I was 53,  recently divorced and trying to “enter the world” again.  Not the world of dating, just the world.  Fun. Dinner. Kid-less socializing.   A friend had invited  me to a “meet up” at a local restaurant.  This dinner ‘date’ was with 30-40 other single adults who gathered once a month for a social outing.  At this point in my life I was at the top of my game professionally.  My face was on billboards.  My voice was on the radio.  I spoke at seminars.  And yet, I sat in the parking lot of this restaurant battling the mental insecurities of a teenager.  Meet with strangers or go home and watch  reruns of The Office?  Just as I was putting my hand on “reverse” to meet up with Steve Carell, my friend saw me and motioned me in.  God Bless her.

I tell this story to illustrate how hard it is to start or re-start relationships late in life.  When we are 10 there was a playground to interact with 50 peers and we narrowed to our two favorites. Where is that playground at age 60?  Between the ages of 20 and 50 we tend to narrow our focus to those precious people inside the walls of our house.  Maybe a few other parent-friends here and there, but social interaction apart from children is rare. By the time we retire we are like the audience in a magician’s act.  “Where did all the friends go?”  And, yet, the richness of these friendships is what multiple studies tell us will bring us a longer and healthier life.  A Harvard University study found that close friendships and a sense of purpose lead to a reduced risk for Alzheimers, stroke and heart issues.  And, well, friends just make us happier.

A recent Wall Street Journal* article highlighted that the lack of social investment for post work years can be highly detrimental to retirees. Alarmingly, two-thirds of adults over the age of 60 have no close social circle outside of a spouse or family members. (See an earlier blog I wrote on  ‘Social Capital’.)  You go online and pull up your investment records to assure yourself that you are prepared for the non-incoming producing years ahead.  But, are you prepared emotionally?  Just as you will be rewarded with financial stability for your effort investments in youth, have you put the same effort and investment into life outside of work? Studies consistently show that  sufficient financial assets may bring peace of mind,  but money doesn’t equal satisfaction with life.

Using a very old adage: Money can’t buy happiness.

What does bring fulfillment in retirement?   Friendships.  Learning. Pursuit of purpose and  “fun”.  All of those things we set aside while working and raising a family.  Easily said.  Difficult to do unless you apply energy, time, and intent.  Let me be honest, it’s work.  Sitting at home watching re-runs is a whole lot easier than getting dressed and pretty and starting a conversation with strangers. Here are some tips:

Make new friends and keep the old. One is silver and the other’s gold.  Remember this old Girl Scout mantra? It’s great advice.  The earlier you start the better.  Purpose to spend time each week to meet someone new or keep the flame burning on an older friendship. Reach out of your comfort zone to make new friends with shared interests. Local senior centers, online support groups, churches and synagogues can be a place to meet other like-minded men and women.  Reach out and invite someone to meet you for lunch.  Buy two tickets and invite someone.  I used to sit at the “community” table at a local restaurant.  It was a large table sat aside for diners who were alone.  I met some great people at that table.  Take up a hobby, sport, or pursuit that interests you.  Keep in mind that you are not aiming for a “bestie” at every engagement.  Finding the right group of friends takes time and repetition.

I had one retired client, Ruth,  tell me that her goal is to have one appointment a day before noon.  That “appointment” could be a seniors yoga class, volunteering at a food bank, or meeting a friend at Starbucks.  The point?  Ruth has a reason to get up every day, get dressed and be on time. (Like we did at work for decades.)  After decades of this pattern Ruth is the Belle of her own ball, often having to turn down invites because of her crowded social calendar.

The payoff? I recently took inventory of my close friends, groups, and social engagements regularly on my calendar. Virtually none existed ten years ago.  Each are valued and cherished, but more importantly give me a secure knowledge that I have social investments that will likely last longer than the money.

* The Wall Street Journal. (December 29, 2022 “To Invest for Retirement, Build Friendships and Hobbies” by Anne Tergesen.)

