In August of 2009, we bought a condominium in a rural equestrian community based on site plan and floor plan. In November 2010, the condo was finally built and we moved in, as part-time residents. Over the past ten months we have been spending more time here and making it more of a home. I thought I would give you a brief update as to how things are going.
Our horse is here, of course. Very soon, we expect to bring two miniature horses to the Long Branch Lakes property as part of our involvement in the Personal Ponies program. This non-profit will eventually become a significant occupier of my wife’s time and, when I retire, my time. Our expectation is that other homeowners in our community will become volunteers as well.
I have nice office set up here at the condo. The photo below shows the view from my desk, looking out the rear of the condo building.
This view is one of the main reasons we selected this particular unit. You can see the small lake through the tree line. This lake winds around the “island” on which the condos are built and is suitable for fishing, swimming, and canoeing/kayaking.
On the other side of the lake is a separate wooded area. That property is also owned by the developers but is in the process of becoming subject to a conservation easement. This means that it cannot be developed, i.e., this view will not change.
Note the headset hanging from my desktop monitor in the first photo above. Almost two years ago I began using Google Voice as my primary mode of telephone communication. That headset plugs into the speaker and microphone jacks on my PC. This allows me to place and receive phone calls from my PC, using the Google Voice technology. I can use the speakers if I want but for client calls, the headset is better. We also have a land-line in the condo, which we were forced to get as a condition of obtaining high speed Internet and TV service.
I still have my Straight Talk “dumb” cell phone which runs on the Verizon network. It works great except inside the condo, where no carrier’s signal is reliable. Since I went on the Straight Talk service in 2010, my wife, two of our sons, and our daughter-in-law to be have all converted as well. Why? Try $30/month for 1000 minutes, 1000 texts, and 30 MB of data with no contract!
Our deck has a similar view as seen below:
Our condo is on the second floor of a three story building. You can see in the photos above that the rear is elevated so that all of our windows and our deck are a full story off the ground. This makes it more secure and provides better views of the lake. However, our front door, storage room and garage are at ground level. No stairs to walk – ever!
I brought my comfort bike up here recently and now ride it around the community for exercise. (At 5000 acres, there is a lot of room to ride!) Most of the roads up here are still gravel so I have to be careful and sometimes have to walk the hills. Hopefully, the roads will be paved by this time next year. You can see the bike in the photo of our deck below:
I want to briefly mention the two chairs you see on the deck. Our deck is quite wide but not deep. We wanted chairs to lounge in but that did not take up much floor surface area. After a bit of searching, I discovered that LazyBoy made outdoor recliners! When you lean back, those chairs will go into two different reclining positions, with the foot rest (vertically positioned in the photo) extending out and into a horizontal position. They are very comfortable so if you desire a low-profile lounging chair for your deck or patio, give these some thought. I do not believe that LazyBoy sells them direct. You have to buy them from a big box retailer. Surprisingly, we found ours at K-Mart!
In the corner of the deck you can see our grill. In most condos, only electric grills can be used for fire safety reasons. That grill is a George Foreman indoor/outdoor grill that I recently found online for $75. The grill unit itself can be lifted from the stand and moved into your kitchen. I have used it to grill chicken and tuna steaks. So far I am very pleased with its performance.
I am able to get a lot of work done while in my remote offices here and at the lake. Other folks I know struggle to stay focused on work. I think one key is managing competing interests and senses of urgency. If you have a second home that you use only occasionally, there is a natural tendency to concentrate on the recreational aspects of being there, and shove your work obligations to the background. On the other hand, if you make a point to live in that second home on a regular basis, it is much easier to balance recreational living with your work obligations. That is what I am finding, anyway. Of course, having the right technology is also important. As rural as this condo is, our internet service is blazing fast and extremely reliable.
Our telecom provider uses an advanced fiber-optic network for voice, TV, and data – but does not provide any HD channels! Go figure! Fortunately, because the data download speeds are so high, we can get streaming HD content using our SlingBox and home theater PC.
So that is a bunch of random thoughts about our condo living experience so far. Any questions or comments?