Monday, November 21, 2016

La retraite

Sunset at Apache Pier, Myrtle Beach
In French, the noun "la retraite" can mean both retreat and retirement. To retire is to "prendre la retraite" or to take a retreat, step away. I give this little linguistic lesson as a prelude to explaining why my husband and I have begun thinking about selling our suburban house and looking at rural properties.

Since we were newlyweds, we've mostly opted for short commutes rather than larger houses or more land. It's always been a compromise, though. And we've often fantasized about living differently.

We have also been frustrated that we still have a mortgage. We had hoped to retire without one, but we didn't. Instead, we have a detached 4-bedroom home, nicely fixed up, in a desirable neighbourhood only 20 minutes' drive from downtown Ottawa. We simply don't need that commute anymore; we're ready to retreat.

While on our recent road-trip to South Carolina, something really crystalized: we both feel uplifted when we are near water. It is both peaceful and ever-changing. Stephen loves to kayak and canoe, and would love to do so from our front yard, rather than having to load the boat onto the car and drive, even if it's just a few kilometres.

And then we realized that we could finally build a custom home, one that embodies our desire to reduce our use of fossil fuels and to live more simply. (We've spent many a date night sketching house plans while waiting for the waiter to bring our meal. We even have a folder in our filing cabinet labeled "Dream House.")

One of our "napkin-sketches" from 2008.

After doing some idle browsing on the real estate listings, we concluded that we could readily sell our house and move to something smaller in a rural area. We could even afford to buy waterfront or water-access. All that and walk away mortgage-free or with a minimal mortgage? Sounds good to me!

Of course, there are plenty of factors to consider, not least of which is the fact that we're not getting any younger (or healthier). With that in mind, proximity to a hospital and a reasonably-sized town is a must. As is a lot that won't require the mountain-climbing agility of a goat.

We also still have one "child" living at home: our son, Peter. He is still in university, but is, I think, ready to move out on his own. Three of the four kids will be living in Ottawa, and we are optimistic that there may be grandchildren in our future. We also want to continue to teach the Family Connections course at least once a year. So we may rent a small apartment in town so we can come in for weekends

Here are our the criteria we've hashed out:
  1. Water view/access to either a large lake or the Rideau or Ottawa rivers.
  2. Price that leaves us mortgage free (which, of course, depends on the selling price of our house, but we have a ballpark).
  3. Vacant lot -- we want to start from scratch, rather than inheriting someone else's trouble child.
  4. Good land with lots of trees and room for a big garden or even solar power.
  5. Short distance (like, half an hour) to church, groceries, restaurants 
  6. Less than 90 minutes to Ottawa
So the hunt is on!


  1. White Lake is a beautiful area! There is a marina there too, so if he likes to boat etc, it would be close. It also gives you very close access to the Ottawa and Madawaska rivers. It's my dream to retire closer to the water one day too. We really need a bigger house for the 5 of us, but since we are already in our mid 40s, we aren't willing to up the mortgage cost. We'll just have to learn to love one another in close quarters! :)

    1. Yes, we've seen a few in the White Lake area. Eastern Ontario has plenty to choose from.


What did you think? Any comments?

Related Posts

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...