Colleagues and friends must have been so weary of hearing the tale of our impending retirement in Mexico. For the next four years, it seemed like everyone we met wanted to know how we made the decision, when we we going, why, etc. I started a day count at work when the number fell under 1000, and dutifully could recite the new total to anyone who asked.
We developed a plan for how to conduct the move. At the time, we owned and were living in a 2200 sq ft townhouse in Alexandria, Virginia. We still had several rooms of excess furniture and even clothes and things left behind by our daughters as they graduated from college, got jobs, moved away, got married, and started having children of their own. We also had all the memorabilia a couple collects in 30+ years of marriage and establishing various homes. And we knew that the furniture, which was mostly European, would not fit in in our new casa, and would be prohibitively expensive to ship. We had to give many of the furniture pieces away. While it was well-made and imported, the company that ran an estate sale for us told us it was “big brown stuff” that no one wanted, even for bargain prices.
We decided to sell our townhouse at the two year out point, to get out of the volatile DC housing market and to eliminate any further maintenance requirements. We found a nice apartment in Arlington, which reduced our commute, had a parking garage, walkable neighborhood restaurants, and zero maintenance (they even replaced the light bulbs). That move was a great opportunity to start the overall downsizing process.
We took turns opening boxes, reviewing the contents, and asking the hard question: what do I need this for? In many cases, we identified things we had not used in years, but we had kept “just in case.” We also had many items of memorabilia, which we had to ask “what are we going to do with this in Mexico?” At first, we put many such things back in the box, unwilling to make the break. But with each subsequent review, it became easier to say “adios.” Our toughest question always was: “what do I intend to do with this, and what will my kids do with this when I’m gone?” There were several things that had obvious answers to both questions, so they were “keepers.” There were a few which the first answer was “I don’t know” but the second was obvious, so they were kept, too. Many things got put in the charity or trash piles.
By the time it came to move out of the apartment, we had culled the items to ship to Mexico down to a single international shipping unit (7’x 7’x 4′, as I recall), along with a single carload we would drive down.
Now just to execute the plan!