Your retirement location and home

by S&M

The Wealth Report

Some people here are planning their retirement, while for others it is dreamily far off. What are your criteria for your retirement home? Can you picture yourself living outside the US? This chart shows how much floorspace can be purchased for $1 million in various cities around the world. (1 sq m=10.76 sq ft) Pages 20, 21, 25, & 26 at the link give thumbnail descriptions of neighborhoods ready to grow in transportation & infrastructure, tech & creative industries, and for bargain hunters, as well as neighborhoods feeling the aftermath of gentrification and “hot spots” around the world. Do any of them look like “home” to you?

 

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346 thoughts on “Your retirement location and home

  1. What are your criteria for your retirement home?

    I think we’re going to have to be snowbirds as I don’t have a lot of faith in the Floridian healthcare system. That said I do like the west coast of Florida around Naples. That would do for November to May.

  2. A friend of mine is retired in Nicaragua. Actually, now that I think about it, I know two retirees in Nicaragua and one in Costa Rica. The friend I know best was laid off a few years after her husband was laid off. They were both really traumatized by the employment reversals (it’s a long story, but she was a part owner of a business and there was a hostile takeover and a lot of lawsuits). My guess is they have about $1M or thereabouts. They seem really happy and post a lot of pictures of themselves and their neighbors at the beach. Her Spanish is getting a lot better and she’s involved in the community — she sponsored a neighbor kid’s baseball team for $5 and she got her name printed on all the jerseys!

    I still wouldn’t like it, though. I’m really attached to the U.S.

  3. I think we’ll likely have a few condos and no big house. Ski place. Beach place. Maybe something in DC if one or some of the kids stay here. Little maintenance and easy to leave for long periods of time. The only issue will be the dog. I have never not had a dog but not having a place to live for most of the year could get difficult. Maybe I will get one that fits in my purse so he can fly with us.

  4. I have my specific boat in mind. I just have no idea of the type house/condo/townhouse, or where. Depends where the kids are, depends how our parents are doing.

    I don’t foresee it being outside of the United States.

  5. I have a friend who retired to Mexico about 5 yeas ago. She and her husband like it, but they are “young” she’ll be 65 in a year or so and he is a couple of years older. However, when he had a major, but not immediately life threatening, health issue, they were back in the US for care. As you age that sort of warning and/or physical ability to make the trip are less common, at least in my experience.

    We plan to be in this house at least until both DDs are fully launched (so 7 more years – looking at college graduation of youngest), but ideally until we can’t or don’t want to handle our 2200 square feet any longer. However, in 7 years my partner (DP) will be 76 and the combo of age and fully empty nested may trigger a change at that time. We picked a house with the master bedroom on the first floor, so we could live fully down stairs if mobility limited. Doing so would reduce the amount of the house we occupy by half. The AC/heater unit (and where you change filters) is upstairs, but with a little outside help that could be managed for some time.

    DP does not make friends easily and only has a few. I would not want to move him from his minimal social group unless either they are gone or he is unable to interact with them. I also know that is was much easier for me to manage my parents’ care with them being in the same city and in a relatively near-by neighborhood. I would move closer to the child who would be providing that care for me/us in a heart beat to make it easier on them. If our financial planning pans out, we would not need financial support from them.

  6. L, can I live in your pool house? :-)

    @SM — Awesome timing, I could spend all day reading that report, but alas I am under the gun today. :-( The downside of not being retired yet. . . .

    So without actually having read the assigned materials (i.e., precisely as I went through all those years of schooling . . .), our plan is to have our existing places as “home base,” and then do longer trips (1-3 months at a time) for as long as we can/want to. I imagine the locations will be dependent in part on how our savings go over the next few years, i.e., a poor market or unexpected early departure from the workforce = more Thailand, less London. Not that that sucks, mind you.

    But my real plan is to try not to get so fixated on my damn plan. I have spent too much of my life chasing X, with blinders on to other options/opportunities, because X is what I want/need/must have/must do, usually out of fear or ego or some combination of the above. But I’m finally getting to a point where the fear and ego are no longer all-powerful (I am no longer afraid of being poor, and my career is good enough). Not that I’m complaining about my life; I did what I felt like I needed to do at the time, and it worked out just fine. I’m just tired of the needing, and it’s getting time to let that all go — I am a Type B person who has been living in a Type A skin my whole life, and it’s not fitting quite so well any more. So my real “plan” for my retirement is to try to learn to be a little more open to kismet, to accept that usually it’s worth taking a flier on something because what’s the worst that can happen, and to not be so fixated on my “idea” for my retirement that I miss other good options along the way.

  7. @Rhett – I’m curious what problems you see with health care in Florida (I think its a misnomer to say any state has a “system”.) My impression is that there is good care in any state (and in large metropolitan areas of almost any country) if you have sufficient cash and executive function to navigate it.

    Perhaps the internet has this info some where, but I would suspect a 70-year old with a net worth of $2M has the same life expectancy in NYC, Lincoln, Bangkok or Miami.

  8. We have the perfect house to retire in. Not too big, one story, close to everything.

    However, I’d like to move back to my hometown, and I hope to find a similar place. It should theoretically be feasible, as we won’t be tied to a school district. We will see.

  9. ” That said I do like the west coast of Florida around Naples. That would do for November to May.”

    Yeah, that’s where we are looking at being snowbirds, but I am starting to get concerned about buying real estate in FLA because of climate change & the horrific state government. It is getting serious fast – lots of sunny-day flooding & the like. Is a condo on the Gulf in 2025 a bad investment?

    I do NOT want to move to the desert though. I want to live at the beach in a condo building.

  10. I’m curious what problems you see with health care in Florida

    It’s not as good as Boston.

  11. Ultimately, I want a city place here, near the lake, in a mid-to-high-rise elevator/doorman building. And a condo at a beach with an elevator too. A place that is warm in January though. Tampa-Ft Myers-Naples-San Diego, not Hilton Head.

  12. I like it enough to retire in this same area. We will have to downsize to a ranch home first. After that there are several retirement and continuing care communities in my immediate area, a few of which, I have already visited (for my parents but still…).
    The idea of buying a second home doesn’t appeal to me. I love the beach but don’t want the responsibility of another home. I can rent a places at the many beaches of the Southeast coast within driving distance. I like to travel. Meme’s set up seems closest to what I have in mind.

  13. I am only marginally interested in looking outside the US, and DH is absolutely not interested at all.

  14. I cannot imagine DW agreeing to live outside of the USA, and if she did it would still be almost the USA — Vancouver or Toronto. (No offense to our Canadian friends by saying almost USA.) And either would be fine with me. Toronto probably finer, since you can get to more places on one plane from there than from Vancouver.

    But really, we would probably never move to either of those places since (pretty much) everything they have can be found in one of our major cities.

    After doing a few hours of early spring yardwork with DS3 yesterday and then paying for the full season of lawn mowing and fertilizing last night to capture the pre-pay discount, the no (personal) maintenance aspect of townhome or condo living clearly has a certain newfound attractiveness.

    But we’re not going anywhere for at least 4 more years, when in theory the youngest will graduate from college. And then I imagine we’ll become year round residents of some mid-Atlantic beach/resort community, closer to where DW grew up. Like others, I can see some of that depending on where the kids settle at least initially.

  15. It’s not as good as Boston.

    If you’re a kid who needs a heart transplant you are absolutely correct. Tell me a story about a 70 year old guy who needs some kind of specialized care and can’t get at a high-quality hospital in Florida, but would be easily available in Boston. And he is too sick to travel. And exclude anything less common that terrorism (as it has been made clear that we shouldn’t plan school trips around concerns for terrorist activities).

    For goodness sake, I bet you get better care here than at the Brigham: http://www.mayoclinic.org/patient-visitor-guide/florida

  16. For social reasons, I’d like to meet be back to where I grew up. Many of my lifelong friends have made their way back over the years, where the friends we’ve made here have moved on to other cities. But – my kids bring me joy, and if there is a chance of grandkids, I will be where they are. As LfB mentioned, I am trying to get past my tendency to think there is One True Path to anything, and be much more flexible in where we live and what we do for retirement. I am very open to a smaller space with minimal yard to free up time and money for other things.

    On a side note, these million dollar benchmarks kill me. Even watching HGTV and see every young family with a $900,000 house makes me nuts. I don’t understand where people have all that much money to put into a house, and still live there lives

  17. It’s not as good as Boston.

    That’s because Boston has some of the best if not the top ranked hospitals in the world.
    Residents of Boston just become used to going to the best in the world, right down the street. But it doesn’t mean a different or terrible outcome if you have medical care elsewhere.
    (Also, no residents poking and prodding you as you remind yourself that you are helping to advance medical training)

  18. Even watching HGTV and see every young family with a $900,000 house makes me nuts. I don’t understand where people have all that much money to put into a house, and still live there lives

    I’m very interested as well. What is the typical affluent professional income gradient:

    22 – $50k
    25: $75k
    30: $150k
    35: $225k

  19. “I don’t understand where people have all that much money to put into a house”

    Their parents sent them to Amherst rather than Middlebury, and are therefore able to contribute significantly toward the down payment.

  20. Hm, interesting that this group is so unimpressed by retiring abroad, but it probably shouldn’t surprise me.
    Ada, I’m sure you have more info on healthcare than I do. If anyone recalls the map of wealth disparity I’ve posted in the past, or even just looks at a map of income levels, it is obvious that the money in this state is along the coasts. I’ve never investigated health care for seniors here, but just listening to the radio gives the impression that there is heated competition among cancer care centers. My parents keep their health care in the community where they have decades of personal connection, but whenever they have needed a doctor in Florida, they have been very pleased.

  21. $900k is slightly below the average sale price where I live. There are tons of dual professional couples. I imagine many were like us – saved up the down payment before they had kids*. A $700k mortgage is about $3500/mo payment not counting ins and taxes. Taxes and ins will be another $10k/year. That doesn’t seem crazy for a couple with 2 professional job incomes.

    *or their parents gave them the $.

  22. Rhett – I think you’re viewing things from a certain type of skewed lens. Even for those with the right academic credential (MBA, CPA, MD, JD, engineer, to name but a few) there is only a small % who get to even the uppermost number on your list for lots of reasons: dropping out for a while, being lucky enough to never be laid off, (again for lots of reasons, just within that), geographic location, being plucked from the pool of young financial analysts for that plum special assignment where you catch some bigwig’s eye and now you’re golden, one’s personal preference for leisure/work balance, reluctance to take one more transfer.

    In 2015, only 10% of all individuals had income of >$100k https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Personal_income_in_the_United_States

    If, on the other hand, you’re looking only at those people who are willing to do what it takes to get to the top 3-5% of individual income in the US, maybe your curve is ok. Just remember at some point the plateau will be reached, even if only because someone says $225k/yr is enough. Why work harder?

  23. We would not live outside the U.S but are planning on Cape Cod as our home base, with a house somewhere warmer for the winter. It won’t be Atlanta. And I detest condos.

  24. It isn’t that I am not impressed with retiring abroad, but I don’t think it is practical. Many of us are dealing with elder care issues, or have already lived through this with our parents. I would never want to impose my need/desire/dream to retire abroad on my child or close relatives. I think it is a burden because you never know when there will be a crisis or emergency.

    I’ve learned a lot from so many people here about many subjects, but I have really appreciated learning from many that have already dealt with sick relatives and their financial estates. Our goal is not only to have the assets to be able to make choices, but we want to be as organized as possible so our DD does not have to wonder where are accounts are located, names of doctors, medicines, important legal papers etc. It is hard enough int he same country, but I just can’t imagine asking a child or other close relative to assist you abroad.

  25. Louise, they can’t move an entire med school, but look at this.

    http://floridaphysician.med.ufl.edu/2016/05/18/harvard-medical-simulation-course-comes-to-uf/

    MBT, i hear you on the $1 mil mark. I think a simple benchmark was important to them, because they’ve been following pricing trends in these markets over a long period of time. I’m surprised to see that Monaco is considerably more expensive than NYC, but the floorspace shown for the four cities in that top right corner are pretty tiny already, even if the outer rim is palatial. If you flip through the rest of the publication, it is clearly not aimed at joe average recent grad/home buyer.

  26. Our friends just bought a $900k split level because anything under $1 million is not great (which is probably the case in most cities). I think I have a skewed view of what people make because everyone we know here seems to have enough money for a $1.5 million house, more than one private school tuition, and country club membership (75k buy in). Dh and I just can’t believe what is considered normal here.

  27. We spent yesterday at my parents’ “house in the woods,” as my kids have come to distinguish it from the one on the water. There’s a ton of yard work, and even more opportunities for additional yard work, and that’s before you even get to the house. I was expecting Fred’s comment about a place with no maintenance (if not from him, than from others), but seeing my dad in the early stages of retirement, he seems to be genuinely enjoying these opportunities. He’s like a 69-year-old MMM because he’s thus far done a ton of labor without the benefit of gasoline. He picked up a brick walk, dug out overgrown landscaping, re-graded the ground to slope away from the house and basement (with only hand tools) and re-laid the bricks. He moved all the flagstones from around the koi pond, re-graded that ground underneath, laid out a new batch of loose stone underneath, and re-laid the flagstones. And the list goes on and on.

    He notes that he’s back to his high school weight. I told my mom that it looks like she’s not feeding him any more.

    It got me re-thinking the reflexive desire for “no maintenance!” when we retire, only to then perpetuate the internal struggle about “I really should get to the gym.”

  28. SM – I was trying to tell Rhett the same thing – that medical care in Florida or in a metro city is good enough for routine care.
    Here we are adding facilities and specialized care so people from our metro area will not have to travel to Duke.
    We now have a medical area and in some respects it reminds me of Longwood.

  29. S&M & Lousise,

    That they are bragging about having a Harvard class at UF kind of speaks for itself. All of my PCPs classes were Harvard classes and my specialist is a professor there. That seems better to me.

  30. Rhett – I have had to get used to my physicians being educated at The Medical University of South Carolina..

  31. Good point, Lauren. You’ve mentioned before that you are more enmeshed with your family in daily life than many people at higher income levels. In our family, I expect my parents will use professional services for their financial needs, and my mother would never permit one of us to be involved in her regular care. My son and I do provide tech support to my parents, but thanks to my son, we can do that from anywhere. (If I can brag on him for a minute, I recently noticed the chain of each generation helping the one before it, and was proud of his “hard” and “soft skills”. The operating system on my parents’ computer was no longer supported, so I couldn’t use Google Chrome to get into their computer when they needed help. Next time we visited, he slipped off & fixed it with no reminders.).
    The short answer is that most retirees’ parents are no longer living, and their kids are launched.
    The only person I know who’s done anything like this is a Brit living in Spain. It isn’t far, but I don’t think he’s been home in the two years since he moved there. His kids are grown, but I don’t think any of them are parents yet. Brexit came as a complete shock to him.

  32. The question I would have about relative medical care quality and expertise is what is the likelihood that you’re going to have some condition that is rare enough to challenge the conventional responses of an MUSC or UF grad and can measurably benefit only from the expertise of a Harvard grad.

    As was said about fears of airport terrorism, that doesn’t seem like a statistically valid fear.

  33. Louise, that’s a different thing than I was trying to say. It isn’t that hospitals here are “good enough” for most stuff. It’s that they are part of the same institution. Look at that Hopkins link. The St Pete location is listed exactly the same as the others.

    Rhett, touche on the teaching. But look at the hospitals with branches here.

  34. the likelihood that you’re going to have some condition that is rare enough to challenge the conventional responses of an MUSC or UF grad

    I’ve already had two. Anecdote I know.

