Apartment living for oldies

I am retired. My wife and I live in an apartment in downtown Auckland. No, it’s not the same as living in a house. In many ways, it’s better.

For instance, almost everything is handy, just walking distance away. We use the car maybe once a week, so the days of filling it up with petrol once a week are gone. We can walk to the Countdown supermarket in Victoria Street, to the library, to any number of doctors, to the hospital, to a movie theatre, to the Civic Building for stage shows and to Aotea Centre for whatever might be going on there.

We walk daily to Albert Park, a beautiful spot just up from Queen Street. There is Victoria Park too, a little further away but not much further. Of course, the Viaduct Basin is also walking distance, maybe followed by a free ride on the ferry to Waiheke or wherever.

From our downtown apartment, we can see the Harbour Bridge and over the city as far as the western hills. We experience many glorious sunsets, and it’s a different sunset every time. We have sunshine flooding the apartment in the afternoons, so much so that we have to keep the door ajar in the summertime to cool the place down.

There is no problem keeping the door ajar. There is no risk of intruders because our building has electronic locks on the gates, the public doorways and the lifts. Also, there is discreet but efficient security monitoring.

We don’t live in one of those million dollar apartments, our place is worth about $400,000. It is not big, but big enough for us. The weekly cleaning and vacuuming, including two bedrooms and two bathrooms, takes maybe thirty minutes.

The kitchen/lounge area allows entertainment and dining for visitors. For business meetings, however, we usually take the caller to a meeting room on the ground floor of the building. Our apartment is on the 13th floor (we are not superstitious) and this avoids lost time waiting for the lift in coming and going.

We have a carpark but we are thinking of getting rid of the car because we seldom drive it. How come? Because if we cannot walk to a destination we can usually take a free bus or train. We still use the car occasionally but if we sold it we could rent the apartment carpark out for maybe $80 a week. That would more than pay for the occasional taxi that, not having a car, we might require.

In downtown Auckland there are buses or trains to everywhere, they are not frequent enough but we retirees have time on our hands. For visitors coming to see us, there is plenty of free parking in downtown Auckland on weekends, in the daytime if not in the evening. But for visitors coming to see us mid-week parking is a

 bit of a problem. However, it is a problem that is easily solved. Before mid-week visitors arrive I take my car from our apartment carpark and find a park on the street, there is always a park somewhere or other. It does not matter if I have to pay a couple of dollars for parking and it does not matter to me how far I have to walk back to the apartment. By parking our car in the street I leave our apartment carpark free for the visitor.

When the visitor leaves they may drop me off at my parked car or I may simply walk back and collect the vehicle. Why not? The exercise does me good.

A downside to owning an apartment is that you have to pay what they call the Body Corporate. This is a fee to cover the cost of the lifts, the security service, keeping the building clean and painted and so on. It also covers the cost of our gym with its good mix of aerobic and weight machines. Being retired, we use the gym during working hours. This means we usually have the whole place to ourselves.

We apartment dwellers don’t have a garden, which my wife misses, but we also don’t have a lawn to mow. I don’t miss that. We don’t have a roof that leaks or needs painting because there is another apartment above us, not a roof. We don’t have exterior walls that need painting, not by me anyway. We don’t have a driveway that needs sweeping or fences that need fixing. We don’t have trees that might crash down and cut our power lines. Our trees are at Albert Park.

They say that an apartment is a way for today’s young folk to get onto the property ladder. That’s true, but an apartment is also a way for older folk like us to have a relaxed life, not worry about home maintenance and also save money. Apartment living is okey-dokey.


By Michael Edgar 

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