With community and convenience, Gisela & Manfried have everything they need in their retirement

Gisela and Manfried have been living at St Vincent’s Southport retirement living for over six years now. Two years in a unit downstairs and then the last four living in an upstairs unit.

couple sitting together in retirement village

“We are from Germany. Originally,” says Gisela. “We were the first ones in Australia, we came in ‘65.”

“Then the rest of the family followed us.”

“Nobody picks up my accent” , adds Manfried. “ They know I have an accent, but no one guesses German.”

Since coming to Australia, Gisela and Manfried spent much of their time on the farm selling cattle before making the decision to move into a unit.

“We had a big house, big property. Our health wasn’t very good anymore so we decided to look into something. I knew the coast pretty well. So, I didn’t really want to go anywhere else but the Gold Coast.”

“When we came past here for the first time on Bauer Street, I turned to Manfried and said, ‘You are not going to get me into that prison.’ Because all you can see is brickworks from the outside. Very closed and all of that.”

“We have a lounge. A little dining room. You know, it’s nice when I get the ladies to come over for a cup of coffee or something. My husband can sit here, and we can sit there. And we still have room.”

Manfried laughs. “I just put the headphones on and watch a movie.”

“That’s why I was so pleased to have this one. As I said they’d done everything they could to make it nice for us,’ Gisela says.

While it needed to happen, the necessity of making the move into retirement living didn’t make it any easier.

“We didn’t have the choice anymore to stay on the farm.”

“Physically I couldn’t anymore. We couldn’t anymore. He has a heart condition. You know, the body slowly but surely not doing as much anymore.”

“First, we had a 800 square metre house. Then we built a smaller house on the block next door, 250 square metres. So, we moved in there and sold the bigger house.”

“That wasn’t very easy. Not at all. It was very hard. Lots of tears. Lots of heartbreak. Lots of things where we hung on to. The first time I realised in my life that whatever you have, it’s not yours. Nothing is yours. I mean, we can only take care of it.”

“We have this cabinet, from 1830. And you think, ‘How many people have had it before me?”

“So, it’s just a matter of looking after it. Somebody else can look after it after me.”

“But when you have something and you live with it for so long, you feel like you never have to give it up.”

“Because when you think about it, all the people around here have had to go through the same thing. They’ve all had to let go of their houses. They all had to let go of what they had. It’s like, ‘you’ll be right love.’ And you are.”

For Gisela and Manfried, the Villa has everything they need. But its biggest drawcards is its location and community.

“Everything is what, 7 minutes away walking. Chemist, supermarket. Everything,” says Manfried.

“The beach, the park, the village itself. Shopping, restaurants. I only need two things. Netflix and restaurants. We go out to Main Beach and go for a walk.”

Like Manfried, Gisela loves the lifestyle.

“You buy seafood after [the walk] for lunch. Get in there and just buy the fresh prawns and have a nice lunch. All the hospitals and everything are around. All the specialists.”

“The thing is, once we have to give up the car, you have a bus in front of the door. Twice a week shopping bus. Then you have the tram when you want to go to the University Hospital or to Helensvale.”

“Everything is stationed here. It really is.”

“We just go to the park walk over there. Put ourselves on the bench and just watch the world go by. We are very, very, very good up here.”

“I open up the pantry and if there’s something missing, I put my shoes on and we walk down to Woolworths and that’s it.”

But it’s not just about the location in Southport for the Villa. It’s the other residents that make it a great place to live.

“We have lovely neighbours. I have a garden to work in if I want to. If I don’t want to, I don’t. People are very considerate with everything. We have many people who have lived here 15, 16, 17 years.”

“We have our little morning teas and barbecues and luncheons. Christmas luncheons now.”

“I have not seen that in the bigger ones [retirement villages] where my friends are living.”

“Nobody comes around and says, ‘Are you alright today?’”

“I look around in the mornings here. Margaret has her blinds open. Amy has her door open.”

“You wouldn’t find that anywhere.”