Elderly Couple needs Advice‏

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Dear Ferfal,

My husband and I originally read your book three years ago and it changed our lives. We even considered buying a Dogo Argentino but settled for a Labrador Retriever. We are now at a point where preparing for a societal decline conflicts with preparing for our personal decline due to advancing age. We are in our seventies. Our health is good but could change in an instant. We would greatly appreciate your advice about our imminent decision: (1) to stay in our current rural village; (2) to move to a town located twenty miles away; or (3) to move closer to our daughter and her family in a suburb of a large city.

Our first option is staying where we are (we like it here) and hoping we are physically able to deal with the rigors of rural life until we are truly incapacitated and ready for a nursing home — or dead. Twenty-five years ago we moved to this area of a Northeastern (USA) state for job reasons. We have no family here. The closest big city (210,000) is a little over an hour away. We chose to live in a village of 2,500. Our house is on five acres. We paid off our mortgage years ago.

Our house is relatively isolated. We can see two other houses but they’re not close. Our property is not generally suitable for crops because it’s heavily wooded.  We found the massive trees charming 25 years ago and never thought we may have to grow food. On the positive side we are able to heat with our own wood that we pay a neighbor to cut. We have a well and a creek and we’ve stored water barrels in our walk-out basement.  We have good neighbors.

We’re on friendly terms with the local business owners; however our village has few businesses and fewer services. There’s a doctor but the nearest hospital/emergency room is 20 miles away. We have a volunteer fire department but no village police. We’re served by the county sheriff’s office, head-quartered 20 miles away, and the state police pass through periodically. While fire response to 911 is fast, police response is slow. Crime is actually very low — probably because most home owners (including us) are also gun owners.

We’ve have been prepping since reading your book and have about 1-1/2 years of stored food for ourselves and our daughter and her family. We’ve also collected barter materials that would probably get us food from farmer neighbors. In addition to our stored water we’ve stockpiled several kinds of filters. We have a septic tank/septic field. In the event of a disaster, we had hoped to provide a safe haven for our daughter, son-in-law, and grandchildren but fear we may no longer be able to manage the day-to-day demands of rural living while awaiting the apocalypse.

Our second option is moving to a relatively prosperous, low-crime town of 10,500 that is 20 miles northwest of our current home — closer to our nearest big city.  We have no friends there but it has a wide range of stores, medical specialists (whom we’ve been using), a good hospital/ER and a police department. There are none of the gated communities you recommend. There are senior-living communities but their admission fees plus monthly fees are staggering. We would buy a house or townhouse with enough room for our daughter and her family if things go very bad. We’d move our prepping supplies but we’d have to deal with public water and sewers.

Our third option is moving closer to our daughter and her family who live in a small city of 120,000 about 2 hours due west of where we now live. They are both employed in highly skilled jobs that are not generally available. Our relationship is strong and we’ve regretted the long round trip has prevented us from seeing them more than once a month.

Their small city is contiguous with a rapidly declining major city of 270,000. The small city seems prosperous although real estate listings show lots of foreclosures. It has all the necessary businesses and services including a hospital/ER. We would have to use public water and sewers.

There are no gated communities and zoning severely limits the number of condos/townhouses. We would buy a small house and move our supplies. Our daughter argues she could help us with shopping/appointments as we grow even older, while her husband and children could help with grass mowing/snow shoveling/dog walking. They plan to stay where they are until the youngest child graduates high school — six years. It would be wonderful to see our family frequently, and a relief to have help on hand, but we dread not being able to offer the people we love a place of safety should a disaster strike.

With your experience of a country in collapse, would you recommend we stay where we are now or make one of the two possible moves? If we do move we should do it while we have our health/strength. We’re afraid we’re blind to an important consideration that’s obvious to someone like you. We will be grateful for any advice and apologize for the length of this letter. If it’s published please delete our email address. Thank you!

Sincerely,

H&H

Hi!

You bring up several important points.

A key aspect of sensible preparedness is preparing for those things that are likely to happen first. One of the few certainties in life is that time passes for all of us and (if lucky enough!)we all grow old. As that happens we’re more likely to need a hand from time to time.

My dear grandmother had to make a similar decision recently. Now almost 90 years old and being a very smart lady she understood that she would need a bit more help than before soon enough.  Moving with my aunt meant sacrificing some of her cherished independence but she understood that it was the best thing to do.

I would agree with your daughter about them begin able to help as needed. Also, it looks as if being close to them would mean seeing them more often, being close to your grandchildren as they grow older. That’s just priceless. I know I didn’t fully appreciate my grandparents as a teen, you could say I took them for granted, but luckily as I grew older I realized that I had to spend as much time as I could with them. It was great to drop by my grandparents and have dinner or lunch with them, or take them out for dinner or for tea to a café near by. I think your grandkids will appreciate that one day too.

Being closer to your doctor and hospital sure is an advantage. The same goes for being closer to your family so that they can help you and you help them when needed. From a practical point of view moving close to your daughter makes the most sense to me and it sounds as if you would enjoy seeing them more often. Having said that, its also important to live were we enjoy being. If you like your current home and enjoy your life there then that’s good enough reason to stay, so ultimately and choice you are happy with is ok.

I wouldn’t worry about not having a house out in the country for them to go to. You would still have a home for them to go to and the supplies you have would still be of great value. Besides, being closer means you can help on other less dramatic things like watching over your grandkids. That alone is a lot of help and saves your daughter from having to spend money on a nanny.  I know I would love to have my grandmother nearby. Just knowing that she’s keeping an eye on things is a lot of help.

Take care and I wish you both the best!

FerFAL

  1. Another option is to buy a place in town (if you can afford it) that will house all of you – the extended family. They could buy a property with a mother-in-law apartment. Then as the family shrinks (kids move out, or parents move into assisted living or …) there is the possibility of an income stream from renting out the vacant space. A duplex or triplex, or a small apartment building are all possibilities. Something with a decent garden and some fruit trees?

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