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This Week in Elder News: 26 January 2008

Why Do You Live Where You Do?

category_bug_journal2.gif Tech guru extraordinaire, Chris Pirillo, and his wife Ponzi recently spent some time in Hawaii. Chris returned home to Seattle with five reasons he would not want to live in Hawaii. (“Nice place to visit, but…”) You can watch the video below (5:31 minutes) or read his reasons here.

When I was forced to leave Manhattan two years ago, I didn’t have a specific destination in mind, but I did have criteria:

  • I don’t like hot weather, I particularly don’t like deserts and I like four definitive seasons, so the entire southern half of the United States could be eliminated
  • I like an ocean nearby, so I didn’t need to consider the upper middle of the U.S.
  • I’m a city girl, so my choices were easily winnowed down to Seattle, Boston and the two Portlands - Maine and Oregon
  • Other people would disagree, but for me Seattle and Boston have all the disadvantages of big cities and few of the advantages
  • I figured I had a better chance of getting New York friends to visit me in Maine than Oregon

That last item was a mistake, but that’s a story for another day.

Time Goes By readers are scattered all over the world. Some of you have lived in the same place all your lives. Others have chosen new hometowns either during your working lives or in retirement. A few lucky people have two homes and split their time between them.

What about you? How did you make your choice about where to live?

By the way, I found Chris Pirillo’s five reasons for not wanting to live in Hawaii through his Lockergnome newsletter which he publishes several times a week. I’ve subscribed for almost as long as it has existed (ten years or more?) and it is packed not only with tech tips, but an amazing amount of good information, advice and links on just about any aspect of living. You too can subscribe for free by sending an email to

Some of Chris’s tech tips are too geeky for me to understand, but there is so much of everything else that it is an enormously valuable newsletter.

[At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Dorothy recalls a strong presence from her childhood in Memories of My Gram.]


You don't want me to answer that question, Ronni.

Ronni have lost my response twice on this 10 degree morning in Nashville. Will try once again.
I was born in Nashville to teenage parents. No work in this area as it was the end of the depression. My parents relocated to Detroit and worked in automotive factories and I was raised in apartment buildings. I hated it.
My fondest memories are of my beloved grandmother coming summers to take me back to Nashville to her home. I never wanted to leave. She had a beautiful home, yard and flower beds. My parents family were also in Nashville area.
I married at 20 and had 2 children immediately. My parents moved back to Nashville. On a trip to Nashville my husband consented to relocate for a short time.
The rest is history. A business opportunity and it thrived. Two more children and a 22 year marriage ended.
I bought a 100 year old farm home and farm. Oh how I loved it. Children grew up and moved to Nashville and I began to feel so isolated.
So in the last year I found a lot and built my cottage.
I sketched my floor plan and drove up and down the road daily to supervise building.
So now 6 months in my new home and becoming rested I am thinking
"what now".
I have always had a project and my only one now is to create a beautiful garden on my small lot this Spring.
So I dream of the ocean, a good book, fresh seafood and early to bed and early to rise.
What I would like no longer exsist
High rise hotels have taken over where small ocean side motels use to be.
I have never traveled alone.
So at the moment my son is in Thailand, a young lady from the Netherlands is staying in his home across the street, a daughter in Mass. and a soninlaw in Florida on business. So I guess I will travel through them.
Have a great day

I live on the Florida Suncoast because of the Winter of '78-'79 when I lived in Chicago. It just didn't seem right that it was a struggle just to survive each day.

I wrote about it a few years ago,


I was born and lived the first 36 years of my life in Colorado Springs. To be technically honest, the last year of that time was in Pueblo, Colorado, but still in the same state.
The year in Pueblo is the reason I (we)moved to Arizona. My husband bought a radio station in Pueblo and it was not a successful venture. During that year we took a vacation in Arizona and, unlike you, Ronni, I fell in love with the desert. There is no middle ground in emotions that the desert evokes - love it or hate it. Losing the station was devastating for us and we needed a fresh start so we chose Arizona. You can view mountains on four sides of Tucson and, although they don't have the grandeur of Pikes Peak, they keep me from missing it.
If you read my story on the Nor'Easter you know we also spent a few years in Massachusetts. But that's another story.