  35. We always thought it was so great to be able to have access to some of the “best” doctors in NYC, but lately I have changed my mind for routine care. One of my neighbors just had knee surgery with the guy that operates on the NY Rangers. Their practice facility is nearby, so many of their doctors are located here and in NYC. My husband went to another famous orthopedist because he operates on other athletes. I was not impressed. When I picked him up, there were 8 (!!) people in recovery and this one doctor supposedly operated on all of these patients within a few hours. It was like a factory. It was impossible to see him after the surgery, but you could see an associate. It actually reminded me of what it must be like to be a freshman in an undergrad school such as Harvard where you never really have much contact with the famous professor. Just some TAs.

    I have found some great doctors that have excellent experience and are choosing to practice outside of Boston or NYC (or other large cities) because they want to have a different lifestyle. They might still have the degrees, fellowships or experience from the big hospitals, but they choose to practice in other parts of the country for numerous reasons. Some are recruited with financial incentives to practice outside of places like NY or Boston.

    My endocrinologist moved to Florida to be closer to his children. Do you think he was a better doctor because he practiced on Park Ave and was a professor at Mt Sinai? He is still the same person, but he practices in Florida.

    I think if you have serious or rare illnesses, you can get on a plane and go to Mass General, Sloan, Cedars Sinai, MD Anderson, Mayo etc. For the everyday stuff, you can probably find some great doctors in most major metropolitan areas. Florida has already passed NY as the third most populous state in the US, and I am sure that hasn’t gone unnoticed by the medical profession.

  36. . Do you think he was a better doctor because he practiced on Park Ave and was a professor at Mt Sinai? He is still the same person, but he practices in Florida.

    All that heat and humidity rots the brain.

  37. trust me, we have that all summer in NY!!!!!!!

    Seriously, I used to think the same as you, but then my college roommate becomes a doctor. My mom friends are doctors, and I have a totally different view of medicine. If I have something serious, then I am going to a major research hospital. If I need someone to spend some time with me, then I just want a really well trained, smart doctor that actually listens and is accessible.

  38. Lauren, why does having a specific time for surgical procedures bother you? How would you prefer your doctor set up his time, assuming the doc has to commute between OR and office?

  39. If I need a [subspecialist] and
    -one had gone to Harvard (with a residency at State Flagship and a fellowship at Midrange Academic hospital), and
    -one had gone to State Flagship (with a residency and fellowship at Midrange Academic),
    -and one had gone to Caribbean U (with residency at State Flagship and fellowship at Harvard),

    I would choose the one that my insurance covered and that had the most accommodating front office staff. Kalyan seems perfectly lovely, despite his lack of an MD (MBBS! And Bronx-Lebanon – that is no Brigham.) http://uhealthsystem.com/doctors/profile/133099

  40. I have had to get used to my physicians being educated at The Medical University of South Carolina

    Louise, and I say this kindly, really I do, this says more about your ignorance than theirs.

  41. I have to put three kids through college and grad school before I retire, so…I’m thinking I won’t be retiring :)

    In my dream world I would have a house on the beach somewhere. But I am only a mile from the beach now, and maybe by the time I’m old enough to retire they will have developed sand-proof laptops and a sun shelter that doesn’t blow away.

  42. S&M, do you think any human being can operate on 8 people at the exact same time? He obviously wasn’t doing the work himself.

  43. Rhett, scroll down to the list of his degrees at the bottom of the page. I’m not sure how they can list MD at the top if he doesn’t have one.
    Ada, does “having an MD” mean having a degree or passing exams?

  44. Lauren, how long do people stay in recovery, and how long does each surgery take? If the patient is all prepped to go when the doc walks into the OR, or if someone else closes the incision at the end, is that a problem?

  45. they will have developed sand-proof laptops

    They have an entire line of sand-resistant laptops:

    Fully-rugged Panasonic computers are the first computers to be MIL-STD-810G certified for a range of extreme conditions including 72″ drops1, shocks, vibration, humidity, altitude, rain-, dust- and sand-resistance, temperature extremes and thermal shock.

    http://business.panasonic.com/toughbook/laptop-computers.html

    sun shelter that doesn’t blow away.

    http://www.nesotents.com/

  46. Lark – what does your comment mean ?

    I was kidding because Rhett expects all his doctors to be Harvard educated but my point is there are great/good doctors educated elsewhere.

  47. S&M – Up to a certain age (which varies by person, roughly 80 for dad and 88 for my mom), outsourcing or handling themselves works well. But, then either the number or complexity of health issues (phyiscal as well as some mental decline or the affect of medications), require more disclosure on their part and more assistance from someone they trust increases. I would say the last 1-2 years of each of my parent’s lives, they needed more support than the prior 5 years combined. I can truly say, at 5 years before they passed, I had no idea the amount of time/effort that would be needed the last 2 years of each of their lives.

  48. Lark – I’m pretty sure Louise was being funny with that comment. (Ribbing Rhett a bit)

  49. I didn’t realize that Connecticut beaches had sand. I thought they were just rocks. :)

    But why set up your laptop on the beach, getting bitten by black flies, when you could work here (inside or out, depending):

  50. Rhett, I had to attend to real life and didn’t see your 10:33 posting until now. Sorry.

    That’s a nice home in The Villages and my intended Lincoln Continental would look good in the driveway. But it’s kind of expensive and I’m not a 29 year old couple on HGTV looking for a starter home.

    What I want is something small and within a short driving distance (say, 500 yards) to a community center so that I can wave my cane and argue with Little Marco and Gov. Scott about climate change when they come by each week.

  51. Amusingly, the one Harvard-educated physician I’ve interacted with didn’t like Harvard and lives here because he preferred his more laid-back experience at Reed.

    My retired neighbors with large yards would agree with Milo’s Dad. Yard work seems to be good for people until they can’t do it anymore, even if they have to slow down and invest in equipment to continue doing it.

  52. My dad was exactly like Milo’s dad with a big wooded lot he loved to maintain well into his early 80s when he literally fell into a bush and couldn’t get up.

  53. I’m very happy with the medical options we have here. Do people really place more value on Ivy league doctors? I never thought this was a thing.

  54. @PTM – will you drive your golf cart to see Gov Rick “Python on Ecstasy” Scott?

    http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/stephen-colbert-rick-scott-fangate

    I agree with Fred. Very few people, even highly educated ones, ever make $225K+ individually. Maybe my perception is skewed because I’ve worked on salary planning/budgeting for so long, and never at an I-Bank or BigLaw firm. And many of the ones that I see hit that WAY past 35 – more like 10-20 years later when they finally rise to lead a big team. Industry matters, but not that many people are actually BigLaw lawyers, BigBank analysts, Hedgies or BigConsulting partners. Even my old boss who came from BigConsulting and had a top MBA didn’t touch that salary until she was 45. I think that’s true even in big cities.

    “But it’s kind of expensive and I’m not a 29 year old couple on HGTV looking for a starter home.”

    Ha! I will never own a million dollar home (in 2017 $) or even close to that. I’m fine with it. Even if the plan comes together and we own two homes, they will not add to $1MM in 2017 value. I’d rather retire earlier than own bigger real estate.

  55. Ah, I thought Louise was being serious. Louise, I retract my above statement.

    On retirement – no desire to live abroad and be that far from family. If were designing retirement today, I’d say split our time between a small place in Chapel Hill, going to football and basketball games (and great health care!), and a small place on Amelia Island, enjoying beach life but with proximity to Jacksonville. In reality, I have no idea what we’ll want to do. Definitely want the flexibility to be close to the kids and their families, at least part of the time.

  56. “Do people really place more value on Ivy league doctors? I never thought this was a thing.”

    I have no idea where my doctor went to school. I think DS’s pediatrician did her residency at Ohio State, but I only remember that because she was fresh out of residency when DS was born. We adore her & she’s been fine with his very routine childhood ailments.

    *Note: Neither I or anyone in my family have never had any medical issue that was not entirely routine, and the only time I’ve ever been inside a hospital was to have my son.

  57. “I’m very interested as well. What is the typical affluent professional income gradient:

    22 – $50k
    25: $75k
    30: $150k
    35: $225k”

    For individual incomes, this is markedly higher than what this group reported in the survey a while back (since that survey was based on combined household income).

    My perspective is a lot closer to Ivy’s. Combined, we’re about $225k based on one-and-a-half incomes.

  58. I think salaries and housing prices vary by region. We have a number of $1 million plus home in my city. But, the median salary is in the $60K range. The few people I know in homes of that value, either bought in a good location during the housing bust (now a number of years back) and have the house paid off and are paying just the taxes, or have sold and “moved up”, but are never getting rid of their house payment. We bought in 2003, took out a 15 year note at 4%, and paid it off early.

  59. I believe MBBS is the degree granted at Commonwealth (and ex-colonial) medical schools. It is often translated as an MD. However, on a CV, it would be inappropriate to write “MD”. I suppose they must use MD as a title in large institutions – because you can’t put MBBS on a badge and expect patients to understand what your role is. (My badge says MD in a font greater than 1 inch high. It is part of our program to make sure everyone known who the team members are. Other badges say, DO, PA, RN, RT. If you are not one of those, you must just get the little letters?). MD is a degree, not a test.

    I’ve mentioned this before, but I will bring it up again. There are many axes to judge physicians along – procedural skills (can you do the physical work of drilling the bone and putting the implant in- this has a defined peak, and falls off later in the career), clinical skills (can you take these 12 symptoms and 85 lab results and put them into a meaningful story), bedside manner (if I just caused a terrible surgical complication, can I convince you it was random and get you to donate to the hospital because I saved your life TWICE – that actually happens), research skills (are you doing creating, ground-breaking work, are you winning research grants), teaching skills, administrative/development skills (the politics of medicine). Obviously, these things are not independent, but are not tightly correlated, either.

    Membership in the faculty or alumni of the great medical universities does not ensure that you have very high clinical or procedural skills. (Though, if you are going to weight that as a factor, I would choose a doctor fellowship trained at Johns Hopkins over one who was MD-trained at Hopkins.)

    We really should want doctors that have great procedural skills and clinical skills. We often think we want doctors with great bedside manners. We are impressed by those with administrative and research skills (Chief Medical Officer is my primary care doctor – isn’t that awesome?).

  60. Milo, in a world where I could pay someone else to maintain it, I would prefer the Herreshof Alerion 26, but no one in my family is willing to learn to swim well enough to make that a reasonable idea :)

  61. Interesting, I know* what some of my friends (who are also neighbors) make so there is some selection bias. But $270k seems to be the norm for one person. Law Prof 274k, finance director 270k, product manager in financial services $290k, these are people in their late 30s early 40s.

    Side hijack – would you ever go in on a real estate deal with friends?

  62. “But $270k seems to be the norm for one person.”

    Norm among your neighbors is, obviously, not representative blah blah blah. Or, quite possibly, we’re professionals, but we’re not what you’d consider “affluent professionals.” Which is what I’ve long maintained.

    I was in Atlanta for a conference a few weeks ago, and drove back and forth to my hotel through our own Atlanta Mom’s neighborhood. This is a typical house there:

    And it extends like that for miles and miles and miles. It’s kind of amazing.

  63. Side hijack – would you ever go in on a real estate deal with friends

    It depends. Are they good business people in general? What sort of buyout escape clause is there? Are you all willing to discuss what happens when/if someone dies, divorces, etc? Do you have a defined departure or sunset clause? E.g. after ten years, we will disolve this venture and this is the procedure for buyout/valuation. How good are you all at resolving disputes/coming to consensus? What is the property going to be used for? Will it be used/rented by one of the partners? Who will manage the property?

  64. Clearly I am not an affluent professional.

    I have no idea where my doctor was educated. I don’t think I’ve known that for any of my doctors.

    And, I’m too focused on the day-to-day and the looming college horizon to think about retirement.

    Ah well, tomorrow is another Totebag post.

  65. Rhett – probably not, but only because I’ve seen everything come out on the other side. You need a good ownership structure and operating agreement (like an LLC) and be ready to lose the friendship if the deal goes south.

  66. Austin, are you talking about financial matters, physical care, or something else? What kinds of cars did your parents need during their last two years that was above and beyond that provided by facility they lived in?

  67. Oh, and on the real estate deal with friends — My parents were part of a hui buying a good-sized parcel in South Kona years ago. It didn’t go horribly wrong — they didn’t lose friends over it — but it seemed to be a lot more headache than it was worth. Years of extra complications on the taxes, having to agree with all these other people over what to do or not do on decisions, some people wanted out years before others did, and eventually they more or less broke even on the whole thing — original plan was to subdivide and develop but that never got off the ground partly because of the difficulty of working with so many people, and eventually they sold out to some new would-be developer.

  68. Income distribution curve. Keep in mind that because you are top 1% in one year, you may have sold stock/business and may not typically be in top 1%.

  69. Rhett, in our small town, my dad was friendly with the guy who was in partner in numerous real estate investments. They didn’t socialize together–other couple was older than my parents. The guy went off the deep end during Y2k and got out of all their investments. That was a business complication my dad had not foreseen.

  70. Or, quite possibly, we’re professionals, but we’re not what you’d consider “affluent professionals.

    I was out in the wilds of Middle America recently and I was invited to dinner. So I’m driving to the restaurant and it’s mile after mile of mammoth houses – 10k 12k square feet and more. I swear to God I though one was an elementary school. I’m at the bar waiting for everyone so I’m on realtor.com – $750k.

    I’m texting back home – “I bet they think they’re rich.”

  71. It’s interesting to read different opinions on choosing doctors. I don’t place as much importance as some do on an elite degree. During our first visit when our pediatrician asked why we had selected him, I told him his office’s convenient parking lot was a deciding factor. No kidding, I did not want to have to deal with street parking on snowy streets and then having to lug an infant a block or two to the doctor’s office!

    I don’t anticipate buying a $1 million home for retirement. And good, convenient healthcare will be a priority for location.

  72. “I bet they think they’re rich.” Well, they kind of are, right? Isn’t rich only rich when compared to your surroundings? Kind of the same way that Scarlett and others have reported that the kids who have parents who make upper middle income salaries where she now lives are more entitled/snobby than the kids in McLean who have parents who make the same $?

  73. I’m starting to get the impression that people expect they’d get better medical care in the US than elsewhere. I am not at all sure of that. Very high end, cutting edge research? Yes, the US is where you want to be if you have $$ to pay for it. But keeping you healthy/avoiding major illness to begin with? I don’t think so.

  74. Rhett, your perception of “normal” income is affected by where you live, just like your perception of housing size

  75. Side hijack – would you ever go in on a real estate deal with friends?

    Noooooo.

  76. “I don’t anticipate buying a $1 million home for retirement.”

    About a year or so ago, my mom was laughing at a real estate listing for a house in their neighborhood. At the end of the write-up, the agent had written “many homes in this neighborhood have passed the $1 M mark!”

    My dad snickered “Oh they passed it alright, twice! On the way up, and on the way back down.”

  77. To what extent do people believe “healthcare” (what medical providers offer vs. what Totebaggers could/would do on their own) improves health? Having high blood pressure medication vs. not having it probably improves health, and having access to a competent surgeon for hip/knee replacement improves health. What else? I admit I visit doctors for procedures and prescriptions and don’t have any expectations that they will listen to me/care about my concerns unless, like Ramona Quimby, I make a Great Big Noisy Fuss.

    In my family, cancer treatment has improved health. But when I look at my seventy-something neighbors doing yardwork, it is unclear that until one has a chronic disease/severe problem, that what medical providers offer makes much difference.

    My neighbors are middle class retirees (industrial contractor, worked for school system, worked as professor, another industrial contractor, worked as admin at university, etc.), not “affluent professionals” for reference.

