I’m a Boomer and I Don’t Want to Downsize — Here’s Why

My home is so much more than just a place to lay my head down and rest. It’s played a hugely important role in my family — and my life. But now that my daughter has moved out, I imagine it won’t be long before my son leaves the nest, leaving two bedrooms vacant, waiting for my children to return to visit someday.

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These days, it’s popular for someone like me to pare down their belongings and move to a smaller place. But this baby boomer has no interest in downsizing — not even to a warmer climate.

Instead, I plan to remain in the same split-level home in which we created lifelong memories. Why? As Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young would croon, “Our house is a very, very, very fine house.” All things considered, there is a certain comfort level obtained by staying with what is familiar.

I’m used to living in a home where the entry is on a landing between sets of steps that lead upstairs and downstairs. Not to mention the fact that I have accumulated a lifetime of stuff. Some people form emotional attachments to stuff and can’t part with any of it. I’m one of those people. Sure, it’s trendy to get rid of things that don’t spark joy, but I like my stuff and I want to keep it.

No matter how I look at it, going from a four-bedroom house to a one- or two-bedroom home feels overly daunting. The thought of culling and packing possessions that have sentimental value to me would be emotionally wrenching as I wander down memory lane. I would need to purge a batch of items, including large furniture pieces, clothing, and kitchen supplies. I can tell you right now that I would have a hard time sharing with any of it.

Once I started combing through items, maybe it could become easier to make exceptions here and there. But before I know it, all I’d have done is taken items from one house and moved them to another house. What’s the sense in scrambling, packing, and moving my stuff, anyway?

Selling or giving away my unwanted items at a garage sale would also be exhausting. Alternatively, I could donate what doesn’t sell, such as clothes, dishes, decor, and furniture, to a resale shop. But I would need to be careful about impulse buying. Those shops are packed full of treasures waiting for a new home, too.

Some people who have taken the plunge into downsizing might say it is wonderful to not have to worry about maintenance such as snow removal and mowing the lawn. But that’s the least of my worries since I don’t handle those chores anyway.

I also want to have a place where my family can comfortably visit me, and my current home already offers that. It seems a strong bet that hosting a big holiday dinner would be out of the question in a smaller home. Out-of-town guests might need to stay at a hotel when they come to visit. Where’s the holiday coziness in that?

As I step confidently into the great unknown, I’m trying to think about the future, too. I don’t have difficulty going up and down stairs now, but what if that ends up being a pain later? Thankfully in my house, I could relocate to the main floor, where mobility wouldn’t be as big of a concern. Plus, I can always renovate parts of my home to help with the aging in place process.

No matter which way I slice it, I can’t see myself downsizing. I know that I don’t want to move into a smaller home just because it’s the right choice for everyone else. I love my split-level, and to me, there’s really no place like home.

Brenda Richardson

Contributor

Brenda Richardson is an award-winning journalist whose work has appeared in Forbes, the Washington Post, Chicago Tribune and other media outlets. She is the former real estate editor at the Chicago Tribune and the author of a recently published book on the history of River North, a dynamic Chicago neighborhood that went from rags to riches.

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