Tag: budget

Single Baby Boomers Living in Small Spaces – Tree Houses

Single Baby Boomers are often willing to take chances.  For some it may mean changing professions, traveling to distant locales, starting new hobbies or even living in unique places.  Some have decided to take to the trees, not just for an off-beat vacation, but full-time.


Frank Lloyd Wright Inspired Tree House-Treehouse Masters
Frank Lloyd Wright Inspired Tree House-Treehouse Masters


Baby Boomer, Pete Nelson, who’s been described as the tree whisperer, is a world-renowned treehouse designer, builder and host of the Animal Planet show Treehouse Masters. His team of craftsmen, which includes his son, Charlie, create incredible homes and businesses in nature’s canopy.  He combines science and art to build his clients’ sky-high dreams of magnificent multi-bedroom treehouses with elaborate kitchens and bathrooms or smaller, peaceful escapes.  “We awaken that inner child who dreams of living among the trees,” Pete says.  His one-of-a-kind treehouses include a spa retreat, a brewery, a honeymoon suite, an Irish-themed cottage, and an 800-square-foot Texas treehouse with a full bath and flat-screen TV.  Nelson’s catch line “To the trees” on his show heralds the start of each new project as he creates a plan that meets his client’s needs plus offering them options they never thought possible.


Pete Nelson and Crew
Pete Nelson and Crew


To have a home in the trees built by Nelson Treehouse and Supply you can apply to be on the show at https://www.facebook.com/treehousemasters/.  You can get a tour of his famous builds, rent a treehouse for a vacation, book a wedding or another event at Treehouse Point.  It’s located along the Preston-Fall City Road 30 minutes from Seattle, WA in a beautiful forest along the Raging River.


The steps to a Nelson Treehouse built structure are as follows:

Step 1: The Site Visit or Consultation

The team meets your trees, discusses your vision and takes measurements so they can get everything they need to design the treehouse of your dreams.

Step 2: Design and Budget

The information that they gathered during the site visit is transformed into drawings of your unique treehouse. A plan is developed as is an estimate which is based on the client’s budget.

Step 3: The Build

A contract to build a treehouse is signed and construction scheduled.

Cost Breakdown:

Tree houses built by Nelson Company are “custom designed for the unique tree scenario, client’s design aesthetic and the location” according to Nelson. The primary building costs take the following factors into consideration.

  • The height of the treehouse off the ground
  • Access to the project area
  • The time of year (i.e. peak travel season costs, weather, etc.)
  • The number of trees to which it is connected
  • The materials used
  • Freight
  • Logistical costs (e.g. accommodations, plane tickets, car rentals, etc.)
  • Labor

The average starting cost of a 200 square foot custom NT&S built treehouse without plumbing built out-of-state is $180,000 and $150,000 in Washington State.  Custom design fees of $15,000, interior furnishings and any permitting or engineering fees add to the cost of the treehouse construction price.


Z Treehouse-Treehouse Masters
Z Treehouse-Treehouse Masters


Their website added, “if you want amenities like water and/or electricity in your treehouse, it is the homeowner’s responsibility to permit and install the necessary infrastructure (e.g. septic system) that can be accessed by the future treehouse . . . we recommend considering more economical and environmentally friendly options like compostable toilets and grey water sinks.”

They require their treehouses to be permitted and follow engineering codes in most cases.  This can add up to $20,000 to the cost.  The also recommend researching what your local building authorities and any Home Owners Associations  require since they vary in each location.  A permitted, engineered, plumbed treehouse built out-of-state has a base cost of approximately $225,000.00.  See http://www.nelsontreehouseandsupply.com/building.html for more details.


Art Studio Treehouse-Treehouse Masters
Art Studio Treehouse-Treehouse Masters


If you’re considering building your own treehouse without obtaining a building permit, here are some reasons why you should pay the fee and take the time to get one.

  • You want to make sure that you’re obeying zoning laws and abiding by all building codes so you’re not ordered to stop building or tear the structure down in the future.
  • Your neighbors usually won’t be able to stop the construction of your new dream treehouse if they don’t want it in the neighborhood or near their land.


Tree Top Builders, Inc. at http://www.treetopbuilders.net/tree-house-for-everyone/ offers the following suggestions on the different aspects of treehouse construction if you want to build your own.

  • Find the right trees – Examine the species, shape and health of the trees for evidence of insect infestation, disease or decay. Tree care handbooks will help you with the basics, but also ask local long-time residents about which trees are the hardiest in your area or hire a local arborist before starting a project to analyze the strengths and weaknesses of your trees.
  • Implement tree friendly construction – If you’re concerned about hurting trees during construction, it may make you feel better to know that the art and science of treehouse engineering has improved a great deal in the last decade. Professional crews now use the expertise of arborists and carpenters to minimize impact and leave trees healthy.  Trees have an amazing ability to compensate for the treehouse’s added weight.  After a few years, the roots strengthen to resist the added strain during wind storms. Trees also grow extra material where the load is attached to the trunk or branch and after many years they grow around almost anything attached to them.  However, if you build your own treehouse be sure to educate yourself in basic tree biology and keep these things in mind.
  • Never girdle a trunk or branch with anything else that won’t expand as the tree grows since that part of the tree will be strangled and eventually die.
  • Don’t attach a treehouse foundation to two trees or limbs because trees sway in the wind and it may snap during a storm. Some professional treehouse builders fix one end of the supporting beams but let the other end float or slide by either suspending the beam with cables or using custom welded sliding brackets.  This allows the treehouse to sway gently in a breeze and move independently of supporting trees.
  • Piercing the bark and living cambium layer of a tree should be done only as necessary. If you put several nails in one place, the tree may compartmentalize the whole area as a single wound causing it to rot.  Use stronger lag bolts rather than a lot of nails. Professionals use strong custom machined steel tree anchors for large treehouses because they’re capable of holding 4,000 to 9,000 pounds.
  • Get help with your treehouse from experts. Getting professional advice at the beginning is a good idea.  Most treehouse construction companies will share their expertise.


Three Story Treehouse-British Columbia, Canada http://www.boredpanda.com/amazing-treehouses/
Three Story Treehouse-British Columbia, Canada http://www.boredpanda.com/amazing-treehouses/


  • Add options that will make your treehouse livable and aesthetically pleasing. Most treehouses that are full-time homes are located in temperate or warm climates. Even in those areas, you’ll need to insulate your walls, floor, ceiling, water and sewage pipes.  In most areas, you’ll want an HVAC system.  Unless you want to go outside to an outhouse, a bathroom is necessary.  Electricity would be an essential option for most of us.  If mobility may become an issue, then consider a ramp or bridge for easy access.  Windows, skylights and outside entertaining areas remind you that you’re not earthbound.  Jonathan Fairoaks, a certified arborist and professional treehouse builder, said,  “the higher up in the trees you get, and the more surrounded you are by them, the closer to heaven you are.”