I'm sorry that your NYC friends don't make it to Portland, Ronni; but, I find that even though we live only 20 miles apart, our "local" daughter and granddaughter and I make the effort to get together but a couple of times each year. How much more could one expect with friends? Emails and blogging, however, provide a means of keeping in touch--even with family who live at a great distance (our "non-local" daughter, for instance!)

Of all the places that I've lived and/or worked (MO, TX, OK, KS, WA, PA, CA, FL, NM), I, like Darlene, found that I prefer the desert. (Was it a Freudian slip that I first input "dessert"?) Were it not for Hunky Husband, I would still be in Albuquerque.


I didn't really choose where to live,I was born in Philadelphia. BUT, as adults my husband and I decided that it was a very good place to live.

We chose the house we still live in because of it's proximity to the city but with a wonderful suburban
school system.

We can leave our house and be walking down Broadway in about 2 hours(90 miles). OR, we can be staring stupidly at a slot machine or splashing in the ocean at Atlantic City in under two hours (60 miles).OR, we can be walking through the Gem Room at the Smithsonian in about 3 hours (140 miles),OR sitting at Harbor Place in Baltimore eating fresh crab in 2 hours (60 miles)

This is why I agree with Chris Pirillo so much. How could we live on an island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean and have so few choices of places to visit?

And, every place I mentioned has wonderful Amtrak service so you don't really need a car. You can go to Pennsylvania Station 30th St. and look at the big board and you will see every major city in the Northeast Corridor listed, with a train leaving within the hour.

So, anyone who is trying to decide where to live should visit historic Philadelphia and look around...

Cop Car:

I wrote that badly. I didn't mean that friends from New York don't visit. I have a string of houseguests through the year.

What I did mean is that for other reasons entirely, I should have chosen Oregon.

I didn't choose to live in Pittsburgh. In fact, until I understood I would move here, I never gave a second thought to Pittsburgh. In 1997, I chose to sell my house, divorce my husband of 42 years, and leave Chicago, where I had lived most of my life, all of which I never dreamt would happen. I chose to move to the east coast to be near my only child and her family. I got an apartment as close to New York City as I could afford, worked 5+ years for Reader's Digest, then retired and spent most of the next two years happily exploring New York.

My daughter's family moved several times; first from Chicago to Philadelphia with a year in Papua New Guinea, then up the coast to New Brunswick, finally to Teaneck, New Jersey. After my first grandchild arrived, I made it my business to visit about every second month. Flying was a much simpler procedure then. I loved being with the kids; I enjoyed exploring Philadelphia, and loved being able to spend time in New York. My son-in-law became a professor at Columbia, everyone seemed happy and I was sure they would finally remain in one place.

Two years ago, Steve went to an academic conference and received three job invitations. After exploring all three, and for many good reasons, he decided to move to Pittsburgh. I really didn't know what to do. If my apartment had been in Manhattan, I never would have moved. From my point of view, Manhattan is the ideal place to be retired. But I couldn't afford an apartment in Manhattan. I thought about moving back to Chicago. That didn't seem to work for me. I wanted to get out of the apartment in Fort Lee. I was almost on top of the George Washington Bridge. It was good while I was working; I crossed the bridge before six every morning, then had an easy drive up to "Pleasantville." After I retired the daily traffic problems began to wear on me; I was thinking of moving to Englewood, still convenient to New York, but much less congested.

With all that in mind, I decided to go with my family to Pittsburgh, which turned out to be much better than I expected. I am happily taking classes at University of Pittsburgh; there are beautiful places to walk; occasionally friends from Chicago or New York come to visit. And it's halfway between, so I get back to both places often.

This topic is fascinating to me because, for the first time in many, many years, I am thinking semi-seriously about whether I'd like to live somewhere other than where I live now.

I was born and raised in Buffalo and -- like most everyone who could/had to over the last 50 years -- left young. I went to college in California. After some experiments in living various places in the east including New York City, California stuck over 30 years ago.

Now it looks as if my partner and I might someday have the option of living in New England. When I opted for California as a young adult, New England felt cramped -- almost as if I couldn't stand up straight there. This despite my love of its boulder-filled mountains and second growth hardwood forests, all so much older and yet more approachable than the West Coast's grandeur.

