During her 40-year career as a real estate agent working in the exclusive Sydney suburb of Mosman, Lucette Downey was often asked for retirement living tips. In response, she typically advised her clients to check out The Garrison.
The way Lucette saw it, the 74-dwelling village - managed by not-for-profit operator Uniting - met the perennial real estate test of location, location, location.
The Garrison is located just 100m from Mosman’s main shopping precinct, where you’ll find an array of restaurants, fashion boutiques, pharmacies, banks, florists, hairdressers, fruit shops and delicatessens.
It’s also on the doorstep of high-frequency public transport, including to the city, Chatswood and northern beaches.
Eleven years ago, Lucette decided to follow her own advice and move into one of the village’s chic apartments. The 77-year-old grandmother instantly fell in love with her new lifestyle and has been there ever since.
Today, Lucette is part of an active and welcoming community of up to 60 residents who call the Garrison home.
The Garrison includes a range of studio, one and two bedroom apartments, starting from an affordable $540,000.
These apartments have a fresh and modern appearance, having been recently renovated, including getting new carpets, painting and kitchen and bathroom updates.
It also has a vast range of community facilities, including a solar heated swimming pool, communal gardens, library, BBQ facilities and men’s shed.
Retirement village residents have their own kitchens and are also able to order delicious meals from professional chefs, or eat in a dining room.
A 60-bed residential aged care facility is also located on-site, allowing residents to easily move when they need higher care options.
The Garrison has many social events and activities
Lucette now heads up The Garrison’s active social committee.
This all started one day when the village manager asked her if she could help form and activate this committee. Could she ever? Lucette has been on a social whirl ever since.
“We take harbour cruises and we also enjoy going to group lunches and dinners at some of the local restaurants,” Lucette explains.
“We’ve been to the Mosman Rowers and we sometimes go to the Mosman Hotel where they make a special area, which is cordoned off because there’s usually about 18 to 20 of us.”
There’s also many events within The Garrison’s imposing grounds including chair yoga, a knitting group that donates the proceeds of their handiwork to charity, trivia nights, movie afternoons and happy hours on the weekends.
These activities try to cater for a mix of ages, with many younger people increasingly moving into the village.
On public holidays, we often have a group barbecue where everyone brings their own meat and one of the gentlemen cooks it for us,” Lucette explains.
Major events of the year are celebrated with Christmas dinners and Easter lunches with musicians, catered feasts and lots of prizes.
Meanwhile residents who wish to entertain family and friends for special events can book one of two beautifully decorated rooms (both with their own kitchens).
“The way I feel about The Garrison actually comes from the heart,” Lucette explains.
Sometimes my daughter Samantha and I will stand on my balcony and I’ll say that I really do love living here. Then she’ll answer, `I know you do, mum’. It’s the same conversation we’ve been having for years.
“As any good real estate agent will tell you, it’s all about position.
"I love where The Garrison is located at Spit Road because it’s close to everything and this is one of Sydney’s most prestigious areas.
“I’ve brought my family up in Mosman, I went to school in the area and I’ve also worked here. Balmoral Beach is just down the hill and it has so many lovely attributes including cafes and beautiful parks filled with trees. You can walk along the promenade right next to the beach.’’
Lucette also points out that everyone always feels safe at The Garrison because there’s “excellent security and people can move about freely mostly under cover”.