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Letting go, moving forward

Albuquerque couple offers ten tips for downsizing

Created date

July 1st, 2016
Eagle's Trace residents Irene and Eric Seff.

Irene and Eric Seff moved from Albuquerque, N.M., to Eagle’s Trace in Houston, Tex., in July 2015. The couple shares downsizing tips that helped them through the transition.

Family ties drew Eric and Irene Seff to Houston, Tex., from Albuquerque, N.M.

The couple’s daughter, son-in-law, and two grandchildren live on Houston’s west side, so Eric and Irene explored retirement communities that would give them quick access to family.

“As soon as we walked in the door of Eagle’s Trace, we saw smiles from residents and staff,” says Irene. “There seems to be a built-in culture of welcome.”

Eric and Irene joined the priority list at Eagle’s Trace in early 2015 by putting down a fully refundable $1,000 deposit to reserve their place in line for their preferred floor plan. 

“We wanted a two-bedroom apartment with a nice view on one of the upper floors,” says Eric.

Sales Counselor Jodie Schroeder called the couple in early May 2015 with the news that a fourth floor, two-bedroom, one-and-a-half-bath Hastings-style apartment overlooking the gardens and lake was available.

“The natural light was the first thing I noticed when we walked in the apartment,” says Irene. “I loved the bay window.”

Opting to go ahead with the move, Eric and Irene returned to Albuquerque to tackle the task of downsizing and moving. 

“It was overwhelming at first,” says Irene. “How do you get rid of so much stuff?”

Now that they’re on the flip side of the move, the couple has ten downsizing tips to share with those who find themselves in a similar situation.

1. Keep a forward-thinking mindset.

“I reminded myself to focus on what we were moving toward instead of what we were leaving behind,” says Irene. “When I thought about what was waiting for us in Houston, it was easier to let go of things in Albuquerque.”

2. Triage your belongings.

“I did a quick run-through of our things,” says Irene. “If anything was broken or chipped, I got rid of it.” 

That same mentality worked for the couple’s furniture. 

“We quickly realized that most of our furniture was going to take up too much space in the apartment,” says Eric. “We had to mentally release it.”

3. No second-guessing.

“Once we decided to let something go, we got rid of it quickly,” says Irene. “Otherwise, we would have gone around in circles wondering if we were making the right decision.”

4. Make a plan for discarded items.

“I think this is one of the biggest keys to downsizing successfully,” says Eric. “We had to know how to handle what we weren’t going to take.”

The couple gave several items to donation centers and sold the rest through an online auction based in Albuquerque.

5. Keep what you love.

Eric and Irene gave careful consideration to the wall décor in their new apartment. 

“We brought the artwork we loved the most,” says Irene. “Now it’s nice to be surrounded by the pieces that bring us comfort.”

6. Give careful consideration to collections.

Fortunately, Irene’s collections work on a small scale. She collects miniatures, grouped together in display cases. She also collects postcards.

“I decided I could let go of my postcard collection, but I kept the miniatures,” says Irene. “They don’t take up much wall space.”

7. Pare down work-related items.

As a librarian, Irene had eight bookcases in a room they called “the library” at their Albuquerque home.

“I knew I couldn’t bring all my books, so I got ruthless,” says Irene, who donated over half her books to their synagogue. “People were claiming books as soon as I brought them in. It made me feel good to know they’d be enjoyed by others.”

Irene kept her camp yearbooks to show her seven-year-old granddaughter, who will be headed to camp for the first time this summer.

“It will be neat to share those with her,” says Irene.

Eric, for his part, had an abundance of paperwork in his home office.

“I took bags and bags of papers to a commercial shredder,” he says. 

Now, the second bedroom in their Eagle’s Trace apartment home functions as both a library and an office for Eric, who continues to work as a fee-based financial planner.

8. Seek advice from current residents.

“Several residents told me they brought too many dishes,” says Irene. “I knew I wouldn’t be cooking nearly as much once we moved, so I only brought what I felt we’d use.”

9. Consider the utility of each item.

“The services provided by Eagle’s Trace offset many of the items we used to have on hand,” says Irene. “If a lightbulb goes out, we call maintenance. We don’t need any yard tools anymore, either. It’s freeing to pass off those responsibilities.”

10. Enlist expert help.

Haven Benoit, personal moving consultant at Eagle’s Trace, offers complimentary coordination of moving services, including referrals to preferred real estate agents, estate sale planners, and moving companies.

“My job is to provide personalized assistance throughout the moving process, offering practical resources to ease the transition,” says Benoit.

“We were in touch with Haven throughout our move,” says Eric, who adds that there’s nothing they left behind that he wishes they’d brought to Houston.

“Once you let it go, it frees you up to move forward,” he says.