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Tidy-Up Tessa: Deciding Whether Or Not You Should Move Out Of Your Long-Time Home

As you head into retirement, you may be looking for a fresh start, including a new home. In this hot housing market, relocating might seem to offer the added benefit of a financial windfall. But there’s more than dollars and cents to deciding whether to move out of your long-time home.

Meet Tessa. This friend of my family came to me for advice on the topic of downsizing. Tessa is a retiree who has lived in her home for many years. But, she recently lost her husband and was thinking that a new home might help her move forward into this new phase of her life.

Of course, we can all empathize with her situation. It has to be difficult to stay in a home that you lived in with your spouse once they pass away. There was a lot of emotion in our conversation as Tessa explained her dilemma. She was torn – she loved the home, but it was bittersweet. While she wasn’t sure if she was truly emotionally ready to move, she had taken steps to list her home for sale.

In talking with Tessa, I urged her to consider the social aspects and other intangibles that figure into the notion of “home” – things that she wouldn’t necessarily have right away if she picked up and moved.

Do you have a great relationship with your neighbors, chatting daily over the fence? If you relocate, it will take time to create new friendships in the neighborhood. Maybe your current place is close to other friends and family, too, making keeping up with your social network all the easier. Depending on how far you move, you may need to find new health care providers, and establish other commercial and professional relationships.

As for making a windfall by selling a long-owned home in this hot market, remember this: If you are selling in a hot market, then you’re also buying in a hot market. The only way to avoid this conundrum is by moving to a very different part of town or another region of the country. And, of course, the intangibles – friends, family, et cetera – change dramatically with a long-distance move.

Back to Tessa, she decided to try something different before saying goodbye to her house.

Tessa embarked on a deep decluttering job. I gave her the nickname Tidy-Up Tessa because that’s precisely what she did. Tessa made it her priority to sort through all of the things she had accumulated after decades of living in the same space. And you know what? Something changed for her.

Tidy-Up Tessa came back and told me that after downsizing her belongings, her house felt different. She said that she realized that, after all those years, there were just some things that she could let go of to give some new life to her home. All of the stuff had made her feel overwhelmed, and without it, she breathed easier.

In the end, she decided not to sell for now. She’s happily living in her “new” home, and, while she doesn’t know what the future will bring, she’s going to stay awhile.

With just a little polish, what’s old might just be new, and right under your nose.

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