Tag Archives: empty nesters

Do We Stay or Do We Go? – The Empty Nesters’ Dilemma

lilacs - spring, 2015

 

 

Last week it was suggested to me, ever so gently, by my husband, JP, that we reconsider our once-mutual decision to sell our house this spring.

Tell me again,” he asked as we ate dinner in our newly uncluttered kitchen. “Why do we want to move? I like it here.”

I sighed and repeated what the financial advisor told us this winter  – sell now! the market is “HOT”! –  You are empty nesters, you no longer need a three-bedroom brick, colonial home-built in 1948 in which you have lived for 33 years. Time to downsize! Move closer in! Free yourselves of unneeded possessions and repairs!

It sounded very appealing to me. Not as much to JP.

I don’t want to downsize. I like my yard. I like my garage. I like washing my car in the driveway. I even like washing your car.”  My Detroit-born husband puts a high priority on car care.

But don’t you want to be able to walk everywhere? That’s the new big thing. We’ll move to a new condo or apartment with a high “walkability” score.” I told him, visualizing romantic evening strolls to trendy bars and restaurants.

“If we want to take a walk, we can do it in our own neighborhood.  I like sitting in my own back yard, not with strangers in a shared courtyard on an apartment or condo roof. Our house seems perfectly fine to me.”

Versions of this conversation have played out for the past few weeks. I continue to declutter and donate, to empty shelves and cabinets, to get rid of law school books and obsolete electronics . My husband stays out of my way – he doesn’t stop the going-on-the-market-soon process from going forward –  but his distinct lack of enthusiasm hangs heavily in the air.

So I venture off like Goldilocks to find just the right place to move to – that will convince him we should sell once he sees what a terrific new apartment or condo I can find. Our realtor is confident our house will sell quickly. Very soon, she predicts, millennials will be swarming by the dozens to buy our home so they can start a family here – just as we did as young marrieds.

Speaking of millennials, did you know that real estate developers are rapidly building new apartments seemingly targeted at them?

This week I visited several of these new apartment communities that are springing up around us – all deliberately called “communities” – because they market themselves to entice you to sign a lease asap so you make new pals with whom you will soon be exercising in the spiffy gym, mingling in the modern club room and sitting around the community fire pit in the evenings.

These “communities” feature incredibly peppy sales reps who show you floor plan after floor plan as they exuberantly describe the many amenities “your new community” features:

  • bike storage in the basement!
  • weekly “yappy” hours for you and your canine friend!
  • fun events with local bars and restaurants!
  • free craft coffee in the modern lobby!
  • “Wine Down Wednesdays”!
  • “Breakfast on the Go”!
  • And more!!!

Pretty good, huh? Yes, if you are under age 40, my husband comments when I show him the glossy brochures one night after he gets home from work.

We already have plenty of friends, we have our own coffee and wine, we have our own bike storage (it’s called our garage)…our dog doesn’t get along so well with other dogs, you know that – and he loves our fenced back yard  – and what do I need a fire pit for?” he asks.

He makes some good points but I resist – pointing again to the photos of the shiny new, albeit tiny-size, kitchens and living areas in the floor plans. 942 square feet sounds much larger than it is.

Where would we host our family and friends and have our holiday dinners? I don’t see dining rooms in any of these floor plans, do you? The small tables they show barely seat four people.” JP continues. “Just three small closets. How would we manage?”

Rest assured, I tell him –  all of these new apartment “communities” offer extra storage spaces we can rent (for an additional monthly fee, of course.)

Have you failed to notice,” he responds. “that we already have our own free storage spaces?  We have a big basement, not to mention a tool closet and a cedar closet. Why should we move someplace much smaller and then pay extra for storage?”

His tone ups its’ sarcasm quotient as he shakes his head.

 And where would we park our cars? We each have one, remember.”

Again the car thing. To say that JP is hung up on car care underscores the obvious.

I have the answer to this one. “They offer underground parking. $200 a month. For one car. You have to pay an additional fee for a second car.”

I can park for free in my own driveway. So can you!” he retorts. “Why do we want to uproot ourselves to move? You are not very convincing.”

Perhaps my advocacy skills have slipped since my lawyering days.  I must marshal better arguments to persuade him.

We are now at an impasse; the realtor’s Listing Agreement sits – unsigned – on our kitchen counter.

 

                                                                                          *****TO BE CONTINUED*****

 

 

 

 

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Cozy Coupe Time (Part I)

Cozy Coupe

I don’t believe in “signs”.

