A Big Change on the Horizon: My Husband & I Are Moving to Arizona!
Approaching the big 6-0 makes one begin to get serious about retirement and best location for the activities you want to pursue during those well-earned years of leisure.
I clearly remember the day my hubby David and I decided to leave San Francisco. It was June of 1999. Due to the Dot Com Boom, the city had become so crowded and houses were selling in days with multiple offers. I was driving home from a client meeting as has people parked right next to your driveway, you had to make a wide turn to pull in straight to your garage. As I was making my turn someone sped by me on the right and I just missed having an accident. I was mad and headed into the house screaming for David. This led to many conversations about whether we wanted to stay in California and we decided that we should look around.
As our daughter Madeline was four, we thought about where she might want to grow up. David said if he had his choice he would want to live in the mountains and ski all the time. I know I wanted a place where I could enjoy animals as that reminded me of my happy childhood playing at my grandparent’s farm. We ended up making a road trip to Summit County, CO and we found the home of our dreams in Silverthorne. We were living there by August.
We had so much fun in the mountains. David, who worked from home even then, would plan his days so he could ski for an hour or two on mornings with fresh powder. I would throw my skis in the back of the car, drop Madeline off at pre-school and head to the mountains to ski on beautiful sunny days.
The summers would find David and I on the local golf courses and I joined a ladies league for the first time. I also got involved in local politics serving on the planning commission and then winning election as a town councilwoman. I loved learning about the important role local government plays in our lives. I firmly believe everyone should get involved in local and/or state government as it would make everyone so much smarter about how government works and we would eliminate much of the disparity that rules our county. Remember the days when it was hard to find a difference between the Republic and Democratic candidates? My how our country has changed.
Anyway, we had been told to get Madeline involved in sports because the winters were so long. She had been doing gymnastics which we were able to continue at our local community center. We introduced her to ice skating never knowing it would lead to nine more years of competitive skating. We were at the rinks in Breckenridge and Vail several days a week.
I also remember the day my mother commented about my hands and how swollen they were. I had been having pain but I ignored it as I was busy running my marketing & PR agency that I had started in San Francisco in 1998. The pain in my hands and body finally got bad enough that I went to my primary care physician who sent me immediately to a specialist in Denver. I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia. I was already battling sleep issues and chronic dizziness. I was only 45.
As Madeline continued to improve in her skating, we bought a condo in Arvada, CO so we could stay there. She was skating in Westminster at the same rink as Mariah Bell, now one of the U.S. top ladies’ competitors. Maddy skated 4-5 days per week so we needed to have a place to stay.
After a summer in Denver where I finally felt so much better, I came home and told my family that I needed to get out of the cold. I could no longer ski or play golf and living in the mountains had become too difficult. I felt terrible about this as David and Madeline hated leaving Silverthorne. I did as well but for anyone who deals with chronic pain understands that any relief takes precedence in your life.
We moved down to Arvada because it was close to the rinks and had one of the five best high schools. Madeline was in eight grade and we had to think about the best place for her even as she was quite unhappy about the move.
I wish I could say it was an improvement. But I now have almost 25 different illnesses that I managed daily and was declared disabled about five years ago. The agency was closed in 2014 and I have battled depression as it is common for a person with chronic physical healthcare problems to develop mental illnesses as well.
My latest illness, Sjogren’s Syndrome was the driving factor for our decision to leave Colorado. For those of you not aware of this autoimmune disease, Sjogren’s reduces the production of water in your body and particularly affects your eyes, throat and teeth. I have to stay hydrated with drops in my eyes and sucking on lozenges as well as wearing retainers with hydrating fluoride on my teeth at night. I also have added yet another medication to my list, one that makes my glands produce more liquid. Unfortunately, Colorado is just too dry and the altitude is too high for my system.
We looked into moving to California and Hawaii as I feel great whenever I am there but the cost of living did not work with our retirement plan. I strongly urge everyone to have a financial planner so you know what you will need for your children’s education and your monthly living costs during your retirement years. We have been planning since our daughter was born 26 years ago and even with the loss of income from my disability and the economic swings, we have stayed on track.
We started going down to Tucson almost twenty years ago as many of our mountain friends began retiring there so we knew we liked the area. We went on a research trip in early November and found a 55+ community that fit our requirements: golf, water aerobics, jewelry-making, quilting and even singing groups. David played golf every day and met genuinely nice people. We found a lovely French bistro and a great steak place both of which followed the Covid-19 requirements. I felt fine there with the lower elevation and we have been monitoring the humidity levels since returning and they are significantly higher than Colorado.
One of my favorite surprises was when reading the community’s local paper I came across several successful writers who live in the area so I am wildly excited about joining a writer’s group who can provide me with insight on getting my books successfully published. Oh, and did I tell you that my favorite medium has recently moved there as well?
You will see one of our favorite pictures from our trip, the full moon. Tucson conforms to the Dark Skies Initiative, yet another reason we like the area. And we were thrilled that the state turned blue.
I will continue to provide updates and our new life in Arizona.