Resilience In Retirement
Thanks for taking us with you through your planning process.
We are in the process of selling (listed for 14 days) a house north of Austin, TX to be able to buy a home near our oldest son and his family in rural Florida.
You mentioned how it was much simpler to plan from scratch for resiliency. I have been watching the local home listings for the last year as we rent near my son. Due to cost I have not really considered building from scratch. I wonder how I could figure out a comparison of an energy-efficient new home vs. retro-fitting an existing home? Down here there are a great many manufactured homes so I would also need to do a comparison of those new and retro-fitted also.
Sometimes all the choices swirl in my head. That is why I appreciate your well-laid out post.
Best of wishes in your gardening endeavors!
Another question. I’m in a 5b zone like you. You will most likely get low enough temperatures that your heat pump will not be able to keep up. If you’re not home to feed the wood stove, how do you plan on maintaining sufficient heat in your house to keep the pipes from freezing? Do you have electrical back-up?
Good question. Yes, we do have baseboard electric heat in three out of seven rooms each with their own thermostat. If we leave for a week or more in the winter, we’ll set the house heat pump thermostat to 55 or 60 degrees and set the three baseboard heater thermostats at 50 degrees. That should at least keep the house from freezing if we have three or more days in a row in which the high for each day is zero or less (very unlikely here, I’m told).
And if you’re wondering, we even have a “Hail Mary” third backup. Our SimpliSafe alarm system has a freeze detector that we can monitor remotely. If the freeze sensor were to go off, we’d either rush home or ask a friend to go by the house and light the biggest fire the wood stove can handle. The chances of that are about the same as Hell freezing over 😉. However, the Maunder Minimum is always in the back of my mind.
Rome is burning.
Thank you for the organized posts. Resilience in Retirement is a theme on my mind these days and I hope to achieve what you have accomplished.
15 years ago, I stopped working for someone else. Now at age 63 like so many others without a pension and waiting for 70 to maximize my social security, I am surviving on part-time work, savings and income from a beach rental property.
My family is concentrated near the Atlanta area and my wife’s relatives are in south Georgia and Florida. None of them are remotely interested in discussing the impact to our future of the three “E’s” (Environment, Energy & Economy) much less climate change. I want to escape from our inner city Atlanta condo to a more resilient lifestyle. Somehow, I want to be helpful with my children and grandchildren’s lives while preparing a resilient future for my own as I age in place. We have managed to downsize our possessions and cut back on our daily needs.
I want to find 2-4 acres of property in a like minded community within an hour from my grandchildren north of Atlanta where we can build from scratch. I really don’t want to sit-out what is to come this far south and so close to a major city. But, this is where I raised my family. They are rooted here, raising their own families and to be involved I have to stay.
“Go down with the ship” so to say and make the best of it while we can.
I suppose those of us who want to remain engaged in our children’s lives are also in similar situations. So, how do we plan a resilient retirement while remaining so close to the chaos and in a region so likely to be impacted by rapidly changing climate?
Getting situated is a challenging dilemma and will require significant change. Resilience for the next 30-40 more years is a lot to plan for.
I sure do hope more people post their progress on this subject. Please share your plans. Will you leave your families or stay?
Glad to see you have finally been able to make your dream a reality. Although I don’t live there now, welcome to my home state where my family still resides, “Live Free or Die”!
I think that you can safely put the odds on the side of warming into the future, though you will undoubtedly have some cold weather from time to time. Back in the 70s and earlier there were regular bouts below -20F. Not so much these days. You’ve certainly been regaled with tales of the Blizzard of 78 (4’+ of snow), which your wife probably remembers well. Massachusetts was down for 5 days, NH was up and we were in school the next morning. Roads in NH are kept in good condition. Be careful if driving across into Mass during any inclement weather (I’m serious) as the road care, long and short term, changes drastically.
Glad to see you ended up in Concord as southern NH has become too built up for my taste. Perhaps you are insulated being close to town but word to the wise for your gardening, keep bears in mind. My brother lost his bee hives and my mother had a steel fence and heavy duty pole crushed by a bear after her bird feeders. (I just lost my own to a bear here in Appalachia, but that’s another tale).
If you redo your raised beds, don’t use red oak, it rots quickly. White oak is rot resistant though and so is ideal for external use. Cedar is softer and rot/insect resistant.
