Hello everyone

How are things with you? Good I hope. We’re fine and I’ll say more about my state of mind at the end of the month, but for now, I am going to revisit the major decision we made to move to housing for the over-65s. This has been prompted by someone mentioning they were thinking of downsizing and it triggered so many memories. Not the least the reaction from some of our friends who were astonished – why, they kept saying. And indeed the very thought of downsizing, and even worse, moving to a specifically older persons type of housing, is unthinkable and not something they would ever do. But that’s fine, and actually there are many types of this kind of housing including retirement villages, although the size of our country being what is these are not all that common. But I think also there are many myths about the whole idea of living where we do. I remember after writing about this one commenter said that the very last thing she wanted to do was to sit all day in the communal sitting room. Well, actually, same here, I don’t do that, because after all, we live in our own apartment. There are 51 flats in the block (some 1-bed and some 2-beds) and each has a sitting-room, bathroom and kitchen. But don’t diss the communal sitting-room, because, yes, there is one. I mean, I have no idea what it is like to be a widow and on my own. Does anyone know before it happens?  It may be me that goes first and maybe it won’t (hey this is cheerful, but you know, face facts, we don’t live for ever) but the sitting-room downstairs may be a really great place to have a coffee when you’re feeling you absolutely must talk to someone face-to-face, or get out and see something other than the four walls around you.

On the other hand, will it be different for the cohort of older people that uses IT and social media and thinks nothing of going on Twitter to make a point, uses Facebook to keep up with friends and for those of us who have a blog, replying to commenters who have become, in effect, friends you communicate with sometimes more often than some friends who eschew and shun anything to do with ‘computers’!  I talk to people this way all the time, and it’s lovely. Will we get lonely in the same way that the over-80s do now, who only use their mobile as a phone and do not touch social media?  I’m fascinated by that question and one day I may be able to answer it, or maybe not, it depends …

But of course there are many other variations of housing for older people, including staying put and not moving ever, which is what so many people hope to do.  But here’s the three reasons why we moved:

First, you know it’s sensible. Will you always be able to do the gardening (and great if you can afford a gardener, we looked at our finances and said, no, we can’t).  But I’ve had gardeners and they never quite do it the way you want. Can you live with that? Then there’s the upkeep of the house and its maintenance, a lot of people are D-I-Y enthusiasts, but again how long do you think you can paint the windows and the walls? And then can you/will you be able to manage your house into your age of frailty because that is what ageing is all about. Ageing is not just about retiring and having a jolly time, there is a stage when you cannot do all that much. And by then will you be able to move on your own? Will you be able to pack up your house? Or will it be your children who have to move you? What annoyed me at the time we were making our big decision was that the literature was very much about ‘moving your mother’. I was incensed, had these Housing Associations not thought that some older people can make their own decisions and move of their own volition.

Yes, the second reason we moved earlier than most people think is the ‘right time’ i.e. in your 80s (noooo, that’s too late!) is that I carry a lot of baggage. I had to move my mother into very sheltered housing, as it is called, as she could not manage to live on her own when she became a widow. This was, like ours, a flat she bought, but there was not only a communal sitting room, there was also a restaurant with a cooked midday meal plus an hour’s cleaning every week. This was all factored into the monthly service charge, which was expensive but my careful father had made sure she was financially secure. Anyway, long story short, she disliked the place from the word go and on reflection I think she would have been happier in a care home as she could barely cope with the small flat and needed a huge amount of input from us, her two daughters. And all of that when I had teenagers who also needed me, plus a job in a national project based in London. The consequence of that was I swore I would never ever, ever be a burden to my children. I shared that decision with our kids, so all those years later our children were not in the least bit surprised when we told them we were moving to a Housing Association flat for the over-65s.

Finally, did you realise that these flats/apartments are really inexpensive. This is because they are quite niche, and also not all that popular! Our Estate Agent told us that the majority of people looking at the flats are daughters who say, oh, this is nice, then they bring their mother round to see the flat, and the verdict is usually, no thanks! For us though the cost was the key to our decision-making as we wanted to move back to the city from our much smaller town where we were living and there was quite a difference in the price of housing between the two. Also having acted as the Bank of Mum and Dad we were short of funds to dip into, a Housing Association flat was just the ticket and easily affordable. Mind you, don’t forget the monthly service charge – you have to factor that in to your budget and decide whether you can afford to pay this.

It all made sense. Yes, we moved again as the first flat wasn’t quite right (too far from the city centre) but this one is the bees knees. I feel such a sense relief when I look out of the window knowing that the small shops and the sea are just a minute away and that there are numerous buses to take us to the city centre within minutes. Gosh, not been there for some time, sadly.

