Living smaller has big benefits at Willow Valley

Downsizing from his city home, Ted Watt saved money and gained healthcare security, a host of amenities and the chance to make 2,000 new friends

Ted Watt remembers the day last summer that he looked around his home in Lancaster’s historic Old Town neighborhood and thought, “This is really nice, but so what?”
Single and 70, Watt had experienced a series of health issues in the previous months, and his children and grandchildren lived out of town.
“For any single person … the social thing is really key,” says Watt, a Lancaster native and retired banker. “I lived in a nice house, but I didn’t see many people.”
Not to mention, the two-story, two-bedroom home he had spent six years fixing up was really more than he needed.
“I just didn’t want to be bothered with a lot of square footage I didn’t use,” he says, noting it was just an invitation to gather more stuff.
So last November, Watt traded that house full of stuff for a newly redesigned Hampton, a one-bedroom apartment on the Lakes campus at Willow Valley Communities — and he couldn’t be happier.
He figures he now has the best of both worlds.
“I didn’t give up any of my friends or family,” he says. “I still have my Lancaster life and my Willow Valley life, which will grow in proportion over time as I meet new people and get involved.”
The move not only gave him a great living space surrounded by beautiful common areas and amenities. It also gave him the security of Lifecare, which means he’ll be covered for assisted living or nursing care if needed in the future. That lets him concentrate on living his life to the fullest.
Watt is not alone in his desire to simplify his life. In fact, he is part of a societal trend, says Maureen Leader, marketing and public relations coordinator at Willow Valley Communities.
“People are embracing smaller living. It’s easier than you think,” she says. “Why fill up your house and your mind with things you don’t need?”
Willow Valley makes that downsizing easy, not only with its transition services, but also with the very nature of its lifestyle, which makes a seemingly endless array of amenities available to all residents, whether they live in a spacious villa or a cozy one-bedroom apartment.
Between its two campuses, Willow Valley offers 11 dining venues featuring locally sourced ingredients; an 80,000-square-foot Cultural Center with fitness and aquatic centers, day spa, art gallery and 500-seat theater; and the new 30,000-square-foot Clubhouse, featuring a bowling alley, vintage arcade, outdoor pool and tennis courts. And all at an investment Watt found pleasantly surprising.
There are also more than 100 clubs, craft and art studios, woodworking shops, gardening plots, stocked fishing ponds and model railroad platforms for those who want to follow their passion or find a new one.
“You’re not going to be living just within these four walls,” Leader says. “You’re going to be out and active.”
For Watt, the transition was an easy one.
With Willow Valley only three miles from Penn Square in Lancaster, Watt realizes, “I haven’t left my Lancaster life. But I’m enjoying life even more.”
Watt, who enjoys walking, wanted to live somewhere with beautiful surroundings, and he also wanted continuing care. With Willow Valley’s Lifecare program, Watt will receive any care he may need in the future without a change in his monthly fee, something exclusive in our area. Watt says he was further surprised at the affordability of moving to Willow Valley, including large tax benefits with his monthly fee. “I actually saved money by moving here,” he says.
Watt knew he wanted a first-floor, one-bedroom apartment with a patio facing the courtyard. Armed with that information, a Willow Valley space planner came to his city home with a floor plan and helped him figure out what pieces he would keep and what he would sell, donate or discard.
“As I kept shrinking my possessions, I ended up with the really best of the best,” he says. “I finally got all my furniture where I want it to be. I’m set now. I’m done.”
The apartment has an open floor plan that includes the kitchen with island and a living area decorated with his daughter’s bright, abstract artwork. A stitched piece framed on the wall reads: “Living simply so others may simply live.”
“It’s so easy to live comfortably, live well, living small,” he says.
For Watt, downsizing was not only a physical thing. It also meant leaving behind the responsibilities and expenses of homeownership, something he was more than ready to do.
“There’s so much I want to do with my life than have a house as a big anchor,” he says. “I’m starting to travel now. I just close the door and off I go.”
Of course, there’s plenty to keep him happy right outside his door at Willow Valley. Watt is a big believer in the community motto: Live Life Forward.
“I wasn’t looking for a retirement community. I was looking for a place to live and meet new people,” he says. “The social process here is so nice. I have the chance to make 2,000 new friends. It’s perfect for a single man.”