After three months of roaming, we’ve come to Asheville, North Carolina, to spend the next three months in one place.
As we drive across the state, I’m not sure how I feel about this. It’s been a lot of fun to travel around the country. We’ve seen all sorts of landscapes that we’ve never experienced – the fields of sunflowers in North Dakota, the gigantic expanse of Lake Superior, the badlands of several states, the hoodoos of Bryce Canyon, the jungle room of Graceland. The list could continue. We haven’t minded getting up and heading to the next place, sleeping in different hotel rooms every night or two, driving long distances, never really unpacking.
We also haven’t minded not having a home to take care of. The only “chore” we’ve had to do on a regular basis is laundry and that’s really not very taxing, especially since we got in the habit of staying in hotels every week or so that offered an on-site laundry room.
Now we have to go grocery shopping, cook, clean up, change the sheets, vacuum, scrub the tub…
Even odder, at least to me, is that we spent so much time downsizing our four-bedroom, 2 ½ bath home but now we’re renting a three-bedroom, 2 ½ bath house complete with a laundry room, an outdoor patio with a grill. This rental is a lot of space for the two of us. We’re hoping to have family and friends visit while we’re here, which is why we’ve got the extra bedrooms.
We’ve come to Asheville to spend some time getting to know the area and see if it’s someplace we’d like to settle permanently. We’ve put Asheville on our short list because it’s got much of what we think we want for our retirement home: proximity (3 hour-drive) to Lauren and Bobby; mountains for hiking; a downtown area with arts, restaurants and culture; a temperate climate; plenty of sunshine; good medical facilities. I know, we’re not asking for much.
I’ve talked with many people about our search and realized that many retirees already have a base (usually somewhere with cold winters and lovely summers) with a home and family and they go looking for someplace to relocate just for the cold winters. We don’t have the base, having sold our house and most of our possessions. We’re looking for someplace that is lovely about 10 months out of the year. That doesn’t mean perfect weather for 10 months but we know, for instance that we don’t want to live in the Northeast. The winters are just too long and bleak, as I had to keep reminding myself all of July when we were in New Hampshire, Maine and Ontario, Canada, when every place we visited was prettier than the last!
We haven’t decided whether to move to Asheville full time, this is just a trial to see if we like it. While we’re here, we intend to hike as much as possible, enjoy the various cultural opportunities, and look around at housing developments and land.
Did I mention that complicating our search for the perfect retirement spot is our desire to build our own, modern house – think concrete, steel and walls of glass. Which means that we need a piece of land in a community that will allow us to build what we want.
Early in our retirement-home search, we thought we had found the perfect piece of land: a peninsula on a small lake in a lovely community close to Colonial Williamsburg. However the type of house we want is far more likely to be found on the West Coast. It certainly didn’t fly with the community’s architectural review board.
Finding vacant land that we can afford that is close to town and in a community that will let us build what we want is proving a bit of a challenge. I’m reminded of the old Rule of 3: Fast, Cheap or Good. Pick two. In our case, the rule seems to be modified to: Great Town. Great Views. Great (within budget) Price. I’m beginning to think one of those items is going to have to go and I’m pretty sure it’s going to be one of the first two, barring a lottery windfall.
Meanwhile, we’re going to enjoy exploring the Asheville area.