If I have one regret it is that I haven’t got an outdoor space. Ah ha, you might think, that’s the fatal flaw of flat living, but no, all our decisions were made pre-pandemic and based on us being out and about in the city and beyond. It’s not the actual garden and the gardening I miss it is that I cannot entertain anyone at all in our flat.  We were going to be so very sociable and entertain friends and family all the time. That regret will disappear once we get out of the pandemic, sometime next year I hope and like you, I cannot wait for that.

This was taken soon after we moved. Like so many of these flats there were those old-fashioned storage heaters in place. They were removed and we’ve now painted that area and have installed the latest electrical radiators to heat our flat, plus there’s a different configuration of furniture with a dining table by the balcony door which doubles as my desk.

Our hallway at night.

I got that car number plate in 1999 when we made a trip to the States. I found it in a kind of antique/thrift store in Palm Springs. I’ve always got my eyes peeled for a bargain! And here’s a photo you’ve seen quite recently..

I’ve put it back in again as the beginning of this week it’s been the kind of weather to get out the shorts and wear them out and and about. Thankfully I hadn’t put them away!  I also wore the green skirt again.

Underneath the charity shop top I wore a lovely little pale green vest – sorry didn’t take a photo of it! The shoes are not from a charity shop but were bought years ago.

I do love that charity shop ring and try to wear as often as possible. As you can see I love bold primary colours.

Here’s another moody shot of the seascape that never fails to lift my spirits.

That’s all for now

You all take care. With love, Penny, the Frugalfashionshopper

P.S. This post is a few days overdue but I haven’t been idle as there is another post up on My Other Blog.  It’s not about the pandemic but about Brexit and you can find it by clicking on the icon on the side of this if reading on a PC or Mac, and at the end if reading on your phone. Be warned, I don’t mince my words as the saying goes, so do not read if you support and/or like this government.



27 thoughts on “Decisions, decisions for a move (or two) that was right for us!

  • 18th September 2020 at 7:51 am

    I can imagine you are very happy with your new place. Looking out to the see, the pier…. And to be able to take the bus to the city center is awesome!

    • 19th September 2020 at 7:34 am

      It is awesome, Nancy and will be even more so when this ‘thing’ is all over!!!! Have a lovely weekend xxx

  • 18th September 2020 at 8:33 am

    I agree with your reasoning for downsizing Penny. On becoming a widow at 60 i eventually moved to a small village to be nearer my daughters, it was lovely but i could see as i got older that i could become very isolated so moved to a retirement village on the edge of a market town not far away but with far more amenities on the doorstep, and regular bus services to a large city. we have a bistro, bar, gym, coffee lounge and even a community shop which i help run. There are apartments and bungalows and a lovely community spirit and crucially for a lot of people 24 hr welbeing staff on call, I was 70 when i moved here and i love it, i have company if i want it and have made some good friends, but also I can shut myself away when I want to. I know that this wss the right decision for me, like you i didn’t want to have my children move me when i can no longer cope on my own, so i say to anyone wondering about these places go check them out, you may be surprised at what they offer.

    • 19th September 2020 at 7:40 am

      Oh my word becoming a widow at such an early age, but hats off, as you’ve really carved out such a great life since then, particularly moving to a retirement village. I’m not sure where the nearest one is to Brighton, but there isn’t one nearby so I have little knowledge of them, but gosh, your village sounds so good. I totally agree with you that i) people will be surprised at what is on offer, and ii) just never say never and always be open to the challenge of change.

      Thanks so much for your comment – have a lovely weekend.

  • 18th September 2020 at 10:16 am

    Totally with you on this Penny. I lived in Cornwall all my life, spending a lot of those years looking after my mother in law, she finally left us aged 96 (and still at home with loads of carers) At 62 and 68, hubby and I sold up and moved to North London to be close to our sons, their partners and four wonderful grandchildren! Best thing we ever did, we downsized to a 2 bed flat, which, due to the disparity in property prices, cost us money, but I absolutely love it, we did look at ‘retirement’ complexes, for over 50’s or 60’s, but they didn’t feel ‘us’. I do understand why you made that choice though. Give me urban living over the countryside any day! I do love both your blogs by the way!

    • 19th September 2020 at 7:43 am

      Am with you all the way on this one as retirement housing isn’t for everyone, but gosh you took on the challenge of moving (a long way) and downsizing, and it’s really worked for you. Oh, and urban living every time!!!!

