But downsizing is so much more than moving to a smaller home.
Downsizing is also about simplifying life. It’s about cutting expenses associated with landscaping and utilities. It’s about untangling from years (maybe decades) of being in the same house, in the same routine, with (usually) tons of the same “stuff” that’s been in the house forever that’s no longer used, needed or wanted. It’s about reinvention, renewal, refreshing change. And it’s about meeting new people, developing new habits and hobbies, and changing the rhythm of the march through life.
Many people want to stay in the communities where they’ve “lived large.”
It’s understandable that some people want to downsize into their existing communities; a sense of the familiar is hard to beat. The same movie theaters, restaurants, neighborhood parks and grocery stores can be a source of comfort to many people, so they want to stay close to the communities where they had the big house, raised the family, and loved their neighbors. Depending on where they live, there may be perfect options. Say they move two miles from Lyon Village in Arlington, Virginia, to a townhouse in Alexandria. It’s close enough to visit their old neighborhood, but far enough way that they can forge a new path to the nearest Whole Foods, to new restaurants, and to gift shops and wine stores. The townhouse may be half the size of their Lyon Village house, and the challenge once they’ve found a place to move is deciding what to pack.
Regardless if staying close or moving cross-country, rethink style.
When downsizing to a smaller home, some design and organizing experts recommend ditching absolutely everything from the old house, except for a few treasures that simply cannot be ditched. Design specialists who work with people moving to a new home often recommend doing a one-eighty and designing a fresh new look to go along with the different life that comes with a smaller new home. Consider going with a more-contemporary modern look to avoid having a space that feels cluttered. Smaller spaces cannot properly absorb the oversized upholstered sofa that was so comfortable in the country French family room in the old place. Instead, a streamlined sofa with oversized pillows can provide the same comfort while allowing more of the other parts of the room to stand out.
Apartment Therapy is full of great ideas for smaller spaces (click here to check out the site); it’s not solely about apartments, it’s about designing smaller spaces to be functional, stylish and organized. Another fabulous site is Freshome, which provides page after page and link after link of design idea. In addition, several books are on the shelves and on Amazon that will help people in new spaces put their own special touches on their interiors.
If downsizing from a large, difficult-to-maintain home is necessary to allow homeowners to “age in place,” there are plenty of great options. Many communities specialize in one level, single-family or attached patio or garden homes that are already outfitted with grip bars in the bathrooms, wide doors in case injury or illness requires a wheelchair 20 years down the road. In larger and newer properties, such as town homes and condo developments, there are often elevators or chair lifts already installed.
These communities may not be right next door to the old neighborhood, but what they lack in familiarity they make up for in convenience, accessibility and safety. And when moving to a new home that isn’t suitable “for the long haul,” people can consider hiring an “aging in place specialist.” These are people certified by the National Association of Home Builders NAHB who can install all the necessary items to make a home safer for people as they grow older.