Sometime back in late 2018 the First Mate wanted to talk to me about some concerns that she was having. She posed the question of what would happen if one of us passed away earlier than expected. She was thinking that if I survived, I would probably be content with single-handing the sailboat and just sailing away on adventures. She, on the other hand, could not see herself single-handing the sailboat and the thought of just living aboard at the marina did not sit well with her. By early 2019 it became clear what our alternatives were and we hatched a plan for both of us.
We decided to buy land and get it ready in the event that something happened to one of us before our time. We started looking online in early January, and by March 2019 we started driving out to areas where there was some acreage available. We were initially looking for 5-10 acres in southeast California, but everywhere we looked it seemed there were tweakers and graffiti. We were not keen on setting up a homestead in those areas. We also looked in Arizona, around the Yuma area. We found a few candidates and were off to southern Arizona to check them out. Ultimately we found an acre in the country that was perfect for us. It had a well, septic, electricity, was cleared and level and even partially fenced. We made an offer in April 2019 and it was instantly accepted. By mid-May, we signed the paperwork and it was titled over to us. We were now the proud owners of an acre of property in between Yuma and Wellton, Arizona.
We bought a gently used Ford Excursion to help us with the move, and by June 6th we had moved all of our furniture and belongings into two self-storage units in Wellton, AZ. We ended up buying a nice storage shed to ultimately use to store our belongings until we could sort through what we wanted to keep.
On top of all this, we had made the decision to close the office and retire. First Mate still has some cases to finish, but we quit taking in any new cases and started getting the office ready for closure. We made the decision to move the office to the sailboat and set things up there until all the cases were closed. It was at that point when we decided to make some drastic changes.
We decided to buy a travel trailer and haul it out to the property. First Mate was feeling way too cramped trying to office out of the sailboat, and we were going to need to work on the property to get things in place for when we were going to spend time there. She could work and appear at hearings remotely, and those odd times when she needed to appear in person, she could drive back to California. That would also give us time to decide what kind of homestead we wanted to set up. We already had the Ford Excursion to pull the travel trailer with, so off we went to the property!
In looking into how much a stick-built house would cost, then factoring in the increase in property tax and wanting to pay cash for whatever we ended up with, the choice was obvious – a manufactured home or mobile home. We ended up finding a 14×60 mobile home that was close by and well within our cash budget, so we bought it and set the wheels in motion to have it installed. All was working out better than expected, and our retirement budget could support what we needed.
At the end of this chapter of events, we moved all our things out of self-storage and into the new shed we had built. We had a few garage sales to get rid of things we did not need. Because the mobile home came fully furnished, we were able to get rid of a LOT!
We ended up buying a side-by-side quad from our neighbors across the street so that we could explore the hills around us. It is unbelievable how many snowbirds come down to this area in the winter to explore and drive their side by sides. The town of Wellton has a population of about 2900, but that triples in the winter because of the climate and all the R/V parks here. Yuma, which is about 10 miles west, has a population of about 100,000, but that about doubles in the winter. Most of them have quads that they either have at their winter home here or they bring them.
We were really surprised to find out that there are such a tightly knit groups that come down here together. The group in our neighborhood consists of about four couples that come down to their winter homes here, and there are also another 6 or so that are here full-time. After buying the quad, we ended up going out in groups with them to explore. Most of them have either lived here or been coming down here for 10-20 years now, so they all know the best trails up into the hills. We went on one five hour ride across a mountain top. Now THAT was fun!
So, after things settled down, we decided to start to plan our next sail. That is a subject for our next post.