Friday, 11 April 2014

One CRAZY Shopping Trip

When I first set out to make this move to retirement happen, I was pretty sure selling would be much harder than buying. Then, with a 3-hour quick sale bolstering my confidence, I was filled with the anticipation of an easy/breezy buying trip as I packed for the BIG weekend and looked forward to coming home with a house in my shopping cart!  Famous last words?  Keep on reading!

I have been shopping online for months to find Retirement Home #1 to kick off my retirement this July.  I finally sent my criteria to our new Realtor-on-the-ground, Alina, last week.  After spending many months renovating our last house, we made the decision we wanted a move-in ready home, quiet neighborhood, two bedrooms, one-story with a decent patio/deck to enjoy the balmy, warm evenings that the Okanagan brags about.  Easy access to cycling paths and good wine were also high on the list.  That was the simple part!  Packaging all of this into a small budget was much more challenging.

We landed in Kelowna with our bags in hand and soon had the keys to the Chevy Sonic rental car in our hot little hands.  Wheeling out of the parking lot, I realized, REALLY realized, that this was actually happening.  I was retiring.  I was moving.  GULP.  An easy drive through Kelowna on a mid-morning Friday before the tourist crowds mingled with the locals, and we were on our way.

We whizzed by orchards with black, empty branches reaching the sky.  The vineyards were showing some signs of life as their keepers were spotted cleaning out remnants of last season and fussing over their "babies". We skimmed by beautiful lakes and snow capped mountains and then down, down into the Southern Okanagan.  Even with only the first blush of spring peeping out and showing off her pink or yellow blossomed-branches or shy tulips or more showy daffodils hiding in sunny corners, there was a promise in the air that just spoke to my heart.  The closer we came to Osoyoos, the more excited I became!  Vineyards stretched from mountain to lake and orchards filled in the gaps.  Closed and boarded fruit stands dotted the landscape preparing for the summer harvest of cherries, apricots, peaches and so much more.  Signs shouted Cukes, Tomatoes and Strawberries to our parched, Albertan souls!

Like little kids, we parked (diagonal parking, small town friends!) for FREE (Calgary victims!) and explored the downtown - Main Street!  Coffee houses, boutiques, Home Hardware and wine bars - my smile grew incrementally with each short stop.  We dined on gluten-free quinoa salad and headed to the resort where we had scored an off-season suite.

Welcoming Committee!
We dashed out to the complex of ranchers we had our eyes on for a sneak peak before our official visit the following morning.  We drove through the neighborhood and my stomach lurched a little.  Old people everywhere smiled and waved.  They stopped on the sidewalk to do a double take on the couple in the rental vehicle.  No lawn mowers in this mainly desert landscape - just pretty little houses in gravel-covered yards and friendly seniors dotting the scenery.  They all seemed so old, so quiet, so......retired!  Doubt overwhelmed me!  Maybe I had overstated our wish for a quiet neighborhood.  Perhaps I had been wrong in thinking 55+ complexes were a good idea?  Maybe I was REALLY wrong and I wasn't ready to retire!  I started re-thinking my many decisions and went back to the hotel with a lot of feelings bouncing around inside of me.  I fired a quick email off to our Realtor - "Alina, maybe we should expand our search!  Maybe the Casita del Sol is TOO quiet."  With grace, she agreed to try and add some properties to our afternoon search the next day.

The next morning we WALKED to our Realtor's office.  We had the advantage as her lovely smile was posted on websites and For Sale signs all over town.  Knowing we had the right person, we prepared for our tour.  The sun was shining as we pulled into the visitor's parking at the Casita del Sol.  We checked out BIG cedar decks with lake views and cute little patios for that proverbial sip of wine.  What to do?  The neighbors were awakening on this fresh Spring day with outdoor and garage chores galore.  They waved and smiled as we walked between houses.  The house I had been day dreaming about for weeks was everything it had promised to be.  My thoughts of too quiet or too old calmed.  I easily pictured us with our morning coffee listening to the birds flitting around the mountain landscape as I typed my latest blog on my laptop. Oh, joy - I was home!  I was ready to be a RETIREE!  I wanted to embrace peace and quiet and beauty near a lake in a valley surrounded by mountains.

We bought it - that very day.  Easy. Confident. Calmly.  I discovered how much joy I had been holding back when we were homeward bound and stopped in a little park in Kelowna to finish off our bottle of wine - from the bottle!  Toasting our new house and our new life - in the beautiful Okanagan.


  1. You most definitely have us beat! This is such a cool story. I love the way you write. Is there a book in your future retirement?? It's a shame we're on the other side of the continent, because you are our kind of people! I will toast you from here!

    1. Thanks for your kind comment - yes, there is a book in my retirement but the BIG question would be will it be a published one? No matter! The pleasure is in the writing. Your pictures are lovely, by the way. I have been sneaking peaks of your blog for months now! Enjoy your writing too. e


I love to hear from you!