Retirement and My little Cottage by the sea!

Over the past year, I’ve traveled, sold my primary home, created a summer home, retired from my career, and become a budding artist! Whew!  I always planned to retire at 70, that was the plan, and I was sticking to it – until I wasn’t!

The New England winter of 2015 was indeed miserable.

It was colder, with more snow than usual, and Spring seemed never to arrive.  

With visions of shovels and extra blankets in my mind, I started thinking of perhaps spending winters in Florida.  That fall an opportunity arose for me to buy a small place and I jumped on it. My employer generously agreed to my request to work remotely from Florida three months a year, so I spent January, February, and March 2016 in the sun. 

 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 New England?  Living in Florida year-round was not an option, having a presence in the north for the summer was crucial.

Time to sell!

I still had a mortgage on my Massachusetts property, as well as HOA, insurance, utilities, taxes, etc. – selling the condo was my priority. The question was, could I find an affordable place close to my children and grandchildren in New England? New England real estate is expensive! My research results were discouraging. Affordable small houses and apartments were dismal, in questionable areas, and needed considerable repairs to be livable. Rentals were no better.  

I’m a firm believer in “Trust the Process”.

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 neighborhood 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 winter utility expenses; there are no furnaces, no heating bills. The one drawback it’s leased land, so there is a hefty lease to pay annually.   Regardless I bought a lovely little 500 square foot cottage! Now I needed to sell the condo!

Matunuck Beach Rhode Island

Kids on beach

Grandkids at the beach.

Finding a realtor was the easy part.  The hard part was getting the condo ready to sell.  The real estate agent gave me a list of small repairs (smoke alarm replacement, rug cleaning and stretching, small woodwork repair, paint touch up, etc.).  I was able to do the little things myself but had to find a handy person for the rest.  There aren’t many around!!

For Sale!

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 lots and lots of picky little negotiations. 

 You accumulate a lot of stuff over the years!  Note to self – don’t do that again! Now I had to get rid of most of my stuff.  I was moving from an 1800 square foot condo to a 500 square foot cottage.   

Where are the packing fairies when you need them? 

I did all the packing and organizing 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. Excellent, I didn’t have to make the decisions that paralyze. Every night I packed boxes, every morning I loaded my SUV with boxes to bring to her garage before I went to work. The pile grew larger and larger!

A friend came over one Saturday and helped me pack the kitchen, the most time-consuming. My sons helped when they could, but their lives are busy with jobs and kids. Finally, just before the closing on December 20 my sons and I packed what had to in a truck.
Just in time for the holidays, it was over.   I’m not sure how I did it, but I did, and when I eventually sell both, or either, house, I’ll include the furniture.


I'm in my sixties with the world at my feet and thoughts mostly of "where to next?". I retired in 2017, sold my house in Massachusetts and most of my furniture and "stuff." When not traveling you can find me in Florida in the winter and Rhode Island in the summer. Travel has been a passion from a young age, over the years I've discovered I'm a traveler, not a tourist. I prefer traveling solo, with a travel friend, or small groups. Whenever possible I would rather spend time in one place rather than moving around. I'll never turn down an opportunity to go to France, but my travels have taken me all over the world. I've met some incredible people and had some fantastic experiences.

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