Living in Scottsdale, budgeting for this life..

Our Scottsdale dining table set for tonight’s dinner guests. Much to my amazement, there were linen napkins and placemats in the condo.  Five for dinner tonight.

We’ve been living in Old Town Scottsdale for almost a month, an ideal area for travelers.  Within a mile to the upscale shopping mall in downtown Scottsdale, walking distance to the Arts Walk District in Old Town, a mere 10-minute walk from our condo, we are literally within range of hundreds of eateries, shopping, and entertainment.

Fine dining is abundant as well as casual theme orientated bistros, cafes, and local versions of fast food, this area is limited in the usual sprinkling of chain restaurants, a delight to see.

While living in Minnesota, far from everything, we seldom dined out.  Tom drove almost an hour each way to work and back and the thought of a long drive to dining out was never appealing to us on the weekends.  We always blamed it on the fact that I enjoyed cooking and we loved lounging at home.

Now, we’ve confirmed that it was the drive more than anything that kept us away.  Living close to everything prompts us to look at one another each day asking, “Shall we go out to breakfast?” or “Want to go out to dinner tonight?”

Fast and furiously my fingers are flying across the keyboard reading the multitude of online reviews for the local restaurants.  We have yet to venture out to the half-hour drive to the McCormick Ranch area, where I had tried to find us a vacation home to rent for the two months, finding nothing under $4000 a month.  

Living in our well equipped and well kept 1100 square foot one-bedroom, poolside condo, we’ve been content.  The high-speed Internet works, although problematic when we first arrived, fixed immediately by the management company, allowing us to continue to work on our technology and research. 

View from our dining/living room in Scottsdale condo.

The kitchen has every gadget known to man/woman, except a rolling pin (I thought of making low carb tortillas, scrounging around looking for one).  There’s linen placemats and napkins (yeah!) and reasonably nice dishes.  The frying pan situation is lacking with one difficult to clean stainless steel pan and another old flaky Teflon pan I refuse to use. 

I’ve made breakfast using Reynold’s No Stick foil (on the dull side) on a glass 13 x 9″ pan, placing the sausages and bacon in the oven at 375 degrees to bake for 20 minutes while the huge low carb, gluten-free pancake bakes in the same time frame in a pie plate, again covered with the foil.  In the last four minutes I drop the eggs into the pan I used for the bacon and sausages.  Voila! We have a delicious baked breakfast and I must admit perfect jumbo pancake and eggs.

One might think it would make sense to buy a $10 pan while here for two months, but I decided long ago… improvise.  There will be vacation homes around the world severely lacking in many of the amenities we’ve enjoyed in the past.  Change and flexibility are in order going forward.

Last night we went out to dinner at a local diner in Old Town, David’s Hamburgers for one of the best bun-less burgers on the planet.  We’d gone there for a great breakfast on Thursday morning. 

Upon ordering the lettuce wrapped avocado adorned, stringy cheese, crisp onion, and fresh tomato covered burger for breakfast, I told Tom we must come back here for him to enjoy the same for dinner after he had eaten eggs, bacon, and sausage for breakfast. 

Drooling over the prospect of another of those burgers for two days, we went back last night enjoying a great reasonably priced meal in the cozy diner before attending another hilarious night at The Comedy Spot also in Old Town. 

We’re already “regulars” in Old Town as many of the seniors moseying around the area have become. Perhaps, the comfort of the familiar goes hand-in-hand with being a senior citizen.  In simple terms, “love the one you’re with.”

Living on a strict budget, documenting every expenditure makes us conscious of how we spend our money.  Now on a more fixed income, committed to all of our future travel plans, its imperative to continue to refer to our pre-planned budget so meticulously outlined on our Excel workbook with multiple spreadsheets. 

We have local copies of our budget saved to both of our laptops, to DropBox and also to SkyDrive, the cloud that came with Windows 8 and, of course on our new My Passport 2 terabyte external hard drive.  It’s safe.  

With that budget in mind, we’ve only dined in more upscale ($$$) restaurants three times since we’ve arrived in Scottsdale, each time spending $100-$120 with tips. Having budgeted for a few of these such occasions each month, we were comfortable spending the money. 

Our budget allows for $800 a month in groceries and approximately $300 a month for entertainment.  If we spend less on groceries, we have more for entertainment or we can roll it over to extras we may purchase on our upcoming eight cruises. 

Some may cringe at the thought of two people spending $800 a month on groceries.  Based on our diet of mostly organic vegetables and grass-fed meat, occasionally entertaining others, beverages, purified water, paper products, and cleaning supplies, we have found it nearly impossible to trim this number. 

Without a doubt, it will be near this number in other locales, although the grass-fed meat may be more economic in some parts of the world where it is more prevalent than the grain-fed meat supply here in the US.  We shall see and report back later.

Tomorrow, Monday, we’ll purchase two cashier’s checks made out to the US Department of State for $170 each to send to VisaHQ along with all the necessary completed forms, after paying their $154 in processing fees, to apply for our 2nd passports with extra pages.  They’ll be awaiting us at our mailing service in Las Vegas when we’ll head to Henderson to spend Tom’s 60th birthday on the 23rd and Christmas with family in yet another vacation home.

Lots of details, aren’t there?  When speaking with my wonderful friend Chere on Friday, a loyal reader of this blog, we both marveled at how travelers managed to explore the world before technology, before credit cards, before cell phones, before the Internet, before cameras, and before the myriad gadgets we use today. 

This left me asking, “what benefits do we derive having the availability of all of these resources?”  Convenience, simplicity, preparedness, and awareness, all of which could fly out the window in a single moment if something goes wrong.