Why We Just Bought a Second Home in Retirement

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I never thought I’d write these words, but we just bought a second home in retirement!

Today, we’re making the official announcement.

More importantly, we’re sharing the logic behind our decision.

We just bought a second home in retirement! Today, we share the logic behind our decision. Click To Tweet

buying a second home in retirement

Why We Just Bought A Second Home In Retirement

Have you ever noticed how often things come out differently than you expect?

Shortly before I retired, we sold our “City House” and moved full-time to our retirement cabin in the mountains.  We thought we were done with owning a second home. 

We were wrong.

On December 22, we plunked down some cash and walked out of the closing with a new set of keys to a second home in retirement.  We spent the week of Christmas enjoying our new home, a tidy 1,350 sq ft “cottage”, with 3 bedrooms and 2 baths.

Huh, what?


Our Second Home

Why We Bought A Second Home In Retirement

Ok, some explanation is in order. 

After all, Fritz is a planner, right?  Heck, he writes all the time about how important planning is to a successful retirement.  He’d never just spontaneously plunk down a pile of cash and buy a second home, would he?  

No, he wouldn’t. (and neither should you).

The decision to buy a second home in retirement was driven by an unplanned life change, a lot of soul searching, and some serious discussion between a husband and his wife.  In short, a lot of thinking about the things that matter. 

And, the things that don’t.

A Thing That Matters:  Spending time with our two-year-old granddaughter.  

My wife and I have looked forward to being grandparents.  Two years ago, our daughter and her husband had a beautiful baby girl, Octavia Rose.  Unfortunately, they lived 2,500 miles away in the Pacific Northwest.

Our decision to buy a second home in retirement all started when we received word that our daughter and her family were moving from Seattle to Alabama. After 3 years in the Pacific Northwest, they were going to be “just down the road” in Southern Alabama.  We were thrilled.  We were going to be given the opportunity to spend a lot of quality time with our granddaughter during her critical developmental years.

Heck, we even had an RV we planned on parking near their town as our “base” for visits.

Therein lies the problem.

Turns out, there aren’t any RV parks nearby that offer long-term seasonal rental.  Well, there are several, but they aren’t any place you’d want to spend your time.  We’re easy to please, but I don’t particularly want to live amongst old trailers where the inhabitants are more likely to be cooking meth than chicken in the kitchen.  Yeah, they were THOSE kinds of RV parks.  There was only one we seriously considered, but it was too expensive ($6k/year), and not terribly convenient.


A place to sleep for free!?

What If We Could Stay For Free?

After several visits to our daughter’s “new” hometown in Southern Alabama and researching the available RV options, we decided to have a look at real estate.

What if we could find a place that would pay for itself?  

A place that would provide the option of generating rental income to offset our ownership costs?  A place with a fenced in yard so we could bring our dogs?  A place with an HOA that took care of all external maintenance?

Rental Potential: 

Nearby Fort Rucker is the largest helicopter training base in the country.  Pilots routinely cycle through the base for 2-week training sessions to maintain their flight readiness.  Too long for a hotel stay, but perfect for a 2-week stay in a nearby rental.  With our experience renting out our retirement cabin before retirement, we’re comfortable managing a short term rental property via AirBnB.

The bonus for us?  

With tenants only staying 2 weeks at a time, we’re free to use our second home in retirement for frequent visits with our granddaughter.  Potentially a zero-cost option! In addition, since our daughter lives in the same town, we have “feet on the ground” if there’s ever a need to pay a visit to the property.

Room for our 4 dogs!

Maintenance Free:

Unlike the secluded setting of our retirement cabin, our second home in retirement is located in an HOA-managed townhouse development.  It’s a stand-alone “cottage”, and a perfect match with our needs.  Even better, the development takes care of all external maintenance, keeping us free from having to worry about mowing the yard at our second home.  


Financial Considerations

Since this is a personal finance/retirement blog, the financial aspects of buying a second home in retirement are important to discuss.

First, what were the other options we considered prior to buying the home?

Stay With Our Daughter:  Free!!  Unfortunately, both of our families have 4 dogs.  Putting 8 dogs together “detracts” from the enjoyment of our time together.  In reality, staying with our daughter isn’t a viable option.

Hotel:  On our last visit, we stayed 4 nights at a local hotel.  We couldn’t bring our dogs along, so we paid a house sitter $50/day to watch our dogs at our retirement cabin.  Add in $452 for 4 nights in the hotel, a few meals out (since we can’t cook in the hotel), and you’re over $700 / visit.  We’re planning on visiting a week per month, so that would add up in a hurry.  There’s got to be a better way.

