Stuck about making the big move to a smaller house?

Terry Brezsny Ballantyne
- Terry Brezsny Ballantyne

Stuck about making the big move to a smaller house?

You know it’s time, you want to want to do this , but you’re  stuck. This is a  big deal.

It’s the outward expression of your inner acceptance that you are, well, moving on in life.  Looking carefully at the quality of your daily life. No deferments, no  ‘wait till later’, no ‘I’ll get around to it’.

If you want to do anything different, you sense, like a bird anticipating winter, that you better fly.

Everyone is getting the message. Take only what you need. Resources are finite.

Don’t be a glutton. And yet, when it comes time to leave the large family home the gears grind. At the intellectual and the emotion crossroads there is a trainwreck.

Let’s look at why.

The practical:

Maybe you or your folks are a little more fragile, a tiny bit unstable. Slipping on a tub wall, or catching a toe in a shower curb could have long term consequences. Maybe the driveway is too long now to take out the trash, maybe that second story bedroom is just too many stairs away. Maybe it’s just too lonely out in the country.

The fiscal:

Maybe you’re tired of paying for insurance and utilities on a 10-14 room house when you are only in the living room, kitchen and master suite daily. Maybe the property tax rate is great, but the maintenance is too overwhelming and living with tall grass and weeds and chipped gutters is messing with your self esteem.


The familial:

Maybe your kids are not coming home as often. Is it realistic to maintain all this for one holiday gathering? Maybe you kids are encouraging you to move in with them? Maybe you want you folks near you so you can care for them. If Mom is getting forgetful, proximity is a key driver.


The emotional:

This is the proverbial 100 lb. gorilla. This is where the train mentioned above, of clearly acknowledged rational issues, a train rolling nicely in the direction of Station Rescale/Downsize hits the brakes. This is where the heart says “NO WAY!”

Why? A home is a wrapper for all that you perceive yourself to be. Remember when you checked the survey box “Homeowner” for the first time after renting? That’s a proud moment. The same self concept is thwacked when you give up “the big house”. It and you have been the hub all these years. You were the giving tree.

You called the shots. And then, somehow, you got benched. Or you benched your parents. Either way it’s a moment in time when you surrender your identity to this new thing.   A retiree? A pensioner? A senior? An elder? None of them sound great.

It’s not the house, it’s never the house. It’s the identity crafted around it and the memories. Hard to let go of all that. What do you do with all the markers of times, the tears and the joy. How do you relinquish the container that held the evolution of your life. Walking away is just hard. Yet people feel silly revealing that and when they do they often cry. They weep for the memories and they weep for the discomfort of facing at last, that this is the back 9.

Until, they realize they have 20-40 great years left. Travel beckons, letting loose of the responsibility of home maintenance, taking it easy, being a better grandparent,

volunteering in the community. Suddenly the house is a time drain, a resource sucker, an unnecessary hobbler of your freedom. House be gone!

And just like that, my clients will come to me and say, “I’m ready!” or “ I don’t know why I made it such a big deal”. But this internal shift is invisible and not linear. It has it’s own timeline and it moves back and forth.

My advise is don’t let anyone push you around, and if you are the pusher give your parents time. Keep in mind there is purpose and dignity in the back half of life. Know that accepting less responsibility doesn’t make you irresponsible. That leisure is not akin to useless. Recalibrate, remodel, repurpose, scale back, trim down and look with joy at this new fabulous chapter on the horizon.

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