The Simple Life – or is there life after retirement?

English: I am the creator of this photograph. ...
English: Cavendish beach on Prince Edward Isla...
English: Cavendish beach on Prince Edward Island (Canada) Français : Plage de Cavendish (IPE) Canada (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The short answer to is there life after retirement (of one spouse, not the other) is yes. Is it easy? No. Is it a whirlwind of travel, second home buying and taking your RV all over America – no. Is it pinching pennies, putting down the thermostat and getting really creative with cooking? Oh yes.

The main breadwinner around here (DH) retired 13 years ago come July. I home schooled our son, ran a quilt/book business that never really made any money except to buy more quilts and books and have been working on and off since we came back to America in 2007.

Foolishly we packed up in 2000 and moved, including our son and my father, to Prince Edward Island Canada. That was an extensive proposition involving getting permanent resident status, paying a huge amount of fees and also packing all our wordly possessions we couldn’t bear to be without and hauling them to PEI. Thank god for Mayflower. Anyway we did it.

And then we figured something out. Small islands do not appreciate people from away. Not even Canadians from away, let alone Americans. We were not popular once they found out everything they wanted to know. Which was how much money do you have that we don’t have and why are you here for God’s sake. It was such an eye opener, being from the Midwest and being friendly as hell, PEI was strange. It is beautiful, but it is lonely. Being ostracized was a new experience for us. The only folks that would give you the time of day were other from awayers. They even had a club. Seriously. So after four years we decided to gracefully exit Canada the way we came in – i.e., going back to America and the land of the free, home of the brave. We moved to Maine.

Now Maine, particularly Bangor, is very eclectic. I heard someone on PBS say that you really can’t make Maine up and you cannot. It is beautiful. It is just as friendly as the Midwest. And it is home.

Plus, huge bonus, you can buy stuff that’s imported from other countries and not pay huge duties. And you can actually find stuff like ah underwear here in Bangor. Sad but true stuff is expensive in Canada if you can actually find it. And if you try to buy it from America well hang on because they will hit you with duty and GST and all sorts of nasty stuff.

And there is Health Canada – which means you have the opportunity to wait in line for health care in every province. And your taxes are astronomical. Sales tax in PEI was around 11% and then they added GST which is now around 5%. So add 16% to everything you buy. You won’t buy much when you’re retired anyway.

Before I left Michigan I bought 10 pair of Birkenstocks. Still wearing those babies and they don’t even look worn. I stocked up on everything I thought I’d need silly me. But I had shoes.

It only took 4 years to sell our home (22 acres, 3100 sq. ft. ranch on 8 acre pond paid $117K US and 180 CAD). The exchange rate from USD to CAD was 1.62. So see that was good. Retirement pay went pretty far when $2k became 3k. But then we went to war in Iraq and then the exchange rate started going crazy. By the time we left in 2007 the US dollar was par with Canadian money. Which was really good because when we sold the house – voila we got all our money and more. Tee hee. The dear sweet Islanders thought they ran us out of town on a rail and actually we made money. So there. Oh yes forgot to mention that everybody fished in our pond. And littered. And swore. And drove their ATVs on our land. But see the idiot that built the place had the province put in the dam to dam up the pond. And the province made them agree to keep it a public right of way add nauseam. It was nauseating. The folks that bought the place made all sorts of “improvements” and sold it 3 years after they bought it. And they lost a ton of money. I don’t know if it was the neighbors, the heating bill, the fishing or what that drove them out. Whatever it was i wonder how well the new owners are doing and they have my sympathy.

So we came to Bangor and bought a nice old two story built in 1915 with bay windows on both floors and a covered porch and no yard. Right across from the park. And we love it. The house is old, not at all convenient and it is home. It needs a ton of work which I’ll never be able to afford, but it is lovely.

And we’re still retired. And on a budget. It is hard to get used to once a month money after overtime and UAW pay in Detroit, MI. We lived in St. Clair Shores, MI and hubby worked for a contractor to the Big Three back then. That company is gone, long gone. He got out in time. But he worked way too many hours and now his health is shot. He’s not been well for three years or so. And not going to get any better. But we’ll carry on for as long as we have.  And we will budget, cut corners and pray a lot.


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