But now we may think about it. Not for some years as we have jobs and ties here, but the option may come and I can imagine it.

BTW, I love deserts, but that doesn't seem to be on the menu.

My points would be:

1. not in location where its economy is dependent on tourism.

2. near water because that usually indicates a mixed culture and tendency for the residents to accept outsiders into their midst.

3. if possible a strong dense infrastructure of people, education, commerce, businesses, medical facilities all within reach by foot or bicycle.

4. good access to fast and reliable public transport.

5. no bars on the windows, no gaurd at the gate, no security systems to program the moment going outdoors.

Considering where I am in my life, this is a great question to ponder. I live in Oregon where I was born and not more than 150 miles from where I grew up. I have lived in Tucson, Arizona and currently do have a second home there but the place that I most would like to still be living is where I grew up. My parents sold it when I was in my teens. I used to dream I bought it as an adult, but it has been subsequently subdivided into little ranchettes. So I can't go home but haven't quite found that place that speaks to my soul as it did.

I have the following quote in front of my journal and am right now looking for what it describes to finish out my days. It will be in the Northwest and no farther east than Montana. I do believe I will know it when I see it because it will speak to my soul.

"Where we choose to be-- we have that power to determine our lives. We cannot reel time backward or forward, but we can take ourselves to the place that defines our being." Sena Jeter Naslund

I am enjoying reading the comments and all the various reasons.

I was a native Long Islander until my very late 40's - then relo'd to Southeastern PA.

PA has not agreed well to a Long Islander used to living on an island - water everywhere so to say. After giving this a longer than wanted try - I am looking forward to moving to New Jersey.

For me, NJ has everything - small state , the Shore, living history - mountains - good road system and closer to NY. The River towns on the Northwestern section of the State is where I am looking.

I too have probably written about my decision to live where I do.

I lived in New York City for almost 40 years, not ever really by choice. I came at 21 for a job and a boyfriend, shed the boyfriend quickly and the job after a few years (to go freelance), my fourth apartment fit me like a snail's shell with a skylight, events transpired and I stayed, gradually developing a fierce love-hate attachment to the place (which only deepened after 9/11). If I had chosen a place to live when I was still young and rootless, it probably would have been the Santa Fe, NM area -- unlike Ronni and like Darlene, I'm in love with the desert.

For the time being I live in Chapel Hill, NC, a calculated decision anticipated for some years as my husband got sicker and it became clear our days in a walk-up were numbered. Bottom line, we have a young (36) friend here in our karate organization who doesn't have children, therefore is freer to be leaned on, has a spiritual commitment to Jacques, and needs certain things from us in turn. (That's why I moved us near him instead of a member of my family.)
It's a bonus that we have a ground floor apartment, quiet, pretty, low-stress surroundings, and are walking/wheelchair distance from almost everything we need.

This is such a timely topic for me.

I have never made the choice of where to live. I was raised in Arkansas and got my college degree less than 100 miles from home. I met and married my husband there.

Hubby was offered a very good job in San Antonio so we moved here 27 years ago. It didn't really seem like a 'choice' considering the huge increase in salary.

Hubby is 20 years older than I and in poor health. He doesn't want to move, so again I, realistically, have no choice.

But in the not-so-distant future I will have the choice of where I want to live. I've started reading magazine articles on 'the best places to retire to' and making a list of what I want in my world.

At the top of my list is 'four seasons'. I do like the changes in climate during the year.

We moved here 38 1/2 years ago because of Mr. kenju's work. We have stayed here for that time because we love it. Business is nearly always booming, there are over 7 colleges and universities in or near this city, and it is a great place to raise children. We have been on many "best places to live" lists over the last 10 years, and now we are beginning to reap the "benefits" of that. Over 80 people move here everyday, and have for several years. Our traffic is abominable and taxes are raising at an alarming rate. We still like it here, but we may be forced to leave for smaller quarters, and to another county where the pace of life is a little slower. It's time.

