My wife and I moved to our house on five non-easy-care acres in rural south Salem way back in 1990. We were about forty then. The couple we bought the house from were in their mid-60's.
When we asked them why they were selling, they said "It just has gotten to be too much for us to maintain."
Well, we're now pushing 70. (I'm pushing harder than my wife, but she's not far behind.) And a while back we bought the empty lot next door, so now we have ten acres to maintain.
So why aren't we moving to a house in town that would be much easier for us to handle? That's a big question with all kinds of answers. I've taken a stab at them in numerous blog posts, including:
Too old for ten acres and a big house -- too young for retirement living
A bone scan, my doctor's lifestyle advice, a nighttime walk in the country
Musings on the problem of where to live after retiring
Retired folks need friends. Nature provides some for us.
Our baby boomer quandary: keep living in large house, or downsize?
The joy of being crazy -- in a sane way
Regarding the last post... yes, it is indeed crazy to envision ourselves doing what's necessary to keep our house and property in decent order as we find ourselves heading into our 70s, which could be followed by our 80s.
Yet we have neighbors who do just that: stay in their country home for much longer than most "sane" people would consider reasonable.
An obvious reason for this is that it's really tough to locate a city home that offers us what we have now. We know, because we've given a realtor what amounts to a near-impossible task: find us a house in the Salem city limits that has privacy, trees, and quiet.
That's what we enjoy on our ten acres. Finding it on a city lot is rare. So that is one of the anchors that keeps us moored to our current home.
There's other anchors, though. And they aren't logical or reasonable. Heck, they're barely describable. They're rooted in feelings that I barely know I have, because they're so engrained in how I view our property, I mostly take them for granted.
A few photos I took recently of our yard brought some of those anchors into a greater sense of awareness.
There's lots of rocks in our yard. Tons of rock, literally.
Many years ago Keith Ecklund, who called himself the Garden Poet with good reason, landscaped the area around our house. He got a good deal on a gigantic load of granite rocks, which was dumped on the ground and made good use of as Keith and his crew did their landscaping thing.
I love those rocks. Many have gotten buried under repeated applications of bark. I've got unburying them on my to-do list. For one of these days. There's no way we can take the rocks with us, and it's highly unlikely that a house in town would have the same granite'y feel.
So those rocks make a good heavy anchor for staying where we are.
Then there's all the plantings we've cared for in our yard over the past 28 years. Many have come and gone, but the overall look and feel of our yard has remained about the same since the Garden Poet did his thing. Sure, any house we'd move to would have azaleas, rhododendrons, and such.
But they wouldn't be the ones we've come to know and love. I'd miss them. They're another anchor.
We've got a large yard. A very large yard.
When we drive into Salem, naturally we're struck by how much smaller virtually all city lots are. Newly built subdivisions are particularly skimpy on yard space, given Oregon's pioneering land use laws that require buildable land within city limits to be largely used up before an urban growth boundary can be expanded.
We support those land use laws, since they preserve farm and forest land. But we also have grown accustomed to the expansiveness that comes with having a house in the country. So there's another anchor.
These twin fir trees, with Oregon grape at their base, along with a rock piece of art, have grown a lot since we moved to our house. I'd like to watch them grow more.
Sure, they've gotten so enormous, one or both could crush our roof if they ever fell over in a windstorm. But they're old friends. I'd miss them, even if a new house had equally large firs, because they wouldn't be these firs.
Then there's my Oregon grape "forest." A large area on the other side of the twin firs was left un-landscaped in the Garden Poet days. Brushy vegetation grew there. Year after year, leaves and branches accumulated.
About five years ago I decided to reclaim that area. It took a heck of a lot of work to clear everything out and plant Oregon grape and other native plants. This photo shows some of the original Oregon grape, which is growing more happily now that the other vegetation is gone.
The Oregon grape I planted is looking good. Now that it's well established, in the spring, like right now, it gets yellow blossoms and a bunch of new growth.
I can easily see myself watching the Oregon grape grow older, just as I am. Sure, it's irrational to want to stay in a house for that reason, but it's a reason that appeals to me every morning when I walk up to the road with our dog to get the newspaper.
So anchors abound. We don't know how long they'll keep us rooted to our house and property.
Life might have other plans for us. Anchor chains can be broken in many ways: disease, disability, a change of residential heart. For now, though, those anchors are more of a pleasure than a pain.
Some people move to easy care yards and then work out at a gym. I think yards offer healthy exercise, good for the spirit as well as the body. For us, living far from town is more of a drawback as driving is a hassle the older a person gets. I am spoiled and don't want a neighbor looking our windows or to hear their music.
Posted by: Rain Trueax | April 25, 2018 at 12:07 PM
“Anchor chains can be broken in many ways...” and you cannot know if yours will break suddenly, plunging you into critical and immediate transition mode in a matter of seconds in which decisions will be made for you due to urgency (I.e., that fall from the roof you’ve given some thought to), or if they will gradually wear out, allowing you time to adjust by turning some outdoor tasks over to paid workers, remodeling your home, paying for rides to an increasing number of doctor appts, hiring shoppers and housekeepers, stocking microwaveable meals, and so on. I have thought about this kind of stuff a lot as parents and I have gone through various stages of aging and have concluded that one also needs to weigh the pleasure to be enjoyed from doing what will become increasingly high risk chores and activities as we age against the fact that an accident might not lead to death (“at least he died doing what he loved” ) but instead to a prolonged period of irreversible disability (“why would he have taken such a chance?”). It doesn’t seem like you need to make a permanent decision right now about moving or staying, but to continue to confront the inevitable fact that you will not become more physically strong and coordinated between now and the end and start coming up with ideas for filling gaps that are likely to arise in your ability to take care of business as you have become accustomed to doing and seem to enjoy very much.
Posted by: J | May 17, 2018 at 01:20 PM
J, you make some very good points. I agree with most of them. However, there's also the adage, "What doesn't kill you, makes you stronger." All of the physical activity my wife and I engage in to maintain our property does, in general, make us stronger. But as you said, it also could kill us -- especially me, since I tend to do the most high-risk activities. It's a difficult balancing act, one that we're continuing to struggle to deal with.
Posted by: Brian Hines | May 17, 2018 at 01:26 PM
Since we are talking about homes and our beloved country. We sure must have had our own "GHAR" that we call home sweet home.
Taxes are laid on those houses so I thought of sharing this article. My father got his answers from here it's about a detailed guide on Tax liability on house property and how it is treated. https://learn.quicko.com/income-from-house-property-and-taxes
Posted by: Kreya Shah | April 21, 2020 at 01:12 AM