Welcome to Inspiring Life of the Month – a new blog series from FAR that celebrates borrowers unlocking extraordinary lives in retirement. Each month, we’ll dive deep within our great community and profile the lives, careers, and unique adventures of inspiring borrowers that are living-out retirement to the fullest.
This month we’re excited to bring you DeeAnn, a former junior high and high school music teacher living in Los Angeles. DeeAnn’s been proudly living in her home since 1975, and after 38 years of long commutes to the classroom, she finally retired in 2003. “I realized that if I was going to enjoy the rest of my life, I better start doing it rather than commuting.”
Together with her former husband, DeeAnn used a reverse mortgage from FAR to fully remodel her house into her ideal home, starting with the kitchen and bathrooms before redoing the garage and den. “I just finished finally doing my front patio the way I want.”
Even with all the home renovations, DeeAnn still had plenty of money left over from her reverse to enhance her retirement, and she set out to put those funds to good use. “Retirement shouldn’t be sitting around.” She’d already done her traveling and wasn’t interested in starting a new hobby, and thanks to a healthy teacher’s pension, her immediate needs were already met.
And then she learned her retired friends and longtime next-door neighbors, Harley and Lourdes, were looking to start a childcare business. DeeAnn’s lifelong passion for teaching and Lourdes’ background in early child development made for the perfect partnership, and along with Harley, the friends set out to bring the business to life.
First, they needed a great location for their childcare center, which proved to be a challenge until DeeAnn realized she already owned a great site. “I had another property, and it was falling apart from disuse.” The team decided to tear down Dee Ann’s old second home and use the site for their business, which is where the remaining funds from her reverse mortgage came in handy. Thanks to the extra cash, they are now in the process of completely rebuilding this second property from the ground up, turning it into exactly what they need to be successful.
As this exciting business gets off the ground, Dee Ann has returned to her roots, teaching music to local kids out of her home for the steep price of $5 per lesson. “It’s not about the money.” And while she’s been offered “too much” money to sell her house over the years, Dee Anne isn’t planning on leaving anytime soon. “I’m never leaving, except feet first, so that’s going to be forever.”
For DeeAnn, living a happy and successful retirement means spending time with the people she loves, doing the things she loves, and, most importantly, having a home that she loves. This only clarified further during the last year. “My home became very important during the pandemic, yes. But for me, it’s always been important, and I’m so lucky to have it. So lucky. I have loved my home ever since I moved in. It’s a part of me. This is my child. This is everything.”