Simplifying Life-Renting vs Owning a Home

Growing older (not old-shh) gracefully takes some planning. One of the most important areas of planning is home ownership, having a home set up, examining renting instead of buying, and looking at eventual possibilities of long term care.

Granted, we are not retirement material, as yet, but life happens. The reality for us was that we did not want to reach full or even partial retirement and not be prepared. We lived in a two story, single family home. All of the bathrooms and full bathrooms were upstairs. This left a half bath as the only main floor source. To move all living to the main floor would cost more as renovation would have to be made in the bathroom and dining room. This would also leave a very small amount of living space and no home office or studio. The upstairs would be a lot of useless space. It also housed the laundry room, so that would be another issue. We decided to evaluate further and came up with a list of needs for planning ahead.

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We started with a list of what we desired for home ownership or renting. These were the considerations:

Considerations for Simplified Living

We took a long, hard look at home ownership vs renting. Here are the pros and cons we came up with, as well as some areas in common:


Since we love being close to nature, we started with a search near a nearby lake, close to our community. We fell in love with this type of setting, having lived with a ravine and wooded area behind us. We just needed to be certain, so we checked out a few places, before narrowing them down. This was a major change and, although we could always move again, that is a rather tiresome process. We found some interesting, scary and stinky places. We saw various pricing and lots of “glitter.” We explored high rises, but the thought of using elevators in an emergency, such as a fire, was scary. One manager told us that they would be sure to get us downstairs. I could visualize a scenario that scared me. There was also no washer and dryer connection and one small laundry room per floor. Storage could be rented, but that is not convenient for our lifestyle.

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We ended up with the first apartment community that we toured. The view is outstanding and it is walking distance from the pool and a lovely lake. We can watch wildlife from the window. Our home faces northwest and there is very little sun, except a small amount at sunset. The trees offer so much shade that we barely see the sun. That benefits us for utilities. Being in a second floor walk in with a ramp, we have the advantage of being sandwiched between the first and third floors and a side wall to the back and end neighbors. This is a great utility saver. We didn’t have to turn on the air conditioner until mid June and the winter was very pleasant. We did a comparison of the electric and water bills from when we owned the house and renting and found amazing savings!

One of the other requirements was to have no maintenance. Other than cleaning and minor things such as hanging pictures, we wanted to be able to call for help whenever something went wrong. We have been very fortunate that when we ask for maintenance, we have issues resolved quickly. If there has been any urgent concern, they will come right away. I have had experiences with renting that were not so pleasant, so I was, naturally, concerned. So far, so good. They are upgrading all of the units as tenants move out, so we moved in to discover we had new appliances, fresh paint and new carpet. There are several exteriors upgrades, as well. We just got a brand new roof, exterior painting and more to come. Of course, we have to wonder if the lease renewal will reflect any of these changes, let’s hope not.

Since the time we moved, there has been some criticisms from people who own homes, such as how we should go ahead and buy something else, how home ownership is an equity boost, and how apartment living, at it’s best, needs to be in the swanky parts of town. We have long term goals that include retiring. With debts wrapped up in homes and costs of upgrades, repairs, maintenance, we just could not see going there. I am not saying it won’t happen, but right now this renting thing is working out rather nicely. Who knows if we may need to be in a retirement community or need expensive health care? It seems wise to be prepared. And we would love to do some traveling.

Don’t get me wrong. The idea of having a home where you can do anything within legal code, is very exciting. You can have man and woman caves, recreation rooms, built in wet or dry bars, decks, yards, neighborhoods with opportunities with meeting neighbors. Ideally, though you can have many of these things in an apartment community. Clubhouses, fitness rooms, pools, tennis and other courts are common. While you are enjoying amenities, you get to meet neighbors and build friendships. And that is another plus, with more leisure time. We don’t have a man or woman cave, but we are fine with our rustic setting and have plenty of space for a nice home office and studio.

Mew, Mew, Mew – A Feline Love Story

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While I know that feral cats are not as inclined to befriend strangers this easy, this is a nice fantasy.

Hope you enjoy it.

Mew, Mew, Mew – A Feline Love Story

Driving through the downtown area of my big city, on a sunny Sunday afternoon, I was touring, a frequent hobby on such a lazy day. Off to the side of the road was a glimpse of a little furry body, no bigger than the side mirror of my car. Slowing down and pulling over, I was spotted. The little body of fur ran over to a pile of debris, except the “pile” was moving. It appeared the “debris” had legs, as it rolled over and playfully tussled with the furry body.

Off to the side, I saw two grown cats, “strays” one might say. One was basically white with gray spots. The other was mostly gold with brown and rust colored spots.

By this time, I was out of my car and well on the way to catch a “lens view” through the imaginary camera in my mind. First “Rusilla” caught me leering at her baby and “Ashley” glared back at me. Both started yowling in unison, and I offered my assurance. “Don’t worry I won’t hurt your babies.” I shook with amazement at the next statement, not from me.

Rusilla retorted with: “No you won’t hurt our babies, we won’t let you!”

Shaking my head in amazement, I daringly edged my way closer. By the time I was a car’s width away from the babies, Rusilla was jumping off her wall throne and fluffing up to protect her offspring. Ashley followed suit. Speaking again as to how I could be trusted and how I could help I heard and felt Rusilla’s reply.

“Why should we trust you? Nobody else wants us around. We have been thriving quite well without your help!”

Motioning toward the babies, I remarked how pretty they were but how the weather would be turning soon and they would need a good, warm home.

