A few months ago my husband Mark and I started talking very seriously about what we’d do after he retires from the Army next year. His take on the situation stopped me cold me in my tracks:
“We can go anywhere in the world,” he said. “Do anything we want.”
The military has controlled nearly every aspect of our lives for 25 years – from where we live to when we move to what dentist we use. While there is the chance for some input from a service member, assignments are largely left up to the “big Army” to decide. Now, with retirement looming, the next step is on us.
And it’s terrifying.
We always assumed we’d moved back to Florida, where Mark and I both grew up and where we started dating in high school. We own a house there, and we miss the saltwater, warm weather and beaches.
I love Florida more than anywhere else.
The rest of my family has lately started to lean toward winter. The kids, especially. They love to ski and long for snowy days. Last summer, when temperatures here in Germany hit record highs, they thought they might die of heat stroke. And I have to admit, there is little that compares to a crisp, clear, white-coated, blue-sky winter day.
The idea that we are not tied down to one place made us realize we needed to set priorities. Namely, do we move where ever one of us (most likely Mark) gets a decent job? Or do we pick our dream location and go from there?
Our kids are 11 and 14. Still young, but quickly running out of childhood. We want to make their last years of living at home with us the best they can possibly be. That led us to conclude that location will be our first priority, jobs second. We started looking at towns within one hour of either a great beach or big mountains. We cross-referenced those with quality of schools, unemployment rates, median income and home prices.
We whittled it down to about a dozen possibilities so far, many of which we have never been to. Some are in states we’ve never even set foot in.
At a crossroads, we decided the best thing to do is to hit the road.
Late this summer we’ll embark on a year-long tour of the U.S., most likely in a fifth-wheel trailer towed by a big ol’ truck.
Talk about an adventure …