Haul The RV:  We could haul our RV the 300 miles (each way), but we don’t want to put up with that hassle every time we visit them.  Hauling a 35′ fifth wheel through downtown Atlanta every month isn’t appealing.  Add the gas costs of a 600-mile drive (~$150), plus the campground fees (~$250 for a week), and we’re still looking at a $400 bill for our weekly visit.  Add the inconvenience of transport/set-up, and hauling the RV becomes a less than optimal solution.

AirBnB:  We’d love to stay at AirBnB’s with our dogs, but we’ve yet to find a “dog-friendly” rental in the area that would welcome our 4 dogs (Ah, a marketing opportunity, perhaps?).  Try as we might, the AirBnB’s in the area don’t allow dogs.  It appears they don’t have to, given the plethora of pilots passing through during flight training…

An office for The Retirement Manifesto!

Once we decided on the route of buying a second home in retirement, the focus shifted to the financial implications.  First, we set a low target price for our home search and kept our focus on the type of home known to have a quick resale near the military base.   We also wanted a home that would be appealing to short term renters, increasing our odds of generating rental income with the property.

We view our second home as an asset allocation decision.  At any point in time, we can choose to sell it.  We don’t need it to live.  Therefore, unlike our primary residence, we will count its value as part of our retirement portfolio.  Since we hope to cover the “carrying costs” (e.g., utilities, insurance, etc) via rental income, it shouldn’t increase our retirement living expenses.  To be cautious, we ran the numbers to ensure we could cover the operating costs in the event rental income falls short.  Worst case, we can cover the costs while staying below a 4% Safe Withdrawal Rate, so we’re comfortable in the decision.  On the upside, it could actually result in income if the rent exceeds our expenses, especially considering potential appreciation on the property over time (inflation hedge?).

To pay for the second home in retirement, we sold some of the stocks that I bought at the market low back in March.  They’ve had a nice runup since that fortuitous purchase (+100% for the Small Caps), and we decided a reallocation from equities to real estate was a reasonable move.  In addition, we drew down the excess cash we’ve been carrying and sold some bonds for the balance of the purchase price.  We continued to maintain a 3-year cash position in Bucket 1 of our Bucket Strategy.

In summary, we increased our real estate allocation and reduced cash, bonds, and equities.  Our Targeted Asset Allocation continues to be a conservative blend, and we find comfort in the increased diversification the real estate investment brings to the portfolio. To keep things simple, we decided to pay cash for our second home.  Sure, interest rates are low, but we didn’t want to deal with the hassle of going through the process required to secure financing.  Ah, the convenience of financial independence.  We’ve purchased 11 homes in our lifetime, and we’ve never had a closing process go so smoothly.

Bottom Line:  The decision to buy a second home in retirement was driven by our preference to spend a lot of time with our granddaughter during her early years.  Thinking through the pros and cons, buying a second home best met our objective, with the added benefit of providing the best financial solution to our needs.  We’re tweaking our asset allocation slightly, and we’re maintaining plenty of liquidity to fund our retirement lifestyle.  In the worst-case scenario, we’re comfortable that we can cover 100% of the expense.  On the upside, we may actually make a little money out of the deal.  From a planning perspective, we’re expecting to break even, and have a place to stay for free whenever we decide to head to Southern Alabama.  

Most importantly, we’re going to savor every minute we’re able to spend with our granddaughter.  Building the life of your dreams is what a successful retirement is all about.  We’re blessed to see this dream come true.


Conclusion

Money isn’t the goal of retirement.  Money is only a means.

The means to live our dreams in retirement.  Our dreams include spending quality time with our granddaughter and her parents.  After much thought, we’re 100% comfortable with the financial and risk elements of buying a second home in retirement.  If all goes well, our little Alabama cottage may actually generate a bit of excess rent income.  If all goes poorly, we can handle the costs.

The value?

Priceless.


Your Turn:   Have you ever considered buying a second home in retirement?  Are you interested in renting a cabin in Southern Alabama for vacation?  It’s only 40 miles from Florida, and I know a guy…

75 comments

  1. Congratulations Fritz on what is probably the best investment ever!

    I’m sure financially it’s a great decision; more importantly, you and Jackie will be able to enjoy your granddaughter’s developmental years. Time is precious and children grow up way too fast.

