An Affordable Home on the Range

Having a budget-friendly apartment means no worries to this retiree cowboy.


- Posted on May 3, 2017

James Carlson in his apartment playing the guitar

Content provided by the Good Samaritan Society.

When it comes to hobbies, James Carlson is no one-trick pony. For starters, the 73-year-old is a singing cowboy, just like his childhood hero, Roy Rogers. He’s also a toy collector with a keen eye for the pieces he played with as a child, and he’s made doll furniture since his daughters were toddlers.

James grew up on a farm, loves western-themed folklore and has played country music all his life. In his affordable new apartment home, James continues to explore his variety of interests.

According to the AARP Foundation, by 2030 1 in 5 Americans will be over retirement age and in need of affordable housing. For some people, the image of “budget-friendly” housing implies limited options...a step down from a typical retirement setting.

This cowboy begs to differ. “You talk about a worry-free life,” James says of his home. “I got it, man. I’m staying here!”

For James, having a home he loves and can afford means everything. “It’s all inclusive in the one payment, so after you write that one check out, there are no other expenses,” he says. Heat, air conditioning, electricity and even laundry are all included in his monthly payment for the apartment.

Before moving to Echo Glen Apartments in Rapid City, South Dakota, about two-thirds of his income went to housing, James says. Now, it’s less than half of his income.

”I can do what I want to do and go where I want to go and enjoy life," he says. "It means the world because you go to sleep at night and you don’t have nothin’ to worry about.”

James says he has lots of reasons for wanting to stay in his apartment for as long as possible, including:

  • The building is secure
  • When it’s time to take out the trash or pick up his mail, he doesn’t need to leave the building
  • He's within walking distance or a short bus ride to a Veterans Affairs clinic and his favorite downtown stores
  • He lives in a community with others his age
  • There’s no upkeep or maintenance to take care of

“You wake up in the morning," James says, "you just walk out the door and go any direction you want, pal.” Happy trails, cowboy. Happy trails.

To find affordable housing in your state, visit HUD.

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