Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Stay or Go?

Hi Bill

A few months ago Pat and I watched the movie ‘Five Flights Up’ starring Diane Keaton and Morgan Freeman. IMDb describes the plot of this quirky movie as: “A long-time married couple who've spent their lives together in the same New York apartment become overwhelmed by personal and real estate-related issues when they plan to move away.” After decades of life in this “walk-up” (no elevator) fifth-floor apartment, they and their aging dog struggle getting up (and down) the stairs and they begin looking to move. It’s a storyline that I think resonates in people around our age.

Pat and I liked this movie very much.

You may remember that, nearly 15 years ago Pat and I moved from the Brookings area to a small town about a half hour from Sioux Falls. Pat had been working for the College of Nursing at South Dakota State University and she had accepted a new SDSU position on the Sioux Falls campus. We sold the large house that we had built near Brookings and bought a smaller house on a cul-de-sac in our idyllic little town. I continued working on the main campus in Brookings and made the 40-minute commute to campus and 40-minute commute back home. We landed in “Our Little Town” because I didn’t want to add another 30 minutes or more each way to my daily commute.

I know you have never visited us since we moved here, but you have heard us talk about our house and we have sent you photos. Our house has three-bedrooms and provides a walkout from our family room to the backyard. The family room is large enough to accommodate my pool table and a comfortable TV/entertainment area. We have had extensive work done on the house over the years, including seamless steel siding, a kitchen remodel, beautiful landscaping by our son-in-law, two new roofs (thanks to hail storms) and a fenced area in our backyard where our three little dogs can run, play and bark.

Our house sits on a large lot adjacent to Rocky Run Golf Course. Our back yard leads directly to the tee for the fourth fairway, which extends straight away from our property. Therefore we don’t need to worry about inept golfers who might accidently ding our house with their pathetic golf swings. I think you know that I am not a golfer, but we walk our dogs on the golf course and we think of it as our own park. Of course we stay away from the golfers and clean up after the dogs when we walk.

When we first moved to South Dakota, back in 1983, we explored the area including our town and we were very impressed with it. We thought it was very charming with the Big Sioux River running through it and a very nice city park along the river.  Back then, we thought it would be a great place to live. However, at that time I did not want to commute to work, especially during SD winters, so we settled in the Brookings area.

However in 2001, Pat’s new job in Sioux Falls precipitated our move to “Our Little Town” – the one that we had thought would be a nice place to live when we first moved to SD. Pat and I both became commuters and it was mostly okay, except during South Dakota winter snow/ice/blizzard events and highway construction projects, etc.

Soon after we moved here, we began thinking of our life as a “Life in Paradise.” Our town has pretty much everything we need including a small hospital, a medical clinic, stores that provide the necessities, a great vintage movie theatre, and some decent restaurants, fast food, etc.

However, lately we are questioning whether we should move to Sioux Falls. Our daughter lives in the city and she would like us to move there, where it would be easier for us to get together with her. She would also be more available to help us during times of need. The half-hour drive to the big city is really not a big deal, but there are times when making that drive is not easy and/or possible due to weather. In addition, we aren’t getting any younger and keeping our property under control and in good condition is not going to get easier as we get older. Also at some point in time, health problems may necessitate that we move to the city.

In addition, while we have many friendly acquaintances, we really don’t have any close friends in “Our Little Town,” which is probably typical for outsiders who move to small towns. However, that may not change even if we moved to the city. Pat and I like people, but we are not the most social people around and that would probably not change much if we moved.  

Perhaps the most compelling factor that makes us think about moving to the city is the upkeep on our house and especially the property. Yes I have a John Deere lawn tractor and a snowblower. Yes we have maintained the house and property in good condition. However, when something goes wrong we often need to seek help from experts in the city who often add travel costs to their work invoices.

In addition, it would be much easier for us to attend events, such as movies and concerts, if we lived in the city. As we have aged, driving 30+ minutes to an event and then back home late at night on the vacant plains is not always fun, especially in the winter. Retail therapy would also be much easier if we lived in the city, although that may not be such a good thing.

Anyway, we frequently debate whether to move to the city or stay here.

However, one major factor in our dilemma is that we love our house! It is not opulent or a palace, but it is the perfect house for us, and thinking about leaving it makes us sad. A year or so ago we looked at a few houses and condos in the city. When we talked with a couple of realtors, they both said pretty much the same thing: “Why would you want to move from a house on the golf course that you love, in a beautiful little town, to a house here in the city?” We don’t quite know the answer to that question yet, but it is something that we discuss quite often.

The movie, ‘5 Flights Up’ made us realize that this dilemma is one that many aging people struggle with, but it did not help us decide what to do.  

For now we believe we will stay here in our beloved little house in paradise. However, there is little doubt that the “Stay or Go” discussion will continue.

Bill, I hope everything is good in your home in paradise.



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