  78. I try to pick my doctors based on the recommendation of nurses. Nurses know.

    I think my current doctor went to U. of Colorado Med School. She’s completely fine. If I get something weird, I’ll go to wherever the specialist is.

    DH has a friend who came back from some foreign country with a fungal infection of the blood. Ewww. It’s making her super sick and the local MDs tell her it’s all downhill now til she dies. She’s at the Mayo Clinic at the moment trying to have a specialist tell her something more encouraging.

  79. Rhett, during the 2008 crash, I lost all my money in a real estate partnership with a friend. He lost less, but it was equally devastating for both of us. He rebounded better and faster and is back in the game.

    Our friendship has suffered primarily in that we are slightly embarrassed to be around each other nowdays.

  80. To what extent do people believe “healthcare” (what medical providers offer vs. what Totebaggers could/would do on their own) improves health?

    DH has late-onset Type 1 diabetes. I think insulin has helped, to put it mildly.

  81. To what extent do people believe “healthcare” (what medical providers offer vs. what Totebaggers could/would do on their own) improves health?

    Between my chronic and at one time debilitating health problem that is now delightfully managed by 4 pills a day and my depression – I’d say a lot.

  82. Milo – every time my dad visits he just shakes his head and says “people must be doing well here.”. I live in a slightly more modest neighborhood.:)

    I have no idea what people make but adding up some friends’ expenses leads me to guess most are at around $500k with a stay at home mom. A lot of men in my neighborhood seem to be in private equity or commercial real estate.

    Lark – We are on Amelia now and I could see us having a place here someday. I love how low key it is.

  83. ” it is unclear that until one has a chronic disease/severe problem, that what medical providers offer makes much difference.”

    Another person chiming in here with treatment of chronic/severe issues that has made a world of difference. And as I age I expect my chances for more health issues will increase.

  84. DH has a friend who came back from some foreign country with a fungal infection of the blood.

    PSA: When you are traveling in tropical lands, wash your cuts out with hydrogen peroxide. Especially if the cut was from live coral. Yes, it does sting.

  85. S&M – All of the above. My dad was in independent living up until he died, mother was up until 6 months before she died. About 8 months before she died, mother could have used assisted living, but it was full and she was on the waiting list. Here are some examples:
    1. Community does provide rides to/from doctor, but only if the appointment starts after 10 am and ends before 4 pm and MUST be scheduled 48 hours in advance. This works well for routine exams, but doesn’t work AT ALL when you wake up feeling poorly or the doctor finds something and wants you to do directly to the lab or x-ray or whatever, or head to a specialist the next day. If EMS takes you to the hospital, the community does not come pick you up when you are released.
    2. Community provide rides to the grocery store or Target-type store, but no assistance with shopping or carrying what you purchased to your appointment. They might have an “excursion” to the mall, but not directly to a specific store you want/need to visit.
    3. Many financial institutions want you to and prior to this delcine you could read statements or process transactions online, but their websites are not designed to work well or at all with the computer programs for blind/visually impaired people, nor are their phone systems designed for people who are hearing impaired. My 90 year old mother was both.
    4. You go to the doctor/hospital and none of the forms are in large print and rarely is there anyone readily available to read 10 pages of paperwork out loud to you. The community might have taken you, but they do not provide that level of support.
    5. Some communities have prescription delivery service, some do not. But, if it is delivered and you can’t read the really tiny print or you have a question and don’t hear well, calling the pharmacy can be an obstacle.

    Yes, you can hire someone to do/help with many things, but do you really want to give your online banking password to a caregiver?

  86. Rhett’s income ranges are interesting. They seem really high to me, but I don’t really have a clue what people make other than what I have to forecast for budgeting. I think $250K income is for a Finance VP and probably $150-175K for a Finance Director.

    Through kids’ sports teams we’ve started to encounter some people with serious money – guessing at least 8 digits and they are in their late 30s/early 40s, which puts them in a very high income bracket here. The one who has money from family does creative type work, so I’m guessing not really making any income from it. The other was in hedge funds, I think, and retired. It’s fascinating to get a glimpse into their lives. The hedge fund guy lives in a house that is roughly $1-$1.5M.

    I doubt that I’ll ever live in a $1M house, although the way prices are going up near me makes me wonder if our house will eventually get there.

  87. I was thinking of insulin as something provided by chemical engineers and pharmacists rather than “medical care” but that point is certainly valid.

  88. I see the same eye doctor as my mother. He is familiar with the degenative eye disease she had and its atypical progression. He treated it the last 15 years. As a result, we have slightly different discussions about what I see, as well as treatment/testing than if I had just put on the form that my mother had this eye disease. Will it keep me from eventually going blind? Likely not, but it may be postponed longer.

    I look at our state’s website for physician licensing. I look to see if the doctor has had any malpratice and/or has been disciplined by the licensing board. If so, I click on the information and read about it. Violated standard of care multiple time in the recent past and in relation to a condition I have – um, no, I’m not letting you treat me. Had some administrative violations, likely I don’t care. Something happened years and years ago, likely don’t care. And, I fully realize, that isn’t a flawless method because there is (1) always a first time and (2) happening over time, just not getting caught.

  89. I was thinking of insulin as something provided by chemical engineers and pharmacists rather than “medical care” but that point is certainly valid.

    Well, if absolutely everything were OTC, then probably the need for physicians would drop.

  90. S&M,

    That really works well. I especially like the first one. It’s not my thing* but I do like it.

    * this may need a splash of color…

  91. High blood pressure (I forget who mentioned it) is a great example of a thing the US treats with pills that more advanced healthcare systems would work to prevent in the first place. Depression can also be combatted in many ways other than meds, especially if you have a system that includes retreats in standard care and prefers to pay for yoga and meditation rather than meds. Type 1 Diabetes, I’m not so sure about. But for anything that can be prevented proactively &/or treated holistically instead of just reacted to with meds once things have already gone too far, there are many places, some of them represented in that blue chart at the top of this page, where I would rather live than the US. For high end/ accuse kind of stuff you could fly back to the US, same as my Canadian friends used a plane ticket in the drawer as their chief health insurance while they lived in the US.

  92. Rhett, just existing in that space, my son would give it a “touch” of color!

  93. Depression can also be combatted in many ways other than meds, especially if you have a system that includes retreats in standard care and prefers to pay for yoga and meditation rather than meds.

    I know German health insurance at one time paid for spa retreats* but doe it also pay for yoga and meditation? Or you do you mean the yoga and meditation classes at the spa retreat.

    * I think they still do but I’m not sure.

  94. My oldest’s best friend has a lot of anxiety issues and her Dr. gave her a prescription for yoga. Insurance doesn’t cover it but apparently the cost of the classes counts towards their deductible. I’ve also read that those with depression have low vitamin D.

  95. About medical care. I have no idea where my physicians were educated. I do know their associated hospitals, medical groups, and universities, if any. What is great about living where I do is that there is a huge supply of doctors and our HMOs and Medicare advantage plans are top notch with large coverage. All accessible to me via public transit, auto with parking, taxi or uber.

    Since I got lucky with local grandkids, I have no reason to want to relocate. I’ll take trips as long as I can, maybe get a small apt near any future grandchildren, but no Splendid Isolation or return to enforced community for me.

  96. Timely post as my sibling and I are in the process of buying a high-rise condo for our elderly father. He declared about a year ago that he’d had enough of the steps and maintenance at his house. He suggested an apartment and wanted no ownership hassles anymore. Independent/assisted living was not an option…he worked at nursing homes in the past and is in great shape for 80+. We decided that this was a wiser way of doing it. High rises here have better staff that will keep an eye out than apartments and most people in these types of buildings in my area are 55+ (not age restricted), which is good as his friends have started to die off. Besides, we’ll know if he forgets to pay bills and can renovate to be elder-friendly if needed (walk in showers, grab bars, etc). And, hopefully better as an investment. It may stretch us a bit, but we think its worth it. Main downside I see is being tied up in in real estate with my sibling.

  97. I would never own real estate with anyone other than my spouse. Not a sibling, or another relative, or a friend — no one. In my professional life, I’ve just seen too many instances where, for a whole variety of reasons, such arrangements have turned out badly.

    I can’t imagine DH and me ever moving out of northern New England, except perhaps if our kids relocate to another part of the country. We were both born here, and raised here, and we love it here.

  98. “I would never own real estate with anyone other than my spouse. Not a sibling, or another relative, or a friend — no one.”

    I agree. NO WAY.

  99. My parents live in a mid sized town in the midwest but there is a university there and I think they get exceptional medical care. My uncle lives in a small midwestern town and he’s got to drive 2 hours for decent medical care. He’s had some heart problems and an aneurysm. Having to stay overnight somewhere to get adequate medical care is a pretty big deal, especially when you are older.

    I would like to live in a place that is easy for my kids to get to. My parents are not in a major city and so with the flight and the drive, I could get to Amsterdam in the same amount of time it takes to get to them and really limits how frequently we see them. I often say, If only they lived in City X with direct flights, we could go for a long weekend. As it is, we see them 2x a year. So we’ll be accessible – which rules out living abroad. I would love to spend the summers in Melbourne though.

  100. Rhett, two months after we came back to the US, my son was scheduled for three weeks of asthma treatment in a spa on the Baltic coast. Because he was so young (6), my room and board there, as well as transport back and forth, were also paid for. This was not included under health insurance, but was fully covered under my (German) social security–gotta have a healthy workforce! He received the same steroid inhalers there as here, but whereas clinics here are happy to give us as many as they can, the doc there made a big fuss about it when something happened to one. In the 90s, my OB/gyn was willing to sign me up for health insurance coverage for a spa to recover from the surgery I had done for free, including a 1-week hospital visit, there. I was billed hundreds of dollars for the same surgery here, and it was out-patient. I assume there would be some way of taking care of my son were I to be hospitalized there, but I probably wouldn’t have thought he could be away from me so long. If I had known my employer would hire another contract worker while I was out for the surgery, I would have done the spa.

  101. I am just thinking aloud about my parents friends in the home country. Many have diabetes, high blood pressure and such. They have access to competent physicians. I don’t know if they manage their medications and follow up adequately but these issues have led to early deaths for quite a few of them.

  102. I have had high blood pressure almost forever. Amazingly controllable. Every few years, the drs tinker with something, but I consider my meds invaluable.

  103. High blood pressure (I forget who mentioned it) is a great example of a thing the US treats with pills that more advanced healthcare systems would work to prevent in the first place. Depression can also be combatted in many ways other than meds, especially if you have a system that includes retreats in standard care and prefers to pay for yoga and meditation rather than meds. Type 1 Diabetes, I’m not so sure about. But for anything that can be prevented proactively &/or treated holistically instead of just reacted to with meds once things have already gone too far, there are many places, some of them represented in that blue chart at the top of this page, where I would rather live than the US. For high end/ accuse kind of stuff you could fly back to the US, same as my Canadian friends used a plane ticket in the drawer as their chief health insurance while they lived in the US.

    I would argue that this is a function of lifestyles in the U.S., not the healthcare system. I don’t know any PCP who doesn’t encourage patients to have healthier lifestyles – eat better, exercise more, etc. But Americans as a group just don’t. So you’re treating hypertension with meds because patients aren’t willing and/or able to make the needed lifestyle changes.

    And if you gave me a choice of yoga classes or a pill for depression, I’ll take the pill. I have no interest in doing yoga, not to mention it would be a huge inconvenience. I’m pretty sure I’m not in the minority on this (among Americans overall, not totebaggers).

  104. @Rhett – You know, of course, that both your neighbors and the people in 10,000 sq foot houses in Columbus are rich. Just because one is in the top 2% and the other is in the top 0.5% of income and then there is the 0.1% and up that make you feel poor doesn’t mean that everyone that you are thinking of isn’t doing amazingly well for themselves. I tend to think of “affluent” as something less than the top 1% tier. More like top 5-10% for the area. Adjust it for your metro and all, but there are plenty of families in Boston “scraping by” on ~$100K each with professional jobs/titles who are STILL doing really well, statistically speaking.

    But I also think that people who score in the 95th percentile on standardized tests are pretty smart. ;) This blog is not a good representation of America as a whole.

  105. To what extent do people believe “healthcare” (what medical providers offer vs. what Totebaggers could/would do on their own) improves health?

    I had a fungal infection in my lungs last year. Without the “healthcare” medical providers offered, if I was still alive, I would have dramatically reduced lung capacity, possible brain damage and assorted other ills. And, it took a Johns Hopkins trained doc to figure it out.

  106. And if you gave me a choice of yoga classes or a pill for depression, I’ll take the pill.

    I do yoga, I swim, I walk, I do resistance training, and I still need anti-depressants. It’s all very groovy to say that if you change your lifestyle you won’t need meds, but it’s not actually true.

  107. DD, yeah, just your PCP giving you the standard blahblah blah, as is US practice, is t going to work if there isn’t solid action backing it up. Your second paragraph should be nominated for the Kelly Conway Way to Ignore the Main Point by Hyperfocusing one Part of One Example award.

  108. “It’s all very groovy to say that if you change your lifestyle you won’t need meds, but it’s not actually true.”

    True!!! I know cases of people with healthy lifestyles but who still need medication to treat high blood pressure, high cholesterol*, and depression, to name a few conditions.

    * From what I remember there is ongoing doubt whether treating high cholesterol has much effect on health for some people.

  109. Rocky, lifestyle changes can affect many conditions. A system that focused only lifestyle or meds to the detriment of the other is going to fail, whether that’s too much emphasis on lifestyle changes like many people here are imagining in some made-up nightmare land or too much emphasis on pharmaceuticals, as in the US system, where it is revolutionary for healthcare to cover “alternative” measures, and healthcare before sickness shows up is mostly empty talk.

  110. I would add that the exercise, at least for me, is a result of the anti-depressants. I have a hard time envisioning a depressed person pulling together enough energy to do the kind of vigours exercise that’s been shown to help. It’s a sort of chicken and egg problem.

    S&M – If you have some links to programs that have been shown to work, I’d like to see them.

  111. Rhett, yeah, if there aren’t any preventative measures, then once it’s there and full-blown, you pretty much have to start with meds. Google “wellness” and you’ll see examples. Many of them are from several years ago & haven’t been acted on.

  112. Totally agree with Austin Mom on the challenges of outsourcing elder care. Unless you have unlimited financial resources and can hire a replica of yourself. Just keeping track of multiple chronic health conditions, medication regimes that are constantly being tweaked, test results, hospitalizations, etc requires more cognitive bandwidth than is typically possessed by home care staffers. If you are not accompanying your parent to the doctor, you can’t be sure exactly what she told your dad about his new blood pressure med. We are seeing these problems with both elderly paresnts. And we know people with far more resources that we who have had to drop everything and fly to ____ because of frail parents. It is far more complicated than child care.

  113. “Their parents sent them to Amherst rather than Middlebury, and are therefore able to contribute significantly toward the down payment.”

    Amherst COA is in the low 70s, Middlebury’s is in the low 60s.

  114. “I am starting to get concerned about buying real estate in FLA because of climate change & the horrific state government.”

    Not to mention pythons.

  115. Scarlett,

    You should be able to (depending on what system they use) to get access to their chart online. The reason for and details of the blood pressure med change should be documented.

  116. When I needed to find a new PCP, I asked our kids’ pediatrician who he saw, and he gave me a referral. Turns out, my PCP is the cousin of one of my best friends, so I know that he went to flagship U, and I also know which HS he attended.

    Similar to Louise’s situation, a lot of MDs here are alums of flagship U med school. Many of them are private school grads who went to some pretty good undergrad schools before returning for med school.

