A new year brings opportunities for new beginnings. For me, 2016 promises to be a year of change.
After much thought, many late night discussions, and the need to face aging realistically, my husband and I decided to sell the too-big house that’s been home since 1990.
We are tired of maintaining both our city house and our cottage at Lake Huron. Both have care-taking, gardening, snow removal, and cleaning responsibilities.
It’s time to down-size, or perhaps, right-size. We plan to move to a smaller home in another Ontario city closer to our son, daughter-in-law, and grand-daughter.
Proximity to family is important in this decision but a key advantage of our planned move is that driving to the cottage will take 45 minutes instead of 3 hours. We are also going back to a city where we lived for many happy years.
Just thinking about moving brings intense emotions. Coupled with anticipation of new beginnings are feelings of loss, fear, and anxiety. Thinking about packing and sorting our belongings is daunting even when I re-frame these tasks as an opportunity to purge. I know that moving means leaving parts of myself behind.
The sentimental attachments run deep — not only to our house but also to our community. I’ll miss my neighbours, my bridge friends, my knitting meet-up group, my book clubs, my church friends, and my gym friends.
I’ll miss our house. There is comfort with simple things like knowing exactly where I stow various hats, shoes, and gloves in the hall closet. I’m at peace when I sit in the kitchen and look at the back garden where trees planted as saplings now shade the house. Memories fill every room. Experiences within the walls have shaped my life for 25 years.
The decision to sell and move was made mutually with my husband. We agree that down-sizing to a smaller house with all amenities on one floor is right for us in terms of retirement independence. Living in a smaller house will free up time to pursue those things that matter more — time with family, time at the cottage, and time for hobbies.
We know that it’s wise to make the choice to down-size freely and not have it forced on us by necessity as we grow older. Self-determination and agency are important variables in maintaining happiness. This means adapting our lifestyle, hopefully without too much compromise except to buy more help with heavy householder tasks.
In almost 50 years of marriage, we have rented apartments, bought and sold houses, moved across Canada and lived in several cities. Regardless of the physical setting, we have accumulated memories of a home life that provides love and comfort. It’s not the house but the love and respect within that makes a home.
Home, and all that it means, including the physical space, is the centre of my universe. It represents family, contentment, safety, and stability. There is security in knowing that my inner self is sheltered whenever I walk through the door. Once inside, I am free of any public persona. I am me.
In the coming months, you’ll read posts about my journey of down-sizing, moving, and change. I know that many postworksavvy readers have made similar changes during retirement. I’ll depend your advice and support. In turn, I’ll share lessons I’m learning in this phase of the retirement journey.
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