A little over a year since The Chocolate Quarter opened its doors, we caught up with the very first residents to reserve an apartment in the now award-winning retirement community. Together Michael and Carole share highlights from their first year, their reasons for choosing TCQ and some helpful tips on downsizing. Over to them…
“We were the first people to reserve an apartment at The Chocolate Quarter and were part of one of the local focus groups as it was being developed. We really settled very quickly.
We had always said that before one of us reached 80 we were going to have downsized. I was an occupational therapist so saw people who had left it too late to move when visiting them in their own homes. We also have had relatives with dementia who we had to move after 75 years in their own home. It was a traumatic process and we didn’t want that for our children.
If you’re going to make full use of all the facilities here you have got to be relatively active - we use the gym, the Jacuzzi, the pottery and more. It’s always good when we have a get-together too. One of the benefits of being here is that when you’re in your own apartment you can be completely private if you want to, but if you want to meet people and socialise there is lots of opportunity for that as well. Jo, the Activities Coordinator, is very good at arranging things. A standout for us has been the book club – we hadn’t been members of a book club before but are glad we were founder members of a book club here. There are 8 of us in our group and none had done it before. It’s been really enjoyable - an opportunity to do something new is always good.
We have certainly never regretted moving here for a day. From the start we felt settled.
And we’ve really enjoyed the pottery. Allen, who leads the class, is very good and we had never done anything like that either. It was straight in doing all sorts. We were throwing on the wheel from the first session, then a couple of sessions later he’d say “we’ll do terracotta today” and then “let’s give porcelain a go!” We have 3 adult children and at first they said, “Don’t think you’re going to foist it all on us”. But when they saw what we’d made they changed their minds, and some of our pieces now have a new home!
We were also looking to downsize as the garden at our home was getting a bit much. We’re assuming that TCQ will meet all of our future needs. You’ve got the independent living for now. For the future, if we should need it, all the apartment is wheelchair accessible. Support within the apartment is available too if needed. We looked at a whole range of options and for a lot of them, if you become less mobile, you would have to move again. Here it’s a one-stop shop.
We had been in our last house 40 years and we had 40 years’ worth of stuff in cupboards, squirrelled away. We made a rule that there had to be less stuff in the house every day. Almost everybody says what a task it was to downsize – we couldn’t throw anything away without looking at it. But we had a big sort-out. Over the course of the year we got our family round and they took what they wanted. Our children were delighted that we’d made the decision, and that we sorted the family house out.
Now we can whizz round the apartment with a little Dyson and in 15 minutes the job’s done. With a four bedroom house you’re forever catching up with yourself. So that’s much easier. We’ve never lived in an apartment before and we weren’t sure how it was going to be in terms of noise either. The insulation is perfect here. You never hear anything from either side. It’s brilliant.
We have certainly never regretted moving here for a day. From the start we felt settled. I think that’s because we made the choice on our own terms and had what we wanted. We’ve gone into it positively.”
To delve deeper into life at The Chocolate Quarter and to book your tour visit the main retirement village page.