John and Brenda Markle's upcoming move has been more than a year in the making. The couple, who've lived in Houston's Green Trails Village neighborhood for 29 years, is planning a change of address next month when they'll move to Eagle's Trace, the Erickson Living-managed community in West Houston.
John and Brenda reserved their apartment in Austin Square, the community's newest residence building, in February 2020, giving them a little over a year to prepare for the move.
“We have friends who live at Eagle's Trace, and they've all said the same thing,” says John, a financial advisor. “They told us, ‘Don't wait to move in. Get here soon to enjoy the lifestyle.'”
Now that Austin Square is a month away from welcoming its first residents, John and Brenda are among an enthusiastic group of reservists who've anticipated this long-awaited move.
“We started to think about downsizing two years ago,” says John. “The care and maintenance of a two-story home wasn't practical any longer. We considered downsizing to a smaller one-story house or patio home, but when we thought about where we wanted to live eventually, the answer was someplace like Eagle's Trace. We didn't want to move twice, so we decided to move early and enjoy the lifestyle.”
New apartment, more opportunities
The couple joined the priority list at Eagle's Trace in January 2020 and attended an exclusive event for priority list members in February 2020 to learn more about the upcoming new residence building, Austin Square.
Austin Square adds 150 new apartment homes in a variety of one- and two-bedroom floor plans to the already bustling campus. It connects to all other buildings on campus via climate-controlled walkways, accessible through a first-floor connector to the Galveston Crossing residence building.
Amenities in Austin Square include the Waterloo Restaurant, a new dining venue with an outdoor dining patio; a Life Enrichment Center; fitness studio; and an outdoor pickleball court.
“When we learned Austin Square was going to open in April 2021, that pushed us to get moving so we could get the apartment we wanted,” says John.
The couple reserved a two-bedroom, two-and-a-half bath Galvez-style apartment home on the fifth floor, appealing for its open concept living and dining area, as well as the two bedrooms on opposite sides of the apartment.
“I'll continue to work after we move in, so I'm planning to use the second bedroom as a home office,” says John.
Help with downsizing
With their apartment reserved, John and Brenda tackled the task of downsizing. To assist with the process, Eagle's Trace offers the services of a Personal Moving Consultant Haven Benoit.
“Haven put us in touch with a real estate agent and senior move management company with experience helping people make the same move we're about to make,” says John. “We decided to use all the professionals she recommended because it was so easy. They're used to working together and coordinating things, plus there's a little bit of a financial incentive.”
The Move On Us program offers a moving services credit for expenses incurred during the move. This includes downsizing and packing at the client's house as well as the move to Eagle's Trace and unpacking in the new apartment. Future residents can take advantage of as many or as few of these services as they wish. The maximum credit through Move On Us is $2,000.
“At Eagle's Trace, we partner with real estate agents who have experience helping seniors move,” says Benoit. “They're trusted professionals who have been successful in helping other residents sell their property and move to Eagle's Trace. Future residents qualify for the Move On Us credit when they use a preferred real estate agent to sell their home.”
Early in the downsizing process, John and Brenda connected with senior move managers Greg and Crystal Drake with Lone Star Transitions, who Benoit recommended.
“I'm glad we got Lone Star Transitions involved when we did because we were ready to start donating items,” says John. “In order to have an online auction of things you want to sell, you need a minimum amount of inventory.”
The couple approached downsizing with a plan. They amassed items they wanted to let go into groupings for an online auction. The remaining items were subject to two questions: Do we want this in our new apartment? If so, where will we put it?
“We realized very quickly what's important to us,” says Brenda, a retired psychotherapist. “Downsizing doesn't mean getting rid of everything,” says Crystal Drake. “It means keeping what you love and finding the perfect spot for it in the new place.”
Adding their own touch
The couple also worked with Jessica Ceballos, Custom Interiors coordinator at Eagle's Trace, to put their own touch on their new apartment. “We upgraded to engineered hardwoods, premium carpets, and a larger refrigerator,” says Brenda. As their move-in date approaches, John and Brenda say they're ready to enjoy the outcome of a year's worth of planning.
“I'm excited to have more free time for activities instead of having a big house to clean,” says Brenda. “I took French for two and a half years in college and I like learning languages, so I'm planning to join the French club. I also want to take yoga and Pilates.”
John, whose office is only 2.4 miles from Eagle's Trace, says he's happy to discard the responsibilities of home maintenance. “I'm looking forward to coming home from work and not worrying about the house, the pool, or the yard,” he says. “I can work out instead and play bridge. We'll have more freedom to choose activities of interest to us.”
Written by Sara Martin
To see the stylish one- and two-bedroom apartments at Eagle's Trace and learn more about options, please visit https://www.ericksonliving.com/eagles-trace/apartments.