Packing up 41 years of action-packed family life in their large, Townsville home was an undertaking that has paid off beautifully for Shirley and Jim Lollo.
The couple, who celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary this year, have relocated to Caloundra on the Sunshine Coast and are rejoicing in their new carefree lifestyle.
“There were several reasons why we decided to downsize,” Shirley explains.
“We had a beautiful family home overlooking the river but the Townsville’ heat started to get to us.
However, the real turning point was after our parents passed away, we had the responsibility of packing up their homes as they didn’t have the chance to do it for themselves. And really, they’d hung onto everything they ever had,” she says, with a sigh.
“So, we decided that if anything happened to us, we didn’t want our two girls, Tanya and Michelle, to upend themselves and have to go through what we went through with our parents”.
She points out that both of their daughter leads full lives in other places.
“Tanya is a super mum in Sydney with a family to look after while Michelle and her French partner spend time in Europe. So returning to Queensland to sort their parents’ home wouldn’t be right”.
The Sunshine Coast offered a cool change
It wasn’t just the more temperate climate that initially attracted Jim and Shirley to the Sunshine Coast - one of Australia’s top retirement destinations.
It was also the very attractive home they found there.
They discovered Palm Lake Resort at Caloundra Cay. It wasn’t a very hard decision to make to move.
The couple had viewed many different villages with an agent but felt fortunate that Michelle, who was grounded in Australia at the time due to the borders closing, was able to join them for an inspection. She had warmed to the home from the moment she walked in.
“Michelle said: `Mum this is you and dad, absolutely. I want you to put a deposit on it today because we’re not going to mess around. I feel happy that you two are in a place that feels like home,’” Shirley explains. “So, we signed up straight away”.
An over 50s community with full amenities
“We were also attracted to the fact that it was an over 50s community because we’re very young at heart,” says Shirley, “And we didn’t want to go anywhere with an ‘elderly’ atmosphere.”
“We’re into everything that’s going. We can join in the activities and do as much as we like or as little, or nothing at all. “
There’s so much to do, even a pool with sip and dip bar in the middle. The couple also love that it’s a gated community, which makes them feel so secure.
It’s such a different experience to living in an Australian city where older people increasingly feel vulnerable.
The couple also love that the lawn bowls green is shielded by a roof and there’s a luxurious movie theatre, dinner dances, card games, even a choir and ample opportunity to get to know the neighbours at the weekly complimentary dinners.
“They give us a night off from cooking, which is great,” says Shirley. “That’s all part of the deal here. There’s so much going on you don’t really have to leave.”
The couple downsized from a two storey home…to a two storey home.
Yes, that’s right, but their new home is much more compact than their home at Townsville.
They have two bedrooms upstairs and one downstairs - perfect for when family come to stay.
However, the big plus is that their new home also has its own lift.
“We thought, `what a bonus,’” says Shirley, “because we were used to being in a two-storey home but we wanted it to be practical. It’s there if we ever need it.”
Another practicality for the couple is that should they require extra care, they don’t have to turn to family to help out.
Palm Lake Care Caloundra will be on site soon to offer residents excellent 24-hour care and support in light filled, private rooms with an ensuite and full access to leisure facilities. They would still be in the heart of the community that they know and love.
“We feel good about this because we know that if something happened to one of us or both of us, our daughters don’t have to drop everything and come running,” Shirley points out.
It took a year for Shirley and Jim’s downsizing journey to be complete.
From the time they paid their deposit until the moment they opened a bottle of champagne on moving day last June, twelve months had passed.
Most of the time was spent preparing their Townsville home for auction.
Then came the process of dealing with their belongings. Jim and Shirley Lollo were well known in Townsville because of their electrical contracting business but that also meant that they accumulated a lot of equipment. Everything went up for sale on Facebook Marketplace even the ladders. Then all their belongings that didn’t sell were given away. Even their wardrobes were edited, right down to the essentials. That felt good.
“We finally arrived at our new home with just two small tables as furniture,” Shirley explains. “After 41 years in our old home we decided to treat ourselves to new furniture, we really feel that we deserved that.”
It’s now coming up to their first year in their new home and they’re wondering why it took them so long to make the decision to downsize.
“It’s just fantastic,” Shirley says, “it’s everything we were wanted and so much more.”