My mother has threatened to move a couple of times, but that’s not happening. At this point, she has enough of her marbles and resources to stay put in a house that’s too big with a barn that needs painting and a yard that needs professional gardeners. I’m not mad about that; it’s the right decision for her. When she no longer wants/ needs this house, we will do the work and sell it. This may not be the same decision for everyone. One middle age couple I know, has half the house that my mother does and the husband is ready to downsize and move. He wants to reduce the burden of lawn and house and have less maintenance.
Are you thinking about moving? Most people find this a stressful and overwhelming task and therefore think about it for years before they actually do it, according the realtors I know. Last week I met a couple who had moved from their house in the country 5 years ago to a condo community to be nearer friends and activities. Now they are moving again to assisted living because of declining health. This is a lot of moving for one family, especially when you’re not as resilient as your younger self. Did this couple wait too long to give up the country house? Should they have moved when they were 75 years old and hoped for a good 10 years? Do you make a decision based on age? It’s especially poignant to know that half of Americans do not make it to 80 and of those that do, will decline significantly by 85.
Where you live is as much about lifestyle as anything else. For some of us, living in an apartment with easy access to town and the train, suits us just fine. Usually people start to move out to the suburbs, as their families grow and more space becomes desirable. Twenty five years later, the kids move out and the couple thinks about downsizing. They may also decide to stay put for a time and have enough room for family and friends on the weekends. I also know a couple that decided to downsize and move into the city because the husband was still working and their adult children were living there too. I guess they figured that their future grandkids could play in Central Park (!) or in their own yards in Westchester when their parents moved out of the city.
When it is time to move, pace yourself if possible. Figure out your timeline for the move – is it two years away, 12 months or less? Given the current real estate market with the right preparation, pricing and agent, the property could be promised to the next owner within days of listing. Given that you will probably downsize to a space half the size of your current home, plan on which furniture is going with you and of which furniture you will dispose. Clear out the attic, the basement and the closets. Downsize your memorabilia and photos. If the photos are an issue, then pack them in banker boxes to go through after you move. Remember, when it comes to memorabilia, your kids will want less than you do. Your father’s yearbook will be of little interest to them and your grandmother’s linen, even less so. Keep what contributes to your lifestyle in the near future and giveaway the china for 12 and Grandpa’s samovar. Judiciously pare down your files and paperwork- keep the important stuff, financial, legal and shred the rest. Your personal writing may be of some archival quality but I suggest deleting the journals you would not want your children to read.
You can help manage the Overwhelm if you breakdown the move into project blocks. This month is basement month, March is attic month and in May you will do all the closets. If you can do this in weeks, so much the better and your goals. You can also meet with realtors now, with the aim of listing your house in 6 months. If you need help then get it; it may be more cost effective in the long run. Wishing you a smooth move- it is possible!