A few weeks ago, on coming home from work, I ran into my next door neighbour. It’s the elderly gentleman who suffered from dehydration after travelling 24 hours on a coach bus on his way back from his holiday destination is Spain due to the hick-ups of the Icelandic volcano with the unpronounceable name.
He’ll be turning ninety this spring and has been living on his own since his wife died five or six years ago. They bought the apartment when it was brand-new in 1990 after selling their villa. Although his health has always been touch-and-go, he’s coping very well, doing his own cooking and cleaning.
When I saw him a few weeks ago, he surprised me by saying that he was planning to sell the apartment and to move into a service flat for senior citizens in the nearby town of Leuven. He had already contacted a real estate agent to have an estimate of the value of the apartment. The next day he had an appointment with the manager of the service flat to visit the premises and to get a quote on the monthly cost.
Although he sounded very serious about the matter, I thought it was just a passing thing. Until this morning, when I saw the big sign on his kitchen window: FOR SALE! It gave me quite a shock as I had no idea that he was so much in a hurry to get of the place.
Of course, with the imminent costs (a new roof, an important raise of the janitor’s monthly fee, etc.) and the prospect of new neighbours to adapt to as soon as I have moved out, it seems like a logical thing to do. I very well understand that, at his age, he does not want to invest a new roof, which is estimated to cost as much as 10,000 euro per proprietor.
Nevertheless, the news came as a shock. With him and me leaving, the two ground floor apartment will be vacant pretty soon. Let’s hope this will not turn into a real exodus, because the lady on the first floor is also thinking about selling her apartment. And the Italian tenants on the second floor are talking about moving too, because they have two small children and only two bedrooms … They are looking for something larger, so that the kids can each have their own bedroom.
With four of the six apartments vacant, this complex will quickly feel as if it were haunted! Good luck to the janitor to manage all these changes … Now, why doesn’t that seem to affect me?