Episode 707 (141) Downsizing
This is Retirement Talk. I’m Del Lowery.
Last night at a concert I ran into an old friend of mine. He had just sold his house. Now he has to move. “Where are you going?” I asked. “I don’t know,” he responded. “It’s kind of scary. I'm downsizing that's what I'm doing," he added. He described two different houses he was considering buying but could not make up his mind as to which he should choose. One was very small but in a good location. The other was in a poor location but was spacious and had plenty of room for him and for his guitar workshop. (He makes classical guitars). He asked my opinion. It was an easy choice for me.
“Location, location, location”. I am retired and that old slogan seems truer today than at any time in my life. I told him that I would go for the good location and a smaller house. “That's a second plus,” I said. “Houses are just too big. They have room for way too much stuff’. If you have a smaller house then you will be happy with less stuff. That will be easier on the pocketbook, easier on the cleaning, easier on repairs and maintenance, and easier on your mind”. Just think I said; “Your heating bill will be close to nothing and your taxes will be very low. Those are both good things” I went on, “you have fewer things with which to concern yourself. Your mind and body will be free to explore other things”; in his particular case; to build guitars. That is what he had said earlier: “All I want to do is build guitars”.
This past week I walked around much of my neighborhood knocking on doors on behalf of a political candidate. We are holding a neighborhood “meet and greet” for him here at our house and invitations needed to be distributed. I was constantly amazed at the size of the houses and the age of the occupants. Almost all of the owners seemed to be of retirement age. I would guess the average age to be around seventy. Probably ninety percent of these houses are occupied by two or less people. Yet the size of the houses probably ranged from two to five thousand square feet. Now these are houses that demand attention; a lot of attention; so many windows to keep cleaned and repaired; so many walls to keep scraped and painted, so much roof to keep in repair, so much space to heat and furnish. I just can’t figure out why it's desirable to have such a large house. On top of the above mentioned disadvantages these houses cost more money than smaller ones. It would seem to me that one would pay more to have fewer walls to scrape, fewer windows to wash, or less space to heat. This is one area of disagreement between my wife and me. I am always proposing we downsize. She doesn’t see it that way.
The other factor of my opinion for my friend’s choice of houses was location. I told him; "I would never consider buying a house where a car was going to be needed for my daily transportation needs. How valuable is it to be able to walk to the grocery store, the post office, the drug store, the coffee shop, etc.”. He shook his head in agreement. Plus the fact that in his case the one with the good location is just a few blocks from the greatest locally owned hardware store in the Pacific Northwest . How valuable is that?
We do live in a place right now where a car isn’t necessary. We can, and do, walk to the grocery store, drug store, coffee shop, etc. Our car sits idle most days and the idea of selling it and living without one is discussed on occasion. This is another point of disagreement in the family. It just seems to me that one would be a lot freer without a car than with one in most cases. I mean what if you were told that you would have to buy a car and drive to do all of your away from home tasks, or you could choose to live where you could walk or bicycle to satisfy most of them. Again, it seems to me that it would be worth paying money to not have to drive. This would seem valid for those not retired as well as the retired.
My friend is in an interesting and important decision as he decides on how to fashion the next phase of his life. I am almost envious as he goes about making up his mind. I’m not really envious. But I am curious to see what happens. He smiled and thanked me for my thoughts when we parted. He seemed to be sincere. Who knows, maybe he walked away thinking that would be the last time he would ask someone else for their opinion.
Over ten years have now passed since talking with my friend concerning his move to downsize. He seems to be fairly content with his decision. He moved to the place that offered more space for his work as a guitar luthier. He did not go for location above all else. I just got off the phone with him and he is happy with his choice. He loves his work building guitars, he has a nice house and garden. And more importantly he has a nice space for pursuing his love of building beautiful guitars. I have one.
This is Retirement Talk.