Note: This post was first published Jan. 8, 2015 on one of my experimental blogs. Now it’s December 2015. The year has come and gone, and a new winter will begin Dec. 21. And I’m not in Florida yet. My excuse is that major life decisions take time. I’m working on it.
Baby, it’s cold outside!
Tuesday, we had snow and 26 degrees. Wednesday, it was 17 degrees in late afternoon, and down to 12 degrees by the time I got home from work, around 9:30 p.m. I live in the Mid-Atlantic states. The climate here is supposed to be relatively moderate.
Except when it’s not. Tonight, it’s cold as a witch’s tit.
The heater in my 216-square-foot apartment runs constantly all night. It can’t raise the temperature inside high enough to cut off.
Is it any wonder that every year about this time, my thoughts turn to Florida? I’ve only been there once. I flew into the Tampa airport to help rescue my brother (he was very ill) and drive him back to Maryland. I have very little direct experience of Florida, but I know a lot about it second-hand. (Update: Took a two-week road trip to Florida in June 2015 to research housing options. So I’ve made a little progress.)
Florida is warm in the winter! What else do I need to know?
Well, I also know I can buy or rent a place to live in Florida for less than where I live now. With the Internet, I can sort through the hundreds (probably thousands) of retirement communities in Florida. Must be a million houses and condos for sale, mobile homes for sale or rent, right down to RV communities where you can park your van or trailer, or in some places, even pitch a tent. There’s got to be something down there that I can afford.
I’ve never been free to seriously consider a move to Florida before. I was tied to my job.
Retirement sets us free! With no job and no child-rearing responsibilities, folks in their 60s and 70s are suddenly liberated. A life sentence to hard work has been commuted. It’s true. You’re free to leave. You can just walk right out the door. Nobody’s stopping you.
It’s taken a while for me to wake up to this unfamiliar freedom. The Social Security check is as good in Florida as in my home town.
For most people, the main impediment to geographic freedom is illiquid assets, otherwise known as your house. That’s a manageable hurdle. It can be sold or rented. If you live in an apartment, like me, it’s easier. Many folks might have to wait for the end of a yearlong lease. I can move on 60-days notice.
It’s like a true-crime story, only it’s not illegal! It’s all about motive and opportunity. I have both, so Florida, here I come.
But not this winter.
Maybe not next winter either. It’s a major life decision, after all. Do you want to leave family and friends?
For me, the part-time job is a financial restraint.. I can make do with my Social Security and Medicare, and a couple of small tiny insignificant pensions. Plus a lot of frugality. But right now, the part-time job helps me whittle away at that pesky credit card debt. In a few months, hopefully, or more realistically, in a year, my financial situation will have improved.
You’re going to be reading a lot about Florida here. I’ve got the bug, and I’m going to look into it. There’s a lot to consider. For that, the Internet is a big help.
Maybe we can all drive down together in a caravan. “Hey, good buddy, what’s the speed limit?” Stay together, keep up the pace. “Ten-four, good buddy, I think it’s time for a pit stop.” And so on. Are we there yet?
Meanwhile, back home in cold reality, please bring the dogs and cats indoors this winter.
Tell me, what’s most important to you about a place to live in retirement?
— John Hayden