Happy retirees Anne (front) and Andreas (back) Flach.
Happy retirees Anne (front) and Andreas (back) Flach. The Sunshine Coast Daily/Michaela O'Neill

Downsize to retirement

COUPLES facing a life of retirement have some tough choices ahead.

For many, retirement does not simply mean moving on to a life of leisure.

More often than not, moving out of the family home and into a new phase can mean downsizing, de-cluttering and redesigning.

But is there one effective way to cut back on the old belongings and carry the sentimental items into the new, smaller dwelling? Andreas and Anne Flach think they have found the perfect solution to starting over without the excess baggage.

"You shouldn't attach yourself to anything," Andreas said.

"There's one thing I'm attached to and that's my wife."

The philosophy is simple but effective, and has worked well for the couple after years of relocating both overseas and interstate.

The Flachs have been settled in Chancellor Park's Hibiscus Retirement Resort for almost a decade, but they easily remember the transition from their three-bedroom Glasshouse Mountains home to the two-bedroom duplex.

Anne said selling some items was mandatory to start over with a smaller amount of furniture, but their "no attachment" strategy meant there was never an over-supply of household goods.

"We had to sell quite a bit, but not too much, because we never had an over-furnished home," Anne said.

"We had to sell the dining table and buy a smaller one, and we bought a photocopier and a new lounge suite.

"During our life, we had to leave everything behind a few times and start all over again, so we're not really attached to anything."

While the duplex is big enough for two, it has been set up in a different way from their past homes and 10-acre properties.

Andreas has transformed the spare bedroom into an office environment, where he works on a magazine as an avid hobby. The couple has kept paintings and photos as their principal interior features.

"I built three of the different houses since I lived in Australia, but we keep the same things and decorating is always the same," Andreas said.

"I have my working place and I issue a magazine, Bamboo, which is especially for everybody that has something to do with Indonesia."

Moving solo into retirement living can prove difficult for some, as they are forced to leave behind memories of family times and start fresh in a new environment.

Sunshine 60 and Better Group Manager Robyn Marshall said making the decision to move rather than having the choice made for them could often make the transition easier for retirees.

Ms Marshall has worked in health and welfare for more than 25 years and is on the Sunshine Coast Seniors Council.

"Many years ago we had a volunteer who was quite excited and wanted to show us her new accommodation," she said.

"She was a widow and had sold up the family home, sorted things out with her children, and started living in an aged care place whereby she had a room, but shared an ensuite with another person.

"She was about 84, and her excitement was quite contagious. She was forward planning and taking control.

"I think when people make a choice, it is very different from when they think it is forced on them."

Peta and Sid Thiesfield are due to move to a Buderim retirement village next week and are in the process of scrambling through their belongings to separate the good from the bad.

The new dwelling is smaller in size than their current home, but it is the size of the garden in their new villa that has the couple excited.

"It's quite a bit smaller, but also there is a little garden at the back which will be much better," Peta said.

"There is a lot of garden here and it does get a bit much to look after."

The Thiesfields will need to buy a new dining suite, microwave and washing machine, after discarding items that are too old to relocate.

But it seems there are some things, no matter how big or small, that just can not make the trash pile.

"I'm from France and I have a little handbag that is very sophisticated and it looks like new," Peta said.

"I've had it for 43 years. It doesn't matter if it's too big, I've got to take it with me."

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