Downsizing: Some Personal Stories

Moving at any time in life can be a daunting experience and determining the best way to downsize your possessions can be a real challenge. For Lorne Ames, the experience of simplifying his life and belongings for his move from a house to a retirement residence was very liberating.

"I was living alone, I'd had two heart operations and I was trying to maintain a big house with four bedrooms, living there all by myself," says Lorne. "The house was full of stuff and I had a large yard with lots of yard work to be done. It was becoming a full-time job each day, both inside and outside the house, just to maintain it.

"My kids talked me into moving out of the house into a retirement residence... Going through all my old stuff was exhausting, but good. With all the stuff I had I could have filled two apartments to the roof. I had no choice but to downsize. I had a garage sale, but still had lots of stuff that didn't sell. When I eventually sold my house to move, I sold it with a fully furnished suite, with a kitchen table and chairs that the new owners, a young family, kept for themselves. They were happy to use the furniture to help fill up the big house," says Lorne.

"For me, moving and downsizing was good. At first I didn't think I would enjoy the experience or like living in a retirement residence. But now I love it. It is cheaper than living in a big, old house and I don't have any maintenance or housekeeping to worry about."

For Adelaide and John MacFarlane, downsizing their life and their possessions was a process that took place over a number of years.

"We had been preparing for some time to move from our house to a smaller place, once we retired," says John. "We had to scale down our things when we moved from a house into a smaller townhouse, then again when we moved from the townhouse to an apartment."

After Adelaide had a stroke, caring for even their moderate-sized apartment became a challenge. The couple began searching out Assisted Living retirement residences that would provide them with the care they needed, but still allow them to feel like they were living at home.

The couple moved into a small, one bedroom apartment with a bathroom and no kitchen.

"By the time we were ready to move into a retirement residence we had a lot less stuff to worry about. But we still had to seriously size out our possessions," says Adelaide. "We decided to scale back what was left of our things and we only brought with us what we thought we could use in the space we now have."

"We called our kids and had them go through the apartment," says John. "We told them they could take anything that they wanted to keep and the rest we gave away."

The couple now live in a cozy space that reflects their personalities and family history. They can move around their apartment with ease and, despite living in a smaller space, their apartment is quite spacious with more than enough room for Adelaide's wheelchair. The pictures of their family and their life together remind them of all they have beyond what remains of their material possessions.

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