Could City Living Be Right For You?
Could City Living Be Right For You?
I dream of escaping to the country. In fact, the Channel 4 series of the same name is my go-to programme when I feel a bit fed up.
I watch it on catch-up and marvel at the magnificence of the Yorkshire Dales, the beauty of the South Downs and the awe-inspiring Dorset coast. I comfort myself with the thought that one day I’ll get there.
I live on the edge of a town with fields on my doorstep but I crave somewhere far more rural. My plan has always been to retire to a cottage in the Dales but just lately I have been questioning my reasoning.
It started after meeting a retired designer in her late 60s. She is a serial mover and loves renovating and, until now, she has always lived in the countryside. The more remote the better.
Her latest acquisition is an apartment in central York and, despite fears that she might miss rural life, she doesn’t hanker after it one bit.
“I thought I’d have a change and give it a try and moving to the city is the best thing I’ve done. Everything I could need is here and most of it is in walking distance. I barely ever use the car,” she said.
The hamlet where she previously lived had no shop, which meant she had a 40-minute round trip to get anything she had forgotten to add to her Tesco delivery.
Now she lives in a fashionable area with delis, restaurants, shops and a yoga studio on the doorstep. If she wants more choice she can enjoy a 15-minute stroll along the river to the city centre, where she can also visit the theatre, galleries and cinema.
If it is raining, she can get the bus. There wasn’t a service to and from her last home but in York, buses are plentiful and free as she is retired. Visiting her family in Leeds and London is also a cinch. The train station is a ten-minute taxi ride away.
She no longer worries about leaving her home to go on lengthy holidays as she has the perfect “lock-up and leave” property. The apartment is in a newly-converted mill that has a 24-hour concierge.
Is there anything she misses? No, not even her beloved garden. Her flat has a sheltered terrace, which she has transformed into a lovely oasis with pot plants and patio furniture.
There is no shortage of people to pop in and water her plants, if need be, as the apartment block has an active community forum and she has made new friends by joining in the various activities and events.
“I never thought city life was for me. I honestly thought I would miss country life but I don’t. I can’t see me ever moving back. I have realised that the country can be very isolating as you get older. After moving here, I actually feel younger,” she said.
“I love city life. There’s always something to do and see. I am never bored.”
The other benefit is that her home is on one level with a lift to take her from the ground to the ninth floor, which will help if she begins to suffer with mobility problems.
If you fancy retiring to a city or large town, there is no shortage of apartment developments. Don’t forget that, unlike most houses, flats are usually leasehold and so there will be ground rent to pay and there will be a service charge for the shared amenities and upkeep of communal areas.
There is also a growing number of over-55s schemes, many of which have more amenities and services for those who need extra help and care.
The build-to-rent revolution is underway in our biggest cities and these developments, with rents slightly higher than average, offer everything from pools and rooftop gardens to gyms, communal lounges and cinemas.