We used to say that when I retired we would sell the house, store our furniture, buy a camper and hit the road.
Cinelli and I envisioned a life of carefree wandering from the northern tip of Alaska to as far as we could drive to the southern end of Latin America, and from Portland, Oregon, to Portland, Maine.
I would not write a another word for publications and limit other kinds of writing to whatever would fit on a post card. The term “deadline” would be stricken from our vocabulary along with “assignment,” “editing” and “rewrite.”
To ward off anyone who might remember me from my writing years, we would even change our names to Sam and Edith Leach from South Welcome, Texas, bless my soul, and learn to say “y’all” and “durn it” in the proper cadence.
That was the dream back then.
But as the years passed we began to realize it would mean a lot of driving for a couple, say, in their 80s, in addition to which I’ve never been crazy about campgrounds, I don’t chat with people I don’t know and I’d rather cut my tongue out than say durn it.
So instead, we decided to dump the camper goal, invest in property and travel in comfort with the profit we accrued from rental income. And how is that working out? It isn’t. Owning two modestly-sized apartment buildings and two houses are costing us more than we are earning, which requires me to write like a mad man to fill gaping holes in our financial dream gone awry.
It has limited our travel to about 20 miles in each direction, and while Cinelli continues to be a person of kindness and compassion, I have dumped the folksy, easy going image of Sam Leach from South Welcome, Texas, and become the cold, heartless male counterpart of Cruella De Vil.
For instance, when an elderly lady who lived alone died in one of our units, my first response was sympathy and kind remembrances of the old dear, but I couldn’t help thinking to myself that perhaps her most endearing trait was that she always paid her rent on time.
Some day, I suppose, our holdings might start turning a profit, but until then I pause at places that sell recreational vehicles and gaze at the camper I had once yearned to own. It has become the unicorn of my dreams.
So if you’re thinking about living off income property in retirement, you might as well plan on living off the fruit of a money tree. It ain’t going to happen. Hit the road instead, amigo. Durned if I wouldn’t go back to being Sam Leach again if it meant the easy life of a happy wanderer instead of the hard life of an evil landlord. Y’all interested in buying an apartment?