Retirement Lessons or How to Learn to be Retired! RV to Retirement Home!

Sun City Arizona

A VERY nice place to live!
A VERY nice place to live! | Source

Retirement the Beginning

My husband took retirement. I made my retirement some months later and yes, it was an early retirement for me. At first, I was embarrassed that I retired ‘early.’ (I am no spring chicken as the saying goes but I was not in my 60’s yet when I retired.)

However, we wanted to do some traveling before we were too old. One of the purposes of our traveling was to find our retirement home. How did we accomplish this?

We spent some 2 years on the road in our RV seeing the United States. We sold our home and put the most important bits of our tangible things in a storage unit. Neither one of us are big on valuing things unless they have some very personal significance and we do keep those things to a minimum.

We had a great role model too! We had observed a friend of ours sell her home in South Dakota and take with her only what would fit in her mid-sized car and move to Arizona. She maintains to this day her happiness at not being held back by her ‘things.’

Also, we have watched others follow their kids to where the kids found jobs. Then when the kids moved away to another job, the retired parents were not always in a place they would have chosen! We wanted to choose our own retirement location independently. Not, that we made a good first choice anyway! Read on!



RV the USA!!

The map of where we visited during our one year plus trip.
The map of where we visited during our one year plus trip. | Source
We took along our friends.....a cat and a big dog!
We took along our friends.....a cat and a big dog! | Source

RV Trip

After collectively 70 years of working we were off in our RV towing our car behind us to “see the USA.”

We did a great deal of research on what kind of RV to buy, what kind of car to tow, and we had joined several RV clubs. Our intent was to leave our home in Phoenix Arizona in October to see family in Southern California and then to travel eastward to Florida and then turn north as the weather improved. We would then visit the upper Midwest where we both have family.

We ended our trip in Yellowstone the following October. It started snowing on us and we scrammed south back to Phoenix.

A good guide book!

Rio Grande in New Mexico

We started meandering just like the Rio Grande River!
We started meandering just like the Rio Grande River! | Source

Lesson Number One

Our time belonged to us. We did not need an agenda. We could wander and wonder anywhere we wanted to go. This is a change from your working life.

It first occurred to us that we could throw the schedule out the window when we saw a road sign about visiting Tombstone Arizona. We asked ourselves just why we would NOT go there?

We had a goal in mind as we traveled across the southern route of Arizona. We had not thought about visiting Tombstone Arizona. When we saw the road signs inviting us to Tombstone we started to cleave to our itinerary. Fortunately, we soon realized that retirees do not need to stick to an itinerary. We could turn to the south and go to Tombstone.

That is how we found a small RV park in the heart of Tombstone where a lovely retired lady fixed a very special breakfast. The breakfast room can handle only three tables of four. She made very special oatmeal with lots of extras, eggs, bacon, pancakes and whatever you wanted just for you! The owners of the RV Park had their coffee there and chatted with you. The wall TV had a movie filmed in Tombstone on all the time too! We stayed nearly a week and walked and visited everything that we wanted to see in Tombstone.

That was the first lesson. You have no idea how strictly trained you are to meet goals, dates, times, and itineraries. Let go of this training. It will be more difficult than you think!


Relax and Retire Now!

Oh Yeah!
Oh Yeah! | Source

Livin' the Life....

Casual RV Park living.
Casual RV Park living. | Source

Where to Stay?

Well, shouldn't you have every night thoroughly booked? You don’t want to get to an area and have nowhere to hook-up your RV do you?

So, we were 'bookers'. We would call from the road and book a site based on how many miles we thought we would go that day. We had GoodSam and such books on where to book.

Well, if you throw away your itinerary and open yourselves to new adventures as you travel, the booking idea does not work!

We soon learned that there are multitudes of places to stay. This means you have to be flexible on the services various parks may offer. You will not always get free wii fi or cable TV or a beautiful scene. What you may get is a nice price at a friendly Mom and Pop RV Park with few amenities beyond the most basic ones.

You might find a bare bones park in Wyoming where the antelope do stroll around the park and the owners have named them too!

You might find a park in Louisiana where you are nestled in a swamp! Yeah, it was pretty interesting to see how a swamp worked at dawn and dusk. You were also cautioned to not put your pets outside your rig on a leash…..the gators would eat them.

In a pinch, you can always dry dock for free overnight at a Wal-Mart. Just check with the manager of the Wal-Mart first as some towns have zoned against free dry docking at the Wal-Mart. Also, do not take prime parking in the Wal-Mart lot; Park far out in the lot so as to not impede other customers. Do not crank out the RV slides and grills and deck chairs. In short be a quiet polite dry-docker.

