This week SMART Living 365 is delighted to introduce you to Janis Heppell as our guest blogger while I am traveling. I have been reading Janis’ blog Retirementlly Challenged for a couple of years and believe her perspective on rightsizing is something many of you will appreciate. Thank you, Janis, for filling in with SMART thoughts while I’m traveling.
When my husband and I bought our home almost 25 years ago, retirement was a distant dream. We had been preparing for it most of our working lives, but we still had quite a few years before we’d be in the position to take the plunge. We chose our home based on its general location and the particular neighborhood, not on its suitability after we left the work-world.
Now that we are retired, how our home functions in our day-to-day lives has supplanted our concern with work commutes. This shift in focus often prompts many other retirees to rightsize to a home that better suits them. Maybe they want a smaller, single level house, perhaps they want to live somewhere without harsh winters, or maybe they decide to move closer to their children and grandchildren. For whatever reason, rethinking where they call home makes sense as they embrace their new lifestyle.
For now, my husband and I have decided to stay where we are. We are fortunate to live in a climate that offers nice weather year-round. We like our neighborhood and socialize regularly with our neighbors. And, right now anyway, this just feels like home to us.
Because we are staying put, we are focused on making our home work better for us now, for our current – and future – selves, not the people we were. In our quest to rightsize in place, we are slowly but steadily working towards what I call our S.P.O.T Goals:
Simplified, Pared-down, Organized, and Turnkey.
A big focus has been on simplifying our day-to-day lives. We want to minimize what we don’t want to do so we can spend more time on things that do matter to us. This includes simplification of our financial life, simplification of our yard care, and simplification of time commitments. I’m even considering simplifying my transportation by selling my overly-complicated and unnecessarily powerful gas-powered car and replacing it with an electric car.
Like many – if not most – retirees, we realize that we have too much stuff. Some of the stuff is important and useful, but much of the stuff is just… stuff. Through a combination of donating, selling, and just giving things away for free, we have managed to make a large dent. If you saw our kitchen, living room, bedrooms, and bathrooms, you could think “mission accomplished.” However, if you walked into our offices or the garage, you’d understand that we have a ways to go.
We still have too many boxes filled with the flotsam and jetsam of our former lives, including unfinished household and craft projects and random tchotchkes picked up along the way. I even have a few boxes of items once owned by my parents that I’m having difficulty letting go of. Even though we can fit two cars in our garage, there are boxes of stuff on shelves that we haven’t opened for years.
I’ve always been a collector of paperwork and articles. If we need to know when we installed our alarm system, I have the receipt. When we need to find the owner’s manual for an item purchased long ago, I can find it in a matter of minutes. Planning a trip to Mexico? I have lots of travel articles that I’ve collected over the years.
Fortunately, modern technology has made getting and staying organized easier. Between machines that scan and digitize receipts and Google, it is hardly necessary saving anything in file folders anymore.
In real estate, turnkey is defined as a home that is fully functional and ready for occupation. By simplifying and automating, our home functions better and requires less effort for its day-to-day upkeep. This also helps when we travel for extended periods since we like to have house sitters for the peace-of-mind they provide. Up until now, we’ve had people we know stay in our home, but we’ve also been intrigued with the idea of house-swapping. Whether we are home, or it is temporarily occupied by friends or even complete strangers, a turnkey home means having fewer things to worry about.
Rightsizing in place is a work in progress. But, as we move further along on the path to a fully simplified, pared-down, organized, and turnkey home, the stress of complication and clutter fades as we gain more time to fully enjoy life and our retirement.
Janis retired three-and-a-half years ago and hasn’t looked back. She loves to stay active traveling and swing dancing with her husband,enjoys relaxing with a good book, and relishes the freedom to explore her creative side. On her blog, Retirementally Challenged, she writes about her various adventures, and shares observations about life in general and retirement in particular.