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'I'm moving to a bungalow now for health reasons'

Case study: Antoinette O'Brien

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Antoinette O’Brien pictured packing up her Drimnagh home. Photo Gerry Mooney

Antoinette O’Brien pictured packing up her Drimnagh home. Photo Gerry Mooney

Antoinette O’Brien pictured packing up her Drimnagh home. Photo Gerry Mooney

Antoinette O'Brien (65) downsized from a five-bed detached house in Julianstown to a three-bed terrace in Drimnagh in 2011. Now she is downsizing again, this time to a bungalow in Dublin 24.

Antoinette and her husband, who died 14 years ago, bought Julianstown in 2005 for €625,000, and she sold it in 2011 when her husband died, for €410,000. She was left with €260,000 and bought the three-bed in Drimnagh for €250,000. Now, she is sale agreed on a two-bed bungalow in Kingswood, Dublin 24, for €285,000.

"For financial reasons I had to sell my house in Julianstown. I came from Drimnagh originally 60-odd years ago, and I thought coming back to Drimnagh would be like coming back to the area I knew, but it was definitely not, it was drastically changed.

"My family home would be about a 10-minute walk away, but I just missed the open spaces of Julianstown so much.

"It was a compromise taking this house - I bought it because it had a big kitchen extension and I've four kids, three boys and a girl, and we would be a close family. Saturday nights we'd always be together in the kitchen. So that was a priority - and to make sure that I could house some of my kids should they need a bed.

"It's a good, strong, warm house, but physically I've had a hip and knee replacement and now I need the other two done. So I was looking for a bungalow, somewhere that had no stairs.

"My husband had a brother with cerebral palsy and he was paralysed on the right side. So I looked after him until he died two years ago. It physically broke me, because my body just couldn't take anymore. I'm moving for health reasons really.

"I feel I need to downsize. I've rooms here that I'm cleaning because they get dusty and I don't need to be doing that. And I'm running radiators in rooms we're not using, just to keep the heat even through the house.

"It's also financial. I'm afraid if anything major goes wrong with this house, I don't have the money to do it. The bungalow is smaller, I feel less can go wrong with it.

"I feel guilty having a house this big on my own. I feel that the market doesn't cater for people in their late 50s, who would want to downsize to a smaller house, with the comfort that they had in their home. I'm paying €285,000 for the bungalow, but I have to spend a minimum of €50,000 on it to make it liveable.

"I'm putting in cameras around the perimeter, because it's a bungalow. I've never slept on the ground floor before, so I'd be afraid. I'm putting in a wireless alarm and I have to rewire it. These are things that you can't see. And I have to upgrade the heating, because bills are so expensive.

"My Drimnagh home is very well insulated - high energy-rated. I did a lot of work to bring it up to that standard. But I can't buy like-for-like now in a smaller place.

"Kingswood was not my first choice, but I'm a walk away from the Luas if I can't drive my car. I'm very close to a hospital [Tallaght]. And I'm close to shops. The local doctor is close on hand. And there's plenty of green parks to walk and you're close to the mountains, good fresh air, hopefully.

"I'm going to miss some of my friends who are a walk away, whereas I'm going to have to drive to them now. But I'll be closer to two of my children.

"It's very hard uprooting, and you can't always take the things you become accustomed to with you. But it's part of life, I suppose.

"I'm hoping this is the last move. I don't think I would be able for another one. It's just it's harder to do it when you're on your own. But God gives you the strength from somewhere."

Sunday Independent