Reflections 7 Weeks After Selling Our Home and Moving into a 55+ Rental Community  

In my March 10 column (read it at www.JimSmithColumns.com), I announced that Rita and I had decided to sell our Golden home and become renters for the first time in 50 or so years for both of us. A year ago, I could not have predicted such a decision so early in our youthful 70s. I thought you’d like to know how that has worked out for us, in case I got you thinking about a similar move yourself.

Our reasoning was simple. We felt that our home, which we could (and did) sell for 2½ times what we paid for it ten years ago, was unlikely to keep appreciating, and the money we would pocket from selling could more than support us for the rest of our lives. Since I’ll continue making a good income as a Realtor for several more years, we could pay all our living expenses without touching the principal, which we have since invested half in equity stocks and half in a Transamerica annuity with downside protection. (Ask me if you’d like references to our two advisors.)

Zillow and other valuation models show our former home continuing to appreciate, which is good news for our buyer, but it’s hard to predict how much longer that will be true.  I feel we may be at or near the peak of the market. The experience with other listings in the past month suggests that, yes, the market is softening, triggered primarily by the rapid rise in mortgage rates.

So, are Rita and I happy in our new 2-bedroom/2-bath rental? The answer is a qualified “yes.” It definitely was an exercise in “letting go” to move from a 2,639-sq.-ft. home with its 3-car garage and its 2,281-sq.-ft. basement full of “stuff” into our 1,096-sq.-ft. apartment.  I made countless trips to Goodwill, plus targeted donations elsewhere. We gave three unused bicycles plus accessories to the Golden Optimists’ Bicycle Recycle program, gave our gas generator to a Habitat for Humanity group, gave our air compressor to our handyman who uses it to blow out sprinkler systems, and, most helpful of all, included virtually all our furniture in the sale of our home.

It was, in short, quite a process of letting go, not just of miscellaneous possessions accumulated over the years, but also of family heirlooms which had been passed down over the years from our two families.

We had boxes and boxes of artifacts and papers in our basement which we spent many hours culling, recycling most of it. (I didn’t quite finish and have a few boxes in storage that I will get to “sometime.”)

Yes, we rented storage space — both a long-term unit at Public Storage and two small cages in our apartment building a short distance from our apartment for short-term storage — stuff that might otherwise go in a pantry or closet if we had a larger unit.

Long before we had decided to sell and downsize, Rita and I had purchased a week-long cruise of the Mediterranean, which began three weeks after our move into the apartment. We had barely settled in by that time, and the cruise allowed us to experience living in 200 square feet for long enough to make our 1,096-sq.-ft. apartment feel rather spacious when we returned.

As I write this, another 16 days have passed, and we are finally settled in and enjoying our new digs. We spend a lot of time on our south-facing balcony with its view of Green Mountain and the foothills. We watch less TV, having “cut the cord” and subscribed to YouTube TV. We watch much less news and more Netflix movies and programs.

We are also beginning to take advantage of the many programs at Avenida Lakewood, although the press of business is keeping me from taking the yoga and fitness classes which are offered. Shown here is a picture of the sign in our elevator listing the various facilities in the building, to give you an idea of what’s offered. A recent census reported by our community manager said that 70% of the 266 residents in Avenida’s 207 occupied apartments have participated in 9 or more activities, and that 57% of February’s programs were created and led by a resident. There were 314 programs on the March calendar.  Talk about “active living”!

Continental breakfast is served daily except Sunday on the main floor and is one of many opportunities to meet fellow residents. Being on the 4th floor, we also meet people in the elevator, and everyone is super friendly. Residents don’t pass each other, indoors or on the sidewalk, without saying “hello.” This is a contrast from our single-family subdivision, where there were few opportunities to meet our neighbors. I already know more neighbors in this building than I knew in that subdivision.

Rita has made use of the full-service salon, where I have already had a haircut. Rita joined a card game and a Mahjong group, meeting additional neighbors that way. I attended the men’s group where we discussed possible events. I will be driving up Mt. Evans with some of the men after that road opens.

At this time, 95% of the apartments at Avenida Lakewood have been leased. (It was only opened in the summer of 2019.) Soon they will start creating a waiting list. Call me if you’d like to know more or be introduced to the sales staff. Don’t call me if you smoke, however. It’s not permitted anywhere in the building or on the grounds — even within your apartment or on your balcony.

In conclusion, Rita and I feel that we made the right decision. Thanks to the nest egg we created by selling our home, plus Medicare and our long-term care policies, we feel that our future is secure and we can even splurge on more vacations.

I don’t know how many communities there are like Avenida, which charges rent with no “buy-in” that would tie up capital that could otherwise be producing income. Jenn Gomer of CarePatrol told us about Avenida and we didn’t look further. I recommend calling her at 720-788-2364 if you want to know other options.

For Rita and me, we like the flexibility of our one-year lease which gives us the freedom to stay or move a year from now.