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Why I Live Here

Tap, tap, tap, tap, ching….Tap, tap, tap, ching…. and on it went, the soft sounds from the LC Smith & Corona, circa 1958. Old school. Ryan was his name, the writer not the typewriter.

As I’ve traveled around Wisconsin, the country and Europe, I’ve seen many interesting homes and settings and always thought a good question to ask the inhabitants would be, “Why do you live here?”

This first happened 4 years ago outside Telluride, Co. where I annually attend the Telluride Mountain Film Festival. I saw a couple unpacking their car in a driveway and stopped and asked if I could tour their contemporary mountain home situated on the banks of a glacier lake. “Sure,” they said and so I did – but I never wrote the “why I live here” tale – and it was an interesting tale. I wasn’t going to make the same mistake again.

The stern of Ryan’s 23-foot O’Day sailboat was stenciled with the words: “Rock N’ Roll.” It was docked in the canal outside his home – and it did rock and it did roll. He sat and wrote on his Corona though I knew not what. How did he get here?

The “office” (sailboat) was interesting and the home simple in design, a bright yellow cape cod, the color replicating the sun that pounded the island. The home was just that and the boat his office. I’ve seen worse of each.

I asked. He responded.

For many years Ryan worked for a corporation, a 9-5 job writing manuals for a Fortune 500 company. Over time it felt like shift work and not that meaningful – at least not that meaningful after 33 years.

Sometimes dumb luck intervenes. Ryan’s dumb luck was that he purchased a home in the Midwest in his mid-twenties. It was a choice he made instead of renting. After time – even accounting for the bad real estate times – he said he had some equity. Truth told, he said, “When I bought the home I didn’t know what the word equity meant, I just wanted my own place to live.” 

Ryan was nearing 60 and looking for options. Life, phase 3 was calling. He told me the equity allowed him to downsize from his 2,300 square- foot midwestern home to this, his 1,000 square- foot castle and 23’ office – the O’Day. 

Ryan no longer writes corporate manuals but he continues to write. He does some freelance work for income. That work is done on his MacPro. The fun work, the poetry and short story work, those he pounds out on the Smith & Corona – old school.

Why does Ryan live here? Well, his short answer is because he can. It beats the midwestern winters and he has what he needs. He doesn’t live large. Dumb luck (buying the home) a college degree and some work history have provided the liberty to live small and where the sun shines.

I found Ryan’s tale interesting because most of my life – in basketball and business – I’ve fought the ying and yang of what “success” means. We all define it differently but I think it most important that we not live life by rote. I haven’t.

As to real estate, well if dumb luck helps put you in a good place in Phase 3 of life, it might be one good reason to buy a place to live in Phase 1 or 2 or at least save enough for a 23’ O’Day. Homebuyer Associates can help you find the right home. You are on your own finding the right sailboat.

For an unusual take on how one defines success see the link below and read about a Blue Jay’s pitcher who, with a $2 million signing bonus, decided to live small – in a V.W. van.


Next month I’ll get back to home inspection misconceptions.

Thanks for reading,

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Homebuyer Associates
1835 N. Riverwalk Way
Milwaukee, WI 53212
Phone: 414-254-4129