Anja Hänninen, 80, from Kerava has just walked her grandchildren to school and returned to her apartment near the town centre. She has not lived in her brand new apartment for long.

“Strangely enough, I have loved it here, although I have about one third of the space I had in my previous home. This is a new and bright apartment, and I no longer have to worry about snow clearing or yard work,” ­Hänninen says.

The apartment is a 67.5 square ­metre two-bedroom apartment on the fourth floor, conveniently accessible with a lift. The windows offer amazing views – including the beautiful Kerava church. 

“This block is close to the church where I worked for 36 years.”

“This block of flats caught my attention already at the design stage. The location is perfect for me: it is close to the church where I worked for 36 years. Not everyone wants to live next to their former workplace, but I wanted to, ­because I often attend events organised by the church,” says the minister emerita who holds the title of dean.

Hänninen also appreciates the location of her new home near grocery shops and other local services in Kerava.

“I renewed my driver’s license this year, but the day will come when I can no longer drive and it will be important to go to places by foot,” Hänninen thinks. 

Many good sides of the new home

Hänninen has lived in Kerava since 1974, where her late husband built a detached house, the family’s long-term home, in 1986. They had two sons and later also grandchildren.

At first, Hänninen worked as lecturer at the Kerava church, because at the start of her career, women in theology were not allowed to work as priests. Later, Hänninen became a priest and later, a minister.

Through the years and as they became older, taking care of the detached house started to feel too demanding for the couple, and they did not need as much space as before. The Hänni­nens started thinking about moving to a home that would be easier to maintain and gradually, the discussions became plans.

“My husband and I made plans to move in this house when it would be completed. He passed away before the house was completed, so I realised our plan by myself and moved here,” Hänninen says. 

Of course, leaving the old home felt sad, but the ease of living weighed more on the scale.

After the move, most of her things found their new placed quickly, and Hänninen is in no hurry to unpack the remaining boxes. 

“I left decades of life and friendly and helpful neighbours in the former residential area. But my new home has many good sides, including the fact that I no longer have to worry about snow at the foot of the stairs in the winter. Making life easier is important at this age, as I lose my strength,” Hänninen points out.

The move went well, thanks to the relocation firm and friends. Moving to a clearly smaller apartment required discarding unnecessary things. 

“Some of the furniture and things moved with me, some were donated, recycled or disposed of at the landfill. For example, I had an extensive library from my years as a priest and my numerous hobbies, and I could not fit it in my new home,” Hänninen says. 

Age was not an obstacle to getting a loan 

Hänninen has not sold her detached house yet, because the situation has not been optimal on the housing market. She hopes to sell it within a year, but meanwhile, she needed to fund her new home in another way.

“I wondered whether I should use all my savings or get a loan for the new home. I decided that covering a part of the sales price with a loan is sensible so that I have a buffer on my bank account for unexpected needs,” Hänninen says. 

She was pleasantly surprised to notice that her age or any other factor was not an obstacle to getting a loan. 

“Do not be afraid to make ­changes that make your daily life easier. Anja Hänninen, 80

“I have a contact person at OP with whom I discuss my finances a couple of times a year face-to-face. They also recommended taking a loan rather than using up all my savings to buy the apartment. 

Hänninen is extremely pleased with her decision to buy a new home, and taking a mortgage did not feel scary. She also encourages other senior citi­zens to make bold decisions that improve their quality of life. 

“Do not be afraid to make ­changes that make your daily life easier. The earlier you make the decisions, the more time you have to adapt to them,” Hänninen says.

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