Retirement Is a Time to Downsize—and Not Just Stuff
Kanebridge News
    HOUSE MEDIAN ASKING PRICES AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney $1,581,977 (+0.10%)       Melbourne $970,512 (+0.23%)       Brisbane $885,023 (+0.03%)       Adelaide $813,016 (+0.20%)       Perth $760,003 (-0.11%)       Hobart $733,438 (-1.28%)       Darwin $643,022 (-0.79%)       Canberra $970,902 (+1.87%)       National $1,000,350 (+0.23%)                UNIT MEDIAN ASKING PRICES AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney $721,725 (+0.37%)       Melbourne $488,237 (-0.76%)       Brisbane $495,283 (+1.37%)       Adelaide $404,022 (-2.77%)       Perth $405,420 (-0.69%)       Hobart $498,278 (-1.60%)       Darwin $339,700 (-0.58%)       Canberra $480,910 (-0.04%)       National $502,695 (-0.26%)                HOUSES FOR SALE AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney 10,626 (-230)       Melbourne 15,220 (+56)       Brisbane 8,417 (-24)       Adelaide 2,720 (-9)       Perth 6,897 (+56)       Hobart 1,234 (+5)       Darwin 281 (+5)       Canberra 1,079 (-30)       National 46,474 (-171)                UNITS FOR SALE AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney 8,563 (-253)       Melbourne 8,007 (-12)       Brisbane 1,824 (-34)       Adelaide 493 (-16)       Perth 1,902 (-1)       Hobart 176 (+4)       Darwin 388 (-7)       Canberra 858 (+2)       National 22,211 (-317)                HOUSE MEDIAN ASKING RENTS AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney $775 (-$5)       Melbourne $570 ($0)       Brisbane $600 ($0)       Adelaide $580 (+$10)       Perth $625 (-$5)       Hobart $550 ($0)       Darwin $690 (-$10)       Canberra $680 ($0)       National $642 (-$2)                UNIT MEDIAN ASKING RENTS AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney $730 ($0)       Melbourne $550 ($0)       Brisbane $625 ($0)       Adelaide $460 (+$10)       Perth $580 (+$5)       Hobart $460 (+$10)       Darwin $550 ($0)       Canberra $560 (-$5)       National $576 (+$2)                HOUSES FOR RENT AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney 5,654 (+231)       Melbourne 5,764 (+128)       Brisbane 4,271 (-9)       Adelaide 1,259 (+101)       Perth 1,944 (+50)       Hobart 337 (-36)       Darwin 168 (+19)       Canberra 647 (+18)       National 20,044 (+502)                UNITS FOR RENT AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney 9,121 (+505)       Melbourne 6,022 (+34)       Brisbane 2,066 (+18)       Adelaide 366 (+1)       Perth 600 (-5)       Hobart 138 (-17)       Darwin 306 (+12)       Canberra 736 (+20)       National 19,355 (+568)                HOUSE ANNUAL GROSS YIELDS AND TREND         Sydney 2.55% (↓)       Melbourne 3.05% (↓)       Brisbane 3.53% (↓)     Adelaide 3.71% (↑)        Perth 4.28% (↓)     Hobart 3.90% (↑)        Darwin 5.58% (↓)       Canberra 3.64% (↓)       National 3.34% (↓)            UNIT ANNUAL GROSS YIELDS AND TREND         Sydney 5.26% (↓)     Melbourne 5.86% (↑)        Brisbane 6.56% (↓)     Adelaide 5.92% (↑)      Perth 7.44% (↑)      Hobart 4.80% (↑)      Darwin 8.42% (↑)        Canberra 6.06% (↓)     National 5.96% (↑)             HOUSE RENTAL VACANCY RATES AND TREND       Sydney 0.7% (↑)      Melbourne 0.8% (↑)      Brisbane 0.4% (↑)      Adelaide 0.4% (↑)      Perth 1.2% (↑)      Hobart 0.6% (↑)      Darwin 1.1% (↑)      Canberra 0.7% (↑)      National 0.7% (↑)             UNIT RENTAL VACANCY RATES AND TREND       Sydney 0.9% (↑)      Melbourne 1.4% (↑)      Brisbane 0.7% (↑)      Adelaide 0.3% (↑)      Perth 0.4% (↑)      Hobart 1.5% (↑)      Darwin 0.8% (↑)      Canberra 1.3% (↑)      National 0.9% (↑)             AVERAGE DAYS TO SELL HOUSES AND TREND       Sydney 28.0 (↑)      Melbourne 29.2 (↑)        Brisbane 30.6 (↓)       Adelaide 23.8 (↓)     Perth 34.2 (↑)      Hobart 29.4 (↑)      Darwin 39.9 (↑)      Canberra 28.2 (↑)      National 30.4 (↑)             AVERAGE DAYS TO SELL UNITS AND TREND       Sydney 29.4 (↑)      Melbourne 29.6 (↑)        Brisbane 30.3 (↓)       Adelaide 22.5 (↓)       Perth 39.2 (↓)     Hobart 26.1 (↑)        Darwin 36.1 (↓)     Canberra 34.4 (↑)        National 31.0 (↓)           
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Retirement Is a Time to Downsize—and Not Just Stuff

