Leaving Home: First Stage
Leaving Home: First Stage
Not sure of the percentage of us elders who downsize or trade locations as a part of aging, but it must be sizeable as so many TV shows have episodes about “Grandma and Grandpa Going to Florida” or a smaller house.
And, here it is. I’m 68 and he’s 56—already too disabled to rationally keep doing his lifetime career as a horticultural specialist (gardener in common verbiage). He had a hip replaced last December and by April, I knew we were in the short count for him at his job.
So—I began to look at options.
1) Our house is paid for, so we stay in Seattle (most expensive cost of living by some standards) and I get my paltry Social Security check while continuing to earn my paltry salary…working for the rest of my life. Sadly, this option falls to pieces when we look at the monumental difficulties getting accepted onto disability and the price of health insurance. On to the next option.
2) He continues to work and to take pain killers and get steroid shots until he breaks the new hip or is in so much pain that everything including our marriage breaks down. Next option, please.
3) We move to another home—worth less than our current Seattle home and live on the proceeds until we get some funds from his disability insurance or, at least, his retirement IRA (not available until he’s 59 ½ --so three and a half more years). Depends on the house…cost, whether it serves our purposes adequately, and makes us not too sad to leave the home we’ve massaged in 30 years to suit us quite well. Sigh. Best option.
Then I started looking at the available homes.
1) Nothing in Seattle. Anything cheaper than our house is either tiny, a trailer, or a Meth house. Next option.
2) Check up and down the West Coast…from Bellingham to Oregon. Wow, still expensive, even for the tiny, the trailers, and the Meth houses.
3) My grandfather was raised for part of his childhood before coming to Seattle in Pomeroy, Washington. He told how much he loved the Palouse and had a gorgeous picture painted by my artist mother. So far, so good. Checked house prices. Yay! Considerably cheaper than Seattle and the whole west side of the mountains.
After a few months, things got more critical. Time to take a look at those Zillow and Trulia houses I’d found online.
Oh my good grief and gravy. The drive is seven hours—argh. But the Palouse area is magical. “I could live here,” I repeat dreamily to my husband as he drives. But he is all caught up in the practicalities like his two elderly parents on the west side of the mountains and our lame old cars making this drive.
We look at Pomeroy and find it depressing…lots of people out of work and homes often (not all though) out of shape.
I’d also looked at some close neighboring towns, and we had discovered a favorite home in Dayton—about twenty minutes from Pomeroy and twenty from Walla Walla.
I like Dayton—discrete and pleasant. The house we liked, is also nice when we see it in person.
This is a possibility—but the words of a local woman still ring in my ears: “Well, if you want a music CD, your best bet is to go thirty minutes west or an hour east.”
Hike up your big kid panties—stage two follows soon.