Category Archives: Family

2015 Year End Review

Asphalted road .Forward to the New Year 2015

We are just a few days away from a New Year, and one sleep away before we fly to the Middle East for a 15-day trip to explore 3 countries there.  2015 has been a huge transitional year for us.  Here are some of the major events for our family:

January – our daughter moved out to live on her own and with her boyfriend at Olympic Village.  It was nice to be able to help her set up the condo and visit her as an adult.  Our family house of over 23 years was put on the market, and within 7 days, it was sold for a very good price with competing offers.

February – We were very busy getting rid of our stuff and preparing for our big move.  Our initial arrangement with my brother-in-law to rent their recently purchased condo fell through, but we were very fortunate to find a brand new townhouse across from Metrotown to rent for a reasonable price.  Our son got his work visa approved, and soon we saw him off to London, England, to start a new career in investment banking with a major bank.  We moved into the new townhouse on Feb 25, allowing a 5-day overlap before we hand over the keys to the new owners of our house.

March – 4 days after we moved out of our house and started to live in the townhouse, we flew to London to attend our son’s MBA convocation at Oxford University, and to visit his new home in a leased flat in central London.  Afterwards, we took a train to visit Belgium and Luxembourg for a few days before flying to Dublin to visit Ireland and Northern Ireland with a rental car for 2 weeks.

April – We settled down at our new townhouse and explored our new neighborhood.  I cycle 5 minutes to work, and my wife skytrain to work downtown.  We tried out some new restaurants nearby, and were happy to discover how convenient it is to live so close to all the amenities.  We hardly ever use the car to do chores.  We tried out the strata unit’s exercise gym, and jogged to Central Park for exercise whenever we had the time, in addition to playing badminton 3 times a week, which are the only times we drive our car.

May – My mother-in-law became ill and passed away quite suddenly. It was very sad for the whole family.  There were many family matters to attend to, including arranging for the funeral.  It reminded us of the frailty of life.

June – The weather got much better and days much longer.  Since I have so much more free time with zero home or yard maintenance, I signed up for several hiking Meetup groups and participated in many hikes on the weekend.  We also flew to Whitehorse, Yukon with a credit card 2-for-1 flight promotion, and traveled on the “Golden Circle” route with hiking in Kluane National Park and sightseeing in Skagway, Alaska for 6 days.

July – We started to ride our bikes every weekend to explore different neighborhoods around Greater Vancouver, just like what we had done 4 or 5 years ago.  We have a Greater Vancouver bicycle route map that we highlight each and every path we rode.  We also continued to sign up for more hikes via the Meetup groups, and we have met many interesting people through these activities.  Our sister’s partner treated us on a sailing excursion with his friend’s sailboat and had a wonderful bonding time.

August – We trained hard in July and August to prepare for the annual BC 55+ Games (a 24-sport event to encourage BC seniors to stay active in participation and in competition).  This year was my 3rd year participating in the sport of badminton (2nd year for my wife), and we both did very well, earning 2 medals each in our age category events.

September – We took a 3-week trip to the Italian Dolomites and the Greek Islands with another couple from Brampton, Ontario, that we met on previous trips.  It was a great trip with lots of fantastic hiking, sailing, activities, culture, food, and companionship.  Visiting world wonders of Santorini and Meteora were part of the highlights.

October – The weather was still very nice in Vancouver when we came back from our trip, so we filled our time with many more outdoor activities. I found time to sign up for more Meetup groups of different interests, such as Travel Hacking and Blogging.  We also entered a Masters level badminton tournament at the Vancouver Racquets Club where the best of the BC players play.

November – I decided to start a blog .  We brainstormed for a nice and appropriate domain name to buy.  Once I bought the domain name, along with a hosting plan, I was able to quickly get the site up and running within an hour.  It was fun to learn a new skill and put my creative hat on to create something from scratch.  I attended a Travelers Century Club meeting in Vancouver to hear great stories on exotic places of travel and enrolled in some weekly exercises for the core.

