My last official post on my retirement was Retirement Update: 6.25 Years in November of last year. But since then I did a series of updates on our move to The Villages as follows:
- Life in The Villages, Florida: Purchase, Arrival, and Getting Settled
- Life in The Villages, Florida: February 2023 Update
- Life in The Villages, Florida: March 2023 Update
- Life in The Villages, Florida: April 2023 Update
If you missed any of these you may want to read them first to catch up.
With that said, let’s get started…
Celebrating Seven Years
Let’s begin with a bit of a celebration – SEVEN YEARS OF RETIREMENT!!!
That’s a pretty decent accomplishment for someone who’s not even 60 yet. Hahaha.
Of course I could have added a decade to that if I had been on my toes, but let’s focus on the positives. LOL.
Seriously, retirement has been awesome and I am still in love with it.
Some books will say there’s an early “elation” phase of retirement that lasts 12-18 months but that after a while the joy wears off and reality sets in.
Well, seven years into it I’m still waiting for reality to set in!
I think that if you have covered both the financial and life (time) sides of retirement then you can remain in a happy, joyful state for a long time – maybe throughout your entire retirement. We’ll see if that happens for me, but so far, so good!
We Won the Lottery!
Well, we kinda won the lottery.
We sold our home in Colorado and now have just one place – in The Villages.
Here are the highlights of how we sold our Colorado home:
- In mid-April, my wife flew back to Colorado Springs and with the help of our kids cleaned the house (cleaned out our stuff as well as made the home presentable for selling).
- Even though we had cleared out a lot of stuff before we left in December, there was still a TON left. I think it mated and multiplied!!! My wife set aside the items we wanted, then gave the rest away. Our kids had first choice, then our next door neighbors, then other friends. Whatever was left over from there either was given to charity or to the buyer of our house (more on that in a minute).
- Our house went on the market on Thursday, May 4 for $639k. It was tough to set a price as $639k would have been the market price a year ago, but with higher interest rates we weren’t sure where the market would be (we considered as low as $625k and as high as $649k). But we thought it was a “fair” price so that’s where we ended up (FYI, we paid $370k for it eight years ago).
- We had several showings the next few days and on Tuesday, May 9 we got an offer: $629k, all cash, close on May 24, and limited inspection. It was an amazing offer given the state of the economy (uncertainty and interest rates).
- Fun fact: the proof of funds from the buyer was a copy of a check from the state lottery. Apparently she had recently won the lottery and was using her funds to buy our house! We felt like we had won the lottery too!!!
- We had a few inspection items to handle: one was nothing (just overlooked a garage door opener by inspector); second was handled by our son-in-law (starting the fireplace), and third our sewer line needed snaking for a minor obstruction (which cost us $350).
- Once the buyer signed off on the inspection items we offered her what was left of our stuff in the house. There were actually some good items including furniture (some really great bedroom furniture we bought a couple decades ago that was still in awesome shape) and home decor. It was stuff left over that no one wanted and we didn’t want to deal with selling. She took it all and we were happy not to have to move it out (we would have given it to a charity if they came and picked it up).
- We closed on Wednesday, May 24. We had signed the documents a couple days earlier down here in The Villages and the buyer signed on this day. Soon thereafter we got a nice deposit put into our checking account. 😉
- I took the money and put most of it in high yield savings for now. I have a few issues I may need the cash for in the next year or two. The rest of it we put into a CD ladder as well as a couple real estate syndications.
- We used a friend of the family to sell our house so we felt at least somewhat good about the high costs of using a realtor. We knew that at least half of our fees went to a good place.
Some may wonder why we sold our Colorado home.
Our initial plan was to keep it and travel back and forth between there and Florida. But quite quickly we realized that this wasn’t optimal for us for a few reasons:
- It’s a hassle having two homes so far apart. Even with our kids there managing the place, it took a lot of mental bandwidth from us. It was like a nagging pain that was always there and I am so not about that in retirement.
- It is a looooong way between Colorado and Florida. Neither my wife nor I wanted to make that trip on a regular basis. In fact, we never wanted to make the drive again. Yes, we could fly, but flying is a huge hassle these days as well – and we have a cat. I can only imagine how he’d do during the 5-hour delay I faced in June! (see below)
- If we do want to go back, we can simply rent something there. Easy peasy. Why do we need to own when there are so many rental options?
So we sold it and are happy we did!
Lost a Good Friend
I think I’ve mentioned in a post or two that when we lived in Colorado our next door neighbor would mow our front lawn. I’ll call him “Jim.”
Jim always had the best yard (and trees) in the neighborhood and he took great pride in them. He also gave me good advice on managing my lawn. Basically, I just did what he did (fertilized when he did, watered when he did, etc.) For a couple years my lawn was as good as or even better than his (I saw kids one day out rolling in my front yard and asked them if everything was ok – they said, “We’re fine. But your grass is so soft we just had to roll in it!” Hahaha.). Anyway, I think Jim may have regretted all his advice to me for those couple of years. Hahaha.