Treehouse with ramp-Treehouse Masters
Treehouse with ramp-Treehouse Masters


If you want to try out a treehouse go to https://www.airbnb.com/wishlists/stay-in-a-treehouse to rent a treehouse in one of several scenic locations in the world.


UFO Treehouse-Sweden http://www.boredpanda.com/amazing-treehouses/
UFO Treehouse-Sweden http://www.boredpanda.com/amazing-treehouses/


When I sit on my balcony at home, I sometimes find myself watching a bird and thinking about how wonderful it must be to live a life above the ground in the trees.  A treehouse would offer me this view with the added feeling of living in the middle of nature.  It’s a lifestyle some single Baby Boomers may want to consider.  More people than ever are living tiny in the trees.  Will you join them?


Continue the adventure!

Linda Lea


Single Baby Boomers Living in Small Spaces – Motorhomes

Single Baby Boomers Living in Small Spaces – Motorhomes

Some single Baby Boomers feel motorhomes are the best option for living tiny but then there’s the tiny house camp.  Each has their reasons and so let’s discuss motorhomes, why each side might feel they have the better argument and if they can agree on anything.


  1. Cost – If you have a healthy bank account, you may be able to purchase the top or the line Luxury RV like the Marchi Mobile EleMMent Palazzo for $3,000,000 with its hand-cut wooden flooring, marble countertops, and a staircase that leads to the vehicle’s upper deck. The living room design and the interior LED lighting give it the vibe of a top-tier nightclub. A full-length sunroof completes the look. The Palazzo is popular among oil-rich Arab Sheiks who don’t even like to travel too tiny.  However, I doubt that’s in your price range, so let’s look at the more affordable options.


most expensive RV



travel trailers

Class A

If you’re willing to at least spend $50,000 to $150,000 for a Class A motorhome, what you usually think of when you picture an RV, you can get the base model.  Options and upgrades can raise the price to around $800,000.  They can be as long as 45 feet and have multiple slide outs.  They’re the best for full-time RVing, but if it’s only you and you don’t travel with your children, grandchildren or friends often, it’s more room than you need.  With each additional foot of length or pound your gas mileage and maneuverability decrease.  Maintenance, service, and insurance can cost as much as that of a small home.

class a


Image result for Class A RV interior

Photo credit: MillenniumLuxuryCoaches via VisualHunt.com / CC BY-NC-SA

Class B

Class B motorhomes are the smallest of the 3 classes. They’re sometimes called camper vans or conversion vans. They often have the appearance of a van, but are larger and have a higher roofline to allow standing.  They’re the least expensive priced at $40,000-$80,000 for a standard model and $90,000-$125,000 or more for luxurious versions.  They’ve fewer options with a wet bath (shower and toilet together) and some have a tiny kitchen area.  They’re made for up to 4 people if you don’t mind being cramped so you wouldn’t want to invite too many guests or make it your primary home.  It can be stored and used as a regular van, offers optimal fuel economy and is easier to drive and park.

class b

class b interior


Class C

This is the second largest of the motorhomes classes.  Built upon a truck or van chassis, class C motorhomes attempt to capture the best of both class A and class B motorhomes. Basic new models go for $50,000 to $85,000 and up to $140,000 for luxury models.  Under 30 feet, they often have an extension over the cab that provides room for a bed, TV or additional storage. It can fit as many as 6 people, but it’s rare it has high-end luxury items due to lack of room.  It’s too big for many garages and some driveways.

class c

Photo credit: Travis Gertz via Visualhunt.com / CC BY-NC-SA

class c int


Travel Trailer

A travel trailer is a hard-sided, non-motorized recreational vehicle typically towed by a pickup truck or van. Travel trailers are 10-40 feet or longer. Inside they may have one large open area or several rooms. The outside varies from a rectangular shape to adaptations like the classic Airstream aluminum “silver bullet,” a teardrop or other aerodynamic designs. Specialized subcategories of RV trailers include fifth wheels and toy haulers.  New travel trailers cost $8,000-$65,000 but average $15,000-$30,000 depending on size, weight, layout, materials, and amenities.  At a minimum, a travel trailer contains a bed, a table (which often converts to a bed), a food prep area and storage. Larger models may include a galley kitchen and small toilet stall or a full kitchen, bathroom, master bedroom and living room.

travel trailertravel trailer int


Photo credit: Steve Walser via Visualhunt / CC BY-NC-ND



Tent Trailer

A tent trailer is considered an entry-level recreational vehicle. Also called a camping trailer, pop-up camper, tent camper or folding camper trailer, it’s basically a tent on wheels with an above-ground floor, built-in beds, a dinette, cooking appliances and other creature comforts. It folds into a lightweight box trailer which can be towed behind the average family vehicle. When folded, the trailer is about 8-18 feet long and 4-6 feet high. When unfolded with the use of a hand crank or hydraulic lift, it provides a canvas or nylon-sided living area that can be up to 32′ long with average-height headroom and can sleep for 4-8 people.  New tent trailers cost $3,000-$7,000 for a basic model with beds, a small dinette area, mini-refrigerator, and some cooking appliances. For example, a refrigerator, awning, and hot water system can be purchased for an additional price.  A larger tent trailer with better cooking appliances, a heater, AC, outdoor shower, portable toilet, cable TV hookup or slide-outs can cost between $8,000 and $20,000.  The most expensive models may have an indoor shower and toilet. It can take 15 minutes to an hour or more to unfold, slide out and crank up a camping trailer.


tent trailerExif_JPEG_422

Photo credit: dwstucke via Visual hunt / CC BY-NC

Additional costs

  • A standard ball trailer hitch on the tow vehicle can cost $50-$700, depending on towing capacity, quality of materials and labor costs. The weight of the camping or tent trailer plus all water, fuel, luggage, gear etc. must not exceed the towing capacity of either the tow vehicle or hitch.


  • For a trailer wider than the tow vehicle, extended side view mirrors costing $4-$80 for a pair that clamps onto the existing side mirrors or $150-$450 for permanently installed towing mirrors are required.



  • Motorhome insurance premiums vary significantly depending on value, frequency of usage, location, and company.


  • If you don’t have a space or garage for your RV or trailer, a storage space can cost $20-$100 a month outdoors and $45-$450 a month indoors. RV covers cost $50-$1,200 or more depending on size, materials, and fit.


  • Unlike a tiny home, you may be moving your motorhome often. Class As average about 8-10 mpg.  A typical fuel tank holds 100-150 gallons and lasts 800-1,500 miles. Class B camper vans, which are similar to a standard family van, get 10-25 mpg.  Class C motorhomes average 10 mpg with fuel tanks that hold 25-55 gallons and last for 250-550 miles.  Tires, brakes, and filters wear out in direct proportion to the miles driven. Some Class A motorhome owners recommend having a maintenance/repair fund of $3,000-$5,000 a year, especially if living in the motorhome full time.


