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The upside to downsizing

Experts help homeowners streamline their lives to find more free time

Created date

October 22nd, 2013

What would you do with all the free time you would gain if you didn t have a house to maintain? Think about it: instead of weekends mowing the lawn or raking leaves, you could be playing golf or spending time with your grandkids. And how about all the money you could save in energy bills heating and cooling all those unused rooms? More and more people are finding happiness isn t measured by square footage and are discovering the benefits of downsizing to a smaller home. Downsizing is the first step to simplifying your life, says Ashley Ruth, personal moving consultant at Oak Crest, an Erickson Living community in Parkville, Md. Most people who move to Oak Crest downsize from a house to an apartment home. For many people, the thought of moving from the house they raised their family in and parting with the possessions they ve lived with for so many years can be intimidating, but those who have been through the experience will tell you it s worth it.

From A to Z

Ruth provides complimentary in-home consultations for members of the community s priority list to assess their downsizing needs. Additionally, she works closely with accredited downsizing and staging professionals Let s Move ( to make each person s move to Oak Crest effortless and stress-free. The first step to preparing for the move is deciding what is most important and what will move with you, says Kim McMahon, president and cofounder of Let s Move. We can help with this by working with incoming residents to prioritize, but we don t stop there; we can also handle everything else. In fact, Let s Move takes care of every logistical aspect of the move downsizing, organizing, removal of unwanted items, packing, unpacking so that those moving to Oak Crest don t have to lift a finger, if that s what they choose. My partner Allison Pihl and I started this company because we are passionate about helping people, says McMahon. Moving can be an overwhelming event, so we want to make sure we take on that burden so they don t have to. We are sensitive to the fact that people are releasing their history, so we offer psychological support as well as physical support when it comes to the actual moving, says McMahon. It s a hard time for people, and we understand that. Because we are organizers, we can go into their homes and see where their command centers are and what the overall flow is. So when we see them trying to bring things that have more of an emotional attachment, as opposed to a practical attachment, we help them work through that. Our main focus is on making the transition to a new home fun and worry-free.

Personal attention

Betty and Ernest Rehmeyer used Let s Move s services to coordinate their transition from a two-bedroom condo in Joppatowne to their apartment home at Oak Crest. We tell everyone we meet considering Oak Crest to get Let s Move to move them. It was as if we had our own interior designer, says Betty. We knew what would fit before we moved because of a space plan they made up and got rid of all that stuff we knew wouldn t fit, says Betty. They took our things and set them up in the apartment as a decorator would. We just love the way they did everything. My new kitchen cabinets are better organized now than I ever had them before. Ruth and McMahon recommend downsizing gradually and taking it slowly. And, they say, even if your intention isn t to move to a community like Oak Crest for another year or two, start downsizing now. Slowly begin to sort through the belongings in your home, says McMahon. Tackle a room a month so that you don t overwhelm yourself. If family is involved, assign them tasks. Often children would like to help, but they don t know where to start. It s easier if you invite family to spend a couple of hours going through a small area with you or take a truckload to the local charity than it is if you invite them over for an open-ended downsizing session. Another important recommendation from McMahon: focus on bringing only those items that you truly love to your new home. Some of our clients prefer to recreate rooms from their previous home, while some prefer to start fresh, says McMahon. Either way, make sure that you have brought the possessions, artwork, or memories that will make your new home feel comfortable right from the start.