House Call is a blog written by Kathy Chiero, Licensed Realtor and Team Leader of The Kathy Chiero Group of Keller Williams Greater Columbus.  Find Kathy and her team at www.OurOhioHome.com

In a span of three weeks in July of 2013 I got divorced, closed on the sale of our 16-year family home, sent my two  youngest kids to college and put my head on a pillow in a rented condo.  I woke up the next morning feeling like a grenade had gone off in my life.  Admittedly, I had thrown the grenade, but the result was the same.  I had to take a serious re-evaluation of my life and it wasn’t healthy.  At age 53 I had no friends, no hobbies, no “fun” in my life.  (So as not to offend those who knew me, loved me, helped me through this period, I do not mean to discount your friendship, you know who you are and you are cherished.)  But, in reality, my days were filled with two things: kids and work.  The further the kids migrated from the nest, the more I worked.   If my quality of life were put in balance the “work/financial” side would hit the table and the “relationships/joy” side would be hanging perilously in the air.

On that morning in 2013 I remember asking myself “If I were me, what would I enjoy doing?  If I were me, how would I make friends?”  Then I purposefully set out to answer those questions.  With the shamelessness of an Amway salesperson I approached casual acquaintances and invited them to lunch. I bought tickets to the Broadway Series and invited others to go with me.  I went to the Waterfire on the Scioto display by myself.  I went to art shows and Christmas craft fairs.   I joined a hiking group of much younger men and women. On one trail I met Patti, my age, who is still one of my best friends.  I joined a restaurant tasting group and a Book Club.   When dining alone I found the “community table” and talked with strangers. Slowly I built a rich life outside of selling houses.

I thought of this personal history while reading an article in The Wall Street Journal. (December 29, 2022 “To Invest for Retirement, Build Friendships and Hobbies” by Anne Tergesen). It details the lengths  to which men and women  go to prepare themselves financially for leaving the workplace while putting virtually no thought into the equally important challenge of cultivating relationships and interests that fill the “nowhere-to-be” hole.  It quoted Harvard University studies that consistently find quality relationships outweigh blood pressure as a predictor of life longevity and happiness.

Borrowing a quote from that article, Yale University Psychology Professor Dr. Laurie Santos put statistics behind what I found to be anecdotally true:  “We think friendships just happen and if the friendship is genuine we won’t have to put the work in.” But, she says, research suggests the opposite.  On average it takes 200 hours over four months to build close friendships and 60 hours to establish even a casual friendship.

Just as the old money adage suggests that investing earlier is better – the same is true for relationships and avocational pursuits.  It is normal to be “in-focused” when life is filled with small children, school, shuttling to extracurricular activities and all of the time-sucking pursuits of raising a family.   The mistake most retirees make is waiting too long to become “out-focused”.  At age 53 it took me 2-3 years before life was “full” and the scales were somewhat balanced. That goal was reached with good health, financial stability, and great effort.  To do the same at age 73 is, for most, not possible.  These purposeful “investments” in your long-term well being should start much earlier.  Evidence suggests that even the mid 40’s is an optimum time to begin making those ‘deposits.’

How can you start retirement “investing” in your emotional well-being?  That’s next week’s blog.

House Call is a blog written by Kathy Chiero, Licensed Realtor and Team Leader of The Kathy Chiero Group of Keller Williams Greater Columbus.  Find Kathy and her team at www.OurOhioHome.com

There is always tomorrow.  Until there is not.  I thought of that after my conversation with Christine.  She called me because her husband, Patrick, died unexpectedly last summer. She was getting ready to sell their home and move to the mid-Atlantic coast, something they had always talked about.


The move to North Carolina was just one of many things she and Patrick planned to do.  They planned a trip to Ireland.  They planned to go watch Patrick’s beloved Yankees play at Yankee Stadium.   They always wanted to take a cruise to Alaska and had never seen the Grand Canyon.  They were in their early 60’s, just at the age they thought they had to be to “have the time.”  Old enough to have lived a book, young enough to create their own last chapter. “We always thought we didn’t have time in the present.  And we always thought we would have time tomorrow” she said.