  • Like cars, motorhomes start depreciating as soon as they leave the dealership. A well-maintained Class A that’s a few years old can be 20% to 30% below its original purchase price. Prices for used RVs, travel trailers and campers depend on age, mileage, and condition. Tent trailers don’t depreciate as much as the other more expensive RVs, but a well-maintained tent trailer that’s a few years old might cost 20% to 25% less than its original purchase price.  As I mentioned in my previous blog, tiny homes depreciate also unless they’re built on a permanent foundation on the owner’s land. Information found at http://cars.costhelper.com/motor-home-rv.html.

To sum up, if you compare the cost to the tiniest tiny home, a comparable motorhome would be the base model travel or tent trailer.  The midrange basic Class B and Class C models would cost about the same as a midsize tiny home with some upgrades and the base Class A’s cost is comparable to the largest luxury tiny house.  As with tiny houses, all options add to the cost.  If your tiny house is towable, then a larger vehicle may be necessary whereas an RV has its own engine, a travel trailer can often be towed with a standard size truck or van and a tent trailer only needs a car.  However, if you want to unhook the vehicle to go somewhere and improve your gas mileage then you have to consider that.  You may want a car for day trips with your RV, so towing a car is necessary.  Consider renting a motorhome before you buy to weigh the many options available, to see if you can handle set up and how it handles on the road.


rent rv


If these figures still make you nervous, then you might want to either buy a used motorhome and use it as is or renovate it.  Since RVs and trailers depreciate, you can buy them at a substantial discount.  You can repurpose items much as you do in a tiny house and make your motorhome as eco-friendly and homey as you desire.  See how Mariah Pastell renovated her 1960’s Avalon trailer into The COMET (Cost-effective, Off-grid Mobile Eco Trailer) at http://www.treehugger.com/green-architecture/restored-vintage-comet-camper-cost-effective-mobile-eco-home-mariah-coz-pastell.html.




 2. Location – Close your eyes and imagine your small motorhome parked next to the ocean, a lake, a stream or on the brow on a mountain.  I live where some of these locations are a possibility in a RV parks, but this isn’t                always an option with a tiny house unless you own the land.  RVs and other travel trailers are regulated by                    state and local government agencies and so they can be parked in RV parks.  You can also set up long-term in some RV parks, however, some don’t want older, beat up models.  Some stores, such as Walmart, allow you to park in their parking lot for the night.  Remember to ask permission, leave the area clean and to keep a low                    profile.  You can’t do that with a tiny house.  See more parking ideas at http://www.frugal-rvtravel.com/Overnight-RV-Parking.html.

3. Mobility – I’ve piloted small planes, ultralights, motor and sailboats and driven cars, vans and trucks of varying sizes. I even drove the largest rental moving truck available while towing a car through the Rockies in construction on a rainy day, but I still found pulling my 28-foot travel trailer ranks right up there with flying.  The most difficult part for me was backing it up and moving it into the parking spot.  Unless you’ve experience with a trailer, you’ll find backing is a challenge.  You have to train yourself to forget about the rules that apply to backing other vehicles.  Driving with a swaying trailer on the open, sometimes windy road can also be challenging. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration offers safety tips for driving with a trailer at http://www.nhtsa.gov/Cars/Problems/Equipment/towing/safety_tips.htm. RVs are easier to maneuver on the road unless you’re towing a car.  Hooking and unhooking it from your vehicle is also a problem.  You need another person to guide you into position.  These same problems apply to a tiny house on wheels.

trailerback up


  1. Set up and sewage – As with tiny houses you move, set up can be difficult. The biggest and most luxurious RVs offer motorized hydraulic jacks to help with leveling your RV and electronic slide outs eliminate the need for muscle power when setting up.  Utilities, if available, are easy to connect, but raw sewage (a euphemism for another word) happens and you need to either set up sewage disposal lines each time you move or go to the RV dump station.  Either way, you have to handle and attach the pipes to the sewage system.  While it’s not difficult, it can be messy and if you’re squeamish, you may want to wear gloves and boots, hold your breath and pray there isn’t any black water left in the outlet tube when you unscrew its cap.  In my opinion, this option is preferable to a compost toilet.



  1. Comfort – While you could be comfortable in either option, even the high-end RV isn’t well insulated. You can heat it to a livable temperature in temperate and warmer climates and cool it in the summer heat, but it takes a great deal of fuel and electricity.  It’s best to stay in warmer climes in the winter and search for cooler locations in the summer.


Here’s where tiny house and motorhome owners may agree.

Having a small house and a small motorhome may provide the best solution for flexibility and freedom. The tiny house could free you financially and a moderately priced motorhome may free you geographically.


Whatever you decide, it’s your adventure but do your research before you make the decision.  Most single Baby Boomers are either saving for retirement or living on limited funds and need to make the most economical decision for their needs and wants.  We focus a lot on our needs, which is important, but it’s not only our funds that are limited so is our time to enjoy life the way we want.  If travel is important to you, these are two great movable options.  Next time, just for fun, we’ll discuss other alternative housing options.  You may be surprised what other single Baby Boomers call home.


Continue the adventure!


Linda Lea



Single Baby Boomers Living in Small Spaces: Tiny Houses


Photo credit: merwing✿little dear via VisualHunt.com / CC BY-NC-ND

When I want to clear my mind so I can get to sleep I watch shows about tiny houses.  “Tiny House Nation” on FYI, “Tiny House Builders”, “Tiny House, Big Living” and “Tiny House Hunters” On HGTV are the ones I watch.  I’m intrigued by the creative ways the builders find to use furniture that can fold away to add space or be used for several purposes.  No nook or cranny is overlooked when it comes to storage places both inside and outside the home.  Buyers who consider tiny houses are members of every age group and can be single, coupled or even have a family.  In this blog the discussion will be slanted toward single Baby Boomers, but there’ll be information for anyone who’s thinking about going tiny.  I used Ryan Mitchell’s website http://thetinylife.com/ for most of the information, but I kept in mind that he’s a single, tiny house enthusiast who lives the tiny, minimalist life.  While it works for him, it may not fit into what a single Baby Boomer needs and wants.



Photo credit: Sky Noir via VisualHunt / CC BY-NC-ND


In his blog Ryan said, “The typical American home is around 2,600 square feet, whereas the typical small or tiny house is between 100 and 400 square feet.”  A 1000 square foot home can still be considered a tiny home.  Even when I had a family of 4 we lived in less than 2,600 square feet quite comfortably.  Now that I’m living alone, I don’t feel the need for a large home to clean and maintain.  It’s convenient to have more room for visitors, but I don’t need the space often and live close to a number of hotels I could rent for them at a lower price than paying for another bedroom I don’t use.  Since most of my friends and family are used to having their own space, it can be a suitable option.  So maybe a tiny house would work for me.  You may not consider me the typical single Baby Boomer, but for argument’s sake let’s see if I could live tiny.