We also learned that there are certain areas and parks that suit us better than others. For instance, the little town of Deming New Mexico has a huge collection of RV Parks suitable for all size of RVs and prices. We found one to our liking and often planned during our trips back and forth to our home state of Arizona with an eye to spend a night or two there. I liked the laundry facilities there and the pool and spa. In fact, I could spa and swim in between moving the laundry from the wash machine to the dryer.

There is also a great New Mexico winery in Deming. St. Clair Winery is just west of Deming and offers some lovely New Mexican specialty wines. Mimbres Red is one of our favorite wines and it is not sold in many other states.

When in Las Vegas Nevada, we found an RV park that was over-the-top in prices and amenities. This means private covered patios, private washers and dryer rooms off the private patio and a multitude of recreational activities from pools, water slides, putt putt golf etc. This was very similar to the Walt Disney World Parks. We did not require these types of amenities, but they are out there!

There were also some rough areas like the park in Escanaba Michigan. The amenities were not much but the view on the edge of Lake Michigan was phenomenal. We stayed there days longer than we intended to. Remember, no itinerary means you can stay on as long as the park has a place for you.

California, Michigan and Texas were the toughest places for both price and availability.


Southwestern USA

Flags over a border straddling park....
Flags over a border straddling park.... | Source

Little Big Horn

Tent scene at Little Big Horn.
Tent scene at Little Big Horn. | Source

Musical Instrument Museum

Scottsdale, Arizona Musical Instrument Museum.
Scottsdale, Arizona Musical Instrument Museum. | Source

Meet New Family Members!

Someone I met for the first time in Michigan....
Someone I met for the first time in Michigan.... | Source

What to Do? Where to Go?

Our favorite things to do changed as we traveled. Sometimes we liked to lounge around and do very little. Sometimes we were aggressive sight seers and museum goers! More often than not we chose to not stay anywhere more than a week. We exhausted all the things to enjoy in a week at the location we were RV camped at. Often the places were too expensive to stay very long.

We found that we could see most places on our own. The one city tour that we did pay for was in New Orleans. We were able to tour New Orleans the February before Katrina and we are so very glad that we did take that tour.


Some of our favorite places:

Smithsonian Washington DC - We separated as our interests varied. We met up for lunch! We also took a city tour there. Our little tour van held only 6 and the driver told us about having a tour on 9-11 and seeing the jet hit. She also told how the police got everyone out of Washington very fast! Oh my!

GettysburgMy husband was the Civil War buff. Once I got there, I too became mesmerized by all the history. For once I totally understood how a battle was waged and walked the battle field.

Fredericksburg TXThis town is dedicated to WWII history. Admiral Nimitz was from Fredericksburg. There are plenty of gift stores and such to occupy you if you tire of the history. We found we both took the same amount of time to absorb the history BUT we did separate and plan to meet at certain times. We like history but move at different speeds in a museum.

Aransas Bay TXWhat can I say; we spent a week sitting by the bay watching the dolphins play from our RV kitchen window. We took a tour to see the remaining Whooping Cranes. We ate our fair share and then some of the fresh oysters that were in season.

Escanaba MI – TheUpper Peninsula of MI is a whole different world. Lake Michigan is beautiful and YooperLand is occupied by a particular type of people who have to look out for bears in their yard and contend with five feet of snow for months on end. We were there in the summer. Be sure to take mosquito repellant with you, though.

Chicago Area – We stayed at the end of the Metro and took the train downtown to the Chicago Institute of Art. We ate at Rick Bayless’ Restaurant and Mexican food doesn’t get any better than that. We also had some great thin crust pizza. This is one of the world’s greatest cities that doesn’t get the respect it is due!

YellowstoneEveryone should spend a week here! We had buffalo stroll through the RV Park and if we were stupid we could have reached out the window and touched them! The geysers and the natural wonders are beyond mere words!


Sun and Warm Winter Won!

Winter scene in Arizona.
Winter scene in Arizona. | Source

July 4th in Mitchell South Dakota

Annie May and Don watch a July 4th Parade.
Annie May and Don watch a July 4th Parade. | Source

Where to Live? Ummm, wasn't that one of the reasons we are out here?

There are lists of lists that will tell you where to live as a retiree. Where you choose to live will depend on you and only you. Make sure the place you choose to live have all the amenities that you need and want.

