Saturday, December 31, 2022

Passing Another Age Milestone: 70

I turned age 70 on December 18th. Age years that end in zero are a milestone of sorts in which one can look back on the decade just concluded and look ahead to what lies ahead in the next decade. Now I am in pretty good health with no issues, I walk a lot to keep fit, and I work out with a personal trainer twice a week. I have gone from barely being able to do 10 pushups up to 25 fairly easily. My goal is to reach 30 consecutive push ups without gasing out. My mother's side of the family has pretty good genes, with many of them living into their mid 90s. On my father's side, well, not so good. I suspect that I will be around a bit longer based on my genes.


I have reached the stage of my life where I now have to consider down sizing my house and all of my "stuff", particularly my wargame stuff. I have too much of it. With respect to the house, it comes down to an economic decision on how to save money, reduce expenses and have enough coin to live a decent and comfortable retirement lifestyle. 

I live in The People's Republic of Illinois where the property taxes are sky high and the cost of living is an arrow pointing upwards. My property tax on my house exceeds my annual mortgage payments which is absolutely crazy. People are fleeing Illinois in droves and moving to more tax friendly states. I would like to join them. Probably somewhere in Florida. I figure that I could save $15,000 per year just by moving out of my state. Think about it, that's a savings of $150,000 over the next decade. And I get to live where its warm year around.

The idea is to buy a smaller, less expensive house and either pay off our mortgage or take out a chunk of the home equity that we have built up over the years. However, a less expensive home likely means a much smaller home, maybe without an area to set up as my wargame room. That kind of sucks, doesn't it? That also implies less storage space for figures and terrain. The obvious solution is to reduce the wargame collection quite a bit. I will have to take stock of what I have and what I am likely to want to play over the next decade.

In terms of culling down the herd, here are some likely candidates for sale:

  1. 1) Late Romans and Barbarians in 28mm
  2. 2) Big Battalion SYW Austrians and Prussians
  3. 3) Maybe 28mm AWI, but keeping the skirmish level figures.

The keepers would include the following:

  1. 28mm SYW Austrians, French and Prussians
  2. 54mm Sudan
  3. 54mm Ancients

And then there is the big one: selling off the Fife and Drum and Minden Miniatures figure business. I started this venture in 2012 and after ten years I am ready to get out of the business side of the hobby and just enjoy playing some wargames. I have enjoyed running the business, increasing the size of the ranges, and meeting lots of people from all over the world. But I am getting tired and I don't have the energy that I used to have. The inventory shelves in my basement take up a lot of space and if I were to downsize the square footage of my house by 50% then there wouldn't be any room to hold the stock for the business. Decisions, decisions.

This is all speculation at this point as I have no firm plans. My daughter wants to go to college in Florida and to make that her permanent home as soon as 2024. That's her life's dream and so we want to do everything that we can to help her reach her dream. We would probably want to live somewhere in Florida where we are far enough away from our daughter to not be pests, but close enough to be there for her in case she needs some help.

Well there you have it. This is what is on my mind as I look ahead to the next decade of my life.


  1. A great deal to think about Jim and I dont envy you. Ive never understood the monetary systems of the USA, everything seems stacked against the majority who try to pay their way. I can see the attraction of heading South, especially for your daughter. Funnily enough Ive been thinking about downsizing simply because Ive a very big garden and a house where my wife and I rattle about in, but I couldnt bear losing my wargames room. Choosing which units and armies to get rid of is a big problem and when I finally let go of my enormous Napoleonic armies it felt like Id lost a friend.So best of luck with your choices. I would suggest you move into a house with enough space to construct a very large 'shed' it is always a good investment if you described it as an office.

  2. Much to think about. I think downsizing home and hobby is something many of us consider. Happy Birthday Jim! Celebrate, enjoy new year and then in that strange quiet, thoughtful time called January have a think then…
    Alan Tradgardland

  3. Jim,
    First and foremost a belated Happy Birthday and congratulations on reaching the milestone. I think I am far more ruthless (practical?) than Robbie.
    When I used to visit my son in Chicago I could never get over the huge discrepancy in state taxes and how Illinois year on year just suffered increases despite people moving out, crazy.
    I fully understand your desire to downsize property, move to a warmer climate and support your daughter.of course as you say that comes with the necessity to take stock of hobby and business. We downsized 3 or 4 years ago and I do not regret any of the decisions I made. I started downsizing almost 10 years ago and I think I’m just about there now 😳. My decision to sell Crann Tara was based solely on quality of life and then my decision to sell the major part of my 28mm 18th century collection was based on practicality and that as I move forward most of my games will be smaller or more large skirmish (AWI and FIW for example)
    I’m currently sorting the loft and I can house a 6x4 easily with the option of growing to an 8x4, more than enough for most of my gaming needs. It’s also driving me to rationalise my book collection which has also grown way too big.That coupled with my return to board gaming and 15mm allows for a more satisfactory gaming environment.
    I guess worst case you could always look at a garage conversion or outbuilding in the move to Florida - think of yourself and what brings most enjoyment. Be practical you won’t have regrets, my shock diagnosis with cancer this year just reinforced the wiseness of my decisions.
    Finally good luck with the sale of Minden/ Fife and Drum

  4. Belated birthday congratulations and plenty for you to think over in the coming months, whatever you decide I wish you all the best. Minden and Fife & Drum are great ranges and it should not be difficult to sell them on, hard decision to make but none of us are getting younger and you must do what is best for you and your family.