Your set up looks terrific. What kind of wood stove are you using? I am hoping to get a high efficiency wood furnace for my place. If you’ve got a standard wood stove and a tight well insulated house I would expect you’ll need 2-3 cords of wood each winter if that is your main/only heat source. Snows are usually heavy/wet unless it’s very cold. Natural disasters are primarily ice storms that take down trees and knock out the electricity (sometimes for weeks). You are far enough north and in a high priority area (State Capital) so you are probably in good shape if power goes out. Combined with your generator and wood stove you should be enjoying hot coffee and comfort while some neighbors freeze… Is your grid-tied PV system with or without battery backup? I’m debating how to proceed here.
Thanks for such a detailed and open thread on your transition. We’ve finally got our homestead, though the transition to making it as resilient as we want it to be is going to take a while. Retirement will come once the mortgage is paid off….
I sure do hope more people post their progress on this subject. Please share your plans. Will you leave your families or stay?
Family was a major issue for us. Our daughter, the adventurer, lives in NW Iowa with her husband and two girls. We considered Iowa, S. Dakota, and N. Dakota to be closer to them but in the end chose NH. Our son and his fiancé (who currently are planning to have zero children) still live in Philly, but staying there was never an option for us. We wanted to get away from that massive unbroken urban zone that runs from Norfolk, VA to Boston, MA. With technology, it’s a lot easier to talk and see each other over the internet, but we are now spread all over the continent. (But my wife’s mother, brother and his family are in New England about 2.5 hours away in separate directions). The trade off is that we now have a bug out shelter where our son and daughter can come with their families in that kind of disaster. My son is the most vulnerable so I’ve tried to school him on the kinds of disasters which should cause him to “get out of Dodge.” He has a rudimentary bug out bag with some supplies and I’ve advised him to steer well west of the cities (including a marked up road atlas he laminated) and get here as soon as he can. Hopefully, the recent oil refinery explosion in South Philly which is about half a mile from his house will be memorable enough to keep him alert and prepped.
Thanks for your well wishes! We have a “Regency” supposedly high efficiency wood stove about which we are clueless. Our learning curve on heating with wood will start in about November. One of our dilemmas was whether or not to get a battery with our solar PV system. It still drives me crazy that without one when the utility company power fails we can’t use our panels, not even in the day time. ReVision Energy actually talked us out of the battery saying the technology was constantly improving but still expensive for what you get. For less than 1/3 the cost of the battery backup, we got a Generac generator. If during our lifetimes utility power gets very shabby and inconsistent I’ll spring for a battery. If there’s an EMP I’ll try that day to get the battery, but don’t have much hope that will succeed as a plan.
We just went through NH’s hottest July on record, so no sign of the Maunder Minimum yet. 😀 The state office complex and State Police HQ are 1.6 miles down our road so we are definitely in a high priority area for utility service and all kinds of infrastructure maintenance. People coming into town from the rural areas to our north to work at the state offices drive down our road so it stays well-plowed. We’ve been warned about bears and have heard of them within 1/4 mile away. Currently our battle is with deer, porcupines, groundhogs, squirrels and chipmunks chomping on our vegetables. We’re trying all kinds of tactics to keep them away. I’m pouring my urine on the perimeter and around our two apple trees which are apparently gourmet favorites for porcupine and deer. We’ve put up a deer barrier we learned about on the internet which doesn’t look like it would work, but it has for over six weeks. Here it is:
I know what you mean about the roads in MA. If someone simply drove the roads and non-federal highways of all the New England states plus NY they’d pick NH like we did after much more extensive research than just highway maintenance. It’s a good indicator of the general health of a state and its government.
Good luck with getting set up there and paying off your mortgage. We’re all out of debt and that’s a relief being able to eliminate that as a possible future issue in an inflating or crashing economy. Without debt they can devalue the dollar by lopping off one or more zeroes and I’ll just smile. Our pensions and social security checks will be worthless but we’ll be gold and silver gazillionaires.
“Happy Hunger Games. And may the odds be ever in your favor.”
Loving this thread. Keep it coming! Many of us who aren’t commenting (aren’t even close to retirement) are still here, furiously reading and taking notes.
Thanks Tom and everyone, very interesting discussion.
Regarding generators, here is our experience.
Our house is located in the Laurentians, Quebec, in a wooden area on a 27 acres property. We noticed during the last years that electricity loss was occurring more often (stronger and more frequent thunderstorms, and a few drunk guys that crash test their car on a random Hydro post). We thought about a PV system, but we are still thinking on the most efficient way to implement it. So far, Hydro Quebec has low prices (CAD 0.05-0.08/kWh) and plenty of water. No emergency. But for the failures (anything between 5 minutes and 3 days) we need something to help with water (well pump) and refrigerators/freezers. I did some calculations (load) and determined that a 8-9Kw generator is sufficient to power: the well pump (240V), the lights (120V, LED), the fridges (120, 3 units), the freezers (120V, 2 units), the microwave (120V), the smoke detectors (120V, 5 zones), the heater in the master bedroom (240V) and an unexpected future need.