      Thanks so much and have a great weekend 🙂

  • 18th September 2020 at 10:54 am

    Thanks for this post Penny. I’ve commented before about how much I agree with your reasoning about ‘downsizing’ and the advantages of complexes for older people. As it happens we found out this week that our lovely (younger) neighbours are bringing forward their plan to live in central France & aim for self sufficiency. It sounds very exciting but we will miss them. Some other friends also told us this week that they are going to move somewhere smaller to release capital but fortunately they won’t be moving far.
    I’ve been thinking about moving for a while and actually recently presented Him Indoors with a paper setting out my thinking. One of our daughters lives about 10 miles away but the other and our son are 250 miles away. I don’t want the near daughter to have to take the lions share of supporting us in the future & I hope she won’t need to but have to accept that it may someday be necessary. (I had to do a lot for my parents in their later years). I thought that being more equidistant geographically might help but HI says that then all of them will have a journey to us. It would mean we could see more of our younger daughter as a day trip would be possible. Of course plans to have a look around possible areas this autumn & winter are presently on hold.
    Living where we are has been so good this year as we have a garden and countryside quite literally on our doorstep. Our bungalow is about the right size; only the spare bedroom gets little use but I feel it is vital to have it, not for visitors but for us when we are il,l sleeping badly etc. If we stay here long term it could be used for a carer if we needed one. Our other neighbours are 10 + years older than us and they have decided to stay and get in help if they need it.
    The downside is the almost non-existent bus service, unless you walk uphill for 20 minutes. Of course this is fine now but later……………….? If HI could not drive life would be difficult but then there are taxis which would work out cheaper than running a car you hardly ever use. Winchester is a lovely city with lots going on but we came here when HI was still working & there is nothing really to keep us. I’d be sorry to have to get a new PT as it took me a while to find her.
    I like the idea of some kind of complex with lots of facilities as I’m quite sociable & I enjoy doing new things & being out and about. A new leisure centre is being built in Winchester but I’ll need 2 buses to get to it. Added to all this we’ve been here 16 years and will need to do some refurbishing if we stay but I want that to be a positive choice not just a lack of one. As you say, decisions, decisions……………….!

    • 19th September 2020 at 7:58 am

      I say always live near a good bus service that can take you to every place you want, also if possible live some place where you can walk to everything, that is even better. I have a dentist that is a bus drive away but everything else, even the city centre, even a supermarket is walkable, although with the latter there’s the little deli, butcher, artisan baker, and a small grocery literally all within a minute away. Almost every day we thank the gods that we moved to this flat and while there are (teeny tiny) downsides it really is the ideal place.

      Oh geez, yes, re: the PT, but at least having found one you’ll know what to look for. I am so glad you did find her and it looks like you’ll have her for many months and maybe for a couple of years or even more. I know I’d be bereft if I moved away from my PT as I have a class with her, but also have a weekly 1-2-1 which is invaluable and very much needed! This blasted ‘thing’ has put so much on hold but you’ll get there. Thanks so much, Lynda, it’s good to hear your thoughts on this subject. Have a great weekend 🙂

    • 19th September 2020 at 8:14 am

      I moved into over 60 accommodation last year aged 63…. I released money from my bungalow so was able to retire early… My flat is so easy to clean I’m local to shops, buses, doctors and the station. The sense of security is great too. I have never felt so relaxed. I’m also about ten minutes away from two of my children so that’s ideal. The best part is my lovely neigh day the fact my grand children can pop in any time they want. I as happy as a pig in the proverbial ….

      • 21st September 2020 at 7:10 am

        Hi Angela – it all sounds so right for you. And making the decision early on, like you have, is also so sensible, plus there’s huge element of the inner peace of mind that comes with that. Great to hear – take care 🙂

  • 18th September 2020 at 1:37 pm

    Hi Penny
    such an interesting post. I downsized over 20 years ago when the children moved out on their own. at the time I thought I would have a partner, we had been together for nearly 9 years. long story short, we broke up and since then I have been on my own. I have been retired for 10 years now and am 79. my current home is very nice, an attached town house in a complex of 100 units. there are stairs but I do not have trouble now. there are gardeners to mow and trim bushes, etc. there is room for entertaining although I do find it more taxing now that I did in the past. I remember how hard it was when my my mother could no longer live on her own, thank God I had a wonderful brother to help, but it was difficult none the less. I find myself wondering as you did if I ought to make other plans in advance of real need. I recently began to look into a new senior residence on a college campus not far from me. it is a school known for their arts program so it would have a lot to offer, even an on site museum. however, it was too expensive and although there was a less costly alternative I make too much to qualify. Here I find that so many senior living residences are placed in out of the way areas, not near any shops, libraries, and such. Actually. I have a lot of issues as to how the elderly are cared for in the US, but that is a whole other post I suppose. to tell you the truth, I do not want to live in this country is trump get another 4 years, but where would I go and I would have to leave my family, so not really an option. so you have opened up a lot of issues for me today. I am glad you found something that works for you. stay well, you look terrific as always!

