Walking the dog this morning, I fell into a reverie about my father and his life’s ambitions…this, stemming from the realization that my house, all by its little self, is worth FIVE AND A HALF TIMES the amount he had set himself as a goal to accumulate so that he could retire.
And “retire” was his life’s goal: he just wanted to quit working.
Quite reasonably: his job was hard (most of us would find it grinding), it kept him at sea most of his life, and at heart the man was a homebody.
He had dropped out of high school and lied about his age to get into the Navy by way of running away from home. So as you can imagine, he was not a real sophisticated guy when it came to things that you and I might have learned in high school and college, or in the sort of jobs we would have had as adults. He didn’t understand, for example, about inflation. For him, a dollar was a dollar and always would be a dollar.
He figured that if he could accumulate, in savings, $100,000, he would have it made. Whenever he reached that goal, at whatever age it happened, he would quit his job and retire to Possum Kingdom. 😀
Well, Sun City came along at just about the time he was approaching his goal. He thought that was a grand idea: cheap houses and no damn kids barreling around outside squealing and laughing.
When he retired, he did have that hundred grand — and then some. As I recall, it was about a hundred & ten.
He worked SO hard. A ship’s deck officer worked 24/7, with crushing responsibility for a multi-miillion-dollar vessel filled with enough oil to destroy a hundred miles of coastline.
This line of thought arose when, God only knows why, I recalled how angry my mother used to make him when she would go out and diddle away some phenomenal amount of money on make-up or clothes. She loved make-up, probably because her endlessly toxic smoking habit had wrecked her complexion and traced a road map of wrinkles over her face. I can remember one time, when we were living in Southern California and I was in high school, we went into a department store and she spent two hundred dollars on makeup.
How much was that, really? Well… Two hundred bucks in 19 and aught 60 was worth $1,853.45 in 2021 dollars.
Holeeeee crap!!! Can you imagine? It’s a wonder she survived…clearly the man was a marvel of self-restraint.
Redfin thinks my little house is now worth $579,225. Well over FIVE TIMES the net worth he figured would sustain him from the age of about 55 through his dotage until he toppled over into the grave.
It didn’t, of course. He ended up having to go back to work, not so much because of inflation but because — another outcome of his financial naiveté — he had almost all his savings invested in insurance securities, which tanked shortly after he quit.
Never put all your eggs in one basket…
Wow. It’s hard to believe I am SO OLD that as I was entering adulthood a grown man could, quite reasonably, figure he could retire on a fraction of what my house alone is worth. A tract house that is most certainly not Mrs. Gotrocks’ dream home!
Their little house cost $8,000 when it was new. Redfin thinks it’s worth $274,000 now. That’s pretty cheap for middle-class housing hereabouts. Cheap because…well…Sun City. 😉
SDXB wants me to move out there, partly to get away from Tony the Romanian Landlord (who busies himself just now with installing a nursing home two houses up the street) and partly, o’course, because you can’t beat the price of the real estate there. But oh, my…Sun City.
I just do NOT want to live in a ghetto for old folks. This morning as Ruby and I were strolling around, we passed pretty houses with irrigated lawns, and xeric yards with lush trees and shrubbery. (Yards in Sun City are “desert landscaped” with gray gravel. Or gravel dyed green, presumably to ape the look of a lawn.) Stopped to chat with a neighbor who was having her kitchen cabinets refinished — woo HOO! Gossiped while we watched the carpenter work. Watched a nitwit roar up Feeder Street N/S on an unmuffled motorcycle. Frolicked around a grassy public park (there is no grass in Sun City, except on the private golf courses where no, your dog is not allowed). We admired a gaggle of little kids playing on the swings and slide (no, your kids are not allowed in SC, either). Roamed into the Richistans where we assessed the progress of a spectacular renovation job (no, there are no Richistans in Sun City: the houses are all of a kind). Hopped in the car and darted down to AJ’s (no, there are no AJ’s grocers in Sun City or anywhere near it) and bought a roll of spectacularly expensive dog food for the Queen of the Universe.
Yes. I could bank about $275,000 if I sold the Funny Farm and moved to Sun City.
But between you’n’me, I don’t think it’s worth the cost.
I do NOT know what, if anything, can be done about Tony’s empire-building at the expense of all the other neighbors’ property value … or even if it will come at our expense. But I do know I don’t wanna live in Sun City, no matter how much cash I can pocket by selling this place and moving out there.
But still, the thought lingers: I am SOOO OLD I can remember when a brand-new middle-class house cost eight grand, and when a house just like mine (same model, same size, same tract) cost a mere one hundred grand. And when a bag of make-up worth $200 would have bought you a freakin’ trip to Switzerland.