The Baby Boomer Quandry

What’s your plan? Are you downsizing? Moving to the beach? Moving closer to the kids? An over-50 community? A condo? A tiny house?!

It’s the conversation everyone in my age bracket is having. It’s the conversation no one told you about when you were in your 20’s and 30’s. It’s the conversation that sneaks up on you. What to do as you approach the retirement years? Seriously, could we be there already?! Yes, our circle of friends are 60 and beyond, some already retired and many getting closer. We are the baby boomers. And we have some big decisions to make.

Our parents didn’t ponder this question in quite the same way. Their generation was more content to stay put until they were forced out by illness or circumstances. My parents are a perfect example. They lived in the same house for 44 years until Hurricane Harvey forced their hand. My mother-in-law is still in the house my husband grew up in. He was two years old when they moved there 58 years ago. Our generation is a little more restless. Maybe the better way to put it is that we want to make our own decisions about how the back end of life will play out.

The baby boomers were brought up this way. It’s interesting that our parents raised us to want more out of our lives. We are better educated, more affluent, well-traveled. Our lives are broader, generally speaking, than our parents. (Though this is probably true of each generation.) Many of us found careers far away from the places we grew up. We were willing to be a bit more adventurous, not bound to family land or home towns. It’s only natural that we would feel like the options were many for our retirement years.

Some are more adventurous than others. Our friends Don and Crystal bought a boat. Not a little lake boat, but one they plan to live on in Florida when Don retires from American Airlines in a few more years. I admire their energy and spirit! But that’s not for me. Too close quarters. I learned that in my brief apartment stint. Another couple we know has moved into a local over-50 community and are loving it. Lots of activities all the time. Not sure that’s for me either, though my hubby loves the idea of the Jimmy Buffet Margaritaville communities new to the scene. A parrot-head for life!

Some other close friends, Pat and Neely, just sold their beautiful home in a very fine neighborhood in Davidson, North Carolina to move…..across the neighborhood. They found a smaller version of the home they loved in the neighborhood they love, so why leave it? We know people planning to move across the country to be closer to their children and grandchildren, downsizing in the process. The word condo gets thrown around a lot, as in “I would be happy in a condo at the beach.” I love the beach, too, but sand on the floor for the next umpteen years would get on my nerves. We have our mountain home and have discussed endlessly the possibility of retiring there. But it’s on three levels after you climb two flights of stairs from the driveway. Old knees and backs balk at the idea of hauling groceries up all those stairs into our twilight years. (That’s another thing no one tells you….your body wears out and sometimes limits your options.) So what’s a respectable baby boomer to do?

For now we have stuck our flag in the ground in suburbia. Because the final thing no one tells you is that if you are still smack in the middle of the sandwich generation you are probably staying put. Our conversations had so many possibilities until we woke up one day and had aging parents on one side and grandchildren on the other. We can’t, and don’t want, to go anywhere right now. We’ll keep the house in the mountains until we can’t do it anymore. We’ll travel to places that can fulfill our need for adventure. We’ll visit our friends in all the cool areas they will scatter to. But for now we will enjoy these years in a house we love near the ones we love. Boom!

2 thoughts on “The Baby Boomer Quandry

  1. For us, we stayed in our hometown to be close to our parents. Now we stay to be close to our children. But, you never know what the future holds….

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  2. Kathy Ann Fitzgerald Turner July 22, 2019 — 1:23 am

    We downsized in some ways when we moved to Hunt in that our one- story retirement home is less than 1800 sq ft but we have a lot of land to maintain as our aging backs and knees often complain.

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