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Wednesday, September 27, 2023

The 50-12 months Dwelling – Retire Earlier than Dad

My dad and mom had been born and raised within the south hills of Pittsburgh. They attended the identical highschool however didn’t begin courting till 5 years after commencement once they had been in a marriage get together collectively. 

Dad was a highschool trainer on the opposite aspect of city. He needed a shorter commute, an enormous yard, and a backyard. Within the Fall of 1972, they purchased a home north of the town the place he can be simply 10 minutes from work. 

The Forties-built three-bedroom, two-bathroom home (2 1/2 for those who depend the Pittsburgh potty) with a pure stone exterior had a three-tiered three-quarter acre yard, with a sunlit hillside for gardening and a flat and spacious “lower-40” grassy space that might turn into a baseball diamond, seasonal badminton court docket, and sizable weekly mow. 

They raised a vogue merchandiser, a cash blogger, a cat named Curtis, and a bunny named Betsy.

I lived in the home by highschool and briefly in my late 20s — solely about 20 of fifty years.

Final month, I had the privilege of serving to them transfer to a extra appropriate dwelling.

Their 50-year keep is a lesson in post-retirement housing planning.

A Redfin Gem

I now reside within the Northern Virginia suburbs of Washington, D.C., the place houses and land are costly. 

Seeing my mother or father’s dwelling of fifty years listed on Redfin strengthened my appreciation for what a beautiful place it was to develop up.

The itemizing agent had skilled images taken, together with drone pictures from the angle of the 70-year-old white oak timber overlooking the yard as much as the home. I’d by no means seen it like that earlier than. 

Having analyzed a whole bunch of Redfin listings over time, I assumed the home was a lot extra spectacular it from a purchaser’s perspective as an alternative of as an individual who grew up there.

A property like that doesn’t exist the place I reside. It could simply fetch $2 million or extra if it did. In Pittsburgh, it offered within the low $300,000s.

Lastly empty, it had monumental potential for the youthful house owners. 

The neighborhood was at all times first-rate. I grew up with a lot of children round, and we walked to elementary college. We had epic sled using hills and a quiet avenue for candy bike ramps.

On summer season nights, we performed Launch, a recreation related to Seize the Flag or Kick the Can. A couple of dozen neighborhood yards made up the sport’s boundaries. No person scolded us as we hid below decks and ran by flower beds.

Some of the difficult points of the transfer was leaving the individuals who made the neighborhood what it was. My dad and mom had been comforted by attending to know the pleasant new patrons who appeared to suit proper in.


My mother or father’s 50-year residency was a unprecedented accomplishment. In response to Redfin‘s evaluation of Census knowledge, the median home-owner tenure is about 12 years. 

Thirty-five % of 65+-year-old householders have been of their houses for 33 years or extra. There isn’t a knowledge for “home-owner kings” on the 50-year mark.
An AARP survey discovered that 77% of fifty+ adults favor to remain of their present houses for the long run. My dad and mom achieved this for twenty years of retirement. 

However the home had vital points that weren’t fixable, together with:

  • Steep driveway, treacherous in rain and snow
  • No bed room on the principle degree
  • No rest room on the principle degree
  • 12 steps up, 12 steps down
  • Laundry in basement
  • Large yard upkeep

My dad and mom are comparatively wholesome and will deal with the steps, however they had been at all times one fall away from needing to maneuver. The driveway and stairs had been every day hazards.

Yardwork turned too exhausting about 5 years in the past, and my Dad wasn’t snug paying a service to assist after doing it his method for 45 years. 

Older houses have points. In his youth, my Dad dealt with practically each upkeep challenge joyfully. He nonetheless had spare time to construct a screened-in deck, convert an previous piano to a bookshelf, and assemble a precise duplicate doll home of the house.

However over the previous few years, the post-war home turned a burden. Simply being there was a continuing reminder of all of the deferred upkeep. 

When he would have second ideas about transferring, he’d go outdoors and have a look at the yard. 

By the point they lastly moved, packing was bodily taxing, which amplified the emotional toll of parsing by half a century of possessions. 

I didn’t really feel nostalgic or emotional in regards to the transfer as a result of it was lengthy overdue. My dad and mom are safer and a lot better off within the new place. 

Mother Would Have Made a Savvy Actual Property Investor

Mother left a payroll job downtown to turn into an exemplary full-time suburban mom.

But additionally she labored numerous hustles and aspect gigs over time. 

She was a secret shopper earlier than folks knew these existed. She arrange retailer shows for large film releases. And after I was in ninth grade, she turned a tour information for varsity teams visiting east coast cities and amusement sights. That gig lasted till about the identical time my Dad retired. 

My Mother realized the unsustainability of the home a couple of years in the past and began in search of patio-style houses within the space. 

When she discovered an appropriate neighborhood with trendy and accessible houses for senior dwelling, she walked door-to-door and posted notes that stated, “I need to purchase your own home. Please name me“.

Actual property traders name this driving for {dollars} — a method to seek out good flip candidates and leases.

Somebody responded. Inside days, they had been negotiating a gross sales worth and phrases.

