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The downsize shock. From retirement to apartment living.

The family home you painstakingly designed and built, raised your family in and then doubled as a sought-after sanctuary for the grandchildren. SOLD.

After 43 wonderful years of living in suburbia in a generous-sized two-storey, five-bedroom home with a built-in pool, the inevitable move to downsize was just a matter of time.

The transition from house to apartment living can be quite traumatic, especially if you have never lived in strata before.

Recently retired couple, Clare and Ken, made the decision to sell their lavish home in Sydney’s northern suburbs and bought an apartment in the south of Sydney, literally almost an hour away from their roots.

And if the change in location wasn’t shock enough, they also had to learn all the by-laws of apartment living; the mere thought of having to seek approval to hang a simple curtain rod seemed ludicrous!

But as Clare admits, moving into their new apartment was not as restrictive as she first thought. And the apartment they chose has only two other apartments on their floor so getting used to neighbours being close by was not a difficult transition.

In fact, nearly two years on, Clare and Ken often question themselves why they didn’t make the change sooner.

Clare and Ken donated a large portion of the existing furniture because they didn’t need it all and didn’t have the space they were used to.

“Initially it was daunting. But after we arranged the pickup it was as equally refreshing as rewarding just knowing we were helping others who needed second hand furniture, whatever their circumstances.

“And it forced us to buy smarter, more suitable items to suit our new space. Purchases we hadn’t made in such a long time. It was fun shopping for our new home.”

From the first week they moved in, Clare says she’s always felt safe in her building, especially knowing neighbours are close by.

“When we travel, we literally just need to shut the door behind us. We don’t need to arrange a house-sitter to maintain the yard and pool. Because now, the grounds and pool are everyone’s responsibility. And it’s already been taken care of.”

Speaking of already taking care of things, Clare says that’s the beauty of being part of the owners corporation.

“If something goes wrong, like the lift breaks down, it’s not my problem. It’s everyone’s problem. And there’s already money in the kitty for repairs. I don’t have to worry, it’s fixed before we know it. My only issue is walking up the stairs instead. I’m spoilt now, I’m used to the lift.

“And I love that we have a forced savings account for maintenance and repairs. It’s peace of mind knowing everything will be ok. With our levies, we know what to expect to pay each time, it’s so easy,” said Clare.

As for Ken, who is far from officially retiring altogether, it took only a year before he was voted onto the Committee.

He loves being part of the decision-making process and has made great friends with neighbours in other areas of his complex that he wouldn’t necessarily have met other than at meetings.

For this retired couple, they have fully embraced the strata community lifestyle and are living proof that the trauma of downsizing from home to apartment won’t last forever.

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