To wrap up this series about real estate and philanthropy I thought I’d share how we came to live at our current residence, where we intend to live out the remainder of our independent days. Before our current home we have lived in a regular house that we owned, an apartment, a condo, and a home which we held in the name of a third party. There is a category we had tried in the past which has not yet been covered.
While my wife Cathy and I were still living in our condo my mother took ill. I am simplifying for brevity. We decided to take her in and our little place was not going to accomodate my frail 80-year-old mother. The two bedrooms and single bath upstairs and living room, dining room, and kitchen on the main floor would be extremely difficult at best. When examining my mother’s condition and considering Cathy and myself are 59 and 55 years old respectively, we took into account that we are going to get feebler as time goes on.
Logic dictates that we want a ranch. At some point in our lives going from floor to floor will become untenable. We already wanted at least 1 1/2 baths. Also take into account that I am not home-handy so a fixer-upper is not an option unless we want to hire out the fixing. We searched far and wide for an appropriate ranch and found nothing that suited us. Having seen the open floor plans of newer homes that we were unwilling to pay for really jaded our view.
I got the bright idea to check out double-wide mobile homes and after investigating a number of places and their locations we made the decision to rent one with a year’s lease exclusively in my mother’s name. The reason for the lease in this manner is that should my mother die we had the option to either stay and honor the lease or we could break it without penalty. As it turned out my mother died before ever stepping foot in the place and we stayed there for about five months total. She had begun her final downward spiral as were were setting things up and we kept moving her back and forth from hospital to rehabilitation places during that time. It wasn’t fun.
What we did learn from this stock bottom-of-the-line model was that we really liked the place. The “stigma” of living in a “trailer” did not affect us at all and anyone who visited us really liked the place. Once my mother died, it was time for us to take our time and decide where we ultimately wanted to live out our retirement and the rest of our healthful lives.
Again, we could not find a home to suit. Anything we were willing to consider was at the top of our price range and in poor condition. Also, Cathy wanted to move back to her hometown. We agreed to see if we could find a manufactured home park in the vicinity and if we found an agreeable location to then shop for a new home to have located there.
We found a nicely tended place several miles from where Cathy grew up; half a mile from the nearest pizza place, one mile from a good gas station, 2 miles from all our regular shopping needs, 30 miles from Grand Rapids which is the second largest city in our state of Michigan. Perfect.
It took a good amount of research and shopping to find our dream home. Long story short, we found the perfect place but the two smaller bedrooms were a little too small as was the dining room. No problem as it turns out, we can have it custom lengthened to make both the bedrooms and the dining room larger. Perfect.
If you click on the above picture you can see a larger rendering of the custom floor plan. The dining room, living room, and kitchen have a wonderful open feeling that is not obvious from looking at the “blueprint.” The walk-in pantry is almost 12 feet long measuring the longer wall, as is the walk-in closet off the master bedroom. Luxurious space for storage. For two people we have 1600 square feet of living area all on one floor. We are close to water, to where food is grown, to shopping, and natural disasters are something that happens elsewhere. We get all four seasons and enjoy them all.
From the diagram the kitchen does not look as open as it is while walking through the house so I’ll provide a picture from outside it. Forgive the mess as we have just had the walls painted and many things have not yet been put back where they belong. Also the white table in the lower left center should not be there.
With the construction we took extra care to upgrade the infrastructure; increased roof pitch, maximum insulation, premium cabinets and appliances, nice carpeting and linoleum flooring. In the diagram above, the green areas all have the same linoleum flooring. Note in the diagram how we had linoleum placed between the main entrance all the way across to the coat closet for rainy and snowy days. I have a picture immediately below showing the carpeting, the linoleum, and the rounded edges of the corners of drywall. Those rounded corners give the place a softer and more pleasant feel.
The bottom trim needs a bit of caulk and to be painted for the first time. We only had the walls done. The linoleum looks like real wood flooring and it is not until a visitor bends down and touches it that they believe it is not wood.
And there you have it, some of the basics of our home. I’ll go through my office at a later time once I have it set up the way I want.