Downsizing to a home that meets your needs can unleash all kinds of opportunities – including travelling to exotic places

The big question facing Ann Girling ahead of her milestone 70th birthday, was what she wanted from her retirement years?

It’s a big question a lot of people face and one Ann had been thinking about a lot.

“I wanted to be able to enjoy a flurry of travel and adventure,” Ann decided.

“I’d worked hard all my life, and downsizing presented an opportunity to release some equity from my current home, and use it to fund a long-awaited African safari I’d always dreamed of.”

In May, Ann, a retired secretary from Canford Heath in Dorset, fulfilled her dream by visiting Kruger National Park in South Africa, where she was able to experience breath-taking scenery and get up close to the wildlife in one of Africa’s largest game reserves.

She also took a helicopter flight over the spectacular Victoria Falls and enjoyed a Cape Town Cruise.

“It was a dream come true”, she said.

“Seeing the animals in their natural habitat was a real treat, and being surrounded by bush plains and those magnificent star studded skies was a once in a lifetime experience.”

Better still, Ann, who was widowed in 2005, didn’t go alone.

Dorothy Earlam (L) and Ann Girling

Since downsizing to McCarthy & Stone’s Waterman House Retirement Living development in Broadstone, near Poole in Dorset, she has made many new friends and found a fellow soul-mate and companion in 80 year-old Dorothy Earlam.

“We hit it off from the start,” says Ann.

“We immediately got to talking about our ambitions, plans we wanted to make and places we wanted to see.

“Dorothy is a very well-travelled lady. She enjoys her cruises and funnily enough she had one planned to South Africa.

“Unfortunately this fell through so I said to her, how do you fancy coming with me – we’ll make an adventure of it!”

As well as spending three nights in Kruger National Park, the two ladies took a coach tour to Victoria Falls and Table Mountain, and visited a Zulu village.

Moving to a purpose-built McCarthy & Stone apartment has not only given Ann the freedom to travel and fulfil her dreams it has also allowed her to enjoy a simpler lifestyle.

“All the everyday tasks that used to get in the way of me enjoying the life I’d planned, have gone”, she adds.

“I have less housework and whilst I enjoy the garden, I no longer have to spend hours maintaining it – it’s all done for us.

“My outgoings are slightly less than they used to be, as my utility bills and things like council tax are also reduced living in an apartment, and the sense of freedom I have gained from this is fantastic.”

Initially it was Ann’s son and daughter who persuaded her to make the move and put her four-bedroom detached home on the market.

“They thought a smaller property that was easier to manage would suit me best. I was beginning to feel quite lonely on my own and started to worry about needing extra support in the future,” she explains.

The sense of community at Waterman House is one of the things Ann has benefited from hugely since making the move. Coffee mornings, film nights, and ‘Strictly Saturdays’ as Ann calls them, are just a few things she doesn’t like to miss.

“It’s wonderful,” she says.

“If ever you’re at a loose end or just fancy a chat, you can pop down to the communal lounge and you’re bound to bump into someone. Everyone is so friendly. I really couldn’t wish for more.”

“I’m a very private person so I like the fact I can pick and choose what I get involved in.”

Fortunately Ann’s children are not worried about their inheritance. “All they want is for me to live my best years, and to be happy,” she says..

“I’m looking forward to some delightful years of long lunches and pottering, keeping up with my swimming and yoga four times a week, and card making which I now do with another homeowner. Most of all though, I’m just looking forward to some ‘me’ time again.”

McCarthy & Stone is the leading developer and manager of retirement of communities. Its Waterman House development in Broadstone is made up of 36 one-and-two-bedroom apartments, designed for people aged 60 and over. Set in a prominent location, it has an array of services and amenities nearby, including a busy hub of shops, cafes and supermarkets.

Homeowners can enjoy an active and independent lifestyle, with the opportunity to benefit from companionship, and support from a dedicated House Manager who is on hand to oversee the day-to-day running of the development.

Two-bedroom apartments in Dorset are currently available at Clarendon House in Poole and also Poundbury near Dorchester.

Clarendon House