Living the Dream: I Retired to Santa Fe

Living the Dream: I Retired to Santa Fe

What’s it really like to retire and start fresh in the Land of Enchantment? We asked someone who did it.

By Winona Dimeo-Ediger on February 5, 2018 10:00 AM

Santa FeCourtesy of Davel5957

Welcome to Living the Dream, a series about people who made their big dreams a reality — and the places and communities that made it possible. Do you know someone who’s carved out a unique lifestyle or business in a small town or small to mid-sized city? We’re always looking for great stories. Email our editor for a chance to be featured!

Today we’re featuring Robert Basler, a journalist who, along with his wife Barbara, decided to relocate to their dream city after retirement. Here, Robert shares the story of how they made a nearly spontaneous cross-country move, tips for starting over in a new place, and why Santa Fe dinner parties are the best dinner parties. 

Robert Basler

Name: Robert Basler

Age: 70

Location: Santa Fe, New Mexico

Occupation (pre-retirement):

Journalist. Several newspapers, then three decades with Reuters.

How long have you lived in Santa Fe?

Five years

Where did you live before moving to Santa Fe?

Lots of places, but the last three cities were Washington, DC, Hong Kong and New York.

Santa Fe Doorway

Photo by Robert Basler

Do you remember your first trip to Santa Fe? Did you instantly know this was a place you wanted to live?

It was 1996. We had recently moved back to the States after eight years in Hong Kong, and wanted to show our young son places that were very different from what he was used to in Asia. Santa Fe certainly qualified. But it would be some 15 years before we would decide this was the perfect place for us to live.

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Had you always known you wanted to retire somewhere else? What factors did you take into account when choosing where that would be?

We loved DC, but it was not a place to retire. If you’re not in a sexy job, you’re kind of invisible there. We had always assumed we would retire in the East, but when our son finished grad school and moved to Los Angeles, my wife suggested Santa Fe and it just seemed perfect. We visited again in 2011 to celebrate our 40thanniversary and spent a few days pretending we lived here to see what it would be like. One night, watching the mountains and the sunset and the stars from our hotel balcony, I said if we could live here, why would we go anywhere else?

New Mexico

Photo by Robert Basler

Once you decided to move, how did you go about making the dream a reality? Did the process go smoothly?

We found a real estate guy during our 2011 visit and told him we would probably be moving here in four or five years. Then we returned to DC, did the math, decided we could afford retirement, and nine months later we were living in Santa Fe. So yes, it went smoothly.

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Santa Fe intersection

Photo by Robert Basler

How did you go about getting settled in, meeting new people, and carving out your new routine? Was there anything about Santa Fe in particular that made this process easier or more difficult?

Let’s be honest: to use the clinical term, what we did was totally insane. We packed up our two dogs and two cats, drove cross-country for five days and arrived in a city were we knew not one single soul apart from our real estate dude. Who does that?

Santa Fe Blankets

SharonFoelz/iStock Photo

Luckily, there are so many transplants here they have created their own informal support system. I think we know maybe two people here who grew up in New Mexico. The rest are from all over the country. Back in DC, your first question when you met someone new was, “What do you do?” In Santa Fe, you’re not supposed to ask that. If people want you to know what they used to do, they’ll tell you. Many don’t, because they are reinventing themselves and don’t want their past to get in the way. You just respect that and move on. Then, when you get home, you Google them.

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Tell us what a typical day looks like for you in Santa Fe.

We live in a place honeycombed with wonderful mountain hiking trails, and we use them nearly every day, doing four or five miles on rocky paths. Apart from that, nothing is really typical. I’m on the Board of the Santa Fe Animal Shelter, and that keeps me pretty busy. So does our own pack of pets. We also foster tiny kittens for the Shelter, and at times we’ve had as many as 10 animals in our menagerie. Try that sometime. I do most of the cooking, and that involves shopping for the freshest ingredients every day.

Santa Fe Shelter

Photo by Robert Basler

Do you have any tips for building community in a new place, especially in retirement?

