Like a lot of folks, Kathy & I have always looked forward to having the time to take extended vacations unencumbered by corporate “PTO” allowances and other restrictions. There is always some kind of limitation, of course. Now, instead of a PTO allowance the limitation is primarily funding! While we were working and had the privilege of occasionally being able to work remotely, we thought that we might be able to “live at the beach” or some location other than our house for an extended period of time. We reasoned that “working remotely” was not location-specific, since as long as we were connected to the network and available by phone it didn’t matter where we were. Unfortunately, we were never able to convince our bosses that working from a condo at the beach wasn’t being “on vacation.” Our bosses for some reason had visions of us sitting in a lounge chair by the pool drinking Mai-Tais while we were supposed to be working. So we fixed that situation – we quit!
One of the things we have always wanted to do was to spend a month or more “at the beach.” Our beach of choice has become Hilton Head Island, SC. Not that we think it is better than any other beach or that it has some special meaning for us, but it has the atmosphere we prefer – a little more upscale, nice beaches, good restaurants and great places to stay. Because we have been here so often, we know our way around, have a rental company we like to use and just have a comfort level with the place that comes from familiarity.
As we planned our post-retirement travel, we decided to book a rental for a couple of weeks at the beginning of November. We reasoned that it was late enough to hopefully avoid hurricane season and avoid a lot of the crowds while still being warm enough to enjoy being outside. We don’t typically spend a lot of time in the water anyway, so being able to swim was not a make-or-break factor. The rates here in the offseason are very good. The weekly rates in the winter are a fraction of what they are in the summer. In fact, we soon discovered that the monthly rate for the place we were renting was only a little more than the rate for two weeks – no brainer! We gladly paid the extra and are here for the month. Even if we go home early, the cost of the extra two weeks will be covered after just a couple of nights.
Over the years we have toyed with the idea of owning a second home, either at the beach or in the mountains. We actually started down the road toward owning a “retirement” place in the mountains, but fortunately our better sense prevailed and we didn’t do it. I’ve never considered real estate to be an investment anyway. For me, housing is an expense, despite what the real estate folks say. The more my housing expenses are, the less money I have to spend on travel! If I factor in all of the costs involved with owning a property I have never actually made money on real estate. The last thing I want is to own a second place that I can only visit occasionally – that just takes time and money away from doing other interesting things. In many ways, if I could rent my present home instead of owning I might consider it to be a prudent use of capital! Owning a property isn’t just a financial responsibility either – it can be a mental or physical hindrance as well. Owning more than one just multiplies the responsibility.
So anyway, we’re starting into our second week in Hilton Head, and so far we seem to be enjoying it a lot. We both agree that it’s too soon to know how we’ll feel after a month but we’re glad that it is longer than just a week. We’re kinda done with 7-day vacations! We have a comfortable place to stay with a view of the beach, and the area we are in has a network of walking paths that we can use when we’re not on the beach. We have our computers with us, I figured out how to have all my photos with me so I can work on them when I’m so inclined, and we have books on our Kindles for quiet times. It’s almost like living at home but with a different view. The furniture isn’t quite as comfortable but the location makes up for it! And when we’re done we can lock the door and head home without worrying about hurricanes or messy renters. If we decide to come back – and we will – we can come any time, and if we decide to go somewhere else – and we probably will – we can do that too!