    Are you offering any screaming hot AirBnB rates for loyal readers? (just kidding) Never been to southern Alabama and hear it’s beautiful.

    1. Shannon, for your introductory visit to Alabama, I’ll definitely offer a “Reader’s Special”! I’d be honored to have you stay in our place. Seriously, given the low cost, we’ll likely rent it for ~$75/night, and I would be more than happy to offer a discount for readers of The Retirement Manifesto.

  2. Wow congrats Fritz! I imagine 1300 square feet in Alabama can’t be very expensive, especially compared to where I live in the DC area. And the lack of people cooking up meth is a big plus 🙂 Sounds like a smart financial decision to meet your priorities, queue up the Lynyrd Skynyrd and enjoy!

    1. You imagine correctly, Dave. Geoarbitrage is a real thing, and Southern Alabama is a very low cost area! And…I’ve always loved Lynyrd Skynyrd, though Alabama’s “Sweet Home Alabama” seems to run through my mind whenever I think of Alabama…

      1. Roll Tide, Fritz!

        I love your blog. Welcome to my home state. I moved back after spending some time in Alpharetta. Enjoy the granddaughter!

  3. Congrats Fritz. Like you say, financial independence is all about the freedom to enable your dreams and invest your time in such a way to provide maximum value. This is a great example of this. In addition, the well thought through acquisition also works great as a solid financial instrument/asset diversification to boot. Enjoy!

    1. Ah, Ginzu knows Enterprise, the only city to ever build a statue to an insect! Amazing what one little bug did to trigger economic diversification! Too funny how they have Boll Weevil figurines all over town, we laugh each time we “find” a new one.

  4. Love the move Fritz, family first.
    We were heading in that direction. We downsized into a comfortable condo and started looking for a warmer weather escape. Unfortunately, our daughter had to fight off a breast cancer diagnosis and we stuck around to help her with our grandsons. Now that she’s healthy, we are back in research mode. Real estate in solid markets is a pretty safe bet and will outperform a couple of other options, like cash, for a few centuries to come.
    Good luck.

  5. Fritz
    Congratulations on your mew home. You will love it
    I also bought a second home the year before I retired. I had many of the same reasons you shared. The townhouse is in the Shenandoah Valley near the National park, I have daughter in the same town and my University is located there as well. We were going back for football games 6-7 times a year and needed a fenced yard for our two dogs
    I have not decided to rent it but we have had good market appreciation. We love having a getaway especially during Covid for a change of scenery. I feel like we now have the best of both worlds. A house at the river and a mountain retreat.

    1. It sounds like we’re going to have to do a week of “second home swap” – love the Shenandoah Valley! I think I’d win on that trade, Southern Alabama isn’t nearly as scenic as your stretch of the Appalachian Mountains!

      1. That sounds like a good idea! We could set up a network of second home getaways for retirees only

        1. We actually did a few “house swaps” with other folks when we were still renting our retirement cabin. Worked out well, we got a week on a lake in North Carolina and a week in Charleston at no cost. I think there’s real merit in setting something up for retirees. You game for taking the lead? Smiles.

          1. It would require some thinking whether to create a home/location equity model or just “keep it simple” model and let it ride.

  6. Timely to say the least ! I swore I would never “ own a second house “ and here I am sitting in the midst of a beach rehab! The pandemic played a part and the ability to share good family time with our growing number of grandchildren . For Christmas I have all of my 5 kids “ keys to the house “. I now also view it as part of our asset allocation and joke “ it will give the kids something to argue about when we are gone “!

  7. Congratulations to you both for your wise decision be a presence in Octavia’s life (and her parents)!! We know you won’t regret your decision to do that!

  8. So … I just skimmed it. CONGRATS!
    Alabama – great !! We’re looking there (Montgomery Cty) as part of our real estate portfolio re-alignment plan. Better in RE than “plans” that will get locked down after 20th.
    Short term rental with liberal ties – FORGET IT !
    Bad attitude today. We’re at our Florida’ property cleaning after 1yr tenants with kids destroyed the place. I don’t understand how people can live so dirty.
    Close to grand kid(s) – I get it. Not really. Chasing family around the country will catch up someday (IMO!)
    Curious – did you finance any part? We have no W-2 income and get told, “sorry, we can’t help you” from finance companies.
    Again congrats!

    1. Hey Brother, we could be neighbors soon! We’ll have to make plans to get together. Sorry about your FL place getting trashed, we’ve been fortunate to never have that happen during our short term rentals. As you mention in your later comment, we paid cash. Hope to meet you in Alabama in 2021!

