Kate Rowe with her cat
Kate Rowe with her cat

The end of one life chapter signals the start of another, even with many hurdles along the way.

So here I am on the cusp of becoming an official ‘pensioner’.  It just doesn’t fit right, somehow, after years of being politically and physically active since I was 26.  I retired by default as it was hard to get even casual work and the direction of the next phase of my life has had to change with my circumstances.

Losing my long term job two years ago has meant dealing with financial challenges, as I saw my modest amount of super being used to supplement Centrelink payments and part-time work. I could see the writing was on the wall for me to be able to stay in the unit that I almost own. Funny isn’t it, that you can own your home but not be able to afford to live there come retirement.  I know that in 12-18 months, I will only have the pension to live on and not enough.

I have been ruminating and quite stressed as to what options I may have. I have tried living in a regional area (Noosa, with a view to selling up and buying, which I know a few gals my age have done). But, after six months, I knew it wasn’t me.  

Back in my home, and the options are very few. I looked at buying into a ‘you beaut’ new retirement village with all the bells and whistles, but there wouldn’t be much cash left after selling and buying.

Then a friend told me about a not-for-profit housing association that he had recently moved into for the same financial reasons.  After much research, lengthy applications of income and assets, and an even longer health assessment, I was finally approved to lease one of the units a month ago. This will free up my money and allow me to live comfortably but modestly.

It’s a serious downsize, but not a box.  A move from the Inner West where I have lived for the last 35 years, to the Eastern Suburbs, has required adjustment. The one rule I am struggling with is a no cat policy currently in the contract and voted on by the residents.  To me, this is absurd, given the strong research regarding the benefit of pets in senior years.  It has taken me three months to adjust to the idea of not having a loved one around.  In fact, it breaks my heart.

However, I am still a political activist, and I will be lobbying the residents in a steady way to become open to having cats on the property as inside pets and on a leash in the gardens. I understand that patience and kindness are better tools than my previous methods of fighting for change.

In the meantime, I need a foster carer for Charlie. She is a charmer at 13 months old.  She loves human company but also likes her own space, and has a quirky obsession with flushing toilets!

So if anyone can offer a temporary home to Charlie, I would love to hear from you. Email: [email protected]