For the past 18 years Nita and I lived in a lovely home at Avoca Beach. As the years passed by, we found that the grandchildren became so involved in their sport and school activities, coming up and down the M1 became more of a challenge for all the family. We also found that although our lovely home at Avoca had served us well, the large garden became more of a challenge for us, so we realised it was time to start a search for a home closer to the family. They were very keen for us to do that, so we spent six months searching without success for a place we could call “home”.
One day our son Michael heard Alan Jones extolling the virtues of Cranbrook Residences on the radio. Our other two children quickly visited Cranbrook and they were sure that this was the place where Nita and I would like to live back in Sydney. We came and looked through the facilities and Apartments, met Julie, and once we experienced the peaceful surroundings of the Castle Hill Country Club Golf Course, which the Apartments look onto from spacious verandah’s and beautiful living areas, we were convinced that Cranbrook would be a wonderful home for us. The beauty of having a smaller community with only 50 Apartments spread over 5 buildings, is quite unique. Then came the challenge of selling, downsizing and moving.
We found Cranbrook so accommodating in terms of reserving an Apartment until our house sold. We were confident to move ahead with the sale of our home and the day we settled on our Avoca home we also settled on the Apartment at Cranbrook. We have found the community of residents so friendly, the staff so helpful, and the quality of the Apartment and facilities more than one could expect. In fact, everyone who visits loves the place, and we often have to say “once you are over 55 you can come here also”! But hurry!
It has been difficult to adapt to a smaller living area, having to part with all our “large” furniture – but Nita has delighted in being able to buy all the new furniture that fits so well! Leaving our friends of 18 years on the Central Coast has also been difficult, but we are so thankful for new friendship’s we are enjoying with the Cranbrook Family. We are so happy now to have such a wonderful place to call home, with beautiful gardens and facilities second to none we saw during our search. With no need to do any maintenance, and nearness to the family has made the decision to move back to Sydney the right one and Cranbrook the right place.
Each February I vowed I would look seriously for a place to spend my senior years in comfort: no sloping lawns to mow, no extensive timber decks to oil and less maintenance on a lovely home that was now too large for me. I searched for three months and at 75 decided to join an over-55s community. No stamp duty was an immediate bonus and then I factored in no council rates, no water bills and no maintenance costs in the 60-year lease.
At Cranbrook I found the outlook I had been seeking – rolling lawns and eucalypts courtesy of the Castle Hill Country Club, beautifully landscaped gardens and balconies large enough for my big citrus pots and herb garden. Cranbrook Residences’ central hub is the icing on the cake: a café with tea and coffee permanently on tap, a beautifully appointed library (with a fire in winter), small gym, theatrette and activity rooms for art, yoga, mah-jong, scrabble and flower arrangement classes – whatever residents wish to initiate or join. And I haven’t mentioned the Friday night monthly group barbecue or the weekly Friday night drinks (BYO).
For me, the discreet co-location within our gardens of the Bella Vista Nursing Home is re-assuring. Having helped my lovely mother through various levels of hostel and nursing home care in her final decade, I hope my family will be able to take up the offers of home and nursing care in situ for me when and as I need them. Downsizing and moving were a challenge but after three months in residence I am delighted to call Cranbrook home.
I was a Director of Sales Tax with the Australian Tax Office, Parramatta and Kaye had her own recruitment agency, also in Parramatta. We longed for retirement but apart from active involvement in the lives of our children and grandchildren, we hadn’t made firm plans on how to fill our days, apart from spending more time in our holiday house on the Central Coast.
A few years ago, some of our similarly aged friends began to downsize and explore suitable alternatives to rattling around in large spaces, once their adult children had moved on. We decided we no longer wanted to be responsible for lawns, maintenance and associated costs with remaining in a large, mostly unused accommodation and visited local retirement villages with a critical eye. When a couple of friends put deposits on Cranbrook, we made a visit and had an immediate change of heart, as Cranbrook was such an awesome surprise to us both.
The house was sold and we moved into a large apartment in Cranbrook Residences, overlooking Castle Hill Golf Club. The location, size, layout and view is impressive but, knowing this would be our last home Kaye wanted to put our stamp on it. We wanted our apartment to resonate with the rest of Cranbrook Residences, the cafe, library, movie cinema, gym, craft and games areas and become one with the gorgeous gardens throughout the village. We decided to sell or donate to family most of our furniture and decorate in a fashion taking into account both ambiance and practicality. With three bedrooms, a full laundry, two bathrooms and kitchen/living area, our apartment has provided us with the opportunity to showcase our style.
Our journey to Cranbrook Residences has expanded our life experiences. We thought we would enjoy more leisure time, but instead have made new friends and have added mah-jong and pilates to our other hobbies.
I am a retired Chartered Accountant and have been lucky enough to have travelled quite extensively in my various roles on National and International Committees. Sadly I lost my wife to cancer in 2007, after 38 years of happy marriage. Since then I have resided on my own in a very comfortable four bedroom home which although very low, maintenance is still too large for one person.
