My little cottage by the sea!

side of house

I haven’t posted for over a year but it isn’t because life has been dull. I’ve traveled, sold real estate, and most of my furnishings and “stuff”, created a summer home from a very raw cottage, retired from my career, and become a budding artist!

Here’s the story….

I always thought I would retire at age 70, that was the plan and I was sticking to it, until I wasn’t! The New England winter of 2015 was truly miserable. We had more snow and cold than usual and I was feeling the dark cold days more than usual.

That fall an opportunity arose for me to buy a small place in Florida and I jumped on it. My employer generously agreed to my request to work remotely from Florida 3 months a year. I spent January, February, and March 2016 working from my house in Fort Myers. Then in the summer of 2016, after a particularly stressful week at work, I realized it was time to start thinking of getting out. Could I retire at 68? Would I be financially able to live comfortably for potentially many more years (my mother is now 96)? Would I be able to maintain a property in Florida and in New England.

Living in Florida year round was not an option, having a presence in the north for the summer was crucial. I still had a mortgage on my Massachusetts condo, as well as HOA, insurance, year round utilities, taxes etc – selling the condo was my first priority. The question was, could I find an affordable place to stay in the summer close to my children and grandchildren? New England real estate is expensive! Or would it be affordable to rent for the summer? My research results were discouraging. Rentals were expensive and cheap apartments or houses were dismal, in questionable areas, and needed huge repairs to be livable.

I’m a firm believer in “Trust the Process” and sure enough the answer came to me when I least expected it. I was visiting family in a small seasonal cottage community in southern Rhode Island when I noticed many of the small cottages were for sale. Was this the answer? The community is open mid-May to mid-October (perfect) and the beach is a block away. In October the water is shut off and the houses closed for the winter. There are no utility expenses during that time, there are no furnaces, no heating bills. The one drawback is the land is leased so there is a fairly hefty lease to pay annually. So….I bought a lovely little 500 square foot cottage! Now I really needed to sell the condo!
Matunuck Beach Rhode Island
matunuck beach

front of house

Lest you think all this was easy…… it wasn’t. While still working a full time job I had to give away or sell all my belongings as I was downsizing from an 1800 square foot condo to a 500 square foot cottage!
Selling real estate these days is a different experience.
A list of small repairs meant finding a handy person and other professionals to come quickly – (smoke alarm replacement, rug cleaning and stretching, small woodwork repair etc). There were lots of little jobs I could do, but they took time.

Finally it was time for my first open house and I had a buyer the first day! I ended up with three potential buyers over two months – all fell through for various reasons. Finally one came back and bought the condo. Not before various negotiating issues. The dryer plug was not up to new code – “but I’ll take the kitchens stools in lieu of….” Then the window treatments for something else…. Eventually I was quite fed up and declined the next request knowing this could potentially end the sale. Fortunately it didn’t and the sale went through.

Now I had to get rid of the furniture – some of which could go to the cottage. Most had to be sold. Much of my furniture was new and lightly used but selling on Craig’s list or the local online garage sale sites in difficult, time consuming, and usually comes down to cutting the prices considerably. Closing day was December 20, in the middle of my busiest season at work. All my packing and organizing had to be done nights and weekends. I was panicking big time until a good friend offered to keep boxes in her garage until I was ready to go through them the following summer. This meant I didn’t have to make the decisions that paralyze. Every night I packed boxes, every morning I loaded my SUV to bring boxes to her garage before work. The pile grew larger and larger! A good friend came over one Saturday and helped me pack the kitchen, which was the most time consuming. My sons helped when they could but their lives are busy with jobs and families. Finally just before the closing we packed a truck with the furniture I couldn’t fit in my friend’s garage (and didn’t want to move twice!). Hmmmm…. Its way too large for the cottage, but that decision will wait until next summer!

Just in time for the holidays. I’m not sure how I did it but its done and I’ll never have to do it again. When I eventually sell both, or either, house, it will be furnished.

About Kathryn Schlitzer

Kathy is a seasoned and enthusiastic traveler always planning her next trip. Although still working fulltime in the travel industry for St Barth Properties, Inc, she’s starting to conceptualize what the future will look like when she decides to pull back from full time work. With no date in mind, and still liking what she does, she is happily looking at all options and finding the exercise exhilarating and overwhelming!
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