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Our tenant’s story: Diederik (Rik) Schmull, Homecove House, Westcliff-On-Sea

Posted 11th May 2022

Retired stockbroker and former Britain’s Got Talent contestant enjoys the best of both worlds renting in a retirement community by the sea

Renting in retirement can offer people flexibility to travel and the chance to move to a great location, which is what 77-year-old Diederik (Rik) Schmull found when he moved into a two-bedroom retirement apartment through My Future Living at Homecove House in Westcliff-On-Sea eight years ago.

Originally from Amsterdam, Rik moved to the UK in 1979 with his job with Morgan Stanley. He enjoyed a successful career for over 40 years as a stockbroker and travelled all around the world for work. 

He previously owned a flat in the Barbican in London for 25 years but sold it in anticipation of returning to Amsterdam and moved into a rented flat in Canary Wharf. However, his work commitments kept him in London and after he retired, he made the decision to stay in the UK.

Rik had always wanted to move out of the city and found a rental apartment in a retirement community in Westcliff-On-Sea close to Southend.

Rik explains, “I was still very active and busy with meetings and events in London, so I wanted to be close enough to get there easily every week. I did lots of research and found an apartment at a development called Homecove House through My Future Living. I went to visit it and it was ideal. It’s close to the beach and there are lots of amenities around but I can get into London in an hour. It’s the best of both worlds.

Homecove House is a large retirement community with 141 one and two-bedroom apartments for people aged 60 years and above. Communal facilities include a garden that looks over the beach, a lounge and two hobby rooms.

“The air is much cleaner here and I enjoy getting out and about. Also, there is a direct flight to Amsterdam from Southend Airport which was ideal for me. This is currently suspended but hopefully it will be reinstated once things get back to some normality following the pandemic.”

Rik loves the fact renting is flexible and should he decide to move back to Amsterdam, he can do so quickly and easily. Each apartment has an emergency Careline button too which is important for Rik as he gets older, plus the property maintenance and services are included in the monthly rent.

He was also attracted to renting in a retirement community because of the assured tenancy which means that as long as he sticks to the terms of his agreement he can live in the development for as long as he wishes without the fear that a landlord is going to want their flat back.

He says, “The assured tenancy was a real benefit for me. Having rented a few places on shorthold tenancies before, I ended up having to move twice at fairly short notice. I didn’t want that to happen again, especially as I’m getting older. Having the security of tenure that I can stay as long as I want is really reassuring.”

The development also accepts pets. Rik was given a cat from a friend when he lived in London and he didn’t want to part with her when he moved. He says, “It was important that my cat, Miau Miau could move with me and luckily the development accepts pets.

“Unfortunately Miau Miau died recently at the grand old age of 17, but I was grateful that I was able to find somewhere she could come too. She had a unique personality and was a great companion for many years.”

As Rik rents a two-bedroom apartment, he keeps one of the bedrooms as his office. He keeps himself busy writing articles, blogs and doing speeches on the financial markets.  He is also a classical pianist and prior to the Covid pandemic he regularly played at St Pancreas station and even auditioned for Britain’s Got Talent in 2016.

He enjoys being part of a community and during the pandemic this was a real bonus.  He says, “There are a lot of people in this development and I’ve made friends with some of them. I don’t tend to go to many of the events that the development organises beyond the Christmas party; however it’s good to know I can if I want to. During the pandemic when we couldn’t go anywhere it was also reassuring that I had people close by so I never felt isolated or alone.”

Rik highly recommends renting in a retirement community. He says, “For me it’s worked out really well and I’m very happy. I was used to living in an apartment so the transition was easy. For others that are downsizing from a family home I can understand some may have reservations but I think as you get older living in a retirement community is ideal.

“It’s all about independent living but with the reassurance there is help available should you need it with the emergency Careline system in each apartment and a house manager on site during the day. They do keep an eye on people especially those that live alone. Old age comes to us all and at some point it’s a sensible choice to live in a retirement community.”