anticipate and usually cost more because you will need to factor in screw-up's.  If you don't get it right, most likely it will either need to be done again, or you will call in a professional to get the job done right.  If you are handy with tools, you could find doing a renovation enjoyable.  There is a lot of information on the Internet to provide instructions and or stores like Home Depot and Lowes some times offer classes.  So if you have plenty of time and energy, go for it.    

Jun 11, 2021

Costco & Trader Joe's - Got To Have Them

Far be it for me to do a commercial on this blog for Costco and Trader Joe's, but I love both stores and find them necessary to daily life.  Costco is wonderful for big families because most things they sell come in bulk sizes. If nothing else everybody can take advantage of their paper products, can goods, drugs and many other items that have a long shelf life.  Trader Joe's is just perfect for young couples and Seniors who don't need bulk products. 

We probably would not buy a home in a community that did not have a Costco and Trader Joe's nearby.  Trader Joe's is really good for couples, young or old because the foods they sell are ideal for quick meals with proportions that make perfect sense for two people.  I get lost in a Costco going and down every aisle.  And, since I am an impulse buyer, I end up buying things just to try them. 

There are so many convenience foods, which are great for both seniors and working couples.  Today, it is all about making a meal in 30 minutes or less.  When a single mom or husband and wife come home from work and the kids are waiting to be fed, making dinner happen quickly is critical. However, some of this shopping means having sufficient freezer and storage space to keep purchases.  We have lots of cabinets for our Costco storage and plenty of freezer space for cold items.  The days of cooking things from scratch are pretty much over thanks to Costco and Trader Joe's.  

Flipping A Home - Beware

HDTV has many shows with personalities focused on flipping homes as investment income.  I would tell anyone thinking about doing it, Don't.  Unless you have the skills and plan to do a lot of the remodeling yourself, by the time you hire contractors and deal with all the unexpected expenses that will come up, the odds of making a lot of money are minimal.  Plus in this market, homes are selling for top dollar.  The chances of finding a bargain fixer upper that can be renovated for a profit just got harder.  

Let the professionals with deep pockets work on flipping homes for a living.  They better understand what they are getting themselves into.  And, we are only seeing the ones on TV that worked out for them.  My guess is that they lose money on some number of homes.   So, mind your own business.  

If you want to invest in a nice home in a good location that needs minimal work to make it a rental, that makes better sense.  At Paragon Home Resources, we work with people all over the country to sell and buy homes.  If you need help buying an investment property, just call Paragon.  

Jun 10, 2021

Rooting In A New City - Do It Fast

Many people are moving from areas they may have lived in for years to new areas across the country.  Sometimes these are people retiring moving from cold places to warm places.  In other cases, younger people who can work from home are choosing to move from high cost, high tax states to lower cost, lower tax states.  The reason for the move does not matter.  What does matter is that once moved, people need to root fast in order adjust to the new area.  

Some things are obvious.  If you are on Medicare Medigap or Advantage Plans, your current health insurance may not be applicable in the new state.  You may need to change medical insurance companies.  Once done, you will need to find a doctor, dentist etc. to deal with medical issues.  If you have chronic illnesses, you may also need to identify specialists covered under your health care plan.  But beyond the basic stuff, unless lots of relatives are nearby and even if they are close, you will need new friends to replace the people you left behind in the old location to begin a great life in the new location. 

Friends matter so join clubs, or maybe a church or temple.  If you can, buy in an area with HOA or other Club facilities.  Most important, jump right in and get involved.  As soon as you get your home settled, knock on your neighbor's doors to introduce your family.  There will be neighbors that are not good options; but there will be others that will welcome you with open arms.  Life is what we make it.  Choose to makes yours a great life.  Don't be shy.  Other people are always looking for new friends too.