Friday 15 December 2017

The Downsizer: 'I love my quirky home but when my son leaves, it will be too big for me'

From first-time buyers to downsizers, Gabrielle Monaghan talks to those planning a move in 2017

Gina Meehan in Rineen, Co Cork. Photo: Tony Gavin
Gina Meehan in Rineen, Co Cork. Photo: Tony Gavin

The west Cork farmhouse Gina Meehan bought in Rineen, on the coast road between Union Hall and Castletownshend back in 2009 will be too large and too remote for the 52-year-old's needs once her second son leaves the family nest in March.

The interior designer extended and restored the turn-of-the century stone-built house, which is right beside Rineen Woods and mere yards from the water, after she bought it. But her 25-year-old son has moved to Vancouver and her 27-year-old son is relocating to the Bahamas, so Meehan put her home on the market for of €249,000.

"It doesn't add up to stay there anymore," says Gina, who moved to Rineen from Crosshaven. "My home is absolutely lovely. It's so quirky and I worked so hard on it. But the ground floor is huge and the house sits on one acre of garden and I barely know how to turn on a lawnmower, so it's too big for me and the garden is far too large.

"I need to move to a home with easier maintenance, one that's easy to heat and has a small garden. I also need to be in a village, so I can walk to a pub or a shop. I'm very sociable, but anybody that comes to see me has to stay the night because it's so far out and taxis cost a lot. It would be fine for a couple but not for a single woman like me."

Gina is considering using the proceeds from her mortgage-free home to buy a less expensive property in Donegal, where she has friends, or in a west Cork coastal village like Ballydehob, where the community is accustomed to having non-locals living in their midst. In addition, Gina is hoping to buy a smaller property in Cork city and to rent it out to fund her pension.

"I've looked at houses before that I really liked in Donegal, right on the Wild Atlantic Way, but you get your heart broken when you can't buy one because your own house hasn't sold yet. Ideally it would be in a location where they are used to new people coming and going or a place where I have friends because I don't want to start a friend base from scratch."

Gina recently held an open viewing for her current home. A new kitchen links the original house with a nearby loft that was then converted into a large living space with a mezzanine level and a wetroom. This space could be used as a self-contained apartment, she says.

The main house has three bedrooms, a dining room and kitchen, and a living room that extends into a conservatory. There is wainscoting on the walls, double-glazed sash windows, hand-painted kitchen units, and an oil-fired Rayburn range that provides central heating.

Irish Independent

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