An elder orphan has plenty of matters to consider and eventually we all get around to the question of where we will live. I suppose that there is a different and unique answer for each of us.
A few of us will be quite content in a cabin in the woods with a wood-burning stove and a short trip to the creek for fresh water with a canine companion.
My wife and I began our married life together in a rented apartment, went on to buy our first modest home where we happily lived for several years among friendly neighbours. We moved on to build a comfortable new home in a small village. It was large enough to accommodate the family that never happened. After thirty-five years and confronted with health issues we reluctantly made the decision to move to a condominium in a near-by city.
Our condo is certainly spacious enough to accommodate us and has all of the amenities we need or want. We don’t at all miss the lawn mower or the snowblower.
In the village we enjoyed sitting on our front porch (or leaning on a snow shovel) and chatting with friends and neighbours as they tended to their own properties or were passing by led by the family pooch. In our condo the elevator ride from our lower level parking spot to the upper floor where we live takes less than fifteen seconds. It isn’t a lot of time to develop a friendship, or even conduct an introduction. Attempts to create some kind of cohesive community in our high-rise building have not met with success. Perhaps it is because of the diversity in age and cultures combined with busy schedules of most people that it hasn’t worked for us. I know of similar condominium communities where opportunities to interact with each other abound. Unfortunately not so for us. Perhaps it will eventually happen.
Our next move will probably be to what is referred to in Ontario as a retirement residence or an independent living facility. These residences are operated by independent companies that receive no subsidies from the government and are free to charge whatever the market will bear for the services that they provide. Although there are examples of this type of accommodation where condominiums exist, most of them are exclusively rentals. The accommodations can range from a smaller one room suite to spacious apartments. Services usually include housekeeping, three meals per day in a common dining room complemented with snacks and beverage such as tea or coffee available all of the time. The upscale residences will offer movie theatres, exercise facilities, spaces to conduct hobbies and crafts, courtesy vans and in some cases even a happy hour, all coordinated by a person dedicated to providing entertainment opportunities to their clients.
Giving up grocery shopping and the vacuum cleaner are attractive ideas. So what’s holding us back? It is likely the idea of further downsizing. The thought of sacrificing the generous space that we now occupy with a spare guest bedroom, a large dining room suite and other amenities are certainly a factor. However perhaps it is relinquishing much of our independence.