  5. Happy birthday Jim...I am ten years behind you and with different life experiences etc, but we will all have to make these decisions at some point. I enjoy the collecting/painting side as much as the gaming, but if I was being practical, I woukd stop now! I have never had any room for a table in house and although my wife dies not actively object to the hobby, it does irritate her whenever a small package of troops arrive and the boxes of troops piled up around the periphery of the garage (all the available cupboards were filled up several years ago) also gets on her nerves, particularly, as she accurately points out, most of them never get opened and used from one year to the next!
    We have an average sized house for New Zealand I would say...200m2, which I think is 1800sq feet...1m = 3feet approx.....there are four (small) bedrooms, three still occupied by our family...but hoping in the next couple of years they will be vacant. My wish then, would be to use one as a hobby room, but my wife's idea is, as soon as the adult kids are gone, we downsize to a smaller house, so that seems likely to remain a pipe dream unfortunately. A shed or similar at any prospective new place would likely be vetoed count your blessings that you even have options in that regard! I think a lot of American gamers benefit from houses having a useable basement space, which isn't a thing here at all....

  6. Hi Jim. I'm 63 and swim 2.5 k most days. Unfortunately I have lower back and knee issues that limit what else I can do. I mentioned this to the young pool guatd the itehr day and how I regretted that bush walking was now problematical but that i usually lost weight in the Summer from such long walks. She said i didn't look like I needed to lose weight and that i looked very good for 63 and most men she saw in their 60s looked like they wer in their 70s!

    Anyhow, if you are now doing 30 pushups that is a great thing. A lot of people give up on any exercise as they age and consequently age faster.

    I never smoked and was never a drinker, which greatly improves one's health.

    I think your wife needs to think more of your needs! I don't have that issue. Wives are useful but also very annoying, at times. many wives don't know how lucky they are that their husbands have such a hobby. Sure it has its drawbacks but they know where their husbands are and they are not undr their feet. They are in the shed, hobby room etc at their desks painting figures, reading military books or wargaming. they are NOT spending money gambling, snow skiing, at the pub or on other women.

  7. Belated Happy Birthday Jim! I'm somewhat speechless about the taxes in your State which to someone from the other side of the Pond just do not make any sense at all. I will turn 60 in 2023 and have a few minor health issues, but famous last words, nothing serious. Downsizing for us is not really an option as we live in a smallish 3 bed house, which is fine for the two of us if and when the kids move out in a year or so. Fingers crossed you can move South to Florida or somewhere similar so you can enjoy your retirement without too many financial worries.

  8. A great post sir. I think your daughter's dreams help to shape your decision. ...and there will always be room for gaming. Florida seems to trump Illinois hands down too.

  9. Happy Birthday Jim and a very interesting post. I’ve been contemplating my own collection in recent times and actually biting the bullet and moving figures on that I simply haven’t played with regularly for years. My first love was always Napoleonics and then the Sudan with ancients a close third. This has seen me start to clear out my dark ages, excess ancients and now I’m starting to think more has to go. I think your choices are wise and obviously well considered and Florida would be lovely, weather not that different to Western Australia, perhaps not quite as hot in our southern summers. Closer to your daughter is the best reason of the lot.

  10. Happy birthday to you! While I am a bit younger than you, I have also started to think about downsizing my hobby collection. So of course, I have been adding more figures to my 2nd Mexican American War project (a what if Maxmillian had managed to hang on) and a few more 90mm figures for the game I am running in February. I recall reading about your Late Romans in MWAN. Before you sell them, please put some additional shots of the collection on you site. All the best and a Happy New Year!

  11. Happy Birthday from me too, glad you are feeling well and happy at 70, I can't fault you reasoning about moving, and the cost in space for your lovely collections. I am sure you will make the right call!

  12. Happy Birthday and happy New Year. I wish you all the best with your plans. This year sees retirement, downsizing and moving nearer a daughter so you have my understanding.
    Too many unknowns to have definite hobby plans but we're getting there.

  13. Happy Birthday indeed! You will love Florida. I suggest Spring Hill, Timber Pines in particular. We have a great wargame community and no income tax. Best regards, Bill

  14. Belated happy birthday Jim. Lots to think about this year it seems. However if you approach them wtih the level of detail you put into your games, they're sure to be a success. Best wishes to you and your family.

  15. Belated Happy Birthday Jim, thanks for all your posts.


  16. Belated Happy Birthday, Jim. If you end up in South Florida, the South Florida Miniatures Gamers will be happy to host you!

  17. If you find a good club or hobby store you can continue gaming. My wife and I are starting to talk about where to retire. She doesn't want FL though. As we are an older hobby you can hopefully find a group where seniors live.

  18. Happy Birthday! Milestones certainly make one think seriously about the future. I am about to hit 60 and am starting to think seriously about preparing for retirement, down-sizing etc. The task of thinning out collections of books, magazines, miniatures, as well as belongings that are tied to memories and people who have passed is daunting. I have a lot of admiration for people who can be very practical and wish you all the best with all these endeavours.

  19. Belated Happy Birthday, Jim! And best of luck with all the upcoming decisions. Lots to think about but you seem to have it well in hand.

  20. Thanks for this wide ranging and informative post Jim I'm sorry it's taken me a week to get round to it. Yes moving to be near your daughter and her dream is the most important thing, and if you have to downsize so be it. However, being 70 too and having had my own wargaming and art space now for the last 8 years I hope I never have to be without my own room before I die! Best wishes for all you plan.

  21. Phooey on such mature thoughts, Jim. Move to Michigan where land is still cheap and available. We'll build a pole barn together on some 2 lane highway. The front half will be a miniatures historical museum, the back half will be gaming tables and storage, Everybody will stop by and we'll never have to go anywhere else