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Yale 62

Moving to Naples
Winter, 2020

By Mike Kane
Naples, FL

During 2019, I ended 40 years as a Massachusetts resident and became a citizen of Florida, specifically a condo-dwelling, golf and tennis playing, member of a “gated community”  composed of people mostly over 60, in Naples, Florida.  In response to kind encouragement from our Class “Communications Team” and  Class Secretary John Stewart, I am writing for on the possibility that some classmates might be amused  by my account of  this transition to a new home,  community, and lifestyle.

The  decision to relocate had roots in the decades prior to 2019, when my wife Nancy and I  spent a few weeks in Naples every winter.  Apart from the winter break, the theme of these holidays was to visit her parents, who had retired there from their home in Cincinnati.  So we got to know and appreciate the area.  BTW,  Florida’s West Coast is teeming with retirees and snowbirds from the Midwest (although not so much from New England, for whom Florida’s East Coast seems more popular).  There is a Harvard Club of Naples (we belong) but no Yale Club.

Mike in Naples

Mike in Naples

We did not look seriously at many other Florida locations, partly because of the family connection to Naples and partly because, in our shorter stays around Florida, we didn’t see much to prefer over Naples.  As for weather, South Florida is where warm winter weather is most reliable. It can get chilly north of Lake Okeechobee. It’s worth noting that the specific attractions of Florida’s cities and towns, even the culture of each individual “gated community,” can vary considerably. For example, we are not beach people, but, if you are, the Gulf Coast beaches have the sunset and better sand than most of the East Coast.  And Miami is in a class by itself as Florida’s  biggest (and bilingual) city (with the worst traffic south of New Jersey). The phrase “caveat emptor” comes to mind.

When I retired from banking in 2000, my wife chose to continue teaching at Harvard.  Our Newton home, although by then empty of kids, was pleasant to live in and a reasonable commute for Nancy.  As time went by, as we saw real estate values in the Boston area rising steeply, we thought about “downsizing” to a condominium in the city, but learned that city condominiums had become more expensive per square foot than suburban homes like ours.  In the end, we decided it was not a good idea to trade our place (worth, say, a million)  for an equally expensive but much smaller city condominium with no parking, no yard or trees, yet with the same winter weather and in the same high cost of living environment.  So we stayed in our Newton home for the next 18 years.

In 2018, Nancy decided to retire from Harvard and settled on June 2019 as the right time, marking 39 years with the Crimson and her 70th birthday. Another decision was to purchase the Naples condominium that is now our winter home.  Although in good shape structurally, the unit had been furnished in a dark and formal style that moved us to buy on the “unfinished” option. Today, thousands of dollars and many remodeling decisions later  (new flooring, painting, kitchen, baths, etc.), it’s livable but we still have work to do. In Florida it can take a long time to get stuff and get work done. The influx of people to the state, coupled with lots of new construction, means that good contractors and vendors are stretched thin and may not be available when you want them.

Taking into account that both our children were grown, working, and had located outside Massachusetts (Miami and Philadelphia), we decided to take the final step, put our house on the market, and exit Massachusetts, keeping New England roots with our summer house in Maine.

The sale of our Newton house went quickly, aided by a hot market and very competent real estate brokers.  Neither quick nor fun was preparing the house for sale and then clearing out our possessions. It can be annoying to find no one wants your 18th Century style dining room set that was so perfect when purchased in 1980. We ended up managing four separate house-clearing projects: moving stuff to Maine (I drove a UHaul), moving stuff to Florida (professional movers), and giving stuff away, one piece at a time for a while. Then, finally, a haul to charity.

Although this residential change has made sense,  adapting to  a new lifestyle in a new place and community,  coupled with leaving our Massachusetts  home and friends 40+ years in the making,  generates  a mix of emotions. There are compensations.  Sunshine, more daylight hours, golf and tennis,  low  taxes, and visits from friends still wintering up north all help to ease,  if not cure, the occasional twinges of nostalgia.

I will gladly provide further information about our experience if anyone is interested. Please leave a comment below.

7 comments to Moving to Naples

  • Roman Weil

    Congratulations on such an upbeat essay. Florida is one of six states with both no income taxes and no death taxes [that is, no estate nor inheritance taxes]. I’ve never before read a narrative about moving to Florida so blasé about the taxes. Mike off-handedly mentions “low taxes.” He’s the only writer I ever read who after-thoughts this factor.

    I’ll bet his wife misses Harvard’s stimulation from working. I found it hard to give up being a faculty member at age 70.

