RETIREMENT IN THE BIG CITY

So, you’ve worked for a long time for this moment and it finally comes. You’re finally ready to retire. While your friends have moved to places with more sunshine and less worries, your retirement is much more modest. Though your company was a good place to work, it didn’t have a retirement plan or offer dependable healthcare. You and your wife raised three children and saw them off to other parts of the country. You’re close to them emotionally, but their geographic circumstances don’t make it practical to visit them more than once a year. You had never been able to afford your own home and lived in a few different apartments when your employment situation demanded it. When your children were in grade school, your wife left with an amicable but stressful divorce. It was difficult raising the children alone. Girlfriends tried to manage the mothering gap but were really not around long enough to make an impact on the children. Though well meaning, either you broke up with them or they broke up with you. That’s life. You now have no one romantically special in your life and that alone makes the transition into retirement a bit smoother. You only have the time and energy to make arrangements for yourself and not the rest of the family. While the three-bedroom apartment was good enough for your children when they lived at home, it’s all pretty much unused space now that they’re gone. Paying the rent for an apartment this large just seems silly and you’re thinking a two-bedroom apartment may suit your needs just fine. Your apartment building is located in what was once a historical area of the city and was rehabbed by the landlord some years ago. Though large in the number of rooms, its amenities were few but functional. With Social Security and the little bit you’ve tucked away over the years, you’ll have around two thousand dollars per month to live on and you were earning just a bit more than that, twenty eight hundred per month, while you were working. While the financial situation won’t change that much, losing the eight hundred dollars a month will definitely make an impact on how you live out your retirement. You’ve been a steady worker all your life. Since age sixteen, you’ve never been out of work for more than a month. You were a solid mechanic and able to repair and maintain any machine from a car engine to printing presses. You could read specifications and understand the math involved with the best of them. However, you feel you’re movement into retirement may have been hastened due to the complexity and computer dependence of the machines and the seemingly indecipherable maintenance actions performed independent of worker involvement. It was obvious that you just didn’t have the aptitude for these changes in the last few years. When you leave your job, there are no plans to replace you with another worker doing the same work. You are obsolete. What are you going to do with your time? You can read well enough to take in the Sunday sports section but not well enough to make you get a library card or visit a bookstore. You’ve watched television to decompress after a day of work, but do you really want to live the rest of your life just watching television? How do you deal with the loneliness? The thought of actually meeting someone you’d like to spend some time with scares you. What do you do now?

SHELTER AFTER RETIREMENT IN THE BIG CITY

There is an ever-expanding number of “retirement communities” in the suburbs. You’ve driven around a bit to look at some of their apartments and homes, but the cost of a house payment or rent when combined with basic living expenses put these options out of reach. You decide to look at places in the city. The neighborhood you live in now is safe enough, but absentee landlords have let the block sink into neglect just enough not to be attractive to younger residents. There are four apartment buildings and six homes on your block. You’ve been in this apartment for a little more than ten years and it’s time to make a change. Many apartments have been converted into condos. However, the owner’s group dues are almost as much as the condo payment making this housing choice out of reach. You’ve managed to come this far with only one Visa credit card but have been late a few times prompting collection agency involvement. Your credit score is otherwise unblemished, but is it good enough to buy a home or condo? After a few months of searching, you finally decide to move into a smaller one-bedroom apartment between downtown and a shopping center. The rent and utilities will be around one thousand a month and you’re fairly certain you can manage the other costs of living with the thousand dollars left over. With just a few friends and all of them about your age, moving yourself isn’t a realistic option. Practically all the “stuff” in your apartment won’t fit in your new apartment. After paying to have the stuff cleared out and the moving company to take your “other stuff” to your new place, you have to dip a bit into your savings, but you move in with very little fanfare.

GETTING AROUND AFTER RETIREMENT IN THE BIG CITY

Well, you’ve officially retired. You’ve moved into a new apartment. You think you’re ready but don’t know for what. After your first night in your new apartment, you go out to start your car and find that the starter and battery need to be replaced before it will be drivable. With your mechanical background, you’ve figured it will cost close to a thousand dollars to get it fixed and perform regular maintenance. Even though you’ve driven a car practically all your life, it becomes painfully apparent that you can’t afford the cost of a car. What’s left? Public transportation. As luck would have it, there is a bus stop right on the corner. You decide to take a dry run to see what is on the route. You find a grocery store after about a twenty minute ride. Since you’re just going to be cooking for yourself, you determine that you could get by with just two bags in each hand per trip. After doing this for a few days and generally riding around to see what other things are on the bus line, you quickly find a movie theater about fifteen minutes beyond the grocery store stop. You also pass a wide range of restaurants and diners if you need to get out of the apartment for lunch or a drink or two. It will take a bit of adjustment, but you’ve figured out that it is a wise move indeed to stop using your car. It’s about twelve years old and has seen better days. You find a junk shop that will tow it away for free and have them take care of it.