  9. Fritz,

    I applaud your decision to place your relationship with your granddaughter at a level in your priorities. I may have sent you this letter previously but I review it often just to remind me of the awesome responsibilities we have and the opportunities to change or affect our grandchildren’s lives. Well worth the read if you are grandparent or grandparent to be.
    A Letter to Grandparents
    July 6, 2018 by Ashby Daniels, CFP®
    In September, it will be four years since my grandfather passed away and I still think about him every single day. He was my hero. His presence in my life and the impact that he had on me will stay with me forever. At his funeral, my brother and I were given the distinct honor of delivering the eulogy. My sister and our cousin were on stage with us as we struggled through our words. To say that he was loved by his grandchildren would be a drastic understatement. And as I think about it, it is probably somewhat unusual to have the grandchildren be the primary speakers at a funeral. But it was a special case as you’ll see.
    As parents, raising our children to become productive and caring adults could be viewed as an obligation. But as grandparents, you are given a unique opportunity to mentor your grandchildren. Given my age, I obviously have no experience being a grandparent, but I do have the perspective of a grandchild that has been blessed with grandparents that made an enormous impact on my life. Given my story, I think a lot of grandparents drastically underestimate the impact they can have on their grandchildren and that’s what I hope to convey through my own story.
    The Idea of a Legacy:
    As a retirement planner, I spend an awful lot of time talking about money and sharing ideas to make that money last as long as possible. In some cases, we’re talking about multigenerational wealth. But retirement is about far more than just money.
    Ask retirees what being truly wealthy means to them and rarely will you hear answers about net worth. It’s typically about making a difference in the lives of the people around them, namely family and friends. Sometimes “leaving a legacy” is discussed in terms of making large bequests to various organizations or making sure your family will be okay financially speaking upon your passing.
    Those are certainly noble goals. But I want to challenge you to think bigger. Mainly about your time.

