Housing Decisions As We Age Leads to Adjustments

Moving away from friends causes some reconsideration for an introvert.

Almost five months ago, on June 24th, we moved. It was an exciting time. We sold our primary residence, without showing it through a relator, and got the price we asked! Between April and June, we cleaned out, packed, finished odd jobs, gave things away, and got ready to move to our cabin — three hours away. 

Here we are — five months later. And I’m starting to come down from the “high” of selling and live in our current reality. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a bad reality. Our cabin sits on 2 acres of lakefront wooded property, it has all the amenities of a full-time residence — and they are all on the first floor. The amenities I’m writing about are those that would be important as you get older — a first-floor bath, a first-floor bedroom, a laundry room, a kitchen, and a living area. 

The cabin has a view, too. And, it was built by my husband — so essentially, it is a custom home — a timber frame. There is nothing to complain about as far as our housing. We’re lucky to have this place.

And, yet, I’m unsettled. I guess because I thought we were going to build a house. In 2019 we made a quick decision to purchase 14 acres of wooded property in a nearby town. Where we lived at the time, a new subdivision was being put in next to our 3-acre yard. That continues, with two more subdivisions being planned and now, started. The house we sold is partially and will be completely surrounded by other houses. It wasn’t what we wanted any longer. And, in the meantime, our three boys had finished their schooling and were living in other areas — within four hours of us. The house was too big, the neighborhood had changed, and the purchase of this land provided an option. 

But, you all know what happened next. The pandemic occurred and materials became scant. Building prices soared and while it was a great time to start thinking about selling our home, it was an awful time to build one. So, we just put a driveway in. The driveway was an exercise in patience. It was put in the second week of August 2021, and within a week, it failed! A huge rainstorm (7 inches of rain in several hours), washed it out. It was repaired and failed again. My husband found a different contractor, an expert at road construction and it got fixed. By November 2021, it was finished and holding up. It’s continued to weather storms well. 

But, it’s been a year since we’ve done anything with the driveway or that land. We sold our house this spring. We moved to our cabin. The land with a driveway is three hours away, just like our cabin used to be three hours away. It’s a piece of land that will require years of work to settle. We’re getting older. Do you see where I’m going with this?

When I looked at houses to build, everything was supposed to be on one floor. I’ve never liked ranches, although the property we just sold technically was one. The cabin, on the other hand, is not. It now has three livable levels, with two full flights of stairs. But, we could live on the first floor only, if we needed to. Hell, I could probably even get a walker into the main floor bath if needed. 

But, it’s not zero entry. We have a short flight of stairs to our deck and then one more into the house. There is no garage. We never built one here because we never lived here for an extended period of time. Because the house is a timber frame, connecting a garage creates some challenges. I’m sure an architect could figure it out. But my husband is a do-it-yourself type of guy. I’m sure he could build it. 

We are isolated. The nearest large town is 30 minutes away. A town with “everything” is an hour away. Our friends? Well, they are three hours away. I am fairly certain that social isolation is not healthy for aging couples. 

I have started to feel the honeymoon phase of moving wear off. Perhaps it’s the gray skies we now have. Perhaps it’s the cold temperatures. I’m sure it’s all part of the adjustment to being in a new (yet familiar) place. 

Part of my problem is that making friends has always been hard for me. With time, I was able to do that — but we lived in the same town for 23 years, it’s where our boys grew up, where I did community education and held after-school groups, and where my husband worked. We knew people. I knew who I was comfortable with and who was comfortable with me.

I don’t know that anymore, and it is unsettling. To make friends one has to “put themselves” out there. This is hard for me. I have no identity here. I was known in our former community. I was a mother of boys that people knew, an educator, a volunteer, a friend, and a wife. Here I am a wife and still a mother (although no one would know that unless I told them — how can I explain how truly special our boys are?) My friends know. And, I am a writer. But no one knows that either — I haven’t told anyone. It’s a weird thing to bring up. Not that I talked about my writing a lot with friends — some ask, but most don’t. It’s something I’ve gotten used to. But, they knew me so we discussed other things, other interests, based on our common pasts.

I know I need some friends here. But, as an introvert, it’s really hard to make them, especially because everything I’ve been before doesn’t matter anymore. Does that make sense?

This morning discussing health insurance and other essentials of being an adult who moved, I realize I’m unsure of the future. It is not a feeling I like. I think we got ahead of ourselves with the other property — the one with the driveway. I’d like to build a house, but the cabin is really nice. I think I got ahead of myself in thinking we needed a zero entry right now. We will in the future — do we take care of that now? If so, I don’t think 14 acres with a 600-foot+ sloped driveway is the answer. Maybe, it is. I just don’t know. I think I took my friends for granted. I feel like I’m starting over, and I’m not comfortable with that feeling at my age.

I don’t regret selling our house. We went back to the area we came from two weeks ago. The amount of development is crazy. I don’t want to be in the midst of that. So I’m adjusting. There will be days of questioning, discussing, and thinking ahead. The outcome is still undetermined both in my mind and in reality.  Writing about it helps me to put my thoughts in order.

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