As some of you know, I decided to leave my full-time job in May and downshift into early retirement. I’m working a temporary full-time job right now, but I’m looking forward to being in charge of my own time again soon! A return to 60-hour work weeks has certainly made me think more about the Warren Buffett quote – “I did decide early in life that my favorite employer was myself!”
And when my school administrator position is over, we are going to start focusing on making our two-home snowbird retirement plan a reality! Today I thought I’d share more about where we plan to live in retirement and how we bought two homes for under $100K!
That’s right – the total purchase price of both homes we will be living in was $99,500. That bought us 4 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, 2000 sf of living space, a lanai, an in-ground pool, an unobstructed lake view, and an easy walk or bike ride to a gulf coast beach that often ranks #1 in the country!
We’re pretty sure we will be snowbirding for at least ten years because of the ages of both our kids and parents. I’ll explain our snowbird plan by splitting it up into our “up north” and “down south” homes. I’ll also include some information about both houses and the areas where they are located.
My husband and I have lived in upstate New York all of our lives. We live in a beautiful area and just had one of the most amazing summers ever! Soon the leaves will change and we’ll enjoy the crisp fall days before the first snow fall. And even though last winter was really mild (we didn’t shovel more than a few times), the previous winter was one for the record books! Temperatures below zero for days and feet of snow, along with gray skies and lots of wind.
And unlike our blogger friends at Our Next Life, we are tired of the snow and cold! We’d prefer rinsing sand off our feet than brushing snow off our boots! But we don’t want to pack up and move south, giving up our “roots” in New York just yet. Our kids will both be in college and we have family and great friends in our home town. We also have amazing late spring, summer, and early fall days to enjoy here!
So where will we live? We are planning to downsize from our current home (a 3 bed/2 bath 1600 sf home with an in-ground pool) into a smaller rental house I bought in 1994! This is a 2 bed/1 bath 1050 sf house across the street from a beautiful 16-mile-long lake. And it was a foreclosure that cost $44,500. This picture is from the little park across the street from our house. We have an unobstructed lake view for that crazy low price!
We do need to put some money into the house to upgrade an attic to make a 3rd bedroom. And since we’ve had the same tenant for 22 years (yes, another blog post is coming on that) – it will require some remodeling too!
I almost sold this house a few times through the years but a smart realtor told me to hold it forever and I listened. I think Sam over at the Financial Samurai would agree we made a smart decision to keep it too. He has a bunch of great real estate posts including two recent articles on making money on the purchase of a house and holding your houses as long as possible. We’ve done both!
Even though our roots are in New York, over the years – my parents and brothers ended up moving to Florida. And since we won’t be held to jobs in New York and the kids will be off to college, we have the flexibility to head south as fall turns to winter here!
A few years ago we considered buying a property in Florida to use in retirement. We knew it was important to take our time and find a place that would really meet our needs. We developed a list of goals and whenever we visited, we looked at properties. During the summer of 2013, we spent time in Sarasota and decided that we could definitely enjoy the winter months there!
We looked at a number of properties and after narrowing it down to two, we couldn’t decide which property to make an offer on. The night before we flew home, I looked on Craigslist and saw a condo for sale in one of the complexes we had visited. I thought it might be a long shot, but we contacted the owner and met him a few hours later.
We decided to make an offer on the spot because it was exactly what we wanted. We wrote a check for the down payment and within a month – we were condo owners. And the price was $45,000. (I know, people buy cars for more than that!)
The condo was part of an estate and they just wanted to move on. (They also owned a beautiful house a few blocks away on the inter-coastal!) It was a win-win situation – but we had done the work ahead of time to know where we wanted to be and what we were willing to pay. It was an incredibly easy decision after that.
We’ve owned our 2 bed/2 bath 950 sf condo for 3 years now and we couldn’t be happier! We have some upgrading to do, but we’re waiting until next year when we are there for longer periods of time. We can certainly enjoy it “as is” now!
We even had Thanksgiving dinner with our condo community members last year and it really started to feel like home. Many of our neighbors are snowbirds too – so we have much to share when we all are back down south.
There is a matching unit for sale in a different building in our complex and the list price is $105,000. We feel great about the equity already have! And for anyone wondering, our HOA fees are $343/month and I’m going to write more about this property and details of the HOA in a future post too!
The Siesta Key area is beautiful and there are tons of activities to enjoy! But summer is brutally hot and humid and even though we like sunshine and warm temperatures like Steve at Think Save Retire, we want to continue to enjoy our beautiful summers up north too.
I hope our story gives you hope that there are ways to find reasonable housing costs in nice areas! I’m sure you have noticed that we started young (I was 26 when I bought the foreclosure) and we were in it for the long haul. I had no idea we might end up living in that foreclosure one day!
Our Florida condo was a really lucky find, but we were ready to act. We didn’t hesitate at all because we had clear end goals and we were actively looking rather than just passively checking places out.
Our snowbird retirement plan won’t fully “kick in” until the kids are both off to college in the fall of 2017. We know that our homes would seem small to many families and that not being directly on the beach in Florida would bother some people too. But we’ve learned to embrace the Paula Pant “mantra” – we know we can afford anything, but not everything.
Our anythings are all we want and need and the low risk decisions me made allow us to sleep well at night…
So what do you think of our two home plan? Have you thought about where you might live in retirement? Are there any snowbirds out there?
Let me know if you have any questions too! I’m happy to share any details you would like!
*P.S. Thanks to those of you who left ideas to consider when deciding on a new smartphone! I’m waiting a couple of weeks to make my final decision. I need to carry my phone with me around school and I dropped it three times last week! I‘ll give you a hint though – I’m eyeing a Nexus 5X from Google Fi right now!