One day he was talking about my front yard and giving me tips when he said, “You know, I could just cut it for you each week.” (He had a riding lawn mower even though we all had small yards.) I said “sure” and from then on he cut the front yard the rest of the time we lived there.
He told me one day that he would mow the back yard too but he couldn’t fit his mower through our gate. I jokingly (kind of) suggested that I’d pay to put doors on the fence between our homes if he’d mow the back yard. lol.
My wife and I would always send Jim and his wife a nice Christmas card along with a $100 Amazon gift card, both for their friendship as well as his kindness in mowing our yard.
He was training to walk the Camino in Spain and then Covid hit and put a kink in things. He still walked a lot but gave up the Camino dream after Covid as he didn’t want to get all the way over there, get sick, and be alone. I would often see him walking around the neighborhood when I walked over to the gym in the morning.
Jim was an accountant and worked until a couple years ago. He wanted to make sure his finances were solid, though from what he told me he had more than enough. But he wanted “just a bit more.” When he eventually retired I congratulated him and welcomed him to the club. He was so happy and spent even more time in his yard (which made it even better!)
When we moved, we gave them several pieces of furniture that they wanted including my office set (which was quite nice). We were happy to do it and glad we could bless them.
In early June, Jim had a heart attack. He was ok, but needed surgery and last we knew they were waiting on a date for it. FYI, he had smoked much of his life (I could often smell the smoke from his garage as it would waft into my office on cool fall days when I’d have the window open) so there was that.
Anyway, we got a text from Jim’s wife one night in mid-July that he had another heart attack while he was out walking. It was severe enough that it killed him. We were shocked at the news, of course, and so sad for his family (wife and one daughter at home – daughter is in college and much younger than his next youngest child). My wife communicated a bit back and forth with Jim’s wife as we shared our sadness.
It was the first time since we moved here that I wished we were back in Colorado. If we were, I know my wife would be over at their house every day for some time to come, helping Jim’s wife cope with her loss. I would be mowing Jim’s lawn, not as well as he did it, of course, but picking up the slack he left behind. In general, we’d just be there for his wife.
As I’ve stated time and time again, you never know how long you have left (we actually have a long thread about this subject in the Millionaire Money Mentors (MMM) forums and it’s filled with many examples), so at least get to FI asap if not retire asap.
And one last thought: this makes the second hole in our old neighborhood. The first was a pickleball partner of mine who lived three doors down from us (two doors down from Jim.) He and his wife moved this past winter to be closer to their grandkids. Now with Jim gone as well (and maybe his wife eventually moving) the old neighborhood will not be the same place at all. We left at a good time.
Dad is Sick
If that’s not depressing enough, in May I found out that my biological dad (BD) has pancreatic cancer.
FYI, this is not my dad that lives in The Villages (who is actually my step-dad), but BD lives in Des Moines, Iowa with his wife.
Once the family found out about his diagnosis, several of us talked to him and we agreed on a mini-family reunion near the end of June.
So on June 21 I got on a luxury bus at 5:45 am. It goes from the swanky Brownwood Hotel in The Villages to the Orlando International Airport (cost is only $40). I then flew United (first class) to Chicago and then on to Des Moines.
Over the next four days I had a great time with family including aunts, uncles, and cousins. We did several fun activities plus the mundane stuff like shopping and doctor’s visits. BD was done with chemo treatment 2 of 10 at that point and was in good spirits and fairly energetic.
The Sunday flight back was a nightmare as it included a canceled flight and a five hour delay (waiting for a crew) in my connection city. I had left for the original flight at 8:30 am and arrived back home at our place around 3 am (the next day). Let’s just say I am not a fan of air travel and it will be a long time before I do that again for anything other than an emergency.
Our finances have been up and down the past several months, moving in lock step with the market. We face headwinds in growing our net worth anyway as we’re more focused on giving than we are in growing (we have more than enough). That said, the upward market swing at the end of July really helped! We ended that month with a net worth of $6.6 million which is our all-time high (and twice what we had when I retired).
I invested in a few new real estate syndications in the past several months – all with short-term time frames (12-18 months) and paying out 10% in income (some with end-of-term kickers like 1% to 1.5%). I’m focusing more on short-term deals in land and development and laddering them so they mature at different times. I now have 15 deals total, 10 are long-term (5-7 years) focused on capital appreciation, and five are short-term (12-18 months) focused on income.
So far I’ve only had one syndication put a hold on income payments and a couple others keep payments at a low rate – but no defaults and no cash calls so far (and none anticipated.) We discuss syndication investments a lot in the MMM forums and the experience and guidance there is worth the price of admission by itself (if you’re interested in these sorts of investments).
