This is my community
Mary has lived in the same residential park (land lease community) for 29 years. She is an active resident advocate and passionate about the lifestyle. We asked Mary to share some of her experiences with us.
As a retiree, what keeps you busy?
I am very involved in providing information and assistance to residents. This is now even more important because the Residential (Land Lease) Communities Act 2013 (the Act) is so different from the Residential Parks Act and in my view the majority of the changes are not for the benefit of residents.
I also have a wonderful and large family, a big garden and I am very involved in politics. I wonder how I ever found the time to work!
Why did you decide to live in a land lease community?
I moved in to a residential park because it was convenient and I was able to pay cash for my home, which meant I didn’t have the worry of a huge mortgage. It enabled me to have a good standard of living.
Why did you choose this community?
I chose Stanhope Gardens because it was close to where I worked. I had no intention of changing jobs so it was mainly for convenience. I did not think that I would stay here after I retired but after only a few years I decided the lifestyle suited me. I have a regular home in Parkes but I rent it out because I prefer to live here.
Tell us about Stanhope Gardens
We have a GP service just outside the gate and they do house-calls if required. Public transport is also very good. There is a community bus provided by the local council to take residents over the age of 65 to appointments or shopping. There is also a private bus provided from just outside the gate to take people to Blacktown, which is subsidised by the State Government.
Stanhope Gardens is close to 3 shopping centres, Blacktown and Westmead hospitals and all specialist medical services. The new driverless train line is also being built close by. All of these things are very important because none of us are getting any younger!
What changes have you seen at Stanhope Gardens?
Stanhope Gardens was previously known as Parklea. It is between the great city of Blacktown and Castle Hill, north West of Sydney CBD (Central Business District). When I came to live here our garden village was surrounded by a dairy farm called Stanhope. I know that progress must happen but I do often yearn for that lovely garden village where the stars, moon, and of course cows, could be seen.
We were a much closer community back then. Meetings were held by the social club and attended by a large number of residents. Votes were undertaken about activities we would do. The social committee was very democratic and held elections every year. A financial report was also tabled at the Annual General Meeting and we all voted on how to spend the money.
At that time there were 112 long-term sites. The park rules were fairly enforced and all sites and common areas were maintained to a high standard.
A previous park owner decided to turn a large section of the village into a tourist area but the current operator has converted the area back to long-term sites. There are now 360 residential sites and our community is not close like it used to be. I feel that will change over time and we will all come together again.
What is the best thing about your community?
We have excellent amenities including swimming pools, spas, a community hall, libraries, a large aviary, BBQ areas and beautiful gardens around the community hall. We also enjoy a fantastic location, as I mentioned earlier.