Make a priorities list and start searching #728

#728 in a series of true experiences in real estate

A woman we talked to is planning to sell her house and reduce her living expenses. Now she has to figure out where she’d like to live. Already on her list are several items: A house with quiet green nature all around it, good medical facilities nearby, a house she can afford that she finds attractive.

We had a most interesting time together talking about where would be a good place to go. I said at the top of my list would be no snow, but some snow would be ok with her. Anet said wherever she lived she’d like to be able to get to the ocean within an hour. The woman said she’d been reminded of Solvang and remembered it as charming; maybe she should consider Solvang, but I said I found the highway drive to there quite boring, plus would she want to be within fairly easy shot of a major airport?

She said yes, I was right about the freeway; in fact she’d decided against Santa Rosa because she doesn’t like the upper end of that highway. Anet asked about “through the tunnel” but our new friend didn’t think she could afford a likeable house there.

Every once in awhile someone has a conversation like this with us. One time we talked with friends who would be retiring in the next few years and were wondering where they could move where the property taxes are lower. We looked via computer for someplace in California that would afford lower taxes, and there are places, but none that would make a big enough difference to help them. They would probably have to move out of state.

What an interesting subject this turns out to be. I haven’t thought of moving out of this area myself but I find that I am thinking all the time about where these people might go. And what the criteria might be if I were going to go somewhere else.

We suggested that making a longer list of priorities would help, also a list of things she knows she can give up. For example, a client of ours sold her house in Oakland, then used the cash to buy in Mendocino. The numbers worked for her and she had done her search for where she wanted to go over a number of years. She had stayed many times in the area, sometimes with family going along with her, before making moving to Mendocino her goal.

Maybe that’s the best way – go, stay. Best would be go several times, maybe for an entire summer or even a year before deciding. Check out the people, the grocery, recreation, car mechanic, dentist – everything you would want or need available to you if you lived there.

Why do people live where they live? They were born there and never left. Or they left but they missed it and moved back. They think it’s a good place to raise kids. They have a job there. They have friends there.

Some of these matter less or not at all when people are older, children are grown and sometimes living somewhere else; people are retired or cutting back on work, or they can work from anywhere. And especially if they are now living alone and the home they live in is too large for their needs anymore, plus maintenance of house and garden intrusive and expensive, what then?

The woman who we talked to probably won’t move out of state but she won’t stay in Berkeley. She’s looking for a setting that provides her the peace her current trees and outlooks give her and that is going to limit where she will go. Maybe Sonoma or Napa, if the numbers work out. We haven’t discussed yet how much cash will be needed to buy elsewhere because the “elsewhere” hasn’t been chosen, even tentatively.

What if she does explore a place that seems promising, then visits and likes it, sells and moves, then finds it’s not what she wanted after all? This does happen. I suppose she’d do it all over again – make a want list, search and visit as much as she had time and will for, and start again.

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