The Freedom of Downsizing

As a longtime resident of Lafayette Hill, Carol Beam has had The Hill at Whitemarsh on her radar since it first opened its doors in 2007.

So when an opportunity arose for her to buy a terrace apartment in the new Hawk Ridge neighborhood of The Hill at Whitemarsh, Carol jumped at the chance.

“Hawk Ridge was appealing because the space seems so private and yet still allows you to be part of a close-knit community,” says Carol. “And buying in pre-construction gave me some flexibility in customizing aspects of my new home, which was nice.”

It’s not only the interior space that makes the move exciting for Carol, it’s also the abundance of nature that will surround her at Hawk Ridge. From the walking trails that circle the entire property to the peaceful beauty of The Hill’s Lake Lenape to enjoying the wildlife at the nearby Dixon Meadow Preserve, Carol is looking forward to being surrounded by such an abundance of nature.

Future Hawk Ridge resident Carol Beam

“I am an avid birder,” says Carol, who has traveled all over the world to see and photograph birds. “And I am hoping to see lots of birds in the trees outside of my door. I’ve always loved birds, but I really got into birdwatching about ten years ago. The Dixon Meadow Preserve is one of my favorite places, and I feel so lucky to be moving even closer to it.”

Carol admits that since she’s not moving very far, not much about her life will change after her move. She is, however, facing the challenge of adjusting to leaving her five-bedroom house for a two-bedroom apartment. The process of downsizing has been tedious, and both physically and emotionally taxing at times. Carol credits the wonderful Sue Mazzarelli, move-in coordinator at The Hill, for making the whole experience a bit easier.

“The way they make downsizing easier is really incredible,” says Carol. “They put a digital floor plan together to help me figure out how to fit all of the pieces I want to keep in the new apartment, like my grand piano. And they don’t just figure out how to make it fit, they also make it look great.”

Although Carol won’t go into settlement on her new Hawk Ridge apartment until June, she knew that figuring out how to empty her house was going to be a time-consuming project. She started getting rid of stuff around the holidays and still has a long way to go.

“It’s incredible, it really gives you perspective about everything. Things that you thought were treasures, no one ends up wanting, and you have to learn how to let go,” says Carol. “I contacted different organizations to come take furniture from me, but they have very strict rules about what they will and will not take and how they will take it.”

Carol admits that many of her other friends who are not yet committed to moving have decided to try to clean house as a result of watching her go through the experience. She has learned a lot in the process of downsizing and has three pieces of advice for anyone who is planning to downsize in the future:

1. Create deadlines. Carol recommends that you make appointments in advance with companies and organizations that will haul furniture and garbage away for you. “It puts a deadline in place and forces you to commit to a timeline.”

2. Be mindful of what you buy. Carol says that she implemented a “one in, one out” policy a few years ago to prevent clutter from building up. “If I buy a new shirt, I have to get rid of another one in my closet that no longer gets worn. It’s actually a good exercise to go through whether you’re downsizing or not!”

3. Toughen up. While it can be challenging not to let emotions get the best of you during a major life change like moving, Carol suggests you figure out how to stop emotions from playing a role in your decision-making process. “You just have to get tougher about getting rid of things.”

Downsizing is overwhelming, but Carol also finds it to be incredibly liberating.

“Releasing yourself into new things instead of holding on to your stuff opens up your life to new adventure,” Carol says.

This summer, she’ll be starting her new adventure at Hawk Ridge and she couldn’t be happier.