Article for a local newsletter -
We sometimes get stuck in life. And perhaps it's just that we can't tell the difference from being stuck and being too comfortable - but that's a topic for another day. Aside from that, even when we realize we're stuck, when we see the potential change, when we want the change, we still may need a nudge.
I'd been living in the suburbs for years, but gradually realized that it was time for me to move downtown. Kids all grown up and gone, no more pets, no more garden, tired of mowing and shovelling and repairing, odd man out on a quiet crescent of couples and kids. Many of my friends were urban folk, and I was downtown several times a week for various events and adventures.
For me, the nudge, the kick, was that I decided it was time for the financial security of a long term plan. I found an adviser whose plan recommended that I sell my little house in S'nOrleans, invest the proceeds for a steady predictable income, and rent downtown. Sounded good to me. Once I got started I realized this was not that big a change, it was more of a change in location than lifestyle, as I'd been living an urban life for years.
The initial step was actually committing to sell, so before I could change my mind I signed with a great agent who reassured me it was OK to sell "as is", without worrying about future upgrades or improvements, and then priced my place to go.
I found myself carried along in the exciting process of moving- decluttering and downsizing, selling my house, then finding a new place. Granted, moving is not that sparkly a thing in itself, but it's great to be distracted from. I did try telling myself to save all those diversions to fill my free time later, but I'm a poor listener. Hence this column.
Downsizing and decluttering is definitely cathartic, especially after years of accumulating stuff. I definitely recommend the rush. But it can be hard to break that instinct to hoard, so it helps to have a friend sorting through things with you, as they'll have less attachment to your junk treasures.
Once that cleanup was done the sign went up on the lawn, online listings appeared, and neighbours all offered opinions on agents and prices. After five weeks of open houses, and living in a house that didn't look lived in, I was done. Sold it with a good price, and a good closing date.
Next step was to exercise my new freedom and find that next home. I'd already decided that the Parkdale area was close enough to downtown, yet not too close, and with it's own local ambiance, so I focused there. I didn't bother with newspapers - so last decade - I just set up some searches with keywords in Kijiji and Craigslist, with daily emails of results. I put in my own online ad of course. I went low-tech with some business cards, listing "Parkdale area, 2 bedroom apartment wanted, quiet retired gentleman, Aug 31 or sooner", and adding my email and phone contact info at the bottom. I also roamed the area, cruised for rental signs in windows, chatted up baristas and bartenders, handed out my cards and stuck them up on bulletin boards. Within a couple of weeks I'd found a place, a good location and price, in a clean and spacious duplex with elderly landlord downstairs. They were looking for a quiet retired gentleman so I didn't mention my trombone. I'll get a practice mute for starters. This apartment is likely not the "perfect" place but I'm not sure yet what I need/want, and it's a rental anyways.
I'm still downsizing my "stuff", to fit my new place, but I want to be moved now, so often visit my new neighbourhood for a coffee or beer at a cafe. Any resistance to this change is long since gone.