After reading the comments I would like to offer something to think about for those who are looking for their final retirement locale. Basically, I would like to say, "It doesn't get better." and the things you can do today may not be possible as you age. Driving may no longer be an option, cold weather my hurt your joints more, snow will be impossible to deal with unless you are financially able to hire everything done.

Being in a University town (as am I) is a plus in many ways and being near good health facilities becomes more important. Just be sure you factor these things in your plans and if they are no problem for you then, by all means, go for that snowy northern clime.

P. S. It's 70 degrees here today and in thirty minutes I could be skiing on Mt. Lemmon, thirty minutes away. That is, if I could ski. ;)

What's your weather like where you are today?

When I retired, my personal situation was such that I had the freedom to live nearly anywhere I chose. The lifestyle I wanted in retirement was basically the one I had before retirement, but without having to commute to work every day and keep to a schedule set by someone else. I also like tolerance and diversity (diversity in the broadest sense,encompassing race, political views, lifestyles, climate, you name it). I also like large cities, with nice places to walk and a variety of good restaurants and major league sports. And nearby excellent medical facilities are becoming more of a necessity as the years pass.

So after visiting and considering various places in the US (and a few abroad), in the end I decided to stay in Minneapolis, where I've been since 1970. It has all the things I want, plus the advantage of familiar friends nearby. (Being pretty much a recluse, I don't have many friends, but I'm close to the ones I do have.) The major drawback is the weather, which can be severe in winter; but as a retiree I can just stay indoors when it's really cold or snowing (it's OK if you don't have to drive in it, so what's the problem?)

The one place that could tempt me away is San Francisco: in addition to its diversity and the other things I mentioned, the shopping, dining (and wining) options are as good as it gets. Problem is, I can't afford to live there, so I'll just have to content myself with visiting when I can.

There I was at 22, pregnant, just out of the Army, and heading to live in Hollywood. I told my ex that I was ok in LA, but I never wanted to go back to San Diego and especially not my home town on the fringes. Within two years this husband, soon to be an ex, had moved me and two kids to the fringes, and there I was for six more very unliberated years. Eventually I escaped to the sea and found a new home.

This is a timely question for me, too. Like some of your other readers here, I have never chosen where I live. I went from living at home to being married, and I followed my husband around the country to wherever the best positions were. We finally landed here in the midwest, in a medium-sized college town where I have become very content.

Problem is, now that retirement is near he wants to move way out into the country, far from the conveniences and attractions I enjoy. Though I always wanted a country place, this seems like a foolish move at this point in our lives.

Now that I finally do have a choice in where to live, I really don't know what to do with it.

As are most of your questions, this is very thought-provoking and timely; I’ve been pondering it for months and now all afternoon.

I was born and raised in a small central Pennsylvania village. I moved to New York City and lived there for 4 ½ year until I met and fell madly in love with a Canadian man. We were married 8 weeks after we met and subsequently moved to Canada. I never really contemplated anything other than us returning to rural Pennsylvania after retirement. Alas, after 33 years, the inevitable happened and our marriage dissolved. I am now contemplating retirement and find myself free to live any damn place I choose.

I have never been able to acclimatize myself to the bitterly cold Canadian winters and snow that lasts forever. The excitement of New York City grabbed me and held me and makes me long for her even now. While the winters make me want to leave, and New York City and Pennsylvania hold a special place in my heart, the wonderful friends that mean so much to me hold me here. I have no children, my parents are both gone and I have a brother, with whom I have very little in common, that I see once every two or three years. I have a wonderful family of friends here that I exercise daily with, enjoy social gatherings and city events with, and essentially share my life with. They run the gamut of ages: 3 to 85 years of age. They have become part of what makes my life…... an enjoyable, satisfying and fulfilling life. They are significant in my life, and I in theirs.

Therefore, while I would have never believed that other people would have such a powerful influence on my destiny and where I live, friends hold me here and will continue to do so.

I was born in Salt Lake City, UT which is a valley at the foot of beautiful mountains. It's a desert climate with very dry air.

At 20 degrees in the winter I can still run out barefoot in the snow to get the mail (very quickly, but the cold isn't bone chilling.) Even after a huge snowstorm, the sun comes out and the snow sparkles.