On the one hand, we’re systematically labeling which things to get rid of, and when. But we’re also downsizing our ambitions.

Thu, Oct 12, 2023 8:04amGrey Clock 5 min

The first year in retirement is often the most difficult. But it also can set the stage for how you’ll fill the years ahead—both financially and psychologically. Stephen Kreider Yoder, a longtime Wall Street Journal editor, joined his wife, Karen Kreider Yoder, in retirement a year ago. In this monthly Retirement Rookies column, the 66-year-olds chronicle some of the issues they are dealing with early in retirement.


In the kitchen, I look up at my woven companions—16 baskets atop the cabinets. They’re from a dozen countries, and they radiate warm memories.

But wait, do I need so many baskets? And 40 more are around the house, many as decorations or stored in closets.

I’m trying to get rid of stuff methodically early in retirement, and it’s beginning to feel like a steady job. There’s no urgency. But when the time comes for a smaller place, I want to be ready. That time could come any time.

I want to winnow our possessions before there’s a health crisis or moving van at the door, while I can do the hard work of organizing and categorizing, of identifying what I need long-term, what to disperse and what to pitch.

It’s partly psychological. As I age, I find I have less room in my head to keep track of things. And the sheer numbers of some possessions create a growing mental tension.

We were ahead of the game when we retired. We moved a dozen times in 44 years, each time purging a bit. Helping our parents downsize inspired us often to do a sweep of our own when we got home.

Now that we’re both retired, I’ve created some downsizing categories to keep me from being overwhelmed:

• Don’t use it, don’t need it. Old electronics and orphaned cords. Knickknacks without sentimental value. My 20 thimbles from around the world, only one of which I ever use. The 150 beautifully sharpened No. 2 pencils in a row of blue-and-white ceramic pots, one labeled “Pencil Collectors Society.”

I’ll use perhaps a dozen pencils the rest of my life. The others can be off to Goodwill now, along with everything else in this category.

• Things we use now but won’t in a smaller space. Some of the guest-room furniture, extra chairs, large house plants, the piano, a rusty wheelbarrow. We should do an inventory now and label what we’ll ditch when we move.

• Stuff only I can handle. My childhood report cards, recital programs, work accomplishments, letters and such are a priority for thinning out now. Nobody else can make sense of them, but it can feel like throwing away bits of myself.

“But Mom, you have to save all of that,” says our son Isaac. “It’s like your personal legacy.” Maybe I’ll keep more than I intended, for our boys to root through as a window into my youth. (But, I wonder, will they really care about those report cards?) At least, though, I should organise it.

• Family heirlooms and mementos. These, too, are hard to part with, imbued with family history and shared memories.

We aren’t antiquers, but we do have a few elegant old Japanese tansu cabinets the kids grew up with. And I have about 25 quilts, some I made starting at age 7, and many from family and friends. They are works of art and full of memories but too many to fit in a condo.

The boys say they want some but are still too mobile, so at least I should make a plan for who gets what.

• Things I want by my side through older years. Family photos. My Japanese pottery. Journals from our travels. My quilt frame.

And baskets. I have always cherished handmade baskets. My first is from South Dakota, where at 16 I learned willow-basket making from two local weavers. I can’t part with it.

