Letting go of things

In my January editorial I wrote that Alice and I are planning to downsize and move into a smaller place. In this editorial I would like to explain how our plans are succeeding beyond expectation.

After 33 years of living in a spacious house looking out on a lush golf course, we are moving into a townhouse about two-and-a-half kilometers from where we used to live and right across from another golf course.

We had been scouting around for a month or so, exploring different opportunities. One apartment was not an independent unit and was poorly laid out. Another was too far out of town. Yet another ended up being too pricy once we had added all kinds of necessary options.

At a given point we thought that we might sign up for a unit that still had to be built. The asking price was affordable, and the square footage was about 1,000 square feet. But the unit would not be available until the end of the year. We were not overly enthusiastic about the neighbourhood we had chosen nor about the somewhat small size of the place, but felt it was perhaps the best we could afford.

A few days later, I received a short email from our real estate agent. He mentioned a townhouse that had come on the market. Our daughter Marguerite, who was visiting from B.C., checked the information online and noticed that the open house would end in about 20 minutes and suggested we immediately drive to the place to see what it was like. We arrived about ten minutes before closing time. We inspected the unit and almost immediately fell in love with it.

It seemed about the right size for us. Instead of only 1,000 square feet this unit was 1,400 square feet. And not only that, it had been built about 16 years earlier and was in prime condition. It seemed brand new to us. The former owner had passed away, and we could buy it if we wanted it. The next day, we put in our offer; and a day later we found out that our offer had been accepted. We were tremendously pleased.

Full speed ahead
Our real estate agent who had presented our offer suggested we immediately try to sell our current home. We agreed. Four days later, on a Friday afternoon, our house was on the market. All visitors came by appointment, and altogether about nine parties came through. The next Monday afternoon we were presented with three offers. Since none of the offers were conditional, we, of course, chose the highest one.

But what was so amazing is that the process of buying a retirement home and selling our previous home basically took only a week and one day, although a probate condition took some time to be lifted. From thereon we took two months to sell whatever furniture and goods we could, or donate to the local thrift store and bring the rest to the dump or have the garbage truck do it for us.

That process of selling our goods was a busy but worthwhile operation. Alice had been posting ads on Kijiji for weeks and gradually household items we no longer needed ended up with people we didn’t know. Just imagine, we needed to get rid of at least three quarters of our possessions, which had over the years taken on residential rights in our fairly large house.

Both Alice and I have found that the longer we were on the road to reduction, the easier it seemed to be to let go of things that earlier seemed to cling to our bodies.

One thing I must mention before I utter my final salute to our neighbourhood. All our children have at one time or another in the past few months joined us in saying farewell to what ultimately is our temporal dwelling place. They fly in from Alberta and B.C. and drive from Ancaster to steer us along the path of reduction. Three of them will be here to help us move from Highland Avenue to our new place, two and a half kilometers away as the stop-street-honouring and traffic-light-obeying Toyota Camry will wing its way to our cul-de-sac on Queenston Street, St. Catharines.

  • Bert Witvoet is a former educator and editor of various magazines, including the Christian Courier, who lives with his wife, Alice, in St. Catharines, Ontario.

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