Today I want to tell you a success story.
Anne-Marie and Bob lived in the most perfect historic home in my town.
It had been an old horse stable built in the late 1800’s and its centerpiece was a huge bookcase-lined room where they held large gatherings at an enormous dining table.
It was romantic and filled with detail and the many beautiful things that they both collected. Anne-Marie had created glorious flower beds that had been on multiple garden tours.
They raised two wonderful children in that house, though they had moved out, but it was getting to be too much. Taxes, upkeep, a change in job status – it was all eating away at their bank account. They were miserable — worried about their pension plans compared to their monthly nut.
Intellectually, they knew they should probably downsize. But the thought of that was depressing. Downsizing felt to them like “downgrading.”
Together, we started to have some conversations that were tough, at least at first.
JUST THE IDEA OF DOWNSIZING CAN BE REALLY HARD
Sometimes it’s almost impossible to consider moving out of the home you’ve been in forever. You’ve probably raised your children there. Every little corner and crack reminds you of some memorable event, good or bad. It can be really painful.
One of the toughest things is deciding where to go. Do you stay local? Are you friends still there?
Traditionally, you parents went to Florida or Arizona. The weather sounds good, but is that right for you? Fridays have given you advice galore (how many times have you been pitched on Asheville, NC?)
Maybe you’ve spent years dreaming about Paris or Rome, Montana or Colorado. Or a house with a view by the shore.
It’s one thing to dream. It’s another when reality is staring you in the face.
So when I’m helping someone sell their home and downsize, I listen to their story. Then I spend time talking about their destination. You need a guiding inspiration, something to look forward to. Look to the future, and not to the past. This is the toughest part, because now that you can do anything, there are so many decisions to make. Gulp.
TURNING FANTASY INTO REALITY
For Anne-Marie and Bob, selling the house was an arduous process, and very emotional. It sold quickly, but getting prepared to leave was painful. Lots to pack up and lots of friends protesting that they should stay in town. Lots of heartache.
But they had a dream. Anne-Marie and Bob LOVED Maine and had spent many summer vacations there. It sounded impractical — leaving everything and everyone behind. But they decided to go for it.
They made a brilliant decision (following my advice) and rented in a couple of towns, trying to decide where they wanted to ultimately roost.
After some time, they found the right place for them and became homeowners once again.
AND WHAT A HOUSE!
I just came back from visiting them. I had seen pictures and heard stories, but nothing prepared me for their new home. It is gorgeous. It’s one of those traditional Maine colonial homes where the barn is attached to the main house by an addition. It’s filled with light from tons of windows (their old home was dark).
All of their collections are gorgeously displayed in front of beautiful white trim (their old house had dark wood). You could appreciate Anne-Marie’s exquisite taste.
They had a large dining room AND a living room (their old home combined the two). They also had a big welcoming eat-in kitchen (that’s right, their original kitchen was tiny).
They had found everything that was lacking in their old home.
But wait a second. Didn’t they downsize? Doesn’t downsizing mean moving into a smaller place? No! In fact, this new house was much larger than the home they had sold.
So how did that work? Well, homes cost much less money in Maine and the general cost of living is lower.
With the profit they made on the sale of their home in NJ, they only had to pay a small mortgage and they still do much better than if they had stayed put.
The house was all ship shape, and they weren’t intimidated about taking care of the large property. It was AWESOME.
DOWNSIZING CAN BE POWERFUL
Anne-Marie and Bob had decided on their dream, went after it, and theirs is a success story. They are spending much less money than they had been, they are no longer anxious, and have made their fantasy a reality. This what downsizing means to them.
Downsizing absolutely does not have to mean downgrading. I keep saying that over and over again. In this case, it also doesn’t mean smaller; it means adjusting to their current financial capabilities.
They’ve made new friends in town (many of them downsizers as well). And they have been receiving endless visitors from NJ, which they love. They have a new grandchild and can’t wait for the house to be filled with his laughter.
Anne-Marie and Bob’s story reconfirms for me the power of downsizing. Don’t be anxious or sad. Get excited. This will be a new opportunity for you.
They are an inspiration to me. People like them are the reason I have chosen to focus on helping people get over their fear of downsizing and moving ahead to a new part of their lives.
There are so many different ways to downsize. Please share your downsizing stories with me and my readers. We need to hear them all.