When our son Levi is home, we eat sticky rice with our fingers out of little lidded Laotian rice baskets, recalling Laos when he was age 2 and clutched his sticky-rice basket as we bicycled around Luang Prabang.

In our guest-room closet is a Japanese backpack basket—a gift from a student’s family—whose weaver was a Japanese National Treasure. In my reading room is a basket we bought in a Philippines market in 1987, not knowing it was for a baby until locals pointed and laughed knowingly. It became a bassinet to our three babies, and it’s a treasure.

Five dozen baskets is too many now. How many is just enough?


A classical guitar in its case stares at me from a corner of the bedroom. “Play me,” it taunts, and I look the other way.

Maybe it’s time I got rid of my lonely 1972 Alvarez Yairi as part of our gradual downsizing.

A tougher thought: I should probably also downsize my pipe dream of someday playing a guitar even moderately well, along with dozens of other unrequited ambitions I’ve clung to for decades. And I’ve got a few erstwhile passions I might best surrender now as well.

Karen talks of ditching stuff, and I’ve got plenty of boxfuls to sacrifice—textbooks, decrepit power tools, hardware that definitely might come in handy some time.

I also should release one or both of my vintage Honda motorcycles, which I’m sentimentally attached to but haven’t ridden in ages.

But for me, downsizing is more than getting rid of stuff. It’s about getting rid of conceptions of myself—of who I was, who I am and who I want to be.

That is, I should sell my motorcycles not just because they take space, but also because I think I’ve permanently moved on from motorcycling, my passion for decades starting at age 12.

Same with my skis and skiing.

Retirement has had a way of giving me permission to begin letting go—of my professional identity, my urge to do financial planning without help, the delusion that I’ll be fit forever. That permission makes it a good time for some wanna-do triage.

There are things I still intend to get to, now that I have more time. I want to weld better, brush up my Spanish, improve my swimming, study more history and learn to drive an 18-wheeler. There are activities we’re already stepping up, like traveling more in Africa, cycling around America, visiting family and seeking long-term volunteering opportunities that match our skills.

But finding time for all of it requires that I liberate other I-will-get-to-its that are increasingly a mental burden. I will probably never learn Arabic and should forgive myself of that, and French. I can get rid of the beer-brewing equipment I bought when I was 23 and discharge the notion that I’ll ever learn to use it.

I will probably never write a book; may I free myself from that weight? I hereby declare I can die happy enough without visiting Machu Picchu, the Galápagos or Rome as I’d once hoped to do. There are plenty of other places we want to go, and not time for everywhere.

Our house is a standing to-do list of fun projects I’ve put off and may never get to—or shouldn’t, lest I fall off a ladder and meet an untimely demise. Let’s just release some of those projects, too.

When I bought the Alvarez in 1981, my guitar teacher said I had talent. His kind words kindled my decades-long conviction that I would learn to play it well, eventually. We moved to Japan the next year, and I took along the guitar but didn’t find a teacher—temporarily, I told myself.

The guitar moved with us many times until 2012, when Karen bought me lessons with a fabulous teacher for my birthday and I began learning again. I did pretty well, even playing in a few modest recitals. But I dropped it—temporarily, I said—when we moved out of town for a year.

Now there it sits. It’s time to set it free.

Or is it? I finally have the bandwidth. I just opened the case, and only one string is broken, a good omen. Maybe this time I really can learn to play it.


Consumers are going to gravitate toward applications powered by the buzzy new technology, analyst Michael Wolf predicts

Chris Dixon, a partner who led the charge, says he has a ‘very long-term horizon’

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Couples find that lab-grown diamonds make it cheaper to get engaged or upgrade to a bigger ring. But there are rocky moments.

Mon, Dec 11, 2023 4 min

Wedding planner Sterling Boulet has some advice for brides-to-be regarding lab-grown diamonds, which cost a fraction of the natural ones.

“If you’re trying to get your man to propose, they’ll propose faster if you offer this as an option,” says Boulet, of Raleigh, N.C. Recently, she adds, a friend’s fiancé “thanked me the next three times I saw him” for telling him about the cheaper lab-made option.

Man-made diamonds are catching on, despite some lingering stigma. This year was the first time that sales of lab-made and natural mined loose diamonds, primarily used as center stones in engagement rings, were split evenly, according to data from Tenoris, a jewellery and diamond trend-analytics company.

