Monday, July 08, 2013

Retirement on Bainbridge Island? A thought to ponder.

Since we moved from California to Washington State in 1993, Bainbridge Island has been a part of our lives – first because Tom’s sister Marcy moved there in 1990 (and was our original draw northward from San Diego) and then because Tom’s very longstanding family friends (I’m talking since babyhood) the Nybergs moved there shortly thereafter. 

Once we moved northward to Eastern Washington where we spent almost two years before moving to Seattle, family holidays consisted of a drive into Seattle, then an always-entertaining ferry ride, and then delicious meals and family fun.  The kids have many longstanding memories of hikes in the dense island forests and holiday celebrations with their cousins and with the Nyberg kids, all of them around the same ages.



Unfortunately, Tom’s sister and her family eventually moved away to Northern Idaho, but the Nybergs remained on the Island and we have managed to spend time on the Island consistently for the past twenty years.

Now – shockingly -- it is time for Tom and me to think about where we want to spend our retirement.  (I know – we can’t possibly be that old… can we?!) Do we want to stay in this house, which Tom refers to as “an attempt to turn a sow’s ear into a silk purse,” or do we want to live somewhere else?  Moving was never an option while the kids were in school, and it won’t be a realistic option until Tom retires in about five years, but it’s time to give the question some thought.

We think and think and think, and only one place other than our current home ever seriously comes up – Bainbridge Island.  Granted, much of the draw comes from our lifelong friends the Nybergs, whom we love dearly, as well as newer but also dear friends in nearby Poulsbo, but we also simply love the Island and can absolutely see ourselves moving there and being those grandparents who “live on an island, a ferry ride away.”


So this past weekend, spurred on and enthused by Deb and Neal’s encouragement and by their gracious invitation to spend a weekend with them, we visited the Island again, this time with retirement in mind.

While waiting for the ferry (a 90-minute wait since it was a holiday weekend), we asked ourselves whether our kids would really come see us as often as we hope once they have their own kids.  “Imagine a hungry, tired toddler in the back seat now,” I suggested. 


It was a discouraging thought.  Would we only see them on holidays once we’d move to the Island?  Not acceptable!

In a complete non-sequitur and completely irrational line of reasoning, this little guy on the ferry made me feel better. 


Surely our future grandchildren would love to go see Noni and Papa (yes, I’ve already named us as grandparents) because they’d see baby Corgis all over the ferry every time they came to see us! 

(I know, I know…)

In order to convince us to move to Bainbridge Island, Neal bought a boat. 


I know – wasn’t that thoughtful of him?

He also somehow arranged for the most perfect weather for an evening sail.  I’m telling you, this guy is good!


(Tom and Neal)


(Deb and me)


The next morning, we had a delicious breakfast of eggs benedict, roasted potatoes, and fresh fruit salad here:


I know what you’re thinking.  No, this is not an exquisite island bed & breakfast.  This is Neal and Debs‘s gorgeous island abode, beautifully landscaped, beautifully decorated, and so very cozy and inviting!

After breakfast, the four of us set out to explore a few other possible abodes, pretending that we were ready NOW to make the move – which we’re not.

There was this one…


…which was quite nice, but just a bit yawn-inducing..

…compared to this one, which we called “the gingerbread house,” which IS exciting because it has a space over the garage for a separate apartment (for kids and their families).




We decided that something must be wrong with it, though, because it’s been on the market for well over a year and has already seen a price reduction of almost $50,000.  OR it’s an amazing find and we’re stupid not to jump on it now, even though we’re nowhere near ready to move!

From the “gingerbread house” (Tom decided that he could easily tone down the cutesy aspect), we drove to this house, the new object of our affections:

Deer house A

We call it the “deer house” because this mama deer and her two babies led us there.  No really – they walked ahead of our car and led us right into the driveway!


(“So, do you like it?” she asks…)

One of our “must haves” is an apartment for visitors and this one, like the gingerbread house, has an apartment over the garage.

If either of these are still on the market in five years, we’re in luck. 

Or not– because that would mean something is definitely wrong with them!

Another option we’re considering is actually building our own place.  Er, I mean having our own place built

Tom, you did not see that!  I didn’t mean it!  Do NOT get any ideas!  (Tom has been remodeling houses for 30 years. One of my “must NOT haves” is Tom starting all over again with a house!  I don’t mind an out-of-house project, like renovating the space above the garage, but no more 30-year construction zones!)

After looking at houses, we had a chance to just enjoy each other’s company and the beauty and unique personality of the Island.


(When was the last time you saw frolicking rock-kids and dinosaurs?  Or even Bazooka bubble gum?!)

For now, we’re just getting used to the idea of moving – which, I must admit, gets me a bit verklempt because look what we did to make a home!  I LOVE our current home now!

On the way back to the mainland, we both fully appreciated the fact that we live in Seattle.  Me, because I absolutely love living in the Pacific Northwest and Tom, because I convinced him to stop thinking about the depressing incessant three seasons of clouds and to live in the moment, dammit!



Seriously, who wouldn’t love living here?!

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Margaret said...

I could have sworn I already left a comment. Hmmm. I love visiting islands but would never want to live on one. I would get bored and go crazy in a small amount of time. I've decided I'm more of a city girl; I'd love to live in Paris or NYC for a while. But it certainly is beautiful there, especially when it's perfect summer weather. (which it isn't most of the time here, as you already know)

Goofball said...

I must say, as European, I am puzzled about the thought coming up "where do you want to live when retired"....why would you move? why would you ever move if you like where you live and there is no necessity to move? After reading for years the renovations in your house, the love stories you have with Seattle...this post totally puzzles me.

The only reason to move (a long time after retirement) is when your house that you've loved so much and that holds so much memories, is simply too big to maintain for your health & energy

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