The Death of Convenience – Moving Out of a Metro Area

For those living in a large city or surrounding area, we tend to take for granted the ease of getting things done in our everyday lives. Convenience is hard when moving out of the city.  In the city and metro areas, grocery stores, dry cleaners, video stores, restaurants, and just about anything else we need to survive on a daily basis is either within walking distance or a short drive away. Having a pizza delivered or grabbing a carry-out is second nature. Jumping on an expressway and driving 20 miles to meet up with friends – no big deal – 20 miles for someone living in a city or suburb is a hop, skip and a jump. Then, as the years pass by, you decide to retire or semi-retire and move to that small town that offers a slower and less hectic life – something that you have dreamed about most of your working years. But with the move, you soon discover that you need to adjust to a lifestyle in ways you never thought before.

Convenience is Hard When Moving Out of a Metro Area

When you move to a more rural area, as we have discovered, the conveniences that you took for granted living in a large city or surrounding suburb are a rude awakening that, indeed, you took them for granted. We moved from a large metro area of about 4.2 million people to a town about 10 miles outside of a resort city, with a population for the entire area totaling 140,000. Big difference. We discovered shortly after making the move that our slower and less hectic lifestyle was wonderful, but our ability to get things done at the snap of the fingers was virtually impossible. For instance, trying to find a dry cleaner that has one hour or same day service – not to be found. Pizza delivery – we live too far outside the big city. Video store – they just closed the one by us and we now have to drive to the big city to rent a DVD. Grocery shopping – only in the big city. Restaurants – only a few in our small town and you get tired of the food. Chain stores – only in the big city. Soon after our move, we discovered that we were at least 10 miles away from just about every amenity we grew accustomed to when we lived in a metro area. Now, 10 miles may not seem like much to someone who lives in a big city or suburb, but in a rural area, 10 miles is about a one-half hour drive. Picking up carry-out Chinese food can take an hour. Finding a plumber entails an extra service charge for driving to our house. Renting an on-demand movie is much more expensive than being able to run to the video store to pick up a DVD. Making sure your car has enough gas is always on your mind.

Advantages of Moving to a Small Town

We are by no means complaining of the simpler life we have chosen. Moving to a small town has added years to our lives. We enjoy the comfort of fresh air, the home-town charm of our friends and neighbors, the slow pace, the stress-free attitude, and of course, the beautiful waterside. But, as with everything in life, there is a yin and yang. We love our lifestyle, but we have had to learn to plan better. If we are down in the big city, we do everything at once, because if we forget something, it means another 10 mile trip down the road and 10 miles back. If we are having friends or family visit us, we meet them in the big city for lunch or dinner. If we need gas, it is a staple that we fill up when we are in the big city. Just about everything we do is centered around planning for when we go to the big city. Initially, this was very disruptive, but now it has become reflexive for one of us to ask the other if we need anything in the big city. So, our lifestyle in terms of the physical convenience of getting things done and having things at our fingertips is gone. But our lifestyle in terms of our new way of life far outweighs any of these hassles as we move to the retirement phase of our life. We have adjusted quite well.

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Downsizing for Lifestyle – Don’t Become One Big Storage Bin

Moving to a Smaller Home

Downsizing is not the easiest decision to make. Many people consider the financial aspects of a smaller home. Not me. My motivation was that I just got tired of cleaning a big house where only two people lived.

Sorting Through Years of Storage

When we reached semi-retirement, we found a house about five hours away. The house was about half the size of our then-current house. I was responsible for packing everything up and sending it off to our new two bedroom house. What I realized when I was packing was that our house had turned into one giant storage facility. Every room was filled with furniture, clothes, paperwork, toys and dishes that we had not used in several years. Every closet was filled. Every cupboard was loaded to the max (I mean, why did I need 10 plastic beverage containers?) Everything was in “storage.” There was no need to hang onto those items, except for the sentimental value some of the items brought me when I looked at them and thought about the memories. But I had no choice. I was moving to a much smaller house which required less cleaning. (My biggest pet peeve is spending one day every weekend dusting and vacuuming and washing floors. When I was younger, this only took a couple of hours each week, but as I have gotten older, over time the couple of hours lengthened to a full day.

Half of Half is All You Need

In cleaning out the old house, I figured I could only take half my stuff to the new house. So, I muddled through and began pitching things, giving stuff to the neighbors and holding a couple of garage sales. I unloaded about half our old house and packed up the rest for the big move. Little did I know that I packed too much. The moving boxes filled our new basement from floor to ceiling. We didn’t have enough room to even begin unpacking. So, again, I had to throw things away, give stuff to the neighbors and hold garage sales. The expense of moving boxes only to have to give away the contents drove me crazy. But we did it and finally found the balance between our household items and our “storage.”

In the end, my recommendation when moving to a home half the size of your old home, you can only take about 1/4 of your stuff. So, downsize in the old home while you can. I will admit that we had about a dozen boxes that we put in the basement at the new house. Eight years later – we still haven’t looked in those boxes. That tells me that we really didn’t need all that stuff from our old house. We are just fine with what we have.