We've all heard the expression, "Rome wasn't built in a day." The same can be said when it comes to downsizing. When trying to organize and declutter a house you've lived in for 30, 40, or even 50 years, the key is to start small. Experts will tell you, it's a process that takes time and patience.
Just ask Linda and Wayne Smith. Since selling their four-bedroom Glen Burnie home in February 2019 and moving into their new one-bedroom-with-den apartment at Charlestown, they have downsizing down to a science.
Get ahead of the game
"If you plan ahead, it's less problematic," says Wayne, a retired project director for Johns Hopkins Medicine. "We joined the priority list in March 2017 and literally spent from May 2017 until September 2018 downsizing and fixing up the house to prepare it for sale."
Wayne put his expertise in project management to work, developing a schedule and even a PowerPoint presentation that chronicles their downsizing experience to help future Charlestown residents. The presentation includes downsizing tips, choosing the right sized apartment, furniture placement, and their personal timeline with Wayne's handwritten notes.
"One of the things we stress to people is you really need to slow down your shopping at places like Costco about a year before you move," says Wayne. "It's important to start depleting your inventory of food storage because after you move, you just aren't cooking that much anymore."
The Smiths partnered with Personal Moving Consultant Vera Ballard and Erickson Realty and Moving Services, a complimentary program offered by Charlestown to help future residents navigate the ins and outs of downsizing, as well as the selling and moving process.
Ballard provides complimentary in-home consultations to Charlestown priority list members to address downsizing needs. She also works closely with accredited downsizing and staging professionals to ensure a move that is effortless and stress free.
"It's important that you seek professional help," says Wayne. "The experts know what to do and when to do it in order to make your move efficient. That's exactly what Vera provides. When it came to moving, we definitely wanted someone who knew what they were doing."
With dozens of different floor plans to choose from, Linda and Wayne studied all of their options carefully. At the top of their wish list was an open floor plan with a large great room that would accommodate their living room and dining room furniture.
"We looked at a wide variety of apartments and chose a Georgetown with a nice kitchen and a beautiful bathroom that looks like it belongs in a hotel," says Wayne. "There was already extensive crown molding and overhead lighting throughout, as well as plantation shutters, which we kept. But we selected new flooring and paint colors and added two 30-inch glass-front wall cabinets in the kitchen and upgraded to a bottom-drawer refrigerator. Everything else was already perfect."
And best yet, they were able to arrange their furniture in the same configuration as it was in their house, making them feel right at home.
Since moving to Charlestown one year ago, Linda and Wayne are enjoying the convenience, amenities and worry-free lifestyle their new home affords them.
"One of the first things I did after we moved was joined the woodshop," says Wayne. "I built some shelves for our closet. I'm also a professional ship model maker, and I continue to work on those here. We joined a new social group called Boomers, and we started a group called Gamers, which meets once a week to play a variety of board games, both classic and new."
"We both have been involved with Bible Study and have taken several ELLIC (Elderhostel Lifelong Learning Institute at Charlestown) classes," adds Linda. "I recently took a digital photography class because we enjoy traveling, and I would like to take better photos. We also joined the fitness center."
But perhaps their favorite amenity of their new home is having their choice of seven on-site restaurants.
"One of the things I tell people is how much freedom you have when you are no longer looking in the newspaper for what's on sale; going to the store to buy it; preparing it, then cleaning up. You don't know how much time and energy that takes until you don't have to do it anymore," says Wayne. "We have been inviting family and friends to join us for dinner. One Sunday, we all met for brunch. It's fun to be able to share that with people."
"Plus," adds Linda, "Wayne and I don't have to agree on what we are going to eat."