  • Neal Freeman

    Welcome to Florida, Mike. It’s a long, odd state, isn’t it? But you’ll get the hang of it as soon as you understand that a) the further north you go, the further south you get, and that b) while much of it is wet-paint new, including Naples, some of it is older than the oldest parts of our beloved New England. I live on Amelia Island, just off Jacksonville, which is six miles from the Georgia border,and our downtown is dotted with Eight Flags Insurance, Eight Flags Diner, and other such attractions. Which is to say that we have been ruled by eight different sovereigns, including not only the usual suspects (France, England, Spain) but the Confederacy, sundry puffed-up pirates and one outlier that I can never remember, possibly Denmark. Each ruler left his fingerprints — stylistic, linguistic, culinary, whatever — which makes for a rich cultural stew. Add to that the facts that Florida has a chauvinistic Yalie in the Governor’s mansion, passably good weather, and, as Roman, ever the non-romantic, points out, a benign tax environment and you, Mike, have made yet another brilliant life decision. To those classmates still shoveling front steps and slipping on sidewalks, we say — y’all come.

  • Jan Greer

    Congrats, Mike! 70, ah, 70. I can almost remember being that young. I didn’t so much give up the investment biz then as it gave me up. The strategy we had pursued since 2005 (based upon the failure of the interest rate parity theory) was brilliant (not my doing… I was working with a bunch of certified geniuses), but evanesced when all the major-currency countries adopted ZRP, an interest rate policy approaching zero. Thus, two years later, when my youngest son, Nic (he points out there is no “k” in Nicholas) was off to The College of William & Mary, and Katrina’s youngest, Anna, was off to boarding school, we packed up the Nash Rambler and drove south from New Jersey to the highly-taxed state of Maryland, where we had bought a house two years theretofore on the Eastern Shore of the Chesapeake Bay. Katrina is a native Californian, so she is used to watching the sun set in the west. Leaving New Jersey was… ah, truth to tell, I never even looked in the rear view mirror. The Eastern Shore is unique and delightful. There are three classes of people here: the “born heres,” the “been heres.” and the “come heres.” I will never live long enough even to be considered a “come here.” Although after 2010 I was no longer involved professionally with managing OPM, I didn’t have to give up peering daily at ever-changing, ever-challenging “Mr. Market.” Indeed, I cannot afford to do so, so no regrets about no longer being able to do what I did professionally for 42 years. My only regret is that I still have to do it. It’s like our dogs: we don’t own them; they own us. If we ever get as far south as Florida, I’ll send up a flare first and drop by to see you guys in Naples. I was there once, quite some time ago, and it is truly a beautiful place. All the best, Jan

  • Joe Holmes

    Mike. Nice detailed essay on all the tribulations involved in such an uprooting. We haven’t faced up to that yet, (still in CT), but we take the easy way by renting in Naples every winter in a nice gated community with terrific golf, tennis, amazing landscaping (it’s a joy just to walk), and even pickleball right next door in veterans park. We rent the same unit each year for 3 months.
    Naples has a terrific cultural base with the Artis-Naples where they book a wide range of entertainment – – from Broadway shows to Sinatra-style concerts, to a top rated Philharmonic.
    And there are a gazillion good restaurants within minutes. Mike — use my email below (it stays private) to let me know where you live down here if you’d like to get in touch..

    Joe Holmes

  • Mary Murphy

    Your move from Newton to Naples appears to be a good one. I’m jealous of your warm sunny weather. We met as teenagers working at Minnewaska many years ago. Thanks to you I attended Yale graduate school getting a MPH in 1965 along with meeting + marrying my husband Dan in Yale’s Catholic Chapel. We hav since lived on opposite sides of the country. Let’s stay in touch. I’d love to hear from you. Mary

  • Roy Hammer

    I can’t imagine living in a gated community. To me it seems so unAmerican. But then perhaps my feeling is influence by being a gay man married to my partner of 55 year and him Yale ’59. We ‘re probably not wanted in other retirement communities either.

  • John Barchilon

    Hi, Mike,
    I came upon your useful, informative, optimistic essay today while Googling for Yale Clubs in SW Florida. The highest accolade of Southerners, I have found, is Ya done good.
    Hopefully, I might be admitted to your group, having gotten my MD from Yale in 1965 while the AB came from
    Dartmouth in 1960.

    Still working, but not seeing patients any more.
    If you have nothing better to do, give me a call and maybe we could plan a get together. 805-551-6896.

    All best,
    John Barchilon, MD ’65