Christine called me because she knew I helped people get rid of stuff. She and Patrick have a home filled with very nice furniture.  She didn’t want to just give it away, she said.  “It’s not your standard furniture,” she said.  “I have a sofa that cost $12,000 and it’s hardly been used.”  In fact, she said, “I can’t remember a time we sat on it together.” I explained to Christine that, in spite of what she paid for it and its exceptional condition, she would be fortunate to get 10% of its original price on the resale market.


It’s a conversation I’ve had dozens of times with my downsizing clients.  As they prepare to get rid of stuff, I prepare them.   I make sure the understand that there is very little value in anything they have believed to have value: their collectibles, their furniture, and their antiques. With the exception of fine art and jewelry, gold, silver, guns and cars, there is very little value in anything we have inside the walls of our homes.  And, it’s very difficult to get rid of most of it. (See my earlier blog about re-homing pianos.)  The truth is, if you sell everything “sale-able,” give away what is wanted, and dispose of what is left, you might break even.  (Did you know that the cost to have a 2400 SF home professionally cleared of “stuff” averages $14,000?)


Several days after my conversation with Christine, she called me back.  Christine also knows that I regularly speak to large groups of men and women facing retirement and downsizing.  She made me promise I would tell you something. After she got off the phone, she looked at the $12,000 couch.  She thought about her words to me: “I can’t remember a time we sat on that couch together.”   “Please tell this group to invest in memories, “she said. “Patrick and I could have flown first class to Ireland for the price of that couch.”


Let me bring her wise counsel down to earth: maybe you don’t have a $12,000 couch.  But most of us continue to spend money on things we don’t need when we are just a few years from the day when it will all need to go out.  We are a culture that has multiple holidays in which we bring new stuff into our homes with no thought or plan to get rid of it.   Take the $50 you were going to spend on (yet another) fill-in-the-blank and ask yourself “How can I create a memory instead?”


Be purposeful with the days left.  We don’t even know if “days” is plural.


House Call is a blog written by Kathy Chiero, Licensed Realtor and Team Leader of The Kathy Chiero Group of Keller Williams Greater Columbus.  Find Kathy and her team at www.OurOhioHome.com

The Bible is a terrific business manual.  There are principals in it that have instructed business owners for thousands of years and guide me daily.   In the book of I Peter there is a verse that says: “See to it that your conscience is entirely clear, so that every time you are slandered or falsely accused, those who attack or disparage your reputation will be shamed [by their own words].”  (1Peter 3:16) What this verse says is that your behavior every day contains the building blocks of your reputation. Who you are when no one is looking (your conscience) is who you are. This private reality will ultimately be public – for better or for worse.


If your reputation can be seen as building – every word you say, every phone call/email/text you make, send, and respond to is a brick.  Every interaction with client, colleague, or potential business contact is a brick.  The way you live, the way you treat people, your relationships, who you choose as your friends is the mortar that secures the bricks.


Here are three things a reputation of integrity does for you:


Your reputation proceeds you.  Realtors® work in a world in which we rarely meet each other. We talk on the phone, we text, we email sometimes for decades without meeting each other. This business relationship means that your reputation is often formed in the minds of your colleagues without ever meeting them.  Who you are in person will confirm or negate what they have heard.   Studies indicate that by the time you are in a face-to-face meeting with someone as much as 80% of their opinion of you has already been formed based on what others have told them.  What have they heard?   The day-to-day mundane interactions in your business create a picture of what can be expected of you.


Your reputation quiets critics.  Like the verse in 1 Peter says: the most effective way to quiet critics is to live a life that defies their words.  None of us are perfect.  We make mistakes.  We say things that we regret. We learn better ways of treating our colleagues and clients as we mature in our professions.  But the whole of your behavior should stand as a testament to your good character.   When criticism is voiced, the mind of the listener should think “that’s not the (your name) I know or have heard about.”   At very least, it puts the benefit of the doubt on your side until the facts are known.


Your reputation invites forgiveness when mistakes are made.  Your life should invite grace from others when we make mistakes (as we inevitably will.)  A good reputation is not a life of perfection.  It is a life of purposeful and intentional decisions which reflect the principals by which you desire to live, work, and build a business.  There will be times when you miss that mark.  When that “missing” is the exception in an otherwise good reputation the party you have harmed is much more likely to recognize it as such and forgive.   It is the reason that mistakes made should be ‘owned’ and responded to with honesty rather than covered up, dismissed, or responsibility deflected.