    • 18th September 2020 at 7:17 pm

      Hi Darby, I’m also in US (Virginia) and know how you feel. I voted this morning in “early voting.” Very organized set-up and the line moved along steadily. Here we use a pen to ink in the rectangle next to your choice, then feed the ballot into a scanner. Here’s wishing for our country to get back to a better place. Evie

      • 18th September 2020 at 9:21 pm

        Hi Evie,
        I am glad to hear voting went smoothly. I want to vote early but cannot so it until October. Fingers, toes and everything else crossed.

    • 21st September 2020 at 7:36 am

      It’s so interesting to hear about you and your decisions, and of course, the decisions that still have to be made. I do agree that senior residences in non-urban areas are not ideal. It is so very important to be near shops and services like doctors and dentists. Social care for older people in the UK is far from ideal and is the poor relation of the NHS.

      I am so sorry that the wonderful Ruth Bader Ginsberg has passed on, oh my word, what a woman, but I thought there was an actual law that prevented a replacement until after an election? Totally understand how you feel about Trump and the dilemma you have if… A few years back we were on a cruise with 85% Americans who were nearly all Republicans – was so fascinated by them. It was a couple of months before the election and they all said to us, how much they disliked Trump as a man and then either just as they were moving away from us or as a throwaway comment, they all said, every single one of them, but he is saying what we think…… That was when I realised that Trump would win. With one couple, I was feeling a bit naughty, and said how much I loved Obama, I couldn’t have said a worse thing, their faces…. and they said they’d hoped to move away if he got in but didn’t. Honestly the passengers were more interesting than the actual trip!!!!!! Mind you don’t think, that this difference of views was because they were Americans, we’ve been on two trips with a certain British cruise company and the passengers were Middle England writ large. It felt similar to the American cruise ship, that I was on a field trip investigating a different species!!! I suppose I am an ancient old leftie who would support Bernie if I was an American.

      Have a great week 🙂

  • 18th September 2020 at 5:27 pm

    Hello Penny,
    Thanks for sharing all of your cool popping colours and the downsizing subject!
    My husband and I recently sold/walked away from our Louisiana fully furnished cottage which included our life time of travel memorabilia and my art work. With the passing of a mere two months, the mourning of all of these left behind worldly treasures is becoming fainter . Keeping my eye on the prize, our car free apartment city life in Vancouver British Columbia, helps me work through this sadness. In our 70’s, preparing for our golden years has been such a privilege.

    • 19th September 2020 at 4:42 pm

      Think you made the right decision Penny. I’m just beginning to think about downsizing etc but there is so much to consider. Talking about retirement villages made me think of a book I’ve just read that I’d recommend. It’s called The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman and is about a group of retirement village residents who turn sleuths to solve murders. Great fun and does not treat older people as ‘invisible’.

    • 21st September 2020 at 10:22 am

      Yes, you are so right it is a privilege to live to an old age. I can see that your move was really quite dramatic as it sounds so amazing to have had a cottage in Louisiana but hey look where you are now – sounds great!

      Here’s to the golden years 🙂

  • 18th September 2020 at 7:15 pm

    Hi Penny, it was me who spoke of downsizing! Thank you so much for sharing your insightful thoughts. Whenever your e mail arrives I can’t wait to read it and this topic is so relevant to me.
    We have sold our Victorian house (subject to contract) and have had our offer accepted on a smaller property in the same road as our daughter and family 75 miles away. Lockdown absolutely convinced me and my husband (he a little after me) as we felt isolated and especially for me that the house was becoming too much of a responsibility.
    We are at this moment in the process of de cluttering. It has taken us since the beginning of lockdown to sort our surplus stuff!! Especially as the charity shops had certain restrictions. We have been trying to give some of our furniture to the local hospice furniture shop which now will only pick up from the front of the house as the volunteer helpers are unable to come into the house. You book a slot then leave it out come rain or shine!!
    We do feel quite anxious about all the changes but I know it’s the right thing to do as I’ve felt weary in the last year in regards to the amount of housework the house requires!!!
    I’m loving the style of your flat Penny also the way you put your clothes together. What fabulous green shoes xx

    • 21st September 2020 at 10:26 am

      Thank you re: green shoes which were worn for an outing to our son and daughter-in-law – in their garden. Oh for some more normality and occasions to dress up. One day….