Some long term friends of mine invited me to join them when visiting a friend in a newly constructed retirement village. This proved to be the catalyst that prompted me finally to start thinking of retirement living and to start looking at the various options. My close friend Ross Hogan accompanied me to a few places before we visited Cranbrook. Ross and his wife Ros were very impressed with Cranbrook and decided that they would like to live there. They then called me and informed me that they put their names down for one unit and had also put mine down for another. “The decision I made without making a decision”.
Cranbrook appealed to me because of its location with a view of the golf course and, being not too distant from my current location, I can maintain close contact with my family and existing group of friends. My unit has quality inclusions, plenty of light and fresh air making it a cheerful and happy home. Knowing that in due course, I will have access to quality aged care was also a major consideration.
Living in a brand new home with good friends close by is why I like living here. As I enjoy travelling, I also like the fact that I can lock up and go at a moment’s notice without having to worry about gardens, security etc.
We realised the need to consider downsizing given that we were only using a third of our family home but still had to maintain it all. It just made sense to find something smaller, but a move would involve so much. We didn’t want the move to be a downgrade in quality and as we still felt very much “alive” we wanted to make choices for this season of our lives that would offer us new opportunities and adventures. It wasn’t urgent but we were looking to do this in the next 5 years so we explored destinations outside of Sydney like Berry but how often would we see our family and friends.
They say you should never follow your children, but it was our eldest son who said to us “there are some nice over 55’s out our way why don’t you come and have a look at some?” We hadn’t ever considered The Hills as a destination but thought we should at least look which led us to make an appointment to see Cranbrook Residences. When we walked into what is now our apartment Ross said at once “I could live here “. (Now, it might have been the cake Frances gave him or the ice cream on the next visit), but he was sold right away. I was thinking that I could live there but, my head was filled with all the practicalities like, where would we fit everything (we wouldn’t), would I miss my garden (my deck is my garden now), could I let go of what we had knowing it was a forever decision?. So, I didn’t say I could live here too…. yet.
Frances, Catherine and Geraldine made us feel like family even before we committed to buy. They invited us to join in activities where we met very friendly residents and they welcomed our family when they came to look.
It was with some trepidation on my part that we decided to take the plunge and leave our family home on the Georges River and our friends and neighbours of 30 years, to “start again so to speak” in a new area where we knew no one except our family. When we arrived, it was comforting that our fellow residents knew exactly what we had been through in downsizing and had trod the same path and that we were understood.
From day one everyone has been inclusive and made us welcome. It was obvious that there was a real sense of community here. We have been to a wide variety of outings met lots of people with a diversity of interests, differing personalities and have enjoyed it all.
After only a few months living here I can honestly say we are very content with the decision to come to Cranbrook Residences. The people are lovely and enjoying life free from the ties of a big home. We have many things to join in with and can also enjoy the tranquility of staying home and having “me” time while looking out at our lovely view. Our longtime friends enjoy visiting and we can lock up anytime and enjoy a holiday with them.
Mick and Olga came here last year. We followed them to France, we followed them on a Seine river cruise. I followed their advice for 50 years so why not now? They appeared happy in their new home, commanding a magnificent view of the Castle Hill Golf Club really made us think (very persuasive).
So began the research into suitable retirement villages within the Sydney environs. We viewed several places and returned to Cranbrook many times for reassurance from Frances Nicholls who kept us keen and plied us with cake and coffee in the cafe. That did it! Nobody else had offered to fill us with sugar and caffeine. Frances was also keeping me posted when I rushed off to Lismore to assist my daughter prior to the birth of my granddaughter. Barry was charged with the enviable task of selecting and dealing with an agent to sell our Epping home. Frances was wonderful during that busy period liaising between Barry and myself and I felt well supported and keen to join the Cranbrook community. Thankfully the house sold quickly and on the first of April we trucked our few belongings to apartment 203, affording a little space to our friends at the far end of the complex. My parents resisted the opportunity to move into a retirement village despite persuasive arguments from the entire family. It was very sad watching their health deteriorate and their resolve to stay in their own home resulted in them missing out on assistance and making new friends. I promised myself to not make the same mistake, so the move to Cranbrook was a fantastic opportunity.
Barry kept our garden beautifully maintained especially our hedges, but he was also averse to fallen leaves, especially from gum trees and frangipani. He kept the neighbours amused with his antics as a leaf chaser and during our final months he could be found and heard twice daily rounding up leaves and gum nuts with his noisy leaf blower and vacuum. We both love the freedom of not being responsible for the gardens here. It is a joy to wake up each morning and see trees and greenery.
We love the birds and bird song. The facilities here at Cranbrook are beautiful, particularly the library and cinema. It’s great to join groups here for activities and meet new friends for coffee. We enjoy the efforts of others who arrange social activities and we benefit from friendly staff who work hard to accommodate everybody daily. The standard of the buildings is remarkably high, another reason to be thankful to be here and not to be buying into a Sydney high rise with its enormous problems currently suffered by others. The new metro has been a boon to us as well as we have the luxury of leaving our cars behind and can flit all over Sydney doing our favourite activities of meeting friends, going to theatres, the Opera House and art gallery. It was a deciding factor, in coming here. We enjoy the chance of keeping away from congested roads, but still travel about freely.
We are enjoying life at Cranbrook very much and very pleased that we made the decision to come despite our children thinking that we have given in to the confines of old age.
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