    My Story:
    My grandfather’s name was James Ashby Daniels. I am named after him, though few called him Ashby. Those who knew him best called him Jimmy or J.A. To me, he was Gaga.
    As a young child, I would spend at least a week with my grandparents every summer and saw them regularly throughout the year. I grew up in a lower-middle-class home. My parents worked hard, but there wasn’t much there beyond making ends meet. So, during my time with them each summer, they would buy my “new school clothes” for the year. This was a real treat for me to say the least. And every day during those weeks, my grandfather took me everywhere he went. To the post office to get the mail and daily newspaper and occasionally out to eat together. He shared stories from his childhood and about life in general.
    Before my junior year in high school, my brother Shelton and I went to live with my grandparents. My grandmother (who is quite possibly the most loving and generous individual on the planet) has told me many times that we (my brother and I) saved them. I’m still not sure I understand why, but our decision to live with them was the best thing that could have happened to them. At a time in their life that we could have been viewed as an inconvenience, we were viewed as a blessing.
    I am lucky that my grandparents chose to have an active role in my life. At the time, they might not have known the level of impact that they would have on my life, but they contributed without reservation or regard to how we might inconvenience their life and their well-earned retirement. My grandparents invested in me, both personally and financially. And while I’ll admit that I’m enormously grateful for the college education that they paid for, it is the time that we spent together and the lessons learned as a result that is their legacy.
    I want to share just a few lessons that I learned from my grandfather (and grandmother) to hopefully provide some perspective on the impact that a grandparent can have by investing real time with their grandchildren.
    Lessons Learned:
    To tell the truth: While my parents certainly taught me the value of telling the truth, the version of “the truth” that my grandfather told seemed to be a more unvarnished version. And people loved him for it. You knew whatever he told you was the truth, not a softer version of the subject with shades of gray. The truth doesn’t change based on somebody else’s ability to stomach it. I am often accused of calling things as I see it, and this no doubt is a result of hanging with my grandfather.
    The value of compromise in marriage: Okay, this one is much more my grandmother. My parents divorced when I was 7, but both sets of my grandparents had long marriages. One was over 50 years and the other over 60 years. When I think of my grandfather and grandmother, I think of their friendship. I observed firsthand their marriage and love for one another. While not perfect, the loyalty and willingness to overlook each other’s shortcomings impacts my own marriage today. This is mainly due to my grandmother who is a selfless individual. In reality, she always seemed willing to compromise on the small things but knew how to put her foot down when it mattered. Marriage is not always easy, but it’s worth all the effort that it requires. If you want to stay married, understanding the value of compromise can’t be overstated.
    How to handle disappointment in others: I was not a perfect grandchild to say the least. But the few times that I found myself in a bind, they didn’t come down on me. They let me suffer the consequences of my actions without piling on. Eventually, after the dust settled, we had discussions to ensure the lessons were learned. These discussions were never accusatory or heated, but informative and helpful. Even in my darkest moments, they were dependable. There are so few people in this world that you can depend on when the going gets tough, and they were there for me no matter the problem. Maybe that’s the touch of a grandparent, being able to see the forest for the trees. My children will be much better for that experience.
    I was never an inconvenience: Family was more important to them than anything else. It was their purpose. In many cases, showing up is more than half the battle. My grandfather made it to most of my high school baseball games and to my brother’s wrestling matches. Sometimes just showing up is all it takes to show that you care.
    Taught me about business: My grandfather, in particular, was the first one to get me interested in the financial world. He showed me how to track stocks in the newspaper and how they worked. In short, he taught me that the business world is a big place and that opportunities abound for people who are willing to work for it. In that same vein, even into his 70s and 80s, he continued to educate himself which was not lost on me. Observing him reading the business section trying to glean insights impacted me in my own desire to consistently strive to get better each day.
    Taught me about hard work: It was legend that he never missed a day of work except for a time he was hospitalized because he tried to work through a severe illness. Anything less than full effort was unacceptable. It doesn’t take talent to work hard. This may have been the “Marine” in him, but he believed that whatever you do, you should do it to the best of your ability. Simple in theory, hard in application.
    Taught me how to be financially responsible: Due to my grandfather’s business acumen, my grandparents were able to have a comfortable retirement and pay for my college to which I’ll maintain to the end of my life that it was the greatest financial gift and head start anyone could have ever given me. He taught me how to be frugal. He drove an old truck and wore old clothes. If you were to meet him, you might think he was he hadn’t attained any financial success whatsoever. He felt that “things” will never make you happy. And he was right.
    How to be generous: While he never had the nicest cars or clothes, he made sure we had whatever we needed. Every time I’d come home from college, he would ask if I needed anything for school or if I just needed some spending money. For someone as frugal as he was, he was always generous with me and was generous when it came to those he loved. They were worth far more than any “thing” he could buy.
    How to have faith in yourself: Before I decided to leave my prior firm and basically start over, I replayed words he spoke to me a thousand times. Always the woodsman, he told me to “cut my own path through life.” He encouraged me to have faith in myself because he had faith in me. He truly believed I could do anything. His confidence in me is one of a few reasons that I decided to take the leap to go out on my own.
    At the end of his life, he taught me about humility: He wasn’t quite able to care for himself in the waning days. In one experience over the long Labor Day weekend in 2014, I went down to help care for him. What was occurring with him is what most people fear most about the later stages of life. It was the stage where he was unable to care for himself. He must have apologized to me dozens of times that I had to help care for him. Each time he apologized, I told him it was an honor to do it for him. For a man that was larger than life, he was humbled and likely felt humiliated despite my best efforts and kind words.
    That stage of his life left an indelible impression on me. My time with him came full circle. He cared for me until I had to care for him. I’ll never forget those times lying next to him in their bed just listening to old stories and getting a few extra bits of parting wisdom between his bouts of restlessness. He was truly my hero.
    Would I have been willing to serve him in that way if he hadn’t taken the time with me? I’d like to think I would have, but I’ll never know because he did take the time to invest in me.
    When I think back on my time with my grandparents, I don’t think about the college they paid for (though I’m eternally grateful), or the stuff they bought for me. I think of the time that we spent together and the lessons that came as a result of our time together. It was him sharing his 86 years of wisdom with me. It was coffee on the porch every afternoon once I was an adult listening to the same stories over and over again told with the same humor that he told me the first time. It was their inquiring about my own life and listening with genuine interest.
    My grandparent’s legacy is firmly entrenched in my life. Given my personal experience, if you are truly wanting to make a difference in the lives of the people you love most, having a plan for how you spend your time in retirement is at least as important as what you will do with your money.
    Actionable Ideas from a Grandchild’s Perspective:
    When your grandchildren come over to visit or you go to visit them, take them out for ice cream. Ask them questions about their life. What excites them, what concerns do they have? Ask what’s going on in their lives, offer the wisdom of your life on how they might tackle a certain issue. How should they respond to certain struggles? Take the time to sit with them and listen. You have an opportunity to be a mentor to them.
    And if you can detach them from their phones, give them an opportunity to hear the stories of your life. You may be surprised how much they’ll be interested to hear your stories if you listen to their stories. Call your children. Call your grandchildren. Go visit them. Spend time with them. Invest your time (and your well-earned retirement) in the people that you love. They will be so thankful that you did.
    Final Thoughts:
    Knowing that life is short, we have two choices. We could invest our lives in our family and friends with the time that we have left, or we can let it roll by watching the news. Your legacy is the output of that choice. Contrary to how it’s commonly thought of, the legacy of your life doesn’t suddenly begin when you die, the impact just gets magnified. How you choose to spend the years we have left is the great difference-maker in how our lives will be recounted once we pass. Just like with your finances, the life lessons that you pass along can be multigenerational in nature albeit with the potential for even greater impact. In short, your legacy is defined by what you contribute to people’s lives.
    Because at the end of the day, legacies are not about money. They are about people.

