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When it comes to retirement living, Jeni thinks an early move is better than a late one

Thursday, 14 January 2021

Jeni Dunn had thought one day she might move into a retirement village, and if she did, she’d do it early. She wanted to be young enough to make the most of the lifestyle on offer. She encourages anyone who asks her for advice to do the same.

Born in Liverpool in western Sydney, Jeni grew up in Minto in Sydney’s south west. She went to Minto Public School and then Ingleburn High School before attending Milperra Teachers College and completing specialist studies in primary school education.

She lived with her parents, two brothers, one sister and grandmother. The beloved first home in Minto that the family left many years ago is now a modern-day brothel!

Jeni’s first teaching appointment was to her primary school in Minto. When she graduated from teachers college there was an eight-year wait on permanent teaching appointments, so she took on contract teaching instead.

Later, when she became aware of a shortage of high school maths and science teachers, she completed a 10-week conversion course and stepped up into secondary education.

It was in those early years of teaching that Jeni met and married her husband. They were living in Wollongong when their first child was born but had moved to Ingleburn to be closer to her Mum before their other children arrived.

With her husband working very long hours and barely seeing the children, the family relocated to Bundanoon, a little village in the NSW Highlands near Bowral that offered a more family-friendly lifestyle.

“We always had in mind that we’d move again once the children were teenagers,” says Jeni. “It was on a particularly cold Bundanoon day after a work trip to warm and sunny Queensland by my husband that we decided it was time. That was in 1997 and we moved to Yeppoon.”

“Our eldest was in Year 6 and I took a year off teaching to get the kids settled. But the next year when I was enrolling our daughter in one of the local girls’ high schools the principal was interested to know I was a teacher. She rang me a few days later to tell me about a job that had been advertised in the paper and suggested I apply.”

“I’d become so settled into life in the tropics by then that I didn’t often wear shoes. I was offered an interview for the job and prepared well but it wasn’t until I arrived that I realised I’d left the house without shoes. What to do – go home and get shoes and arrive late? Or go in and explain and arrive on time? I went without the shoes and I got the job.”

Jeni stayed at the school for 19 years and was working as a Middle School Coordinator when she retired in 2017. Two weeks later, her husband asked for a divorce. Both Jeni and her husband had always had a strong faith background. He’d spoken previously about wanting to convert to Judaism and needed to divorce Jeni to do that. It came as a terrible shock.

Jeni took a year to find her feet and to find Oak Tree Retirement Village Capricorn Coast. “I wanted easy care living and only needed a small place and a small yard,” says Jeni. “I looked at duplexes in new estates but then I found Oak Tree.”

“First it was the pool and then it was the lifestyle that sold me. I need to swim daily for my health and the pool is heated for swimming all year round. It’s also just across the driveway from my villa so it couldn’t be more convenient.”

“I can lock up my home and go on holidays and to visit my family without a care in the world. Everything is taken care of while I’m away. The gates are closed at night and on weekends. I feel safe and my children know I am too. That’s great peace-of-mind for them.”

“I still have my life outside of Oak Tree, but I also have my life here now too. If there’s something on that interests me and I’m home, I’ll join in. Or if I’ve had a big day out or feel like pottering at home I don’t have to. It’s my choice.”

“I’ve just finished three hours of Mahjong today, it’s something new I’ve learnt to play here. Tomorrow I’m running a card-making class. We play pool and solve problems over a glass of wine. I play lawn bowls.”

“I say to everyone who asks, come while you’re young enough to enjoy it all.”

To find out more about Oak Tree Retirement Village Capricorn Coast, Queensland or for a personal tour call 1300 367 155.