Play by Play: Retiring in New Jersey

Our Play by Play series gives you a glimpse into what real people experience when dealing with real estate. This week, we're sharing Kathy's story. She moved to a new community during retirement, and is sharing the pros and cons. Do you have a real estate story to share? Email us!

With two and a half years left before she retired from her job as Vice President of Healthcare Marketing at an advertising firm, Kathy M. started making a plan for how her home could help her in her retirement. 

That plan paid off. 

"I was able to cut my mortgage in half and reduce my taxes by $6,000, which is just unheard of in New Jersey," Kathy said. 

At an average 2.78%, New Jersey has the highest property taxes in the country, which is a factor when it comes to owning property in the state. 

Her previous home was built in the early 1900's with four floors, a garage, and a large backyard--and that caused some issues. 

"I loved my house, but it was a complete money pit," Kathy said. "There was always something I needed to fix. It was a lot of work for me, as a single woman." 

So, Kathy was looking for something smaller and more manageable that would give her the flexibility to age in place if she chose. She found that in a community in Monroe, NJ that came with common areas like a clubhouse and landscaping covered by her HOA assessment. While the amenities were wonderful to have there are some tradeoffs. 

"There are a lot of rules," Kathy said. Many of them are on things she took for granted in her old home, like being able to have a bird feeder in the yard or owning two cats--her current HOA has a strict one cat policy. 

Read more → Crazy HOA Rules

While she loves her house, she's still adjusting to the slower pace of life in her new town, which has a median age that's higher than she's used to. 

"The amenities in the community are great, but I feel like I'm a little too young for them," Kathy said. "Even when I first moved in, I had to go to a new resident orientation and I told the woman I felt like I was a little too young for the community. And she said 'you are,' " Kathy said. "I recently went to the senior center in town, and it's beautiful, but all the people there were 10 to 20 years older than I am."

The fact that her new home is 30 minutes away from her friends and family adds to the complications. 

"I used to be able to just pick up a phone and ask someone to go to lunch, now there's much more planning involved."

No home is perfect, but Kathy says she's happy where she is--for now. 

"I'll never say never, especially since I've already moved about 26 times in my lifetime," Kathy said. "I plan on staying a couple more years just to see where all my friends and family end up in retirement and then make the decision in another five years."

Read more →

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Thank You for being a Friend: Living with a Roommate in Retirement