WHEN Eversley Mortlock started falling down the stairs at her Subiaco townhouse of 25 years, she realised it was a problem likely to get worse.
A burglary while she was out one day, not to mention the constant need for on-site repairs and attention, led her to make an important life decision – it was time to downsize.
So began Eversley’s journey, which the 75-year-old recorded in her book Downsizing a Life: Finding Home After Three Score Years and Ten.
“I wrote the book because once I had begun the process, I realised it would help keep me on track and I hoped one day it would also help others,” she said.
Eversley found the hardest part of downsizing was the length of time it took to sell in a difficult real estate market and remove about one-third of her belongings, all the while investigating her living options.
“While I had done this many times when I was younger, it was a particularly difficult stage of life to face because instead of going to something more elaborate and more expensive, I was now having to constrain myself, accept that it would probably be my last move and one which would suit me for the rest of my life.
“This meant an acceptance of ageing, something many are not ready to face until it is too late.”
Determined to downsize while fit enough to do so, Eversley first considered an apartment for her new home, then spent more than one year looking at villa options between Fremantle and Wembley, with some in over 55 communities.
Meanwhile, she was trying organising consultant Marie Kondo’s decluttering method and seriously considering what was needed for the next stage of her life.
“It was often a very emotional process and I wanted to give up several times,” she said.
Eversley persisted, seeking advice from a trusted real estate agent as well as attending WA Retirement Villages Residents Association meetings to learn about the village lifestyle and contract.
She chose to begin a new chapter in her life at the Bethanie Gwelup retirement village and hasn’t looked back since the move two years ago.
“Although there has been a lot of negative publicity about retirement villages lately, I have found the transition has been perfect for me,” she said.
“There will be exit fees to consider when I leave but the compensations have been worth it.
“I have saved money both in the transition and in daily living expenses.
“Also, I no longer have to concern myself about the maintenance of the building in which I live and can now lock up and leave if I wish to travel.”
Eversley said there were great communal areas to share and she enjoyed helping in the village library but could enjoy privacy when desired.
“In some ways my lifestyle hasn’t changed as I’m still involved in many community activities outside the village,” she said.
“The security of being in such a safe place is hard to put a price on.”
Downsizing a Life: Finding Home After Three Score Years and Ten is available at Dymocks in Subiaco and New Edition Bookshop in Fremantle for $20. Proceeds will be donated to refugee settlement charities.
Eversley’s top tips for downsizers are:
- Don’t leave it too late. Having moved into a retirement village, I can see that those of us who moved before the age of 75 have adjusted to our new home and lifestyle much more easily.
- Get expert help from a trusted real estate agent and plenty of real estate appraisals before selling.
- Expect the process to take up to one year.
- If you wish to go to a retirement village, visit as many as possible and consider their contracts. If necessary, contact the WA Retirement Villages Residents Association, which can recommend a lawyer to check a contract.