At certain milestone birthdays,we might ask ourselves if we have too much stuff, if the stairs are too hard to climb, if the yard is too cumbersome to manage, if home maintenance is too expensive and onerous. Don’t even mention the finances.
As time passes, the rooms lived in are fewer, leaving the rest of the space void. Is it time to move? Do the benefits of moving outweigh not moving? And if so, where?
FIRST, THE “WHY”
Moving is an agonizing experience. From sorting to packing to relocating, it’s stressful, exhausting, and expensive. No one gleefully embarks on this task. As we age, however, the freedom gained by moving is worth the pain of doing it.
I’ve moved from state to state several times over the years. The majority involved a job change where the new employer covered the entire process. Movers packed it all up, said goodbye, and then greeted me at the new destination.
The move I recently made was different. I am on my own now — “retired” — and orchestrating everything myself. I left a community in which I invested more than 20 years of my life. I sold my house, left my heart in Texas, and moved close to the people who mean even more to me: My family. This is my “why.”
If Not Now, WHEN?
The idea of relocating began percolating years ago. None of my children or the rest of my family live in Texas.
My children refer to me as “Johnny Appleseed” because they moved with me to new cities where they met their future spouses, had families of their own, and then remained when I moved again. I relocated to Texas in 1999 and have been happy to call it home ever since, but none of my children followed me there.
Approaching my 75th birthday made me consider relocating near at least one of my children. All three sons live in different cities. How do I choose?
Usually, people my age move according to the “who” they want to be closest to. For me, it was the “where” that was the decider: A Yankee by birth, despite years living in the south, it was time to move back north of the Mason-Dixon line. Like Elsa from the movie Frozen says, “The cold never bothered me anyway.”
This was a major life decision not made easily or quickly. I mulled this idea over for years. I decided to make the move while still healthy and active and able start a new life in a new place. It meant some serious choices about what belongings to keep, give away, discard, or sell.
Any move would require making an emotional break with the people, places, and things that are dear to me. I have a house to sell and would likely move into an apartment half the size of my then-current home. What to take and what to leave behind? And how to budget all this?
Don’t be afraid to move. It was very important to me to make this move on my own terms. My physical strength and health will begin to ebb within the next several years, no matter how healthy a lifestyle I maintain now. Once this happens, others would set the terms of any move, and I might have little to say about it.
So, whether moving across town or across the country, I suggest making it happen sooner rather than later. It is important to be realistic and brave when facing the realities of aging.
There is more to this cross-country move, so be sure to check out the next issue of fyi50+!