The rise of lab-made stones, however, is bringing up quirks alongside the perks. Now that blingier engagement rings—above two or three carats—are more affordable, more people are dealing with the peculiarities of wearing rather large rocks.

An engagement ring made with a lab-grown diamond at Ada Diamonds in New York City. PHOTO: CAM POLLACK/THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

Esther Hare, a 5-foot-11-inch former triathlete, sought out a 4.5-carat lab-made oval-shaped diamond to fit her larger hands as a part of her vow renewal in Hawaii last year. It was a far cry from the half-carat ring her husband proposed with more than 25 years ago and the 1.5-carat upgrade they purchased 10 years ago. Hare, 50, who lives in San Jose, Calif., and works in high tech, chose a $40,000 lab-made diamond because “it’s nuts” to have to spend $100,000 on a natural stone. “It had to be big—that was my vision,” she says.

But the size of the ring has made it less practical at times. She doesn’t wear it for athletic training and swaps in her wedding band instead. And she is careful to leave it at home when traveling. “A lot of times I won’t take it on vacation because it’s just a monster,” she says.

The average retail price for a one-carat lab-made loose diamond decreased to $1,426 this year from $3,039 in 2020, according to the Tenoris data. Similar-sized loose natural diamonds cost $5,426 this year, compared with $4,943 in 2020.

Lab-made diamonds have essentially the same chemical makeup as natural ones, and look the same, unless viewed through sophisticated equipment that gauges the characteristics of emitted light.

At Ritani, an online jewellery retailer, lab-made diamond sales make up about 70% of the diamonds sold, up from roughly 30% two years ago, says Juliet Gomes, head of customer service at the company, based in White Plains, N.Y.

Ritani sometimes records videos of the lab-diamonds pinging when exposed to a “diamond tester,” a tool that judges authenticity, to show customers that the man-made rocks behave the same as natural ones. We definitely have some deep conversations with them,” Gomes says.

Not all gem dealers are rolling with these stones.

Philadelphia jeweller Steven Singer only stocks the natural stuff in his store and is planning a February campaign to give about 1,000 one-carat lab-made diamonds away free to prove they are “worthless.” Anyone can sign up online and get one in the mail; even shipping is free. “I’m not selling Frankensteins that were built in a lab,” Singer says.

Some brides are turned off by the larger bling now allowed by the lower prices.When her now-husband proposed with a two-carat lab-grown engagement ring, Tiffany Buchert, 40, was excited about the prospect of marriage—but not about the size of the diamond, which she says struck her as “costume jewellery-ish.”

“I said yes in the moment, of course, I didn’t want it to be weird,” says the physician assistant from West Chester, Pa.

But within weeks, she says, she fessed up, telling her fiancé: “I think I hate this ring.”

The couple returned it and then bought a one-carat natural diamond for more than double the price.

Couples find that lab-grown diamonds have made it more affordable to get engaged. PHOTO: CAM POLLACK/THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

When Boulet, the wedding planner in Raleigh, got engaged herself, she was over the moon when her fiancé proposed with a 2.3 carat lab-made diamond ring. “It’s very shiny, we were almost worried it was too shiny and was going to look fake,” she says.

It doesn’t, which presents another issue—looking like someone who really shelled out for jewellery. Boulet will occasionally volunteer that her diamond ring came from a lab.

“I don’t want people to think I’m putting on airs, or trying to be flashier than I am,” she says.

For Daniel Teoh, a 36-year-old software engineer outside of Detroit, buying a cheaper lab-made diamond for his fiancée meant extra room in his $30,000 ring budget.

Instead of a bigger ring, he got her something they could both enjoy. During a walk while on an annual ski trip to South Lake Tahoe, Calif., Teoh popped the question and handed his now-wife a handmade wooden box that included a 2.5-carat lab-made diamond ring—and a car key.

She put on the ring, celebrated with both of their sisters and a friend, who was the unofficial photographer of the happy event, and then they drove back to the house. There, she saw a 1965 Mustang GT coupe in Wimbledon white with red stripes and a bow on top.

Looking back, Teoh says, it was still the diamond that made the big first impression.

“It wasn’t until like 15 minutes later she was like ‘so, what’s with this key?’” he adds.


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