I guess my only tip is to keep an open mind. Don’t try to plan retirement the way you planned your life. Fifteen months after we moved to Santa Fe I was writing a regular humor column for an alt-weekly newspaper, I was on the Shelter Board and I was studying Spanish. I didn’t plan on any of that, I just let it happen.

Santa Fe Railyard

ShaunaE/iStock Photo

What’s something that surprised you about relocating to Santa Fe?

How very, very smart the people are. If you go to a restaurant, the folks at the next table will be having the most interesting conversation you’ve ever heard. Everybody here is approachable. Everybody. A boorish snob wouldn’t last long in Santa Fe. You know who you are.

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It’s probably connected, but I’m also impressed by the spirit of adventure here. I was at a dinner party for eight a few days ago and all eight guests had been to Cuba! No, that wasn’t supposed to be a theme, it was just a happy accident.

Another surprise was what a difference the 7,000-plus feet above sea level altitude makes. I love to cook, but many of my East Coast recipes are useless here. I had to take a high-altitude cooking course, and five years later I’m still getting the hang of it.

New Mexico

Photo by Robert Basler

What advice would you give other people who are hoping to retire in a new place? Anything you wish you’d known before you did it?

Do your homework. Before we made our final decision we had a pretty good idea of Santa Fe’s politics, weather, cultural offerings, taxes, housing and medical facilities. We knew Santa Fe has a small town feel with big city amenities, like a symphony, a world-class opera, visiting artists and lecturers and a couple hundred great restaurants.

Santa Fe Christmas

Photo by Robert Basler

What do you like most about Santa Fe?

Good God, y’all! Do you have a week? People. Sunsets. The “City Different” kind of vibe. Lights on the Plaza at Christmas. The magical walk up iconic Canyon Road on Christmas Eve. The fragrant smell of pinion logs burning in our fireplace. The aroma of fresh chiles being roasted outside during the season. Taking out-of-town visitors hiking at Kasha Katuwe and showing them Meow Wolf and blowing their minds both places. The free outdoor concerts at the Bandstand throughout the summer. Bird-watching at the Audubon Sanctuary. The very real sense of history in a city that was established years before the pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock. The fact that two different downtown buildings have bronze plaques claiming to be the site of the jail where Billy the Kid was incarcerated. And the fact that you would never, ever, ever mistake this dusty little cowboy town for anyplace else on earth. Those are the things I love most.

Santa Fe

ivanastar/iStock photo

I just have to ask: where’s the best place in town to get a burrito?

I’m a Harry’s Roadhouse or Tune Up Café kind of guy.

Anything else you’d like to add?

Yes. If you come here, be prepared to stay. You’ve been warned.


Plan would lift restrictions but requires all units to pay taxes

Posted: Tuesday, March 22, 2016 10:30 pm | Updated: 10:57 pm, Tue Mar 22, 2016.
Original posted by Santa Fe New Mexican

The city of Santa Fe is moving forward with a plan to lift many of the restrictions on short-term rental units, but stops short of removing the cap on the total number of rentals allowed citywide.

Members of the Lodgers Tax Advisory Board approved a plan Tuesday to more than double the number of short-term rental permits from about 400 to 1,000. It goes next week to the city Public Works Committee, and will be reviewed by two other panels before consideration, then a public hearing by the Santa Fe City Council on April 27.

The new law would set an initial number of permits at 1,000 and allow all unlicensed units to come under the new law within 90 days.

If an owner is unlicensed after that, the city would impose a fine of $500. If the violation continued for another 14 days, the fine could be continued at $250 a day or the unit could be shut down.

Read the entire article


5 Real Estate Myths That Snag Buyers and Sellers

When you buy or sell a home, you’re likely to get lots of unsolicited advice from well-meaning friends and family. And a portion of the advice may be helpful while some of it, well, may not be so helpful.

When it comes to real estate, people tend to make generalizations based on their own experiences and speak in absolutes, when the reality is more nuanced.

Here are some examples:

You should wait to list your home until the spring. Yes, real estate is seasonal, we buy houses in orlando and even there, it’s the same thing, it comes in cycles. In some cities this is more apparent than others, especially places with harsh winter weather. When Redfin crunched the numbers over the past five years, we found that 51 percent of homes listed in the winter sold above asking price, compared with 50 percent in the spring. If you want the best shot at selling your home quickly and for the most money, list in the first half of the year.

