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How to move from large house to smaller home after 25 years
Cindy Randolph of Gainesvilles shares pros and cons of downsizing
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Strother and Cindy Randolph lived in this four-bedroom, five-bathroom home, above, off East Lake Drive for 25 years. They sold it earlier this year to move into a three-bedroom house on Marthasville Court, barely more than 2 miles away in Gainesville. - photo by J.K. Devine

It took Strother Randolph more than a year to convince his wife, Cindy, to consider leaving their home of 25 years and move into a smaller home. Finally last summer, the Gainesville woman agreed.

“It was just getting to be tiring,” Randolph said, referring to the upkeep of her four-bedroom, 5 «-bath home with an office, detached two-car garage and a pool.

Therefore, the couple explored their housing options, which proved to be a hard task in Hall County. The Randolphs looked at condos, apartments and other single-family homes on the north side of town, which was Cindy’s stipulation to moving.

After months of searching, the Randolphs walked into a three-bedroom, 2-bath home with an attached two-car garage barely more than 2 miles from their home off East Lake Drive.

“When I walked in, I knew it would work,” she said. “It had the floor plan I wanted. It had the closets I wanted. It had the space.”

So the couple made an offer and got it. Next on the Randolphs’ list was to sell their current home (which sold in two weeks) and move into the smaller house on Marthasville Court. That meant downsizing, which is a common occurrence couples and individuals who have accumulated items for 25 years in a single place must face.

So, Randolph followed a process to achieve her goal.

PARING DOWN POSSESSIONS

First, she chose to have a living estate sale to decrease her possession and not store the pieces that did not fit in the new home.

“I decided to do that all along,” Randolph said.

Second, she hired an expert to help her. For the task, she chose Mary Frances Leigh of Leigh Company Estate Sales.

Once on board, Cindy Randolph and Leigh tackled the biggest task — selecting the pieces to keep, sell or donate.

“I see it as an environmentally good procedure,” Leigh said, regarding living estate sales. “Instead of putting it into garbage, you put it back into economy. And the person who buys it, gets it at a reduced rate.”

The women methodically went through Randolph’s home room by room.

“We started in the attic,” Randolph said, explaining she marked the items she wanted to keep.

Leigh then priced the other items to sell.

“I let a lot of things go,” Randolph said. “I hadn’t used them in 25 years.”

Leigh said the pair had about two weeks to complete the task, which is an ideal timeframe.

Randolph’s two daughters also visited the house to select items for their own homes.

But not all decisions were easy to make.

“I kept any pieces that had a family connection, like a tray from my grandparents,” Randolph said.

But the Georgia native said as her “keep” pile grew, she had to make “some hard decisions.”

Her husband had an easier time.

“Strother would have let everything go,” she said with a smile.

Once everything was divided, Randolph waited a few days and reviewed her decisions. But they were made quickly.

“I had to go back and pull a few things out,” she said, pointing out an odd chair or two. “It didn’t fit in the new house, but I just couldn’t let them go.”

PACKING AND MOVING

The Randolphs hired packers and movers rather than pack their house and its possessions by themselves, especially since they are in their 70s. However, the couple packed a few things.

“I did the china and the kitchen,” she said. “But we left the clothes in the closet and threw them in the car on Jan. 27 and brought them to here (on Jan. 28) after we closed.”

She then carted a lot of her family information — Randolph is a descendant of former Georgia Gov. Lamartine Hardman — to the Richard Russell Library at the University of Georgia.

Several of their book collections were donated to The Next Chapter Bookstore in Gainesville.

With the items marked to sell in the estate auction in January and other items packed, the Randolphs headed out of their home to spend two weeks with their daughters — one week with one and one with the other — and waited for their future home.

When the Randolphs finally got the keys to their new place, Cindy Randolph developed an immediate to-do list.

First was setting up her pantry in the kitchen, allowing the couple to enjoy meals in their new home.

Second was organizing her clothes in the bedroom and unpacking bathroom supplies.

Third was notifying businesses of her change of address, including the bank, credit card company and Social Security Administration.

“The biggest problem to me ... since has been changing addresses,” she said. “It’s not that easy.”

While some places accepted changes of address online, others would not. In fact, Cindy Randolph could not simply call and change information for her husband, Strother. He had to do it.

But one of the biggest headaches was finding her account number on her magazine subscriptions to change them. Randolph said she would advise residents keep a list of magazines and the account numbers on hand before a move.

“You can’t comprehend how much mail you get,” she said.

Despite the huge task of downsizing, Randolph admitted she doesn’t miss her larger house and noted downsizing had its advantages.

“It’s a great feeling to purge a lot of stuff,” she said. “And it’s a wonderful feeling ... to know it’s not sitting in my attic.”

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