How This “Open-Nester” Decided Downsizing And Renting Was For Them – Lea Moved Out Of Her House And She Has TIPS

If you’ve followed along our moving journey you know by now that 2024 brought with it a lot of new challenges but also insight into our future or at least what we perceive our future to be given the breadcrumbs 2023 left us.

photo by sage e imagery | from: lea’s open concept pass-through dining room design agony – solved!

My husband was diagnosed with M.S. (Multiple Sclerosis) back in 1999 and thankfully his health has been fairly manageable with just a few bumps in the road. That was until, as life would have it, the day after we closed on our dream aka “forever home” in 2016. As his health continued to decline over the few years we lived there I thought and prayed to please let us get through our daughter’s college graduation plus one year. Well, we didn’t quite make it that “plus one year” but we got close. It was as good a time as any to say goodbye to the little house we called Creekwoodhill. Ahhhh…the memories we made there! It was so bittersweet to leave but don’t feel sad for us because this mom and dad shook the kiddos loose (Ok, not really) and moved further into the city, decided not to buy another car (since our son crashed it last year) and instead moved into a modern loft-style apartment within walking distance to local coffee shops and eateries. We are a $5 Uber ride into downtown or uptown and a plethora of places to shop and dine all around us. We’re enjoying late-night dinners, cocktails on the rooftop, and we love that we’re steps away from all the nature trails Remi’s (our dog) heart could desire. While some people are calling us empty-nesters, we’re referring to ourselves as “open-nesters”. It was important to us that with this lifestyle change both of our adult kids didn’t feel pushed or left out. So although we are downsizing to about half the square feet we had in our house, there will always be a place for them to return to.

photo by sage e imagery | from: lea’s open concept pass-through dining room design agony – solved!

So what were some of the key factors that led us to this journey besides my husband’s health?

Both of our kids are now in their mid-twenties. One was eagerly ready to fly the nest and the other, we suspect, will be right behind her in another year or two. And…to be honest, homeownership is a LOT of work, especially when that falls on one person (me). We decided we didn’t need 3000 sq. ft. with a large yard anymore and instead opted to venture into our second phase of life. AKA life without children at home with less home, less maintenance (or none), more living, more travel, and more financial freedom. We are learning to get by without a car, or at least for now, to see how far we can go without feeling the need to buy one. We are also working on rebranding my styling business (more, really soon!) and begin to align ourselves with our dream of living part-time in Minneapolis and part-time in L.A.

With our move, I learned a TON; I learned I could plan and be as well organized as I wanted to but in the end, there would be outliers that I didn’t factor that dang near brought me to my knees. I learned we wouldn’t walk away with as much financially as I had anticipated due to poor planning in the past but let me be clear. To anyone who is the sole income earner in their household, trying to also run a business, put a kid or two through college, and be a full-time caregiver to a lifelong partner whose health is deteriorating more and more every year I SEE you. There have been many days/nights I have cried myself to sleep, and my family has witnessed me have a full mental breakdown because the weight is just entirely too heavy to bear alone. Yet, anyone who is close enough to know the vulnerable me knows I can go from full-blown meltdown to stone-faced back to business in 3.2 seconds. Is it healthy? No. I’m sure it’s a coping mechanism I learned from the childhood trauma of licking my own wounds. Recently, I heard a quote that read something like I didn’t grow up with role models, instead, I grew up with people I didn’t want to be like. That hit home big time for me. 

Moving on, I learned we don’t NEED a lot of things. Ha! I learned how to get rid of and let go of SO much STUFF. With our daughter moving into her first place, it was easy enough to split things like furnishings and kitchenware with her to get her going. My cousin and his wife had just purchased their first home so they came over and we loaded up most of the garage items such as the lawn mower, snowblower, tools, etc. You know, all of the things a new homeowner needs that they don’t know they need yet.

Some of my styling inventory went to one of the stylists on my team and copious amounts of things went to the thrift store. I think I counted 11 SUV truckloads. My daughter took all of the paint, oil, chemicals, etc. and brought them to a city drop-off site. What remained, I thought, was a piece of cake.

photo by sage e imagery | from: lea’s living room reveal: her pet and family-friendly open concept design agony solved

I called out to friends and family 60 days in advance for boxes, and yes ma’am, they came through! Having that off my task list, I ordered through Amazon packing tape, bubble wrap, newsprint, mattress protector bags, moving bags, and vacuum seal bags. And, of course, with Prime delivering straight to our doorstep that meant less running around for me to do. Additionally, I purchased 7 of these medium-sized bins to hold all of my books because if you’ve ever moved books before you know just how heavy they become and those cardboard moving boxes were not going to do the trick. If you are ever looking to move your coffee table hardcover book collection, this is the bin for you, it’s wide enough on the bottom to hold two stacks, which is also all you need because they get HEAVY. I also bought a couple of these large storage bins because paperbacks could fit easily in those. With picking up the bins, I utilized Target Drive Up which is another moving task/errand hack I love. Listen, I was coming prepared and would make this move the easiest ever! I hired professional movers (we used local Two Men and a Truck) to also make this move easier for me. If you’re an MN reader, I highly recommend them (we actually utilized 4 men and a truck and it was perfect for our household size. Also to get ahead of the game, we asked for a move-in date 2 weeks before our actual move-out/closing (on the house) date so that we could off-load things over there to make the logistical part of the move easier. Funny story! Our new place is in an old commercial building that was renovated for apartments. But when the previous business operated there, my parents both worked and met IN MY BUILDING waaaay back in the early 70s. Pretty cool, right?! Ok, back to the move. I arranged for our daughter to come pick Remi up so she could spend 2 nights with her big sis so that she would not feel the stress/anxiety of the move.

