Sunday, May 07, 2017

Major Lifestyle Change In The Works

A lot has been happening in our lives lately, so we took a hard look and decided to make a substantial change in every area of our life that needs attention.

For one thing, we have decided to step back from our participation in Eggfests.  Ultimately, that means cutting them out altogether. The last one we will be attending is in two weeks here in Spring, Texas.  It’s just three miles from our house and it will give us a chance to say our goodbyes to a lot of friends.

The burdens of physical work and expense has become too great for us now that Eggfests have grown substantially in number and in size.  And that translates into non reimbursable out-of-pocket expenses for us that averages well into the thousands of dollars each year.  We are on a fixed income and can no longer afford it without sacrifice to ourselves.  We feel we’ve done our share.  It’s time for others to have fun.

Then there’s the age thing.  I turned 76 on May 8th.  And although the calendar says 76, my brain says I’m 56 while my body says I’m 86, and some days even 96.  There’s nothing seriously wrong or life threatening with me, but I’m starting to feel ‘old.’  

That being said, we also can no longer ‘keep up’ the Chicken Ranch.  The constant need to repair or improve something has literally surpassed my capacity or my desire to do it.  I can no longer climb or crawl or even see well enough to tackle some jobs.  And with me liking to stay busy, I'm often without a project to tackle, at least not one that I can complete well.

Add to that, a considerably increased crime presence in our neighborhood has made us very uncomfortable in our own home.  We’ve already had one incident where someone went into our garage and stole some power tools.  I’m certain they would have stolen more had it not been for the vehicles in their way. 

But other nearby homes and vehicles have been broken into in spite of an increased police presence.  Add to that, armed robberies at nearby businesses, and even a murder just outside one of them.  Prostitution is so bad that the police opened an office and assigned a large number of police officers to ‘get it under control,’ whatever the hell ‘under control’ means.

So we decided to sell our house and move away from here while we can. 

The decision to move was made much easier by the fact that Judy’s sister in New Orleans retired last year and her husband will be retiring in a couple of months.  They too wanted out and away from the big city and decided to build a home in Covington, Louisiana, a small town about 25 miles away from New Orleans.  Its population is shown as 9,686 but it is fast growing as ‘the place to live’ for those wishing to get to high ground from flooding, and to safety from crime. 

Along with the increased population is a fast growing economy that has brought in new shopping malls, excellent medical facilities, and the infrastructure to support them.  At most, we will be about twenty minutes away from all of them.

So, we decided to seriously look around in Covington ourselves.  And we found what we were looking for.  We instantly knew where it had to be:  Terra Maraie.  See 'Covington, Louisiana' post below).

We had already fallen in love with Terra Mariae, so we didn't have to search, just decided whether to buy an existing home or build a new one.  After looking at one for sale, we decided to build.

And this is the lot we decided on.

Terra Mariae Phase I and II consists of about 70 homes that are limited to people 55 years old and older.  The homes are all individually designed but French influenced ‘garden homes’ with zero lot-lines.  That means the right windowless brick wall on my house will be precisely on my lot line, and will also serve as a garden wall to the house to my right.  Yes, they will have a private professionally landscaped 'garden' between their house and my wall.  Entrances on most of the homes are on the garden side through a beautiful brick and gateway and down a pathway to the 'front entrance.'  

Being the last house on the street, we won’t have a house to our left, just a small unobtrusive wrought iron fence to help keep out deer and small animals.  Beyond that will be green-space and trees.  The view looks much like a golf course.

With a garden home, we just take care of our garden area.  The homeowner’s association has a crew to maintain all the ‘green-space’ areas outside our property, including our front yard.  And there is a substantial amount of green-space making for some comfortable views from our home.

If we wish, we can pay the crew to mow any grass we have inside our fence.  The charge is $10 per cut.  We're not likely to have much grass by the time we get through adding our touches to the garden's collection of plants, fountains, and shady seating areas, but $10 sure sounds better than me doing it.

We have already set in motion to buy the only lot we want, a larger than average lot that is the last lot on the dead-end/cul-de-sac street.  We will have green-space beyond our garden side and back, with a substantial over size driveway that leads directly into our garage.  Our front view will be of a similar garden home on the other side of a huge cul-de-sac turnaround.  So we will be ‘the last house on the right.’  I’ve always liked that description of where we live.

We’ve also selected our builder and made minor changes to the architectural drawings to get the necessary approvals from the homeowners association and county housing commission.

We’ve met with the bank to obtain the construction loan, which will convert to a small mortgage once we sell our house and apply the proceeds to the down payment.

So, as you can imagine, we’re anxious to get our house here sold as quickly as possible.  And we’re already actively removing any and all ‘personal’ items to box and place into a rental storage facility so that we can show the house to prospective buyers.  We’ve been told by a top real estate agent that it will sell quickly at a premium price once it hits the market.  I would hope so.

Selling quickly means we will have to move out fairly quickly and into a rental home or apartment in Covington while our house is being built.  We’re fine with that because we will be close to family and new friends, and we will be able to see the construction as it is being built.  Yes, I will document every step of it and make it into a video.

I will keep everyone up to date here as things progress.

We can't wait to move into our new home...

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