This year my husband and I both turn 65, a milestone in many ways: Medicare, more senior discounts, a free hunting and fishing license for him, and a homestead tax exemption to name a few. It's also the turning point between being on the younger side of sixty and staring at seventy which seems to be approaching very quickly.
It's also time to consider the possibility of moving. We love our home as any reader of this blog knows, but a place like this requires a lot of maintenance and as we look ahead we have to consider how long we will be able, or want, to continue to deal with what is required to live here.
This place has many things going for it: it's quiet and secluded, very private. It's in a beautiful location that cannot be easily destroyed by the activity of anyone else because we basically look out over land we own. There's little traffic or light coming from streetlights, etc so it's dark at night, a rare blessing these days.
We also have all the space we want for gardening, lots of wildlife and forest around us, a good habitat for our honeybees, and for our pets who are free to roam and do not need to be penned up.
The house is unique, comfortable enough and big enough. It's all on one floor, and that's a plus, with only 4 or 5 steps to get up to the porch. The interior doors are wide, and we put a large shower in place of the tub. Taxes aren't bad, and we have a new roof and a new pump in our deep well which supplies all the water we could ever want to use. And we have free natural gas for heating, hot water, cooking, and the refrigerator. We even bought some antique gas lights recently and may install one or two of them for when the power goes off.
Those are the pluses. Now for the not-so-good things:
Being remote is nice but it also means lots of driving. Just getting to the two-lane highway takes 10-15 minutes on a rough, narrow road. It's hard on vehicles and means lots of repairs. It's also hard on our bones as we get older.
As resellers of furniture and vintage/antique items, there's no opportunity to sell anything from home except through eBay or the like because few people want to venture out here. It's just too far off the beaten path. It would be nice to be able to put a newly painted piece by the road to sell but it can't be done here. It would also be nice to have a yard sale from time to time, also not possible unless we want to pack up everything and take it somewhere else. And we don't have time for that.
The road and driveway are a challenge in bad weather; our long driveway has to be plowed with the tractor when it snows so we can get out. We have a meadow we no longer need so the neighbors cut and take the hay, which is fine with us. We also have a field that has to be brush-hogged once or twice a year to keep it clear. Even though we have no livestock to speak of, we don't want to let this little bit of clear land grow up.
The well can be an expense if something breaks, and it happens often enough. The gas goes off from time to time in the winter, requiring Larry to go out and figure out what the problem is, or else having to wait for the gas company to send the well tender out to fix it.
There's no cable, poor cell service, and no internet service available except satellite which costs a lot more than other services. We have to keep a landline because we can't depend on the cellphones. Visitors are few and far between because no one can just drop by on their way somewhere else--they have to pretty much be coming here, and it's not the easiest trip. Often we have to meet people out by the main road and bring them in. Not that the road is that bad, but the narrow road scares those not used to driving in such places.
If we lived closer to a main road we would cut our travel expenses by a pretty large amount. Our vehicle maintenance would be much lower, and we probably would no longer need to have a tractor. Our cellphones could replace the landline and we could get better, less expensive internet service, cutting those costs too. We'd probably not find a place with free gas so that would be an added expense, possibly offset by the other savings. We might have city water too, another new cost but we would not have the expense and worry of the well.
And then there is this: if something happened to Larry and he was no longer able to do all the mowing, weedeating and tractor work, there's no way I could take all of that on. Paying someone to do it would be prohibitively expensive and we have no family near enough to do it for us, and wouldn't want to ask anyway because it's just a lot to do.
Leaving here would be one of the hardest things I'd ever do, and I don't know if I can really do it--I am so used to the peace of this place, the privacy and the freedom. There's no way to put a price on that. I also know our lives have changed; from the homestead of my younger years, with animals and crops and all of the work that entailed, to the way it is now has been a process that's evolved as our lives have changed. And now I think we're facing change again, because our needs and interests have changed. I no longer want a milk cow, beef cattle, etc. I don't want to ever put up hay again or be tied down by the work of a farm.
A lot of people who reach their 60's face the same considerations. Some decide to make the move now while they're still up for the challenge of packing up years of accumulation and getting used to a new place. Others wait until there is no other choice, and make the move at a time of great stress in their lives. So, which will we do? Stay, or start looking seriously at other places? I still don't know the answer to that. But I'm thinking.
Copyright Susanna Holstein. All rights reserved. No Republication or Redistribution Allowed without attribution to Susanna Holstein.