Downsizing: One Year Later

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One year has passed since we made the decision to downsize and move out of our family home. I’m sharing thoughts on the decisions we made, what I would do differently, and what I love about our new home.

faux flowers in pitcher and bowl

In the fall of 2021, we made the life-changing decision to sell our family home, and move to something smaller. The process was stressful and arduous, but it was worth every single sore muscle!

We recently celebrated the one year anniversary of our move, and like many of you have experienced as well, the first year was filled with change and adaptations. Some of the changes I welcomed with open arms, and others took more adjustment.

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Moving + Downsizing

Catch up on our journey from the beginning!

Our Decisions

One of the questions that has been asked the most from my readers is “do you have any regrets?” I don’t even have to think about it because the answer is no.

Keep in mind that regrets are not the same thing as doubts. I had doubts during and after the entire process, but as one thing after another fell into place, even the doubts began to recede.

Moving from one home to another involves (what seems like) a million decisions. When it comes to making those decisions, the bottom line is that you just do the best you can. From start to finish, our move took just over two months. If I had given us more time, that decision-making would have been different.

Time is freedom. Since I didn’t give us ample time for the move, I didn’t have the freedom to make every decision exactly the way I wanted to…but in the end, it all turned out fine!

faux tulips in urn on fireplace mantel
Paint Color: Snowbound from Sherwin Williams

What Would I Change?

When I look back at the move itself, there is one thing I would do differently. I should have found a way to replace the existing carpet before we moved in. Again, if I had given myself more time, I perhaps could have figured it out. But then again, maybe not!

I was determined that every room would receive a fresh coat of paint, and if I had relaxed that a bit, I might have been able to work new carpet into the budget. But then I would have had unpainted rooms…which would have driven me crazy too. We also got all new kitchen appliances. Looking back now, I see that those could have waited. It’s much easier to replace appliances after a move than it is to replace carpet. But…what’s done is done.

pitchers of faux flowers on kitchen island

Takeaway: carefully consider your big budget items, and most importantly, think ahead. At the time, I thought replacing the carpet after the move would be no big deal. Now, the thought of moving beds, dressers, and other large pieces of furniture is daunting. I still want the carpet gone…but it will just have to wait!

Life is Easier

One of the things I wanted and needed the most, and a huge reason why we moved in the first place, was easier upkeep. Even though we had already done so much, our house on Sutton Place needed work that included big renovations, constant repairs, and a large wooded lot to maintain.

Life is so much easier in our new home. The yard is small, the house is just six years old so everything still feels new, and nothing needs renovated. The landscaping is pretty, but very contained. The house and garage are a cinch to keep clean. It’s all very manageable and straightforward.

What Do I Miss?

I miss two things from the house on Sutton Place. I miss my garden, and I miss the twin bookshelves that were in the living room.

I broke ground for that fence row garden 20 years ago, when I was so much younger. I loved planting, watering, and watching everything grow. There were many failures, but there were also many beautiful successes. The thought of starting over again doesn’t interest me at all, in fact it’s a bit overwhelming. I plan to expand my backyard container garden, and add some perennials to our front landscaping. That’s enough for now.

pitchers and a plate on built in shelves

In regards to the bookshelves, it may seem like a silly thing to miss, but I truly do miss them. They were perfect for seasonal decor, and I loved the challenge of making them look just right. Those bookshelves gave that old living room such character, and that’s hard to duplicate in a new home. So I’m not going to try. I enjoy decorating our mantel, so that has become my new seasonal spotlight!

Food for Thought

There are many reasons for downsizing and moving. If you’re like me, you just want everyday life to be easier. Perhaps you need to relocate to be closer to family, or require a different floor plan. No matter what the reason, the process is filled with questions, doubts, and decisions.

If you think a move may be in your future, the two most important things to remember are that no move is perfect, and there’s no right or wrong way to do it.

So follow your heart, listen to your family, remember that you are resilient, and take it one step at a time. Confront your fears, and then put them behind you. You’ve got this!

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  1. Is it ok to say that I don’t want to talk about it? Has been quite the rough year since my husband decided to move us, filled with much sadness and challenges. Wanting to cry just thinking about it!

