The city is a playground for empty nesters who have outgrown the ‘burbs

When Faith and Ted Millspaugh moved from The Orchards to Federal Hill in 2016, they did more than simply change homes. They also updated their lifestyle.

The Millspaughs closed on their new home – a two-story, 2,300 square foot condo at the top of Federal Hill  Park – in the summer of 2016. They were sold on the quiet luxury of the building, the light, and the wrap around terrace with its views of the stadiums on one side and the harbor on the other. “And the parking!” adds Faith. The condo came with two deeded parking spaces, which they appreciate on a daily basis.

Making Downsizing Easier

Moving from a large, family home to smaller urban digs can be tough, but working with an expert makes it easier. Here, experts share key advice.

Start Early. “It’s best to call somebody the minute you think you might be moving,” said Sally McCabe, President of Next Step Baltimore, a service that helps homeowners with the downsizing and estate sale process. This will minimize stress – and potential rush charges.

Start Small. Taking it one room at a time, clear out items that are “non-essential” or laden with emotional significance.

Share History.  “It’s a good chance to share your family history,” advises Ashley Ingraham, owner of Home Perspective LLC. Sharing photos and stories makes it easier to keep the memories, but leave the stuff.

Manage Your Expectations. All the experts agree. “The hardest thing we have to do is tell people their sofa and antiques really are not worth thousands of dollars.”

Pay Attention to Details. Once in your new place, check locations of “electrical outlets, bulkheads, vents in walls – that all makes a difference in where you can place furniture.” McCabe’s team creates furniture outlines with tape in the new space.

Donate, but Not Too Soon. It’s great to donate to charity, and you will have your chance. But hold off a bit. Smaller furniture and decorative pieces you may not think of as critical to an older space may look fresh in your new home.

Since then, they’ve renovated the space, fine-tuning the design to best meet their needs. They’ve also tweaked their day-to-day lives, trading shopping trips to Eddie’s for visits to Harris Teeter, and weekends driving kids to sporting events for Saturdays spent exploring Charm City.

The move was prompted when they realized that with both their daughters grown and out of the house, they weren’t making the most of their home. “We weren’t around that much,  and when we were, we were just sitting in two rooms,” said Faith Millspaugh. “The rest of the house wasn’t being used and all I was doing was taking care of a yard.”

Ted, a partner at the law firm Venable LLC, and Faith, who is Vice President of the Mt. Vernon Place Conservancy, had been keeping an eye on the Federal Hill property market for several years. “We are city people,” said Faith, “and we knew we wanted to be in Fells Point. We love the history, and the strong sense of neighborhood here.”

Today, their smaller space requires less upkeep and its location allows them to take advantage of Baltimore’s best features.

Ted takes the water taxi to work – a quick 10-minute ride across the harbor – and when the weather is nice, Faith exercises outdoors, walking along the promenade to stay healthy.


Together, they also spend more time on their boat than in the past. “We can go for a boat ride for cocktails, and see all the big buildings and lights.”

Their new home is an easy walk to Fells Point restaurants and bars that cater to a wide range of ages, like The Outpost American Tavern, which has become a regular stop for the couple. Their downtown location also makes it easy to hit Baltimore’s many festivals, including Light City, which they love.

The couple still embrace elements of their “old” life; they attend The Church of the Redeemer, and Faith is quick to say she loves her old neighborhood and misses seeing those friends daily. Since the move, the couple has become more intentional about seeing old friends, and naturally, they’ve made new ones. “Federal Hill is a wonderful neighborhood. You walk down the street and say hi to everybody.”

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And what about Fed Hill’s reputation as a rowdy neighborhood for the post-college crowd? Millspaugh said it’s not a problem and, in fact, older residents often visit the same bars the younger crowd frequents, but for dinner instead of late night drinks.

Downtown’s reputation for crime isn’t a major concern, either. “I feel very safe where I live,” said Millspaugh. Her building is secure, she said, and living close to other neighbors adds to her feelings of comfort.

Logistically, moving from a larger space to a small one presented both challenges  and opportunities.

The Millspaughs  hired  Caryl Siems, owner of Senior Moving — a friend and a downsizing expert –to help them navigate the process, figuring out what to move, and where to donate or sell the things that would not make the move with them.

About a third of the furniture in their current home came from their old house; the rest was newly purchased. “You realize some of your old furniture doesn’t fit,” Faith said. “You get new things, which is so fun. It’s like being young again!”

Kit Pollard

Kit Waskom Pollard is a Baltimore Fishbowl contributing writer. She writes Hot Plate every Friday in the Baltimore Fishbowl.