As promised, I’m starting a journal recording our adventure looking for a new accessible home hence this is Chapter 1. Our current living situation is due for a change sometime within the next 3 to 6 years and I want to start the process now. I expect that it will take 2 years or more to determine where we want to live and if we will be able to find an existing house that suits our needs or if we will have to build. The need to move is being driven by several factors:
- Our current house isn’t set up to accommodate J’s needs and I’m not interested in investing more money in it.
- My daughter moves to high school in two years and, hopefully, to college in 6 years and those changes offer opportune times to move and minimize disruptions.
- As I get older, I’d like to live somewhere where I don’t have to deal with severe winters.
- Once J’s disability insurance runs out, our income will fall requiring us to find a location with a lower cost of living.
- This will likely be our retirement move so we need to find someplace we can comfortably age in place.
We could stay where we are but we don’t have much family in the area and I’d prefer to expose my daughter to other parts of the US. We do have family and friends in other areas, and a change of scenery will do us all good.
How to Start
I suspect that the hardest part of this process for us will be deciding where we want to live. We have a long list of requirements and a list of places that we won’t consider. Since our move isn’t being driven by employment or by family, there are no constraints aside from what we impose upon ourselves. My plan is to identify 3 candidate locations where we will next invest time figuring out the housing landscape.
The United States offers a wide range of possible locations, and while J and I have traveled extensively, there are many states that neither of us has visited. Importantly, we would both love to consider relocating outside the US (likely Europe) for a few years at least, and I might spend some time evaluating that possibility, but it isn’t a realistic long term option.
Once we build the shortlist of locations, I’ll need a set of requirements for housing. Every day, I spend some time thinking about my wish list for a house while I’m grumbling about our existing house usually as I’m running J’s wheelchair into a doorway that isn’t wide enough for the chair. The specifications of our new accommodations will be driven by a must-have list including items such as an accessible entryway and bathrooms. Beyond that, there is a growing wish list of items that will be helpful especially as I start to need help myself.
Here’s the Preliminary Plan
I spent many years managing technology projects so I’m all about the plan. The challenge with this project is that there is no set target date. The target date will be driven by the mix of opportunities that present themselves, changes to existing conditions, and financial considerations. While the timeline is fluid, I will start with a high-level task list and then fit target dates to it as I see fit:
- Develop location requirements — What are we looking for in terms of weather, community, geography, diversity, medical resources, recreation, and cost of living plus where we don’t want to live.
- Evaluate locations and select shortlist — Compare locations to our requirements and decide on a 3-location shortlist.
- Develop housing requirements — Build the must-have and wish list for the new accommodations.
- Determine a preliminary budget — Build an estimate for relocation and housing expenditures. There will be many unknowns at this point but we need a ballpark figure to give a Realtor.
- Evaluate possible housing options online — I’m quite comfortable doing my own searches for housing so I’d prefer to spend a fair amount of time doing so, getting a sense of the market, and looking at desirable locations before engaging a Realtor.
- Consider timing scenarios — Once you select a Realtor, you’re on a more defined timeline often resulting in a purchase so we will need some idea of what timing would work for us. This can vary greatly depending on if we buy as-is, renovate, or build.
- Identify, interview, and select a Realtor — It’s hard enough to select a Realtor in person but more challenging when doing it remotely. A relo specialist is useful but someone with disability/accessibility experience may be more important.
- Assess buy vs build options — It’s possible that we can find an existing property that suits our needs but I’m not counting on it, so we’ll need to evaluate renovating existing properties or building from scratch.
- Develop relocation plan — this includes getting our house on the market and the myriad of tasks involved in moving. Much more to come on this later on.
- Finalize the move — we’re off and running assuming everything goes as planned.
I’m going to do a survey of available tools for evaluating potential locations. I’m not the first person to do this so it is possible that existing web-based tools exist. I’ve already looked at a bunch of books and I might avail myself of those resources as well. If I don’t find useful tools, I’ll build my own spreadsheet. Then I’ll start determining our selection criteria and plugging in the facts. I will also check my network of friends and contacts to see who lives in desirable areas and who may be able to assist us with information or referrals.
You might ask how long will it take to finish this first step, and my answer is, “I don’t know.” I hope to get a rhythm going in this process but if you’ve been following my blogs, you know that I’m not that disciplined — life gets in the way of best-laid plans. So, enough of this chatter and Chapter 1 and let’s get going.
Thank you for reading Chapter 1. I’d love to hear questions that you’d like answered as we go through this process and hear about your moving successes or failures.