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Stephen Lowe.

”Everything is safe and easy in a right-of-occupancy home.”

13.11.2023 Uncategorized Text Kaisa Viljanen Photographer Heidi Strengell
Stephen Lowe, 81, lives in Vantaa in a terraced house, where he most enjoys the good connections to a public swimming pool, shops and the world. Lowe used to live in a detached house, but he enjoys the peace and quiet of his current neighbourhood and the ease of living in a right-of-occupancy home.

“I have lived in spacious houses all my life. I was born and raised in Sri Lanka, where our family lived in a large house with 22 rooms and a big garden. Two gardeners looked after the plants and flowers in the garden. I think my love for flowers and plants stems from my childhood. 

In our current home in a terraced house in Kuninkaala in Vantaa, we have a small yard with a lawn and a terrace for lounging. I haven’t put much effort into the plants in the yard, but I have a lot of houseplants.  

In front of my living room window, I have a very old weeping fig, which I got when I lived in England. It has moved with me from home to home. Although I had to give up many houseplants when I moved here, I still have a lot of them, and they almost completely cover the living room window.  

Sitting in an armchair with my laptop is my favourite place. I keep in touch with relatives around the world online. My sister still lives in Sri Lanka, and my two brothers are in Australia. They very much wish I would come and visit. Although I like to travel, Australia is too far for me.  

Living in a right-of-occupancy home saves you hassle. If something breaks, I call Customer Service, and the issue will be fixed quickly. The service is professional and efficient

Hassle-free living  

I moved here to Kuninkaala in Vantaa when I needed an apartment quickly after my divorce. My wife and I had a house in Varisto, but I lost a lot of money when my company ran into financial difficulties because of the pandemic. I have previously lived in Salo, Espoo, Helsinki and Vihti. 

Every weekday morning, I drive from here to the Hakunila indoor swimming pool. I don’t know how to swim, though. I tried to learn, but I began to sink like a brick – which is why I decided to go for aqua fitness classes.  

It’s good for me, and I’m still in good shape. I have diabetes, and I have managed to keep my blood sugar levels under control. I’ve made friends with other men of my age at the swimming pool facility, and we exercise together. 

My current home is the first one I don’t own. However, my current wife and I like it here. We live in a terrace of five homes, and the neighbourhood is peaceful and safe. Shops and other services are close by.  

Living in a right-of-occupancy home saves you hassle. If something breaks, I call Customer Service, and the issue will be fixed quickly. The service is professional and efficient. I pay a right-of-occupancy fee and the electricity bill monthly, and that’s it. I know exactly how much housing costs I have. In a detached house, it will easily cost 500 euros to have any issue fixed. 

Stephen Lowe in his living room.
Stephen lives in a three-bedroom apartment in Kuninkaala, Vantaa. He has a small yard too. 

To Vantaa via London 

I was born into a wealthy family in Colombo. My parents sent me to study in England, where they had previously lived. I studied business management in London, among other subjects. I came to Finland in 1975 to promote the sale of Finnish technology abroad. Since then, Finland has been my home country.  

My Finnish wife at the time helped me contact local companies and find work. Although many things here in Finland are better than anywhere else in the world and Finns are honest, genuine and empathetic, I have to say that Finns don’t know how to sell. Finns are often shy at first, but they have always been friendly towards me.  

Later, I worked in export promotion and sales for various companies and through my own business. From the late 1970s to the 1980s, I also worked extensively in the Soviet Union.  

I still have use for an office at home. Officially, I’ve retired, but I run a business related to drones. I could still work a regular job, but who would hire someone aged over 80? 

It would be nice to get to know my neighbours better. Perhaps we could have a glass of wine together. 

Closer to the children 

I used to entertain guests in my previous homes, and I also often invited my business acquaintances over. However, I have kept this home private. When I moved here, I had to give up a lot of things because of lack of space. That’s why I don’t feel good about having guests over. 

I like that my neighbourhood is very international. The neighbours are very nice, although we don’t interact much with each other. Our relationships are friendly but formal. It would be nice to get to know them better. Perhaps we could have a glass of wine together. 

I have five children: three daughters and two sons. My eldest daughter is 52 years old, and my youngest son is 22. They have all studied a lot and have good positions in working life. 

My youngest son lives in Kauniainen, and my other children live in Espoo. I’m very proud of them. Finland has treated them well, and now they are paying taxes in Finland. 

My children would like me to move closer to them. It’s difficult for them to visit with their families, so I visit them more often. They make me Finnish and Sri Lankan food. I have seven grandchildren, and we watch Mr. Bean together. 

Although I’m happy with my current home, it would be great if Asuntosäätiö could still help me find a new home closer to my children.”