Where will you retire? (we found our perfect home where we least expected it)….

My book–Boomerrrang (2 Boomers Find and Leave Their Dream Retirement Home) will be ready soon. I’ve had a couple of readers get back to me with their impressions. It’s being formatted properly. And some people are patiently waiting–folks who asked “When’s it going to be ready, because we’re going on our own retirement home search soon? We’d like to use your journey as a guide.”

All readers will merit from the advice I offer as two who lived almost ten years in a town consistently named one of America’s top retirement towns. We didn’t just casually choose it, either; we spent years searching for the place we felt was “just right.”

Now, I offer my advice as a six-figure realtor for those who want to buy wisely….not like some who bought blind and lived to regret it. Some lost their entire nest egg–the money they saved over a lifetime.

Where’d we end up? I think you’ll be surprised to hear.

So, stay tuned. I’ll be doing public talks, too, designed to inform you before you buy. best-shot-white-squirrel-brevard-on-limb

See the little buddy in the photo? One of the remarkable aspects of the western North Carolina region we settled in–white squirrels. He and his buddies live at the music school in Brevard, NC. It would appear that North Carolinians (of all stripes) have good taste.

In this book, I’ll tell how we chose our community; what to watch out for, when buying; particular challenges in the South for Northerners; how we sold by ourselves (saving approximately $17,000); on and on. There’s lots of humor in the mix, as well.

The biggest plus:  You can use my tips for buying and/or selling anywhere–even in Rhode Island.

Full Blown War

From “The Asheville Experiment” asheville skyline

I’d put up this neurosurgeon’s arrogance for weeks, and I was simply having no more of it. Friends told me “Oh, just let him go…They’re all like that” (neurosurgeons, that is). In other words, it was sort of expected that with their level of skill, we in the public were supposed to tolerate such behavior, as if it were a necessary corollary.

But I’d had it. He’d insulted me (suggesting I might need valium when I reacted to Paul’s crazy behavior after his heart and lungs shut down,) and he tried to discharge Paul– as if nothing were wrong with him. That’s when I lowered the boom.

I told him:  “This man is NOTHING like the man I came in with!” And he’s not leaving until he’s had a psych-neuro evaluation and an EEG.”

You see, I knew the dread result of someone merely taking home a seriously-compromised patient from the hospital. I watched our neighbor deal with her wheelchair-bound, almost comatose husband for years. She did the exhaustive work, almost alone, for years–all because she took him home.

But our medical crisis story and how I handled it, successfully, is just one of the items I share so any consumer can use.

That…and much more (laugh-out-loud funny episodes, useful information if you’re a buyer or seller of any home, life in a new region of the country)…is coming in  “The Asheville Experiment” (soon to be published.)


Never Be Fooled by the Outer Package

pool party john cropped
27 years ago….

The scene is a party I hosted for my brother who’d accepted a physician position at George Washington University Hospital. He and his family would be leaving Sudbury, Massachusetts.

We in the family all chipped in to give him this party. Only problem? My fiancée (with whom I’d bought this house seen in background) had just died. Boxes of packed items sat all about, in the home. We hadn’t even unpacked everything yet, when he’d suffered a heart attack. He lived only two days.

The irony was:  The first party in this new home was supposed to be our wedding reception.

Now, I had to pick up the considerable pieces of my shattered life….

I didn’t feel I could cancel my brother’s party. People were coming from out of town and there’d be no time for our family to get another venue.

Instead, I threw myself into getting the yard and the house ready and baking 5 calzones (they ALL went, even before the caterer’s offerings, a caterer my older brother, sister, mother and I hired.)

That’s me in the swimming pool, wearing a turquoise bathing suit and a smile (contrasting with my true state.) This picture—and what it portrays–is testament to the reality that one can’t know what’s going on, in another, by outer appearance, for this was the year that almost broke me.

I’d already gone through terrible crises—a divorce from first husband, raising my first child alone, a second difficult marriage, culminating in a two-year terminal illness with that husband.

The death of my fiancee became my 3rd. crisis.

My world (and that of my children) reverberated with terrible challenges.

But if you see this “happy pic” you’d never know it…….And I say: A snapshot of any one of us at a certain time will never tell the true nature of our well-being, for I hung onto sanity in the months ahead, by my fingernails.

From my future book, “In the Shadow of Princes.”

***And if you want to be alerted to new postings or future books (first one to come out this year will be “The Asheville Experiment,” in 2017, about Paul’s and my many year search for the perfect retirement town.) We found it but we left it, too, after 9 years. My book is a cautionary tale (with a lot of really good realtor tips, since I did that career, too) for all who consider buying and/or selling a home anywhere (yep–not just out of state.) And it’ll contain my trademark humor. If interested, pls. sign up, at top right hand corner. Your email will go nowhere else–promise.

A Note to Readers….

leg art--ashevilleDoes Asheville as Retirement Town deserve its star billing? In short, does it really have a leg up on its competition?

I know…all the talk about West Warwick on this site might almost get you to think I’m not writing about my husband’s and my experience, living in Asheville for past nine years.

But I am.

At present, I complete “The Asheville Experiment,” the book about us–a couple from Rhode Island, living five months of every year in a sweet Southern town chuck full of promise.