Our summers are hot (between 90-100) and dry, but it isn't as hot as 80 degrees with humidity. The nights are always pleasant. It hardly ever rains during the summer.

Spring is beautiful, but short, and fall starts in September and lasts until Thanksgiving.

We lived in Austria for a year, England for a year, and California, PA, and Denver, and loved those places. We've traveled around the world, and visit our kids in four other states, but we love our mountains. I didn't appreciate how awesome our weather is until I'd experienced humidity, gloomy winters, and rain for months on end. So we'll live in Utah and travel to the other places.

Some cities I've visited often and would like to live in, even for just a few months: San Francisco, NYC, Paris, London, and San Diego.

Hey, Mage, I like San Diego! ;^)

We moved here 25 years ago because it was an hour by plane from Phoenix and 7 hours driving - close enough to get back to our folks if we needed to and far enough away they couldn't bug us. My parents are gone now but my sister and nephew are still there, and the same rule applies to them. Hubby's parents are in Tucson with his sister now - again we can visit easily if we want or need to. Plus we loved the climate and the diving in San Diego.

I don't dive anymore but my younger son was certified last year, and we went to Hawaii as his high school graduation present. Lovely to visit, wouldn't want to live there, though. Even though the diving and snorkeling is awesome.

San Diego has gotten too big and crowded and expensive for me, and I'm looking for a nice place now to start my golden retriever ranch where I can raise and train service dogs. But that is a bit down the road, even though I hope it is where I'm headed....

I'm not living where I always thought i would in retirement but I really like where we have chosen to live in retirement.
I was born in Portland, Oregon and while my Dad was in the Army from 1941 to 1945 my Mother and I lived with her parents in Pendleton, Or. which is high desert country. After Dad returned we went back to the logging camp in the Coast Ranges about 9 miles on a dirt road from Highway 26 on the way to Seaside. We were snowed in the winter of 48/49 and my sister was sick. After we were connected to the outside world again we moved to the sawmill town of Vernonia also in the Coast Ranges.
I met my husband while I was a student at Oregon State dropped out of college and got married. My husband had lived in Hawaii from age 12 to 18 and did not want to move back there after graduation. We moved to Alberta Canada where I never got used to the cold. From there we moved to Vancouver, BC which is a wonderful city but my husband wanted to return to Wisconsin where he had lived as a child. I always thought we would stay a few years and then move back to the Pacific Northwest. Decision by decision we stayed there until we retired.

We knew we did not want to stay in Wisconsin primarily because of the winter weather. We lived full time in our motorhome and travelled for over 10 years. Everywhere we stayed I would evaluate how I would like to settle down there. I researched the best states and places to live in retirement. I had a list of desirable qualities. I wanted a city with a good library system, good medical care, public transportation, preferably a University town. I wanted diversity in the population and a lower than average cost of living plus in the mild winters.

We stayed in Tucson two winters in our motorhome in an RV park and decided that this was where we would move. We almost had to stay in Wisconsin because my husbands health disintegrated rapidly in 2006 and we thought we might not be able to make the move. I never felt that I put down roots in the midwest even after 40 years. I wanted to be in the west.

If I want a forrest I can go up Mt. Lemmon or Kitt Peak or the other mountain ranges and see evergreens. My granddaughter noted on our trip to Kitt Peak that "it looks like Washington here."

Hi Ronni

I have lived in many places including Europe and for a short while as a child, Japan. Living overseas was one of the best ways I learned to be a very proud and grateful American.

Since marrying my husband in 1983 I have lived in OK, KS, NM, FL (two cities), NC, NY, NJ (two cities) PA, and now we are in TX.

We always said if we had a choice we would choose Austin Texas, and finally we were given the choice and here we are I LOVE IT.

Texans are fiercely independent and proud of their history and heritage. Its my kind of place.

Austin has more restaurants per capita than any other American city. (A foodie's paradise) It has a dynamic art and music community. It is THE live music capital of the WORLD and with SXSW and Austin City Limits and the movies that are made here and the movie stars that live here, there is no shortage of entertainment.

I love the beautiful Texas Hill country, it is wild and wooley out here still and on my little ranch I must still watch out for rattlesnakes as I care for my horses.