  • I could afford to buy it for cash.  Homes sell from approximately $15,000 if you repurpose old items and do some of the work yourself to over a $100,000 if you want a larger home with top-of-the-line appliances, fixtures, and furniture. This might eliminate a house payment.  Depending on where I put it, I may not have to pay property tax, but there may be a rental fee for the parking space.  Tiny homes like any movable structure decrease in value unless they’re on a foundation and even then more of the value is in the land than the building.  Some utilities would cost less in a tiny space, but others like cable, internet and garbage disposal would remain the same.  Maintenance would be less since it’s smaller.  If quality house building materials aren’t used and construction is below recommended building standards, problems like a leaky roof may develop.   You may also have difficulty getting it insured.




Originally a self-governing tent camp of homeless adults in Olympia, Washington, Quixote Village now consists of 30 tiny houses, a community garden, and a common space with showers, laundry facilities and living and dining space. See more at http://www.shareable.net/ .


  • I could move my tiny home. If I bought a truck, built my tiny home on a trailer and kept in small, I could live anywhere.  But could I or would I want that?  When I had my 28” travel trailer, I took it on a few vacations.  It was difficult for me to maneuver and set up by myself, so I ended up parking it on a relative’s property so  I could use it on weekends and when I came back from Japan.  A tiny house would pose similar problems for me.  You may never have to move without help, but you need to consider how you’d do it alone.  Also, where would you put it?  Zoning laws in many locations haven’t addressed the issue of where you can legally put your tiny home.  If you have a relative or friend who’ll let you park in their yard or on their land, you may be able to get away with it if you can hide it and fly under the radar.  If you get caught, then you may have to move or go to the local governing body and plead your case.  Some places have allowed them and others tell you no dice.  RV parks may be an option, but they also have rules for their renters.  There are Tiny House Communities, but they’re not always where you want to live.  I want to know if I decide to move, I’ll have a place to put my tiny house where I don’t have to jump through a lot of hoops.  You may enjoy the challenge.  The Tiny House Movement needs new advocates.  The Tiny Life website has an eBook titled “Cracking the Code” that may help with this.  Order it at https://resources.thetinylife.com/store/cracking-the-code/?



Photo credit: mikecogh via Visual hunt / CC BY-SA


If you’re going to move your tiny house on wheels, it has to be roadworthy and able to withstand stresses far beyond those of a traditional housing.  When you’re on the road, everything must be secured so nothing falls down, is torn off the outside when moving or breaks, like windows, because it wasn’t built to tolerate being moved.  When it’s in place hurricane strapping can anchor the house to the ground more strongly than most houses are built today.



Photo credit: RowdyKittens via Visual Hunt / CC BY


  • But it’s so cute. Cute sucks me in all the time.  That’s may be why I have a red Mustang convertible. It’s a great looking car that gallops away from a stop sign like the animal who gave it its name.  I get honks because men mistake my white hair for blond.  It’s funny when they speed up to get a look at me and see I’m a Baby Boomer.  Anyway, I digress.  Miniature cabins, cottages decorated with gingerbread trim and sleek modern styles catch our eye.  When we see cute, our neighbors may see a trailer.  Added architectural features like dormers, porches, cupolas and old barn wood siding look great but aren’t light or aerodynamic and create drag when you move your home.  This may not matter if you don’t move it often but can make a difference if you use it like a travel trailer.




  • I can redecorate to suit my taste. You own it, so that’s true.  It can be tailored to meet your needs with decorative, but useful items.  You can add extra storage options and a fold-up bed for guests, if space permits.




Photo credit: thekenshow via VisualHunt / CC BY-NC


  • My pet is always welcome. Unless your pet is gigantic, they adjust to a smaller place if you make room for their bedding, food, water and for my cat, a litter box.  Dogs will need to go outside for exercise and to relieve themselves, but if they’re like my baby, they’d rather lie on a bed than even bat a treat toy around to get a snack.




  • The loft gives me additional space. This feature is often one of the biggest selling points of some tiny houses.  While it’s great for an office, studio, storage or a younger guest, we single and partnered Baby Boomers often need to use the facilities in the middle of the night.  Even stairs can be difficult to navigate when you’re half asleep and a ladder is a real hazard.  In one tiny house the owners built in drop-down boxes in the ceiling under a loft for additional storage.  Lofts make for low ceilings, so if you’re not vertically challenged like me, you may need more clearance both downstairs and in the loft.




  • I’m a small person so in this case size doesn’t matter. Yes, I’m a petite person, but I may not always be as mobile as I age.  Could a walker or even a wheelchair fit into such a small place?  Would I be able to reach the counters and high cabinets in the kitchen?  Could I maneuver around the bathroom?  If I had a larger than average tiny house bedroom with a twin bed on the lower level, that wouldn’t be a problem.  I’d have less to clean and maintain and that’s a plus.  A ramp could be built to get into the home and stored when moving it.



Photo credit: thekenshow via VisualHunt / CC BY-NC


  • I could live off the grid. Yes, I could, but do I want that?  You may want to leave a smaller environmental footprint or be the adventurous type who enjoys a solitary life surrounded by wildlife and scenic views.  You may just be someone with a piece of land in the country and don’t want to pay for extra services.  In the blog “Making a Living Out of Living (Off-Grid in the Wilderness)” at https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/design-your-path/201304/making-living-out-living-grid-in-the-wilderness John Jungwirth gave his take on the subject.  He’s lived in a small cabin for 25 years on 80 acres of remote wilderness in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula with his wife Victoria.  He said, “It keeps my brain healthy. It’s a paradise.” He added, “It’s nice to be alone and have time to think, but when you don’t have many people around you do relish people.” Although the Jungwirth’s live for the most part like their Ojibwas neighbors did in past years, they do have a solar powered T.V. and Victoria uses the internet at her job at the food coop.




Photo credit: The_Answerin_Machine via VisualHunt.com / CC BY-NC-ND


There are many innovations that make living off the grid in a tiny house possible such as solar panels, water collection systems and composting toilets.  Just a note about composting toilets, it’s illegal to throw the compost in the garbage in municipalities.  You need to bury it or use it to fertilize decorative, not edible, vegetation.  See the additional information below from https://www.creditloan.com/blog/the-true-cost-of-living-off-the-grid/ before you decide.






At this point in my life, I don’t want to own anything that requires maintenance other than my car.  That may not be what you want so a tiny house could be the home of your dreams.  If you buy one, please invite me for a visit.  I’d love to see how you make it work for you.


By the way, the 30-day Minimalism Game is working well and I haven’t even gotten to my clothes yet.  I have faith I can actually make a dent in my clutter.


Continue the adventure!


Linda Lea


Single Baby Boomers Living in Small Spaces-Decluttering

Single Baby Boomers Living in Small Spaces-Decluttering

I planned to write about Tiny Houses this time, but when I sat down with my laptop I noticed the show “Hoarder: Buried Alive” was on T.V. so I decided I needed to address paring down your possessions first and perhaps even touch on how to become a minimalist before moving into a smaller space. The website http://www.theminimalists.com/ addresses the concept of living with less and even challenges its readers to a 30-Day Minimalism Game in which you get rid of one non-consumable item the first day, 2 the second all the way up to 30 on the last day. Most of us could go for even longer without making a dent in our stuff. We don’t live by the K.I.S.S. acronym-Keep It Simple, Stupid.


