Settled In … and Loving It!

Reading through the morning newspaper, a headline in the real estate section caught my eye: Homebuilder Woos Apartment Tenants with 12-Month Rent Rebate Offer Toward a House.  The article went on to explain that a developer who builds both individual houses and multi-family complexes, has developed this innovative scheme in hopes of luring families away from apartments toward home ownership.  

Thinking about this unusual offer, my immediate reaction was … why would anyone do such a thing?  What would make someone leave an apartment to buy a house?

Just kidding, of course, for home ownership has, historically, been a major part of the “American Dream” with young families, in particular, seeking their own plot of land upon which to raise a family.  But, that said, my wife, Bonnie, and I are in a very different place when it comes to our choice of domicile and lifestyle; just over two years ago, we sold our home and moved into a superb 55+ Active Adult apartment community … and we love it.

Recently, while sorting through some old financial records, I came across a list of the recurring bills we paid when we owned our last house.  Frankly, I had forgotten how many there were and, when compared to those we now pay in our apartment, the remarkable difference is just one reminder of why we celebrate our decision to live where we do: 

What We Paid in Our House                           What We Pay in Our Apartment

Mortgage                                                                 Rent

TV/Internet/Phone                                               TV/Internet

Real Estate Taxes

City Services (water,sewer,trash)

Heat/AC Service Contract

Alarm System

Yard Maintenance

HOA Fees

Pest Control

In the midst of writing this blog post, the doorbell rang.  Stepping away from my desk, I went to the door where I found our maintenance man stopping by for routine BookCoverPreview.doreplacement of the air filter in the heating and AC unit in our apartment.  This was perfect timing, for it reminded me of one more very important reason why apartment living is exactly right at this stage of our lives … on the few occasions when we have had to submit a maintenance request, the work has been done quickly, professionally and at no cost to us.  And here’s the best part … it is always done by someone else!

It will be interesting to learn whether the new “Rent Rebate” idea works out for this builder, and we certainly wish him well.  And though I am sure we are outside the “target demographic” for this offer, we would not consider anyway … even for a moment … buying a house.  We owned homes for more than fifty years and, without question, doing so enabled us to raise our children in comfortable surroundings and good communities.  But now that it is just the two of us … well, this is our “me time,” and we are really making the most of it!

We just passed the two-year mark in our apartment home, which likely qualifies Bonnie and me as “settled in.”  Even so, barely a day goes by without one of us turning to the other and asking: “Why didn’t we do this sooner?” 

Rightsizing … One Year Out

Wow, that year certainly went by quickly! It is hard to believe that we just passed the one-year anniversary of our effort to “rightsize” our lives but, that being so, we got to wondering how we might measure the results of our endeavor. We had high hopes, of course, that the move from a house to an apartment would be a good one but, now that we are settled in, what is our level of satisfaction?

In his book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Steven Covey suggests that each of us “start with the end in mind,” and that is exactly what we did before starting down this road. In preparing for this transition, Bonnie and I discussed and settled upon who we are, what we wanted from life, and how we wanted to live now and into the future. With that established – and using that vision as our goal – we made a “leap of faith” … we sold our house, got rid of a lot of “stuff,” and moved into an Over 55 Active Retirement Community.

And the result has been better than we had any right to expect.

For example, one of our goals was to live in a comfortable and maintenance-free environment. Our apartment home surpasses all of these criteria … it is quiet, comfortable, roomy, and well-appointed. Further, on the very few occasions when a maintenance issue arose over the past year, it was handled quickly, professionally, at no cost and … here’s the best part … the work was done by someone else!

Moving to a new community always presents a range of potential social concerns: How will we connect with people? Will our new neighbors compare favorably with those we left behind? For us, any worries were erased immediately by the warm and welcoming reception we received from everyone we met. We now find ourselves among folks from a demographic niche much like ours and, to our delight, many of our new neighbors have interests and life experiences very similar to our own.

Individually, Bonnie and I have joined groups that bring us enjoyment and growth. For instance, once each week I go to breakfast with a band of ten-to-fourteen men whose backgrounds and accomplishments are amazing, while Bonnie has connected with a group of women who enjoy a variety of activities and interests. Together, we have befriended several couples with whom we enjoy going to lunch, dinner or area entertainment venues on a regular basis.

If asked to complete a satisfaction survey evaluating the way we “rightsized” our lives over the past year, we would have to rate the experience as “exceeded expectations” in every way. And while we celebrate having made this transition and what it has done for us, we continue to struggle with one nagging question:

Why didn’t we do this sooner?