Pictured: Sue with her partner Dave
When Sue began voluntary driving for the community, she didn’t expect one drop off would lead to her buying her first home at the age of 69.
For most of her adult life she had rented properties as she moved around the country living a “transient” lifestyle with her late husband, who had served in the army and later her current partner, Dave, who was in the RAF.
But everything changed when Sue escorted a passenger back to one of Housing 21’s Extra Care schemes. Having been invited inside, Sue found herself so impressed by the apartment she returned with Dave to view a property for themselves.
“It was so much bigger than I was expecting,” said Sue.
“My expectation was that it was going to be a little tiny space but even the one-bedroom apartments were big enough for a couple so we came back together to view a two-bedroom option.
“I wasn’t looking for this specifically but there were a few things we weren’t happy with in the previous place. It was a barn conversion which very draughty and I got fed up of being cold. But here it’s so warm with heat coming from all directions,” said Sue.
Following a successful viewing, Sue and Dave made further enquiries and learned about the option for shared ownership, which allows residents to purchase a share of the property and pay rent on the outstanding amount.
Over time, residents can then choose to increase their share up to 70 percent, at which point they no longer pay rent.
“I had never heard of shared ownership before; I didn’t know anything about it and didn’t know you could do it,” said Sue.
“We couldn’t afford to buy outright but we did have money in the bank to do this. It’s also great to have an asset to leave the children and even with the service charges and rent, it’s not more than we were paying before.
“We’ve got no intention of buying any more; we’re happy with what we’ve got. We’ve still got money in the bank to spend on nice holidays and going out so nothing has really changed.”
For Sue, it’s not the status of owning a property that brings her most comfort, but the security associated with it.
“I was quite happy renting but it’s nice to think it’s ours,” she said.
“At the end of the day, it’s just a piece of paper. But what is does mean is that we’re in a position now where people can’t ask us to move out.
“When you rent all your life, it becomes more of a concern that people could ask you to go and although you have rights, you do still have to leave. That can’t happen now.”
Both Sue and Dave remain active in their retirement, enjoying activities such as swimming and bowls respectively, as well as holidays and an active social life. Dave is also a keen train enthusiast who relishes the scheme’s close proximity to the train lines, where he often sits and watches passing traffic from the comfort of his own home.
While neither are currently reliant upon the scheme’s on-site facilities, such as the 24/7 Care Team, bistro and salon, they are conscious this could change over time.
“We’re both fit as a fiddle now, but we do accept we are getting older and we may need care in the future,” said Sue.
“Where we are now means we are in a much better place for if that happens. If we can’t drive anymore, there is a bus stop outside. There’s so many people around who chat and socialise that we’re in good a position to make friends.”
However, one feature of Extra Care that Sue does relish, is the on-site management team who she describes as “great”.
“If I have a problem, I can go down and speak to someone,” she said.
“I know how to use technology and machines but I don’t like them; I like a human being and it makes a big difference that we have direct access to someone for help or advice.
“I’m chuffed to bits; I think we will be very happy and settled here.”
Find out more about Shared Ownership with Housing 21: Housing 21 - Move into a brand new home with Housing 21. Our team are on hand to help you make the right move for you and your loved ones.
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