Downsizing: Age no barrier to apartment living

Jill and Len Howard trialed apartment living for a month.
Jill and Len Howard trialed apartment living for a month.

A TRIAL by WA Apartment Advocacy (WAAA) has shown that apartment living suits all age groups.

Last year the group offered a chance to experience living in an inner-city apartment to a range of demographics, including seniors.

Jill Howard (72) and her husband Len took part, living in an apartment for a month.

She said Len was initially resistant, but soon adapted to the change in lifestyle.

“Len was diagnosed with Parkinson’s three years ago and slowly he has become less social,” Mrs Howard said.

“But once we moved into the apartment, Len would wander down each morning for his newspaper and he came with me to the Paradiso movies on several occasions and that was a real treat.”

While they had reserved an apartment at a retirement village near where they live in Kardinya, Mrs Howard said after the trial she knew apartment living was also viable.

WAAA director Samantha Reece said only 5 per cent of retirees lived in a retirement village.

“With ageing in place becoming more apparent, Jill and Len can have services such as Silver Chain visit and provide aid in their home and that means they maintain their independence and freedom,” she said.

“Jill has been maintaining most of the outside chores since Len was diagnosed and she was adamant that if she moved it would be into an apartment and so this experiment has once again shown that apartment living suits a wide range of demographics.”

While the trial showed apartment living did suit seniors looking to downsize, research by WAAA showed they were particular when choosing an apartment.

The location of the complex was an important factor and downsizers looked for features including:

– Being close to public transport;

– Near rivers, parks or natural features;

– Near a cappuccino strip/retail;

– Close to a major centre such as Fremantle or Perth.

Ms Reece said they were looking for suburbs that offered vitality to fill the spare time they had (because of reduced home maintenance) once they started living in an apartment.

“While they may be reducing the size of their living space, when they traded a house for an apartment, the focus was now more on upsizing their lives,” she said.

“These seniors stated that when they chose their apartment it was driven by location and by living in a vibrant hub they felt more motivated to get out and do things they hadn’t before.

“While we have been focused on creating retirement villages in the suburbs and trying to maintain seniors’ connectivity to their historical community, we should be more focused on creating apartments in locations that have a vitality and choice of activities.

“By removing the initial barriers of distance, these seniors were keen to walk or take public transport and experience life to the fullest and this is what is keeping them young at heart.”

WAAA director Samantha Reece.

When it came to apartments features respondents said storage was important.

“(They) spoke about the need to provide added storage because while they were downsizing, they have a lifetime of belongings that are precious to them,” Ms Reece said.

“They were also keen to look at sharing services such as a concierge amongst a number of developments so that they could enjoy premium services at reduced strata fees.”

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