Saturday, September 10, 2016

The Case Against Condominiums

"Condos for Boomers: This idea is so funny. I see boomers trying, but they have to dispose of their furniture, and hire organizers. I doubt that there will be mass adoption of the condo by boomers. I do see the upsurge of senior help services to help boomers stay in their houses and neighbourhood. The kind of shoe box currently being built by developers and bought by investors is kind of offensive to the Boomer lifestyle"  from 'Why Are Condos So Crappy' LANDLORDRESCUE blog 5/9/2016


When we mention to friends that, as we are both now in our 70s and either retired or close to it, we will be downsizing, they are most likely to say, "Oh, looking for a nice condo where you won't have to do much as everything is taken care of?" And we reply to their surprise, "Well no, actually - a condominium's not for us".


When first married and still in England, we bought an early version of 'luxury' condominium called a leasehold flat complex and comprised of a number of flats located right across the road from the riverside of the Thames and a short walk from a cozy little pub frequented by show-business celebrities like Liberace and Keith Richards who lived above us in St Georges Hill from which they had a clear view of Shepperton Studios across the river. A cool location for a young couple in the Swinging Sixties. However the gas furnace greeted you a foot or two away in a wall right opposite the front door, and the bedroom walls were so thin that when Jethro Tull's road manager got back from a gig and reached for his base guitar to practice for the audition that could get him a slot in the band, it was easy to tell he wasn't ever going to make it. 

We lasted a year, then emigrated. My new personnel manager showed us high-rise flats with fine views of the city and its highways from the balcony, but we chose to rent a farmhouse out of town, with nothing but woods and fields in view and a deep nighttime silence broken occasionally by owls hooting and foxes barking. We bought that place and lived there for 40 years, until about eight years ago, when new homes finally marched across our view, we moved on to our current three-acre country estate.

Our next move is to be a cosy cottage out further into farm country, a place where folk still wave as they pass and the wail of coyotes echoes through the quiet nights. Gardening and local golf, entertainment and meals out replaces trips into the big city. Neighbours are near enough to greet but far enough that their lifestyle doesn't impinge much. Villages and small country towns still have handymen and other help that everybody knows.

Elderly condo-ed friends tell me Rule#1 after moving in is to get on the condo board so you have some idea about and hopefully a say in how your fees are going to be spent.  But recall that your fellow condo owners are not your choice nor are they mostly likely to care about what worries you. Every condo has problem members, such as the chronic complainers and the folk who rent out their unit when condo rules say that's forbidden. Storage is always limited and maybe parking too. What's so great about this whole joint ownership thing that it should appeal to Boomers?

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