House Call is a blog written by Kathy Chiero, Licensed Realtor and Team Leader of The Kathy Chiero Group of Keller Williams Greater Columbus.  Find Kathy and her team at www.OurOhioHome.com

I recently had an, ahem, let’s say a difference of opinion with another Realtor.  This Realtor told me to do what he directed me to do, or he would “ruin me” with attacks on social media.  My reaction? Like the thoroughbred horse with a fly on his tail, it’s a nuisance. The horse knows it’s there. But he’s too busy winning to bother giving it any attention.  Why?  Because I know I’ve spent 25 years building a reputation that will take more than a social media tantrum to destroy. And it’s a reminder how important it is to decide who you are, what you stand for, and what you want that reputation to be before anyone knows you’re in the race.


The Kathy Chiero Group real estate team sells 200-ish homes a year.  That means our agents deal with hundreds of homeowners, thousands of our Realtor® colleagues and their Buyers, and dozens of support personnel.  Michael Jackson once said, “the bigger the star the bigger the target.”  Not to put ourselves in the realm of MJ, but it is inevitable that while crossing the paths of this many people we are going to cross swords with a few of them.


How do you build a solid reputation?  First, you write a Mission Statement.  Who are you? What do you stand for? What is your goal as a professional? How will you serve your clients? Next, you measure everything you do by that statement. Do you say you are excellent? Then measure every day’s activity by excellence.  Do you say you offer the highest caliber representation to your clients?  Learn what “highest caliber” is and do it.  Do you say you are honest?  Don’t lie.  Do you call yourself a professional? Be on time. Be prepared.  In fact, read the Boy Scout Law – that’s a great outline for a mission statement.


It’s the simple things that matter.  Return phone calls.  Cross ’T’s” and dot “I’s.  Know your craft. If you don’t know something, have the humility to ask.  If you know something, have the humility to answer without condescension. Give. And Give Back. Contribute to the careers of others.   Thank those that contribute to your betterment. Let your word be your word and don’t go back on it. Do the right thing even if it costs you money, time, or embarrassment.  Admit when you’re wrong, stand firm when you’re right.


Do that for a decade or two and you’ll have a sterling reputation.  Occasional attacks on social media?  A flick of the tail and you’re on your way.  Focus on the track and get back in the race.


Next week I break down how a good reputation serves you in business (and life).


House Call is a blog written by Kathy Chiero, Licensed Realtor and Team Leader of The Kathy Chiero Group of Keller Williams Greater Columbus.  Find Kathy and her team at www.OurOhioHome.com

Did you know there is a difference between “flotsam” and “jetsam”? While they are both maritime terms attached to shipwrecks, they have specific legal meanings. Flotsam pertains to goods that are floating up to the surface of the water when a ship sits at the bottom of the sea. Jetsam refers to items intentionally thrown from a sinking ship to lighten the load.

When I was 53, I went through a divorce. A private shipwreck of sorts in which I saw the flotsam and jetsam of my life in vivid detail. In one three-week period in 2013 I sold the family home, finalized the divorce, dropped one child off in college in Texas and a second in Ohio. I put my head down on a pillow in a rented condo feeling physically dizzy at the upheaval I had wrought. While much of the detritus of a quarter century of marriage was jetsam — intentionally tossed to lighten my load; the flotsam is what lingered. All those things which floated to the surface had to be dealt with. One of those was loneliness. Intense loneliness.

I remember watching the Titanic during this period and coming to the realization that if I were on a sinking ship there was no one who would usher me first into the lifeboat. It was not a matter of being loved. I knew I was loved by many people. It was about being un-connected. Even in a bad marriage a spouse is connected to a person with uniquely shared history, memories and, often, children.

