You and your dream – If you make a decision after you have carefully identified everything that is part of your dream, you will be a lot less likely to forget the details that can make the crucial differences to your continued enjoyment.
I have lived in a community of vacation/retirement homes and have been involved in the development of a land project in the Western North Carolina area that saw my wife and I witness the questions, trials, tribulations and successes of retirement relocations and vacation homes purchases.
During that time we have developed a number of suggestions that individuals and couples should consider when thinking of making a major relocation for retirement.
I would like to share the first of them with you. While our narrow focus is on the mountains here in Western North Carolina, I feel that many of these considerations are relevant for anyone considering such a life-changing decision.
In future articles, I will cover such mundane topics as choosing the right community; choosing the right realtor; choosing the right builder if you are going to build; and choosing a building site that is right and buildable. But today I want to start with the most important factor in this decision – you.
Let’s start with the single most important area – You and Your Dream.
You are the most important factor in your happiness. This is not the responsibility of your realtor, your builder, or your developer. You are the key component. Only you know what you want; and when you have settled this in your mind, you will be less likely to make a decision based on only one or two factors that overshadow your other, more critical factors.
What is it that you would ideally have as part of your dream setting and location? If you make a decision after you have first carefully identified everything that is part of your dreams and requirements, you will be a lot less likely to forget the details that can make the crucial differences to your enjoyment year in and year out.
Tailoring your decision for you.
The first step is to sit down with whoever else is going to be an essential part of your decision. All too often, couples find out only too late that they have slight (or major) differences in what they need to make them happy. Without ensuring that you have common ideas and goals, locating a home will be the least of your problems.
You may want to sit down individually and start with the questions below. Fill out the answers to these and other questions about your dream and then compare notes on your answers to these questions:
- What do you enjoy doing? Are you active and like golf, tennis, backpacking, water skiing, horseback riding, etc. Or would you enjoy more quiet diversions like fishing, hiking, reading and the like? Or what combination of the two?
- What activities have you wanted to take up or what do you enjoy most during vacations? Have you always wanted to take up a new challenge, like photography, carpentry, wood work, art, dancing, etc? Do you always go to the lake or folk festivals on vacations? What has been your secret or not so secret ambition to undertake a new challenge away from the routine of your everyday life?
- What are your physical limitations or challenges? Do you need special accommodations that will enable you to undertake your activities?
- Will you be having guests overnight? If so how many, how often and what ages? I can tell you that the short answer to the first part of this question is “yes” unless you have an unlisted address and phone number and have no friends or relatives. Will you need a more private guest area in your home to preserve your own privacy? How many bedrooms will you need? Will you need to accommodate the needs of children? If so for what ages?
- What size home do you want to maintain? Many families want to have a smaller home in the mountains because of the time it takes away from other things just to maintain it. If you do downsize, be sure you have enough storage for all the things you will use only occasionally or only seasonally.
- How “green” do you want to be? Every year there are more breakthroughs made on homes that have less impact on the environment and are more inexpensive to heat and air condition. Most of these improvements come at an initially higher cost, but provide long-range savings. The internet is a gold mine of ideas in this area.
- What does your ideal homesite include in way of views, waterfront, etc.? What will you want to see when you get up in the morning and have your breakfast? What do you want to look at in the evening when you are unwinding from your full day? Do you want quiet and peace or will you be happy with a lot of activity around you?
- How close to your present home do you want to be? Will your friends and family be part of your dream home? How long a drive will children and grandchildren tolerate? How often will you be going back to visit your friends or use services at your previous home?
These are just a few of the things you might want to consider and we urge you to explore in depth the activities and desires that will make this an ideal investment. And after you are sure you have decided all the important personal factors, it’s time to move on to locating exactly where you’ll find the setting for fulfilling those dreams.
And now to find the right community… You might want to read our follow-up article Would you like a beach or a mountain with that?