When this posts, Bob and I will be in the middle of a physical move from our current home to a new house, we had built this year. The new house was not something we planned. It came as a surprise, and now it’s about to happen.
Bob and I began talking about where we wanted to retire in 2009. By 2010, we determined that the housing market was too good not to decide where we should buy. We originally had two locations in mind.
The first choice was to stay in the Nashville, TN area where we had lived a total of 31 years split between eight years in the Chicago area. We considered buying a home just outside the city in what had become known as the historic district. People were refurbishing small, but solidly built homes in several older neighborhoods. I was familiar with the area. During the early 1990’s, I managed a Kroger store located in the district which was in the early stages of its rebirth.
The second location we considered was around the base of the Smoky Mountains, on the Tennessee side. For ten years, Bob and I would load up our animals and spend Christmas in Gatlinburg, TN.
I began doing searches for real estate in both areas, and we began visiting the historic neighborhoods in Nashville.
In the spring of 2010, Bob and I loaded both our motorcycles onto our trailer and headed down to Myrtle Beach, SC. It was our twenty-fifth year attending the Myrtle Beach Bike Week Event.
One morning, we walked out of our hotel and headed toward our bikes intending to ride to breakfast. As we approached our two Harley’s, we simultaneously stopped dead in our tracks, turned to each other and, at the same time asked, “Why haven’t we ever considered moving here?” It was uncanny, but, after forty-six years of marriage, we have a tendency to finish each other’s sentences and think the same thoughts. That question was all either of us needed. By the end of the week, it was the dominant topic of conversation on our way back home.
I immediately got to work on the Internet doing searches. By the end of that summer, I had become friends with a Myrtle Beach Realtor who was feeding me information and listings. By October, I had about ten properties I wanted to look at, so we headed back down to Myrtle Beach.
The style of house we originally wanted to purchase was a colorful beach style house. However, we soon discovered that the limited inventory, all located close to the ocean, was way out of our price range. The proximity to the ocean meant homeowner’s insurance was so expensive that it put them further outside our budget. So we settled on more traditional homes, with the thought, Hey, we’re in Myrtle Beach, at the Beach which is equivalent to a permanent vacation.
We knew what we could spend since we had cashed in two 401 plans. Thus, after finding the house we wanted, we made the purchase then hired a management company to manage it as a rental until we were ready to move. At the time, our plan was to fully retirement in 2015.
Fast forward to 2012. That’s the year Bob’s employer shut down all its satellite offices and sent everyone home to work remotely.
It didn’t take me long to pose the question to Bob. “Since you now work from home, would it matter where you lived?”
His answer was no, and that led to my comment/suggestion.
“If that’s the case, there’s no reason to stay in this house with its big mortgage when we could move to our home in Myrtle Beach, and become mortgage free.”
The following month we put our Nashville house on the market and instructed the property management company not to renew the rental for the folks currently living in our house. It couldn’t have worked out better. The announcement gave the family plenty of time to find new living arrangements and, our house only had to sit vacant for a month. In February 2013, we moved in.
For two years we felt settled. In fact, when people would ask if this was our last move, we both replied with a rather morbid response. “Our next move will be in body bags.”
Fast forward to October 2015. That’s the month that, on a lark, I stopped by a new development not far from Backyard Birds in Murrells Inlet where I purchased all my bird feeding supplies. The homes were just what we originally had in mind in 2010. I knew they would be out of our price range because their location was too close to the ocean, but, I thought, what the heck, looking won’t hurt anyone.
The on-site Realtor could tell I liked the floor plan. When we walked back down to her office, she put together a brochure for me. I told her that the prices were out of range for us. I never expected her answer.
She told me that the same builder had purchased land three miles west and was breaking ground as we spoke. She then told me that the builder planned to build the same floor plans on the land but that the prices would be significantly less. She gave me a sheet with the prices for the new subdivision listed. I thanked her and went home.
Realizing that Bob was only a year away from retiring, I decided not to mention my stop.
About a month later, however, Bob was looking for something near my desk and found the brochure and asked me about it. I told him that I had stopped by but that I had put it out of my mind. That weekend, with nothing planned, Bob suggested we stop by the existing model I had visited. He too loved the floor plan, and, after driving over to the new development also liked its location.
When we arrived home a few hours later, Bob asked, “What do think? Could we save up the down payment and, once we sold this house pay it off if I worked an additional year?” Knowing our current home had appreciated significantly, I consulted with a few Realtors and found that we could probably pay off most of it, leaving a small balance. Since Bob plans to consult with his current employer for the next several years, paying off that small amount made our prospects very attractive.
So, here we are. We’re all packed up and in two days we will make the move. Seven days later we will close on our current home. When the first mortgage comes due, we will pay the bulk of the principal off and apply for a small consumer loan. The best part is, we still live in the Myrtle Beach area but will be five miles closer to the ocean, living in the house we dreamed of purchasing back in 2010. Life can be a wonderful adventure as it provides unexpected surprises. The very best part, in less than a year, Bob will officially retire. What’s that saying? Ahh, Life is Good!