Thursday, February 18, 2010

Housing by Aukje de Vries

I live in a neighbourhood where most houses were built in the nineteen twenties and thirties, but occasionally new houses or apartments are built. The latest project consists of apartments on the grounds of the nearby hospital. Until recently there was a home there for retired deaconesses, who had worked for the hospital. It was a friendly looking building and it had a small chapel with a green cupola. But as the deaconesses died, one after the other, the home was taken down. The hospital wanted to make more money on its grounds so it had these apartments built. On Saturday there is an open house and we can view one of them. Esther and I go there. Not because we want to rent it, but just because we like to see it. We are not disappointed. It is a spacious 3 bedroom apartment. It is furnished and has an open kitchen with the newest gadgets. The houses on the opposite side of the street are not too close and in the back the view of the hospital and its parking is reasonable. I think I could be happy living there, but it is a good thing we are contented with the house where we live, because these apartments are completely unaffordable for us.

Newly built apartments and condo’s are generally very expensive, as I also hear from friends in other cities. My seniors’ organization is actively trying to influence policy makers to build more suitable housing for seniors. Many older people live in larger houses than they need; they want to move to a smaller house or apartment but can’t find such housing is at affordable prices.

A few years ago, when I realized I had to start remodeling and refurbishing the house where I had lived for 30 years, I looked for an apartment, slightly smaller than the house I have now and where it would be easier to stay, in case I became dependent. But I didn’t find anything suitable and affordable.

In the end I decided to start remodeling my present house. Having made investments in it, I might as well stay here as long as I can. Another consideration keeps me here: I have a neighbor, Esther, who has become a very good friend over the years. Further down the street there are two other friends my age (Liz and Jacqui) who also live alone. We see each other from time to time over a cup of tea. We have the implicit understanding that we can call on each other when we need help. Their presence certainly has influenced my decision to stay in the house where I have lived so long.

Question: Do you want to move as you get older and if so, what kind of housing are you looking for? Or, if you stay where you are, what keeps you there?

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