Ashley then spoke up; she had a meeker tone and looked at Rusilla. “Hey, she has a good point. What will happen to our babies?”

Rusilla fluffed again in defense. Pride was justified in her words: “Who’s saying she won’t abandon us. You know the time Billie and Bobbie lost their babies. Some big guy just pulled up and took their babies and left their parents to cry themselves to death. I just don’t want to live not knowing our babies are okay.”

Now I knew what I must do. I replied, with confidence, “How about I take you all home with me? You can all stay at my house and never have to worry about the weather, finding food or anything!”

Rusilla and Ashley looked at me as if amazed. Ashley spoke up: “You would do that for us? Why?”

“Why not? I have met you now, and you have wrapped yourselves around my heart.”

“Mew, mew, mew.” I looked at my feet or you saw and felt two sets of paws clawing at my pants leg.
“It seems your babies have decided. Won’t you follow suit and come along?”

“Well, seems as if…” Rusilla conceded.

“Let’s go, I’m hungry.” Ashley agreed.

Rusilla replied: “Yes, let’s.”

Once home with four new family members, they were ready to put me to the test. The scent of salmon filled the air as I, the unprepared hostess, rummage through the cupboard for the first of many feasts. Having placed the dishes, pie tins and plastic containers in a line up on the floor I could barely move away quickly enough. Two youngsters were scaling my legs and two moms were licking their chops.

“Bon appétit , my little friends,” I announced. No need, as they were well into their flinging feast almost to the bottoms of their kitty china.

Satisfied and ready to nap, the kitties made themselves at home.

My house became a home when love walked through the door, wrapped up in my heart they would suffer never more.

As I settled into my big fluffy bed, I noticed much activity around me. All were searching for their beds for the night. Not quite home enough for them to trust, they finally settled by the back door. Truthfully, I acknowledged they all needed a proper bathing and shots and I pondered about how to approach this issue.

Answers came as the new day presented itself. Rusilla, Ashley, Billy and Jenny (now that I have learned the everyone’s names) were are lined up at my bedroom door, staring me awake. All eyes were wide open as I moseyed into the kitchen to find breakfast for five. Scratching through my limited supply I managed to find enough for a simple entrée.

“Mew, mew, mew.” Is the message I heard from all. Assuming they were satisfied I proceeded to the door, car keys in hand.

“Well friends I must run to the store and pick us up some groceries. Rusilla, Ashley do you have any special requests? I also plan to pick up some bath items and flea treatments at the vet. Care to ride along?”

Rusilla spoke in an uncertain tone. “What is a vet?”

“Well, a vet or veterinarian is a special doctor who helps animals who are sick to get well. Also a vet helps all animals become healthy and strong. They give shots and help with bathing and other hygiene.”

“Hmm,” Rusilla replied, “maybe we need to go see this vet so we can be healthy.” With this he motioned to his family and they all lined up at the door. “Let’s go to the vets.”

They were not having any idea of being carried in a pet carrier, but agreed to a box for Billy and Jenny, to keep them safe. We arrived at the vet’s office. “Well, here we are kitty crew, who wants to go first?”

“Of course I will.” Rusilla insisted. “I have to check this vet out before I let anybody else go in.” Rusilla proudly sauntered on down the hallway. Staff members remarked, along the way, about what a pretty puss Rusilla was. She acted nonchalant, while she fluffed her fur and picked up her strut. Once she eyed the doctor, she turned to me and meowed. No talk from Rusilla in front of the vet. Picking up the cue, I commenced.

“Hello doctor. This is Rusilla. She is one of four new family members. She needed to check you out before the rest of her family. They are waiting in the lobby. You see, doc, I found this family downtown. How could I leave them with knowing that winter could be rough? I just want to keep them well and fed and they are welcome to stay in my home.”

One could see the concern in the doc’s eyes and hear it in his voice. “Well, you know feral cats may never make good pets, but they may do better with shots and neutering.” The doc then proceeded to lightly touch Rusilla on her back. Rusilla flinched, but looked at my face and managed to calm. I was surprised and touched that she would trust me.

“Please explain shots and neutering to me so I can think this over.” I requested from the doctor, while looking in Rusilla’s eyes. He went on to explain what shots were necessary and why neutering was a good idea. As well he also explained the virtues of hygiene. The doctor took my cue and excused himself to talk to staff. As soon as the door was closed, Rusilla looked at me with concern in her eyes.

“Where does he think he is coming from? We will be fine in your home. You seem like you care and if you change on us it is out the door we will go. That is fair enough for me. Can we get the shots and neutering?”

“Of course Rusilla. And you are so right. If I ever displease you then you can feel free to go elsewhere. It may break my heart, but…”

The doctor reentered and I requested shots and baths for all and appointments for neutering. We went shopping at the pet supply store. The kitties rode in the shopping carts and we shopped for supplies and plenty of food. And they said, “Mew, mew, mew,” over and over again.

Once home, we are all a bit tired from the adventurous morning. Hungry as well, we all had a nice and much healthier lunch. As I settled into my easy chair I was just beginning to doze when I felt a thump. A hairy tail is grazing my head. Next there was another thump one the arm of the chair and a nose kneading into the back of my hand. Before long my comfortable easy chair accommodated five very content folks. All was mellow in our little world. My-correction-our home knows no better love than the love of the feline kind.

By the way, Rusilla informed me: “Mew, mew, mew” is kitten talk for “I love you.”