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Juggling two Homes in Retirement
June 21, 2022

Two homes in Retirement

Last year we purchased a home in Florida in addition to our home in Connecticut and are now balancing living in two homes in our retirement. Throughout this experience we learned a lot about the challenges that can arise and took note of best practices to make it easier and less stressful to juggle multiple homes.

Key Financial Considerations

When considering the purchase of an additional home, we first recommend meeting with your financial planner. You will want to know what budget is realistic, not just for the home, but the many expenses that come with owning and traveling to and from a second home. Your advisor will help you to decide whether you will want to take on a mortgage, use cash savings, and whether it makes sense to rent, buy or in some cases even build. You will also want to determine which home is best for downsizing or whether you might require a larger home. What are the tax consequences?

Motives and Mindset

It’s important that the reasons you want to have a second home align well with your partner and possibly your extended family as well. If you aren’t 100% convinced or on the same page, we recommend you go slow. Ask yourself, why do you want to do this? Does it satisfy a need or is it an impulse?  Will it make your life better or happier? What do your children think?  Will they visit you? Is having another home supporting your overall retirement vision.

Deciding on a Location

When we were making the decision to choose our second home during retirement, we both knew one thing for certain, a warm weather location was important for us to reach our retirement health goals. We knew we wanted to complement our current home in New England during the summers with a winter home that would deliver the warm weather we desired, which is why we chose Marco Island. Our goal to live an active, outdoor lifestyle would be achieved in this scenario; we could work on our physical wellness all year long. Being near the coast, beach and shorelines would also help our mindset and mental wellness as one of our cherished daily routines is watching the sunrise and sunset. 
When considering your location, you will also want to research whether the location offers viable rentals and hotels when guests visit you. Is the location desirable for young families with children to come and visit? (If this is important to you)

Creating Balance in Making two Homes Comfortable

It is important to make owning two homes as easy as possible. There will be many choices to be made about the accumulation of more things. Will you want the same of everything in each location? Do you have different ideas of how you will use each property? We made the conscious decision to not rent either of our homes. This made some of our decisions a bit easier to ensure that we were able to make both of our homes as comfortable as possible and with no worries of someone damaging something of value. Somethings we duplicated, knowing we wanted similar appliances, linens, Sonos, Pelotons, and family photos. We decided it was important to us that when people come to visit, the environment in both locations and style of home evoked the same feeling– you have arrived home and are welcome.

In terms of personal items, those also may need to be duplicated depending on your travel desires.  We want to keep things as simple as possible in traveling between our two homes. Our goal, although not entirely there just yet, is to be able to board a plane with just a carry on versus having to drive back and forth with a tremendous amount of items, including clothing.  We recently met a retired couple with a home in both Cape Cod and Marco Island who told us that when they are out shopping and purchase a new article of clothing that they buy two of the same thing so that they have the identical outfit no matter the home they are residing in.

Seek Ways to Make it Uncomplicated

Initially managing two homes will require a great amount of attention to detail. You may need to hire a good home watch company or caretaker for each home. You will want to have one or more people who will oversee and maintain your property when you aren’t there. This may include a landscaper, electrician, pool company etc. In our case, there is a chance of destructive storms at either location so it is important to know that we have a team lined up to be on site whenever or if ever a problem should arise. This is also extremely important when caring for our 300 year-old historic New England home which requires more upkeep than our 20 year old Florida residence.

Technology has helped to monitor your homes from afar much more easily. We use security cameras we can view from our phones, online thermostats, and even some of our contractors have access to these cameras and accounts to help monitor our homes on our behalf.   

Beyond the physical home, managing guests can get complicated. Over time, we had to create a non-family guest policy. When we first started to entertain non-family guests, we found ourselves getting off-track from our health and wellness goals. It’s easy to lose your routine when entertaining. We even found ourselves in the role of hotelier- planning fun activities, dinner reservations,etc…. Our solution to balance our health habits and routines when company arrives was to advise our guests that we are busy until 10am every morning. They are welcome to join us for our morning routines and rituals like walks and yoga classes, or they can choose to meet up with us after our morning activities were completed at 10am. We got better at setting boundaries, we were happier and sometimes our guests were happier too, especially the ones who enjoy sleeping in!

It took us some time and learning to get into the flow of owning two retirement homes. We are now quite happy with our decision with both locations; we are meeting our health and wellness goals, enjoyed new experiences, and making new friends along the way.  We still have work to be done to establish ourselves in our new community, but it’s been a successful start!