How time flies as we near two years of living at No.22.
During late 2018, while housesitting in France, we purchased online our first apartment and since then we’ve discovered the upside of downsizing in homeownership. It’s bigger than our previous well used suitcases and motorhome; and smaller than other owned properties.
Our life now is centred around living in an apartment with more stories attached to it than it has levels. It’s also what this blog is about, us living back in New Zealand with moments of reflection on our travelling years. Yes, you’re right; this post is well overdue. Let me share some details about our apartment, she’s a reasonably old five-storey building, having been built at the beginning of the 1960s when many “heady and revolutionary things” were happening. It has a claim to the title of being the first Tauranga residential building to be constructed using concrete slabs.
We have no use of ride-on or hand mowers as there are no lawns to mow, gardens to weed continuously or general house maintenance. Those jobs are for contractors. Which means there’s no need to acquire an excess of equipment as we share items from a ladder to a hammer. We do have herbs, a lemon and olive tree happily growing in pots on our balcony to compensate for lack of ground and to keep my green fingers reasonably satisfied. On our communal ground, there is a patch of dirt that was once a vegetable garden, not as popular as it once was, hopefully a makeover in the form of raised beds will enthuse some of us to use it. Time will tell.
By not having a car focussed living arrangement, our time can be spent with short walks to shops, cafes, art galleries, public library and gardens. Walking gives us the time to think and most of all, to absorb the magnificent old pohutukawa trees around the corner and sweeping harbour views. If we get the urge to feel the grass between our toes we’re spoilt for choice of green spaces. Some include gardens or a playground in a few cases both. For myself and a few other vertical neighbours, we get to enjoy cycling on trails not far from our doorstep to enjoy nature at its best.
We cohabit with an array of folk most are over the age of knowing life’s pitfalls and how to win disagreements, or I should say they do their darndest. As we are all owner occupiers which is a significant positive as we get to know each other over time, giving us all an added sense of security. There are some disadvantages to apartment living. Maintaining a large building is expensive, as we found out when having to replace our roof, and that is happening at the moment. There are rules to create a more friendly environment such as having no pets, due to proximity to our neighbours. Though we rarely hear excessive noise from other residents, which is wonderful and makes our environment a reasonably quiet haven to enjoy. We found living in suburbia far noisier with swimming pool attics and screaming children at all hours of the day and night. Countryside living is also not always a quiet haven with seasonal work machinery and highways not far from most properties. Here, there is more thought put into what we do and how it could affect our neighbours.
Looking back at the history of apartment living ours was not in the era when one of New Zealand’s first apartments were built, this happened ago in the late 1920s with the construction of Auckland’s Brooklyn Apartments. New Zealand has been slowly catching up with the rest of the world when it comes to choosing to have three-dimensional neighbours as many folks who arrived here years ago were nursing the quarter-acre dream. The land was cheap, and the population was small, that all worked way back then and as our community grew the roads, the services, the infrastructure that underpins the city had to grow, too. Apartments were the best modern-day solution to denser urban living, especially in our bigger cities.
If you had asked us about apartment living previous to living overseas for years while housesitting, the answer would have been a resounding “not for us”. Now, we can’t visualise ourselves living in another stand-alone house. We fully embrace the concept of three-dimensional living with all it’s pros and cons.