Bungalows: Life on one level

There’s something special about a bungalow. Especially if, like Pat and Ivor James, you’ve lived for years in a four-level house.“Everywhere you went, there were stairs to climb,” says Ivor, a retired schoolteacher, of their former split-level home. “One of the things we like here is that the washer and dryer are on the same floor. No lugging washing up and down.”

“Here” is a spacious, colonial-style bungalow in the Villages of Glancaster, a retirement community in Ancaster, Ont., just west of Hamilton.

The bungalows are not what you envision if you think about a traditional subdivision with large lots. Instead, these homes snuggle together around cul-de-sacs. It’s lifestyle pure and simple that people like the Jameses are buying.

Home pleasures
They attend aquafit classes three or four mornings a week at their community’s country club, just a short walk away, yet still relish traditional home pleasures like large porches, separate Florida rooms and loads of space and light.

“We wanted a house where you could enjoy going outside,” says Ivor. “And we liked this crescent in particular because we look out at the pine treesn the hydro right-of-way. It’s like being in the country.”

“We also liked the separateness of this,” says Pat, 69, a retired bank manager. But they also wanted neighbourliness.

Community activities
“I have MS,” says Ivor, “So I have to be careful what I do.” Careful? Quite an understatement.

As soon as they moved in they discovered the community choir. And since they come from Swansea, Wales, it seemed a given that Ivor, who taught choral music in school, would end up as choir director.

Then, while still unpacking, they heard of a casting call for the pantomime at the country club. The photographs are telling – Ivor in pearls and a dress, playing the part of one of Cinderella’s ugly stepsisters. “We had wonderful fun in the rehearsals,” he says, smiling at the memory.

The Jameses had one other reason for selecting their two-bedroom freehold bungalow (which cost about $200,000, with a $200 monthly maintenance fee). They had the large basement finished and Pat’s mother, 90, lives with them.

Smaller lots
Do they miss the larger garden they had at their former home in Hamilton? “My vegetable garden was getting smaller and smaller every year,” says Ivor. “Now I have a little patch at the side of the house that’s perfect for growing tomatoes. We’ll be going to the U.K. in May and June, but my neighbour will take care of them.”

On a nearby crescent, Marjorie and Don Wycoff have no regrets either about giving up the three-acre lot on which their former home stood. “I was getting a bit tired of having to do everything,” says Marjorie, 77. “It was just getting too much, and it costs so much to hire people.”

Don looks out the large palladium window at the view of a waterway outside. “When you look at the walking trails here, it just boggles the mind,” he says. “We’ve bought a trail book.”

“And we feel very secure here,” puts in Don. “We’re surrounded by great neighbours. There’s always someone waving at you.”