I’ve moved 28 times and pared down to what I thought was the absolute minimal level of possessions twice. For a year I taught in Japan and lived as the people there do in a tiny studio apartment which with the help of the 100 Yen Store became cluttered, but homey. I wish I’d learned something from their culture, but I retained the hunting and gathering technique of my ancestors. I lived in a travel trailer for several months after my return and in two efficiency apartments before I bought my last partially furnished house. When I made my last move, I pared down again, taking just a few items of furniture. However, I managed to fill my new space and now need to get rid of at least some of the duplicate items, worn out or rarely worn clothes and the knick-knacks that clutter my shelves. Even though I’ve found ways to make it all fit, I feel it’s out of control and just plain messy. Just because I have found ways to store it out of sight, doesn’t mean I need it.


and-you-never-need-to-think-about-which-pot-to-use-for-which-dish - Copy


Here are a few tips I plan to employ that you might find helpful.

• 1 In-1 Out-This is just what it says. Every time you bring something non-consumable into your home, you must take something out either by selling, giving or throwing it away. Social media and other websites such as Craigslist and local buy, sell and swap sites allow you to sell or give away items without paying for an ad like eBay and newspapers. Some, such as eBay, Craigslist and http://www.decluttr.com/ have apps so you can stay up-to-date on your sales. Goodwill and other thrift stores are always looking for usable items. Just don’t go shopping while you’re there. A good deal isn’t always a smart deal.

goodwillPhoto credit: JeepersMedia via VisualHunt.com / CC BY


• Keep Track of your Progress-This can be done with checks on a calendar or if you like apps, try the one for iPhones at https://konmari.com/app/. To find out when it’s available for androids, sign up for organizing consultant Marie Kondo’s newsletter at the same address. With this app besides being able to keep track of your progress, you can get help with decluttering and motivation tips from Marie and her readers.



• Declutter Flat Surfaces-Anything flat can be a convenient gathering place for clutter. When you walk through the door have a place to hang your coat and put down your keys and mail. If you don’t have a closet, then a hall table and hooks can do the job. Tables and counters are convenient junk collectors. Store groceries and other items in their proper place as soon as get home. If you don’t have enough cupboard space, find ways to corral items you use often. Open shelves, bins, and baskets work well. The last two keep items contained, but be sure to not go crazy with too many or you’ll lose things and waste a lot of time searching for them. Try keeping similar items like tools, kitchen utensils, and secretarial supplies in one place or area.


kitchen containers
Photo credit: bnilsen via Visual hunt / CC BY-SA

• Throw Away Disposable Items-Most things made of paper can be tossed after use or scanned if you need to keep them. Make sure you back up the items you can’t afford to lose to the cloud or an external hard drive. If you have an electronic device and internet access, you can find most recipes, bills, banking information and other things we used to keep in paper form online. Repurposing plastic containers may save you money, but don’t let your cupboards get filled with containers that aren’t microwave safe or those you don’t use often. Remember to recycle, if possible.


• Buy Multipurpose or Convertible Furniture-One of the greatest challenges of living in a smaller space is to get the most use out of your limited area after you’ve pared down your personal items. Convertible furniture can add additional seating and storage that fits into small places. Pinterest has numerous ideas and more are added every day that go way beyond using cabinets, trunks, and bins.


• Hang It Up-Utilizing vertical space can be a clever way to reduce clutter and creatively decorate. Narrow shelves hung on the inside doors of kitchen cabinets, cubbies under stairs and hooks on your wall can help you stow your stuff. A fishnet holds my favorite shells, souvenir magnets adorn my fridge and artwork and photos from my travels beautify my walls. Décor should be decorative and functional in your small space. Plants provide beauty, food and clean our air.


craft organization
Photo credit: kristinized via VisualHunt.com / CC BY-NC-ND


• Put your Shopping on a Diet-Just as you wouldn’t grocery shop on an empty stomach, window-shopping can be a sure path to clutter. When I shop for groceries I hit the perimeter where the staples are kept with strategic strikes into the aisles with other foods. So when shopping for other items only visit a store to buy something when you’ve already decided how it will be used and where it will fit into your home. Big box stores may be convenient, but the diverse inventory can lead to impulse purchases. If you find something you hadn’t planned on buying, think it over and compare prices online. It’ll most likely be there the next day if you believe you still have to have it.


Photo credit: Fernando Stankuns via VisualHunt.com / CC BY-NC-SA

• Let Go of Gifts and Family Mementos-This is a difficult choice. Keep only the special things that remind you of your family and friends. The ones that brought you happiness and pleasant memories. If they’ve passed away, you want a remembrance. You might want to pick one you can use so that with each use it brings back a pleasurable memory. Photos and videos can be stored on your computer. Reminder-Back them up. You carry family and friends around with you in your heart and you don’t always need a tangible reminder.

I’m going to play the 30-Day Minimalist game and I challenge you to join me. My first item will be an extra bin I’m just storing. Then I’ll start at my closet and work my way through my apartment. If it goes well, I may do it again as a New Year’s Resolution. Since I’ve put this down in writing, I believe I can accomplish my goal and lighten my load for the coming year.

If you have ideas on how to declutter your life, please share them here or on my Facebook page. You can access it through the icon at the top of this blog.

Continue the adventure!
Linda Lea

Is Renting the Right Choice for a Single Baby Boomer?

Not all single Baby Boomers have their house paid off, want to stay where they currently live or want the headaches or expense of maintaining a home.  If you fall into one of these categories, then renting may be for you.


Photo credit: jthetzel via Visualhunt / CC BY


Here are a few things you may want to consider when making your decision.


Leslie Pepper wrote on the AARP website at http://www.aarp.org/money/budgeting-saving/info-12-2010/rent_or_own_whats_best_for_empty_nesters.html that a former Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight study showed if you bought a house in 1977 for $50,000 and the value increased to $290,500 in 2007, you would have lost $103,000 when you factor in the cost of mortgage interest, taxes, insurance, maintenance and repairs.  You may want to factor in possible gains if you would have invested the equity in your home in something other than real estate.  These numbers reflect the change in 2007, but you must also consider what happened in the 10 years after the housing bubble burst and home prices plummeted.  If you want to watch a movie on this financial disaster see “The Big Short,” the movie version of Michael Lewis’ book about a bunch of misfits who foresaw the housing and mortgage bubble and how they profited when it burst.  It’s entertaining and frustrating if you bought during that time period and/or tried to sell in the aftermath.



Photo credit: stepnout via VisualHunt.com / CC BY


If this makes you want more information then consider this.  The Census Bureau’s 2016 report showed an overall significant decrease in rental availability in the U.S.  The two charts below compare first rental and homeownership vacancies from 1987 to 2015 and then rental availability in the U.S. and its regions from 2015-2016.  Rental availability has decreased steadily since the housing bubble burst in the middle of the last decade.  Lower availability means, rental cost are higher now and will be increasing in the future, so you need to consider how changes in your rent will affect your budget.  In addition, you’ll need to take into account the upfront and reoccurring costs.




