Sunday, July 6, 2014

Reflections on Downsizing . . . Again

The last time I posted, I had transported 3 carloads of scrapbooking supplies to my new apartment. Over the next 10 days, I moved almost everything I owned except for 5 "larger" pieces of furniture -- bed, dining room table, large entertainment center, etc. -- by myself. I had a system; with the back seats folded down, 5 large plastic bins fit in the back of my Prius, so every day I'd pack up all 5 bins, take a load to the new apartment, unpack those bins, and return home for another load. Some days I took 2 loads, and other days I took 3, but I had it all under control . . . or so I thought.

By the 8th day of the move, the upstairs living area was cleared out except for cleaning supplies, 5 small pieces of furniture, and items (some from the spare bedroom and some from the basement) I had been planning to sell on the community Facebook "garage sale" site and on ebay. I had designated the dining room the "ebay" stuff area and the living room the "garage sale" area and had brought the remaining items to those two areas. With each armload of items I sorted, I became a bit more concerned, and by the time I had finished sorting everything, I was verging on full-blown panic. As I looked around at what still needed to be moved, I made a bold -- actually a desparate -- decision. I asked on the community Facebook page if anyone knew of any charitable organization that would come to the house, pack up the items being donated, and remove them . . . all with only a few day's notice. I also contacted a college student in the area who had posted that he and his friend were looking for any kind of odd job such as moving people, etc. Lastly, I rented a small storage unit just a few minutes from my community.

The leader of a church youth group that holds a giant garage sale every summer to finance their group's various mission trips throughout the year responded to my first request. Two days later she and a few youth arrived as scheduled, packed up everything I had planned to sell on the Facebook group, and carted it away. The following day, the 2 college students arrived bright and early and packed up and moved to the storage unit the remaining items. Once that was done, I breathed a huge sigh of relief and focused on cleaning the house and getting it ready for its new owners.

Between cleaning the house and settling into the new apartment and taking care of all the responsibilities that go along with teaching an online class, the next few days were so hectic I barely had time to eat, and I definitely didn't have time to sit back and reflect on the move and what it means long-term. Finally, though, Friday came and with it, closing. And oh, what a closing it was, but that's a topic for another post. :)

That was 10 days ago; ten days in which I've monitored and participated in some lively online discussions with my students, graded their mid-term essays, and loaded onto the computer the last 2 weeks of materials. Ten days in which I've adjusted to my new apartment and the realities of my new location here in the same planned community. Ten days in which I've reflected more deliberately and with more leisure on the change I've made and its consequences.

There are negatives, of course. First, my kitchen is a small galley that is not open to the other rooms, so I can't watch TV when I'm preparing a meal. That's not a huge problem; I pause whatever I'm watching and resume the program when my meal or snack is finished. Since I'm here alone, the old "I don't want to be cut off from the rest of you while I'm fixing a meal" doesn't apply. Another negative is that the large, commercial air-conditioner is loud. Not too loud to be heard over, so again, it's not a significant problem. The largest drawback is that instead of a flower garden and wide & deep front porch separating my front windows from the sidewalk, my windows and front door look directly onto the sidewalk; conversely, anyone walking down the sidewalk is within a few feet of my windows. I live next door to a small playground and just down the block from several adorable stores, so there's some foot traffic on and off many days. I hung white sheers behind the  heavy thermal curtains that came with the apartment, and that helps immensely. Lastly, I have some items in a storage unit and had hoped to avoid that; fortunately, the monthly fee is much less than I expected and all but about 2 items in it can be disposed off within a few months if I really buckle down and work on that. In whole, then, the negatives are manageable and livable -- at least for the next 11 months.

And then there are the positives. First, the move forced me to dispose of a hefty pile of stuff that I had been putting of selling on the Facebook group because 1) the selling process was becoming more tedious as the group grew by leaps and bounds and problems began arising, and 2) I'd already sold the big-ticket items, and my enthusiasm was pretty much shot the further I got into small items that would only bring $2-10. Second, it forced me to throw away lots of stuff that, quite frankly, I'd forgotten I had. Being able to put things in the basement or a spare room produced an "out of sight, out of mind" situation, but packing and moving brought those things to light. Third, I no longer have yard work (mowing, weeding the gardens, etc) to take care. Fourth, no home maintenance responsibilities or costs. Fifth, I no longer have unneeded room, space used for nothing more than to store stuff, much of which I didn't need or really want. That space contributed to the last positive. Sixth, my expenses dropped dramatically. I no longer cool (and eventually, heat) an office and extra bedroom, making my monthly utility bills at least a bit lower; my insurance also lowered -- my renter's insurance is a fraction of the cost of my homeowner's insurance. More importantly, I no longer have a HOA fee, a yearly NID (Neighborhood Improvement District tax, paid for 20 years) nearly equal to the HOA fee, or a yearly real estate bill in a city that has one of the highest tax rates in my state. And, of course, my monthly rent is about 25% less than my house payment was.

In a variety of ways, the positives and even the negatives help pave the way for the next step in my personal Dream Save Do plan. Negatives and all, I'm more than happy that I made this move, that I sold my cute little bungalow and moved to an apartment. And so, the time for reflection is past; it's time to look forward and plan for the next step in reaching my ultimate redesigned life.

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