    1. Todd, this is a wild coincidence, but I wrote that article. 🙂 I also happened to be an avid reader of Fritz’s blog as well. I am thankful it has helped you and for you sharing it!

      Fritz – this is great stuff man. I always love your thoughtfulness in your writing!

      1. Ashby, wow, what a powerful post! I have to admit I missed it when it was first published, but am thankful to Todd for republishing it here.

        “Ask retirees what being truly wealthy means to them and rarely will you hear answers about net worth. It’s typically about making a difference in the lives of the people around them, namely family and friends.”

        Great summary, and the lessons you learned from your grandparents are important lessons for us all. This is perhaps the best comment ever left on my blog. Thanks for the invaluable contribution to the discussion.

  10. Ah yes ! CASH is king. Saw that as I
    re-skimmed the article.
    We’re going to “link up” yet Brother Fritz!

  11. Congrats on being able to afford to spend more time with family. Watching that little girl grow up will be priceless.

  12. Congratulations on your second home. Also you must be really happy to live close to your daughter and her family. Thank you for detailed explanation for your decision to buy a second home. It would help others with ideas who are in similar situation.

  13. All I have to say is “grandkids”, you want the surest fire way for retirees to spend big money, it’s grandkids. I call only tell you that, last year did the exact same thing. Now we have a place to see the kids and for the grandkids to run around and play.

    From a financial side, the logic was some of the same, put more real estate in portfolio, used money that had been in stock market. Similar to you needed to keep a conservative position.

    But the real reason clearly was the grandkids.

  14. Sounds like a real win to me. It really keeps all the options open. We are debating doing something similar, but in NZ, where we would book it for 3 or 4 months continuously, after that it could be AirBnB for the rest of the year. (We can’t own it, but between NZ resident family, we hope to work something out. Should have done it years ago, but grandson now 1yr old, so time to do it, but Covid hammered our initial look at it into touch!

    Well done!

  15. Did you incur a lot of taxes selling stock with gains (presumably mostly short term)? Presumably you don’t have a pension so pay zero or 10% on them.

    1. BJ, yes, the selling of the stocks was a taxable event since I used investments in our after-tax accounts to fund the house purchase. Typically, I put lifestyle decisions ahead of tax implications, and just deal with taxes as required.

  16. In my twenty+ years in the Air Force my wife and I purchased three homes as primary residences and then converted to rentals when we left for the next assignment (one in Montgomery AL for all the Air War College and Air Command and Staff students). You have several important features in your purchase to make it an ideal BnB/ rental property for military… 3 bedrooms, actual garage (not carport), fenced in backyard, and someone else to take of the lawn? Awesome! We still own all three rentals and they are a nice addition to the portfolio allowing me to retire in 2019 at the age of 52. I may rethink my rental strategy post COVID to look at converting one of them to a short term rental so I can also enjoy them as well. It’s been crazy raining up here in the Northwest and I need some sun! Congrats on the purchase and seeing your grandchild as much as you want.

  17. Very happy for you all! All well thought out choices. So great that the dogs have a backyard, which wasn’t an RV park option either. Glad you don’t have any issues renting out given it’s a HOA-managed property. Just a win/win/win as they say. So great that you can be a regular presence in your grandchild’s life! What a treat. Enjoy the place, and the family visits!

  18. A second house. Sounds like a good idea considering your personal situation. I am so pleased to read how you had thought the purchase through. It was written up beautifully. (“…a plethora of pilots…” Nice alliteration)

    Mazel tov.