At this point, I’m feeling amazing and living my Project Manager era to the fullest!!!

Next, I lined up friends and family for a half day (aka Move Day Number 1) to move all of the packed boxes that mainly contained all of my fragile items, lamps, art, etc. things that I just couldn’t bear if the movers broke vs. myself breaking them. The other half of the day was bringing things to our storage unit that we would deal with another day because there was nothing we needed/used (mostly, boxes of family photos, things from my dad (who passed away 3 years ago, etc. you catch the drift). That means, all that was left to do was move the furniture and those heavy totes full of books. Move Day Number 2 came and went easy peasy and UNDER budget folks! Yes, I’ll take that win! Again, flying my Project Manager flag LOUD. The movers re-assembled our beds and moved all furniture and rugs into place. At this point, EVERYTHING was moved into the apartment and I was feeling great! I started unpacking everything and had our new place semi-put together in just a couple of hours. Our first night, and speaking of myself, I slept like a baby. Morning came and it was time to go back to the house to clean before the new homeowners took occupancy. Side note: Pack a tote of cleaning supplies and trash bags just for move-out day or better yet, hire a move-out clean with a cleaning service.

Ok…This, my friends, is where Lea lost her ish. This is what I didn’t foresee. While I was busy moving an entire household, I failed to check on my husband’s progress with clearing out the garage after all of the big stuff was off-loaded to my cousins and a few others. This is by far my fault, which likely made me more mad at myself but of course, in the moment I blamed him and probably went in extra, extra hard because you know, it’s the easy thing to do when you are STRESSED. Afterward, I called my realtor and completely bawled my eyes out (thank you, Kathy). 

The garage was full of loads and loads of 7+ years of miscellaneous ahem…THINGS. At this point, we had 2 hours to vacate. Our next-door neighbors turned lifelong friends heard my desperation or psychotic meltdown, whichever story you want to believe, and came and helped me take 11 lawn-sized trash bags out as well as other large left-over building material scraps, remnants of who knows what. We were out with 5 minutes to spare.

Whew! So that is how our move and process went. I hope you check in to hear how we came out on the other side of our move and how we’re adjusting to a smaller space, fewer rooms while still working from home. In the meantime, lucky for you I’ve put together a little checklist if you are planning a move of your own that you may find helpful (or at least I hope you do):

  • Gather boxes or purchase boxes like these moving boxes (having similar size/shape does help with stacking and loading).
  • Order or purchase (in-store) moving supplies (as mentioned above having them all delivered made fewer errands for me to run)
  • Schedule and hire a moving company if it fits your budget – it is so well worth the money spent, things included or to consider:
    • Upfront deposit to secure and confirm your move
    • They wrap all of your furniture with pads and wrap
    • They will crate things if needed and for a fee
    • They will pack all of your belongings (if needed and for a fee)
    • Moving dollies and moving blankets all included
    • They will disassemble your beds and reassemble at the new location
    • They will bag your mattresses (we provided our own bags)
    • They will move your TVs if they are boxed (you can purchase TV boxes through them)
    • Roll up and wrap large area rugs
    • Insured
    • Saves time, your back, and your sanity (all worth value)
    • Check for discounts through AAA memberships and the like
  • Submit your address changes and postal forwarding to your new address
    • Consider credit cards, transfer or stop utilities such as water, trash/recycling, electricity and gas, internet or cable services, and any subscription-based deliveries such as Chewy or Prime.
  • Make piles for donations and get them there 
  • Drop off leftover paint, oil, and chemicals at your city drop-off and recycling site
  • Arrange for friends/family to take what they need but it MUST go (do not hold onto for anyone to pick up “later”)
  • Sell what you want to and consider if you have the time to do so (such as through FBM)
  • Pack and sort room by room for thoroughness
    • Leave yourselves an overnight bag if applicable 
  • Plan to move valuables or precious items yourself and schedule time to do it outside of the “big move day”
  • Check-in with the household members to make sure everyone is tackling their responsibilities and make room/time for tasks that need help
  • Plan ahead and hire a cleaning service for a move-out clean and possibly even a move-in clean
    • Value = Time saver and Sanity saver (think of it as self-care)
    • Assemble and set aside a tote of cleaning supplies/ bags, brushes, vacuum, etc. if you plan to clean yourself
  • Arrange for pets and small children to stay somewhere else during the day or day(s) of the move (bonus if they can stay +1 more day) 
  • Source a home theater technician to re-install or mount TVs, speakers, etc.
  • Pack snacks and water and take breaks!
  • Order grocery delivery to at least get you through that first week after you’ve moved in
    • Consider pet supplies too
  • Final walk-through of move-out space to make sure nothing is left behind or forgotten
  • Order yourselves takeout or delivery dinner especially the day of the move.
    • Add disposable plates, utensils, napkins

I can’t wait to take you along the next steps of downsizing square footage and learning to live with less so that we can live life more.

Until next time!


Opening Image Credits: Photo by Sage E Imagery | From: Lea’s Living Room Reveal: Her Pet And Family-Friendly Open Concept Design Agony SOLVED

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