Right-Sizing Comes in All Shapes and Sizes

wvfc sandy right sizing pix onlyThe Main House in spring.

My husband and I had been talking about downsizing for several years—ever since 2008, in fact, when we found that our savings had been reduced by about 60 percent. Though I had never been busier in my career, my husband had “retired” (that is, working in the nonprofit world just as hard, but not getting paid for it) 14 years before. We owned a beautiful two-bedroom apartment in a wonderful Chelsea building that we got when we sold our Larchmont home. It was currently seven blocks from our precious one- and three- year-old grandsons and their parents. We also had a 160-acre farm several hours away that was our dream home. Over 30 years we had lovingly expanded it and made it perfect for us by doing one big project a year (building the main house in the original barn, building a new barn, fixing a field, building a Carriage House for all the equipment, putting in a riding ring, adding our “Tree House,” etc.). We even thought through the “handicapped” entrance and single-floor living so that when we retired, it would all be ready. Did I mention that we have four horses, a large number of chickens, and a wonderful caretaking family that lives in the original three-bedroom 1780 farm cape? But suddenly, during the horrible winter of 2014-15, it all seemed too much to handle and we began wondering how in the world we would downsize.

We discovered quickly enough that the real estate market in our farm area was deader than a doornail. Gorgeous places spent years on the market before being sold way below cost. Young people were not interested in all that land, upkeep, responsibility. So for the foreseeable future, selling and getting a smaller place didn’t look likely to happen.

RELATED: New Year’s Day Resolution: Right-Sizing Life

We then started looking at selling our two-bedroom apartment in New York City and getting a one-bedroom. It didn’t take long to realize that, though we could sell our apartment in about five minutes, finding something that didn’t feel like a graduate-student apartment was going to be very difficult. When the real estate broker came over to talk it over, he said, “I know you won’t believe what I am about to tell you, but I urge you NOT to sell.” By the time we realized given the taxes and capital gains, we would lose by selling (not to mention having to move farther away from our little grandsons), we figured we had better come up with a different plan—at least for the next seven or so years.

wvfc sandy right sizing pix only1The Main House in the fall.

I had always been a lover of nature and wildlife. My soul craved them; they both inspired my creative work and calmed my overactive brain. I know I would always have to be close to nature in one way or another, yet being close to our grandsons while they were in the formative years was a top priority for us both. So what to do? Read More »

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  • Carol March 19, 2016 at 9:46 am

    Nicely – very nicely – done, Sandy. And, of course, a creative solution!

  • Jeanie March 18, 2016 at 11:41 am

    What a wonderful story! I would love to know more about how to rent your place.