  19. So so Happy for you! We too have 4 grands and totally understanding what is most important to us is our family. Time spent with the grand children is priceless. We have diversified some of our assets in a townhome/rental with a small mortgage. Looking at it as a retirement annuity/income stream when we retire in 5 or so. You will never regret your decision. It is a blessing that you could do so.
    Blessings, SC

  20. Fritz,

    I’m sure you did this first – in these situations it is highly advisable to have a very honest, heart-to-heart talk with the kids over visits; how often, duration, establishing boundaries, etc. These situations can turn south quickly with a lot of bad feelings and misunderstandings if both sides are not open and honest. And not just once, but continuously. Also consider the other in-laws as well.

    1. I was grateful to see this comment. I would even encourage you to have a conversation with your daughter and your son-in-law separately. As the daughter-in-law of lovely, yet very “enthusiastic” in-laws, it can sometimes be hard to be fully honest for many reasons, but mostly because I don’t want to hurt feelings. I appreciate the comment about considering the other in-laws too. Navigating this with my parents, who are still loving but less “enthusiastic” than said in-laws, has been a challenge for me.

      1. Thanks for bringing in the perspective as a daughter-in-law. Definitely something that “parents-in-law” need to be attuned to. Good suggestion for private chats with each. We’re also very conscious of minimizing our “invasions” to their house when we’re in town, keep it to short visits and early evening departures so they can have some ‘alone time’ after their daughter goes to bed.

  21. Hi Fritz –

    Congrats on the new home! My wife and I have had a second home for the last 8 years now (we also had a third home for 6 of those years). We used both as vacation rentals and got to spend our vacation time there as well. While it takes some time to keep the homes running (think lawn care, painting, tree removal, snow removal (our “extra” homes are at 2500 feet in the Cascade Mountains), we enjoy spending some time there and enjoying them with family and friends. Sounds like you made a sound investment and a great choice to spend more time with your family. Let us know how it works out over the years that come. If you are interested in any of my second home owner tips, just let me know .. Cheers!

  22. Fritz, love hearing how flexible you are in your retirement, especially since we just had an offer accepted on a little cottage in The Villages in Florida! An avid planner myself, it almost feels wrong to expand our horizons on such an awesome purchase, out of the blue. But it’s not a burden on our finances, we’ll probably also do short-term rental, and my California-native husband needs a break from these cold and gloomy Oregon winters. An unexpected turn of events in this second year of retirement, but one that financial freedom finally makes possible, and that we look forward to sharing with family and friends. Thank you for sharing!

    1. Congrats on the offer acceptance in The Villages! I have a friend who moved there in retirement and loves the active environment. Sounds like a great escape from your overcast PNW winters, glad to hear your financial freedom is making it possible.

  23. Fritz–

    YOU caused me to buy our “second home” by giving the advice to buy “toys” BEFORE retirement. Remeber? (https://www.theretirementmanifesto.com/a-real-life-journey-to-financial-freedom/)

    COVID hit, and the second home put me less than 5 miles from a sick parent (I also related to the story about your dad). This year presented for an opportunity for an easy rehab! Best decision you ever made me make. No dog boarding, no packing, come and go as I please. We don’t rent it but have considered it. We keep the heat real low when we’re not there, pull all the plugs out except the fridge and the cameras! Thanks for another relevant article!

  24. I was listening to a Podcast with a retirement planner. He was addressing a question about the best state to live in for retirement. The question involved taxes, climate, healthcare, etc.

    The Host replies: After working with retierees for most of my career, I’ve come to the comclusion that the best state to live in when retired is in whatever state your Grandchildren live.

    Pretty much sums up our plans.

  25. Hi Fritz,
    Sounds like a great purchase. Welcome to LA (Lower Alabama). I spent nine months at Fort Rucker learning to fly for the Army. Best nine months of my life, Army flying is like no other, down in the trees. Some people complain of the noise but of course is sounds like sweet music to me, I still run outside whenever a military helicopter flies over (yes you can tell the type by the sound it makes)!! Military folks are usually very respective of others property so that is good but there is always an A-hole some make sure to protect yourself. Grandkids are the greatest, enjoy!

    1. Too funny that you mention “LA”. I considered titling the post “We Just Bought A House In L.A.”. I have “pilot envy” every time I watch those helicopters buzzing around Enterprise, a great place for those who love helicopters. I’ll have to start paying attention to the sounds and see if I can learn to identify the type. Challenge accepted. Thanks for your service.

