The Odd Experience of Unexpectedly Moving to a New Home | Sixty and Me


Moving is consistently ranked as one of the top 10 most stressful things in life. In the past seven years, we have moved three times. That’s a lot of hours x weeks and months devoted to planning, packing and pining over personal wares that found their way into the downsizing pile.

If you never thought you were sentimental about your home, try putting it up for sale. Every nook and cranny holds a sweet memory. Each move had us migrating to new, more humble abodes, each more humble than the next, especially in size.

Our latest move was unexpected. We landed in St Petersburg, FL only two years ago, after selling our Bed & Breakfast in Provincetown, MA. We had been joyfully working with resolve in making our darling, 1924-purple-craftsman-style Bungalow home ours!

The Purple Bungalow that stole our hearts.

Adding all the touches. Creating a backyard sanctuary with pool, patio and plantings that you ostensibly plan to peer at for years to come. And, right when the first bloom of our Florida Flame Vine burst onto the scene in all its orange glory, we learned we could sell our home, earning us a profit that was just too hard to ignore.

If you’ve been paying attention, you know there’s a real estate party going on in many parts of the U.S. We love a good party, and truthfully wanted to capitalize on the red-hot real estate market. We sold our house in six hours with an over-asking offer. But, before we pulled the trigger to sell, we needed to know what was on the other side.

A high-priced seller’s market pushed homeownership out of reach. We had no idea the next big thing would actually be a much smaller thing. In fact, smaller by 1200 square feet. Yikes!

Not only did we downsize, but the real estate boom gave us a new moniker – renters. We are three weeks into our new life – and loving it. Things I won’t be saying this summer: “Honey, I’ll be outside weeding.” “Honey, the pool needs to be done.” “Darling, have you seen the rake?”

This is, for sure, going to be a different summer than we expected. We’re embracing the concept of small living. Maybe because it feels like we’re living large. We have a lovely 2-bedroom apartment in downtown St. Petersburg — only a mile from the purple Bungalow. It’s booming here.

A bohemian spirit with a trendy-yet-indi-urban culture that makes it a really cool place to thrive. All gift-wrapped in a young vibe – not bad for a city I remember as God’s Waiting Room. My parents always said, “If you want to feel young, hang out with young.”

The move to a smaller space was pretty big. Picking up and leaving after only two years was an intrepid move on our part. My wife Allison – who says she is much more sentimental than me – had a tougher time letting go of so much history as we made decisions on what would go and what would stay.

We had to figure out the future resting place of assorted antiques, art, tchotchkes, lamps, tables, rugs, dishware, cool kitchen collectibles, jewelry, outdoor furniture, yard art and much more. When we came to a standstill (Me: “Honey, are we really going to take a 200-pound Buddha?”), we didn’t quarrel.

We did what any level-headed couple would do: played ping-pong and the best-out-of-three winner got to make the decision. True story. Good thing we didn’t have to play for the ping pong table. That one was a no-brainer. Bonus – our new building has a ping pong table that we’ve already broken in.

Anything that didn’t bring us joy (thank you, Marie Kondo) or did bring us joy but didn’t make the 1200-sq. ft. cutgot segmented into piles: a joyful take pile; a sale pile; a trash pile; or a donation pile. Even though we had gotten rid of life’s odds and ends we owned two times before, we still seemed to have acquired a lot of stuff.

We held a monumental moving sale which was a wonderful way to say goodbye to those who lived close by. It was also a way to say, “Nice to meet you” – after all, it had only been a 2-year residency and 2020 sort of didn’t count since we were inside the walls of the Coronavirus, so to speak.

This move taught us some lessons, and I’m sharing them with you in case you’re contemplating planting your home elsewhere.

Moving Can Be Stressful and Physically Demanding

Tempers can run short, especially since you and yours might already be tired. Get rest. Drink water. Thankfully, we always have our essential oils, and we both relied on our Adaptiv Calming Blend. It was our 911 when anything felt off or rushed or just plain crazy. And it’s especially helpful when acclimating to new surroundings.

Unpacking Can Wait

Once you move in, don’t stay up all night unpacking. Settling in takes time. Enjoy it. Let your new place get to know you as you get to know it.

Don’t Keep Everything

Get rid of items on the regular. It will be a whole lot easier come moving time.

Start Planning, Organizing and Packing Early

Even when you think you’re ahead of the game by packing early and often, it’s a seemingly endless endeavor. One last minute shove into the car included a water filter with bottles of moisturizer and a chef’s knife inside. Not the best way to roll.

Ilene (left) and her wife Allison en route to their new apartment… Fishing gear and all!

Box of Randoms

Keep a box of stuff you don’t want or don’t know what to do with. When the box is full, do something. Sell, donate, or trash it. Or ask your most organized friend or family member to make the decision for you. The default is often a storage unit, and then you end up with a unit for years and years – another dilemma.

Make It Sparkle

Before you vacate your house, clean it like – well, like Monica on Friends would. A little more elbow grease can only help. Leave it better than how you found it. It feels good and the transfer of good, clean energy to the new owner is important, too.

We smudged our house goodbye with sage as we moved from room to room thanking it for its nurturing care. We also told the house it was okay to “let go” of us and be gracious to the new owners. We have always talked to our homes.

Keep an Eye on Future Stuff

Now that we’ve moved, we plan to be extra careful about what we purchase. Only purchase what you love. Don’t make quick decisions. Otherwise, your stuff is going to end up in another moving sale.

We are loving our newer simpler life that feels free of clutter and other items. We’re still unpacking and figuring out where too much art will fit, although, we’ve even tagged some artwork to go in the new “sell or give-to-friends” category.

There’s a confidence that comes with knowing your life is simple and easier to move around in — especially if you ever need to change apartments (or homes) in the future. Like, maybe even in two years.

Have you ever struggled having to give sentimental items away? How have you made moving your life from one place to another work for you? What is your attitude toward STUFF?

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