Transitioning to Retirement: Packing Up and Moving Out (2)

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January 7, 2014 by Jean

In my last post, I wrote about my plans for sorting and packing a career’s worth of academic material in preparation for moving out of my office at the end of the spring semester. That job will be a walk in the park compared to the task of packing up and moving out of my rented townhouse in Gettysburg. There I will have 6 rooms of “stuff” to sort through, make decisions about, and either pack, donate or toss.

For more than 20 years now, I have been dividing my time between two homes. In the early years, I carted an amazing amount of stuff back and forth with me. (I can remember, for example, boxing up my food processor and packing it in the car for each drive north or south.) Over time, I began to make the transitions easier by buying duplicates of many items (e.g., two food processors, two televisions, two bedroom clock radios). At this point, then, I need to combine two fully furnished homes into one, which means that I need to be very selective about what gets moved north with me. Most of my Gettysburg belongings won’t make the cut and will need to be sold, donated, or otherwise disposed of.

I have been thinking about this move for a couple of years now, so I have made some mental lists of what goes in each category. The second-hand mattress and box spring that I bought for $20 when I was in graduate school is well past its better days; ditto for the trundle day-bed with the broken frame and the splitting mattresses. These are items that I’ve gotten 40 or more years of use from, and they are ready for their own retirement. Most of my Gettysburg dishes, utensils, and pots and pans will get donated. My first option for items like these is to offer them to the local battered women’s shelter, where there are always women who fled from abusers with little beyond the clothes on their backs and who are starting over from scratch. These women may also be able to use some larger pieces of furniture that are still serviceable but that won’t fit into my Maine home – the living room sleep sofa that has served me well for 25 years and the dining room table too large for my Maine house. There are a few pieces of furniture that I will definitely move to Maine and a few that I still need to decide about. And, as at my office, there are bookcases full of books and filing drawers full of papers.

I will have 16 weeks from the time I return to Gettysburg for the beginning of school until I turn in my final grades in May; my plan is to devote one full day per week to sorting, tagging furniture for its final disposition, and packing. Then there will be another week between the end of exams and graduation. Since my townhouse has six rooms plus two bathrooms and three small storage areas, my schedule is to do one room every two weeks – 12 weeks for the 6 rooms and the remaining 4 weeks for the bathrooms and storage areas. That final week will be for concentrated work on final packing and cleaning. I won’t have to be out of my townhouse until June 1, but it would be wonderful if I could have the moving truck come the day after my college’s commencement ceremony and be on the road north the day after that. I think this is doable; we’ll see.

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4 thoughts on “Transitioning to Retirement: Packing Up and Moving Out (2)

  1. Jean says:

    It just dawned on me that you are doing what my folks did many years ago. They had a summer cottage when we kids were growing up and for 10 years before they retired they started remodeling it into a year-around dwelling. I bought their house in town—the one I grew up in—and for a year or two every trip back and forth to the lake included furniture swapping, etc. You will do great. As they say, “have a plan and work the plan” which you are doing like a pro. The women’s shelter is such a perfect fit for you to donate to, given your academic field.

    • Jean says:

      Jean, LOL, I always have a plan! I used to joke that if I washed out of academia, I could pursue a second career as a five-year planner for the Kremlin. Once, when my mother was visiting in the summer, she offered to help me hang a load of laundry on the line and asked, “Do you just want them on the line, or is there a plan?” I looked at her incredulously, “You must have forgotten which child you’re visiting. Of course there’s a plan!” :-)

      Yesterday, I actually went through my calendar and wrote down which room I plan to work on each Monday. Working that plan like a pro.

  2. Jean I marvel at how organized you are with this move and consolidation of 2 houses. I had to do this when I married. I am moving up my retirement to April 1 and am looking forward to packing the one box of office things and walking down a new path. I am very excited for you and wish you luck in these final months.

    • Jean says:

      Donna, Organization is my middle name :-) . I think consolidating my two houses into one is easier than consolidating my stuff with someone else’s — none of those negotiations about whose version of X is better to keep.
      I’m happy to hear that you have a retirement date set, and I hope you can really make it happen this time. I just read a book about transition to retirement that I think you might like; I’m going to write it up here as soon as I get a chance.

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I am Jean Potuchek, a professional sociologist who has just stepped into the next phase of my life, retirement, after more than thirty years of college teaching. This blog is about my experience of that new phase of life.

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