I think what I love most is the diversity here, I can see a symphony or a ballet as easily as I can see a rodeo or go to a honky tonk.

The only thing I miss is a vivid color change of trees in the fall maybe...and one little snowfall a year. I am very pleased not to ever have to shovel that white stuff!

Hi Ronni,

I'm sitting in a Holiday Inn lobby in Austin Tx. waiting for a 1PM meeting that I had been notified started at 11AM. This fits. One of my retirement visions is sitting in a hotel lobby and surviving something like that guy in the movie that got stranded at an airport terminal.
Why Texas? In a word...Children. On the day of the 9/11 attacks, my wife and I were planning to meet with the supervisor at our agency branch in Bowling Green, Ohio. As news unfolded on TV, we cut our business plans short and jumped back on I-75 to drive about an hour south to our home. The radio news made my mind swirl. We turned it off. I still remember seeing truckers and drivers on the interstate. We wondered what they were thinking and where they were going. At that point in time, both our children lived in the Austin area. On that beautiful September day, I had this overpowering urge to simply stay on I-75 heading south to be with the kids. That was the first pull south. The second one came in 2004. My wife's older sister passed away after a brief illness. We pondered what was really important in life. The night we came back from her funeral, we sat at the kitchen table and without a word decided to move to Texas near the kids. At the time, we had a house in Ohio, a condo in San Antonio and were building a second condo in the area we served with our health care agency in N/W Ohio. That night we made the costly decision to pull out of our condo under construction, and began the process to sell our house and our business. Finally having completed those tasks by the end of 2006, we moved permanently to the condo in San Antonio.
We love it here! We see the kids frequently but we all manage to not meddle in each other's lives. The heat turned out to be a non-issue. The seasons are lovely. The summer I enjoyed in Ohio is twice as long here. The rest of the year is like fall rolling right into spring. We love the hill country and frequently make weekend get aways. Last night we spent in "Marble Falls" and woke up to see the sun break through the fog and mist on Lake LBJ outside our window.
So that is why we are here! Our only regret on the locale in San Antonio is that traffic and road construction here can drive one batty.

PS...we met at SXSW two years ago.
I enjoy reading your blog..please keep in touch that way.

Dan Goetz

I live here because it's where all my stuff is.

I was born in England. My parents decided to move to Canada when I was eight. I grew up on Vancouver Island, and migrated to Vancouver as soon as I finished high school. I loved Vancouver, except for that 300" of rain a year. One summer, some intrepid travellers from the US came to visit, and I followed one of them back to Texas; from there to Indiana, Illinois, and, again, to Texas, where we finally lit.

Of course my children are here, but they are always telling me of nebulous plans to move elsewhere--Edinburgh, Colorado, London, Iowa...

I expect I shall stay here, though I do miss Autumn colour. I spend my summers ducking from shade patch to shade patch, but I have lived in this town for 30 years, and can't really see starting over somewhere else.

When Jim was alive, we had made nebulous plans of our own to maybe move to Virginia when he retired, but I can't see doing that on my own.

Can you tell I'm sort of up in the air about this? LOL!

What's apparent here....marriage for "women" is no democracy.....You marry, you live his life...not yours....I found that more undesirable than the desert...LOL....

Currently I live in WA state and moved here from HI, needed to get used to cold weather again.

Well, I'm about 3 months away from leaving WA because I hate the depressing '3 weeks of sun light, spread over 4 months and not on consecutive days' they have here, among other things.

I lived in HI for 30 years, so that may have something to do with it because it was more friendly than I've found living on the mainland, the people had a better sense of who they were and what makes life worth living and the 'stuff' the mainland has was dealt with rapidly.

Now I'm looking for a new spot for adventure - Anchorage, Boulder, West Virginia...someplace with more trees than people and the people have home training would work!

Love this topic!
I was born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland and no one in my family ever left there. I ended up in NJ as a result of my husband's job, and stayed there because of the kids after we divorced. I remarried a few years ago, and after my folks passed and the kids left for college, my new husband and I took a belated honeymoon to Sedona, Arizona. I never thought in a million years that I'd want to leave the east coast and ocean, but Sedona called to us powerfully. Being in the "high desert", we do have 4 seasons but it's too hot for us here in the summer. We found a little place in the Blue Ridge Mountains in Brevard, NC and spend the hottest months there. That place also gives us a jumping off point to visit family farther north.
If you possibly can, I'd say to go where your heart leads you.

