North of 50: Movin' On In

By Colin Campbell

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We’ve bitten the bullet. Done it. Downsized.

After spending the past 30 years comfortably ensconced in a roomy three-bedroom home in the Interior, my wife and I have moved (make that squeezed) into an 875 sq ft co-op apartment in Vancouver. As anyone who has gone through the downsizing process knows, it can be a trying business.

We expect it will be a challenge fitting the accumulated detritus of three decades into the new place, but after the movers have made about as many trips up and down in the elevator as I make to the bathroom these days, we realise we are in real trouble.

The living room is crammed to the ceiling. There isn’t an inch of free space anywhere. A mouse could hyperventilate attempting to find his way out of this lot. Furnishings, boxes, books, bicycles, totes, skis and a miscellany of objects fill every inch; this though we’ve already disposed of beds and various pieces beforehand, and made countless trips to the Thrift Shop and the dump.

Where to begin? I fear this is not going to be a domestically blissful undertaking.

We start by checking out the storage locker assigned us. There is room enough to accommodate a paint pot or two and maybe a toaster – not enough to make a dent on our pile. We cram a few things in anyway.

I stow the boxes containing essentials like empty wine bottles and my collection of *National Geographics* in a cupboard. When I return from locking the bicycles in the parking garage, I find the bottles and magazines parked by the elevator. “For recycling,” my wife says. I protest as she adds two boxes of encyclopedias to the stuff outside. “Just taking up space,” she says. “You can look it all up online.” I counter by carting her plaster Easter Bunny to the corridor. When I return from feeding the *Geographics* and bottles to the recycling bins, Bunny is back in the living room.

Back and forth we go: debating, contesting and agonizing over pictures, photographs and trinkets. We stuff things into cupboards and still have piles of bedding, towels and clothing to find space for. Since we need to buy new beds anyway, why not get ones with drawer space? Ikea has those. We purchase a pair and have them delivered.

Should have known better.

Ikea, as many have discovered, is a concept devised by Machiavelli, who created the names for their products as well as the assembly instructions for their “easy-build” furniture. It doesn’t help that when it comes to home handiness, I’m about as useful as screen doors on a submarine. By the time I’ve wrestled, sweated and sworn my way through three hours of this I reluctantly admit defeat and call upon a friend who knows a Nordliplik from a Spjerkle and an Allen Wrench from a badly bruised thumb. He puts the things together in no time – less than a day, in fact.

As the week progresses, we come to agree on what is essential to keep and what has to go. Sentimentality wins on occasion; loses out to necessity on others. Shelving is installed and gradually we find a place for just about everything.

Two months on and we are comfortably settled. Some limitations take getting used to. The grandkids don’t have the space to run as freely as they would like when they visit, and you couldn’t swing a hamster in the kitchen. There are many plusses however. Co-op living suits us. Coming from a wonderful neighbourly community up North, the friendliness of the people living here and the opportunity to contribute by serving on various committees has made the transition that much smoother.

For us, at least, there has been an upside to downsizing. Blue plaster bunny notwithstanding.



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