  • Security Deposit-This insures against property damage requiring repairs, delinquent rent, broken leases and other incidentals. Many states limit security deposits to 1.5 times monthly rent.


  • First Month’s Rent-Most landlords require the first month’s and sometimes the last month’s rent upfront.  If you move in the middle of the month, your landlord may accept a prorated rent payment.


  • Nonrefundable Deposits-Depending on the rental property laws in your state and your landlord’s preferences, you may be charged additional nonrefundable deposits like a pet deposit which typically range from $100 to $500, depending on the type of animal and base rent.


  • Monthly Rent-This can increase whenever you sign a new lease unless you live in a rent-controlled neighborhood or a city with strict renter protection laws.


  • Pet Rent-Instead of a pet deposit, some landlords charge pet rent in order to spread the expected cost of pet-related wear and tear over the entire rental term.  It can amount to $10 to $40 per month, depending on the animal and base rent.


  • Renters Insurance-For some rentals renters aren’t required to carry renters insurance for their possessions, but it’s highly recommended in the event of loss due to theft, fire and other perils. This is less expensive than homeowner insurance since costs are based on your personal property and not the structure.


  • Utilities-You’ll have this cost anywhere you live, but it can be much lower in some rental properties unless you’re renting a house.  Some landlords include several or all of the utilities in the monthly rent.



Photo credit: Thad Zajdowicz via Visual Hunt / CC BY


Other financial issues you may want to consider are the loss of tax benefits you have when you have a mortgage to deduct and the fact you’re not building equity as you do with a home.


Peace of Mind

  • Maintenance-Never again will you be faced with a bill for a new roof, flooded basement or new appliances and fixtures.  Your maintenance person will install replacements and you’ll sometimes be able to get an upgrade like a ceiling fan if you renew your lease.  In some places, they’ll even change light bulbs, HVAC filters and help with other reoccurring maintenance.


  • Flexibility-If you’re moving to a new locale and want to get acquainted with the area before you buy, you may want to rent. Also, you may be unsure about how long you want to stay in a new place or may find the rental you chose was too noisy, in an inconvenient location, unsafe or not appropriate for your lifestyle in other ways.  If that’s the case, you can pack up and move at any time, but keep in mind if you leave before your lease is up, you’ll have to pay penalties which are sometimes quite steep and other moving expenses.



Photo credit: mattbuck4950 via Visualhunt.com / CC BY-SA


It’s important to remember that since you don’t own the property, your landlord could sell it and you’d be out.  Your state has laws which protect your rights, so research those if your rental is sold.  If you break the terms of your lease and are evicted, you still have rights, but if you’re not a good tenant, your landlord may make the rest of your stay very uncomfortable so you move quickly.



View from my balcony


I’ve owned and rented and found that depending on my stage of life each can have its pros and cons.  If you’re not living with someone, as a single you have many options.  You don’t need to compromise, so find what’s best for your needs and wants.  If you rent, you can easily change your mind and buy so renting may a good way to weigh your options and make an educated decision.  Wanting to age in place can factor into your choice.  I want to keep my life as simple as possible, so I now rent.  I had to get used to sharing a thin wall and neighbors who move often.  The last part can be a mixed blessing.  Good neighbors are hard to find no matter where you live.  You want to get rid of the sketchy one and beg the quiet ones to stay.  I miss my yard with its garden, but not the yard work.  I enjoy being close to the beach, stores, restaurants and other conveniences.  The pool is a real plus.  My rent is less than my last house, but I have half the square footage.  My needs include a quiet, top floor location, dishwasher, laundry and a place for my cat box, so my 1 bedroom with a bunkroom, second half bath and washer and dryer fits me to a T.  I’d like more closet space than the yard wide bedroom closet, but I’ve found storage options in my bunkroom and multiuse furniture.  I may not stay here forever but for now, I call it home.


Continue the adventure!

Linda Lea

Is Owning a Home the Best Option for a Single Baby Boomer?

Gingerbread Houses on Martha’s Vineyard


As single Baby Boomers age, we need to decide how to handle many issues and housing is a major financial decision for us all.  This blog will focus on home ownership with subsequent ones discussing renting and various types of homes from tiny homes to RVs.  On the topic of owning, we’ll be talking about traditional homes with all of the rewards and challenges that come with buying and maintaining a residence.



If you decide to keep the house you own for your lifetime, you may have or be able to pay off the mortgage and just have to pay taxes, insurance, maintenance and for any upgrades.  If you raised a family in that home, you have a home to accommodate your children and grandchildren when they visit, if they visit.  You could also rent a part of it out for extra income or for use as a home office.


Photo via VisualHunt.com

However, if your home is too big for you to afford or maintain after you retire, you may want to downsize.  Then you need to go through the emotional selling and buying process and not move from your next home for at least 3 years if you plan to get some equity out of it.


Photo via VisualHunt.com

Before you decide if you want to own another home you should look at the rent vs. buy ratio.  One formula used by the real estate website Trulia is the “rent vs. buy rule of 15,” which says to multiply the annual rent of a comparable property by 15.  If rent is $1,000 a month, it’s $12,000 annually. Multiple that number by 15 and you’ve got a suitable purchase price of $180,000.  If you can find a home in that price range, then it’s more favorable to buy than to rent, but remember you have to consider other factors such as taxes, home owner’s insurance, maintenance, utilities covered in your rent payment and closing costs.


Photo credit: Kordite via Visualhunt / CC BY-NC

According to Greg Daugherty, a writer for Next Avenue, at http://www.nextavenue.org/should-you-rent-or-buy-home-retirement/, a recent study by Trulia concluded buying would be less expensive than renting in all of the top 100 U.S. metropolitan markets using a fixed, 30-year, 3.5% mortgage if you stay in the home for at least seven years (The average mortgage rate has risen since the study came out, to 3.75%.).


Go to http://us.spindices.com/indices/real-estate/sp-corelogic-case-shiller-20-city-composite-home-price-nsa-index  for an interactive chart.

Many of you have bought a home alone or with a partner, but maybe it’s been awhile, so here’s a review of the things to consider when you buy.  Some are out-of-pocket costs after your purchase offer is accepted and others are paid at closing.

  • Earnest Money-This shows the seller you’re serious about buying the property. It generally ranges from 1% to 3% of the home’s purchase price.  After accepting the offer, the earnest money is deposited into an escrow account and credited against your closing costs.


  • Down Payment-This is a percentage of the home’s purchase price that you pay upfront, typically at closing. The down payment amount varies based on your credit profile, local market conditions and the type of mortgage loan.  It ranges from 3.5% (chiefly for FHA loans) and could be more than 20% of the purchase price.


  • Home Appraisal-Lenders require a home appraisal prior to approving the loan to ensure the offer price and the actual value match. An appraisal costs around $300 to $500 and is paid during or before the appraisal.


