life after retirement moving house

My neighbor across the street lost her husband about a year ago. The huge house she now inhabits is an awful lot of work, as is the yard. The other morning after a seven-inch snowfall, our mutual neighbor was clearing her driveway, as he usually does, as I was digging out my own.

Her kids have helped with yard sales and company, but her place is Just. Too. Big. My neighbor to the north of five years ago, Marge, sold out and moved after her husband died. It happens.

I am facing much the same decision myself, albeit for different reasons. While I love my precious home of some 13 years – the longest I have ever lived in one place – I’m getting ready to sell. A smaller mountain town is in my immediate future.

When Memories Are Too Much

For 10 of those 13 years, I was involved with a man in a relationship which, putting it gently, caused me serious pain. This past year he moved in. That was a mistake. Good intentions aside, it simply didn’t work out.

Now this house, which radiates with a thousand memories, acts like an echo chamber in all the wrong ways. Just like both of my female neighbors, the house is no longer a sacred space. As much as I’ve put into the decorations, gardens, the hard work to make it my home, it doesn’t feed my soul any more.

But that’s not all.

When Is It Time to Move?

The loss of your primary relationship isn’t the only reason, although a big house and all its attendant responsibilities are certainly part of it. The other piece is when you have reached a point in your life when living somewhere new might be the kind of jump-start to reinvigorate your life.

Whether that’s setting up shop abroad in a much cheaper place to live or simply moving to a smaller city or town for a better quality of life, a move might be just what the doctor ordered.

Is It Worth It?

You might ask whether all the work a move entails is always worth it. That depends. On one hand, if we’ve been living in a place for decades, as I have in Denver since 1971, my web of connections, caregivers, and friends is both broad and deep.

I’ll be leaving the relative safety of knowing my way very well around town and all the pleasures that come with rich familiarity in my community.

On the other, that very familiarity has made me a bit stale. Combined with the massive influx of people to my state (more than five million since I moved here), Denver, and its lovely mountains, has irretrievably changed.

I can no longer safely ride a horse without being nearly run into by mountain bikers, cyclists, and others who are angry at me for using a trail that I’ve used for years. The mountains are overrun, to say nothing of the traffic.

It’s time. At least for me. It’s a quality of life issue.

I love smaller cities, the intimacy of those places. Others may prefer the sophistication of larger cities and the convenience of facilities and health care. I prefer acreage and trees around me but close enough to an airport to head out to the rest of the world.

Wherever You Go, There You Are

Part of the decision is whether you and I are running from, or running to, someplace new. And, if we are considering this, what expectations are we carrying?

Wherever we go, there we are. A new location isn’t going to make me happier. That only comes with the hard work I’m willing to invest in making new friends, getting involved in my community, and being available. What I love about the idea of shifting to a new place is all the hard work involved.

I have harbored dreams of a mountain home for decades. Selling my home in Denver allows me to realize that dream. I have to forfeit a lot to have it, but given that I’m 66, I don’t have a lot of time left to me to fully realize that dream while I’m hale enough to enjoy it.

The sale of my house will afford me much-needed extra cash. I can buy a nice home and land outright. Those options are, in part, driving my decision. That, and I love the adventure of making myself vulnerable in new worlds.

When I’m too comfortable, as I am now, I stop growing. A big move pushes me to expand.

The Questions to Ask Before You Decide

If you’re thinking about pulling up stakes and moving, let’s be clear it’s for the right reasons. Let’s ask:

  • Do I think a new place will make me happier?
  • Do I expect to leave my troubles or hurt behind me?
  • Will moving to a new place offer me a different kind of life, one that I want?
  • Will a shift provide me with options I don’t currently have?
  • Am I willing to put the work into making this new place a real home?
  • What are my expectations, and are they reasonable?

Moving is both a matter of the heart and the pocketbook.

For my part, the moment I knew it was time for me to leave was when I was speaking with my best friend’s husband. They’re thinking of moving too but are leaning towards staying. As I listened, I realized that if I stayed it would be for fear-based reasons.

That’s when I called the realtor. She’s coming tomorrow at 2 pm. I’ve already started packing.

I can’t wait.

What would make you consider moving late in life? Have you made the decision already? If you have moved, what worked and what didn’t? What advice do you have for those considering a big move later in life? Please share your experience with those of us who can make use of it.