Moving to socialize
Brooksby makes it easy to build friendships from the startBy Setarreh Massihzadegan
From the time Judith Lichenstein first visited Brooksby, the Erickson Living community in Peabody, Mass., she was struck by its atmosphere of “friendliness and optimism,” she says.
“One of the things that has always impressed me is that people go around smiling here,” she says. “People say hello to each other in the halls. It’s almost more like a family.”
At the time, Judith was living in Revere, in the house she had shared with her late husband for 30 years. The thought of taking care of the house on her own prompted her to consider Brooksby.
What’s more, she says: “I was very isolated, I didn’t know my neighbors, and I was searching for a place that I could make friends.”
While visiting Brooksby and the apartment that would eventually become her own, she noticed signs on a couple of other doors in her hallway, announcing other neighbors who would also be new to the community. That sparked an idea to host a gathering where they could meet one another and the rest of the neighborhood.
Six months later, when Judith moved to Brooksby, she celebrated by hosting a party for her neighbors—just two days after moving in. Judith says a party was possible because of the resources she used to orchestrate a smooth move and to set up her new apartment home.
Enormous task made easier
Judith joined Brooksby’s priority list in December 2012, giving her access to the expertise of Personal Moving Consultant Laurie Phillips.
“She was fantastic in terms of helping me downsize,” Judith says of the process that lasted about four months. “I lived in a house that had a great deal of clutter, and that was an enormous task for me to be able to downsize.”
Phillips assessed the furniture in Judith’s house and used a floor plan to map out which items would fit in Judith’s two-bedroom apartment home at Brooksby. Phillips also coordinated with Brooksby-recommended resources that came to Judith’s house to buy, sell, and clear away items she no longer wanted. Among the items cleared away after Judith’s move was a cement safe that, she says, “I thought would never, ever leave that cellar.”
Judith also worked with Out of the Box Moves, a local move management company owned by Amy Roberts. The company packed Judith’s house, oversaw the move, and unpacked for her after the move in May.
“I knew it was going to be a wonderful experience with nothing to pack up and unpack, but it’s the actual joy of knowing it’s over [and that it] allowed me to go right into the social scene,” Judith says. “They even put the pictures up on the wall.”
The most important thing
Initially, Judith was interested in an apartment with a patio for her and her dog Pepper. But while she was waiting for that apartment style to become available, she thought back to a conversation she had with a Brooksby resident during a visit to the community. He told Judith he wished he had moved sooner.
“The most important thing was to get into Brooksby,” she says she realized. Instead of waiting for an apartment with a patio, she chose the two-bedroom Flagstaff-style apartment with close proximity to the elevator and outdoors.
“Some people are probably a little hesitant to move into an apartment from a house,” she says. “When I stopped to think about the area that I actually lived in in the house, it was really no greater than the apartment. The transition was really very easy.”
The thought of hosting a party so soon after moving was realistic, Judith says, because of the help she received from Out of the Box and Amy Roberts. “Since I had Amy to help me take everything out of the box, it would be very doable,” she says.
About 15 people came to Judith’s housewarming party. Some are now friends with whom she attends Brooksby’s iPad group for people who own and use iPads.
Just four weeks after her move, Judith was already involved in regular groups playing contract and duplicate bridge, 314, and whist. She was also taking preplanned day and overnight trips from Brooksby with her neighbors. This month, she heads to Nantucket.
Of her move to Brooksby, Judith says, “It’s far better than I expected. I didn’t expect to meet so many people so quickly and feel so comfortable. I didn’t expect to feel as comfortable in my apartment as I do. It’s made a very difficult year—between losing my husband and making the change and selling my house—that much less traumatic or anxiety-ridden.”