Renting in your 70s, the good, the bad and the very ugly

Jan 28, 2024
Source: Getty Images.

There are reasons why many of us oldies have to rent a home, poor divorce settlements, women earning less income, women unable to get a mortgage for a new home after a divorce. There are other reasons of course, and after being a home owner twice many years ago I have found myself on the renting treadmill.

The most recent one was a very nice little refurbished rumpus room under a woman’s house. She had been through a relationship split and had turned her downstairs into a self contained unit to boost her income. Enter me. Five years ago. Talking myself into it as it was fresh and modern. I tried to ignore the steep drive and having to park up on the road after a strenuous walk uphill.

But hey, I made the best of it, but after a few years of being the recipient of passive aggressive comments, unwanted visits while I was not there and not being allowed to use the driveway as I was a female, I knew things had to change. Surrounded by neighbours in the ‘burbs’ I listened unwillingly to a symphony of barking dogs, kids that wailed all night, a man in the next house breaking wind so loudly I thought he was in the same room, and the constant buzz of commercial television upstairs.

There was the freak hail storm and my poor little car was pock marked like a golf ball. It still is. I endured a stream of repairers on the roof and tried to just grin and bear it. My landlady is a woman who likes to be in control, so I realised she was having a sticky beak when I was out or away travelling. She would come in and close my curtains, drop mail off on my desk, (in spite of me having bills etc on my desk) in spite of me asking her to slip it under the door, comment later on anything that needed fixing. In fact, it was still her place, and I was the bad teenage daughter in spite of paying rent on time and keeping the place clean and tidy.

So I decided to downsize, to a very quiet wooden ‘studio’ just down from my daughter’s home. Surrounded by bushland, I would live the tree changer’s dream. Moving day came, and two sweating young men hauled my stuff up the hill, and to the new place at an exorbitant cost. I paid people to do an end of lease clean and an outside clean. In spite of much money spent the landlady was not happy, so I redid much of it in 84 per cent humidity.

Friends helped me to unpack and set up. I was nervous about getting my rental bond back as the land lady wanted my place to look even more pristine than when I had first moved in. Anyway, she signed it, and as I walked up that hot, steep driveway for the very last time, I heaved a sigh of relief. On to the next adventure of renting. Part two of this saga is on the way.

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