The Upside To Downsizing
“When you retire, you are forced into a different lifestyle,” reflects Joe Cosimano, a retired high school foreign language teacher in Virginia Beach.
Recently, Joe and his wife Claudia, also a retired high school foreign language teacher and department chair, left their Kempsville home of 25 years where they raised two now grown and married children. The couple, new grandparents, traded in their traditional 5-bedroom, 2,700-square-foot home for a brand new 3-bedroom, 2-bath, 1,550-square-foot, ocean view condo, aptly named Vista Bella. And they have never looked back.
While they may have lost square footage, they also lost untold hours of yard maintenance and headaches. “Neither of us enjoys any aspect of yard work,” Claudia emphasizes. “Weeding was driving me out of my mind. We knew we wanted a condo if only to avoid yardwork.”
But they gained convenient access to dining and shopping, with the likes of Harris Teeter and Walgreens nearby. “We are within walking distance of what we used to drive to,” notes Joe. “Not to mention, in general, a place that is alive.” He relishes greater contact with people he describes as “laid back and friendly.” And both he and Claudia enjoy music. From their balcony—where they spend a great deal of time sitting and enjoying meals—they can hear the bands at the 24th Street stage. “It’s not quiet in summer,” Claudia says, “and we love that.”
It’s also not quiet under the flight path of military jets. But the Cosimanos are unconcerned: “So, you pause the TV.” The noise is, apparently, a small price to pay for what Claudia describes as “an easier, more carefree lifestyle.” Plus, the couple can now easily enjoy events like the Neptune Festival that they avoided in the past when participation meant a substantial drive and paid parking.
After looking at some 12 to 15 condos, many on Shore Drive, the couple ultimately chose the Old Beach neighborhood of Virginia Beach where not only was a car needed less often but where their beloved canine, Cobi, was welcome. Though Cobi lost quite a few pounds after the move—Claudia takes him for walks on the beach or boardwalk three times a day—at 50 pounds, he is well over the 30 pound limit allowed by many condominiums. A bit concerned, initially, about acclimating their suburban dog to condo living, Claudia is actually grateful that she is forced to walk several times each day. And Cobi boards the elevator to and from their 3rd floor unit like an old pro.
Bella Vista’s eight units are located just two blocks off Interstate 264, making Admiral’s games and Joe’s volunteer work as a Chrysler Museum docent-in-training, not to mention shopping and dining at Norfolk’s McArthur Center, practically a straight shot from their door. But there’s no place like home. And the Cosimano’s open and airy, contemporary space, with its beachy floors, finishes, fabrics and color palette, looks and feels fresh, contemporary and uncluttered.
That decluttering was very intentional. “You can’t imagine how much you have … and you don’t need,” Claudia observes. Though the couple began culling as soon as they began contemplating a move, John recalls that, “When we moved, we found we needed to get rid of more.”
“We did our children a great favor,” Claudia quips. “When we pass on, there will be very little for them to go through. Plus, a lot was theirs, and we made them take it.”