  117. “I swear to God I though one was an elementary school. I’m at the bar waiting for everyone so I’m on realtor.com – $750k.”

    A median priced home, at least here.

  118. Finn, could you answer the question I sent you in reply to your email?

  119. DD, yeah, just your PCP giving you the standard blahblah blah, as is US practice, is t going to work if there isn’t solid action backing it up. Your second paragraph should be nominated for the Kelly Conway Way to Ignore the Main Point by Hyperfocusing one Part of One Example award.

    What “action” do you want? You can’t force people to eat healthy, exercise, do yoga, or whatever else. You can’t force them to take pills either, obviously. But if you give Americans a choice of “you can do all this stuff that is basically hard work, or you can take a couple of pills every day” most of them are going to pick option B.

  120. What “action” do you want?

    It’s at least plausible that sending Americans to the Canyon Ranch for two weeks paid for out of tax revenue could (at least in theory) be more effective at changing behavior that 2 min once a year during a checkup.

  121. Tangent: Today’s correlation-is-not-causation paragraph is brought to you courtesy of my local organic food promotional magazine-let.
    “Recent research prepared by Penn State Agriculture Economist Edward Jaenicke, PhD directly links economic health to organic agriculture production. The research identified 225 counties in the U.S. as organic “hotspots”- counties with high levels of organic agricultural activity that also have neighboring counties with high organic activity- and looked at how these hotspots impacted specific economic indicators.
    Organic hotspots were found to increase overall median household incomes by more than $2,000 and lower the county poverty rates. If this holds true for areas in the country that are deemed “organic hotspots,” imagine the economic impact this can have as these organic hotspots spread throughout the country; indeed, sustainable agriculture has the potential to improve the nationwide economy.”

  122. 2 weeks at Canyon Ranch is > $15k. Lisinopril is like $10/mo

    True. But (bear/bare? with me) we spend about $10k per person per year on healthcare. Would we save money if we took 5% of that and sent everyone to a Marriott version of the Canyon Ranch every 10 years for an immersive program?

  123. DD, I have had high blood pressure all my life. Most of my family has too. A large number of us have thyroid problems and are on some version of Synthyroid forever.

    I can assure you my diet is good. Even my Dr. (who doesn’t like me) admits I eat well. I also exercise best I can with a foot I cannot feel. I still need my bp and thyroid meds.

    I don’t think I’m being lazy or irresponsible here.

    (My liver and lungs may be another story.)

  124. WCE: LOL.

    Kate: Hot damn! My Greek yoga retreat in Oct. is only $2K. Of course you have to get there. But still.

  125. Finn – u mass Amherst is $27.

    “Bare with me” might be construed as sexually suggestive.

  126. Rhett – I doubt it, but I hope they send me to Miraval instead. They serve alcohol there unlike Canyon Ranch and I want to get the health benefits of my one glass a day.

  127. Milo, you wrote Amherst, not UM Amherst.

    Perhaps those in the area can clarify- when discussing colleges, does “Amherst” typically refer to UM Amherst, or Amherst College?

  128. I doubt it

    As do I. That said, there is some talk that we’re too aggressive in discharging post surgery patients with an oxy prescription vs. treating them in inpatient rehab and geting them settled in their post surgical PT before they go home.

  129. Finn,

    Amherst is Amherst UMass refers to UMass Amherst unless otherwise modified: UMass Boston, UMass Lowell, etc.

  130. In my universe, “Amherst” refers to the SLAC. “U Mass Amherst” is how you would refer to the state school.
    But I’m a Westerner, so what do I know?

  131. I have always heard of Amherst as the SLAC and the other one as UMass.

    Maybe we are too fast to discharge people with addictive meds when we should be weaning them off while under stricter medical supervision. But I don’t know that Canyon Ranch is going to solve anything (though it sounds lovely).

  132. Rephrasing.

    Amherst always means Amherst College the SLAC. You would rarely say UMass Amherst you’d say UMass and that implies UMass Amherst. If you meant anywhere else you’d say UMass Boston or UMass Lowell.

  133. But I don’t know that Canyon Ranch is going to solve anything (though it sounds lovely).

    Lovely? They don’t have a bar!

  134. Off topic: Can you imagine the champion Latin Club getting written up in any contemporary newspaper?

  135. One part of the lifestyle change programs is someone to train, hand hold you and then check in as you maintain that change.
    I don’t think two weeks at a spa place will work without the follow up phase.
    I had a nutritionist as an overweight teen and the whole experience was eye opening. Everyone prior to then just said “eat healthy”. I knew sort of what that meant but how much of each thing to eat in proportion to the other, how much is meant by serving, when to eat treats etc. all that was first taught, then I practiced and then it was monitored by keeping a food log. It really changed my eating habits and I mentally follow that even today.

  136. Now I see that “Poly” refers to a high school, just like the one in Amarillo 🤣

  137. In my universe, “Amherst” refers to the SLAC. “U Mass Amherst” is how you would refer to the state school. But I’m a Westerner, so what do I know?

    Me,too. and here’s what I know. The University of California, no location modifier, when referring to one of the 11(?) campuses, is where you went undergrad. All the others, except for Hastings, carry a location modifier. Some might just say “Berkeley” or “Cal” but I’ll never say Cal-Berkeley. And, of course, the in-the-know just refer to Cal’s law school as Boalt Hall.

  138. (I ask because one of my great nephews likes upstate NY, as do I.)

  139. Yes. If you read USNews and are into that kind of stuff it’s tied for #32 on the list of national universities.
    #30 UNC Chapel Hill
    #31 Boston College
    #32 William & Mary
    #34 Brandeis & Georgia Tech

  140. I have found managing elder care long distance to be a real challenge. So much sounded reasonable (the house is all on one floor! All four of us have Healthcare Power of Attorney! We’ll just hire an aide if we need one! There’s grocery delivery these days!) that didn’t work at all in practice. My mother is uncooperative, and even my physician sibling never gets a call back from mom’s oncologist. My “as God is my witness I will never” vow is that I will never insist on staying in my hometown in my twilight years if none of my sons lives there. Fortunately, I don’t have any place I consider a hometown.

  141. We’ll just hire an aide if we need one!

    I know, right? As if for $8.50 an hour you’re going to get anyone who can change a lightbulb, let alone take care of an elderly person.

  142. “The question I would have about relative medical care quality and expertise is what is the likelihood that you’re going to have some condition that is rare enough to challenge the conventional responses of an MUSC or UF grad and can measurably benefit only from the expertise of a Harvard grad.

    As was said about fears of airport terrorism, that doesn’t seem like a statistically valid fear.”

    Well, statistics be damned when it’s you. My MIL has perfectly wonderful, trained, educated doctors in Boca. And when she got pancreatic cancer, she was on the first plane to Hopkins to have surgery with The guy in the field. She has worked it out where she can have her local docs execute the chemo orders, but she returns here for all her scans and for all changes to the treatment protocol. And the treatment recommendations have differed between the different places; IDK whether there is any possible way to objectively determine whose was best, but she’s gone with the Hopkins’ guy every time, and she’s still here, knock on wood.

    Tl;dr: I don’t know whether I will ever actually *need* the top dog. But I still want him/her when the shit hits the fan.

  143. RMS, are you familiar with _On Caring_ by Milton Mayeroff? If so, do you have an opinion?

  144. HFN,
    If you add dementia to the mix then all bets are off. And for you’re not around on a regular basis you may miss the tell tale early signs of dementia, especially if the spouse is compensating.
    Even with cooperative and fully functional seniors, there are challenges. My dad is completely with it but has been hospitalized twice in the last month for congestive heart failure. If we didn’t live nearby, one of us would have had to travel there to manage things. Sick people, especially sick older people who aren’t used to being sick really need a family member advocate for their medical care. My dad has never had to think about sodium or fluid intake. His retirement community doesn’t disclose the sodium content of the dining room meals. He honestly didn’t know that a can of soup would use up most of his daiky allowance. His doctor told him not to drive for three months. This all happened over a period of less than a week. In order for us to take this trip to Australia (looking for PTM’s Junior), my sister took family medical leave to cover for us at home and help keep Dad out of the hospital.
    These were the sorts of things that I never thought about 20 years ago when my kids were younger and our parents were too, but they are definitely a factor in our empty nest life.

  145. LfB, even if you like in a major metro area with top cancer centers, The Guy for rare situations might well be in another major metro area. So it’s not always possible to plan for every eventuality.

  146. RMS, I read about it (haven’t read it) and was curious since it discusses caregiving from a philosophical perspective. The lack of economic value to caregiving is a significant obstacle to a gender equal, capitalist society.

  147. Yeah, this elder care thing is hitting home for us right now. Well, really for DW and her two sisters. Upside of all this is
    (1) the two who work, work for the company their parents started so taking time off to attend to their dad, the CEO, is just not an issue
    (2) there are no little kids to shuttle for any of them. All are 16+ and can drive themselves.
    (3) the husbands are all self sufficient…their wives having conditioned us well. (Of course we don’t do things their way — the correct way, right?)
    (3) money is not an issue for healthcare/transportation

    Then there’s all the downside. As I related, FIL (80) broke his femur ~3.5 weeks ago. He was already essentially immobile due to his stubbornness about doing the PT regimen when he had his knees replaced 3.5 yrs ago. The leg repair went fine; now just the recuperation/recovery from that. Well, he was still recuperating from bronchitis (probably pneumonia IMO) when he fell. So now he ends up laying on his back for several days and fluid begins collecting in his lungs because he’s not properly respirating…mostly, I think, because he’s far too heavy (essentially been that way since I met him ~35 yrs ago). So he ends up needing oxygen before he can move out of the regular hospital. Before this pulmonary issue, the thought was to a rehab hospital for some weeks, then back to their house (which while only 1 story is not at all ADA accessible for a x-wide wheelchair — doorways, toilets, showers). Well, last Tues. he ends up going to an acute care hospital where they can do PT, OT, mind his lung condition. Insurance approves that on a week-to-week basis. Progress is being made, so maybe by next Tues he can go to a regular rehab hospital (he has a followup with is ortho in a couple of days to determine if that’s suitable). Well, anyway, even when his hospitalization ends, and while he’s confined DW has started stalking to contractors re doing the ADA access work, he’s essentially going to need relatively constant care since he can’t get around. 0 (that’s zero) upper body strength, and no balance/leg strength, so crutches are out. Hell, I honestly forsee he’ll need help ~forever transitioning bed-wheelchair-toilet-wheelchair-regular chair. Oh, and did I mention he’s near none of his kids? because they (ILs) were at their winter home in AZ when all this happened. One daughter was out there 2 weeks, DW overlapped with her by a couple of days and #3 will go there next and overlap with DW for a day. Everyone essentially taking 2 week shifts this first time, and it looks like ~10 day shifts for round 2. I’m sure a couple of the college-age grandkids will spend a week there helping out once classes/finals are done. But, there’s obviously no end in sight. And on top of this MIL is a basket case.

  148. We picked our kids pediatrician practice based on insurance and location. Then looked online at all the doctors and picked the one that went to our alma mater for undergrad and med. school. We’ve been very pleased, especially since he took us serious with our concern over DD’s health and thought she might have a rare condition. Our second choice pediatrician is related to the the sausage king of the upper midwest. I haven’t a clue where my doctor went to med school, but when she refers me to specialists I do my research and Mayo is only a stones throw away if I need it.

  149. Pregnant Teen Mom on April 3, 2017 at 6:29 pm said:
    DD, I have had high blood pressure all my life. Most of my family has too. A large number of us have thyroid problems and are on some version of Synthyroid forever.
    I can assure you my diet is good. Even my Dr. (who doesn’t like me) admits I eat well. I also exercise best I can with a foot I cannot feel. I still need my bp and thyroid meds.
    I don’t think I’m being lazy or irresponsible here.
    (My liver and lungs may be another story.)

    I’m convinced that at least 75% of health is simply genetics.

  150. Fred, I see patients like that all the time. It’s my motivation to work out regularly.

  151. Fred, that is awful. But even though your FIL is probably an outlier, your report is a great example of all of the pieces that are part of the eldercare challenge. As your DW and her sibs now know, it’s really a full time job.

  152. As do I. That said, there is some talk that we’re too aggressive in discharging post surgery patients with an oxy prescription vs. treating them in inpatient rehab and geting them settled in their post surgical PT before they go home.

    When they are discharged to skilled rehab, they are given just as many narcotics. I think people get off the narcs quicker at home because they are in a much more comfortable environment. For example, when you are lying awake in the middle of the night because you can’t sleep because of all the noise, you are much more likely to be in pain and ask for a pill than when you are sleeping comfortably in your own bed.

  153. And there is a lot of incentive in SNFs to give narcs on a regular schedule rather than as needed (PRN). When PRN meds are given regularly, it raises a flag with the state surveyors, so they ask the providers to schedule them. Then the patients take pain meds they might not need because they are being offered regularly.

  154. When they are discharged to skilled rehab, they are given just as many narcotics.

    Right, the question though is long term treatment compliance. Are they more likely to follow through with PT after inpatient rehab vs. discharge home?

  155. So on my HGTV comment – the couples with the $900k housing budgets do not appear to be top 1.0-0.5% income. Some of them have kids, so I’m always running the numbers in my head trying to figure out what kind of down payment or creative financing you have to have to afford daycare for two plus the payment and taxes on that price range of house. Either they have substantial down payments, or family help, or free childcare, and maybe no savings. We are on the lower end of the Totebag distribution, but I just don’t see how those people are doing it.

    S&M why are you surprised about people not being more impressed with retiring overseas? It sounds like you consider that a goal? Do you consider that to be a better/preferable option to retirement in the US?

    On the healthcare issue, if we are talking about healthcare in retirement, the ship has sailed on the go-to-the-spa-to-manage-blood-pressure model. By the time people are in their 60’s, a lot of the lifestyle damage has been done. I have a number of very manageable issues that routine healthcare caught, such as a severe B12 deficiency and thyroid problem that have a huge impact on my quality of life. I choose to see the PA where I go, because I like her more than the doctor and I don’t need a master diagnostician. My dad does need a master diagnostician and will have to travel to another city to find one. But you still need a referral, so it is a slow process when the resources are not in the city where you live.

  156. do not appear to be top 1.0-0.5% income.

    They don’t need to be. 1% starts at $465k with the top 5% at 215k and 10% starting at 133k for household income. At 25% of gross a $1 million mortgage all in w/ PITI would need an income of 240k. That’s a little north of the 5%.

  157. saac – I think that you gave us a hint as to why lifestyle management might work better in northern Europe. You mentioned that the German doc was very upset when inhalers were broken or misplaced. Compliance with norms, good behavior if you will, is a shared social value. We talked a long time ago about some of the Swiss and German public ordinances, no mowing the lawn on sunday, no flushing the toilet at night, etc., and because you have lived with them and understand how they work in that society you don’t scoff at them. Old people will be well taken care of there, but they will also comply with what is scheduled and provided. I cannot imagine many of our own parents dutifully moving to the old folks’ residence and fitting right in when the medical or social authorities determine that they need to leave their home for more care.

  158. “I cannot imagine many of our own parents dutifully moving to the old folks’ residence and fitting right in when the medical or social authorities determine that they need to leave their home for more care.”
    Yup. My parents always seemed very certain about everyone else’s need to move into The Villages and were clear that they would do so when they needed to. Unfortunately, when they needed to was about 4 years before dad died and mom had no choice. Scarlett mentioned missing the signs of decline. I am constantly stunned by my siblings’ capacity to deny that mom has an mental decline whatsoever, and I’m sure I’ve played along with this fiction in the past, because it is so much easier to believe she’s “still sharp as a tack” than to start figuring out how we can accompany her to all of her doctor appointments. I feel like the voice crying in the wilderness, wait, she doesn’t remember last week!
    Lark – oh happy, happy day! I’m a Tarheel born and bred. I share your fantasy of retiring to Chapel Hill.
    Fred, oh my. I am so sorry.