    1. Ann Drake says:

      Hi Shirley…it’s definitely OK. But I truly believe that talking about it will help, and allow you to gain some perspective. It will help you work through the sadness, which by the way is totally normal. The thing that helps me the most when I’m facing a challenging situation is to look for the silver lining. Or sometimes I think of if as looking at the glass as half full, and not half empty. Focus on the good things, and the other things will take care of themselves. Good luck!

  2. I am ready to downsize, due to my large yard with vegetable garden, and lots of flower beds. I hire my lawn mowed and fertilized, but the flower beds have gone downhill. Each year it costs more to take care of the yard. The house inside is not too much, but I cannot move until daughter, husband and grands move in a couple of years. I want to be close to them. It is hard here to find a smaller, yet quality house and neighborhood and I am afraid I would not like condo living. So after reading all your posts, I am thinking I will stay put and let things unfold as they will. But I sure am learning from your experiences. Thank you!

  3. It’s almost New Year’s Eve. I sat here with my coffee and read all your moving stories (via Southern Hospitality), remembering all my houses and moves and my precious dog that passed away in 2003. My kids and I can still get weepy about darling Jennie. I have gotten rid of so much of our own relatives belongings for various reasons, and yet almost everything I have came from an estate sale or consignment store. I always think everything belonged to someone’s grandmother, maybe just not my grandmother. Thank you for your blog, your new home is just charming. Happy 2024!

  4. Sue Nordberg says:

    We are coming closer to the day when decisions will have to be made about a move. From time to time, we talk about it, but moving is such a huge undertaking.Did your move take place in the same town, or did you move further away? Thank you for the sharing of your experience.

  5. Gloria Albrecht says:

    It will be. 7 yrs. this month that we moved from an 1820 home on a wooded lot complete with creek to a newly built condo on a golf course with a pond.two wks. In we. took a family trip but believe it or not the Congo was in good shape in that time. I organized it all on my handy dandy yellow pad! I had boxes of misc. to unpack and shelves to arrange….we have moved laundry to MBB replacing the built in tub…more convenient for our age…put hardwood down to replace carpet ,gas stove to replace elect..built a. banquet in th kitchen a great pantry now replaces the old laundry.left the lower space pretty much the same…it’s. His office,bar and tv space…why am I going. On about this? Just want you to know we are 88 and 92 and have done most of the work with little help…except floor and plumbing.
    Never to late to change!

  6. Just re-read all the posts about your move and downsizing — all are so well-written and down to earth. Thank you! I know the time will come for us, and I hope I am able to do all that will be required when the time comes. It is so helpful to have your story (and the comments) full of good thoughts.

  7. I’m another person who didn’t realize you had moved, probably because we moved at the same time and so much of my life went on hold! We moved several states south to a 55+ community, built a new home there while still up north. We got rid of so, so much “stuff” and more has been donated and sold since the move. The process was intense and very stressful but we are very happy with our new home and neighbors, the area we are in. Adding to the stress was our dear, precious golden retriever passed on in the last month we were in our old home up north. I understand about your book cases and cabinets….we just had those added in our new home and we are enjoying them very much already. I wish you much happiness in your new home and look forward to seeing more posts from you!

  8. Liz/Home and Gardening With Liz says:

    Wow Ann, I didn’t know you had moved. Good advice on planning the move and where to spend money. I do a lot of planter gardening, mostly annuals so I have a constant drift of flowers in bloom. If we moved I doubt I’d ever have as much gardening because it took a good many years to get where they are at. Enjoy your new digs!

  9. Moving from your family home is hard in every way! I agree with you that easier is better. I also miss some rooms that may seem silly such as my sunroom. I also miss “what used to be”, but appreciate the ease of caring for my new home.

  10. We downsized almost two years ago so I feel your pain. However, even though we miss things from the past home, its been a fun adventure and we’re still working out some of the kinks, but we’re about there. We too waited to replace carpet. Luckily, the flooring company provided that service for a mere $300. We were happy to pay that for them to move the furniture. We had a great experience and I hope you do as well. Prayers help.

  11. FYI
    I posted earlier today and it would not go through. Comes up with an error message … duplicate. Repeated the process two different times this afternoon. This is the third time the past month this has happened.

    Great post!

  12. Ann, thank you for sharing all the great info. I downsized to be close to one of my grown daughters 2 years ago & have been very happy. You are right. It was a stressful but also exciting process but worth it in the end.