I’ve thought of that period often as I sit alone in COVID-19 quarantine. For many this forced isolation is the first time we have had to be alone. And it’s hard. Really hard. Loneliness is a pandemic of its own. It’s been around for centuries and you don’t need a surgical mask to hide it. A “Hello! How are you? “here, a smiling emoji there; a happy hour smile, a group text meme all give the appearance of connection staving off the ever lurking loneliness. Until a Governor’s Shelter in Place order forces us to disconnect and be alone.

In the months after my divorce I met Heather Dugan. Heather was several months ahead of me on her divorce journey. She, too, found herself in a place of having to redefine who she was and acknowledging that no one was going to do it for her. If loneliness was a bull – Heather grabbed it by the horns. She recognized that she was going to face the bull or be plowed down by it. Heather formed a group to intentionally connect women called “Cabernet Coaches.” They meet weekly at local restaurants to check in on each other and be the real friends in a virtual world. “Loneliness is not predictable,” says Heather. “We need to be available to each other the moment someone needs us.”

Heather has since written extensively about loneliness and our need for connection, her most recent book “The Friendship Upgrade.” “We fill our lives with distractions,” says Heather. “When something like a shelter-in-place order happens, we are forced to spend time with ourselves. This is scary and uncomfortable for many of us because we don’t know what we will find.”

Dugan notes that since the Corona Pandemic she has heard from people who are realizing that their social life depends on people they see at work. “Without their coworkers their lives are very empty” she says. What to do? Recognize you’re not alone and be proactive about filling the “people” gap in your lives. Make phone calls. “Texting is a poor substitute,” says Heather, “it doesn’t connect you like the spoken voice does.” Volunteer. A recent look at www.volunteermatch.org found dozens of opportunities to serve your community safely within COVID-19 guidelines.

Some good that may come out of this: “We’re going to be much more appreciative of the people around us,” says Heather. “The more we can lean into this loneliness and make a good outcome, the better we will be for it when we can once again hug our friends.”

This blog is written by Kathy Chiero. The Kathy Chiero Group, Keller Williams Greater Columbus is the proud sponsor of DownSize Columbus and Central Ohio’s top real estate team. Find us at www.OurOhioHome.com.


Heather Dugan’s Book “The Friendship Upgrade” is available on Amazon at the link below:

Did you know that Great Britain’s parliament has a Minister of Loneliness? Well, not really. They have a Minister of Sport and Civil Society. Following the release of report which said that 20% of English citizens feel lonely most or all of the time, British Prime Minister Theresa May added addressing an epidemic of loneliness to the list of the responsibilities of this ministerial branch. Tracey Crouch leads the Ministry of Sport and Civil Society which caused the British Press to dub Crouch “The Minister of Loneliness”.

It may, on the surface, seem frivolous. Why, in light of much more serious health challenges, would a nation devote money and resources to something that seems as “solve-able” as loneliness? I mean…just pick up the phone and call someone, right? First of all, the Brits are very much ahead of all of us. There are very real social and economic costs to loneliness and isolation. Researchers believe that the health impact of loneliness is more lethal than obesity or smoking 15 cigarettes a day. Lonely people are less productive people. But researchers also admit that when doing surveys of the general public to assess the levels of loneliness that they don’t use the “L” word. Why?

I can admit I’m loud. I can admit I’m overweight. I can admit I’m exhausted, sick, angry, or addicted. Why is it so hard to admit I’m lonely? That’s a very pertinent question — especially in recent weeks where COVID-19 isolation has been mandated. Why don’t we just pick up the phone and call someone? Heather Dugan is the Author of “The Friendship Upgrade” a book born out of her own quest for real connection with others. “Loneliness feels shameful, “ says Heather. “We see being separated from people as judgement on our likability.”

Loneliness unfairly equates to being unloved, unliked, and without social connection. In an age of “every-day-is-a-Disney-day” promotion of our lives on social media, the lonely fear that by admitting they are NOT living in the Magic Kingdom they are also drawing a picture of themselves as unliked, unloved, or unworthy of both. Dugan says that social media gives the illusion of being connected, but we are really not. “It’s one-sided,” says Heather. “We are looking in on the lives of others but there is no connection, and that isolation only exacerbates our loneliness. We are trading real facial expression for emojis.” If we only knew, really knew, the vast numbers of people who are just like us living in bouts of loneliness (yes, even the selfie-Mom with perfect kids who finds time to write the perfect blog) we might feel more comfortable being the first to raise our hands.

