02 February, 2015

Downsizing


It is just over six months since we moved into our apartment. We are more than pleased with our decision to downsize. Having cast off the burden of maintaining a house and garden, we now eagerly embrace the twilight years of our life, and look forward to continue enjoying the simple things that life may offer.

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On Tuesday 4 March 2014 Patricia and I had an appointment to view an apartment in the Kingston Park Apartments' complex, Nepean Highway, Highett. In particular, we were interested in looking at the layout of a two bedroom apartment with a study.

Throughout 2013, as we travelled to and fro along Nepean Highway, we observed the progressive construction of three apartment buildings. At that stage any thought of buying an apartment was nothing more than a fantasy, as we were quite content to live out our remaining days in Cheltenham.

About a week or so before our appointment I visited the home of some friends who were just over 80 years of age, and who were beset with some health problems. Our friends explained that they were thinking of selling their home and moving into a retirement village. As I drove home I reflected on the fact that Patricia and I were on the right side of 80 and in reasonably good health. in the light of that visit, I decided that Patricia and I should seriously consider downsizing to an apartment.

For some time I had been aware that I no longer had the energy to maintain a large house and garden, and Patricia admitted that she too was becoming mindful of her physical limitations. Upon returning home I shared with her my observation of our friends, and then suggested to Patricia that, while we were in good health and had the energy to cope with moving to another location, we should downsize. Thus, I encouraged Patricia to explore with me the possibility of moving to Kingston Park Apartments which are, as the crow flies, only 900 m. from our house.

Prior to our appointment we explored with interest the web-site for Kingston Park Apartments, and in doing so we identified an apartment which suited our needs.


Our first viewing of the brand-new apartment was "wow". As we entered the apartment our eyes were directed beyond the living room to a glass wall and porch from where we could see trees in the park adjacent to the three apartment blocks. The modern equipped kitchen was a sharp reminder of the extent to which our 1960s kitchen had exhausted its used-by date. At long last Patricia was to have a pantry, and my task of washing dishes was to be made practically redundant by a dish-washing machine.

We were most impressed with the quality of workmanship and materials used throughout the apartment. We noted that there is more than ample provision for storage in cupboards and wardrobes (wardrobe storage is floor to ceiling), and there is secure storage in the basement.

Other observations were that the ceiling height is higher than expected; both bedrooms have ample space for bed and other furniture; the main bedroom has an ensuite bathroom with shower and the second bedroom has a separate bathroom with a bath/shower; and the layout of the study provides sufficient space and shelving for files, books and computer. Other features were double glazing and air-conditioning (goodbye to evaporative cooling and  a gas fire); rectified porcelain tiles in bathrooms and kitchen; high quality Godfrey Hirst carpet in living room and bedrooms; and each wardrobe has a sliding door and a laminated door.

Downsizing equates to living in  a more compact environment. For our selected apartment this meant that we would be moving from a house of 162 sq.m. to an apartment of 94 sq.m. (actual size of apartment is 104.7 sq.m. of which the porch is 11 sq.m.) Our initial enthusiastic attraction to the apartment was temporally stalled by the thought - could we live comfortably in such a reduced area? After several visits to the apartment with a tape measure, and planning for the location of furniture we were relieved to find that we could live comfortably in the apartment. Downsizing would enable us to maintain our lifestyle. The two spacious bedrooms allow Patricia to have a bookcase and TV, and for me to have a bookcase and reclining chair. The living area is where we would share time together.

Downsizing entails the demanding and energy sapping tasks of getting rid of stuff, and preparing to move within a limited period of time. To charity we donated furniture and white goods, and for weeks on end we topped-up neighbours rubbish bins, and the council carted away two loads of rubbish. A lot of energy was also spent on packing what seemed to be an endless number of boxes. 

Our home of 54 years was put up for sale on 22 April 2014, and sold to our satisfaction within three weeks.


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We moved into our apartment on Monday 14 July 2014. On that day and the following two days our two daughters, Patricia's sister, and a neighbour helped unpack boxes and, in particular, fill the cupboards and pantry in the kitchen.

The hanging of prints and paintings signaled that at long last we had set-up our apartment. To celebrate this event, we rewarded ourselves with a short stay at Schofield Cottage, Healesville, from 18 to 22 August 2014.

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The train from Frankston to the Melbourne, and the front and rear gardens were two significant features of our home in Cheltenham. For 54 years we lived with the noise of passing trains as the railway line runs parallel with our back fence. With time we got used to the noise and the light vibration. 

Prior to 2010, the backyard was in poor condition - the back fence was propped up and, with the exception of two tall trees, the garden was nothing to talk about. During the winter of 2010 the rear garden was was landscaped. After the yard was cleared, several smaller trees and a variety of native plants were added to the remaining flowering gum and silky oak trees. The trimmed weeds posing as a lawn were replaced with 35 sq.m. of pre-grown strips of buffalo grass. Having reestablished the rear garden, the bottom section of the front garden was then cleared and regenerated with native plants. The gardens were our pride and joy.





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One distinct advantage of Kingston Park Apartments is that it is adjacent to a large magnificent park. We have now adopted this park as our garden.








The park is dotted with trees, and landscaped with an expanse of flat open lawn that is offset with a series of undulating small hills. The park has ample space for parking, a picnic area, a playground, a skateboard rink, a walking track, and a lake with resident ducks. A casual walk around the perimeter of the park takes 20 minutes. The west side of the park is parallel with the Frankston to Melbourne railway line. As a result of double glazing we can faintly hear the sounds of the trains as they drift by, and in the evening, from the comfort of our lounge chairs, we can see in the distance well lit trains threading their way through the darkness. Just prior to Christmas 2014 we attended Christmas Carols in the Park, and on the first Saturday morning of each month, with exception of January, we enjoy shopping at the Farmers Market.

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Our apartment is on the fourth level of a six level building




















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