  13. You are so right, there is no right or wrong way to move and things won’t go as planned no matter the time you have. Our last move five years ago to downsize was challenging trying to sell and finish a new house, having two mortgages wasn’t ideal but we pushed through. But I don’t regret making that decision . Your new home is lovely. It’s funny how your priorities change as we age. Things that we felt needed in the past isn’t so needed now.

  14. Sue Knight says:

    Thank you for sharing your journey with us! I also moved from the home where I lived for 30 years and raised my children in to a different state and much smaller house. I got rid of so much stuff before the move, and then had to get rid of more once I got here. I’m still going through many of the things that I brought with me, but that gives me something to do in the rainy, dark winter months. While there are some things I wish I had done differently, I really love my new home and the city where I now live!

  15. Barbara Russell says:

    I loved reading this article and I must say that I too ravenously miss my bookshelves and all the joy and character they bring to our lives as well as any room!

  16. Such a timely post Ann…thank you! I no longer can say we are thinking of downsizing next year because next year is now here. As I pack away our holiday items I reminded my hubby one more go through and see what we may want to let go of. Packing away and giving a bit more protection to special items. I am improving the size of my labels and have started a notebook to inventory what we have. It will help as we transition I hope. Our sons do not live here in Minnesota and each have about 8 large storage containers of things…Legos, special books to name a few. Hoping we can virtually pare down with the one that lives in Texas and the other one can go through on a visit. Neither has a home and I am thinking I may not be the only reader in this situation. Your posts over the year as well as Yvonne’s have helped me immensely as we look forward to a new chapter in our life. My hardest part will be letting go of the home we raised our kids in. My youngest told me one day, “mom my home is where you and dad are. Sure I have many memories but just think if the memories the new family will make”. It sure will be a new beginning.

  17. Happy New Year Ann! I know I’m closer to downsizing as I turn 60. I think no matter what changes you make, you always miss some part of the old. I had a Welch cabinet in my kitchen before we remodeled it. I miss decorating it for the holidays. Seems silly but true!

  18. Great advice! I know as we all start getting older what seemed easy enough to take care of is no longer feasible. As hard as it is to let go of a home that you put so much time into you have to gather your memories in your heart and find the adventure of bringing them to mingle with the new memories you will create in your new space.You’ll have a lot more time to do that if you’ve downsized and now you can take the time to make your new space a part of who you are and call it home ! It’s quite exciting if you let it be!

  19. Maureen Sanderson says:

    I truly love this article in regards to downsizing. You have covered every fear should the day come when I may do the same. I have printed out all of your process of this life change. Thank you so very much for your generous and honest insight.

  20. Well written and full of sage advice.

  21. We have downsized, too. The biggest adjustment is the smaller kitchen and pantry. I tried to get rid of stuff I did not use in the last year. Spacing and storage are big challenges with no basement and keeping garage organized for a car.

  22. Carole Strawn says:

    I’m glad that you are happy in your new home. Ten years ago I moved from my place where everything was just the way that I wanted it to my new husband’s home where suddenly I had to compromise. That was hard for me. Suddenly I had another person whose opinion needed to be included in every design decision. He wasn’t one of those “do whatever you want as long as it makes you happy” kind of men. He had strong feelings about most things as did I. We both had to learn to compromise but after being on our own for so long, it was at times a struggle. Congratulations on your new home. It is lovely and I really do like your design style.

  23. Downsizing is hard and you are never completely finished! Remember that!! I moved into senior housing, I live in an under the 700-square-foot apartment. And I seem to always be sorting through things. I need to get rid of it!! I am thinking when I am gone the mess that I could be leaving for people to sort through and get rid of. So I sort through Clothing and books, nick-nacks. Just everything!! To make things easier!!

  24. Hi Anne~
    My husband lost his job 15 yrs ago so we had to move. We purchased a condo & took so long to get use to living upstairs. After 5 yrs I started slowly redoing a few things. I missed my house so much. We had just finished renovation on the entire downstairs. I think the one thing that sold me on the condo was the beautiful moldings around the windows. And, I still had a gas stove & fireplace.
    It was not easy to leave our home, but everything happens for a reason.
    My husband was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s 3 yrs ago so living in the house would not have been doable. We have someone to do all the yard work now. It’s working out great.
    Much love,

  25. I’m so glad to hear you don’t regret your move because we are also thinking about downsizing. I’m a little scared of making the wrong decision but I know it has to be done. Have a great new year.

