Pat & Beryl
Both retired nurses from the Northern Beaches, these two friends joined forces and moved to The Arbour to continue their adventure seeking lifestyles.
WELL THAT’S WHAT FRIENDS ARE FOR
As featured in Sydney Morning Herald Domain Retire In Style Liftout, 24-25 March 2012. More women are choosing to live together in their twilight years, writes Carolyn Boyd
AS the boundaries around what is a typical retirement blur, more women are expected to begin retiring together as companions, sharing a home and life in their older years as friends.
A demographer and partner at KPMG, Bernard Salt, says the trend will be a case of back to the future, as many women lived together in the 1920s and ’30s after the Spanish flu of 1919 took 10,000 Australian lives and 60,000 young men were killed in World War I.
“This is companion relationships; single women, later in life, separated or divorced, or just never married,” Salt says. “[They are not in a] sexual, gay relationship at all. [It’s]purely for companionship and friendship.”
Salt says the living arrangement makes sense because “life is better when it is shared”.
“You share the costs of home purchase and ownership and you also get to share your life. You get to know about each other’s lives and family and friends, and so forth.”
It’s not a trend Salt expects to see in men, though.
“Women are very social beings,” Salt says. “There’s a bit of macho ego for men having to rely on another bloke for companionship. Men don’t like that. They’d rather live in miserable isolation than confront the reality that it’s probably a good idea to have acompanion relationship.”
Women who have been married and widowed may also seek to share a home with a female companion.
“Women typically live four years longer than men,” Salt says. “Typically, women marry a male two years older, so women are pretty much guaranteed six years of widowhood.”
Beryl Holden and Patricia Trumble are women who have retired as companions. After a lifetime of being friends, it made perfect sense to them that they share a home in retirement.
Holden and Trumble bought a two-bedroom, two-bathroom unit with a study at an over-55s development.
The two women grew up in the rough and tumble of London’s East End, in the days before it was gentrified with warehouse conversions and trendy restaurants. They flew to Australia in 1965 on assisted passages.
The young women worked their way around Australia, doing odd jobs, including office cleaning. When work ran low in Queensland, the pair placed a newspaper ad that read: “Two English girls willing to do anything, need jobs.”
“We had hundreds of replies and most of them were not very nice,” Holden says. “Then an old farmer contacted us from Toowoomba and said, ‘I love anything English, would you come and help me on my farm … I need help with the citrus and cattle.’
“So off we went and we stayed with him for two years. We got a lot of experience farming; he taught us a lot of things about the bush.”
Both women then settled in Sydney, trained as nurses and bought their own flats in the northern suburbs.
Ten years ago, though, they and two other female friends decided to pool their finances to buy a six-bedroom home in Fairlight. The arrangement worked well, but as retirement loomed, Holden says she and Trumble realised they needed to set themselves up for the future.
“We looked all over the northern suburbs first, but that was our biggest mistake,” Holden says. “The properties … were far too expensive [and] it just didn’t have that feeling that there was still plenty of life to be led.”
The pair knew they had found the right location as soon as they drove into The Arbour Berry, on the outskirts of Berry. “It just seemed so lively and it was just magic,” Holden says.
She and Trumble get along so well, people often comment on how lucky they are. “We understand each other and we are plain-talking, that’s how we get on,” Holden says.
A BUCKET LIST LEADS TO
A BUCKETFUL OF HAPPINESS
FOR BERYL & PAT
Written by Bianca Blair, February 2012
The concept behind downsizing normally includes the notion of slimming down or cutting back, economising or rationalising and compromising on things that are important to you, but a lifestyle decision to downsize, needn’t be one of compromises.
After seeing many of their friends leave the decision to downsize too late to enjoy the best of it, retired nurses and friends, Beryl Holden & Pat Trumble, decided to take a proactive approach in determining how they wanted to spend their retirement.
Living on the northern beaches and enjoying the beach, city lifestyle and convenience, Pat and Beryl’s preference was to remain in the area they had called home for many years, close to friends and their support group.
However after creating their ‘bucket list’ of requirements and inspecting the villages on Sydney’s northshore, they were shocked not only at the cost of what was on offer but also the concessions they would have to make to stay in the area.
A search of Central Coast villages followed with the same level of disappointment, as there was nothing that fulfilled their requirements to downsize from maintenance and living costs but without compromising their lifestyle.
“We discovered after going to the Central Coast, that we felt that most of the residents had left it too long to move, it was too late, their zest for life was gone, it was depressing, they were old before they were old,” Beryl said.
Pat and Beryl then made the tough decision to look further afield, finding the The Arbour Berry through a website search.
“We wanted to stay where our home was and that’s all very well but the price you had to pay to live in some of these places. And we didn’t have a lot of money. It just about broke our hearts that we had to leave the northshore but then we have got far more for the money down here than we would have ever got up there. We’ve a thousand things better down here, sure we’ve lost our support group and the northshore, which is beautiful but it’s made up of other lovely things, so many other things”.
“We’ve very easily found a support group here – they are there for you for some reason. Coming from the city you get a bit cynical, we couldn’t believe it at first how lovely people were. We thought, this can’t last but that’s been right across the board.”
“When we drove through The Arbour, it was just amazing. The type of house is very similar to our house on the northshore. It was all very modern, you can feel the vibrancy and it just had that different feeling.”
“For less money (than Sydney retirement villages) the move here isn’t a drastic change. You can have the same sort of lifestyle, only in a slightly different way. Everything that is important to us you can have here. We have the beach here and that’s not too far away and that’s important to us.”
Pat and Beryl prepared their ‘bucket list’ of the important features of the homes, facilities and vibe of the village where they would move to. The list assisted in keeping them focused on what was critical to them achieving the retirement lifestyle they were after and avoid settling for something that ticked some or most of the boxes on their list but that was all that was available to them.
High up on the priority list were at least 2 good sized bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, generous storage and substantial internal and external liveable spaces. More detailed things like where to hang washing and distance of car garages were also included on the list.
“The other big thing for us was the safety of the place. To me, that is one of the most important things, safety and no graffiti because it is getting a bit rough up in the city. Things are changing, you get worried and stop going out.”
Beautiful gardens, an impressive entry and nice surrounding outlook were prioritised to achieve the space and privacy Pat and Beryl were after, as well as an active buzz around the village.
By agreeing on and sticking to their bucket list, Pat and Beryl were able to rank the villages they saw in terms of preference and how it suited their requirements. It was a long journey with many floorboards trodden in the process, but by looking further afield, they were able to tick all items on their list and achieve greater value for money with their new home.
“There’s some very interesting people here, different and just so interesting, it’s amazing. Everyone has a story. We see people walking around, in the garden, in the gym, they are all doing things.”
“The advantage of The Arbour is that most of the men go to golf, or they do woodworking, they’ve got those choices and they can disappear if they want to and all the women have all their activities so it works out marvellously well. You have the choice here.
We don’t want to be forced into joining things but because there is so much on offer and so many lovely people that do these things, you think ok I’ll have a go. We’ve been here 4 months and already we are full up, we have too many things to do.”