ESI Money is doing fine, though traffic is down as expected since I moved from three posts per week to two. And it’s going to be down even more as I’ll be moving to one post per week in October of this year. I am still writing more than ever, but the majority of my writing is in the MMM forums. I want to keep a focus on that as well as get my YouTube channel started and I need time to do that (and it’s not coming from my pickleball time! Haha!) So I will have one post a week on ESI Money for awhile. We’ll see how that goes for now and adjust if need be.
I would really love to make it to 400 millionaire interviews. I have 375 sent in and ready to publish, so I just need 25 more! I actually have more than that who have asked for the instructions to submit theirs but they have not sent in their interviews yet. Just remember that if you do an interview and agree to some minimal participation guidelines then you get a free membership into MMM for your contribution. If interested in a millionaire interview (or a retirement interview for that matter), send me an email!
The Millionaire Money Mentors site is going quite well and I am enjoying it immensely. In addition to getting great feedback that has made a world of difference in my finances and life, I have made some really good friends there. It’s certainly been a blessing in more ways than one. I will have one more sale this year (Black Friday) if you want to get in. After that the price will be going up again.
I have to give a shout out to the Florida taxing authorities here in The Villages. They made getting our licenses and car registrations a breeze earlier in the year, then they extended the deadline for the Homestead Exemption which allowed us to get set up for 2023. According to this that will save us about $1,000 a year. In addition, Florida passed some tax cuts (sales taxes and fees) for much of the year which have been quite nice (saves me several dollars every time I order movie tickets online).
We have attended a few financial seminars here in The Villages (as you might imagine, the population here is a goldmine for financial planners). We accept based on the location – if it’s at a restaurant we want to try and the time is convenient, we go. I will probably do a write up at some point of the several we’ve been to down here so stay tuned if you’re interested in that.
As noted above, I have a great retirement life. Much of that is due to the long list of activities I participate in. Here are some highlights of those:
- I’m still working out five times a week – three weights and two cardio. This is down from six per week because…
- I have amped up my pickleball play. We now play six times a week for two hours at a pop. It’s hot in Florida in the summer so we play 8-10 am. When I am done, I am a big, wet mess. But I am getting used to the temperatures and if I ever feel too hot I get the weather report from my wife’s sister in Ft. Worth, Texas where it’s REALLY warm! Hahaha.
- We are back to the movies again as my dad likes them too. Since my last update we have seen the following: Big George Foreman, Nefarious, Fast X, The Flash, Indiana Jones, Mission Impossible, and Oppenheimer. All were seen in the theater at Lake Sumter Landing, the last theater standing in The Villages (there used to be three but Covid and streaming killed two of them).
- We attended several presentations put on by the Villages Homeowners Advocates (VHA) which we joined for $20 for two years (an amazing value). We have been to the following one-hour presentations/seminars: Sumter County Sheriff’s department, Igniting Energy in Retirement, Community Watch, and City of Wildwood (the city we technically live in). They have all been great except for the retirement one. The guy was not retired and knew less about the subject than I do. And he “helps” people in his day job by explaining reverse mortgages to them!! Lol!
- We attended a neighbor’s Memorial Day party, have been to a driveway party or two, and hosted my dad at our house for a grill-out almost every weekend – so we’re getting lots of social time (and we get a massive amount of social activity from pickleball). We have also eaten at a TON of restaurants (mostly with my dad). Willie Jewell’s BBQ remains our favorite but we’re still trying to find a new champion (I do like Brooklyn Water Bagels as well!)
- We met two couples at pickleball who we connected with. They each went to church with us (separate weekends) and out to lunch after that. We also went over to one of their homes for dessert. One was from Canada and they only come down now and then as renters. The others are from Virginia, own a place here, and will be back down in October.
- We had a great lunch with some friends from MMM who live in the area. Actually quite a few members live in Florida so we’re going to have meet-ups every couple of months or so in Central Florida (The Villages and Orlando).
- We’ve been to a few events throughout The Villages like an Arts and Crafts Fair and a few farmer’s markets. But most of that stuff dropped off when the snowbirds went home and the temperatures have gone up. We’ll see if it picks up again in the fall or if we have to wait until January.
- Our cat Zeus celebrated his 4th birthday in June! He’s still a big joy in our lives and loves to rule the house!!!
We are still adding a few rugs and pictures to the house but all the big stuff is done (we do need one more living room chair). As for more long-term/bigger projects, here’s what’s been done/scheduled to be done:
- I got the closet in my office upgraded from the wire mesh these homes come with to a wood set of shelves (three sets filling the closet). They can easily be converted for hanging clothes if we ever decide to turn the room into a bedroom.
- Given how much we liked the office shelves, we green-lighted upgraded shelving in our two bedroom closets. Those will be installed at the end of August and I am really excited to have them in!