We both come from relatively small home towns. I am from what qualifies as a small town in Illinois. My husband is from a small town in South Dakota. However, my small town was nearly as big as the largest town was in South Dakota when my husband was growing up! So, relatively speaking we were NOT from the same size small town!

We did both decide to move to a smaller town. We also knew we were Southwest USA people. We did not like winter. My husband hates humidity too. This ruled out the Southeastern USA. I would like a beach but a pool works okay for me too!

However, we were not happy with our first choice. We felt too limited in activities as well as availability of restaurants. The small town we moved to just did not have enough to do.

Then there was the complete lack of hospitals in the whole county. There was a hospital promised but not fulfilled in the 7 years we waited there.

We made a bad first choice. Oh dear. Well, if you make a mistake; fix it.

We then moved to a larger retirement community, Sun City Arizona. we found more activities than we could do in years! We also found a multitude of people who wanted new friends! Some small towns are very parochial and are not looking for new friends! This is not so in Sun City Arizona!

In essence, we do more in one month in Sun City Arizona than we would do in two years in the small town we first retired to.


Here are some considerations:

What kind of climate and temperature ranges do you want?

How close do you need to be to family? (Remember, if you follow your kids they very well may move again!)

What activities are available in that area?

What kind of medical care is available? This is very important as you age!

Google the location and read everything you can on it. Then spend several chunks of time visiting that area. Take a few vacations there.


MONEY

There are many sites and organizations that will tell you about how much money you will need to retire. We knew we would need less money. What we did not know is that how little money we would need!

We did simplify though. We called it merging and purging! We purged until our worldly goods fit into a storage locker. This means our much smaller retirement patio home was almost empty when we first moved in. We have been slow to fill it too!

We also eat much more simply and healthy! I cook too. Cooking is cheaper.

Also, you can now eat long lunches out, qualify for senior citizen discounts, and have more time to seek out and follow discounts at all kinds of businesses! Take advantage of all of these!

Our clothing needs have drastically changed. Our auto needs including gas and buying a new car shrank down to less than 20% of our previous needs! Heck, our RV towed car has 200,000 miles on it and we see no reason to replace it until it dies on it's own. His truck is also used and very plain. We rent vehicles when we go very far, and yes we have rental car discounts!

As you just read, we are not just sitting around doing nothing! We have joined many social groups. Attend a Monday-Friday neighbor Happy Hour (sometimes with a soft drink sometimes with beer or wine,) we take one weekend trip a month to places like the Grand Canyon, and we take one big trip a year (usually overseas.)

We both have very modest retirement incomes. We both put away money for retirement. We live within our monthly budget.

So, there you are; Retirement 101 from the first years of our retirement. Good luck to you on your retirement!

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Comments 7 comments

Paul Kuehn profile image

Paul Kuehn 3 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand

NMLady,

I'll send you an email in the near future with a few details about living and teaching English in Thailand.


NMLady profile image

NMLady 3 years ago from New Mexico & Arizona Author

mperrotet I so understand about the good med facilities. We elected to live here because of the same. Good RVing!!


NMLady profile image

NMLady 3 years ago from New Mexico & Arizona Author

Paul, I LOVE what you are doing. How do I find out about teaching in Thailand? I have the background..... Thanks for the kind comments.


mperrottet profile image

mperrottet 3 years ago from Pennsauken, NJ

My husband and I travel for about 6 months every year, then return home to New Jersey. We thought about going full time, but always back out, mainly because family is near and we have good medical facilities. We're just getting back from our sixth winter trip, and are in Chattanooga TN. Sounds like you had a wonderful time during your full time travels, and I'm glad you found a home that you love in Arizona. Voted up and interesting.


Paul Kuehn profile image

Paul Kuehn 3 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand

NMLady,

This is a very interesting and useful account which every person considering retirement should read. As to myself, although I retired from work in the U.S. 6 years ago, I am still working and teaching English full-time at a school in Thailand. Next year when I reach 70, I will finally retire from full-time teaching and gradually ease into full-time retirement in Thailand. I'll do some part-time teaching, but plan to spend most of my time where I am not tied down with a daily fixed work schedule. Your RV accounts are interesting, but unfortunately people don't do any RVing in Thailand. It would be very interesting to do here, though. Voted up and sharing with followers.


torrilynn profile image

torrilynn 3 years ago

nmlady,

i would assume it would be hard for an elderly

person to actually be retired because their mindset

and bodies were always working for many many years

that when it comes time to relax they dont know how

great info.

Voted up


sdzulu 3 years ago

Travelling full-time was really neat. I am so glad we did it.

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