  159. “the couples with the $900k housing budgets do not appear to be top 1.0-0.5% income.”

    This is not argumentative, just curious. Do you mean that when they announced their jobs in the introductions, the jobs don’t align with high incomes, or do you mean based on certain characteristics, they don’t appear to be one-percenters!

    “At 25% of gross a $1 million mortgage all in w/ PITI would need an income of 240k.”

    That’s our income, and a million dollar mortgage seems ludicrous. Our mortgage was on an original principal of $200k (we’d saved a large down payment) and that was about 1300 or 1400 all in with taxes and insurance. Multiply that by five and, while interest rates are a little lower now, you’d still have to be north of $5k a month. The 25% thumb rule falls apart under progressive tax brackets. And $240 with pensions and union representation is a lot different than 240 at-will with a 401k that you have to fund.

    Lately, I’ve wanted to scream at the TV watching Travel Channel’s new show “Boat Buyers.” Similar format to HGTV with three possible; incredibly, the people appear even dumber. They just want “a boat.” They seemingly have no prior knowledge of anything about boat’s whatsoever, although it could just be the setup of the show. Twice now, once on Lake Erie, once on Lake of the Oxarks, the couple who just wanted “a boat” were first shown a smallish cabin cruiser in the 33′ range. The wife looks around the cabin and says “oh wow, I didn’t know it would have a cabin, but this is really nice. Might be something to think about.” And the DH asks “how much is it?”

    “$300k.”

    “Hmm something to consider. What kind of power? Can it pull a skier?”

    “Twin 350hp pod drives.”

    [To the credit of one salesman last night, he admitted that it’s not really what you want for skiing–too big of a boat, too many engines…] But yeah, it will pull a skier.

    And then the next boat they look at might be a center-console fishing boat. It’s like they drew the three options out of a hat. And sometimes they’ll say “I liked everything about #2, except I would want a little more power.”

    [Well then get it with the bigger outboard!!!]

    “You’re right. I guess we’ll go with #3. Great should we call Bob and let him know?”

  160. The 25% thumb rule falls apart under progressive tax brackets.

    How so? The higher the taxe bracket, the greater the benefit from the mortgage interest deduction.

  161. That’s a minor effect compared to the negative effect of being in a higher tax bracket (or even having any sort of liability) and losing child credits.

    Also, in our case, it’s money that we would not be putting into tax-deferred retirement savings, so there would be no additional deduction.

  162. Fred, It sounds as if your wife and her siblings are managing your FIL’s ordeal, but I’m sure it’s stressful for everyone. Stories like yours, and others here, are an inspiration for me to consider my children as I get older and crankier. I have usually been compliant with doctor’s orders concerning my health.

    I just learned of this app. Sounds promising.

    GoGoGrandparent turns on demand transportation companies like Uber into services that help families take better care of older adults.
    https://gogograndparent.com/

  163. Fred – is there a home health care aide assisting your DW’s family in your FILs care ?
    Related to this my SIL who is a healthcare person wanted to start a franchise in home health care in the UK.
    The difficult part was getting qualified people to manage the administering of medications and the second part was the hassle of getting payment from the government.

  164. I know a couple who used to talk about retiring in Europe, where they traveled extensively. Unfortunately their poor planning caught up with them and now as they approach 70 they are in a difficult financial situation. I suspect they will have to rely on social security and meager savings for many of their basic living expenses. I fear this is the situation for many Americans, including couples who lived a relatively affluent life in their younger years.

  165. People in their late 30s/early 40s also may be on their third or fourth house, rolling the equity into that $1 million house. When we bought our house in 2011 there was very little on the market in our price range because the people that owned those houses weren’t trading up to the $1 million house due to little or negative equity in their $750k house. The past few years I have seen people buy a $900k house and sell it two years later for $250k more.

    I think people on this board tend to move less often. I hear a lot about renovations but very little about trading up.

  166. “When PRN meds are given regularly, it raises a flag with the state surveyors, so they ask the providers to schedule them. Then the patients take pain meds they might not need because they are being offered regularly.”

    Wow, talk about the law of unintended consequences! State: “Oxy/etc. are dangerous and we want to make sure they are not being over-prescribed; I know, let’s take a close look at all PRN meds so we can catch overuse.” Providers: “Well, crap, these guys are giving us a giant hassle over all of the Oxy we are giving PRN; I know, let’s just put everyone on a schedule so they get plenty of Oxy whether they need it or not.”

    “I cannot imagine many of our own parents dutifully moving to the old folks’ residence and fitting right in when the medical or social authorities determine that they need to leave their home for more care.”

    I just got a mental image of several nice men trying to convince my mom that it’s time to leave her house. Yeah, my money’s on her. Part of the reason she continues to save so aggressively is because she doesn’t ever want to be forced to move (a bigger part is that she’s bat-shit crazy, of course, but literally since she moved into that house c.1978, she’s talked about staying put, period). It is totally, completely ridiculous and impractical, and in the end I’m probably going to have to twist her arm to spend the money on aides and remodeling and all of that, but it’s her money, and if that’s what she wants more then anything, then that’s what I’m going to make sure she spends it on.

    Travel Channel has a boat show to add to the RV show? Oh, man, DH is going to kill me. :-)

  167. “People in their late 30s/early 40s also may be on their third or fourth house, rolling the equity into that $1 million house.”

    But if the only way you can afford the million-dollar house is with a big down payment AND a 30-year mortgage, and you’re already 42, then you’re planning to have a mortgage until you’re 72??? What happens at 52 if your department is “right-sized” and you’re out on your ass?

    I wonder what percentage of reasonably affluent people in this category don’t actually plan to pay off the mortgage, but figure they’ll sell and move to Hilton Head before then, and whatever equity they have at that point should cover it.

    “Travel Channel has a boat show to add to the RV show? Oh, man, DH is going to kill me. :-)”

    Yeah, I like to record and watch Big Time RV, also. At least with that show, there’s usually a little more logic in the three options.

  168. “I know a couple who used to talk about retiring in Europe, where they traveled extensively. Unfortunately their poor planning caught up with them and now as they approach 70 they are in a difficult financial situation. I suspect they will have to rely on social security and meager savings for many of their basic living expenses. I fear this is the situation for many Americans, including couples who lived a relatively affluent life in their younger years.”

    Yeah. I also think that when it comes down to it, by the time you are in a position to do this, there are grandkids to consider, aging parents if you are a younger retiree, and/or your own health issues if you are older. I think that is one of those dreams whose practicality becomes questionable when you actually get there.

    I don’t know folks who have actually relocated internationally, but my impression from HH and the like is that Central American destinations are the most appealing, largely because they are close to but significantly cheaper than the US. So someone who hasn’t saved huge amounts can retire to Mexico or Panama, live like a king compared to how they live in the US, but still travel home to see family and doctors relatively easily/cheaply.

    Personally, I can’t see doing that, because I hate bugs and humidity. If I’m going tropical paradise, it’s the Kona coast. Or Turks & Caicos — I’ll put up with the humidity for daily wall dives. :-)

  169. Milo,

    $240,000k with 3 kids and 36K in retirement and 36k in mortgage interest would look like this.

    $240,000
    -56,000 taxes state, federal and FICA
    – 60,000 mortgage (PITI)
    – 36,000 max 401k
    ______________________________
    88,000 / 12 = 7300/month left over.

    What am I missing?

  170. MBT, I’m not sure why I thought people here would be more into the topic of retiring internationally. Maybe I was thinking more of dreaming and fantasy, as opposed to actual, concrete plans.

    Meme, interesting thought about the willingness to follow directions. The pediatrician honestly seemed just upset that we’d lost an expensive thing, and like she was trying to figure out how to account for it/ get us another one. Had I realized, I would not have been so matter-of-fact in requesting another. We were in the former GDR, so the outward appearance of following rules was extra important.
    Besides really appreciating being able to nap without hearing neighbors’ mowers all Sunday, I also come from an incredibly compliant family when it comes to doctor’s orders, between the German heritage and being medical professionals themselves. There was a while when my little one was a toddler that Grandpa couldn’t pick him up, because he was recovering from open heart surgery, and I cried the first time I saw him after his hip replacement five years ago, because he was walking so bent over with a cane. But he did his PT eagerly, and Mom gave no quarter about the stuff he was supposed to do for himself and gave no guff on what she was to do for him, and he was back riding his bike to tennis four months later. DD’s world, where people just decide they’re done, with the obesity and other issues that brings, and take meds for those consequences, sounds horrible to me. As I said upthread, I’m glad there are meds available when necessary. I just can’t picture the pharmaceutical route being the preferred option. I don’t mean that in any blaming, finger-shaking kind of way. It just doesn’t make sense to me.
    Besides the rule-following in Northern and Central Europe, there is also a very different ethos in general about social responsibility; society is as responsible to the individual as each person is to society. I wasn’t joking about social security paying for a first-grader’s asthma treatment being part of taking care of the work force. The need for regular breaks and vacations is not questioned there, and the idea of a limited number of sick days/going to work sick/being frantic about finding back-up daycare just makes people shake their heads. So it isn’t just that people are accustomed to following rules; it’s also that life is set up so that the group covers for the individual when necessary. And you are correct, of course, that having lived it is why I support it.

  171. Rhett – daycare?

    Milo – I think that is the thought process. People seem to have already forgotten 2007 – 2011- but to be fair if you had held on you would have plenty of equity by now.

  172. Atlanta,

    Daycare is $255/week on average in Atlanta so that $1000. Which leaves $6300 a month. Infant room etc. etc. it could get tight for a year or two but still doable depending on spacing of the kids.

  173. Rhett – I guess it looks possible when you put it that way, although we send more to retirement than $36k, then some 529 savings, then HSA, etc. And you did forget health insurance premiums before you see your take-home, plus life insurance, umbrella insurance, etc. after take home.

    Still, $5k a month for THIRTY YEARS!!?? That’s just depressing. That’d be enough to make me look at a Tiny House.

  174. What happens at 52 if your department is “right-sized” and you’re out on your ass?

    Oh, I agree. But, I don’t think the average person thinks that way. In their defense, the folks I know who have ended up in that position ended up landing on their feet.

  175. And you did forget health insurance premiums before you see your take-home, plus life insurance, umbrella insurance, etc. after take home.

    That’s another couple so call it $1300. That’s still $5k a month left over.

  176. Milo – I think $5k a month seems reasonable on that salary (plus your salary often grows if you have the wherewithal to be able to make $250k in your thirties). Our mortgage is a bit lower but we are able to save in 529s, taxable accounts, retirement, go on vacations and send our little ones to preschool. A lot of people are also not planning on keeping the big family home in the good school district once their kids are launched ( I know I am not).

  177. “plus your salary often grows if you have the wherewithal to be able to make $250k in your thirties”

    I’d say more often than not, it really doesn’t. If this is a combined $250k from two federal employees, for example, which would be a popular set up in this area, how much income growth can they reasonably expect?

    And if it’s $250k from a single earner, say a Biglaw associate at 38, if I have that term correct, what percentage of those move up to partner at $500k and beyond? I didn’t think it was higher than 50%.

  178. As to MBT’s down payment question. I don’t know many people who went from a $5k a month rental to a $5k mortgage. Even in Boston it might be $2500/month or less. Saving the 2,500 a month difference would have you at $100k in savings in a little over 3 years. I think 10% down is enough to get you down toward the 0.3% end of the PMI scale.

  179. DD’s world, where people just decide they’re done, with the obesity and other issues that brings, and take meds for those consequences, sounds horrible to me

    Welcome to the USA. See Fred’s FIL for one example. I’ll throw myself out as another. I had shoulder surgery a couple of years ago, and I was pretty diligent at going to PT regularly for the first two months or so, then life got in the way. It was hard to schedule appointments around work, school, and just general life. The surgeon said it would be a 6 to 9 month recovery, and it was probably about a year for me because I wasn’t as diligent as I should have been.

  180. I’d say more often than not, it really doesn’t.

    I think it does in many cases, the only caveat being that as you rise much above that level more income starts coming as various types of incentive pay which can obviously vary.

  181. Right, the question though is long term treatment compliance. Are they more likely to follow through with PT after inpatient rehab vs. discharge home?

    For the 20 days they are inpatient, they get much better rehab. Two hours of forced PT/OT daily does wonders. I don’t know how much more likely they are to follow up afterwards than someone who was DCed straight home.

  182. At 38 in biglaw, you have a really good idea as to whether you are up or out (and most people are beyond the decision-point). At least where I worked, they told us if we were likely to make it/what needed to be done. So, from ages 33+, unless the market in your area tanks, you can plan pretty well. Non-equity partners are more in the $350-400k range, so $1m house isn’t crazy.

  183. “A lot of people are also not planning on keeping the big family home in the good school district once their kids are launched ( I know I am not).”

    But where then?

    1) You buy the same size house in Cobb County for $450k rather than $900k. Your DH will suddenly be ready to fight all that traffic twice a day? And it won’t seem like a big step down or that something is wrong to his coworkers and your friends?

    2) You buy a condo where you are for $450k, and have no yard, and no space for kids who come home from college, or grandkids later on?

    3) You move to Cape Cod. Do you really see places on Cape Cod that are significantly cheaper than what you have now and that you’d actually want to live in?

    It just seems like the “We’ll move somewhere cheaper when we don’t need the schools any more” seems like something people say, but nobody ever does. Admittedly, I come at this from a totally different perspective and location of origin, but I can’t think of anyone who has done this. To the contrary, everyone seems to buy either a second place or a much bigger/more expensive place on the water at this point.

  184. “the only caveat being that as you rise much above that level ”

    But what percentage of people rise above that level? These things are pyramids, aren’t they?

  185. Dh’s law firm is a southern firm so I think it’s just different. They’ve had people stick around for 20 years as an associate, all the while getting the big bumps in pay that happen every five years. It’s not up or out at all. The few times that they’ve asked a partner to leave it was always give them a year’s pay once they leave and give them six months to a year warning to find a new job. We know this guy who was given a year’s salary (so around $350k pre tax) who then landed a much lower paying job in house. A year later he has moved up and is probably back to making almost what he was. People seem to land on their feet.

  186. But what percentage of people rise above that level?

    That’s a hard question. Many who opted for the $500k house are going to be looking more toward retirement and are content where they are career wise. For those where things are a little tight, there are options to move ahead.

  187. Firms where I worked were less pyramid and more like a small number of really high earners who drive up the profits let partner and a lot of people in the mid-range. Hourly rates around DC for senior associates/of counsel/Jr partners at big firms are in the $500-600/hr range. You usually get ~1/3. If you bill 1800 hrs, you are at $330k without keeping anyone else busy.

