A Beautiful Life
Choosing where to spend your retirement is just as important as determining how you spend your retirement. At 78 years of age, Ann Spence seems to have mastered both, claiming that of all the places she has lived – and there have been many – Hibiscus Buderim Meadows is her favourite.
Growing up in Western Australia, Ann married her husband, Barry, 81, and the pair moved to Sydney for a two-year working holiday. They loved the place so much that they ended up staying for 13 years. Ann worked for ANZ bank, and Barry worked for National Cash Register, which later became known as NCR. As they prepared to move back to Perth with their two children, Barry was offered a position in Alice Springs with NCR so they took the opportunity and embarked on a new adventure. Here, Ann began working for Connair, in what she says was the most interesting and rewarding role of her working life. Barry was often away a lot for work and heavily involved with the SES.
“Barry really wanted to take the position, so we decided that it was only going to be for three years if I didn’t like it. We stayed for six,” she says.
“That was the most interesting time. We had the best social life.”
From Alice Springs, it was on to Mackay, where the couple built a home and lived for many years. Barry was still working for NCR, while Ann found work in book keeping and later as a silent partner at Bob Jane T-Mart.
The couple are keen travellers, having taken their kids to New Zealand when they were young, hiring a campervan and driving along the coast, and later going to Singapore, just the two of them. Add a couple of road trips around Australia in the caravan (clockwise and then anti-clockwise), to celebrate their 40th and 50th wedding anniversaries, plus trips to see their children who now live in Perth and Emerald. The caravan era has gone and they now prefer cruising.
When it came time to retire, the couple relocated to an acreage in Bli Bli on the Sunshine Coast after travelling around Australia for 12 months. Four years ago, they decided it was time to downsize and began looking into retirement villages.
“We looked around at lots of villages, and unfortunately – I think it’s fortunately now – we put our money down on another village, but as our house hadn’t sold, we lost the house.”
Ann hopped on the internet one day and stumbled across Hibiscus Buderim Meadows, a retirement village by Lendlease, which she had never heard of, and made an appointment to check it out the next day. The pair instantly fell in love with the place.
“This just fitted us,” Ann says.
“We’re just so happy we got here instead of the place we originally looked at, because of the location. We’re so close to all the facilities here. It suits us.”
Ann and Barry didn’t waste any time settling in, and have fast become prominent figures in the community, taking full advantage of all the on-site facilities and activities. In her role as chairperson of the social committee, Ann has made it her responsibility to arrange many fun events and trips for the residents of Hibiscus Buderim Meadows, often with Barry driving the bus.
“We’ve done some wonderful trips within the Sunshine Coast region,” Ann says.
Boredom is not an option for Ann and Barry at Hibiscus Buderim Meadows. With an active social life, including twice weekly trips to the beach, monthly fish and chip nights at The Spit, monthly breakfast trips, happy hour every Friday night, and line dancing twice a week. Ann also squeezes in volunteering at a local hospital once a fortnight. It’s not hard to see why Ann often finds herself time poor. Next week we are off to see the Australian Army band perform. Other activities that are available here include Tai Chi twice weekly, bowls three times a week, Art and Craft groups, BBQ’s by the pool and Aqua aerobics in the warmer months.
There is something for everyone.
“Before we moved in, our friends knew that I would be fine settling in, but might not be right for Barry. But we’ve both taken to village life like ducks to water,” Ann says. “We feel like we just fell on our feet, because of the atmosphere.”
On the topic of the key to happiness, Ann has some wonderful advice.
“Life’s what you make it. You can think positive or you can think negative. In a place like this, it’s hard not to be positive.”
Happiness for Ann also involves the odd champagne at Happy Hour.
“I probably enjoy a drink more now than when I was younger,” she laughs.”