The Benefits of Downsizing
There were many factors that contributed to Frank Reed’s decision that he was ready to give up his big house and move to a Continuing Care Retirement Community. He had watched both his father and older brother make the move to senior living communities, so the process was open and familiar to him. Going through that experience with them encouraged Frank to think more strategically about the cost of long-term healthcare. It also didn’t hurt that he was Chairman of the Board for The Hill at Whitemarsh, which, at the time, was a brand-new community.
His wife, however, was not an easy sell when it came to downsizing.
“I just wasn’t ready yet,” says Ann Reed. “No one wants to admit that they are getting older—we have friends who should make the move but are resistant to it. I do get it though. I loved my house, I loved my garden, and I really loved my life. I wasn’t ready to leave all of that behind.”
Frank was able to see the big picture and knew that a move would be inevitable. He wanted to make sure that he and his wife would end up in the best possible community and he decided to secure their spot in a cottage at The Hill at Whitemarsh four years prior to ultimately making a move. It not only gave Ann the time she needed to become more comfortable with the idea, but it also allowed them time to renovate their new place with all the comforts of their old home.
“We replicated some of our favorite features from the old house,” says Frank. “The small details in the kitchen, like the backsplash, and bigger details in the living room, like our fireplace.”
Starr Osborne, the owner of Tailored Transitions, a home staging and moving company that specializes in downsizing, says that many people are excited to start over with a fresh new space, like a clean slate.
“I’ve never heard anyone say they want to go back after they’ve moved to a smaller space,” Starr says. “I only hear ‘I wish I had done it sooner.’ We tend to stay too long and take on too much as we age. We help people through the stress of moving, providing as much or as little support as they need.”
Experts have identified moving as one of the most stressful life experiences, so it’s no surprise that people put it off for so long. Once you commit to moving, finding ways to remove anxiety from the process can not only help you preserve your sanity and your health, but can also provide you with more peace of mind throughout the process.
Choosing to work with a company like Tailored Transitions will create an organizational structure to your move so that you don’t have to worry. They can help you plan by creating timelines for the move, figuring out how you want to utilize your new space, prioritizing the items you want to take with you, helping you dispose of the items that won’t be moving with you and measuring all of your furniture to create a floor plan for a smooth moving day.
“It’s remarkably freeing but not easy to downsize,” says Starr. “By the time you start packing up, you’re ready for a new chapter to begin. And it’s amazing to watch people create new relationships with their existing furniture—it almost becomes new again.”
Frank and Ann were able to do exactly that. They measured each room and all their furniture and made a scale model of each room in order to plan everything before their move.
“We have reminders of the old house, which we enjoyed for 30 years,” says Ann. “But we’ve found that our cottage has much more usable space. It’s bright and cheery and more efficient.”
“And there’s no more maintenance!” Frank says enthusiastically. “I had grown so tired of taking care of things that needed attention in that house and maintaining the lawn and our garden. I am just so happy to not have to think about that anymore.”
When asked about how their life has changed since making the move to The Hill at Whitemarsh, Frank and Ann agree that both everything and nothing has changed.
“I really like to cook, so I still spend a lot of time in the kitchen, even though we have access to the dining room here,” says Ann.
“And we still go out to dinner a lot too,” adds Frank.
“We have a very busy social life actually!” says Ann. “We’ve met some fascinating people here, and you can be as involved in activities at the Hill as much or as little as you want.”
“Activity is never a problem here,” says Frank. “You can join a committee or attend lectures and events. And it’s still just a quick drive into downtown Philadelphia. We just worry less now.”