  188. Thinking of elderly people I’ve known in CH//D/AT, I don’t know of anyone who moved because death panels told them it was time. I have known several elderly people who lived in their own homes; they were all still clearly able to take care of themselves. Not having rent payments of course would free up more money for healthcare in addition to assistance covered by insurance, just as money makes such a difference in those decisions here. The woman I got my Berlin apt from was moving to some kind of old folks home. She was around 70, and had perculiarities of age. I got the very strong impression from her son that he, and probably other family members, had decided it was time for her to make the move. He was clearly making a lot of the decisions & doing a lot of the work of the move, and was grateful I was willing to take the apt as-is. (Normally, tenents are responsible for painting, etc, and she had installed flooring over the pinewood boards, and left some furniture, with a chamberpot under the chaise she told me umtipeen times was good to sleep on). My neighbor across the landing there was wonderful to talk to, lively in her thinking, a very happy person. She was probably nearing 70 when she decided to move out. She was in charge of her own move. I think she went to a retirement community, but I’m not sure. I’d have a hard time believing anyone was forcing her out. The neighbor next to me died at home. She was probably close to 80 and her children had come by very often to take care of her, including bringing groceries. I don’t think she went down the two flights of steps to go outside the whole time we lived next to each other. My Swiss father (from when I was an exchange student) got very ill very suddenly, was in the hospital and then hospice and died very quickly. He and my Swiss mom had just relocated to a smaller house next to one of their sons, down the hill from another. She still lives there, and gets a lot of help from one DiL. One of my Swiss aunts was mentally retarded and lived in some kind of home her whole life. All the grandparents died at home. My own grandparents died in hospitals; one of them was in assisted living at the time. Long story short, I don’t think the “mental image of several nice men trying to convince my mom that it’s time to leave her house” is related to those systems. If anything, permitting people to take a day off for elder care (accute, not day to day) and providing in-home healthcare seems to me like it would permit people to stay in their homes longer, if they wished. There are limits to the in-home care, but that’s true anywhere.

  189. Houses on Cape Cod seem to be a bit less on a price per square foot basis. I’m not suggesting one should only plan on home equity when they downsize. I think on a $250k income you could probably amass a significant investment account even with a $5k mortgage if you send your kids to public school and aren’t extravagant. On $250k you just have to choose between house and frills.

  190. Louise – they will definitely get a home health care aid. (and probably run thru several of them until they find one who will tolerate my FIL’s demands/impatience/crankiness).

  191. Rhett on April 4, 2017 at 7:41 am
    What happens at 52 if your department is “right-sized” and you’re out on your ass?

    Oh, I agree. But, I don’t think the average person thinks that way.

    Wasn’t it de Toqueville who said that in America, there are no poor people, only temporarily embarrassed millionaires? I think most people who start out moving up assume they will always do so.

  192. I think most people who start out moving up assume they will always do so.

    And in many cases they are right. Even look at more or less a worst case scenario – the financial crisis. You lost your job ended up in foreclosure or a short sale 7 years later (or less) you’re good to go It certainly sucked when it was happening but as long as you weren’t in your 50s when it happened you can move on. Keeping in mind that even in a worst case scenario only a minority of people ended up in extremis.

  193. Thinking about my retirement and the possibility of my kids having to take care of me the one thing I will never ask my kids is to make them promise me not to move me out of my house. I have seen friends of my parents struggle with guilt and taking care of their parents because the parent didn’t want to move out of their house. The kids were overburdened with caring for the parent and the parent had no clue about how much work it was for their children to care for them in their house along with house maintenance.

    My grandma willingly moved into a wonderful senior apartment building. She might not have wanted to do it, but she never conplained. She was happy there, and it was much easier to help with her care. She’s my role model for aging with grace.

  194. It is interesting to note from posters what elder care communities will and won’t take care of.
    I had a question – if the senior is in assisted living, are the help with medical appointments and medications taken care of ?
    I feel like I should have an idea of whether I will get called or not.
    All my grandparents passed away in care of family, some with an aide/nurse so I don’t know what to expect from institutional care.

  195. Milo – we have a giant mortgage (over 5K) but are also maxing out retirement, although admittedly we could put more in the 529s than we are. We also rolled over equity from the first 2 places we bought into this place, so the equity that we have now is roughly the purchase price of our first condo.

    My parents ran into the shifts when my first grandparent died – they were at the FL place and not near any of the children. The sons came for a little while (a week) and then two of the DILs (who had been SAHMs, with empty nests at that point) took about a month or 6 weeks, alternating 2-week shifts, to pack up my grandmother and the house, pick a place for her, and move her out.

  196. I take comfort while my kids are young in being within 20 minutes of several hospitals, including multiple good children’s hospitals. However, I realized that when we were down in our place in the Hill Country, we are farther from medical care than we would be in many Caribbean islands. There is no full time doctor within 30 minutes and the closest hospital is about an hour away, longer if you have to wait for an ambulance.

    I assume that there is a strong likelihood that I will be early retired in my early 50’s – rampant ageism in my industry. We look forward to downsizing from our current house once the kids are launched. DH wants a condo and a boat. We will see where those are located.

  197. An example of what I said above about social obligations going both ways: “It was hard to schedule appointments around work, school, and just general life.”. I don’t know much about this in Germany, but think that when I had PT for my back, the policy was that I didn’t have to schedule around work. As a prof, I’m accustomed to being able to move things around as I wish, but iirc, that was the policy for anyone who needed PT. I think that there are also PTs/OTs who will come to your home. That still leaves us Fred’s FiL, who I was thinking of but didn’t mention the first time around because it seemed somehow unkind when Fred’s family is hurting. Now that you’ve brought him up: I can’t understand. It really sounds as if he could do something else if he so desired. To me, his choices sound like deciding food is a hassle, so you’ll take vitamins and get IVs or that you don’t want windows because the changes in light coming in or not are a hassle. Perfectly possible, but I can’t picture doing it. I wonder how many of your patients would want to be more consistent with PT, etc if there were more support available. I recall my dad being bewildered at some of his patients. When they were going to have surgery, he’d get out his big model eye with ovable parts, about 4″ in diameter, and show them what was going to be done. I guess most listened politely, idk, but apparently some would cut him cheerfully “youre the doc”. “Whatever you say, doc”. In writing, it looks like compliance, but irl it was completely giving over any control. Dad would tell us this, shaking his head in amazement.

  198. But to your other point about the affluent earners, for some of us the income brackets top out a lot sooner than Rhett’s $250K. In order to make that I’d have to work a LOT more, which is just not worth it to me at this point.

  199. Can I vent?

    I need Outlook alerts to always be on top. So I look to see if that’s possible within Outlook. The answer is no because:

    Note: If you aren’t actively working in Outlook, the reminder box appears behind the program that you are using so you don’t lose focus on your work. Instead, watch for the Outlook icon flashing in the taskbar and listen for a reminder sound. If you work in a loud area, try turning up your speaker volume or changing the reminder sound to something unique.

    Don’t lose focus? Losing focus on what you’re doing is the whole fucking point of the alert! I need to be in a meeting or a call hence the alert to remind me to stop doing what I’m doing.

    WTF is wrong with these people?

  200. Rhett – I think that is a recent change to Outlook. I read about it somewhere. Before the reminder would pop up before the meeting in the front so you wouldn’t miss it.

  201. I think the affluent worker just needs to be prepared to retire in their 50s if need be like Mia said. All of the attorneys I know have nice houses but otherwise seem somewhat frugal. All of the partners on DH’s team seem to have other income streams (some fast food franchises, big stock portfolios and rental properties).

  202. Mia, I didn’t know you had a place in the hill county. I have happy memories of the funky, cold Medina. Also of sailing on Lake Austin. Is that where your husband might want a boat & condo, or do you mean on a coast?

    “are the help with medical appointments and medications taken care of ?” Louise, someone mentioned upthread that they’ll take people to appts, but not help with asking questions, etc. Here, it seems to be standard for docs to hand you a print out of any instructions, but that may not be the case across the whole country.

  203. Rhett, that’s ridiculous. Is there any way you can have one of the new alerts be something the device can notice, so you can write a script to have the kind of alert you want? DS turned on LED flash for alerts (under accessibility) for his incoming texts/Instagrams for a while. It was incredibly annoying. If you could do that, it would certainly break your focus!

  204. My big decision this morning: paint the bench in the breezeway blue or green, and dark with light accents, light with dark accents, or all the same color?

  205. Is there any way you can have one of the new alerts be something the device can notice, so you can write a script to have the kind of alert you want?

    A script is the only solution. Which makes me even more annoyed.

  206. Rhett – my reminders/alerts pop up on top of everything. Maybe it’s because I’m not on the latest version of Office/Outlook. And I also get them on my phone which is set on buzz.

  207. S&M – it is deep in the hill country and an hour an a half from Lake Austin. It is right near the terrible crash that was in the news last week. There are pretty parts of that area but the cabin is in disrepair and ownership may get contentious and fractious since it is now owned by the 4th generation. No one will let me fix things up because they like rustic and old – live electrical going up the walls. anyone? I plan to buy them out at some point. In a downside scenario for the economy, this land and a farm closer to Corpus are owned free and clear and we could fit the entire extended family on these lands and the build cost for homes is pretty cheap in these areas.

    If our careers are going well here, I could see us staying in Dallas in a condo – I would love to live along the Katy Trail closer to downtown. I would bike everywhere! I could also envision living in Florida but no where south of Palm Beach (just draw a line there across the entire state). I think I could live in Stuart, Tampa/St. Pete. We enjoyed St. Augustine quite a bit. Any place with salt air, access to the sea and friendly gets my vote. On our ventures up the East Coast this summer, we may find more places that would be good retirement options!

  208. Rhett – They’ve got it under control. Otherwise, they wouldn’t put the drone shot.

  209. Rhett – They’ve got it under control.

    They most certainly do not. The drone shot is to weed out the buyers who will balk at the lack of beach access and the erosion risk.

  210. Dh won’t buy too close to the ocean or bay. I remember that story from a year or two back about all those people who bought on the beach in Sandwich and then had to spend a lot of money trucking in sand to save their houses. Some beaches gain sand each year and some lose it.

    Milo – there are a lot of lovely pond front houses and you’re no more than a ten minute drive to the beach. Season long beach stickers are about $10 for residents, you just have to get there by 10:00 to get a parking space.

  211. Rhett,

    ONe of the neigbors:

    Scott B. Richards owns one of the homes on Indian Trail along with his wife, Laura A. Richards. Mr. Richards works as a bond manager for a private investment firm in Chicago. He said that he received photographs from neighbors that were taken during last week’s blizzard, and they “made me sick to my stomach.” The storm took a chunk of land halfway up the cliff in front of his home, he said. He pointed out that his septic system and gas line are not far from the cliff’s edge, and they could wind up on the beach along with his house.

  212. Under control?

    The Bourne Conservation Commission prior to the Thanksgiving break voted 4-1 to reject a plan to construct a 760-foot armored sea wall on town land at the foot of the Sagamore Highlands below Indian Trail homes.

    The vote came after comprehensive review and stated views by some residents that such armoring of an eroding cliff would merely enhance that erosion on either side of a seawall.

    The proposal is privately funded by Indian Trail homeowners, who say their properties are in peril as coastal northeasters continue to erode the cliff side each winter.

    The home owners could take their arguments on appeal into Barnstable Superior Court where, if town records are any indications, Bourne environmental disputes are typically remanded to the wetlands protection panel by judges for further scrutiny.

    The cliff in question has eroded for decades but not as rapidly as during the past three winters. Similar situations exist just to the north at Peaked Cliff near the Cedarville boundary.

  213. @Milo – I’m with you on all counts. The only thing is that I’m not so sure that the difference between the 25% bracket and 28% bracket on just the marginal portion of income is a huge deal/decision driver. (And at $250K HHI, that would be the border between the two depending on how much you put into tax free savings vehicles/deductions, etc)

    To Milo’s point about “topping out”, more people work for the government than in ALL Business/Professional services combined, which would include a lot of things besides BigLaw and BigConsulting.
    https://www.bls.gov/emp/ep_table_201.htm

    I would say, what I’ve seen with a lot of my successful coworkers/friends is that they upgrade houses a couple times in their 30’s/early 40’s, but then even if they get a “big” promotion beyond that – turns out that their kids are already established in school/friends, they like their neighborhood, and they really don’t want to move. So they stay in a house that is valued less than you’d think that they would afford. Maybe buy a vacation home, take nice vacations, pay for SLAC for their kids, pay for nice weddings for their kids, upgrade the cars, retire early, etc. But I don’t see tons of people trading up their primary homes past early-40’s unless they are relocating for work anyway.

    @RMS – What about the chess team pep rally? This is from last year, but they won State again this year I believe. (This HS also won the state boys’ BB championship this year – it’s not just a “nerd” school although it is a test-in school and one of the top schools in the state.)
    http://chicago.cbslocal.com/2016/02/25/whitney-young-chess-team-state-champions/

  214. I am worried about Miami – I think you could have the beach underwater in the next 15-20 years. My parents house is high on top of a natural ridge that won’t erode (it is basically limestone/coral rock) and is 20 feet above sea level but don’t know that it matters if most of the roads that lead up to it are at or just slightly above current sea level.

  215. The thing you have to watch out for is flood insurance. My best friend’s family was trying to sell her grandfather’s beach cottage after he died last year. The cottage was in the beach parking lot on the bay side and the grandfather had this reasonable flood insurance rate that he had been grandfathered into. When they tried to sell it, the big road block was a new flood insurance policy for a new owner was going to be $24k per year.

  216. Milo,

    North Shore Boulevard?

    The hard-hitting storm broke beach stairs throughout the beach in East Sandwich, broke up platforms and landings, tossed deck furniture around and broke through the dune system from North Shore Boulevard to Salt Marsh Road to Town Neck. And at least four homes had their foundations washed out, making them structurally unsound.

  217. Atlanta – the house we owned in Miami was in a flood zone and east of US-1 (usually evacuation zone for hurricanes). We paid $4,000 insurance for our 1,300 sf house annually and we were not beach or water front and were about 1 mile inland.

  218. I like house #2. A lot. But that awesome back deck needs a pool.

    I tend to agree with Milo: most people who-are-not-on-this-blog don’t think nearly so much about future downside risks, or necessarily have the education/understanding to think much beyond what the bank will approve them for. So they assume that future income will increase (I’ll make partner!) and future expenses will go down (well, we love this now, but when we retire we will be completely different people who are old and boring and so will just want a cheap condo in Florida like everyone else). For some, it works out; for others, it doesn’t. And for the latter group, success/failure depends on ability to adapt to circumstances. Or you end up like CoC’s friend or my mom’s business partner and just sort of keep working and delaying and delaying, because suddenly you’re 70 and you still can’t figure out how to make your savings stretch to fit your lifestyle.

    I think most of us here tend to be a little more analytical and conservative than that, even if our overall outlook tends more optimistic or pessimistic. Y’all know which side of the scale I am on; my highest mortgage ever was @$2700 (under $3500 with T&I), and that was when we moved in here @13 years ago — and we are going to have both that and Taos paid off before we retire. I don’t know if we’ll end up staying in those two properties specifically long-term, but I do know myself well enough to know that I am completely spoiled by my current housing and have no desire to count on selling up and moving to a cheaper option, so the plans all assume the same amount of money spent on housing.

  219. Mia – right and flood insurance has gotten crazier. We live right outside the flood zone in our neighborhood and our neighbors are in it. I think they pay $3k or $4k per year and we just have a small creek that will never actually flood ( I think the normal depth is about six inches)

  220. Milo, just came across something for you to read, lol.
    2014 Periscope Down! Charting masculine sexuation in submarine films, with Jesse Proudfoot. In P. Kingsbury and S. Pile, eds.Psychoanalytic Geographies, Routledge: New York, 241-256.

    Mia, limestone doesn’t erode, but it can dissolve in water, as in karst. I’d think waves lapping at limestone would eat it away. Then again, Swahili houses built out of limestone and coral were very durable and kept cool naturally as well. But CoC knows better than me; I’m definitely not a physical geographer.

    “live electrical going up the walls. anyone” yikes! But why that line across the state? I’m more familiar with divisions between East and West coast retirement areas.

