big discussions and big decisions
My dad had a significant health scare this week, and while he is okay now, it sparked some of those BIG discussions that come with that kind of scare. You never know what could happen when someone goes in for even minor surgery. Our family has always been very open and frank when talking about the eventuality of my parents’ passing. I remember the first time I sat down with my dad to go over the insurance policies and other important paperwork before they headed away on vacation. I was maybe thirteen at the time. He was always just very matter-of-fact about planning for the worst while living his best life. He is still like that. So this week, while he was writing out passwords and making sure that bills were in both their names, it seemed perfectly reasonable to think about what might happen if we lost my dad.
I can’t imagine life without my dad. I am very much a Daddy’s girl, and when I don't know what to do, I call dad. He loves to tell the story about the time I called him in the middle of the night to ask him what to do because my house was on fire. Yup, I really did that. His wise advice: call 911. The firefighters all agreed that his advice had been spot on! You see, day in and day out, my dad is a really good, really wise person. He’s not a know-it-all, but he really does know it all. I'm not the only one to rely on his advice as lots of people go to him when they need to know what to do about pretty much anything. Most of the great decisions I have made in my life were at his urging, so I can’t even take credit for my successes. I am not so much smart as I am obedient! And I am now feeling like I need to mine every nugget of wisdom from him while I still have him here.
As Russ and I search for our dream homestead property, we have to make some decisions about finances and how to pay for our dream. Neither of us are great in that department, and since we have my dad…. we don’t have to be financial geniuses. We just have to follow his advice. So yesterday, after the surgery, we talked about the hobby farm that has become his dream as much as it is ours. He wants to be sure that there will be a quiet spot in the corner of the property for him to pitch a tent when he comes to mow the lawn and do odd jobs. And he wants a tractor. I think we can accommodate those requests. He’s also pretty excited about expanding our honey enterprise, since he and I were the ones who partnered up to start Bishop Family Bees in the first place.
The big question for now is whether or not I need to sell the houses to buy the farm. For those who don’t know, I have a couple of old houses in Kitchener. It was my dad’s idea, of course. I remember that it was a Wednesday afternoon, when I was much younger than I am now. He said I should buy an investment property and live for free. So, on Thursday, I looked at a big old run-down triplex in downtown Kitchener. I bought it on Friday. We spent all summer fixing it up. We were pretty proud of ourselves. Two years later, I noticed that the house around the corner was for sale. I had always loved that house around the corner, so I told my realtor that I wanted to buy it. He suggested I actually look at it first. So we went and took a look. And then I bought it. And I lived there with my dogs and a series of wonderful tenants until I married Russell and moved to Paris. But I never wanted to let go of my houses. I love my houses. I love being a landlady. I love that other people are buying my houses for me. I love that I have those aces in my pocket for retirement. I love that I can count on the income from them, and still have them to leave one day to Henry. But right now, it seems like a reasonable thing to cash them out in order to buy our homestead. Or does it? This was the discussion yesterday.
We still haven’t landed on a decision and I guess we aren’t in too much of a hurry, since we haven’t found our new home yet anyways. But we should probably be prepared, given that it was love at first sight for us with our current home in Paris. (If we could pick our beloved house up and move it to a lush little plot of land in the country, we would do it in a heartbeat.) When the time comes, and we see what we like, we will move fast. We’d better get our ducks in line ahead of time. So, what do you think? Given low interest rates and a great housing market in Paris right now, should we just sell our home and buy the farm and let the rentals continue to do what they do? Or do we sell the Kitchener properties and turn them into the farmhouse in the country where we can nurture our kids and our bees and our chickens and our alpacas and our dreams? Care to join the discussion and share your advice? Come on, all you amateur advisors - tell us what you think we should do!!!
2/11/2016 04:16:58 pm
Kari I hope your dad is on the road to good health. Yes, sell the houses; buy your dream homestead when it comes in sight; less mortgage and more time to spend on all of those other passionate enterprises making their way into your family life- chickens, goats, sheep, alpacas and more bees! Even you, as the world's top female energizer bunny, have only a certain amount of time and energy. Give up being a landlady and become a full time mother, wife and farmer!
2/14/2016 01:08:02 pm
Joanne - thanks so much for your encouragement and advice. As you can tell, I am still trying to have it all and do it all! I did hire a friend's dad to be my property manager so that the houses are at an arm's length now. I am not scooting into Kitchener to solve problems all the time anymore! I will keep you posted as to what we decide to do. Everything's a journey, right? xoxo
2/11/2016 04:42:30 pm
we are really relieved to hear that Bob is ok, both he and your mum are old and cherished friends of ours from quite a way back. While I am not fully familiar with Canadian tax laws I can quote you what we have done here in NZ.
2/14/2016 01:10:15 pm
Hello Richard - so good to hear from you! I appreciate your advice. The rentals have been a good 'tax write-off' as I have tried to run a losing business (or at least one that breaks even) to avoid paying extra taxes on them. You are probably right - it would be wise to pull the equity without giving up the actual houses (kind of like keeping the cow for milk instead of killing it for beef!) We'll let you know what we decide to do! Thanks for following our story, Kari xo
2/11/2016 08:03:52 pm
The thing that resonated the most with me about this post (other than the laugh out loud belly laugh I got when I read about you calling 911) was you having a potential home for Henry with one of your rental properties. I would have instinctually suggested to sell the homes and simplify much like Joanne's suggestions. The thing that makes it seem so difficult for me is that lingering thought about having a place for Henry one day should he need it. How cool would that be? I don't envy your decision. I am looking forward to hearing about the many hobbies you will start on your farm one day! :)
2/14/2016 01:13:13 pm
Ha ha Dawn! I'm glad you got a laugh out of my foolishness!!! There's more where that came from ;) I am hoping that I can get the farm without selling the properties. The best thing to do with rental properties, I'm told, is to keep them forever. They are a steady source of income long after they have paid themselves off. I don't know that Henry would ever want to live there, but it's a nice nest egg to leave him someday after we've used them as retirement income. So I guess I'm still trying to figure out how to keep it all :) Thanks for following our journey. I will keep you posted as to what we decide to do. We are headed out to look at a sweet homestead today... Kari xo
2/11/2016 08:50:44 pm
I am so happy to hear that Bob is ok. We prayed a lot here in the Peters household for him. As for this housing crisis, my advice is to sell now before the market is flooded in the summer. In the meantime look for that land so potentially you can have your money ready for this summer and jump on whatever comes up. I love the idea of a farm as you know. We've made that move and I can't wait to finally live on a farm. It took Lloyd 15 years to convince me and now there's no turning back. Think of all the great memories you'll be building and you can enjoy it with your parents as well. I know my parents are getting older and it would be so great to have a house build and an in-law suite set up in case they need care - just my two cents.
2/14/2016 01:16:03 pm
Hildie, the idea of throwing our house onto the market right now is terrifying, given how much I need to do to make it marketable. It's not the big stuff - just all the stuff that has taken over the basement etc. Maybe I can rent a big storage container and just start tossing stuff out the door. How did we ever accumulate so much stuff?!?! I feel so free every time I can give something away or sell it or put it on the curb. I am so excited for you and your family as you take the plunge too! Yay for farming families! Of course, you guys will be hardcore and we'll spend a year putting in a sandbox. But whatever!!! Kari xoxo
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Kari Raymer Bishop
Lover of Jesus, cheeses and tropical breezes... seeking balance in life, even as I embrace new challenges and chase new dreams. I am wife, mother, daughter and friend, as well as teacher, entrepreneur, activist, writer, beekeeper and hostess. Come along on the journey through my long-awaited midlife crisis!