I have two items on my so-called "Bucket List" of things I want to do before I die. I've been blessed to lead an incredibly varied life, working in several different professions and living through some interesting times. So thankfully, my list is not long. I think everyone should have a bucket list though, and everyone should have some kind of a plan in place to git 'er done, as they say, before kicking said bucket.
Mine is as follows:
1. I'd like to live in a climate with four true seasons, including some (but hopefully not a huge amount of) snow. Washington State or northern Idaho is in, Wisconsin and Minnesota are out.
It should have a true fall, starting sometime in September. Spring can start later than here, maybe April or even May. Mild summer, relatively speaking.
You may surmise from this that I am tired of only being able to wear sweaters four months out of the year, and not every day at that. That's true. I am also tired of, and increasingly unable to deal physically with, heat. Today, for example, it's 80 degrees. Not a bad temperature to be outdoors in at all, but kind of kills the mood for decorating the house or baking holiday cookies, believe me.
2. I really, really, really want to see the Aurora Borealis, or Northern Lights. I am hoping to combine #1 and #2, even if it only happens from my back porch once or twice in my lifetime. That's all I need to check off the box.
As Big Ag and I head into our mid-50s, these two items play large in my mind, although I am happy where we are currently living...for the present. Which means the next 10 years. We're close to our kids and close to family. Sometimes things are fine for the present, but you know there's not going to work, long-term in your future, though. Some men are like that. So are some states.
One thing Big Ag and I both agree on that helps this decision a lot is that we know we cannot afford to continue living here once we retire. California is one expensive state to live in, mostly because real estate is so pricey. (Even if you own your own home outright, you will still be paying a huge property tax bill based on the estimated worth of your home.) Add to that some of the most expensive gasoline in the nation, sky-high utility bills, and just the general cost of doing business, and this is a tough town to stay in once you aren't earning anything and are living off your social security and savings.
My idea is to go where you can save the most money if you want to last to the end of life's competition in good shape. And sell high and buy low whenever possible. If you're leaving California, that's easy, because real estate values are so incredibly over-inflated in the first place.
A dear friend relocated to Idaho recently and called me, so excited to tell me about paying her vehicle registration renewal fees. Here in California it was costing her about $400 a year to do this. In Idaho it cost her $35, every other year. It turns out not only do they give a discount to seniors on their auto registration, they will also cut your property tax bill if you earn less than a certain amount each year.
Our other big concern is water. There is not enough of it here. And as has been true for eons of human and prehistoric history, everything (including creatures on two and four legs) has to follow the water. So we'll be looking for a place that gets a lot more rainfall, with additional water in the form of snowfall, to make survival a little easier.
People from out of state are always shocked when I tell them our well lies 600 feet below the surface of our land and that water costs us at least $100 a month in electricity to bring it up from that depth. I tell them, "you ain't seen nothin' yet." The aquifer we're drawing out of is currently in decline, and people are having to drill deeper and deeper. And once you get to about 1,000 feet, there are huge amounts or boron or worse, the possibility of going "artesian" which means suffer-flavored, extremely mineral water that isn't always drinkable without filtration and settling. Is that sustainable long term? I don't know. I won't be here to see it.
So in springtime we plan on taking a trip, a scouting trip, up to the Northwest to look at neighborhoods and visit with friends who have already relocated there. Who knows, in another 500 years people like us may be known as the first of the Great Northern Migration, following the water to more northern latitudes as climate change takes hold for real.
One thing that's for sure is that when your bucket list is also your retirement plan, if you live long enough the odds are good you will get to live out your list as well. So while I'm not buying sweaters or snow throwers yet, it's a safe bet to say both are in my future.
Gonna get some water in that "Bucket List" bucket.