Wednesday, October 9, 2013

OVER-SIXTIES HOUSING – OR HOVEL?


I’ve been looking at houses. No, I don’t want to move, but time and circumstances are conspiring to make me think about the situation. My house is earthquake-damaged and is to be re-built – maybe next year – and it will be re-built to its current size and specifications. That suits me, I like it, and I’m happy here. However …

Pre-earthquakes outlook
A woman of advancing years and living alone doesn’t need a good-sized three-bedroomed house in an increasingly unmanageable garden. She doesn’t need it, but she wants it. Or more accurately she wants the feeling of it.  I am accustomed to space, light, airiness.  Three-bedroomed houses and gardens are for families – quite rightly – and people like me are expected, in due course, to move into something more suitable, such as what is known as over-sixties housing.

Dear oh dear. So depressing.  This seems to mean a standard-shaped, conventionally outfitted, two-bedroomed house that has been shrunk to hovel proportions. Most of the features are there but they are crowded into smaller spaces. The result is cramped, awkward and mean.

Myth: an old person living alone doesn’t need three bedrooms – two little ones will do, one for themselves and one for visitors.  Fact: one bedroom is enough. The second would be used so infrequently that it is wasted space. Any visitor who needed a bed could sleep on the couch but preferably in a nearby motel, or even at someone else’s place. The OP’s bedroom could then be bigger, and so could the living area.

Myth: OPs living alone need a proper kitchen. Fact: probably not. They almost certainly don’t need the full facilities of a family kitchen because most OPs don’t bother so much. Yes, they have to eat, and may indeed cook, but everything is simpler when it’s only for one. Personally – and admittedly I am rather undomesticated – I could probably manage with a kitchen-in-a-cupboard, the kind you close the doors on when you’re done. Wrap-around benches, islands and floor-to-ceiling cupboards would be unnecessary – OPs don’t have so many mugs and plates and pots and labour-saving devices to find space for.  Result – more space for living.

Myth: OPs don’t have a life. Fact: they do. And they would like to live some of it at home, in comfort and with pleasure. A large studio apartment with a generous deck beside an easy-care courtyard sounds perfect to me.

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