  26. This is just a great post!
    Thank you very much.
    Your new home is lovely.

    Blessings to you and yours in the new year.

  27. jeannette says:

    All good tips. One I will keep in mind is the new appliances that could have waited! That one makes so much sense to me. We’ve moved a number of times and had our last two houses built to our taste. This last one is all one level living but our lot is much too big. I’ve enjoyed the gardening aspect of it, but like you I don’t want all that up keep anymore. We have more perennials now and some container pots which I’m quite happy with. Still too much lawn to cut and maintain! Our final move will be one level living again, with a very small backyard.
    Wishing you a very Happy New Year!

  28. Rebecca Murray says:

    Your words are very down-to-earth and helpful. Thanks for not getting into the philosophical weeds or going into too much detail. You presented the positives and negatives for you and your move, with the positives winning but you didn’t present a downsize as easy as pie with no concerns. Thank you!

  29. We downsized and moved to another state which is very overwhelming.I miss my other house very much especially the fireplace and kitchen.Like you ,we wanted to make life a bit easier and this house is one level.I had to get rid of many things that just didn’t fit and reinvent what I had to fit in.I’m still fine tuning after 7 years here.Always a work in progress.I’m glad you are happy with your new home, it’s lovely.
    Wishing you and your family a Happy New Year !

  30. Just curious…..whats the sq. ft. of this home vs. last? we are thinking of downsizing

  31. Sue Daugherty says:

    We moved the majority of the things we are taking with to our new home (MI) December 27. My husband is staying in our old home (Il) until it sells with half the kitchen gear and the furniture we are not moving. This is a new build so I don’t have flooring to replace. The main thing I am running into is yes I have about the same number of kitchen cabinets and a pantry but they are not as wide or as deep as my IL home. More paring down will be needed and that surprises me. If I had paid better attention to dimensions. I am going to enjoy getting this home organized but right now I am giving myself permission to be lost in my own small kitchen.

  32. Linda Howard says:

    We sold our family home in Charleston, SC, 3 years ago, a home we had lived in for 45 years. The move after the sale and finding a new home gave us ample time to replace carpet and paint throughout; the checklist of things we wanted to do has been accomplished over the past 3 years. Perhaps the biggest challenge was replacement of appliances and upgrades in kitchen during Covid. Another challenge was a large covered porch addition that took 10 months to complete. My biggest regret was parting with some sentimental items, but they were only stuff. I have the memories and my daughter won’t have to deal with that when we are gone.

  33. We, too, downsized 2 years ago. We replaced our flooring and the flooring people moved all the furniture out and back (in one day no less) so don’t stress about that. They’re young and strong! My biggest issue is our furniture doesn’t fit in the spaces. That has been an on-going struggle to get it right. I also miss the wall to wall bookcases! Your new home is beautiful, bright and airy! So glad you are enjoying it!

  34. So honest and straightforward about a decision that I’ll be making in the not too distant future.
    Thank you for all the insights you gleaned.

  35. My husband and I downsized in September. We’re not young anymore and my husband has had health issues for several years. We owned 23 acres we could no longer maintain and a 3000 sq ft home that was much more space than we needed.
    We bought a smaller house with a tiny yard in a new development. Another plus is that everything we need is so convenient, something we didn’t have living in our old house. My only regret is that we don’t have a 3-car garage in our new house! But, we’re managing and we’re working with the space we have.
    Our decision happened quickly, but everything fell into place. We were able to list our old house for sale after we moved – a bit of a worry – but it sold in 3 days with multiple offers. Moving and selling our old house was a LOT of work but nothing worth having comes easy!
    It takes a while to adjust, there will be headaches, and I miss our old home, but our new house feels more like home every day.
    The decision to downsize is one my husband & I have never regretted.

  36. Charlotte Carroll says:

    I like the blue vase with white base that contains white tulips and is on your mantel. Did you purchase that recently and if so where? Also, we went through downsizing 6 years ago. I identify with your sentiments, especially missing your previous garden. One of my regrets was not being able to move my rich compost pile. 😂

  37. Just in case you’re not aware the carpet layers will move all your furniture, you don’t have to. We replaced two room recently and all I had to remove were the things like lamps, knick knacks, anything loose. They are experts at moving the furniture around as they remove old and lay the new. So don’t let that stop you!