  • Home Inspection-In order to find potential problems and defects that might not be apparent to an inexperienced buyer, a trained, licensed home inspector should be employed. The cost is paid at the inspection and is often about the same as appraisal costs.


  • Property Taxes-You may need to compensate the seller for any property taxes they paid in the period between the closing date and the end of the current tax period. This expense, if there is one, varies based on your local tax rate and the closing date.


  • First Year’s Homeowners Insurance-Lenders require proof of homeowners insurance prior to closing. Insurance costs vary based on the value, style, location and contents of the home, as well as your credit score, policy deductible and coverage limits.


  • Other Closing Costs-Additional closing costs include loan origination charges, a credit report fee, a flood certification fee, lender’s and owner’s title insurance, recording taxes, state and local transfer taxes, first month’s mortgage interest and closing fee. As a rule of thumb, you can expect your total closing costs to range from 2% to 4% of the purchase price with the ratio falling as the purchase price increases.


  • Private Mortgage Insurance-PMI protects your lender from financial loss if your home is foreclosed upon and sold at a discount relative to your purchase price. Private mortgage companies charge this if your down payment is less than 20% of the purchase price.  If this is charged, your monthly escrow payment includes a PMI premium payment that can generally be canceled once the loan to value ratio (LTV) reaches 80% unless you’re a high credit risk.  The payment amount depends on your loan’s balance and PMI rate.

Information is taken from Brian Martucci’s article “Renting vs. Buying a House – How to Make a Decision, Pros & Cons” at http://www.moneycrashers.com/rent-or-buy-a-house/.


Photo credit: pop archaeologist via VisualHunt / CC BY-NC-SA

Leslie Pepper, a freelance writer, wrote in the AARP Bulletin about the factors you need to consider if you currently own or are thinking about buying a home in the article “Rent or Own — What’s Best for Empty Nesters?” at http://www.aarp.org/money/budgeting-saving/info-12-2010/rent_or_own_whats_best_for_empty_nesters.html.

Here are some items she suggests you think about with a few that a single Baby Boomer may want to take into consideration.

  • Liquidity is crucial in retirement. If you need your money fast for any reason, investments are easier to liquidate than real estate.


  • Consider all of the costs. When you factor in the cost of mortgage interest, taxes, insurance, maintenance, repairs and updates will you come out ahead?


  • Do you need the mortgage interest deduction? Talk to your tax advisor about your tax bracket and whether or not you’ll be coming out ahead if you buy.  Your mortgage company’s statement shows how much of your mortgage payment is interest vs. principal.  If your current mortgage will be paid off in 10 years or less, most of your payment isn’t going to interest, so that’s not much of a tax advantage to stay in your current home.


  • What are your plans for the future? You’re single and the decision is all yours.  If you want to stay in your hometown, then you may want to stay in your home or buy a smaller home.  If you want to relocate and plan to stay there for a long period of time, then homeownership may be the best choice. Just remember the additional costs of owning we discussed earlier and that you can’t pick up and move to the mountains or the beach as easily.  It’s a difficult decision.


  • Are you happy taking care of your own indoor and outdoor maintenance? Some people enjoy decorating their home to their taste and having a garden space to call their own.  Remember, condos and some communities do have restrictions on what you can do on the interior and exterior.  On the flip side, you may own a townhouse or condo or live in a retirement community with a maintenance fee that covers amenities and outdoor chores, so you can own and not need to do yard work and keep up the community pool and workout room.


Photo credit: antonychammond via Visual hunt / CC BY-NC-SA

  • Do you have or want to have pets? If you own, you can have most animals unless you want livestock, then zoning laws or an HOA may have some objections.  For single Baby Boomers, pets are family and they need to be considered.


Yes, this is a lot to consider at a time in your life when you thought you’d have everything under control.  Don’t Worry.  Be happy!  You’ve worked all your life for this and it may be the first time you’re able to make this decision without having to think about others.  Embrace the chance to make life altering change or stay in your comfortable community with old friends.


Next time we’ll discuss renting and why it may or may not be for you.  Any comments you have about owning or renting are appreciated.


Continue the adventure!

Linda Lea

A Single Baby Boomer Flies Solo in Manhattan


Are you afraid of traveling alone?  Even as a single Baby Boomer who’s traveled extensively, I’m still apprehensive before a solo trip.  To combat this I stay current on changes in technology and other travel advice.  I often read the many travel blogs about solo travel and have used some of their tips.  After investigating several popular travel and New York sites, I decided I could tackle Manhattan on my own.  I had my GPS to help me find subways and buses and even steer me the right way as I walked and the Uber app on my Smartphone.  There were many more apps I could’ve downloaded, but I felt I was good to go.



Since I’d been to the Big Apple 3 times before, don’t enjoy shopping and have been in museums all over the world, I decided to go with the Hop-on Hop-off bus to get an overall view of the city.  I was delighted to find my timeshare offered me a free Big Bus ticket and a cruise around Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty.



When I arrived at Penn Station on Amtrak from Providence, RI after five days with my friend touring mansions and eating lobster in Newport and on Martha’s Vineyard, I pulled up my Uber app and headed for the information counter.  The young man helped me set up my ride before I headed out the door.  I’d practiced the app before, but this was my first real ride so I found a Millennial.  They’ve mastered their Smartphone and a multitude of apps.  I find they seem to like to help a Baby Boomer who probably reminds them of their grandmother.  There I was alone in a major metropolis, on the street where I was supposed to meet the car, but which way should I go.  Madison Square Garden is next to the station, so I asked a security guard which direction I should head.  He told me to go right and wait at the end of the street.  By the time I got there my Smartphone told me the driver would meet me at another corner.  I asked a well-dressed 30-something business man and he ignored me, but a Millennial came up to me, told me how to find the name and picture of the driver, the car make, and license number.  I was then able to call him and arrange, with the young man’s help, the correct side of the street to meet him.  Believe me, I never even considered that I needed to know if I was on the east or west side of the street.  FYI-Uber drivers text you when they’re getting close and have your picture to help find you.



I could go on at length about my Uber experience, but suffice to say this driver and the one who took me to the airport were excellent and took me right to the door.  Anyone who drives in New York has to have nerves of steel and limitless patience.  The fact you can now use credit cards with Uber and taxis makes it easier to get around.  Buses do need change if you don’t have a bus pass and you can buy a MetroCard for the subway.  I didn’t use the subway there but have used it in many cities and it’s easy if you’re not afraid to ask for help.  See http://www.wikihow.com/Ride-the-New-York-City-Subway.


My efficiency condo at the Wyndham Midtown 45 at NYC had a full kitchen complete with a dishwasher.  Since I had all of the things necessary to make a complete meal, I didn’t eat out but I never feel uncomfortable alone in a nice restaurant in a safe neighborhood.  I sometimes sit at the bar and find there are often people who are happy to share their experiences and advice about their city.  I have a new love affair with delis where you can find a wide selection of both hot and cold food.  I know NYC is famous for many types of delicacies, but my favorites were the cheesecake and lox and bagels.  I found out the hard way that you need to check your food since when I got back to the condo I found one of my sandwiches was just a bagel, cream cheese, onions, tomato and no lox.  I don’t know if it was a miscommunication due to a difference in languages (New York is indeed a melting pot of cultures and languages) or a lack of attention to detail on the server’s part, but it was an expensive sandwich even for New York.

