Downsizing or ‘rightsizing’ is a common move for many of us later in life. This can be for various reasons such as children growing up and moving out of the family home, fluctuations in the housing market, and/or seeking a simpler, more relaxed lifestyle.
Whatever drives the decision, ‘rightsizing’ your life can be a challenge – but also a brilliant opportunity to create a home you love and nurture the life you want to lead.
In partnership with the Lifestory Group, (who, under their Pegasus brand, build and manage beautiful homes and create thriving communities for people over 60), we spoke to Stella Lupson. At age 84, she recently moved into a new two-bedroom cottage at Latheram House, one of Pegasus’s contemporary later living communities located in Cheltenham.
Stella told us about her experience of downsizing – including how she found the right home to suit her, and the challenges and excitements of finding her place in a new social scene.
“Downsizing is always going to be difficult when you’ve got a lifetime of things, but I’m so glad I did it”
Before the move to Latheram House, Stella – who was previously a sales director for a leading high-performing appliance brand – had lived alone in her five-bedroom family home in Hertfordshire. Her children had grown up and left home and her husband had unfortunately passed away.
Downsizing had been on Stella’s agenda for a while, but it was her daughter that eventually spurred the decision…
“My daughter and grandchildren live here [in Cheltenham], so I wanted to move closer to them”, Stella said. “My daughter had a search around and we had a look at quite a few properties beforehand, and then ended up choosing Latheram House.”
Reflecting on the process of downsizing from a large five-bedroom house to a smaller two-bedroom cottage, Stella says, “I had to get rid of so much furniture and finding a home for everything was difficult – so a lot of it’s gone into storage. Luckily, my daughter plans to use those things herself at some point, as she’s got visions of moving into a bigger house.
“Downsizing is always going to be difficult when you’ve got a lifetime of things, but, you just have to get on with it really. I’m so glad I did it now, anyway!
“It’s a big upheaval at this age, but my daughter said to me, ‘It’s a very nice town, you’re not going to be anywhere that you don’t like.’ So, in the end, I took the leap.”
A home that’s just right
Reducing the clutter of a five-bedroom house worth of belongings hasn’t been the only part of the moving process to have an impact on Stella’s lifestyle. Stella tells us that the size of her new, smaller home is much more manageable at this stage in her life…
“They call them cottages here, but in my language, it’s a little house.”
As an avid gardener and someone who previously lived near the countryside, having an outdoor space was important to Stella in choosing her new home – but she was keen to have something low maintenance.
Fortunately, between its urban access and garden area, the cottage at Latheram House is just right for Stella. She says, “It’s great – I’ve got a patio and I can do quite a bit of potting and gardening. As you get older, you can’t mow the grass like you used to, or [other things like that] – so this is just right for me because I can still fiddle about with plants and things, but I haven’t got the worry of cutting hedges or any heavy maintenance.”
The on-site facilities at Latheram House have also been a great help in building the balanced, independent lifestyle that Stella wants.
“You have to look after yourself, which is what I like, but there’s a very nice lounge here that we can use, and the on-site team are very helpful if you’ve got a problem,” Stella tells us.
“You also don’t really need a car here because everything is in easy reach. A lot of people don’t have them, but I’ve still got mine for when I want to go further afield. I can walk to the theatre and the cinema, which I couldn’t do before”.
And being a self-professed film and theatre buff, Stella is particularly excited by her newfound access to art and cultural events that weren’t available to her in the countryside…
“The theatre here is very good as all the shows from London come through here. We’ve also got the literature festival and, of course, the jazz festival, which is an awful lot more than I ever had. Soon, I’m off to see Gregory Porter!”
Stella also praises the dining opportunities in her local area – and with all the fantastic things to see and do right on her doorstep, we couldn’t help but wonder whether the hustle and bustle of the town might take some getting used to after moving from the countryside. But, Stella says that this hasn’t been the case.
“Although I’m in the middle of the town, if I sit outside you wouldn’t know it, it’s so quiet.”
Making new social connections
One of the biggest challenges of moving home, at any age, is making new social connections.
Telling us a little about her experience, which she believes can become more difficult the older you get, Stella says, “It’s quite hard [to connect] at this age because most people have already got all their friends and they don’t need any more, and it’s not like I’m off taking the kids to school or things like that. So you have to go out there and make them yourself.”
And make them she did. Though it can be tricky to meet new people and form lasting friendships without the built-in social structures where many of us met our earliest friends – school, university, your place of work, for example – Stella took matters into her own hands…
“Myself and another lady have organised a coffee morning that we go to every Wednesday.”
Stella also tells us that she’s found a great deal of fulfilment through locally organised events. She explains, “I’ve [also] joined the University of the Third Age, which is a very good organisation. It’s for retired university people, and there are all sorts of things to do there. They do bridge, jazz, pilates, dinner dating, everything – they really do a lot. It’s very good, but it’s taken a while to get things going because of Covid.”
The University of the Third Age (U3A) is a collection of over 1000 charities working across the UK to provide all sorts of entertaining and educational social experiences for those no longer in work. If you’re inspired by Stella’s experience and would like to see what the U3A’s offering near you, check out their website, here.
Stella’s experience with integrating into a new social scene was tricky at first, and the Covid-19 pandemic made the wait a little longer than expected. But in the end, she found her place and her people.
Though Stella moved into Latheram House on her own, she wasn’t entirely alone – her cat, Tom, has been along for the ride since the beginning.
As a result, Stella says that it wasn’t just herself who’d been going through some lifestyle changes as a result of the move. We asked her about how he’d settled into their new home…
“I had a right time of it at the beginning. When we were living in the country, he was out hunting and everything and, of course, here it’s [more urban].”
But, thankfully, Tom’s lifestyle has changed along with Stella’s and, just like her, he’s also happily settled in and enjoying his new home.
We asked Stella how she felt about her decision to downsize and move to a more urban area now that she’s been living independently at Latheram House for over a year. As with any big life change, Stella’s move came with some challenges. But, to her, the benefits of her new lifestyle speak for themselves, and she reaffirms that “it was definitely worth it.”
Pegasus’ apartments are the perfect choice for anyone seeking a place to be for their next chapter. Each community is inspired differently by their unique settings in lively locations around England and are stylishly designed to reflect the needs for modern living.
If you want to find out more about Pegasus, and their different communities and homes like Stella’s at Latheram House, then why not visit their website?