  221. Saac –

    Specifically, submarine films illustrate the logic of masculine sexuation by depicting spaces held together by the bonds of phallic jouissance and sustained by the belief in a boundless jouissance that is not submitted to the phallic function. Moreover, these spaces themselves are significant, for it is the claustrophobic intimacy of the submarine and concentration of bodies within it that allows us to see both how masculine sexuation operates as well how the Lacanian account of sex cannot be reduced to language. This is the main concern of our essay, which is structured as follows. We begin by explicating Lacan’s notion of sexuation and its revision of the Freudian account of sex difference. Here, we focus on how sexuation challenges historicist accounts of sexual difference and how geographers have yet to engage with this challenge. We then turn to submarine films to show how the cinematic space of the submarine sexuates crewmembers as masculine in two ways: via the universal shortcomings of phallic jouissance and an exceptional and boundless non-phallic jouissance. We briefly conclude by suggesting how sexuation can further psychoanalytic geographies.”

    He sounds like he’s a bit much.

  222. “Would someone making $350k and living here be able to swing it?”

    As long as they rented it. The listing claimed $55k rent for the most recent summer.

  223. “DD’s world, where people just decide they’re done, with the obesity and other issues that brings, and take meds for those consequences, sounds horrible to me.”

    I think it’s unfair to say people just “decide they’re done.” The problem is that compliance is freaking hard, and it is painful, and access and support can be difficult, and basically everything out there is an incentive to just stop. So you are constantly swimming upstream in molasses — and the minute you stop, even for a second, you lose all your progress and then some. Look at your dad: he succeeded not just because of his personality, but also because of his medical training and his wife. I agree with you that more support systems would help, but it’s unfair to look at the old, fat, sick people and conclude that they just decided they were done, now give me a pill.

    I will give you me as an example. You know I lost all that weight on meds, and now I’ve gained it back. Joy. Not through lack of effort; just always hungry. I tried and had to give up running, because my curved spine meant my back kept seizing up. I have tried and so far love Crossfit. After 6 months, I am a lot stronger and think I am healthier, but I haven’t lost a pound. And I’ve had three separate injuries, each of which cost me a minimum of a week, one of which ended up in the ER at 3 AM. All of which, again, spring from that curve in my back, plus the added stress of years of focusing on non-weightlifting exercise options, plus getting older and not being as flexible any more. Each time, I considered quitting; honestly, when you have almost a month where you make it only a few times, it gets frustrating and feels like it will never end. Each time, I got my ass up and went back. But there is a lot of personal effort/sacrifice involved (getting up for 6 AM classes bites the almighty rod), and work flexibility as well (I much prefer the 4:30 PM, but that requires leaving work at 3:45). And I can only manage it 3-4x/week, and even with that there is still stuff that hurts regardless of what I do — my knees and wrists really struggle with some of the work (early arthritis in wrists), so I have to work through the pain I can and adjust the exercises where I can’t. Yoga would probably help, if I wanted to devote still more time to exercise instead of everything else. Oh, and I shop for real food and cook real meals, on top of my full-time job and two kids.

    And yet despite all of that effort, barring some major medical breakthrough, I am probably going to be overweight for the rest of my life, with all of the health implications that entails.

    To describe all of this as a Sisyphean task is an understatement. And that’s for me, who has all the resources and flexibility to manage it. So, yeah, when I look at people who are older and poorer and infirm and overweight, I don’t think, damn, they must be lazy and looking for the easy way out. I assume that at some point, they just no longer had the physical or mental strength to keep pushing that same f%^@$ rock up that same f$%^@! hill.

  224. As long as they rented it.

    That would help but I can’t see that it’s required. 350k is a little over 20k a month take home. PITI on both combined would be 9k ish.

  225. “That would help but I can’t see that it’s required. 350k is a little over 20k a month take home. PITI on both combined would be 9k ish.”

    I mean this genuinely: You should buy it!

  226. Rocky – It doesn’t improve from there:

    All of man’s jouissance is phallic jouissance. Every single one of his satisfactions may come up short. The symbolic order emerges most powerfully in submarine films’ all-consuming fascination with the military chain of command: the rules governing rank, authority, and the division of labor. In some films, this fascination crosses over completely into fetishism, lavishing
    attention on the minutiae of military order and protocol, luxuriating in each performance of
    the chain of command. Tony Scott’s Crimson Tide is both exemplary and typical in this
    respect, devoting considerable screen time to Gene Hackman’s Captain Ramsey drilling his
    crew in the byzantine bureaucracy required to launch a nuclear strike. From the communication officer’s reception of the order and the senior officer’s concurrence that the
    order is properly formatted, to the XO’s order to unlock the safe and compare the
    authentication codes, each elaborately stylized link in this chain is scrutinized with the
    attention of a lover to his beloved. Arguably the greatest pleasures offered by submarine films
    are these scenes where we observe the crew executing the complex, ritualized actions of their
    duties. Indeed, the genre is defined in many ways by scenes that depicting the submarine and
    its crew as an Oedipalized body-of-organs: the sonar man intercepts a new contact and relays
    its coordinates to the “con”, the captain calls out the depth to the Chief of the Boat, who in
    turn orders the planesman to dive, and each order in turn is echoed by the crew in a
    syncopated call and response that gives submarine films their distinctive rhythm and cadence.
    Such scenes call to mind Lacan’s (1966: 700) argument that the jouissance one loses when one submits to the phallic function does not disappear but is transferred to the Other. What the
    men pursue in the compulsive repetition of missile launch drills is a thoroughly libidinized
    enjoyment of bureaucracy: a symbolic order where the “mere pittance of pleasure” (Fink 1997:
    100) that remains for the castrated subject is only accessible through language and obedience
    to rules. Crimson Tide’s fetishistic treatment of these arcane military structures allows us to
    see this psychical structure at work, for what should theoretically be the most mindless,
    stultifying bureaucracy is depicted in quasi-pornographic detail: every command, every order,
    every instance of the law is treated as a love object.

  227. You should buy it!

    $9k a month? Are you insane? Who could sleep at night*?

    * I guess most people – I just can’t understand how.

  228. Some sort of protected water might be the way to go. Bayfront, or harbor.

    Look at the area just west of the “crook” on the hurricane maps–it supports what you just said.

    but it’s unfair to look at the old, fat, sick people and conclude that they just decided they were done, now give me a pill.
    I would agree with you. What you’re citing there is my paraphrase of what DD says he sees in his work. It’s hard for me to wrap my head around people thinking like that, and as i said at 8:45, I think there are far too many structural barriers to good health in this country and wonder how many of those people would have been more compliant (hate that term) if they had better support. Compare rates of obesity, infant mortality (which goes up to 2 year olds) and life expectancy between the US and any country that takes the more pro-active approach I’m describing, basically any country in the OECD. What else would the US be behind (and on some stats, moving in the wrong direction)?
    You hadn’t mentioned gaining the weight back. That’s got to be frustrating. At this point, I’ve decided to try to maintain and tighten up for a month–I haven’t been lifting as much, am mostly relying on calorie restriction, and haven’t been losing like I want to. So I’m focusing this month on being more active and working out to lose inches.

  229. Phallic Jouissance is the name of my new band.
    Mine’s Pittance of Pleasure.
    You guys should see his dissertation on Sandals in Jamaica.

  230. Infant mortality rates aren’t very easily compared. I wonder how much of the difference is because of how things are measured? For instance, in the US, if a baby is born after viability (23-24 weeks) and subsequently dies (which is not an uncommon occurrence in preemies), that baby’s death is included in mortality statistics (it is considered a live birth and subsequent infant death). In many European countries, this is not the case. It isn’t counted as a live birth until 28 weeks. And there is a HUGE difference in survival rates for a 24 weeker compared to a 28 weeker.

  231. For rural healthcare issues, you can buy an air ambulance service that will transport you by helicopter to the hospital of your choice. Works if on overseas vacation to transport you home, too, I believe. Not sure of the cost, but believe it is fairly reasonable.

  232. “You guys should see his dissertation on Sandals in Jamaica.”

    I’ll pass. He seems like someone who just needs a little more phallic jouissance aside from the self-induced.

  233. I think the affluent worker just needs to be prepared to retire in their 50s

    This! DH is making more than we expected right now, but we know so many tech people who become unemployable in their 50’s — have reached high salaries, but are no longer (either for real or perceived) current with skills. Our retirement planning involves assuming he may not be able to contribute much in the last few decades (or that we retire early. Or that we open a donut shop. It’s pretty fluid at this point).

  234. Our poor health outcomes compared to other industrialized countries (in my opinion, I can’t back this up with data) are related to the people we have living at the margins. Other OECD countries do not have the very rich and the very poor the way that we do. The very rich are not improving our numbers (cause their health is the same as the kind of rich) and the poor bring us down. All the nutrition counseling and yoga vouchers won’t help a homeless person. Someone who can’t afford a steroid inhaler can’t just go exercise more. 2 weeks at Canyon Ranch for diet optimization doesn’t do much for the elderly with transportation issues preventing them from receiving routine care. If we want to have health outcomes that match Europe, we need a social safety net that matches.

  235. For rural healthcare issues, you can buy an air ambulance service that will transport you by helicopter to the hospital of your choice.

    The cost is very reasonable because it is so rarely needed. Even in the rural west, the time saved by air transport is often not much compared to ground transport. I’m not putting a helicopter in the air for someone with a broken hip (I am in charge of that decision sometimes – not the air ambulance service, not the patient) if ground transport can get them there within an hour or two of the flight time. Putting birds in the air risks a lot of lives and rarely changes outcomes.

    Also, the range is fairly small. Don’t expect to go to the hospital of your choice unless it si close by.

  236. One way to tell Florida’s more concerned about hurricanes than Mass? Better maps. There’s good reason for that, but still, Mass apparently just put theirs out 3 years ago, which sounds incredible. Also, Florida has several sets. As explained by Pinellas County at http://www.pinellascounty.org/flooding/maps.htm, “Flood zones, evacuation zones and storm surge protector are different. They measure different conditions that may not occur at the same time, are determined by different methods and have different purposes. A home may be located in a non-evacuation zone, yet still be located in a flood zone because of a nearby stream or pond. Residents are advised to check all of them to learn what your flood risk is.”

  237. Ada, wouldn’t you count that safety net as part of the social contract? Heck yeah, not having so many desperately poor people makes a huge difference in health levels! Adding the ability to take time off to take care of your health (or your child’s, or your elderly parent’s) on top just makes it even bigger.

  238. I am always intrigued by the discussions of vacation homes. I’d love to have a beach condo somewhere on the gulf side of Florida. I don’t come from a family who has ever had a vacation home, so the idea seems far-fetched though it’s completely within economic reason. I just can’t seem to figure out the math on doing that vs. just doing a rental for the months we’d use it once we get to that stage. For those of you that have a vacation home, what was your rationale on the outlay and the monthly fees? Do you rent it out when you’re not using it? If so, that seems like its kind of only as good as a rental. I mean, if I can’t leave some personal stuff there, what’s the point?

    Today’s discussion of beach erosion and climate change is doing nothing to improve my chances of ever buying directly on the beach….

  239. Sunshine,

    The only way I can see it working is if you are content to be locked into a vacation destination. Then again you can always rent it but then is that really the best investment option? I doubt it.

  240. “After 6 months, I am a lot stronger and think I am healthier, but I haven’t lost a pound.”

    Laura – that’s me, except the real facts are after 4.5years…I’ve lost 10 whole pounds.

    But I am so.much.stronger. Glutes and up. All protected by a marshmallow-like cover. Under that, I am Charles Atlas.

  241. I think it’s probably more important to feel healthy/stay active than be some perfect weight. I think I’ve read that being slightly overweight doesn’t really have a correlation to health problems and we all know unhealthy thin people.

  242. “Do you rent it out when you’re not using it? If so, that seems like its kind of only as good as a rental. I mean, if I can’t leave some personal stuff there, what’s the point? ”

    I agree.

  243. @Sunshine: First, places that are specifically marketed as vacation rentals tend to be designed with an owners’ closet that can be locked.

    My mom and stepdad were the first to buy a vacation home. They rented it throughout the entire high season and used it in the off-season for several years; then they started using it a few times in the high season (e.g., reserving a week for family vacation); and once they got the mortgage paid off they yanked it off the rental market entirely. Note that this was not a fancy/expensive place; I think they got it for like $135K, and maybe it’s worth $250K now — it is biking, not walking, to the beach, and on the “wrong” side of Rt. 1.

    We bought a condo as our retirement home, and we rent it to a full-time occupant. Our thinking was that we could basically have a renter pay our mortgage and then convert it to our primary home when we retire. It hasn’t quite worked out that way — the association of course discovered a lot of deferred maintenance the year after we bought it, and we have been in a dispute with the developer over nonpayment of dues from a unit that he still owns for the past @3-4 years, so the assessments more than doubled almost immediately. I am also frustrated at not being able to use it ourselves. My plan is to pay off the mortgage, and then convert it to a short-term vacation rental, so we can at least use it ourselves a couple of times a year — I figure once the mortgage is paid, that will decrease the monthly nut we need to cover (though maybe not by much when you add in the utilities). But not sure I can get DH to agree to that.

    Neither of these were the most optimal use of the money — in both cases, even given the pretty good luck in terms of the local property markets, we’d have done better putting that monthly cash flow into VSTAX. They are emotionally-laced purchases of consumption goods more than “investments.” From my perspective, though, I look at it as using excess current cash flow from my high-earning years to prepay future housing costs when my income is more restricted. Plus getting income from the tenant doesn’t hurt.

  244. I can’t leave some personal stuff there, what’s the point?

    You can keep a small room locked when your place is rented and use it to keep your personal items.

  245. Obviously that’s not as idea as having your clothes in the closet and underwear in the drawer.

  246. Note that this was not a fancy/expensive place; I think they got it for like $135K, and maybe it’s worth $250K now — it is biking, not walking, to the beach, and on the “wrong” side of Rt. 1.

    That sounds like every episode of Beach Front Bargain Hunt. Ohhh, let’s buy some dingy condo a mile from the water with a view of a parking lot. I just do not get the appeal.

  247. Sunshine, we bought instead of renting partly as a real estate investment (the house is well-located) and partly because we actually like being locked into a destination. Honestly, a lot of our vacations sucked because DH hates not knowing where things are, he hates having to ask for directions or information, hates having to take a chance on restaurants, etc. He doesn’t like being disoriented. I’m better about it than he is, but I do like familiar surroundings and I hate traveling with him when he’s in a terrible mood. And he’s always in a terrible mood in unfamiliar territory.

    We have a bunch of clothes, hiking boots, swimsuits, etc., in the house now. We have our electric bikes! DH has figured out how all the gadgets in the house work. The back yard is so lovely. It’s so easy to just go crash there.

    We spent a long weekend with one of my college chums at a resort in Napa. It’s the kind of place where you buy in and then pay a monthly fee and you get access to X number of days per year. It’s kind of like a timeshare but it’s a big complex with a bunch of “cabins” (seriously luxurious “cabins”) and it’s run by a hotel company. It’s this place:

    https://calistogaranch.aubergeresorts.com/

    Man, is it nice! All the advantages of knowing your way around, but none of the maintenance hassles. Still, we decided we’d rather own our place and hope the real estate appreciates.

  248. “It just seems like the “We’ll move somewhere cheaper when we don’t need the schools any more” seems like something people say, but nobody ever does.”

    I read recently about a neighborhood in SoCal known for its public schools, IIRC, especially its HS. Largely because of the schools, the homes in the school district are very expensive, leading to a regular turnover as people with kids buy, then sell and move out once their kids graduate from HS.

  249. ” I just can’t seem to figure out the math on doing that vs. just doing a rental for the months we’d use it once we get to that stage.”

