Are you ready for Senior Living? – The big move, downsizing, and adjusting

By Gerry Clare
Roving Reporter
July 16, 2018 11:00 a.m.

Last week, Gerry Clare began taking our readers on her journey as she and her husband Tom transition to life from Amelia Island  to a Senior Living Center near Jacksonville Beach.  To read her previous article click here.

Part III-Helpful Hints on Downsizing and the Big Move

A view from the Clare’s balcony.

Since we made the decision to move to a one bedroom/one bath apartment at Cypress Village, we now faced downsizing. Having already moved from a four bedroom/ two bath home with a two car garage two years earlier to be back on the island near the beach, we now had a smaller task. However, even dealing with our two bedroom two bath condo and one car garage was daunting. Especially, when I realized, we still had wedding china, a huge linen closet and a large pantry to deal with. The garage, of course, still had 3 huge boxes of Christmas stuff, as well as boat equipment, yard tools, ladders, grills, painting equipment, and so much more.

I knew we could do this because we had lived for almost eight months on a 30 foot cruising boat while doing the Great Circle Loop around the eastern half of the United States. Admittedly, there was a bridge on the boat and a large salon, so that we did have two floors and a dinghy for getaways. But it is amazing how little you really need to survive comfortably. Campers know this, too.

So, we did a few things to get ready. First, we held garage sales every weekend, advertised on social media. This was fun and useful. Neighbors and friends stopped by and we got to publicize our condo for sale. We did it in categories…. Linens, kitchen stuff, exercise equipment and folding chairs, picnic tables, electronics, and garage stuff. As we cleaned out an area, we would have a sale.

Second, we posted some of the harder to sell stuff and good furniture on social media. Facebook has something called the Marketplace, which allows you to post items for sale with pictures, descriptions and prices. This site allows you to share posts with many other sites, such as Amelia Island Virtual Sales, West Nassau County Virtual Yard Sale, etc. We had competing bids on several of these sites.

Packing up clothes, shoes, winter coats you haven’t worn in years, duplicate sets of china, and books for delivery to charities such as New to You, Purple Dove, Second Chance and church groups is also a good way to cull out things you don’t need. Keeping the receipts for tax time is a benefit to you as well.

Third, asking your friends and relatives if they want or need anything can work. Although everyone wanted to help us by taking the antique circular desk off our hands, we decided to just cram it in our new living room. Also, if you are lucky enough to have a buyer who can use some of your furniture and artwork as we were, that can be a blessing. That was helpful in our last two moves.

Packing efficiently is very important to an easy unpacking experience. Boxes with handles are great if you can get them, easier to handle and stack in one room or against the walls of larger rooms. Free boxes are to be had from hospital receiving departments, department stores, liquor stores, and U-Haul centers (such as the one on 8th Street). Otherwise they can be purchased at storage facilities. The dishpacks, wardrobe boxes, book boxes, and large paintings/mirrors boxes are very useful. I particularly like a large box of moving paper to use for wrapping breakable items. Newspaper is messy on your hands. My husband uses towels and pillows and dog beds to cushion larger items. He also packs boxes by what fits in a box i.e., a small lamp from the bedroom with towels from the linen closet and shoes in the bottom, etc. I call it space management which leads to fewer boxes probably. But, I like to do it by room or category, so that when I unpack I stay in one area to unload.

Of course, all boxes must be labeled by room, so that the movers can move them quickly without asking every minute,” Where does this go???” And yes, I even add some notes on what’s in the boxes if needed, using “Open me first,” or numbering some number 1, 2, 3, etc. in order of importance to open. That way, you don’t have to open everything in one day. I try to limit packing to 3 or 4 boxes a day, starting as early as possible.

Moving can be stressful and I have done it 19 times in 6 states since college (7 in Fernandina alone) Preparation and packing as early as you can is smart, but I won’t even go into finding moving companies and unpacking. Suffice it to say, that if you packed well, unpacking is much abbreviated.

Since my husband prepares for moving in by cutting out pictures of the furniture to size and placing them on a graph paper diagram before we move in. Believe it or not, as fussy as I can be, I have never done that and just play it by ear, with a couple of measurements to see if our dining room, dresser, bed and bedside tables fit. They did not. We had to buy smaller ones. We have used Nassau Moving so many times and they have been great, even when our Cypress Village freight elevators were not operating. Getting a good experienced mover with references is ideal.

Leaving enough time after you move to get the old place clean and fridge cleaned out helps, too. Also, moving in some items ahead of time, if you can, especially a new bed or TV can also be advisable.

Part IV – How Do We Like It?

It may be too early to tell, but so far after one month, we are loving this new way of living. Having so many activities, entertainment, and restaurant venues in one place is wonderful. We have found the residents friendly and welcoming and the staff eager to please and professional. Our monthly fee, as mentioned earlier, includes one full daily meal (usually dinner at lunchtime or in the evening), as well as cleaning, laundering sheets and towels, all utilities and bus rides to shopping for food, pharmacies, department stores in nearby shopping malls. There are also bus rides to churches, although there are several services available in our building as well.

Just an elevator ride away (or golf cart if you are in the individual homes) are the gym, swimming pool, billiards, library, wellness clinics, doctor’s and dentist’s offices, and beauty or barber shops. Lectures and concerts abound. You can visit the inhouse café for a quick snack, breakfast, lunch or dinner next to the Loon’s Nest bar for happy hour or coffee and conversation. There are sign-ups for the Jacksonville symphony and other local bus trips every month which are billed separately.

Lucy, our terrier mix, is the only one who has had to make a huge adjustment, riding an elevator to go out 5 or 6 times a day. Or is that our adjustment? This is good exercise for us and when it gets cooler, the village dog park nearby will be on our list.

Many facilities offer investment plans with health care plans or just monthly rental fees for services, but choosing where, when and how you want to live before you are too ill to enjoy it, has been a good move for us. We are hopeful that this was the right choice for us and our family, who were part of this decision.

Gerry Clare.jpg 2Editor’s Note: Gerry began free lance writing for fun and is the author of a published book (available on Amazon and at Books Plus) about funny real estate experiences. Gerry was a former longtime member of our local American Business Women’s Chapter, a volunteer cancer driver and church deacon who loves to read, travel and meet interesting people. She and her husband Tom recently relocated to Cypress Village.

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Don Centrone
Don Centrone(@centronecomcast-net)
5 years ago

I’m glad you are enjoying your new location but speaking for the few remaining volunteer cancer drivers, we miss you Gerry!!!