When I moved into my newly built home 10 years ago, the city planted small trees on the front lawns of most of the homes. While many homeowners got spindly young saplings, I was fortunate enough to get a tall, flourishing poplar tree. I confess that, for a little while, my tree was the envy of all my neighbours.

Starting My Next Tree

A friend who visited me shortly after the planting cautioned that while poplars are fast-growing trees, their lifespan is also short. She strongly advised me to start my next tree now.

Well, 10 years later, my poplar is still strong and seemingly healthy, but this spring, for the first time, I had to cut off many dead branches, probably the result of the numerous ice storms we had in the past winter.

I lamented that the tree did not look as full as in past years. Fortunately, with the help of some pruning and a generous dose of Miracle Gro, my tree flourished again this summer.

However, it did get me thinking about starting my next tree. Metaphorically speaking, I am going through this ‘starting over’ process now that I’m in my 60s, as I prepare to downsize for the next phase of my life.

To be truthful, I feel conflicted and ambivalent about leaving my house and downsizing into an apartment or condominium. As a woman who divorced in her 30s, I came into home ownership late in life. It took a lot for me to purchase a house and to maintain it alone.

I expected that my current abode would be my retirement haven. But, as most women in their 60s and beyond know, things don’t always turn out as we had planned.

Change Is in the Air

My neighbourhood is changing, with new people moving in, bringing lots of noise and high traffic. I lack the sense of community I enjoyed in past years.

A generation back, things were very different. My mother, for instance, lived in her own home well into her 80s. But she had extended family living in the same city, as well as long-term neighbours who looked out for one another.

My situation is not at all similar. I am a single woman with no close family nearby. I am starting to feel isolated in my present community, so I am preparing to plant my next metaphorical tree!

I have spent the past year cleaning out closets, donating unused goods to charities, having a garage sale, and selling items online. I’ve almost completed my downsizing preparation.

So why am I still living in this house? Quite simply, because it’s home to me – and home is where the heart is. While my heart is starting to wander away from my present location, it has not yet found that special next place to call home.

My search continues, but in the meantime, I am exploring and appreciating the benefits of staying in my own home a little longer.

Being Ready while Savoring the Present

Downsizing and relocating are all about being ready, physically and emotionally. In many cases, due to relocation costs, decisions about moving can be final. No turning back once the excess furniture, wall prints, and gardening tools have been sold.

Naturally, it just makes sense to research all options thoroughly before making what could be a life changing – and final – decision.

Staying in your own home a little longer provides time to look around, weigh options, and carefully consider the pros and cons of relocating. In the meantime, you can savor every moment you have left in the home you cherish.

Continuous Movement

The benefits of being active in our senior years are well documented and manifold. Household chores like yard work, snow shovelling, and cleaning help us to reach our “fit points” quite quickly.

Additionally, these activities can provide structure and a sense of accomplishment. I actually enjoy projects like painting, washing windows, and updating décor.

As a homeowner, I am never bored in retirement. I have my work cut out for me. The best part is that I am my own boss, and I can choose my days or hours off as my mood dictates! I wonder, will I be bored when I leave my house?

Gardens Bring Joy

I truly believe that gardens are the gift that keeps on giving! As any gardening enthusiast will attest, planting and caring for a garden can offer the same benefits of any hobby you immerse yourself in – stress reduction, practising mindfulness, being in the moment, and even the potential for heightened spirituality.

I have filled my front and back yards with gardens. I feel such joy when I look at the myriad of colours and textures and note how things change each season. For me, nothing can beat the sense of satisfaction I get from seeing what I have created.

That said, gardening comes with a price tag! I suffer from rheumatoid arthritis and often feel the effects of over-exertion the next day.

I know I cannot sustain this lifestyle forever. But that heightens my appreciation of the present, knowing that my days in the garden are numbered. I am starting to think about future hobbies – perhaps water colour paintings of gardens, where I can still be creative with much less arduous work!

Increasing Home Equity

In many communities, homes continue to increase in value each year. The longer I stay in my house, the more equity I am building for my future. As many of us women will likely live into our 90s and beyond, financial considerations are important.

Listen to Your Intuitive Self

When it comes to downsizing and relocating, there is no magic formula for timing. While I agree with the theory that the time to do this is before you have to, I also believe that we must feel a sense of peace about the correct time to leave our homes.

We mature women are all quite intuitive, and we need to listen to our inner wisdom regarding what’s best for us. I will continue to tune into that wisdom. But for now, I will try to appreciate the benefits of staying in my home a little longer.

What makes you feel conflicted or ambivalent about downsizing or relocating? How did you make your decision? Do you have any regrets about moving into your present home? What strategies have you found useful when deciding to relocate? Please use the comment box to share with our community!

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