• It's Time to Downsize

Edmonton Downsizer

House-rich seniors often stay in homes too grand by half - or more than half.

Pat Smoliak, a senior whose active life is now based out of a third-floor apartment condo, decided to avoid that problem by downsizing four years ago. She sold her 1,600-square-foot home on a great street in Edmonton.

The house was a lot to look after following the death of her husband, Nick. " ... It wasn't an easy move to make," Pat says. "But it gets harder the longer you take to make it."

The biggest roadblock for people, she thinks, is all the keepsakes and clutter in the average senior's house. She advises a slow pace to culling the heirloom herd.

She went through her house three times. Her kids took some stuff. More went to charities or in a garage sale. Some went into the garbage.

Clearing out the clutter is liberating, Smoliak said.

So is her new condo. It's small and easy to keep clutter-free and clean.

It's also close to everything she needs.

She enjoys heated underground parking, an elevator and a balcony she's done up with a couch swing and a flower garden.

The balcony sits overtop a pretty busy road. There's a fire hall just up the way.

"That will be my entertainment when I get old," she said with a laugh.

The condo is 913 square feet. The master bedroom is big enough for her bedroom suite and piano. Adjacent is the ensuite and walk-in closet.

The other bedroom is set up as a den with computer desk and a fold-out Manhattan desk that Pat sets up for bridge nights. The living room aims itself toward the west patio doors. Smoliak installed twin blinds to keep the sun out and the temperature down. But when she opens her condo up for entertaining, the laundry room doubles as the bar.

"You just set it all up in here and it's very handy. Two years ago, at Christmas, I had 26 people in my condo."

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