Our new apartment in Subiaco fell into our orbit with so little fuss that I can hardly believe the transaction happened. We saw it, liked it, bought it! Now comes the wait until early January when John and I can move in and make it home.
For several months, we trolled suburbs and areas where we thought we might like to live one day. I made lists and matrices of the pluses and minuses of areas and apartments for sale. Eventually we narrowed our choices and it was time to sell our far-too-big house.
Estate agents selling apartments we looked at soon greeted us by name. They began to call or email me with details of ‘apartments open’ and ‘new properties for sale’. We in turn became familiar with some of their life circumstances.
The sale of our house became urgent. Dreaming about the move turned into a plan. At one stage our joint to-do list filled an A3 page. We asked Adam Mannino, the agent who sold the house when we bought it, to work on our behalf. A wise decision because Adam not only knows about buying and selling houses, but also about people’s needs and feelings at such a vulnerable time.
With the help of children, grandchildren and their partners, we prepared our house in Doubleview for sale. We gave away furniture. Boxes and boxes of books went to the Save the Children Fund. We hired storage space and family and friends carted our belongings away. Painting, gardening, curtain-washing, cleaning nooks and crannies followed. And finally, the house was ‘staged’ to look like an ideal home. To us, it looked like a stage set, no longer our home.
Against a backdrop of our own ‘home opens’, we began to search the Real Estate websites in earnest for our new apartment. I fell in love with three or four. Wonderful views over Lake Monger as well as extra space and a study nook appealed, but that one was too far from shops and transport for people in their eighties.
The enormous balcony in a forest of tree-tops of another enchanted me, although the living room windows faced south and it was way outside the area we preferred.
A third faced north and one of its balconies looked over a piazza shaded by young jacarandas in full bloom. Beyond that, the steeple of a lovely old church soared. The second balcony looked along a street that reminded me of a little rue in Sete in the South of France. We lost interest when someone pointed out that the three-storey car park on the other side of the street remained brightly lit every night. I still wonder about the magic of that apartment…
But, as soon as I walked into it, I knew the apartment we later contracted to buy was where I want to live. Both bedrooms and the big living room open onto the north-facing balcony on the third floor. There’s lots of space and storage.
A few minutes’ stroll from our new apartment takes us to the Subiaco train station, shops, cafes, parks and church, so that when we are older and greyer, we can remain reasonably independent. In the meantime, we plan to explore and enjoy the pretty park at the end of our street, the gardens, street art, theatres, restaurants and the proximity of one of my daughters, her husband and several granddaughters.
We visited this complex a number of times in the course of house-hunting. Each time, we were struck by the amenities and the way residents seemed involved in the life of the community.
John and I want to ‘age in place‘, but never wanted to live in a retirement village. Retirement villages provide amenities like pools and club rooms, but they are often too far from shops and transport, and expensive. Anyway, we chose not to live in a of community with other old people.
The two-year-old complex we will soon live in boasts a pool, gymnasium, barbecues and a roof-top garden or two. Plenty of comfortable seating encourages people to sit in communal areas with their coffee and a book. We saw some adolescents with laptops and school bags working in alcoves, kids playing in the pool and a family just being together at a table. The agent told us there are downsized retirees and a handful of even older people who live in the complex
Already people have formed a group which regularly uses the on-site theatre to watch and discuss films and created a library in a games room. Signs in lifts advertise the complex’s Facebook group.
Perhaps John and I are too old at eighty to be part of the community. In any case, we will enjoy watching the younger people, the newly retired and the children. And already I can see a place for a book-club, a buy-nothing group or even a craft group.
Roll on, the first week in January when we will move into our new, different life.
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