      Your downsizing adventure is just that and also sounds so sensible and right for you. Hats off and enjoy – of course, the actual move might be a bit challenging but it’s over quite quickly. Good luck with everything and take care x

  • 18th September 2020 at 10:18 pm

    That all sounds like the right move for you both, Penny. Here in New Zealand, we do have more space, and so quite a few retirement villages have been built. With flats, small houses, communal areas, lush grounds. I taught yoga in one – very difficult as I worried about the very aged who sat in chairs – I was scared that the ones who kept getting woozy, would have a heart attack. Anyway, long story short: I finally ended up with two wonderful women, 1 still working, 1 in her 80s, who used the class to cope with their husbands who did not have long to live. I still cherish my time that I had with those 2 ladies; they inspired me and we filled each others hearts with joy and love.

    • 21st September 2020 at 10:32 am

      Your rapport with the two women sounds so good and it must have been uplifting to attend the class. You’d like my Pilates teacher – she too cares so much for her class participants. So glad I found her. Take care 🙂

  • 20th September 2020 at 8:09 am

    I love reading your blog Penny and share so many of your views about fashion shopping, colour, downsizing (and politics). I would like your opinion on something else. I notice you don’t have carpeted floors. Our carpets should be replaced this year and we can’t make up our minds whether to have hard flooring or carpet again. We live in a small bungalow (With concrete floors) so the flooring needs to be the same in every room to create ‘flow’ . We have a limited budget so underfloor heating is out of the question. We are both 76 if this has any relevance.
    I look forward to hearing your thoughts.

    • 21st September 2020 at 10:47 am

      Well, re: our sitting room floor, unfortunately it is a very poor quality laminate and not one we would’ve chosen. My fantasy is the we move out of the flat for a month and have the whole place gutted and start again – bathroom, kitchen, flooring all need attention and renewal. What will I replace the sitting room laminate with? It would not be carpet instead I would choose a very much better quality actual wood flooring. This quality does exist and I’d have it fitted tomorrow, but with the furniture already in the room not sure how it would happen. So, elsewhere and this is where it doesn’t help you, I would still have carpet in the two bedrooms and the corridor, albeit one that isn’t as light in colour as the current carpet, plus I would have an integral mat at the entrance.

      I do think the laminate is so much cleaner than a carpet. Any spills from eating (our dining is done in this sitting room) are easily dealt with, and I sweep the floor every day as the version we have shows every tiny bit of dust and dirt that drops to the floor, and on a carpet that gets missed.

      Not sure that helps you, but I wouldn’t have hard flooring in a bedroom as it is definitely colder in winter to have a hard floor.

  • 22nd September 2020 at 3:50 pm

    You’ve clearly thought the decision to move to over 55 housing through very carefully. I’m so glad it worked out for you and it looks lovely; you are so close to sea! Wonderful!

    We have an actual retirement village built and newly opened a mile or so from the town. It’s ginormous! If I was planning to stay in the UK I would consider such specialist housing for similar reasons to you but our plan is to move to Ireland; probably in a bungalow….

    Take care and stay safe.

  • 23rd September 2020 at 1:10 pm

    I think your decision to move and how you did it was for all the right reasons, and very laudable too particularly as you are so far removed from the usual stereotype which is someone in their 80s who can no longer cope. My grandma was very fit and full of energy until her early 80s but suddenly had a health problem and could no longer cope with a huge house on her own, so moved into a home. I know exactly what you mean when you don’t want to burden children. I don’t have children so the thought of leaving my unfinished business to a distant niece or nephew is unthinkable. I would definitely make a move like yours.

  • 26th September 2020 at 7:45 pm

    This is something we have talked about and thought about and know that the time to do it is before we need to do it. However, in this area such properties are more expensive than our three bedroomed house, and thus out of our price range. I fear our choice is to be either stuck in a house which increasingly needs maintenance work and garden help, or move to a newer non-retirement flat or apartment.

  • 10th October 2020 at 2:43 pm

    Penny thank you for talking about this. I admire your decision and finally you are in the right place !
    Mum, (91) on the other hand is good for now – she is enjoying her own home (now in there 25 + years). And is using all the social services she has access to (for her £80 per week – means tested) but she has some one come in 5days a week to help her shower, 1 shopping trip and a house clean every 2weeks, which I think is a bargain (speaking from the USA!) , and has a stairlift.
    But this pandemic I think she has got lonely.
    Luckily we got her on the iPad and we all FaceTime her daily, that’s all she does media wise! But the pressure is on my younger brother who is the only one in the UK, so ANYTHING that happens – illness thru changing light bulb and everything in between – is down to him .
    So like you say you don’t want to be a burden to your children… so it refreshing to hear this as a narrative.
    Thank you Deb 🙏🏽

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