Finally, the primary deal fell by. It was disappointing on the time. However this was in late-2019, simply earlier than the COVID-19 lockdowns, which might have sophisticated issues. 

After the pandemic state of affairs stabilized, my Mother was at it once more. This time, she requested a good friend who lived in a neighborhood to e-mail the residents asking if anybody was contemplating transferring quickly. 

She acquired one other hit. The sellers had been keen to economize by not itemizing the property with an agent, they usually closed amicably inside six weeks. 

The Cool Stuff, and…

What good is a submit a couple of 50-year home with out sharing some cool findings buried within the basement?

Main as much as the transfer, kindly declining hand-me-downs turned my second job. However I used to be finally persuaded to convey dwelling some distinctive gadgets. 

The highest merchandise on my listing was a wall ornament salvaged from a United’s Hello-Rating bumper pool recreation I performed within the basement as a child. My Dad disassembled the clunky machine lengthy after it was unused and undesirable by native billiard outlets.

The black field is a Nineteen Thirties-era Mills Vest Pocket Nickel Slot Machine — it nonetheless works however might use a restoration.

United's Hi-Score Pool sign. Vintage 1930s slot machine.

This ornamental cypress tree knee was essentially the most visually attention-grabbing merchandise in the home, and I by no means noticed it till a couple of weeks in the past because it was hidden within the basement muddle. I’m advised my Grandparents acquired it 70-some years in the past in Florida.

My Aunt Tina styled this classic milk can. 

…The Litter

COVID-19 lockdowns appeared like a superb alternative to pre-declutter earlier than downsizing. However regardless of my encouragement, my dad and mom had been unmotivated to declutter till it was time to pack and transfer.

Fifty years is a very long time to build up stuff. The Child Boomer era positioned plenty of worth on collectibles, household memorabilia, and decorations. 

Soar on eBay to find that the flowery porcelain, heart-tagged stuffies, and classic instruments usually are not value what the patrons paid. 

All that muddle was once cash.

I wasn’t there for a lot of the packing, however they stated they donated and threw out plenty of stuff, and different relations took a couple of vital household heirlooms. 

However many lifelong burdens survived the relocation. Dad moved all of the instruments he received’t want anymore, and my Mother nonetheless has at the very least 5 units of formal eating dishes and possibly 20 tablecloths.

Many of the furnishings match. The wall hangings all migrated. However now there are too many footage and never sufficient partitions.

Containers with unknown contents have reworked the two-car storage right into a one-car. 

That stated, I used to be anxious it could be worse. The patrons offered ample flexibility to maneuver out, so my dad and mom had greater than a month to pack issues up. They packed a couple of packing containers each day.

Three days earlier than the movers got here, I arrived to supply some muscle and the ultimate push and motivation to get them over the end line.

Simply About Good

The previous home was a beautiful place to reside for many years. It was unhappy to pack up and go. 

However the brand new place is almost excellent, contemplating no person will get all the pieces they need.

The patio house is a two-bedroom, two-and-a-half rest room in-built 2004. It has a spacious most important degree with all the pieces wanted to reside comfortably for a few years. 

The second ground welcomes grandkids and accommodates a considerable Christmas ornament assortment.

The earlier house owners lived evenly and made updates over the previous few years  — a brand new kitchen, new carpet, and contemporary paint. 

Outdoors, there’s a pleasing shaded patio and a small flowerbed. The HOA handles landscaping. The complicated has a small neighborhood constructing and pool.

Most residents are of their sixties and upwards and are in the same life state of affairs, having moved from an older dwelling after the children moved on. The neighborhood girls arrange a month-to-month luncheon. 

The home is nearer to my mother or father’s associates and their common golf programs, and it’s simply 12 minutes from the previous neighborhood, to allow them to at all times return for commencement and block events. 

The view isn’t as excellent and personal as their earlier yard oasis. Nevertheless it’s quieter. Switching the cellphone and cable was a serious headache, because it at all times is. The neighborhood isn’t as vibrant as there aren’t many children trampling petunias just like the previous one. 

However the home might accommodate my dad and mom for fifteen to twenty years. It’s secure, spacious, handy, up to date, and in a superb neighborhood. 


Most of us won’t ever reside in a home for 50 years.

We’ve been in ours for 12 years, and we’re snug. However we’re already interested by the options we wish in our subsequent dwelling, regardless that we’ll in all probability keep right here for an additional 10-15 years.

My dad and mom thought their former dwelling can be their eternally dwelling. However additionally they didn’t suppose they’d reside this lengthy. 

Observing them undergo the method highlighted the significance of long-term planning. 

Financially, they did all the pieces proper. They saved sufficient money to pay for the newer home with out a mortgage. The all-cash transaction gave them flexibility if the previous dwelling didn’t promote instantly.

The previous dwelling itemizing attracted three legit provides over the primary weekend. The speedy provides had been partly a results of low native stock.

But additionally a recognition that some alternatives solely come round as soon as in a lifetime.

The fortunate patrons cited gardening, carpentry, and doll home building as hobbies. 

My Dad reviewed this text earlier than publishing. He stated, “We moved, however [address] will at all times be thought-about dwelling”.

I take again what I stated about getting emotional.



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