But there it was – yesterday morning, on the third Sunday in April – I spotted it parked on the front walk of our new, next door neighbors’ house – a bright orange and yellow, get-in-and-out-of, toddler-size plastic car with a door and wheels – a “Cozy Coupe” -and it looked exactly like the one our kids had years ago.

Thought #1:  How reassuring to think some things have not changed. Kids still play with blocks, toss balls and get in and out of their Cozy Coupes.

 Thought #2: Our 18-month old grandson…

(wait, wait, please don’t leave this page! I’m NOT going to talk about him. Management has informed me that he is off-the-record and I gladly comply.)

Though we did visit the little guy yesterday afternoon and he, too, has his own bright orange and yellow Cozy Coupe identical to the one that just moved in with the new young family next door.

 Thought #3: If I saw two Cozy Coupes in a one day, what is that telling me?

It’s a sign.

Time to Move?

And because I am a practical (“too practical” an old friend once told me as if there could possibly be such a thing) and base all of my decisions on evidence, hard facts and well-reasoned arguments (oh, sure), I picked up old legal pad and drew two columns.

 

Why We Should Move:

  • We have lived in this house for 33 years
  • Our House is not getting younger
  • 33 years is a long, long time
  • JP and I are not getting younger
  • The neighbors around the corner, the neighbors behind us, the neighbors up the hill – all have little kids
  • New next door neighbors have a Cozy Coupe
  • Their Cozy Coupe will begat other Cozy Coupes and soon…
  • We will be the only family (are Empty Nesters considered a family?) on the block WITHOUT our own Cozy Coupe
  • Back to #1 – we have lived in this house for 33 years

 

Why We Should NOT Move

  • I love our house
  • It’s my memory storage center (I can look inside the door of our linen closet to see the pencil lines measuring our son’s height from ages 3 to 17)
  • I would miss seeing our ancient lilac bush burst into bloom during the third week of April each year

lilacs - spring, 2015

  • I’m not ready?

 

When we first walked into this house on another Sunday in April many years ago, we were greeted by the “aroma” of chopped onions.

Yes, most people bake cookies or bread to tempt would-be house buyers, but the apparently reluctant would-be seller of our house decided that the pungent smell of onions in a mixing bowl on her formica kitchen counter was the way to go.

I was undaunted. Nor was I put off by the over-size, black wrought-iron, wagon-wheel shaped ceiling light fixture in the master bedroom that looked ready to impale unsuspecting sleepers. And I looked beyond the green shag carpeting in the living room, the burgundy flocked wallpaper in the bathroom and the shiny disco ball in the basement.

Somehow this house felt “just right” from the moment we walked in.

It’s not that I am picky (oh wait, I am), nor do I resemble Goldilocks in any way (she: a natural blonde and me: once a natural brunette), but I do want to replicate that  “just right” moment when we move to another home.

Which likely won’t be a home in the form of an actual house. We are considering taking the plunge, as some of our friends have already done, to down-size to a two bedroom, two bath condo.

No more snow-covered front walks to shovel, lawns to mow, front doors to repaint!  I shudder in joyful anticipation – already dreaming of the day when a giant dumpster sits in our driveway – toss! toss! farewell! see you never! I will gladly say to the boxes of I know-not-what that clutter a corner of our basement.

JP and I agree. Let’s just see what’s out there.

So we look at one condo, not far from a DC metro stop, saw two miniature bedrooms, you could reach out your hands and touch both sides of the walls. (shouldn’t those wide-angle, misleading real estate web site photos be banned for legal inaccuracy?) followed by an equally tiny galley kitchen. Perhaps we’re supposed to bring in take-out every night? We still like to cook.  We look at the people coming in and out of the condo building. No one looks over forty. Maybe not even over 35. I don’t see us there.

Off to another condo. The lobby of this one has glossy, marble floors, a cadre of courtly concierge types sitting behind a stately desk. The bedrooms are larger but outdated, with hideous track lighting and non-dog-friendly, white carpeting which our rescue terrier would eviscerate in minutes. We look at the people coming in and out of the building. No one looks under 75. Maybe not even under 80. I don’t see us here – either.

This is going to take awhile. Is that “just right” feeling too much for an empty nester to ask for?

And am I ready to have our next place become our truly “forever” home –  as in the very non-fairy-tale meaning of the word “forever”?

I’m waiting for another sign.

TO BE CONTINUED

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