Finite Funds And Energy

How do you plan for the next decade or two of your life when you are 72? I want to make the best use of my time, energy, health, and money with the awareness that all of those things will decline. The two people in my life whose advice I value the most, my sons, are in the uncomfortable position of advising me on future plans while not wanting to think of my death.

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Today I tentatively raised that question with one of my sons as we were out for a walk. I was recounting my mixture of pondering and dismay at the number of people my age who are in the news lately because they have died. “So-and-so, aged 73, passed away from natural causes.” “Whatsisname, 71, died recently after a long illness.” You get the idea. I am in that age range where my cohort’s lives are ending. My son thought I was overreacting.

I am trying to decide if I should rent or buy a home if and when I move to Vancouver Island. When I view it as a purely financial consideration, the relative basic costs over twenty years are about even. Buying would involve, in addition, maintenance costs and aggravation but would also provide a dollar value when sold. I would like to leave some money for my children, but that is not a priority. They are doing well and any inheritance would be a plus, not a necessity. If anything, I would prefer to give them financial gifts while they are younger rather than waiting until I am gone.

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These thoughts were prompted, in part, by an article I read in the Guardian that discussed the downsides of buying retirement properties. In England, apparently, these properties are a big headache for the people who inherit them. I don’t know if that is true in Canada, but it gave me pause. I had been thinking of living in a community of people of retirement age so that I could join in their social activities. Now I’m not so sure.

Many people simply want to live out the end of their lives in their family home and/or a familiar neighbourhood, but that is not true of me. I am actually looking forward to moving. I have already downsized and re-cycled or discarded a lot a memorabilia. I’m ready for the next stage and the next place. The only uncertainty I have is whether to rent or buy. I could rent with a view to reevaluating at a later date, but the thought of moving multiple times is daunting.

So, what do you think? What would you advise a single senior woman do to maximize her use of finite funds and energy?


  1. My parents retired to Vancouver Island and loved it, but after my dad passed away my mother moved to the mainland to be closer to her sons. We and our kids saw her more often than before because she was nearby. It was easier to give help when she needed it. She missed her Vancouver Island friends but made new ones on the mainland. It depends on how close you’d like to be to your sons.

  2. Was it taxation that caused the headaches for the Brits who inherited? I think it depends upon what your goals are? If you want to travel while you still can, or snowbird during the winter to a warmer climate, then perhaps buying is not the best choice. But if you prefer to nest or have pets, then perhaps buy? Would think rent versus buy costs would be a factor, also, and if you could find a rental quiet enough so you could enjoy peace.

    1. It seems as though the biggest problem in the UK was the difficulty in re-selling the retirement property.

      I am well-travelled and now find the process uninviting. It’s a “hey ho” kind of resignation. I have been a snowbird since 2009 and am in the process of selling my US condo.

      I don’t have pets and, although I like to nest, because of Covid I feel nested out, if there is such a thing.

      Peace is available in abundance for me right now. I would like a little less of it, to be honest.

  3. Tricky since I don’t really know you. I’d be inclined to advise you to rent firstly to make sure you like your new location, free up funds to bestow some lifetime gifts, maybe travel a bit…..also when renting you don’t have to worry about maintenance.

  4. Here in the US, the nice senior residential facilities require a quarter of a million or more paid down plus monthly rent of $2-4,000 and other expenses. The initial payment goes back in some form to beneficiaries. There are other local senior apartments, but I read this week the waiting list for one near us is 20 years. Ironic at the very least. 🙂 Buying a condo here still requires monthly maintenance fees and agreeing with other owners on how to spend the reserves for repairs. Buying a home, well that’s a whole subject on its own. As a woman in the same age bracket, I wish you well as you make the best decision for you. You are already lucky that your sons are willing, open, and provide feedback to your discussions.

  5. I think it’s unlikely we can plan for all of the eventualities in life, at any stage of our lives. We only have today, and can only plan for the future with the information we have today. It would be nice to make that one final move and be done with moving, but that’s a lot of pressure on a current decision. My thought is to do what is satisfying to you now. And enjoy!!

  6. Also, I understand that your son may have difficulty with your conversation about peers dying. But it’s a deal! When I was in my late 50’s, I lost a friend, a sister-in-law and a cousin in a couple of months. All of them in their 50’s. It was startling and unsettling. But I think it’s a process of living that death is a part of life. I watched my Mom deal with that. It seemed as she aged, into her late 70’s, early 80’s, that she got to a place of acceptance sooner with the passing of her peers. It was interesting to watch. I am the youngest of nine children, and 2 brothers have already died. I know being the youngest doesn’t mean I will necessarily be the last to die, but there’s a chance. So, I’m getting opportunities to understand this death being a part of life. One thing I am doing is asking my siblings about their memories of growing up. Both of my brothers who died loved to tell their stories, and I miss that. Long thoughts, but I wanted to acknowledge your losses of your peers.

  7. hi; I like the idea of renting to get the lay of the land. you may find a neighborhood you did not initially consider at the time of your move more in line with your wants and needs. remember you have good genes, as your parents were still travelling into their 80’s.

  8. We sold our home almost 3 years ago, and considered buying a condo, but were not interested in monthly maintenance fees or dealing with condo boards. Renting  made the most sense for us.  The money from our house sale is available for us to use as we want and gave us the ability to help one of our kids with their first house purchase. Since travel has been out of the question, we decided to rent a penthouse apartment (with four balconies!) overlooking the river valley. We are fortunate to have amazing building managers who are very responsive to any concerns. Our kids are not at all disappointed that we are spending their inheritance. I am happy to be able to share some of our money with them while we are  still alive and hope that it will be easier for them to settle  our estate. As executor of my sister’s estate,  it would have been much simpler if she didn’t own property.
    However, you have you do what feels right for you. I think the idea of renting first is good.

    1. Thank you for this, Susan. It is encouraging! I feel the same way about condo fees and boards and don’t want to go that route again. It is good to know that renting is working out so well for you, and it inspires me to do the same.

  9. I was a renter for most of my adult life until I purchased a townhouse (no condo fees) in 2008. The catalyst was my ever-increasing rent. By 2008, my monthly rent exceeded what I would pay in monthly mortgage payments so I decided to purchase. I’m happy that I did, but I hadn’t expected how much I would spend in regular monthly costs (ongoing maintenance and utilities) plus unexpected repairs. I find myself once again looking into renting, probably within the next five years when one of my pensions ends. The additional expenses related to home ownership over and above the mortgage are an extra financial burden that I’m not sure I can continue to carry. Many of the previous comments regarding renting are good ones, especially renting first to get a feel for the neighbourhood. You might discover that renting is the way to go, with fewer commitments and a bit of extra cash in your pocket.

    1. That’s interesting, Pat. The house I am living in now has been very costly in terms of repairs and maintenance and has made me disinclined to buy again, especially as I find it harder to do the heavy lifting these days! The suggestion to rent first to get a feel for the place is a good one. It may lead to renting long term, too.

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