By Ann Burnside Love
When I finally decided to move from my spacious “first” retirement home in a 55 and up development, I knew that I would again have to condense my belongings, and I had to decide which residence—apartment or cottage—would work best to create a comfortable home, as well as showcase my most valued possessions and allow me to continue my active writing life. Thus, a must, in my case, was a place I could set up my writing and business office. So I chose an apartment layout with one bedroom, two baths (one for me, one for Vanessa, the cat), and a den that let me create a horseshoe in which to build a surround of equipment.
It all fit: filing cabinets, computer, printer, a variety of well-lighted work surfaces, outlets and whatever. There was room for the five-drawer legal file that preserves my writing career. Plus the tall metal cabinet that stores supplies galore. I also needed shelves—lots of shelves. Throughout my life I’ve always been able to fill all available shelves, plus more.
When you consider a residence in a retirement community, you will, of course, find the basics: living room, dining area, kitchen, bedroom and bath—maybe two each of the latter. Look for windows with generous light and a view you enjoy. Larger apartments offer options such as a library, den, TV or guest room.
If you choose a cottage or villa, you will have more space options, including a garage in some climates. Whichever space you’d like, remember to check for well-planned closet space, as this will make a big difference in what you bring and in avoiding future clutter—think walk-in closets. Many communities also have centralized storage lockers where you can store holiday decorations, luggage, and other items you don’t routinely need.
For me, having an office was important. You might feel the same way, or want to have more room for space-consuming hobbies like sewing, quilting, art or entertainment. A large entertainment system can take up a lot of space: You might consider, as I did, taking advantage of smaller electronics and larger screens. Before you finish selecting your residence, consider what else you want room for: books, athletic gear, family photos, indoor plants, memorabilia, etc. Don’t forget about that ever-present need for clear walking space. Golf clubs, tennis racquets and bowling balls can live in the car trunk.
Plan what furniture you’ll take (we’ll discuss particulars and floor plans in coming blogs). Please, please don’t decide to move everything and “see what we need after we get there!” That’s a recipe for frustration, fatigue and possible disaster—like falling over boxes.
Once you’re settled, you soon may find yourself relieved that those possessions, which were given away, sold, stored or trashed, are somewhere else — and out of mind.
I hope these suggestions help generate ideas useful for your own transition. Send comments if you like!
Let’s start a conversation!