After retirement, I immediately made plans to move from Washington DC to San Diego, CA, where I spent most of my childhood and where my brother and family currently live. I was so happy to be back in sunny California, but after 2 and 1/2 years in San Diego, I made a second move to Tempe, AZ to live with my sister in her wonderful home. Why? San Diego turned out not to be the paradise I thought it would be. The cost of living is extremely high, and it is a huge, crowded city full of traffic jams. Also, I could not have any pets in my expensive apartment, and I became lonely. Having previously lived in Arizona for 15 years, returning to the Grand Canyon State was like coming "home". It is also great to live with my sister in our large art-filled home compared to a stale apartment, and we now have two rescued retired racing greyhounds, whom we thoroughly enjoy. We just returned from a few days "vacation" in Sedona, and I could not be happier. My "second" retirement move has turned out to be the winner. So if you are disappointed in your first choice for a place to retire, remember there is always another that may be much better for you!

The day I turned 62 I applied for Social Security and then took my 7 yr old, 2nd grader, to a pond in the woods to ice skate. I live today in the same house I bought in 1977, but over the decades I freely left and returned for weeks,months/years depending on where I worked or where love/life led/drove me. My house is an hour's drive from my (recently dead) father (too far to drop in, close enough to visit when you call ahead). In his house, which he built 60 years ago, his sculpture studio and kids were for the last 80 years of his 95 the hub of his universe. Cambridge, MA is a glorious hodgepodge of races, classes,ages, nationalities, cultural origins, gender/sexual preferences/identities. Weird families here are heterosexual couples who met in college, married, had biological children that look like them, and are still together. Here lefty politics mostly apply outside town lines (Al Gore & George McGovern) and righty poltics locally. Cultural and national events happen within a walk, bike, or a subway ride along with huge vote for/against-with-your-feet rallies and 21st century flashmobs. The sky is still mostly blue, leaves turn in autumn, it still snows sometimes, spring comes every year (for 1 week or 1 month), summers you sweat, and the local Haitian radio station mumbles melodically in Creole in the taxis. There is an international airport that both giveth and taketh away. You can get to the ocean, the country, the salt marshes in 20 minutes and to the mountains in 30-45. You can get the BBC (not just the news either) on the radio and you can spin the dial for jazz and classical music and college-kid music and old/new folk music along with the foulest rap and talk radio. On weekends you can tune in to "This Week in Palestine" and "Hillbilly at Harvard" or Sean "Hannity's America". It's a great place to live and to raise children and to grow old. I won't calcify too fast here. At 45 I became the proud working mother of a 12-month-old infant; 9 years later our twosome together brought home a toddler aged 29 months to round out the family complete with Airedale terrier, fish, a turtle, 2 cats, and 1 grandpa. 2 years after that, working since age 18 and single parent by choice to a middle schooler and a preschooler, I was downsized and became downwardly mobile faster than an Adelie Penguin walking on broken ice floes. Like Ronni, I swiftly learned that no one hires grandma, especially when she has 2 school-age children at home! So, retirement? I have one foot in teenage country, another in middle childhood while straddling my old age. I juggle work proposals and dog walks and grub for bucks on my laptop while feeding off a disappearing IRA account. I suck up our 5-figure annual family health premiums. (Massachusetts universal health coverage? HA HA. Don't even ask.) I spent about 3 years very recently yo-yoing between living anxiously in the future and resentfully in the past until I reclaimed my life, restored my sanity, filed & paid 5 years of back taxes, paid down the credit cards, learned how close I could skate in any billing cycle to foreclosure or no utilities (water cold? no telephone ringing? opps) without getting 100% gonged. All that scrambling and excitement must have fired up my nerve. The kids, the dog, the public schools, rock-solid friends and strangers kept me irretrievably in the here and now of my own making, like a cat or a teenager. At last I live-- for now-- where family rules and every day, whatever it brings, is brand-new.

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