Lox and Bagel

The Big Bus Hop-on Hop-off bus tour ended up being a stay-on and hop-off for lunch and a change of bus tour.  It took over six hours to accomplish that but even in the light drizzle it was enjoyable.  There are two loops, upper and lower Manhattan.  The tour guides, Carl and Ross, were knowledgeable but Ross brought his Italian-American comedic spin to his tour so it was extremely entertaining.  He described his presentation as facts with some “bullshit” thrown in.  On tours in other cities, I hopped off, but with my limited time and a desire to see the highlights, I found my choice worked out well and if you’re afraid of getting lost, it’s a good choice.  You can get an overview and then decide what you want to see another day.  Multiple day bus tours are also available. See http://eng.bigbustours.com/newyork/home.html.

The Big Bus in Times Square

The next day, with the help of Google Maps and the doorman, I found a bus route that took me right up to the pier for my guided Liberty Cruise.  I arrived too early for the tour and spent time at The Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum touring the decommissioned aircraft carrier, Intrepid and the Space Shuttle display featuring the Enterprise and a live presentation on how Star Trek influenced and was influenced by past and present inventions.  Did you know that theoretically in order to be “beamed up” they’d have to heat your atoms to a thousand degrees Fahrenheit, so they’re going to have to improve the technology?  In addition tours of the USS Growler submarine, Concord and a Star Trek Training Experience were available, if my schedule had allowed.  I especially enjoyed seeing the vintage military aircraft on the flight deck.  Even the rain didn’t dampen my enthusiasm. See https://www.intrepidmuseum.org/The-Intrepid-Experience/Guided-Tours.aspx for more information.

The Intrepid
The Intrepid


Ellis Island
Ellis Island

Times Square was busy on Friday night.  I was there during the Columbus Day Holiday Weekend and on Saturday night it was crazy.  Traffic was almost at a standstill when I got off the bus tour so I had to fight my way down to my turn onto 45th Ave and 7th Street.  If you like the energy crowds bring, I say go for it, but I was glad to get out of the area.  I suggest seeing it on a weekday.  The afternoon is less busy but the lights and videos are more vibrant in the dark.  Don’t be afraid to be out after dark even alone, but stay in populated areas.  Always protect your purse by holding it close to your body and don’t keep your wallet in your back pocket.

Times Square
Times Square

I could’ve seen a Broadway show, but since I’d done it before and the ones I wanted to see had astronomical price tags, I skipped it.  If you want to see one you can get discount tickets at the TKTS Booths.  They have a Smartphone app and a website with additional information at https://www.tdf.org/nyc/7/TKTS-ticket-booths.  You can also call theaters between 8 and 11 a.m. the day of the show to be entered in a lottery for discount tickets.  Your best bet is to go online to the many websites that offer discount tickets because of the line at the TKTS Booth, at least when I was there, was longer than the most popular rides at Disney World.


Sadly, I had to leave Manhattan on Monday.  I was surprised to see 3 service men with military assault rifles by the entrance to my terminal at LaGuardia Airport.  I haven’t experienced that in other U.S. airports, but I know there must be others that use the military in addition to airport security.  The 9/11 Memorial in New York reminds us of the need to protect ourselves from terrorist, both homegrown and from abroad.

9/11 Mem
9/11 Mem


Here are some takeaways.

  • Plan ahead and be flexible. As I mentioned before, I planned my trip in advance, but I had to revise my plan for the bus tour and cruise when I found the information I received at my condo was inaccurate.  I found it was easy to adjust my plans with my Smartphone and the aid of tour representatives.  Even other tourists can give you suggestions on places you might want to see.


  • The natives are friendly. They’re willing to help most of the time.  It doesn’t take long for you to get more aggressive if you think you’re not getting a fair shake.  Above all, though, be friendly and thank them for their help or service.  You get what you give.


  • Doormen/women give the best directions. They can also make sure your Uber or taxi appears when you need it.  The people at the desk or even the concierge don’t know the city like they do.  I always ask a couple of people just to make sure I have the right directions, but the doormen are always the most knowledgeable and patient, in my opinion.


  • Walk as much as you can and walk purposefully. If you’re able, walking is the best and quickest way to get around.  Traffic is usually horrendous and can be harrowing is you’re not a seasoned city driver.  I’ve driven all over the U.S. and abroad, but I walk or take public transportation in NYC.  Act like you know where you’re going.  You already asked for directions at your hotel and have a GPS, but if you’re really lost ask someone at an information booth, in a shop or a restaurant.  Don’t make yourself a target.


  • New York is accessible to people with disabilities. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) assures that everyone can access transportation, sights, attractions, and lodging.  See http://travel.aarp.org/destinations/united-states/new-york-city/travel-tips/disabilities-and-accessibility/.  NYC The Official Guide at http://www.nycgo.com/plan-your-trip/basic-information/accessibility offers a free brochure to download with all the information you need to make your visit easy and memorable.  I visited with a man using a walker on a bus who was going to church.  The bus driver told him the best stop and way to get there once he got off the bus.  Crowded streets do make maneuvering difficult, but if you out early in the day, you can get most of your touring done before it gets too congested.  If you’re a clubber or going to the theater in the evening, an Uber or taxi may be your best option.


  • Be aware of your surroundings. Find out the safest places to sightsee.  This is usually the places out-of-towners want to visit so they’re crowded, but there’s safety in numbers especially at night.  In my experience, most tourists look out for each other.  There are always thieves in crowds, so keep your valuables hidden and in a wallet which doesn’t allow them to be scanned.


  • Smartphones are a smart choice. Not only do they allow you to communicate with others over an ever-expanding variety of apps, they can help you navigate, book tickets, check your credit card and bank balances, check-in at your airline, take excellent photos and give you a weather update.



These tips worked for me, but to tailor your trip to your wants and needs search the internet.  It’s a treasure trove of information.  When you plan your vacation keep in mind your budget, schedule and the attractions that interest you the most.  No matter how much time or money you have, you can never see it all.  If you’re a foodie, remember many restaurants have menus on their website.  You may want to reserve a table if you’re on a tight schedule.  Read unbiased reviews on eateries, hotels and the sights on TripAdvisor and Yelp. I found you either love New York or it’s a great place to visit, but wouldn’t want to live there.


While my trip wasn’t an amusement park thrill ride, I did what I wanted to do when and how I wanted to do it.  Although I always enjoy trips with friends, sometimes I need to stretch my boundaries and keep my edge by venturing out on my own.  My advice is to never be afraid to travel solo.  Just keep these tips in mind and enjoy your life as a single Baby Boomer.


Continue the adventure!

Linda Lea