Have you ever thought about downsizing? Or have you already downsized to your second forever home? Come hear our story and tell us about yours too!
Everyone has a downsizing story if you are blessed to live long enough. Maybe you have just downsized and your story is still raw. Or maybe you have downsized a while ago and your story is good and a bit bittersweet. Or maybe your downsize story is still to start! Today I’m going to share our downsizing story. There is more to it than you think!
I never thought we would move! But we did! We moved from our much-loved family StoneGable home and into our second forever home The Tanglewood House a little over two years ago. I’ve wanted to write this post about our decision to downsize for almost as long!
I think it takes time to digest the process of downsizing so now is the perfect time to start a series about all things downsizing!
In this series, we will talk about our downsizing story and so many other useful downsizing topics like when to know you are ready to downsize, the emotional process of downsizing, what kind of home to look for, how to know what to take to your new home, how to part with the things you love, when to know you are taking too much to your downsized home, how to create a place that feels like home, and how to change your style to work with your new home and more!
So today is the beginning of a year-long monthly series all about downsizing and how to do it smartly! Friends, I’m going to be very real and tell you just like it is!
I know many of you have downsized so feel free to comment and give us all your best advice! And tell us your (abbreviated) downsizing story too.
And if you are thinking about downsizing put your questions in the comments. I’ll try to answer all of them in future series.
Now, let’s start at the beginning…
WE WERE NOT LOOKING TO DOWNSIZE
Bobby and I were not really looking to downsize.
Here’s how everything began…
After church the day before Memorial Day 2019 we went to eat breakfast at the clubhouse of Bobby’s golf course about a 15-minute drive down in the southern tip of Lancaster Co.
We were sitting at a window where a beautiful section of the golf course sprawled out before us.
While we were eating our omelets and toast Bobby casually mentioned that he saw one of the Villas on the golf course for sale.
He knew I wanted to get a look inside them. Not to move, I just wanted to see how well they were made. And there was really nothing else like them in Southern Lancaster Co.
There were 6 Villas, really condominiums, three on each side of a country road that cuts the golf course in two. And easy Villa held two condominiums. So there were 12 homes in all.
I thought the outside construction look so beautiful and well done and the road and driveways and gardens and grass always look pristine. Certainly, someone was taking care of them.
After breakfast, we drove to the Villas, just a stone’s throw away from the parking lot of the clubhouse, and found the Villa on sale.
I could tell it was bigger than the other Villa attached to it. At close inspection, although all the Villas look the same they had small differences and I really liked that.
We took the name and phone number of the realtor from the for sale sign and gave him a call. And within 24 hours, we were in the Villa, just so I could take nosey around.
I was so surprised by what I found! A beautifully built home with high-end amenities. This condo had a master bedroom on the first floor, two and a half bathrooms, a very open floor plan, a large upstairs sitting area, along with two upstairs bedrooms, and a bath! This home was about 2,700 square feet and had a huge daylight basement the footprint of the entire downstairs.
It also had a covered patio that looked onto the 7th tee. Actually, the land the 7th tee was on was part of the Tanglewood’s property.
We spent about an hour looking around and left. Just before shutting the door and walking away, I said to Bobby, “I love this house”!
What you probably already know is how I have struggled with a foot that is really no use. If you have read this part feel free to skip over it. I promised to be real. My left foot became such a big part of our downsizing story!
A few years ago I developed arthritis in the navicular join (they call it part of my ankle) in the inner ankle of my left foot.
I had it operated on at The Rothman Institue in Philadelphia and was in a cast for three months and in a wheelchair too. I was totally immobilized. We bought a stair chair so I could get from the main floor to the upstairs at StoneGable and vice versa.
When the cast came off a pin that held the flange and screws to the bone had come loose and had broken through the skin. This caused a bone infection.
So I started a fight to save my foot and probably my life! It started with a round of IV antibiotics dripping in my heart (this was the worse part) that caused SO many health issues and trips to the hospital. I had 11 operations to save my leg and foot, and an operation to take part of my hip and plant it into my leg.