The purchased generator is a Champion 9KW (11.25Kw peak). The major comments: This is a gas guzzling device. about 60L of gasoline per 24h of continuous function, and 9Kw seems pretty high for our real needs. A 6-7Kw would have been enough. Anyway, we have it, so we are using it. In order to save gas we adopted the following strategy:
– Use it one hour every three hours to keep fridges/freezers cold.
– Do not start it during the night unless absolutely necessary. These two points allow us to consume about 10L a day instead of 60.
– Do not open the fridges unnecessary.
– Regarding toilets, I (a man) have plenty of trees around the house to mark my territory.
– We purchased a propane kit from China (less than 50$). Still to be installed as well as a propane tank (100lb? 420lb? Not yet fixed).
Since we use little gas, and we need to keep some handy, we use the highest octane indice (premium, super, etc.). It is important it does not contain ethanol. We systematically add fuel stabilizer. The absence of ethanol prevents the quick deterioration of the rubber parts in the generator’s carburetor. We have a one pull start every time we use it.
Also, we stop the generator by closing the tap. This empties the carburetor bowl.
We started working on resilience in 2013/2014. We are still far from true resilience although we are much better than the average Joe. Our garden is producing much less than we thought and there is a lot variability year after year (weather, pests, lack of experience). Still plenty to learn. Deers have eaten (and killed) all our apple trees (My bad. I did not react swiftly to install a fence). To redo. For the meat, we raise our chickens but we still purchase the 1-day chicks. Our next step will be to sell this house (3200sq.ft) and build a much smaller one (1200-1500sq.ft). This is enough for two (and three cats) and will reduce our exposure to the coming fiscal cliff (The federal and provincials governments are cuttings budgets, and local governments (cites) cannot make deficits. So, taxes are raising – more than 50% since 2010, 10% since 2016). Vacant lots in the area are still at reasonable prices (1000-3000$/acre depending on soil quality, topography and accessibility).
New Hampshire is an interesting choice and should be a nice escape from Pennsyltucky. My choice is coastal Washington state in an off the beaten path exclave (Zip code 98281). Close to Vancouver but the locality is like another world with a fairly mild climate.
I am in the planning stages for what I want to build. The area is in a seismic zone and is subject to some occasional storms, but is generally warmer in winter and cooler in summer than my current home in the South.
Not to nitpick, but it is the Democratic Party- not the Democrat- and it is on average a centrist party- not leftist. Note the pushback from Center-Right pols like Hillary Clinton to Bernie Sanders in 2016 who is about where FDR and JFK stood.
Well, FDR consistently sided with Stalin, even though Stalin starved millions in the Holodomor, attacked and occupied Poland only 16 days after Germany did (and wreaked every bit as much destruction upon Poland as Germany did and perhaps more), “decapitated” the Polish leadership in the Katyn Forest massacre, purged enormous numbers of his own troops and political figures, worked millions to death in the gulags, was already operating to instigate WW2 in the 1920s (with his plan being for the Europeans countries to tear one another apart leaving the way open for the Soviet Union to take over from the weakened countries afterwards), worked to destabilize Spain in the Spanish civil war (with the Nazis and the Soviet communists waging a proxy war there), and had a 22 month truce with Hitler. Plus, there were hundreds of Communist agents sprinkled through FDR’s administration. Plus, FDR progressively increased his provocation of both Imperialist Japan and Nazi Germany and was instrumental in getting the US involved in WW2. The evidence of his foreknowledge of the attack on Pearl Harbor has grown considerably over the years. So personally, I don’t look upon FDR too fondly and, in my opinion, he definitely qualified as a leftist (as is Bernie who is an unabashed communist, if not in name, then most definitely in planned action). JFK, on the other hand, was completely different from FDR. He was definitely capitalistic but did everything to stop war, not provoke it. He didn’t just talk peace like FDR did (while FDR was actually working for the opposite), he actively worked towards peace. In fact, that was one of what I call the three and a half reasons why he was assassinated in what was essentially a coup (and it wasn’t by Lee Harvey Oswald). The Democratic Party of the 50s and 60s was more centrist and actually supported the working man. The Democratic Party of the present time is most definitely leftist and is largely antagonistic to the working man. That’s why so many of the working class “deplorables” voted against the 2016 Democratic candidate for POTUS.
- This reply was modified 2 weeks, 3 days ago by ao.