Almost five years ago we downsized from the family home in the suburbs to a townhouse in the city. If you have been reading this blog for a while, then you already know that, and I apologize for being redundant. However, it’s an important part of today’s topic. You wouldn’t believe how many people tell me they want to live in a smaller home, they want to move downtown, or they want to get rid of some (or lots) of their stuff. Moving to smaller quarters is a lot of work, and it’s an emotional drain, but there are some major advantages to down-sizing.
Our big move to smaller quarters was initiated by Mr. Right. He came home from a conference where they had talked about the resurgence of downtowns and how people will soon want to move to the city from the burbs to be closer to the action. I was thrown for a loop when he said that. After all, I had considered our home in the burbs to be our forever home that we would only leave when we were headed to the grave.
Mr. Right’s timing was off, though. Jordan was about to be married, and we really wanted to see her walk down our steps in her bridal gown. By the way, it was a moment I will never forget.
She was married in the spring, and we had a bunch of traveling lined up. And that gave me some time to get comfortable with the idea. So, after all of our plans were completed, we put the house on the market at the worst time of the year – two weeks before Thanksgiving. Lucky for us, we had a contract on it by Thanksgiving, and our move was in motion.
In order for this move to work for me, I told Mr. Right that my new home must have some dirt. I still wanted to be able to grow my herbs and have some flowers to tend to. Having just a balcony wasn’t going to be enough. We had been looking at townhouses throughout that summer and fall, and we found three that fit the requirements. We numbered them in order of our preferences. Numbers two and three sold, and our number one choice was still on the market when we were ready to buy. And buy it, we did.
When we first lived in Lexington, we had a house with 7,000 square feet that was on 10 acres in the country. When our son was a senior in high school, we moved to a house with 4,000 square feet in a wonderful area on the edge of Lexington. Our townhouse has 3,000 square feet, and it offers room for all of our needs, wants, and more.
Downsizing has given us these advantages:
1. We walk to most of our activities. Downtown Lexington is full of great restaurants and a wonderful historic movie theater, performance theaters, and galleries, and they are all within a twenty minute walk. We are also near the University of Kentucky campus, and we are able to walk to sports events, concerts, and the art museum. We also live near a post office (that happens to also be a chocolate shop that gives out free samples) a pharmacy, lots of adorable locally-owned retail shops, our church, etc. The front of our townhouse faces a popular historic park, and we can play in the grass any time we want, but we don’t have to mow it.
2. Getting away is easier. We travel a lot. Both of our children live in other states, and our parents live in other states. Plus, we do our cycling trips, volunteer vacations, get-away vacations, and long week-ends away. Because we live in a townhouse, we pretty much can lock the door and leave. We don’t have to worry about getting the yard work complete because we don’t have a yard.
3. There’s still room for everybody. Even though we downsized, we still have the largest master bedroom we have ever had plus a big guest room with its own bath. Mr. Right’s office can quickly transform into a guest bedroom, and there’s a full ensuite bath. We added a full bath and Murphy bed in our basement, and so it also becomes another private guest quarters. By using furniture that has more than one duty, (ottomans with storage, benches with storage, trunks as coffee or end tables, etc.
4. You don’t need as much stuff. Even though it was tough to get rid of our kids’ childhood toys, art projects, papers, clothes, etc., doing so was liberating. (We gave them whatever they wanted to keep.) I love having empty drawers and empty closet shelves, and we have plenty. I really think twice before buying something now that might create clutter in the future. I also try to follow the rule that if I buy or get something new, I get rid of a similar item. I have friends who have rooms who have turned bedrooms into closets. Although I am happy for them, that’s just not my style. Less is definitely more in my book.
5. Entertaining becomes smaller and easier. We have loved to entertain ever since we were first married. Having a smaller entertaining space doesn’t mean we can’t do it any more. It just means that we might have a dinner party for six people rather than 12. And since I am the chief cook and bottle washer around here, that makes my life easier.