A boomer’s retirement story: Lessons Learned

Here’s something a lot of baby boomers are doing: downsizing! Which is something that Colorado’s Laura Lee Carter, a.k.a. The Midlife Crisis Queen, has just gone through. From the experience, she writes for BoomerCafé about “Our Retirement Story: Lessons Learned.”

Our retirement story is unusual for a number of reasons. First of all, Mike and I met and married at the age of 50. At that time we had both saved extensively for retirement and it’s a good thing too! Our decision to retire came earlier than expected for health reasons.

Carter_slab-of-house

As we both approached 60, our retirement goals coalesced into a mutual desire to leave city life behind, and find inexpensive land in rural Colorado to build a custom passive solar home. Spectacular views also were a must.

By chance, back in 2005 on our first road trip together, we had driven through some lovely, pristine foothills in southern Colorado. Mike remembers thinking how nice it would be to build a solar home west of Interstate 25 and north of Highway 160.

carter_snow

Fast forward to last June when we sold our nice suburban home in Fort Collins, which is up near the Wyoming border, to move into a century-old rental in the southern Colorado town of Walsenburg. That led to a decision to purchase a few acres in a place called Navajo Ranch. The lot had perfect southern solar exposure and spectacular views of two ranges in the Rockies: Spanish Peaks and the Sangre de Cristos.

carter_frame-house

So began our agonizingly slow home-building odyssey. Finalizing the design, procuring a county building permit, and completing an extra thick slab specialized for maximum heat retention took five months. Since then, the building process has moved along relatively smoothly, especially considering that this was mostly winter construction and believe me, this is a part of Colorado that sees winter weather!

Laura Lee Carter

Laura Lee Carter

By last October, Mike and I had started a blog to inform others about building solar in southern Colorado. It’s called “Adventures of the New Old Farts” and turned out to be quite popular worldwide!

As of today, the drywall is going in and we hope to move into our new home some time in May.

carter_house

LESSONS LEARNED:

  • Start early! Renovating, staging, and selling a home these days is a gigantic undertaking.
  • Moving is hell. Get rid of as much stuff as you can!
  • Moving is not just physically demanding. It takes all kinds of emotional energy.
  • Let go of your control freak self in this process. It will not serve you.
  • Roll with the punches as best you can.
  • Building a new custom home today costs more than you can even imagine!
  • Take an estimate of how long you’ll need to build a custom home, then double it. Even truer in rural areas!
  • Making new friends takes time and patience, especially in small towns.

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4 Comments

  1. I enjoyed your story, Laura Lee, and just ordered your book. Thanks for sharing!

    We are walking parallel paths.

    I, too, love helping others navigate the choppy waters of midlife. And my husband and I are building a custom house in rural wine country in the coming months. I so appreciate hearing about your experiences. There’s comfort in numbers!

    All the best,
    Marcia

  2. Congratulations on your new home! From what I can see it’s a beauty. I wonder if the snow’s reflectivity gives you more solar? (this from a non-science person so forgive me if it’s a dumb question!)

    1. Hi Linda:
      I’m also not sure about snow reflectivity, but we do benefit greatly from storing the sun’s warmth almost everyday and holding it in our slab overnight! My husband told me this would work, and you know what…he was so right!

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