For this story we interviewed a past client who recently went from a 5500 square foot house in North Potomac to smaller condo in Bethesda to get the scoop about the positives (and negatives) about moving to a smaller house.
Katie Sullivan and her husband Robert spent 30 years in their sprawling North Potomac home before deciding it was time for a major lifestyle change. “Rob just retired so we have been traveling more and having all this house has just become a burden” Katie says. Both of their children are grown and have houses nearby, so the rooms in their house sit empty except for the occasional stay by a grandkid and maybe once during the holidays. While she says making the transition was undeniably hard, it has been the best choice for her and her family. “I am surprised how much I love this downsized lifestyle. I thought I would miss so many things, but the reality is that I am so much happier here”. Here are 5 things she doesn’t miss, and one thing she does:
- The Yard: This one is a no-brainer, but when you aren’t home as much the yard just becomes a burden. We have been fortunate enough to pay for grass cutting service, but the rest of the landscaping didn’t bring me the joy it once did. At one point, I that peaceful time in the yard was an escape from my loud children. More recently, I would dread having the water in the mornings and spend Saturdays that I could be with my grandkids pulling up weeds. Plus, now I just drive my kids crazy tending their own gardens, so it’s a win-win.
- The Car-centric Lifestyle: For essentially my entire adult life I have lived in places where you need to get into the car to go anywhere so this move has been a big adjustment but one that makes me regret not doing it sooner. There is something wonderful about walking out your front door to the post office, the grocery store, and the flower shop. It almost feels quaint even though the area where we live is anything but.
- Cleaning: In our old house I felt like we were constantly chasing dust. Maybe I just don’t notice, but in a smaller space there isn’t rooms that are abandoned and only used for special occasions, which means the dust doesn’t have time the settle.
- The Space: I was shocked that I wasn’t annoyed with my husband and I being basically on top of each other all the time. Before the move I assumed that would be the hardest adjustment. Going from a large space where you can really escape from each other to a smaller apartment where you can hear each other moving about seemed to me like a recipe for annoyance, but the transition was seamless.
- My Stuff: We took this move as a way to clear out the clutter we have been acquiring for most of our lives. Having a big house with ample storage means that you are never really forced to get rid of things. Over the years it builds and builds until you are left (or you eventually leave your kids with) a monumental task. I recruited friends and my children and we mercilessly purged anything that I didn’t need and they didn’t want. It helped to have an outside perspective, because there were some heirloom pieces that I struggled to release. But what am I going to do with an ornate antique mahogany 12 person table in a condo? Especially one that my kids can’t use and don’t particularly like. So we sold what we could and donated the rest and I haven’t thought about it since. Probably means I wasn’t as attached as I thought if I haven’t spared it a second once the truck drove away.
The only negative that I have found in the entire process is that I miss my old bathroom. I miss having a grand dressing room and not having to be in the same space as Rob, but that’s such a minor trade off. Hopefully I will get used to it in no time!