Size matters

When it comes to layouts, you have more—and bigger—options than you think.

What to know about this topic:

In the Comfort Life Spotlight

We often think of compromise as something necessary, a reasonable means to resolving an issue. In real life, however, it often isn’t. Ask any marriage counsellor and they’ll tell you that “compromise,” when applied to relationships, can quickly become a source of tension. “You get what you get and you don’t get upset,” might cut it in the preschool classroom, but later in life, we want options.

Mulberrry Parc, Burnaby, BC

That’s especially true when considering a move into a new residence. People want what they want, and it’s not because they’re hoarders, or that they want to cause problems. Whether we are consciously aware of it or not, research has shown that our stuff, literally, can keep us grounded. Familiar items, from photos of family to pieces of furniture, can help maintain a sense of place and also trigger areas of memory.

Bring the piano, leave the cannoli …

Having space for your stuff isn’t just nice to have. For many, very reasonably, it's a need to have. Of course, what’s important may vary from person to person. “Often, with businessmen, they want to bring their desk,” says Yvonne Seguin, sales and marketing manager for The Westhill, a retirement residence in Waterloo. “We have a gentleman who moved in here with his grand piano. We’ve had another lady who brought in her dining room set. They had had it made, they entertained, and it was important to her.”

“Some of these people have lived in their homes for 50 or 60 years,” says Seguin, “and the thought of what goes, what stays, can be a source of anxiety.” Having the space to create your own space—suites range from singles to layouts including 2 bedrooms and two bathrooms—can ease it. “It makes it feel like it’s your home, not a hotel.”


Don’t downsize, right-size

No, it’s not possible to bring everything, but, again, there is a comfort that comes when you can bring more things, or bigger pieces. Seguin suggests that it’s a process of right-sizing, rather than downsizing. Yes, using a new term can feel a bit like spin, but there is some real truth in there. Often there are challenges that accrue from staying put, including those associated with mobility and social interaction.

“It’s a new lifestyle, it’s something different,” says Seguin. A move can open people’s minds in ways that, often, they don’t foresee. Yes, some things will be left behind, though there are new opportunities, too. Often when we think of retirement living we think of care settings, ones that are restrained, utilitarian, and limiting. As Seguin notes, “it ain’t like that anymore.”

A move should be about expanding lifestyle, says Seguin, rather than limiting it. “It gives them the freedom to choose. It can give them the freedom to choose when they would like to sit and eat, who they would like to eat with, how they would like to spend their day.”

Viva Thornhill Woods, Vaughn, Ontario

Move together

Given a greater range of sizing options, one choice that more couples are making is to move earlier and to move together. It’s something that Wendy Teperman, Community Relations Manager at Viva Thornhill Woods, is seeing with increasing frequency. Having separate spaces, even separate bathrooms, can make the transition a very enticing one. Frankly, our needs change as we age, and not always in consort with the needs of our partner.

“With the younger couples,” says Teperman, “often one of them will have more of a need based situation. It’s becoming more stressful for them, more stressful for the more well of the couple. If one of them needs a little bit more care.”

The space you have, the space you need

Of course, room layouts are just the tip of the iceberg. We are prone to think of living space as limited to our house, or apartment, or condo. “It’s retirement living as a package,” reminds Teperman in reference to the all the things that exist on the other side of your door. Social rooms, reading rooms, spa facilities, shared kitchens—“even if they don’t use some of these things,” she says, “it’s knowing that they have it” that can make a difference, especially when making the decision to move in.

The Pub, The Westhill, Waterloo, Ontario

Viva Thornhill Woods, Vaughn, Ontario

The Westhill, Waterloo, Ontario

—Glen Herbert

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