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Living in retirement: Struggling to find health and dental coverage Add to ...

Please enjoy our Living in Retirement blog, where a couple has been writing about their real-life retirement journey.

If you have been following our retirement story, you know that a year ago we decided to move to Kingsville, a small town in South-Western Ontario, where we are enjoying a modest but busy life.

As is the case with most people when they stop working, one of the challenges we faced was learning how to stretch each dollar. This is a major reason why we left the big city for a small town. It allowed us to purchase an affordable house, which in turn lowered our fixed costs at a time when our income dropped Since we left Toronto, our reduced fixed costs have saved us over $350 per month. As you can imagine some of that is on property taxes, but housing and car insurance also fell because of where we moved.

After being employed for more than 40 years, we were ready to stop working full-time. So, we went from working at our jobs to working at our hobbies. Of course, we didn’t move to Kingsville solely to lower our costs. We did it because we love the location, which allows us to have a wonderful quality of life. We could not be happier.

One of the most analyzed decisions we have had to make since retiring is the type of health care we want. Peter has studied our required prescriptions, annual dental necessities, and other personal needs. Once we knew what we needed, we started to look for the proper coverage. Unfortunately, we are still looking.

When we first retired we continued getting health benefits from Astrid’s employer, which in retrospect was very expensive. We have recently transferred to the Retired Teachers of Ontario, which has saved us over $150 on a monthly basis. For the time being, we have decided to pay for whatever dental costs we incur out of our own pockets. This is less expensive than paying for dental insurance.

Astrid’s sister and her husband are considering retiring and they have told us the medical and dental insurance sold at Costco is good and inexpensive. We are currently researching this, examining the fine print. It may or may not meet our dental and health coverage needs, at a reasonable price.

Since our retirement, we find ourselves travelling more than we thought. It doesn’t take much to get us to Ottawa or Montreal to visit family and friends. It’s not a case of cabin fever as much as it is wanderlust. Because of all the road trips we make, we have CAA coverage.

On an everyday basis, the challenge is to watch our variable spending. We are still tracking what we spend in a spreadsheet we created a few months ago. It keeps us focused. We are still getting used to having less income but we find we are not suffering because of it.

One way we are saving money – and having fun – is by making our own wine. All the wine snobs out there are likely gasping in horror at the prospect of drinking “home-made wine.” But not being members of the Opimian Society or avid followers or Tony Aspler‘s wine column, we can safely say that we enjoy drinking our own wine. One big benefit is the much-lower cost per bottle than LCBO wines. Some of our Toronto friends have tried the wine and liked it, even before they found out it was home-made.

We are also saving money on food since we retired, as well as eating healthier. Due to a large number of green houses in the area, fresh vegetables can be found at much lower prices than in Toronto. We have extra time to plan our meals, and Peter looks through various web sites or his supply of cook books to find healthy recipes.

This will be our last blog for a while. Our first spring is around the corner and we are looking forward to seeing what buds will appear in our garden. Golf season has begun and Peter’s first game is this Saturday. We hope to be back with new insights in the not too distant future and to thank everyone who has read our post-working-life adventures.

We know that some of our family, friends and even some strangers who have read our Living in Retirement blogs have wondered if we had our heads screwed on the right way. Both our families were stunned by our decision to move to a small town where we knew no one. But after living here for nine months, we have made plenty of friends and everyone who comes to visit us enjoys themselves. A couple of our retirement-ready friends have even hired a local real estate agent to send them local listings.

Pretty soon, there might be more than just two of us living their retirement in Kingsville.

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