We had made a plan for this week. Because we're heading west for a couple of years, we wanted to visit our friend Therese in Bradenton and then stop by The Villages on our way back to Jacksonville to visit Linda's Mom & Adam. We didn't think we would see them again for at least two years, maybe longer.
However, we had some conversation on the drive this Thursday morning, and we might be back in Florida for a short time later this summer. In our discussions with Therese, we were explaining The Villages and all the activities that are available. She is seeking more activity and companionship, so we thought she might like The Villages. We even did some web searches to look at houses for sale in her price range. She has a couple of investment properties and she's looking to perhaps sell one of them and roll the proceeds into another property which could become her principal residence down the road.
This got us to thinking. We have to sell my Dad's house this summer, and I've been contemplating how to invest the proceeds. I had a preliminary plan, but then we thought about buying our own investment property in The Villages. We could purchase a house and rent it out. The house would appreciate over time, we could pick up a little passive income, AND it would be a ready-made "exit plan" should something happen to either one of us.
Now, I fully believe that this is a smart move as houses rent well in The Villages, and there are excellent property management options should we decide to go that route. However, there is a little part of me that is scared that this could be the first step in moving back toward a "sticks and bricks" life, and I ain't anywhere near ready for that.
I know Linda would be perfectly happy there, and I know that I would be involved in every sporting opportunity available (which has some attractiveness); but, I also know that I have many more years of travel in me and I love the simplicity of our current life, so I practically had to make Linda promise that she wouldn't be pushing (or even subtly guiding) us toward getting off the road. She threw out the number of ten more years - I'll take it.
In ten years, we will have been living in an RV for 22 years and right now that "feels" like enough. But we will also only be in our early 60s, an age where a lot of folks are just starting their full-timing adventures. So, we're going forward with the house purchase plan, and then we'll see what happens.
I'm trusting that we will continue on the road for at least another ten years. Of course, things could change or something drastic could take place in which case we may be very thankful that we have a fairly easy option.
We've never really worried about an "exit plan" as we always just figured reasonable options would present themselves and, by reasonable options, I mean living arrangements in accommodations that we could afford in tight financial times whether that be in our rig in an RV park, in a park model, in an apartment, in a condo, or in a small house.
One such "reasonable option" presented itself in December 2008. We put down $500 to be on the "Hot List" to get a lot in the SKP Saguaro Co-Op park in Benson, Arizona. I wrote a detailed post back then on how it works here - SKP Co-Op Discussion. Basically, when a lot becomes available, Escapee RV Club members can purchase a membership into the park for a base price (currently $10,674) plus whatever the current seller has in the property in improvements (which must be approved by the City and by the park's Architectural Committee) plus the capital assessments (for park infrastructure) paid in by the seller over the time he/she has owned the membership. Since there is no ownership of land, the seller doesn't get the benefit of appreciation and the there is no transfer at death (except between co-owners). However, the member does recoup all the money invested should they decide to sell later (or the estate gets that if the member passes).
So, the buy-in on a "bare" lot should be $10,674 plus only what the current member has paid in in capital assessments during years of membership. But some people have added "casitas" on their lots that are at the maximum dimensions allowed with expensive materials, so the buy-in could be up in the $30,000 - $40,000 range or more.
I just checked and the 2017 Maintenance & Operations fee is $825 (plus tax) and the 2017 capital assessment is $101 - FOR THE YEAR, not monthly. I called and was told the capital assessment has been $202 per year, but they have enough funds in the account to cut it in half for this year. You also have property taxes on your lot (yes, even though you don't actually own it) based on the amount of concrete and size of "casita" you have. I asked about the highest property tax bill the person answering the phone had heard of, and she said $260 for a year. Of course, there is metered electric and your other cost-of-living expenses, but imagine being in a community where your base cost is about $100 a month for maintenance, operations, future capital projects, and property taxes.
Oh, and you can put your lot in a rental pool where rental proceeds are split amongst all other members in the rental pool and those funds can be used to offset the annual Maintenance & Operations fee.
This Co-Op is certainly an inexpensive "exit plan" option. Although it wouldn't be my ideal choice, it's one of those acceptable "reasonable options" when finances may be tight, especially if you can snag one of the few remaining "bare" lots.
There are other SKP Co-Ops available in a wide variety of locations, but the administration and the costs/fees vary quite a bit.
Okay, all of this talk of "exit plans" makes me shudder. I can't wait to get on the road again and head west in October. :)
We arrived in The Villages around noon - a time carefully planned so that I could continue my tradition of watching most of all the NCAA tournament basketball games on the opening Thursday. And Zoa & Adam's big screen TV and soft leather reclining sofa didn't hurt either.
We were still in a cold snap for central Florida, but it was bright and sunny. I know folks up north would give anything for our "cold snap". But because it was chilly, Adam made us chili for lunch. Soon I was fully caught up in basketball while I heard Linda discussing our new plans.
During commercials, I looked at houses for sale and houses for rent to get an idea of purchase prices and rental rates. Like I need something else to focus my tunnel-vision on.
Zoa went to a play, and we released Adam from his baby-sitting duties so he could go to a neighbor's house where there was a guys-only party going on.
On Friday, St. Patrick's Day, Adam & Zoa were having neighbors over for cocktails and dinner. I settled in for all-day basketball and our Kentucky foursome watched the Louisville game in the afternoon before guests arrived and the Kentucky game late at night after guests had departed.
Linda went to the grocery and made some green desserts such as chocolate-mint dipped pretzels and mint Oreos dipped in white chocolate. She also put green food coloring in our drinks and - would you believe? - in the guest toilet. Can't believe we forgot to take pictures of the festivities.
Neighbors arrived and we were introduced. Zoa & Adam know almost everyone on their street and there is always something going on. They love it.
As our story unfolded, one guest, Jim, was particularly curious. He asked us a bunch of questions, many of which we always get, but he had a few that took some thought. It's hard to narrow down (and remember) twelve years' worth of experiences as full-timers. Glad we have the Journal. :)
Eventually, we moved on to dinner. Adam had prepared a traditional corned beef dinner and all the food was outstanding. It was a fun evening, and I managed to remain engaged even though March Madness was on the TV in the background (with the sound turned down, of course). After Zoa's after-dinner drinks - I only remember they were green with ice cream and liqueur - the group departed.
The games ran late, and even I couldn't stay awake to see the finish of all of them (though the outcomes had pretty much been decided).
On Saturday morning, after a big breakfast, we headed back to Jacksonville. Our visit was supposed to be a farewell for a couple of years, but it looks like we'll be back this summer (assuming my Dad's house sells quickly).
Linda had to get back because this next week is the start of her sister Karen's Spring Break, and they have made plans to repair and replace the floor in Karen & Jay's master bathroom. This afternoon is supposed to be a shopping day to gather supplies so they can get started tomorrow. We're leaving a week from Monday, so it has to get finished and they want to give themselves plenty of time.
So, we had three days with Therese and a couple of full days with Zoa & Adam. We're glad we got to visit before we leave Florida a week from Monday. Next up, more March Madness and Linda's projects. :)