Moving with the times

While I’m still trying to figure out what to do now that I’m retired, other retirees are dealing with different kinds of transitions.  Fellow “Blundering Blogger” Dick Clark,, is in the process of cleaning out, scaling down and moving from being a long-time home owner to a resident of an “active retirement community.”  Making any move is stressful, but this one has to be more stressful than most, occurring as it is later in life.  I asked Dick if he would write a guest blog on what he is experiencing as he prepares to move.  He will write again as things progress.

By the time I was in kindergarten my family had lived in six homes in five towns and when I graduated from high school at 17 we had a record of ten homes in seven towns.  Now I am preparing to move from a home my wife and I built 14 years ago and wondering how on earth my mother and father were able to pack up and move so often.  Maybe because we moved frequently they did not accumulate as much “stuff” as we seem to have.  Maybe they were able to do it because they were younger.  No maybes about it, today there are many expectations related to selling a house that they didn’t have to put up with (e.g., no inspection contingencies, no disclosure forms to complete, no worries about “staging” the home). Whatever the reason, as I prepare for this move, I have a new respect for the seeming ease with which my parents arranged our many transitions.

After a nomadic early life and a couple of cross-country moves at the beginning of my own marriage, I have spent the last fifty years in three homes, all within easy walking distance of each other.  Now, with my wife and I facing some medical issues and not wanting to endure the truly bad end-of-life conditions we have witnessed for some older relatives, we are preparing to down-size and move into an “active retirement community.”

The marketing people at the various retirement homes we visited assured us that down-sizing would be a snap – of course all of them are still young and working – probably expanding rather than practicing what they preach.  As we began the work, it has become very apparent that going from 3,000 to 1200 square feet is easier for the sales people to say than for us to do.

When we moved to our present home after our kids had established their own families and residences, I thought we had done a good job of weeding out excess items.  That is, I thought so until we began the present process.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not a hoarder and I don’t save things that aren’t needed. Still, I have spent the past twenty years as a self-employed consultant and author traveling around the country, maintaining my own files on multiple projects, and starting a side venture in real estate.  One consequence of such activity is evident in walls of books and eight full file cabinets (to say nothing of all kinds of digitally stored records only some of which are in media that I can’t now retrieve).  Also, like my wife’s expanding collection of stuffed, pictured, and carved rabbits, various computer, camera, cell phone and other pieces of technology now fill up cabinets.

We have spent a few weeks clearing out things by hauling junk to the dump, putting boxes in a newly rented storage unit, taking files to the shredder, selling books to a used book store, convincing our kids that they urgently needed some of our surplus, and stacking extra furniture in the garage.  We have also replaced vinyl flooring in two rooms; repainted base boards; paid to have windows washed, carpets cleaned, gutters cleaned and repaired, garden areas weeded, and cement patio, walks and driveways power-washed.

Now that the house is in ideal condition, it is listed for sale and depression has set in. The photographers hired by the realtors have done such a good job of picturing our house ( we are crushed at the thought of leaving.

About stillalife

I retired June 30, 2010 after working for 40 years in the field of education and most recently doing school public relations/community outreach in a mid-size urban school district. I wrote for superintendents and school board members. Now I'm writing for me and I hope for you. In this blog, I offer my own views coupled with the latest research on how to preserve our physical and mental health as we age, delve into issues most of us over 50 can relate to like noticing wrinkles and forgetting where we left our keys, discuss the pros and cons of different ways to engage our minds and bodies after we leave the workplace, and throw in an occasional book review, all peppered with a touch of humor, irony, and just plain silliness. Also, I'm on the third draft of my second novel since retirement.
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4 Responses to Moving with the times

  1. Karen Clark says:

    It is truly beautiful. I can only image how sad you must be to leave this house. However, take comfort in knowing that you still have each other to share this new adventure.

  2. Jackie Smith says:

    Dick, A great piece of writing and something that every boomer/senior should read. (The City of Kirkland considers you a senior at age 50, and in this case, I don’t think it is a bit too soon to start thinking about transitioning into the next ‘chapter’ as I prefer to think of life.) Kudos to you and Rosemary for taking a pro-active step, researching communities, selecting one and then beginning the process of joining it. Far too many prefer ‘not to think about it’ and end up in places they don’t want to be or worse, are put in those places by well meaning family and friends. Thanks for sharing your story.

  3. Dick Jordan says:

    We’ve lived in the same house for 35 years. Next week we have to move out of our master bedroom so our contractor can rip it to pieces. (He promises to re-assembled it by week’s end). Our house is only about 1,800 square feet in size, so there is virtually no extra room (except in the one-car garage) to store everything from the bedroom. We jokingly told our contractor that we’d actually rather have him build us a new home, move everything we own into it, and then let him attack the repair job in our existing home. Too bad we don’t have “the readies” (as the British refer to cash on-hand) to do so.

    Good luck with your “re-lo.” Keep on blogging wherever you are.

  4. Pingback: Moving with the times, Part 2 | Still Life

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