December – Between learning more features and tools with WordPress, playing badminton, and meeting new friends that arrived in Vancouver in their camper truck that we met in Yukon in June, and who are in the midst of traveling the world for the past 8 years, Christmas came quickly.  We had several get-together dinners with friends and families.  Our son did not come home for Christmas, but with technology like Skype, distance does not matter to our family bonds.  With the recent terrorist threats around the world, cheap air tickets were everywhere to be had. We bought return air tickets to Paris for $670 each for next May, and we were able to complete our detailed trip itinerary and booked all the hotels within a few evenings.  We tried to fit a trekking trip to Ladakh, India for next September with my sister-in-law and her partner, but the timing did not work, and we decided to visit Madagascar, Mauritius and Reunion instead.  We have now 2 trips 85% planned for 2016, plus the one that we are leaving tomorrow afternoon to United Arab Emirates (UAE), Oman, and Qatar!

We’ve had a busy and hectic 2015, and we are looking forward to potentially more positive changes next year!

Happy New Year!

2015-2016 change represents the new year 2016 three-dimensional rendering

 

Housing Decisions

One of the big decisions when contemplating retirement is deciding where to live after retirement.  There are many options: 1) stay in the present home, 2) downsize and buy a smaller house/townhouse/condo, or 3) rent a house/townhouse/condo. With 2 of the 3 options above, one can also choose to move to a different city, or to a different area within the same city.

There is an article in today’s Vancouver Sun that talks about the rising demand for high-end seniors housing among Chinese-Canadians and Chinese-Americans, which is breaking the stereotype that Asian seniors want to live with their children. Traditionally, “multiple generations living under the same roof is supposed to be ultimate symbol of the Confucianist ideal of filial piety”, but nowadays, they prefer to live, eat, and shop close to one another instead.  Those who stay together in one house is doing it because of cost and shared resources.  Development companies are now building more upscale senior homes and marketing them as lifestyle experiences.

Our family have never considered to live together under one roof. Our son, like us when we graduated from university, wanted to experience living in a different city (he is actually experiencing living in a different country).  Our daughter also wanted freedom away from her parents.  For us, we like the idea of renting a strata home so that we don’t have maintenance issues.  We also calculated that it is more cost effective to rent than to own based on the high real estate prices of Vancouver.  There are lot less taxes, utilities and expenses with renting, and we feel that we can do better investing in financial assets than sitting on a large equity on a house. Renting also allow us the flexibility to try living in another area of Vancouver, or store our belongings to travel for a year or two.  So, renting turned out to be our decision for now.

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Maintaining Healthy Relations with Adult Children

P1000342Another issue to consider during our retirement planning process is method to maintain healthy relationships with our two adult children.  It seems like yesterday that they were dependent on us to feed them, cloth them and to provide an education for them.  But now that they are in their mid- to late-20’s, they are both out of our family household and are beginning to build their own “nests”.  One of them is living in London, England, and the other in a condo in Olympic Village, Vancouver.

We skype with our son about once a month, and this is great for keeping everyone informed with what’s happening at each locale.  He is quite interested in what is keeping us busy away from work, and we talk about our upcoming travels and our short term and long term goals.  His girlfriend just moved across the pond to be with him, so it will be interesting to see how they accommodate each other.

Our daughter comes to visit us about once every 2 weeks.  This summer, she came once a week to get help from me on a special project. She is quite busy herself with her shift work, playing on 2 soccer teams, and now working on this special project that she does not want me to say until it is finished.

This last weekend, we decided to visit her for a change.  We walked to Chinatown together for lunch, then to Broadway and Cambie corridors for some shopping.  It was a nice sunny day, with Christmas shopping almost at full swing.  I think everyone had a great time together.  It is nice to have these healthy relations with our adult children as they continue to grow on their own, and we can provide whatever guidance we may have.