Wednesday, 22 November 2017

What? Downsize to an Over 50’s Community!

Time flies when you're having fun...Well, we must have been having fun because three years have evaporated and we've hardly noticed. That's three years since our return to Australia after our "splendide longues vacance" in France, our year-long home exchange.

Val and I have downsized; gone from a 366sqm home on 6000sqm of land to a 174sqm villa on a 292sqm postage stamp of earth...and we don't even own the earth! Here's our personal experience.


Our former Maleny home and, below, our new villa!                                                       

After one has achieved that near perfect state of nirvana, i.e. “Retirement”, and after one has made provision for maintaining a decent  income into one’s future, one, hopefully, will have a certain amount of left over lolly.

This lolly is used by one to facilitate enjoyment of those traditional perks shall I say it?’s advancing middle age. Perhaps travel to distant shores, a new caravanning rig, a sup or two of a rather good red,  but just from time to time, mind you!
For me, though, a time arrived in “Retirement” when the carefree experience of cheerfully maintaining a picture perfect  two acres of luscious green lawn morphed into a terrible chore to keep ahead of that bloody defiant grass...always bloody-well growing. This moment coincided with another moment of realisation; that the pile of left over lolly was a pile no more.
Good grief, what to do? Apparently “Downsizing” is the regulation answer to this conundrum, but one must of course decide on where to downsize to.

My spouse, Val, and I thought that moving to the seaside town of Burrum Heads would be perfect.

Warm seaside climate, an abundance of choice in quality housing at very attractive prices, a lovely river estuary for mucking about on water (sometimes, erroneously, called fishing) and like-minded folk in the town.

But the BIG C came to visit. Val was diagnosed as having cancer.

There is no point in asking “why me?” because the answer is simply “why not me?” Get on with life. And Val did just that with great determination and an absolutely positive outlook on our future life.

A visit by the Big C, however, forces the rather unpalatable realisation that one is not actually invincible, as one had previously thought, and it also forces one to re-evaluate one’s plans, doesn’t it. Not only that, Val and I were overwhelmed by the support and love shown by so many friends and acquaintances around Maleny.  How could we even contemplate leaving such a wonderful network of loving people?
Of course, the Big C, even in remission, casts a long shadow, a shadow that cannot be ignored. So the former Captains Invincible threw out the Burrum adventure choosing instead to downsize into "Nature's Edge Buderim", an “Over 50’s Lifestyle Village”. A key determinate was that if one of us should cross the rainbow bridge the other would be well settled in a close community without the unnecessary disruption of another relocation.

Now to say "Nature's Edge Buderim" is to stretch a long poetic bow, a long merchandising poetic bow. We are actually situated at Forest Glen, but Forest Glen is on the lower (lowest?) slope of Buderim Mountain. Come to think of it, to say "Buderim Mountain" is itself a bit of a stretch...rather one should perhaps say "Buderim High Hill".

As you would know, over 23 years, if one is not vigilant, a lot of stuff can build up in a large house, a  large double garage and a large cellar. We had not been vigilant.

Our new villa complete with double garage of rather modest proportion and no cellar is just half the size of our previous home. A lot of stuff had to go!

Come removal day, the removalist and I were dismayed to find that, even after culling, we still had 140 variously sized cartons plus the furniture.  Add in the gargantuan number of plants and pots and statuary that Val absolutely had to keep. “You worry-wart” she scolded “I’ll find a place for all of them.” Much to my surprise, she has.

Val and I are now certified inmates of our new “gated” Resort, along with 130-odd fellow inmates already ensconced  in the village. Eventually there will be about 340 bodies enjoying the “Over 50’s Lifestyle” but I’m not really sure how that particular style of life is supposed to unwrap.

Raising money for Cancer Research in our villa

Certainly it will revolve around the three million five hundred thousand dollar plus leisure centre now abuilding. All the usual modern facilities are coming: library, heated pool, gym, tennis, bowls, art-house cinema, circular  fire hearth,  tepanyaki BBQ etc etc...oh, and bar. No self-respecting over 50’s Lifestyler could style his or her life without a bar, certainly not this particular Lifestyler.

Living in the Village, I have an unexpected feeling of difference and separation from life in the outside world (although I’m reasonably sure that the outside world is still carrying-on, albeit with Mr Trump). We villagers are all of a type, I think. Reasonably well-off, of a similar age, new in our little community and definitely looking for a companionable on-going out-going social experience.

Already in our short street we local Lifestylers are busy establishing a Friday tradition of 5’Oclock Conviviality-on-the-Street. Currently attention is focused on how to set up a movable, safe fire-pit. Val is brushing up on her mulled wine recipe and sourcing  the best cheap spring rolls too.

The next monthly village-wide Happy Hour held in the partly constructed Leisure Centre is scheduled shortly; champagne and canapes courtesy of management.

But I do hope that we Lifestylers are not enjoying the equivalent of a sheltered (but much less voluptuous) lifestyle inside Versailles while the peasants burn Paris.

Au revoir

Bryan and Val Hughes
The Former "Captains Invincible"


  1. What a great read, as usual Bryan, bravo😃 Is this the writing you were going to do for your retirement village newsletter?

    1. Thanks Evie, This story was written for The Hinterland Times, a local monthly news magazine, a very good mag multiple winner of "best regional paper" awards. I thought recently to add it to this blog series. I'm thinking of starting a new downsizing blog with this as the lead article.