Thursday, January 25, 2018

Three Options

            As our cottage moves toward completion in early May, Kim and I are evaluating what to do with our condo here at the Northern Michigan Asylum. We know we will not be deciding right away – maybe not for a year – but that does not prevent our thinking about it. As it stands now, we have three options, each with implications for how we live.

Option One: Keep ‘em both. This would be ideal in many ways. We love living here and could continue to enjoy our delightful friends living just down the hall, the restaurants just down the stairs, and Traverse City just out the door. And when we are staying most of the time out at the cottage, we can stay at our condo when we have medical appointments at the Cancer Center a few hundred yards away, or when we have shopping to do in town.

The main problem with Option One is the expense: the mortgage and condo dues, two cable bills, and most of all, property taxes on two places. A secondary problem: our stuff would still be in two locations, which means the item we are looking for is at the other place. Right now, half of our stuff is in a storage unit an hour from here, and that includes the pan Kim needs for her mac and cheese specialty, her high-end printer, and most of our clothes. Yes, we’ve learned that we don’t really miss or need some of it, but the simplicity of living in one place, with all our post-garage-sale stuff, is very appealing.

Option Two: Sell the condo and move into the cottage full time. This would solve the money problem, so we would be able to go downstairs to Stella for a great dinner, complete with hot toddy, whenever we want. But wait a minute – we won’t be living right above Stella! We’ll be living out in the woods. Yes, we’ll be on a beautiful lake, but when we go out to eat it will involve a drive, so no hot toddy for me.

On the other hand, the big appeal of Option Two is the way that remoteness connects us with the natural world. By that I mean the birds, deer, fox, trees, ferns and flowers, plus the daily sunrise over the lake. But I’m also looking forward to dealing with the snow, firewood and weeds (Kim won’t be dealing with the latter unless her back gets better). The physicality of snow, firewood and weeds appeals to me after the more sedentary year of condo living, and even though these things count as “work,” I rejoice in still being able to do physical work.

On yet another hand (how many hands is that?), the remoteness, the isolation might be a bit much, especially in the winter. Cozy, yes, but isolated. Kim suffers from claustrophobia – when we are stuck in traffic on the Interstate, she starts searching the map for back-road alternatives – so she would not be comfortable if we are snowed in. Yes, I will have some boy-toys to plow us out – if I can figure out how to get them started. When I mention the isolation to Kim, she points out that I pretty much isolate myself anyway with my reading, writing, Netflix and Words With Friends, so what’s the big deal?

Option Three: Keep both but rent the condo during the summer. This compromise seems to make the most sense as the income would ease the financial strain, plus we would have a place to live if the cottage proves to be too isolated in the winter. Perfect, right?

Nope, because of the Hassle Factor. If we rent out this place, then we would have to worry about strangers’ damaging our stuff – and we have stuff we really like. We would also have to move a lot of our stuff out – clothes, toiletries, Kim’s home-made bird nest collection, artwork – which would be a hassle. Plus, I would be cast in the role of landlord, which means I would be responsible for maintenance and repairs. This is an old building. Plumbing backs up. During a rain storm we had water dripping from the bathroom vent. Renters might put cherry pits in our disposal, and we have this expensive new floor we just put in. Being a landlord can be the kind of hassle I don’t want to take on during my Golden Years.

          Looming over all three options is the shadow of Kim’s cancer. Despite the ongoing pain and fatigue, her recent scans show no evidence of cancer – though we know it’s circulating in there somewhere – and it is Stage 4. What if it comes back? Or, what when it comes back? It would be convenient to live so close to the hospital. And as much as I hate to admit it, I won’t be this healthy forever. (As I write this I’m awaiting PSA test results, periodontal surgery, and my next post-melanoma skin check.) Then, what?

So, we are going to wait maybe a year before making a decision. See what it’s like out there in the winter. Meanwhile, we are thinking of possible names for our cottage. The candidates so far:
·.            *Sunrise (we’ll see it over the lake)
*Two Loons (our auto tag is “1LOON”)
*Ecdysis (look it up)
*Not a Shithole

Advice welcome . . ..


  1. I would wait a year to see how living in the winter goes. Also, I would use a management company if you decide to rent out the condo. They do all the screening. They even take care of maintenance problems. Of course, you have to pay for any work that needs to be done, unless you do it yourself. When we rented out our house furnished, we only paid management 10% of the monthly rent. With all the problems we encountered with our boat, we didn't have to worry about the house. You might decide you want to live in the condo and rent out the cottage. Who knows? Angie

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