It’s also important to realize that human beings haven’t changed. YOU are not “broken” because you are lonely. Our DNA wires us for connection. Past cultures “fed” that wiring with front porches, book clubs, bowling leagues and families who stayed in the same zip code. Cultural changes move kids far away, put us in front of computers by day and Netflix by night. Many times our only “social” interaction is with the coworkers with whom we exchange a few pleasantries.

Next week in House Call I will touch on the “cure”! It takes courage. But you can do it!

This blog is written by Kathy Chiero. The Kathy Chiero Group, Keller Williams Greater Columbus is the proud sponsor of DownSize Columbus and Central Ohio’s top real estate team. Find us at www.OurOhioHome.com.


Heather Dugan’s Book “The Friendship Upgrade” is available on Amazon at the link below:


I’m Kathy Chiero. Usually I’m talking to river listeners about houses. Today given the enormity of the challenge facing our nation, I want to pray.

Father I thank you first that you are God. There is nothing we are facing as a people, a family, or a nation of which you are unaware. With that knowledge I ask that you give divine wisdom, clarity, and direction to our government leaders; I pray that you give strength, patience, and protection to the medical and emergency professionals attending our sick. I pray for physical healing of those afflicted and peace to their families. I pray that you give us the compassion to find the lonely and scared that we can be your arms to reach out to our neighbors. Finally, I pray that this trying time be a reminder of the precious gift that life is, the limitations of our human abilities and the utter dependence we have on you. In Jesus name I pray.


It may seem like an obvious choice.  You no longer use several rooms in your home.  Exterior maintenance of your home is a chore you are either unwilling or unable to do.  You only live in Central Ohio half the year.  It’s time to shop for a condominium.  Maybe.  Maybe not.


Let’s first understand what a condo is.  The word condominium is less a description of a type of housing as it is a legal definition of ownership. The condominium building structure is divided into several units that are each separately owned, surrounded by common areas that are jointly owned.  In simple terms — you own and maintain “walls in,” the interior of your unit; the Condominium Association owns and maintains “walls out,” the exterior of the unit.


There are benefits to this shared ownership: an elected Board guided by homeowner vote hires out the maintenance of these exterior and common areas.  Your lawn is mowed, your mulch is put down, your roof is replaced all on a schedule determined by the Board and paid for by monthly dues.  You can travel to Europe for two weeks or go to Florida for four months without have to worry about the care of your property.  Two inches of snow?  You can enjoy your coffee while snow blowers whir outside your window.  Many communities feature members-only pools, fitness centers and clubhouses.


There are also restrictions to this communal ownership.  Condominiums come with a list of rules called “by-laws” which dictate the “do’s and don’ts” of your jointly owned property and common space.  Want to put an Ohio State Flag out on game day?  It might be allowed ON game day — but must come down by Sunday.   Forget and leave your garage door open when you leave for work?  You may come home to a notice of a fine for breaking the ‘no garage doors open’ rule.   The purpose of these rules is to maintain the value, aesthetics and uniformity of the property but can be stifling to a free spirit or the homeowner accustomed to imminent domain of his/her domain.


Anita Smith is the Principal Broker for EPCON Communities, the #1 condominium developer in Central Ohio since 1986.  The name EPCON is synonymous with condominiums and Anita has watched the development of the condo product for over two decades.  The earliest EPCON condos, says Anita, had “very few bells and whistles.”  They were glorified apartments: two bedrooms, 1.5 baths, 1 car garage, no basement.   “The 1980s condo buyer was simply looking for no maintenance and we offered that for $60,000” says Anita.


