Many empty-nesters and beyond debate that question almost daily. Many remain in their big homes almost by default – it can be hard to imagine a move. But try to set aside emotion for just a minute, and ask – will I be better off if I move? Will I get more out of life if I don’t have to maintain a large house (time and money)? Will I use the extra time to travel, go to the theater, or become engaged in that “cause” I have always wanted to? In short, is staying put actually holding me back from enjoying the things I have always envisioned for the next stage of my life?
For many, the answer is yes. Making a change in housing can be a step toward living life to the fullest.
I personally just downsized. I am almost an empty-nester – my youngest is in her last year of college; the older two are up and on their own. I thought the questions were, do I give up that yard I spent so much time on, do I give up the comfort of the single-family home in which I raised my kids, do I step back from being Mr. Fixit? The real questions were – will my kids feel somehow “displaced” if they cannot come back to the place where they grew up? Will I be “ok” with trading the maintenance for the “cause” in which I have always wanted to engage? Will I travel more if I do not have a house to worry about? In short, will I give up living in memories and start living more in the present?
The answers were that my kids did not feel anchored to the house – but to our family, wherever we are. For the first time in decades, I don’t own a lawnmower – and I have joined the environmental group I have been putting off for years. And, living in a Townhouse now, it is easy to lock the door behind and go away – for weeks or months if I want.
So the question about downsizing is – can I improve and enjoy my life more if I do? For many, the answer is increasingly yes.
Some tips for coming to the decision:
“Am I saving/storing these antiques from my parents and grandparents for my kids?” Reality is, the kids don’t want them. Just ask. Many want a small item to remember grandparents by, but their personal style is not a match.
“How do I get rid of my grandfather’s table or my mother’s china set?” Let go of the guilt. Keep one or two things that you actually use regularly – and let go of the rest. That still honors your ancestors.
“How do I know what I can keep after I move?” Best bet is to find the next home first, then do a little space-planning. After that, perhaps make a list of what you will not take, room-by-room, and email to your kids, family, friends. If they want any, ask them to come get it!
Have some nice pieces? Estate sales are ideal!
Next, donate. There are many, many charities who can reuse the serviceable things you don’t want. Imagine a young child receiving that bike that has been sitting in the garage for years – savor the joy that brings!
Lastly, don’t hesitate to discard. As the last things go – think of the weight removed from your shoulders and the freedom for the next phase of your life!!
This type of move isn’t always for the faint-of-heart. Downsizing can take a team. Start with a good Realtor – one who specializes in downsizing (see below!!!). That person can help you explore the homes that represent your next lifestyle – whether a townhouse, condo, apartment or even assisted living if health changes require it. Then comes the team – move managers, de-clutterers, charities for donations, vendors to prep the former home for sale. That good Realtor will help manage the whole move.
Want to brainstorm? Don’t hesitate to call.