We’ve all thought about our Dream House. For some people, making that dream become reality is part of their ideal retirement plan. It can be an adventure that lasts for years and may have its origins in an earlier part of your life. For us, our dream started taking shape during our vacations. We were very lucky to be able to take some great vacations and the places we stayed were quite charming. Although I liked where we lived, I was always attracted to a different setting. Long Island, New York was very nice and had great beaches, schools and activities, but it was just not where I wanted to spend retirement. The mountains always had an attraction for me, and Long Island is pretty flat so there was always a sense of wonder as we drove the mountain roads, made our way through the valleys and spent some time at a picturesque lake.
I spent some time in upstate New York during my working career and fell in love with the Catskill Mountains and the Hudson Valley. Driving back home and hitting the parking lot that was disguised as the Whitestone Bridge, I thought about how nice it would be to live in the country, not far from a lake with a view of the mountains in the distance. On every vacation that took us to a location that appealed to me, I would ask my wife if she would consider moving there. On one of those trips, after the kids were in college and it was just the two of us, we actually went looking at some of the houses that were advertised in a Real Estate magazine I had picked up in our travels. Could any of these homes become our Dream House?
In 2006 we found a little community that had a lake as it’s centerpiece and we bought a piece of property right on the lake with a view of the mountains in the distance. I married a saint, as I’ve said many times, and she was willing to share my lake home dream with me. It took us more than ten years to get serious because we were still working, but, as retirement approached, we started the plans for our dream house.
I have no idea how many hours we spent looking at plans and designing our own. I do know it was fun and we spent many days looking at decorating ideas and brainstorming what we wanted in our dream house. We wanted a house that would take us through our retired years. It would have to be an age-friendly house that had safeguards for seniors built in and be as maintenance free as possible. When it came time to pull the trigger, I wish I could say that it was a smooth ride to get our house built but, it wasn’t. Many obstacles had to be overcome, and the costs get going up. At one point we almost called it off but, after much discussion, we decided we had come too far to give up.
I’m happy to say we are now living in the house and we love it. It was worth every headache and every extra dollar. We have a lake in our back yard and live in a lovely little community near the Hudson River. We started with a dream and made it a reality and can look back with great pride on completing the journey. Our dream house is a lot like each of us: it’s a work in progress!
We have heard similar stories from people we’ve met who have set out to build their dream house. It’s an undertaking of enormous proportions whether you build from scratch or buy an existing home and make it your own. Some people do the work themselves and that must be a tremendously satisfying experience. My wife is actually more handy than I am and she has a great time hang pictures and drapes and decorating our dream house one room at a time.
Just remodeling an existing home can be a lot of work but that can create your dream house as well. You don’t have build from scratch or do a total reconstruction to get a true sense of fulfillment as you make little changes at a time. It can become a hobby. Home Improvement shows are among the most popular and, after working on our new house, it’s easy to see why. Doing the work yourself adds a whole new dimension that I’ll never experience, but it can easily become a very pleasant obsession. Creating your dream house can be a very exciting part of retirement.