I spent almost 2 years in a wheelchair and a boot up to my knee.
My wonderful dr saved my foot but because of the infection and nerve damage, it was of little use. But the happy news is I do have a foot!
My life became very small at StoneGable, even though I loved it so much. Going out to the garden became nearly impossible and so did getting from the mudroom to the garage.
I was not able to enjoy or big wraparound porch unless someone was with me and I could no longer go to the basement to get decor I needed. Thank goodness I have an assistant that is my right hand in all things decorating and cleaning up! Katie is a gift from God and I am so thankful for her!
I hope this gives you some perspective to our mindset and my health as we started on this downsizing journey.
On the car ride home, Bobby and I talked about what we liked about this unique home. You see, homes like this are a unicorn where we live! The southern end of Lancaster County has nothing like this!
We both love the layout, the convenience for me, the vaulted and cathedral ceilings, the big beautiful windows, the way this home looked out onto a gorgeous golf course, and more!
But liking a home and downsizing to it are two very different things?
I think we were very surprised by how well-constructed and thought-out this home was.
After a lot of discussion around the idea of downsizing we called the realtor and asked to see it again. This time we looked at it differently and very closely. We took a measuring tape and measured every wall and window!
A few days later we looked at it again. I don’t think Bobby and I could quite grasp the idea that we might be thinking about downsizing. It happened so quickly!
So how does one know that downsizing is the right thing to do?
For us, it was a matter of prayer and a checklist. We looked to God to open a door or opportunity. We told God that if he opened doors we would without hesitation walk through them.
I knew this gem of a home would sell quickly because it is just so unique in this area. But we were certainly not there yet! At all!
The list of things I liked about this Villa at Tanglewood was LONG! But there were, for me, several things that had to change. Remember we were just talking… nothing settled.
- the whole house needed to be painted (I thought caramel was an aweful color to paint such a lovely open area)
- the carpet in the bedrooms had to be removed and hardwood to match the house laid
- the kitchen had to be totally madeover
- the wimpy fireplace had have a grander mantel
- the office had to have built-in bookshelves
- and the stair had to be have new white spindles, pretty wood newel posts and banisters and a great runner
- the upstairs bathroom needed to be refreshed.
Thank goodness I have a blog and Bobby realized my readers expect a certain LOOK from my blog. Oh, thank you, sweet readers! I don’t think I could have pulled off so many things on my wishlist without you. Seriously!
Bobby, thankfully agreed with most of this list.
Bobby’s list, dear Bobby, was much smaller. Just the fact that this was his golf course and he could walk out the door and play gold was a dream come true!
The one thing he did ask for was to take part of our large basement and make it into a bar and game room. I added a powder room in his room to the list.
There was one thing I had such a hard time getting past that was almost a deal-breaker! Although there was a lovely covered patio there was no convenient way for me to get there.
Either I had to go down two sets of steps in the basement or go down a small hill to get from the garage to the backyard.
Bob, like me, had some issues with the patio for my sake.
We knew we would have to make a decision pretty quickly. And the whole concept of moving from StoneGable just seemed entirely surreal. We had not planned to move, we had not hired a realtor to look at StoneGable and Tanglewood, we had not even looked at finance. Honestly, this is not the way to downsize.
We both realized we had but days to decide. We also knew there had been some interested folks looking at the house too!
So we prayed and prayed and called a realtor friend, Rob Hess from Kingsway who was amazing!!!!
He walked us through the process. It had almost been 25 years since we bought a home.
And we all prayed. Our family prayed. And our friends prayed. Then the doors and windows of answered prayer and direction just flew open!
Although an answer to prayer does bring me so much peace, answered prayer does not mean a wellspring of emotion and regret did not happen. Because this was the most emotional time of my life!
Next week I’ll share Part 2 of our downsizing story! I might have had a totally different outlook about downsizing if we had planned to downsize! But this is OUR story!
Next week I’ll share how we waded through almost 25 years of stuff and memories to get ready to move!