    I think the math is usually better for the rental, or to buy and then rent out your condo. But to me, the whole point of buying the condo is that you get all your OWN stuff, all the time. You can go anytime. Your own rules, etc.

    We have rented lots of places, and the furniture & all the stuff in it is tolerable, sort of….for about a week. For 4-6 mos/year, I want my own stuff from beds to couches to towels to kitchen gadgets. And I don’t want weirdo strangers using them. It’s not the best straight monetary choice, but I can chose to make it as a consumption choice if that’s what we want in the future.

    I also am grateful to those on this blog who share their stories about their aging parents. While I would like to retire early and play tennis at Del Boca Vista, I also would like the option to stop working in 10-15 years if my parents (or IL’s) need me. I don’t think that would be on my mind at all if it wasn’t for some of you that are a bit older than me sharing your struggles here.

    Funny enough, I went to the gym at lunch, and House Hunters was playing an episode where a early 30-something couple in Seattle was buying their first house with a $900K budget. I chuckled a little. I didn’t catch their job titles.

  250. “Ohhh, let’s buy some dingy condo a mile from the water with a view of a parking lot. I just do not get the appeal.”

    The issue is that those two things are flipped: what they could afford closer to the water was dingy as hell; this one has cathedral ceilings and is light and bright and has two balconies (one screened) overlooking a pond. Think more like this — http://www.realtor.com/realestateandhomes-detail/2109-Eagles-Lndg_Rehoboth-Beach_DE_19971_M58282-44319#photo24 — but with (slightly) better decorating.

    As compared to the “on the beach” option — http://www.realtor.com/realestateandhomes-detail/8-Olive-Ave-Apt-403_Rehoboth-Beach_DE_19971_M54172-42428#photo13

    From my own experience, what you want from a permanent residence can be different from what you want when you are staying somewhere for a week. If I am going to the beach for my big summer vacation, I want On The Beach — I want to sit on a deck looking at the water and drinking refreshing beverages. OTOH, if I am going to live there full-time, I’d still prefer On The Beach, but if my budget forces a compromise and I have to choose between the two options above, I’m going with the one that doesn’t make me feel depressed and claustrophobic on a daily basis.

  251. I also am grateful to those on this blog who share their stories about their aging parents.

    Ditto. This thread turned out to be really helpful that way.

  252. Laura, I think the first option looks as cliched as the second, but I haven’t seen inside. Other people must share your opinion, because the On The Beach option has been On The Market for over 400 days.

  253. “We have a bunch of clothes, hiking boots, swimsuits, etc., in the house now.”

    See, this is a reason a second home is unappealing. I’m very attached to my hiking boots and other items, and I’d find having to buy two of these things an inconvenience not to mention an extra expense. But also the idea of dealing with maintenance decisions for another house is simply too much work.

    I had forgotten how many totebaggers own more than one home.

  254. @SM — Cliched? I wasn’t talking about the decorating (which I would totally overhaul in both locations). You don’t see any difference in the interior space (vaulted ceilings) and exterior views (pond vs. parking lot)? Not to mention the overall size.

  255. “That would help but I can’t see that it’s required. 350k is a little over 20k a month take home. PITI on both combined would be 9k ish.”

    I wouldn’t sleep at night spending that much on housing. This is my basic retirement plan: keep housing costs to less than 15-20% of gross income (we are at 13% currently), make a large downpayment and keep payments interest only at lowest rate possible, max out all retirement vehicles and pretax HSA, live off base income and bank bonuses. We also cook at home a lot because we like it and I have no self control if I eat out. With our pending trip and boat financing costs, we will be spending 29% of my gross base income on keeping the house and boat and will not have DH’s salary during this trip. It makes me kind of nervous, even though we originally planned on having no jobs and just burning through about $100,000 to fund the trip (costs split between actual costs for a 15 month adventure and boat down payment, financing costs and loss on sale of boat).

  256. CoC, I really am not all that attached to my hiking boots. I have a decent pair in Colorado and a decent pair in California. It’s actually swimsuits that are more my issue, because I need long-torso, but I always have a stash of several. I spend lots more time swimming laps than hiking anyway.

  257. The people I know who have a house one block from the beach don’t usually go to the beach unless there are guest who are going. They are spending $800k to drive 3 hours to sit in their backyard. They can sit in their backyard at home. I just don’t get it.

  258. You can do both, Rhett! In the mornings, you go out in the lovely backyard with your coffee and Kindle. Later, you go down to the beach and walk along East Cliff Drive.

  259. “They are spending $800k to drive 3 hours to sit in their backyard.”

    This makes zero sense to me, unless your backyard is Milo’s cliff house (in which case please bring me a drink with an umbrella in it before you head out to the beach). We always go to breakfast first, then hit the beach for a few hours in the morning (before the crowds come and before it gets too hot), and then frequently back for a cocktail before dinner. Plus, of course, the “strolling on the boardwalk) option. We don’t spend all day there (too hot/too much sun), but IMO the benefit of having the place near the beach is that you don’t *have* to spend all day there to feel like you’ve gotten your money’s worth.

  260. Milo – it depends. If things work out really well with the job and working remotely, we keep the boat and DH will keep working less (maybe get a job in a school system with summers off) and he will take the boat to the med and we will spend the following summer in the med. If we were keeping the boat long-term, we would sell current house and downsize to a 2 bedroom townhouse or condo in our school district.

  261. he will take the boat to the med and we will spend the following summer in the med.

    Across the Atlantic!?!

  262. You can do both, Rhett!

    And all for $1800 a month for 30 years and that’s every month not only in the summer.

  263. Yes – but the crossing would not have me and the kids on it – you hire on experienced people for that crossing. The boat has crossed the Atlantic previously – prior owner purchased in Greece and it lives in Florida right now.

  264. Rhett –

    “Our first priority is to live. Our second priority is to sail. So for us, this wasn’t a race, but a means to an end. That’s why we bought this boat! We had a 38ft monohull, but really wanted to be able to live and sail around the world.” —Melanie Schavois, Germany, who sailed across 7 months pregnant with her husband, two crew and her 2-year-old boy Finn. The family retro-fitted their Lagoon 440 to include stainless steel stanchions and netting all around, keeping it safe and family-friendly”

    http://www.sailmagazine.com/multihulls/cruising-multihulls/crossing-the-atlantic-on-a-catamaran-with-the-arc/

  265. who sailed across 7 months pregnant

    Let me pull up my “Things a Totebagger Would Never Ever Do” spreadsheet. Scrolling up to the top. Ah, yes here we are. #1 sail across the Atlantic on a little boat while 7 months pregnant.

    Seriously, talk about having a positive outlook on things and a high tolerance for risk.

  266. Yes – that article basically describes the lifestyle. Our boat is a Lagoon 440 and the prior owner completed the ARC. I wouldn’t do it with super young kids because my kids were crazy as toddlers and we didn’t have the money for it, but why not at 10 and 12? They don’t do competitive sports, we can keep up with schooling without long-term damage and we might do some really cool stuff! I feel pretty good about the odds of explaining a resume gap for DH if that’s what you did with it. And if not, Plan B. And if not Plan B, Plan C…. Majority of people sailing as families around the world don’t have near the savings and safety net before they head out.

  267. I will keep my health insurance and pay for med-evac coverage. The risk per nautical mile sailed are not going to be much different than driving around in a car on a daily basis.

  268. Mia – We were just reacting to the seven-months pregnant sailor. I think it’s perfectly fine otherwise.

    God, I LOVE the pictures of that boat. Especially that flybridge.

  269. The flybridge is what sold it!

    I wonder if that pregnant lady was assuming she was sailing into a country that has similar healthcare…to her homecountry.

  270. And all for $1800 a month for 30 years and that’s every month not only in the summer.

    We go out there every month. Northern California never gets that cold.

  271. “Let me pull up my “Things a Totebagger Would Never Ever Do” spreadsheet. Scrolling up to the top. Ah, yes here we are. #1 sail across the Atlantic on a little boat WITH A @-YEAR-OLD while 7 months pregnant.”

    Fixed that for you.

  272. LFB – you’re right. I was so focused on the 7-months pregnant lunacy that I looked over the 2-year old. And from experience, I can tell you, there is no visibility from the flybridge down below. DH is hard of hearing and I worry he will miss something happening down below with the kids.

  273. DH and I are California born and raised as are our families. We plan to stay in our current home and are hoping that our children x3 will be able to live in So Cal. Part of our retirement planning includes factoring in help with down payment if necessary to close the affordability gap. Homes in our neighborhood are 1MIL/ 1600 sq feet and price point moves to 2MIL for custom homes.

    DH and I are hoping to buy a second home in Tahoe before we retire (1.5 MIL for a view and 2.5 or so for a fixer on the water)…which depends on how much help our kids need.

  274. Mia, your trip sounds fantastic. Swiss big brother and his fiancé bought a boat and headed down to sail in the Mediterranean (they stored it in Spain) quite a few weekends, then sailed across the Atlantic on their honeymoon. That was nearly 30 years ago, and it like like the business they run together and their kids are doing well. Lots and lots of togetherness. I wouldn’t want to be pregnant in the middle of the ocean on a little boat, but then again, all my pregnancies were considered high risk, except for the one that ended in a miscarriage.

  275. A family member has a condo in Naples and residences up north. Technically, she is a full-time resident of Florida for income tax reasons. She doesn’t rent it out. It’s on one of the top floors and right on the water. The views are breathtaking. We have gone down to visit a couple of times, and it is great to visit, but I don’t think I could live down there full time – even if I had the income to afford it. Naples is a little surreal with the amount of money there. When we were there, I kept looking for where the normal people must live.

    Maybe I can’t imagine living down there because I know I’d never have that much money where having a 2nd or 3rd home has no financial impact to me. Family member lives near a row of mansions on the beach that are all over $10M (probably more than $20M) and she said they are probably used only a few days a year.

  276. Laura, ahh, I had scanned down the page for a photo gallery, didn’t realize the top photo was the start of one. You’re right on nearly all counts, imho. Furnishings have got to go (hey-hey, ho-ho). Probably kitchens too. Rooftops view is a joke–unless you can hear the waves, in which case the view is less important (can’t look at it while you drift off to sleep anyway). The inside of the newer one is indeed nicer. Then you’re in a house in a neighborhood, which is what my parents chose when moving from the Midwest. To them, 8 miles/half an hour to the beach is close. And they like the ready-made social setup in their neighborhood. We’re talking vacation house, right? If there was one available in option 2’s building, facing the waves at least diagonally, I’d take a 1-bedroom there, or a studio if it had a nice kitchen in a separate room (with a door). My first couple months in Berlin, I sublet a 32 sq m studio. The entryway was about 5’x5′. Kitchen & bath to the right, main room to the left. Both had large windows. That was a good set-up. People spent the night a few times and it was fine.

  277. Rhett–snowbirds with visiting kids/grandkids. The people my parents sold their 3/2.5 to closed off a loft to make a fourth bedroom, because their kids visit so often, and are now selling.

  278. S&M,

    How often are the kids there? April vacation? It seems like it would be cheaper and easier to just put them up at a hotel.

  279. I really enjoyed reading through this thread. Sometimes I forget how much money totebaggers make. Though my stomach turns at the thought of spending too much time on the boat, I enjoy looking at them. Miamama, your plan sounds awesome.

  280. Rhett – You got to give Florida credit for the way they can build a stormwater runoff pond, position all the houses in a circle around it, and call it a lake. And it actually doesn’t look half bad. The first picture in that listing is my favorite. Everything else is too dark (but could easily be changed).

  281. @Rhett – The place you posted is similar in price/size to the ones my relatives have in Naples, although some are in mid-rise elevator buildings. Big pool with cabanas/chairs/tables, decent & plentiful tennis courts, walking paths, bocce courts on the grounds, etc.

  282. “This is my basic retirement plan: keep housing costs to less than 15-20% of gross income (we are at 13% currently), make a large downpayment and keep payments interest only at lowest rate possible, max out all retirement vehicles and pretax HSA, live off base income and bank bonuses. “

    Notably absent is college savings.

    Last night, we opened an envelope from one of the schools that accepted DS. COA for next year: $75k, not including transportation.

  283. The only con with Naples is that the snowbirds drive so slow and there is one way in and out. Also, you can’t get anywhere with that airport. Have to drive over to Miami or Fort Lauderdale.

  284. Finn – we have generous grandparents. Prepaid tuition program for 4 years at the state school + 2 years room and board plus trusts could fund the gap for four years at a SLAC. Excess funds can help the kids with house downpayment or to pay for grad school (not enough for 4-years of SLAC + law school but could likely cover 4 years in-state plus expensive grad degree).

    $75K per year?? That is insane.

  285. Milo,

    On Island Hunters they are often on Long Beach Island. They have these water filled ditches between the houses were you can park your boat. The buyers are all, “Look at the view of the water!” It’s a ditch full of water it’s not The Water.

  286. “A family member has a condo in Naples and residences up north. ”

    Coming right after the discussion of sailing in the Mediterranean, I initially thought you meant Italy.

  287. “$75K per year?? That is insane.”

    Another of his options is about $70k/year, and we’ve been told it would be insane to turn it down.

  288. Don’t forget, Amherst (the SLAC, not UM Amherst) goes about $70k to $73k. But Middlebury is a lower cost option in the low 60s.

  289. Hmm, you don’t suppose the 7 months pregnant lady sailing around the world is a totebag lurker……

  290. “Or that we open a donut shop.”

    Are you of Cambodian descent?

    (If you don’t get that, google “Cambodian donut shop.”)

  291. OT, I don’t rule out moving out of the country. Where we live in retirement will be greatly influenced by where our kids live, which in turn will be greatly influenced by their SOs.

    Among DS’ very close group of friends, 3 of them are probably going to college outside the US.

  292. Another of his options is about $70k/year, and we’ve been told it would be insane to turn it down.

    Think of the poor peer group at one of those lower ranked school!

  293. I don’t have children who are smart or ambitious enough for a top 5 school. Or they are late bloomers in the drive/ambition department.

  294. Rhett, we’re talking babies/preschoolers with SAHM. How would staying in a hotel help anything? The point is for family to be together.

  295. Mia, RSW has been expanded and there are quite a few flights available there now.

    Milo, the thing with those “lakes” is that wetlands were cleared for the development, and the drainage is supposed to replace them. But you can’t just plant wetlands–there a lot of biodiversity in them, and it takes a long time to build up. Also, Florida is so flat, water wouldn’t drain anywhere if they didn’t intentionally make indentations.

  296. “I need Outlook alerts to always be on top. So I look to see if that’s possible within Outlook. The answer is no”

    Rhett and Louise, thanks for explaining. I’ve missed several meetings in the past several months when Outlook didn’t remind me, and this explains why.

    Like Rhett, I hate the change.

  297. So is Outlook no longer putting reminders on the lock screen of my phone, then? If so, *that* would explain a lot — I can’t tell you how many conversations I’ve had lately that have started with “I’m so sorry, my reminder never went off.” I just assumed it was me missing stuff or setting it up wrong.

  298. Finn,

    I’m waiting for the Microsoft alarm clock. It never goes off as they found it was waking people up.

  299. @LFB – they are still showing up on the lock screen of my phone, but my iCal syncs to my work server, so it is the iCal app that is forcing the reminder. I don’t use the Outlook app for iPhone.

    I never liked the pop ups in front of my work anyway – I prefer them popping up in the background. I still notice that a new one has come up.

  300. I never liked the pop ups in front of my work anyway – I prefer them popping up in the background. I still notice that a new one has come up.

    And we’ve found the culprit!

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