My, what two decades has done to the industry!  The condominiums of 2020 are, to use an ad agency phrase, not your Mother’s condo.  And, says Anita, they are no longer just for your mother.  “We are seeing more, and younger people choose condos as a lifestyle, not just the next move for a downsizer,” she says.  Each year EPCON polls their sales representatives with the questions “What were your customers asking for that we don’t offer.  Why didn’t potential buyers buy?”  Through that constant evaluation of customer needs today’s EPCON condominium bears resemblance to their 1980 forebears only in name. “Expectation has changed,” says Anita. “Younger, more affluent and educated Buyers are coming in and saying ‘this is what I have in my 4000 square foot home. I want the same thing in my 2000 square foot condo.’ “Today’s condominiums are free-standing, offer basements, storage, large garages, gourmet kitchens, fenced in courtyards, outdoor living areas, and even pet grass for Fido.   Price?  The $60,000 that bought the 1986 condo is now the down payment on these luxury units that easily run $450,000 and more.


Is it for you?  After over twenty years of selling condos (and living in one herself), Anita says education is the key.  “It’s not a single-family home and it’s not for everybody.”  My own experience as a Realtor emphasizes this: if you know what you’re buying before you buy and that’s why you’re buying it — you’ll be happy.  If you don’t research condo living or you think you’ll buck the bureaucracy — you’ll likely be unhappy.


Next week in House Call we’ll get specific:  how do you decide if condo living is for you?


This blog is written by Kathy Chiero.  The Kathy Chiero Group, Keller Williams Greater Columbus is the proud sponsor of DownSize Columbus and Central Ohio’s top real estate team for the over-55 homeowner.  Find us at www.OurOhioHome.com


It’s a decision that no grandparent wants to make and in past generations did not have to make: do we move to be near the grandkids?  Our American past is one of almost communal generational living: adult kids didn’t move.  A hometown was home and Grandma was the stopover on the way home from school.  Today that stopover is often a flyover — jobs require moves to different states, divorce leaves a single parent needing assistance, the reasons vary but the end result is the grandkids are zip codes away.


It is one of my favorite episodes of “Everyone Loves Raymond.”  In this early episode Raymond and Debra are trying to decide where to buy a house.  Standing in front of an easel Ray has diagramed the exact circle of geographic range: a perfect balance between too close to Mom and Dad (they come over every day) and too far (we have to spend the night when we visit). The reason the episode is funny is that we’ve all been there, and it is, for many, very true.


According to a 2012 AARP study, the vast majority of American Seniors say it’s very important to be near their grandchildren.  However, thinking and doing are very different decisions.  Decades in one town breeds a familiarity that is hard to leave: you have your church, your friends, your favorite deli and your doctors.  Do you really want to start over?  For some, retirement doesn’t start until the grandkids are teens — can you afford to move?  And finally, there are some sage opinions that too close is too much — is it the right thing to do?

Experts say it is far from a simple decision.  Like going on a cruise, the idea is lovely.  For a week. Do you really want to live on the ship?   Things to consider:


  • Cost: The sale of a home, the purchase of another, moving expenses, re-settling expenses, rehiring expenses for those still working: the costs add up. Is it less expensive to plan regular trips to visit the adult kids and grandkids?
  • What do your kids want? Pay particular attention to the opinions of the unrelated spouse. Have they invited you to move closer?  What are the “ground rules” for this new proximity? All need to be frankly discussed.  For some it is a welcome third hand to help with the kids, for others too close for comfort.   The boundaries go both ways:  you don’t step on their private space and they don’t expect you to be the built-in babysitter.
  • Are you good at “re-homing” yourself? At your age can you get out again to make new friends, establish a new yoga group, or find a new church? If not, the danger is that your child’s family becomes the center of your existence putting unwanted pressure on both families.
  • How permanent is your adult kids’ job and location? How many times are you willing to move?
  • Are you somewhat independent by nature? You have never depended on your child for financial or social support. If this is the case, you will likely land on your feet in your new home.  If not, the stress of starting over may strain the relationship with your child.

Facing these issues head on with frank communication is the key to a peaceable and happy move that benefits both parties.

Next week: we talk to a grandparent who packed it all up and moved to be near the grandkids. This Blog is written by Kathy Chiero, Lead Agent for The Kathy Chiero Group.  We can’t make the decisions for you, but we can make the transition smooth!  Visit us a OurOhioHome.com