  26. Great decision to buy small second house near family. Rental income a plus and tax write offs as well. Plus w equity valuation sky high having tangible real estate as inflation hedge very very wise!

    We have very similar situation w second home in Murphy NC. Actually we drove thru Blue Ridge yesterday from the Atlanta airport going to Murphy. Some snow expected here tonight.

    1. You’re a neighbor!! We’re actually doing a “fence build” for my wife’s charity, Freedom For Fido, in Murphy next week! We’ll have to connect sometime when you’re here, though I think tomorrow’s off. We’re going to hunker down and enjoy the snow!!

  27. Its adorable! I am sure you will rent it very easily. Best of all time with the grandbaby! Enjoy

  28. Whew, you scared me a few posts back when you put the teaser in for the second home. Couldn’t imagine why not the RV that I have envied since you got it, as always there was a well thought out plan as to why, thanks for sharing. Two important points jump at me from this post. 1) Flexibility & Options – no one has a good hold on the future, so to ensure a good retirement having the flexibility to have options to deal with whatever changes is a true key to it’s success. 2) Things fade, relationships & memories last an eternity – I’ll never forget that after we had kids my dad put a bumper sticker on his camper. “If I’d have known Grandkids were this much fun, I’d have had them first!”. There is a great relationship between the kids and the grandparents. Just shows your true intelligence for recognizing this and sharing the advice with the rest of us. Cherish the time together as is it fleeting!

  29. I lived in Dothan (96-02) and the area is great for families. You can go the Dothan and see the golden peanut and there is a peanut festival and parade every November. The one downside is the gnats during the summer…mowing the lawn is not fun. It should be a lot less stressful managing a property than RVing there periodically. Your resale should be good as well. Best wishes when you visit LA (lower Alabama).

    1. We visited Dothan for the first time during our Christmas stay, but missed the Golden Peanut (!!!), looks like we’ll have to make another trip over there…(actually, we liked the Dothan area, expect we’ll be heading there often as it’s the closest “metro” area with good selection of retail and restaurants. Thanks for the warning about the gnats, good thing we don’t have to mow our yard!

  30. We’re the opposite! We’ve thought about a second home many times but have never actually done it. Why? Don’t want the responsibility b/c even with an HOA a thousand things can go wrong inside the unit; we don’t want to manage it ourselves thru airbnb or otherwise, which means a mgmt. company would siphon off any profit; the places we want to go are near the beach and they are all expensive; plus, the worry of hurricanes, floods, rising sea water. But then 1) we don’t have dogs so we can rent pretty easily and 2) we are worriers and apparently you’re not. So anyway congrats on your purchase, and your new life!

    1. Valid points, Tom, and a great example of a retiree who made the opposite decision for sound reasons. Each of us have to choose for ourselves the things that make the most sense in our retirements. Your decision works for you, ours for us. I’m fine with having friends who see things differently than I do. It’s a trait we should all pursue in these crazy times. Thanks for offering the counter-arguments to buying a second home in retirement, my friend.

  31. Your investment in the second home is perfectly inline with 1DesignerLife framework.

    Finance – the second home is nothing more than an allocation from the current highly speculated stocks market to more tangible asset (CHECKED).

    Relationship – investment of your time with your grand-daughter is inline with your natural instinct to invest in your daughter. You are demonstrating to your daughter that you love her and supporting her in her own life quest (CHECKED).

    Health – science has long proven quality in relationship determines the quality of our health as we get older, more so than money (CHECKED).

    Humanity – Fritz, invest and help me spread this 1DesignerLife Framework!

  32. Living a few hours from family by car, and either a very long drive or a flight from other family didn’t seem like a big deal a year ago. Lots of thoughts on where else I’d live. If I can’t see them (fam) in person, what difference would if make if I took work in the UK? If I didn’t have to sign actual paper for work, could I go fully remote and move closer in the US? For now, I’m staying put.

    Congrats on the 2nd house! Even if it was a quicker decision, it still sounds well thought out.

  33. Fritz,
    You didn’t really mention the “family dynamics” side to all of this…I think our daughter would NOT want us around for one week of every month (more like one week per quarter). Did you get their input on this? How often do they want to come up to the mountains (especially in the summer) that might fulfill the once a month gathering? Are you obligated to let your daughter’s in-laws use the place regularly? Could the Army PCS them overseas in a couple years? Do tell!…and enjoy!

  34. Congratulations on your second home and I hope you get to spend a lot of time with your family and your dogs but you could have also rented a cabin or a holiday on a weekly basis that could have been much cheaper also.

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