We are a couple in our early 70s in good health. We live in a nice 5-bed house with a large garden, with plenty of room for all the family to visit and to have large gatherings in the garden. We enjoy the garden and looking after it. The house is within walking distance of the town centre and of open countryside.
However, we have recently purchased a 2-bed apartment in a retirement complex in the centre of town and expect to move there within the next year.
So why are we doing this downsizing now?
The first reason is the example, good and not so good, provided by our parents, one on each side. One downsized in his early 70s on being widowed. He then downsized twice more ending up in a self-contained flat in a care home. At each move he divested himself of unneeded possessions until he had only those he treasured, and which proved easy to distribute after his death. The other parent, although she moved to a smaller house on being widowed, found it very difficult to give up any possessions. Her last move was an emergency one to a care home after a fall, following quite a time of not really coping on her own. On that move, and following her death, her family have had to spend a considerable time going through the possessions and deciding on their fate, a task still not finished. We would rather follow the first example – of moving before it becomes an emergency and ourselves reducing our possessions rather than leaving it as a huge chore for our family.
We very much enjoy having a large garden but much of the pleasure comes from the actual gardening rather than just looking at it. It would not be the same if we had to employ a gardener once its upkeep was beyond us physically, and it would be dreadful to see it deteriorate if we were not able to find a reliable person to maintain it. Even after our move we will have the opportunity to continue as volunteers helping maintain the local park, which should satisfy our gardening needs while we can still manage it.
In fact, we have been thinking about our next move for some time and what sort of property we would like to live in next. We decided we would like to live nearer the town centre for the ease of getting to events and a penthouse type of flat appealed as being completely different from our previous houses. We had been tracking the progress of an interesting development of retirement properties in the town centre and on being able to view them we realised there was one apartment that we really liked. We are in the fortunate position of being able to proceed without selling our current house first, so we have bought it. If this development hadn’t come on the market when it did, we probably would have waited for a few years more before looking around, but it was a bird in the hand. We also see the move as being a new phase in our lives, with new opportunities because of the location and extra time without the cares of a big house and garden. We are looking forward to it.
The apartment is a duplex so the internal stairs should help keep us fit, though there is also space for an internal lift if it is needed in the future. So, we should be able to live there for some time, with the added benefit of communal areas and possible new friends which would be welcome if one of us is left alone. There will also be enough accommodation for the whole family with a spare room, a guest suite on site and a hotel across the road.
So, we are making this move perhaps sooner than we might have, but that is not a concern. There are examples around us of family and friends of similar ages who have been struck down by sudden ill health. We are in a privileged position but we are doing this while we are still capable! An additional factor is that we had intended our downsizing to be the opportunity to pass on money to our offspring and doing this sooner rather than later is better all round.
And, lastly, if you would like to find out more about how the Housing LIN can support you develop your housing for older people strategic vision and/or operational plans to meet the future accommodation needs of older adults, please email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org