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Living Life to the full

If retirement is all about slowing down, no one’s told Bruce and Carolyn McLaughlin.

Since moving to The Village Coorparoo five years ago from inner-city Kangaroo Point they say they’ve never been busier.

“We were always pretty social but there’s an extra level to it here,” Bruce says. “We’ve run out of lines in our diary. For each day!”

“When we moved in, we only knew one other couple,” Carolyn says, “but we’ve become particularly close with six or seven other couples. We go to movies, we go to dinners, we play cards, we have outings, visit each other’s places. It’s really good.”

During the day, the couple takes full advantage of the village facilities, exercising at the gym or the pool every morning before breakfast and then taking in one of the many classes or social activities on offer.

Wednesday dinners at the village bistro and the popular Friday night Happy Hour are weekly highlights, and in between it seems that someone’s always hosting a barbecue or drinks.

“We’re a happy group here,” Carolyn says. “Everyone you talk to says it’s the best thing they did and they’re glad they didn’t leave it later to come here.”

Making the move into a village early in retirement is “the big thing,” Bruce says. “The older you are, the more demanding it is physically and mentally.”

“It’s very hard for some people to make the decision to leave their home. A lot of people feel that if they move into a retirement village, they’ll close the door and they won’t see anyone. Other people think, ‘Oh there’s too much activity,’ but you can be as private or public as you want to be,” Carolyn explains.

With so much to do and the strong sense of community, it’s a great lifestyle, especially for singles, she says.

“If you sit down at a table by yourself, there’s always someone who comes along and joins you and starts talking to you,” Carolyn says. “They have welcoming committees and caring committees too so that people don’t have to be lonely.”

The Village Coorparoo is also surprisingly family-friendly, the couple says. Their eight grandchildren have regular sleepovers and love the library and the heated swimming pool.

The village cinema is a big hit with the littlies too. “They think it’s wonderful. It’s like gold class,” Carolyn says, “and where else can you go to the movies for two dollars?”

The sense of hospitality at The Village Coorparoo is seen even in their unit design, Carolyn says, with a balcony “that’s great for entertaining” and large enough for the grandkids to play hopscotch and handball.

Another advantage of village life is of unsurpassed convenience. From a restaurant and a hairdresser to on-site consultations with medical professionals, “it’s all here without leaving the premises,” Carolyn says. And when they travel, “It’s great. Just close the door and you know that everything is safe.”

Carolyn says features like trolleys in the car park mean residents don’t have to carry luggage or groceries up to their units, and a mailbox beside the lift allows them to post letters and pick up mail just a few steps from their door. It’s thoughtful details like these that “add up to making it a great place,” she says, because “all those things are important as you get older”.

All told, Bruce reckons that there are “very few” retirement communities in Brisbane that can compare to The Village Coorparoo.

“When you’re looking at what’s available, at the end of the day, it was really a no-brainer,” he says.

“We have three kids, a son, and two daughters, and they’re all very enthusiastic. [They] encouraged us to take up the option to come here,” Bruce says.

“They felt that we were buying peace of mind for them because they knew all the facilities that were offered here,” Carolyn adds.

“There was no second thought about should we move or shouldn’t we,” she says.

“We absolutely love it. Think we’ve died and gone to heaven.”

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