That’s what we thought…

It didn’t quite work out that way, however. And I write why.

In this book, I write about out-of-state home-buying; what you need watch out for; the pitfalls of condo ownership, anywhere (they call them townhomes there), lawyers… I tell you how to make good selection, what you need watch out for…Toxic dumps sites….But I lace my accounts with humor. In short, I tell you all the stuff you won’t think of….all the stuff I know is really important.

Remember, I was successful realtor.

Why else will this book be important? I’ve talked to several others who had a similar experience–They loved their new community in the beginning, but ultimately they got disenchanted, sold, and moved “home.”

No one talks about this….so I feel pretty confident I’ll be the first.

But make no mistake:  This book is not just for those moving to Asheville. It just helps that Asheville is ALWAYS one of the top 10 retirement towns in America (no. 1 or 2.)

Some of you have already told me to reserve a copy of “The Asheville Experiment,” and I greatly appreciate.

For all–I will post updates, periodically, to let you know how close I am to completion.

across the steet on Hamburg Mtn rd.Below is a pastoral scene across the street from our townhome community. Of course, this property could be sold and a Walmart could move in at any time.

Just something you should know…..

If you don’t need what I talk about in this book, consider getting it for somebody who might–It’ll help them make good decisions in home buying– anywhere– and much of it is just good fun.

It’s the story about how Paul and I searched up and down the East coast of America, for many years, finally settled on Asheville, NC, and found out, ultimately, it wasn’t for us.

The why’s are important–as are the why not’s.

Perhaps our story is yours, too.

The Day of Yellow Rain

hoechst chemical“My cats came in covered in yellow,” one person stated. Another said her mother saw barrels of the Crayola-yellow stuff positioned against the fence that separated the neighborhood of Windsor Park from the Hoechst chemical facility.

I posted a shorter version of this story to several Facebook pages dedicated to West Warwick, and I got a ton of reaction, for most of us remember the day(s) when a yellow dust fell from the sky and coated everything, at least in my neighborhood of Crompton.

Something went woefully wrong, for we recall waking up to neon yellow all over hedges, cars, yards. It mimicked an eerie scene from “The Twilight Zone.”

My father who had chemistry/physics background did some checking the next day and told us  “nothing harmful happened”—the company had assured him.

Of course, that was before all of us of a certain age recall Love Canal in New York where the Hooker Chemical Company gave similar assurances to its neighbors.

In the summer, during a dry spell, kids playing on the athletic fields were suddenly ankle-deep in sludge rising from below, wicking its way up through the ground, a chemical wash that was toxic indeed. Next it was found coming through basement walls, all owing to the way Hooker was indiscriminately disposing of its toxic waste, sending it out, onto the land where it filtered down, creating an underground plume that knew no bounds.

As a result of the suspected poisoning, there was a virtual abandonment of the community and inability for homeowners to sell but a greater toll remained:  cancer cluster groups developed and people succumbed at a far more alarming rate than was average.

It was a lesson for all of us in mill towns across America.

Nine years ago, my husband and I zeroed in on the idyllic community of Asheville, North Carolina, a town set in the Blue Ridge Mountains, on everyone’s short list of preferred retirement communities. With that, we went on a shopping spree, with a buyer broker realtor, to identify our home.

There, sitting at the top of a gorgeous expanse of mountains, was a home we could love…if not for the two factories below. One sprawling building was defunct and I knew that would predict dire consequences in future when upkeep would become non-existent. It would crumble and decay and become an eyesore on the otherwise pristine horizon.

The other factory was still active, suggesting worse problems. A pond nearby had signs posted “No swimming…no fishing.”

My husband, a good ol’ boy from rural Arkansas (where there were no factories or industrial waste), suspected the admonition was due to the fact there was no lifeguard and the company didn’t wish to be liable, while I believed otherwise. Then again, he’s the one who asked if the trout on the menu at a North Carolina restaurant in a small local town was ‘from a nearby stream’ to which the waitress answered “No, it’s farm trout. You wouldn’t want fish from a nearby stream.” She knew what he didn’t know.

Outside the town of Asheville sits an upscale housing community of homes priced at $500,000+, which has painfully learned the lessons mill town residents know for, at present, a toxic underground plume grows and creeps towards them, affecting a nearby stream, air, and well water. It comes from an abandoned former metal plating factory nearby.

Their home value has plummeted; they cannot sell; they cannot leave.

Their retirement dream has turned to a nightmare.

In my book, “The Asheville Experiment” I show how I protected us against the possibility of buying in an out-of-state community whose toxic dump sites we couldn’t know.

But it is my heritage as a mill town girl, coupled with my training as a professional realtor, that taught me such.

For that, I am grateful.

West Warwick native, Colleen Kelly Mellor (ckmellor@cox.net), is a motivational speaker, freelance writer, and author to children’s books Grandpa and the Truck (grandpaandthetruck.com). She is also a regular commentator in the Providence Journal and the Kent County Daily Times.  She currently completes “The Asheville Experiment,” about her husband’s and her nine years in the trendy retirement town of Asheville, NC.

She’ll also tell why they returned to live in Rhode Island (This book’s a manual for all those who contemplate a move–anywhere– but who like their non-fiction laced with humor.)