Ultimately, the difference between selling in the winter and spring is negligible, so choose the time of year that is most convenient for you. And don’t fret if you need to list in the summer or fall. Ultimately, a home that shows well and has a good pricing and marketing strategy is the most likely to sell, regardless of when it hits the market.

Look for a deal during the holidays. On the other side of the coin, I’ve seen many buyers who were convinced that they could score a great deal on a home by looking around the holidays. Like much advice, there is a nugget of truth to this concept. Fewer buyers are looking during this time period. Sellers who list during the holidays may be selling due to necessity, like a job relocation, and therefore be more motivated to sell quickly.

Sale price is ultimately a function of market dynamics and less a function of the season. The key is to be patient, since it may take many months for the right opportunity to present itself. I also suggest that buyers look at homes that have been on the market for a bit of time. These homes may be good opportunities for negotiating a sale under asking price. Once a listing gets stale, you’re likely to have more negotiating power, regardless of the time of year.

You don’t need an inspection for a new build or recent renovation. Some buyers are under the impression that they can forgo the inspection for a property that is new or recently renovated. How much could be wrong if everything is new, right? From an improperly installed dryer vent which would have you using a dryer vent cleaning kit regularly to faulty wiring which can cause a shortcircuit, new developments can have minor and major problems that aren’t apparent until you get a professional in to do a thorough review. If you believe that you need at least to paint your house, look for fresh and interesting ideas at

While there may be competitive reasons to waive the inspection contingency in the contract, the decision to do so should not be taken lightly and should be made with full knowledge of the risks. Regardless of how shiny and new the property looks, it is in the buyer’s best interest to spend the money to get a thorough inspection from top to bottom.

Your home is updated and in a good neighborhood, so you don’t need to stage it to sell. Even the most beautiful, high-end homes should be staged and photographed by a professional photographer. Listing photos are a critical factor in the selling price of your home, how quickly it sells, and whether it sells at all.

A professional stager can provide objective advice on how to get your home photo-ready. They see a lot of homes so they can speak to design trends and features that are common in homes for sale in your area. You live in your home every single day and stop noticing little things that make a big difference in listing photos — a frayed rug, clutter in the entry way, chipped paint, etc. Spending a few hours to de-clutter and a few hundred dollars for a fresh coat of paint will go a long way in attracting the most interest from potential buyers.

Price your home above the amount you want to get, so you have room to negotiate. Determining what your list price should be is an art and a science. Before you list your home, ask your real estate agent for a comparative market analysis, which will help you determine a reasonable price based on sales of similar homes in your area. It’s very important to set a good price the first time, so you don’t have to drop the price later.

A Redfin study showed that the first week that a listing goes on the market, it receives nearly four times more visits online than it does a month later. Even if you drop the price later, it won’t get the same attention. When in doubt, start with a lower asking price.

Bidding wars are a good thing if you’re the one selling the home. If you underprice by, say, $10,000, you could get multiple buyers to bid up the price. If you overprice by $10,000, the home may sit on the market for months, and you’ll lose a lot more.

Marshall Park is a real estate broker at Redfin in Virginia who writes an occasional column on the real estate market.



Beautiful New Eldorado Real Estate Listing – Home For Sale

Living Room with Kiva
Living Room with Kiva

28 Monte Alto Rd. 3-2-2, 1.6 acres. 429K

Built by Yoder, this pretty Eldorado passive-solar home is on a paved road, has a flexible floorplan with two large living areas, a sunny studio and an office space. Gorgeous 2010 kitchen with granite and alder cabinets. A 42-jet hot tub, oversized, finished oversized 2-car garage, new hot water heater and 11 fruit trees including apple, peach, cherry, plum complete this wonderful Eldorado property. Brai roof with 2-year warranty transfers to buyer at no cost. Master bath has in-floor radiant heat. Rainwater catchment system includes two 1,700 gallon tanks for landscape watering. Instant hot water system. Do not miss this one!

Call Lisa for a private showing. 505-570-5770