In these retirement blogs, I’ve written before about, what might loosely be called, a need to keep moving. Call it a need for stimulation in my retirement or think of it as an attempt to avoid examining my retirement in case it in some way comes up short. The latter being a strategy I see a number of my retired friends employing – keep busy and you won’t have time to worry whether you’re doing the right things with your time. It’s a variation on ‘don’t just sit there, do something’, although I like the yogic version as much if not better – don’t just do something, sit there. Sometime I wish I were better at this approach to retirement. I don’t know, but what I’ve said before is that I can be quite ‘happy’ with a maximum of 3 days in the same place or even three restful days in a row but then I start to get, what some people call, antsy. As we’re currently lined up we have four places where we can stay i.e. move on to. This last week we spent a night in our least visited home, the barn. One reason it’s the least visited is that technically it’s not a house and we can use it only on a limited basis. Another reason is that in winter it’s bloody cold up there. Yesterday, on, what was by some distance, the hottest day of the year, it was a pleasure to be there watching Mrs Summerhouse doing the de-budding while I painted the benches.
With this visit in mind it means that, over the last week, we have stayed in all of our four properties, so we couldn’t be accused of letting the grass grow under our retirement feet geographically. The question, as always for me, is does this kind of variety make for a ‘happy’ retired person and if not what’s the alternative? The second part of the question is perhaps, on the face of it, easier to answer than the first part. The alternative to moving around would be to stay in the same place (house) for the whole of the time apart from the odd holiday. I am clear in my own mind that this kind of stationary retirement life would not be for me. So, therefore, I need to keep moving.
There are of course other ways of keeping moving, other than the actual act of physically moving, and mostly this will be to do with different forms of intellectual stimulation or simply different kinds of activity, all of which can happen without the need to literally move about. Perhaps this is what most retired people do, they, not having the privilege of staying in different houses, settle for doing different things in the same place, and good luck to you all if this works for you. But for me, this is not enough.
Funnily enough the idea of having more than one house came to me a long time ago when I read an article / interview by Miriam Margoles (an actress or as it would be today an actor) who told us she had houses around the world and regarded them as her children who she visited as often as she could. I remember thinking, that’s a nice idea, I’d like to be able to do that. Of course, despite a bit of flirting with this idea (the land in Colorado would be the closest to having a house abroad, and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve coveted a house in New Zealand, they’re so cheap at least they were when the British pound bought 3 New Zealand dollars and then there was Ireland but that’s another story) I’ve never bought property abroad. Now with the pups it’s probably just as well we haven’t a house in another country. It would be hard to visit. I think I wrote last time, two one-way flights for the pups to NZ, £3600. So no go there.
So back to our houses here. And there is a problem. We shall probably have to sell one of the four (ahh, shame, you say) to pay off the outstanding mortgage when I’m 70. The plan was always to sell the Derbyshire cottage when my mother died, but recently we’ve been staying there and now it’s done up a bit, we’re enjoying it. The other two properties in the Yorkshire Dales (7 mile apart), are close together so maybe it makes more sense to sell one of those, except that would never be the barn / vineyard after all the hard work and money (a substantial part of my retirement lump sum) we’ve put into it. Yes, I know everybody should have such a problem in this day of homelessness. But there we are, where some people buy new cars every couple of years, we’ve bought a house or two and inherited one. You earns your money and takes your choice. And yes, I know there’s the guitars to take into account, let’s not talk about them right now.
So, let me go back to what may be the main theme of this blog. Who the heck knows what it’s about? In the end, like so much of my retirement, it’s about striking a balance. A very key concept in my retirement and an area I wrote about right at the beginning of my blogging career, nearly three years ago. I called it, ambitiously at that point in my retirement – the Perfect Retirement and it listed the areas that a person needed to balance if they were to be a happy retiree. Rereading it for this blog I’m happy to report my conclusions have stood the test of time. In that blog I called it – balancing ‘the stay at home with travel’. Not quite the same but close enough. So with this concept in mind, back to the main question in this blog – to move around or stay still? And the main answer, a happy retirement for me comes from striking a balance between moving around and staying still. Just at this moment in my retirement the balance isn’t quite right, a bit too much moving around but, hey, that’s not such a bad problem for a retired person to have.