The re-set

Yes, that’s a For Sale sign in front of our house. Read on for part one of our “downsizing” to “right-sizing” journey.

The term “downsizing” has been part of our household vocabulary for some time. My husband wanted to. Me? Not so much. My reluctance had nothing to do with a sentimental attachment to our house. My objection was that we didn’t know where or to what we would downsize. 

It turns out I am perfectly capable of changing my mind.  I am surprised to admit I am willing to forego a large yard and space we are really beginning to rattle around in for the allure of something smaller, probably newer and with the exterior maintenance cared for by someone else. 

But here is the rub. Most people have a plan: moving to Florida, or Arizona, the mountains in North Carolina, etc. We have never had a plan, and, frankly, none of those usual destinations were appealing to us. We thought about the Charleston area in South Carolina. It’s been our favorite vacation destination for years. And we did look around there, but it’s pricey close to the beach and it’s farther from our kids than we are now. Of course we thought about staying in the Chicago area, but oddly enough there was not much to look at. 

One thing about even starting to look was that it got us talking — a lot! We realized that we really wanted to be close to our grandsons in Columbus, Ohio, before they outgrow us. And I would be foolish indeed not to admit that this decision has been driven at least in part by the pandemic isolation of the last few years. 

We need a change; call it a re-set. 

Leaving a home we’ve enjoyed for 35 years and a community we’ve called home for 40 years is   bittersweet. It’s also energizing to think about a new house & new community. We will probably be in an area with walking and biking trails, perhaps a golf course. Columbus is one of the fastest-growing cities in the country and home to my husband’s alma mater. We will not lack for things to do. 

Once we decided we had a direction to move in, we just kept going. We did some preliminary looking in Columbus to see what our options would really be and called in realtors to give us direction on selling our house — when, how much, what preparations the house needed before sale. We were lucky; last year’s buyers’ market had never really slowed. If anything, there was less real estate inventory available. After totally renovating our kitchen a few years back, we had repainted the rest of the interior in the light gray and white palette so popular today. Our biggest task was decluttering and removing furniture to make way for some strategic staging the realtors planned. Every shelf, drawer, and closet was an exercise in decision-making: keep, sell, donate, or dump?

The packing process is so glamorous!

In the meantime, we went back to Columbus to meet with a realtor and look at houses. The realtor was terrific — a saint I’d say to work with us — but looking was hard. It was cold, it was wet, the days were short. (We used the flashlight apps on our phones to tour a few homes under construction.) The sellers market here and in Ohio made for a poor buyers market in Ohio. There just wasn’t anything to look at. We had to really think about what would make us comfortable and what we could trade off if necessary.

Back home, we just kept packing. All those dishes, my party closet with the traveling wine glasses, and all the books I had determined I was not going to give up. Meanwhile my husband began to mine the tools in the garage and basement. We could have opened a hardware store but managed to sell a few and give others away. The same for more of the dishes, some of our “wedding crystal” and even my grandmother’s china cabinet. Not to worry, we saved more than we gave up and the young woman who bought the china cabinet was clearly thrilled. I’m glad it went to a good home. 

166 boxes later…

Our garage/storage center. By the time I took this photo, a few dozen boxes had already been moved to Ohio.

Our daughter, who lives in Chicago, and our son and daughter-in-law in Columbus have been hugely supportive. Our son moved about half the boxes and some miscellaneous furniture to a storage locker in Ohio. Our daughter rented another locker in the city and took some things she wanted but had no room for right now. My husband made run after run to recycle electronics, hazardous waste (mostly in half-empty bottles and cans from the garage — ewww!) and then there were the Goodwill giveaways. Whew!

With stacks of boxes and extraneous furniture piled up in the garage, the house went on the market and sold as quickly as the realtors here predicted — while we were house hunting again in Columbus.

With step 1 — Selling — off our list, we really had to focus on step 2 — Buying or Building? Stay tuned for the next chapter, when decision paralysis temporarily fogs our path forward and the calendar gives us a firm nudge.  

Thanks for stopping by. See you again soon.