After spending two weeks in Rochester, N.Y. (my hometown), searching for a home and bonding with my family, I’m back in San Diego and I’m feeling a little overwhelmed. First off, I didn’t find a suitable home. Second, I’m no longer sure I want to move back east. Third, when I shared this new awakening with my spouse, well, it kind of pulled the rug out from under her.
I really thought I’d done all my homework; crunched numbers; crossed the “T’s” and dotted the “I’s”. As it worked out, however, moving to Rochester and buying a home is much more expensive than I figured. Property taxes are three times what they are in San Diego. Granted, homes in San Diego are three times more expensive. But that doesn’t minimize the fact that the average taxes on a $150,000 home are between six and seven thousand dollars a year. And the monthly utility bills average around $250. When you add to this equation the fact that Rochester is a sweatbox in the summer and a frozen tundra in the winter, well, need I say more?
And of course there is the other issue of moving expenses. Schlepping your furniture across the country is no easy task—not to mention the cost. We could sell all of our furniture, ship a few boxes of essential items, and buy everything new when we get there, but again, the cost would be significant.
Another issue—perhaps the most significant one—is the uncertainty of my income. I retired on April 1st from my “day job”, and am now writing full-time. But there is no way to predict how much money I will generate as a writer. The early sales numbers for my novel are pretty good, and should yield a handsome first-quarter royalty check. But there is no guarantee that this trend will continue. For an established novelist, with a loyal following, life is a little easier. But for a first-timer, there are lots of variables.
I thought that retirement would make my life easier and reduce the stress. But all things considered, I still feel like I’m in a pressure cooker. Maybe this is the way life is supposed to be; one challenge after another. Maybe that’s what builds character. Maybe the merry-go-round never stops. Maybe life would be better on Mars.