- We had gutters installed around the house earlier the year and good thing we did because the heavens frequently open here and let loose a torrent of rain. Lol.
- We have a porch screen with door going in our front entry way in the next few days. This will allow us to open our lanai’s sliding glass door and the house’s front door and get a good cross breeze blowing through in cooler months.
Other than those, we have a few other things we’re considering like a pantry area being built in our kitchen nook area and perhaps some landscaping work done.
Thoughts on The Villages
I have had people ask me all sorts of questions about The Villages and I wanted to share a few of my conclusions with you.
Let’s begin with this question someone had in the MMM forums:
Did you have any culture shock? What is very different in the Villages, Florida than in Colorado. You know, besides the weather.
Here was my response:
Everything is different.
The house is different, our church is different, our friends are different, our activities are different, and on and on and on. But that’s the difference you’d get in moving from X to Y anywhere. And it’s been the biggest difference for me in this move – the lack of familiarity in my daily routine.
The biggest difference (other than weather) is that living in CO was like living in anyplace USA. It was a normal city and had the things a normal city would have (plus the mountains, of course, which are amazing!)
The Villages is like living in a resort. Imagine going to a resort for vacation. What does the resort have (pools, activities, drinks, restaurants, shows, etc.)? Now 100x that and it’s what The Villages has.
I didn’t really put this together until we went to the Hilton “resort” in Orlando and it was a “dump” compared to where we live. Hahahaha.
Now that I’ve had some time to think about it, the two things that stand out to me from the move and the comments above are:
- The move itself and adjusting to everything being new was, by far, the biggest adjustment. In fact, it’s still something I’m adjusting to as everything still feels fairly new – from the locations of things to our daily routines to places like church and the gym and on and on. I won’t really feel “at rest” until all these start to feel familiar. And to repeat myself, this is something I would have experienced no matter where we would have moved. So if you’re thinking of moving anywhere, you may want to consider this adjustment issue – especially if you’re retired (work actually had a way of helping get adjusted to a new place faster in the past.)
- The Villages is like nowhere else. You really can’t get a sense for it reading about the place and watching videos – you MUST come down here. BTW, if you do plan to visit let me know and we can meet for coffee or lunch if you like.
Separately in the MMM forums I posted the following and want to include it here as well:
Three surprises for me so far living in The Villages (TV) (recording them here for posterity):
- How many people still work. How many do? A lot! Maybe that’s a function of living in the newer/younger section of TV but to me I would estimate that at least 25% of the people we know still work.
- How many rental and part-time places there are here. My guess is that MAYBE half the people who live near us are here 100% of the time (it’s probably lower based on my point below). The rest either move between a couple homes or are owners who never come and just rent out their places.
- How quiet it gets in the summer. For example, today we had 11 people at open play pickleball on our courts. In February we had all courts full (24 people) with 15-20 waiting to play. BIG difference. People go home/stop renting in the summer here, and it’s probably something like half (or more) who disappear.
Edit — adding one more: Moving from a place with no rain to a place with tons of it has been an interesting “surprise.” Guess I should have expected that! LOL.
I’ll add a couple more since then – not Villages related but one house focused and the other dealing with Florida:
- Here’s something new: We use all rooms in our house. I am personally in every room in our home every day with the exception of the guest bedroom (which I’m in maybe twice a week when the cat goes in to sit on the bed and I need to pet him). This is very different than our Colorado house where we used half to two-thirds of it and there were WEEKS we went without going into 800 square feet (the basement) or more. I guess that’s the big difference when your house shrinks almost in half!
- The summer in Florida has been much easier to deal with than I expected – and it’s been the hottest year on record. We still get outside every day and play pickleball in the morning before it’s too hot. But the real sign that I’m getting used to the heat is that our thermostat temperature during the day has increased from 73 to 74 to 75. We were just getting too cold at those lower temps! Hahahaha. Who knows how high we’ll go before we stop increasing? And another story from yesterday: I was walking out of the gym and went outside. I thought, “Wow, it seems cool out here.” I looked at my watch and the temperature said “89.” Hahaha.
One of the pains of moving is that you need new doctors.
I had a set of amazing doctors in Colorado and replicating them is going to be hard. Thankfully, my wife is pretty good at locating great docs.
My first try at a new doctor was my dermatologist – and she was AWESOME!!!! I’m linking to her profile here because I would 100% recommend her to anyone. She was much better (and laid back) than “the sun is trying to kill you” doctor I had in Colorado and I’ll be happy to see her again in a year (versus every six months in CO.)
My second try was with my eye doctor – also great and highly recommended. You can find him here.
I have a dentist appointment for the end of August and then just need to find a primary care doctor to do my annual physical.
I could go on with details about retirement, but then this post would be way too long — so I’ll end for now. Any thoughts or questions?