The Most Innovative Retirement Living Idea Yet – The Urban HomeFarm

Category: Green Retirement Communities

November 30, 2105 — We have just seen the most interesting idea for productive, sustainable retirement living yet. The idea is from an architectural firm called Spark, which won first prize for Future- Experimental Project at the 2015 World Architecture Festival held in Singapore. Their winning project, HomeFarm, is a sustainable residential development for seniors with these clever features:
– Urban apartments in sizes that allow multi-generational living
– Vertical aquaponic farming on the building’s exterior walls
– Curvilinear building with central courtyard
– Soil based garden plots on staggered terraces and rooftops
– Use of collected rain water and grey water for farming purposes
– Fruits and vegetable marketplace where residents can sell their wares
– Fish waste as fertilizer
– Agricultural waste is fed into an onsite biomass power plant

Spark hopes to have the first HomeFarm up and running by 2030 in the crowded urban nation of Singapore. The productive garden feature provides a modest income for its elderly residents. HomeFarm was designed to keep its residents connected to the wider community through its public facilities that include a clinic, nursery/child care, farm shop and food court. It also intends to provide a familiar caring family environment for those who require medical care in their later years. It aims to provide a cross section of accommodation for single residents through to (more…)

Posted by Admin on November 30th, 2015

Free eBook on Social Security – Nov. 30 and Dec. 1 Only

Category: Financial and taxes in retirement

Nov 30 Update: It is a little tricky to get the ebook for free, but you can do it. Use this link
and find the link that says 0.00 to Buy. Click on that, not the Amazon/Kindle unlimited option (you have to be a subscriber for that). Then you will be asked how you want it delivered, and it seems the only way is to the Kindle Cloud.

November 28, 2015 — The Kindle version of a helpful book on Social Security will be free on Amazon on Monday, Nov. 30 and Tuesday, Dec. 1. Here is a link to the ebook, “Social Security Made Simple“. Note: This book is current as of November 2015, as it has been updated to reflect the changes made to Social Security by the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015, particularly those affecting File and Suspend.

Find all of the following, explained in plain-English:

– How your Social Security retirement benefits, spousal benefits, and widow/widower benefits are calculated
– How your benefits are affected if you have a government pension or if you continue working while claiming Social Security

For further reading:
How the New Social Security Claiming Rules Affect You



Posted by Admin on November 28th, 2015

Didn’t Sign Up for Part D Medicare – Double Ouch!

Category: Financial and taxes in retirement

November 24, 2015 — There are many classic examples of the kind of mistake made by your Topretirements.com editor. They include experts who don’t listen to their own advice: the cobbler with holes in his soles, the doctor who still smokes, the plumber with a leaky faucet – you get the picture. We’re sharing our mistake – the kind you would think someone who has a good grip on retirement matters wouldn’t make – so you don’t make the same one. Our mistake was not to sign up for Part D, prescription drug coverage, when we originally enrolled in Medicare. If you don’t currently have prescription drug coverage, consider yourself forewarned: you still have time to take corrective action during the current Medicare enrollment period, which ends December 7, if that is what you decide after reading this article.

2 very serious consequences
Failing to sign up for Part D insurance when you first become eligible can have two serious, even disastrous consequences:
1. You pay a penalty of 1% a month for every month you do not have “creditable” prescription drug coverage. In our case, it means a 30% penalty on our monthly premiums – forever!

2. Inability to get coverage immediately. There is an open enrollment period every year from Oct. 15 – Dec. 7 where you have the option to sign up for Part D insurance (or change your Part B or C plans). But let’s say you don’t take that option, and next February you are diagnosed with a serious medical condition that requires $25,000 worth of drugs, taken immediately, to treat it. Even if you register for Part D on Oct. 15 you are out of luck until January 1 – that’s the earliest your new plan can kick in. Although the odds are low of this (or something worse) happening – it is possible!

To Part D – Or Not
When you hit age 65 and sign up for Medicare you have many choices. Part A is the hospital component, Part B or C cover doctor and outpatient type claims, and then there is Part D – prescription drugs. Part C programs typically include prescription drug coverage, so you don’t need Part D if it is included there. In our case, at age 65 we signed up for Part A, Part B, and an commercially available Medigap policy from Anthem. When it came to Part D, we were like a lot of people we know – we don’t currently take any prescription drugs, and our insurance agent didn’t (more…)

Posted by Admin on November 24th, 2015

Our Members Speak: A Blue Ridge Mountains Retirement

Category: Best Retirement Towns and States

November 22, 2015 — Over the years we have heard from many of our Members who were considering retirement in the Blue Ridge Mountains. We know there are many more who are tempted by the amazing scenery, mild 4 season climate, and outstanding recreational opportunities in this area. So it seems like this might be an ideal time to put together a compilation of comments that we have received from people who have either lived in the area, or explored it for possible retirement. We look forward to hearing from other folks who have an interest or experience in retiring to this area – please share your thoughts in the Comments section below.

All about the Blue Ridge Mountains
The Blue Ridge Mountains are a chain of mountains running northeast from Georgia to (more…)

Posted by Admin on November 21st, 2015

How the New Social Security Claiming Rules Affect You

Category: Financial and taxes in retirement

November 16, 2015 — The biggest change affecting Social Security benefits in at least 15 years is about to go into effect on April 30, 2016. It is a change that could cost certain beneficiaries $50,000 over a lifetime. As with any major change to a benefit program there has been a lot of confusion over who is affected and how – this article will explain how it will affect you.

We were fortunate to have Kurt Czarnowski, a 34 year veteran employee of the Social Security Administration and leading expert on the subject, explain the changes to us in practical terms. Here is what we learned from Kurt about how various groups are affected.

File and Suspend and Restricted Benefit
The Budget Bill passed by Congress and signed by the President in early November included changes to (more…)

Posted by Admin on November 16th, 2015

Final 2016 Medicare Part B Premiums and Deductibles Announced

Category: Financial and taxes in retirement

November 12, 2015 — The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has announced the 2016 premiums and deductibles for the Medicare inpatient hospital (Part A) and physician and outpatient hospital services (Part B) programs.

Part B Premiums/Deductibles
Most people with Medicare Part B will not see any increase in their premiums in 2016, which will remain at $104.90/month. Since there will be no Social Security cost of living increase for 2016, the law requires that most beneficiaries must be “held harmless” from premium increases.

Beneficiaries not subject to the “hold harmless” provision will pay $121.80, (more…)

Posted by Admin on November 12th, 2015

Dueling Retirement States: Sun and Lower Cost of Living on the Gulf Coast

Category: Best Retirement Towns and States

November 7, 2015 — In this installment of our “Dueling Retirement States” we compare and analyze retirement in the warm states that surround the Gulf of Mexico. Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas are better known and appreciated by residents of the South, while Florida is popular with retirees from all over the nation and Canada. See Further Reading at end for links to the other comparisons in the series.

Do warm sandy beaches call to mind your dream retirement lifestyle? The states that border the Gulf of Mexico – Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas – offer many advantages for retirement living. For one, they are almost always much less expensive than either the West or East Coasts. They have some of the warmest winters in the U.S. They represent 5 of the lowest tax states in the nation. And they are generally uncrowded and less congested than many other retirement locations.

The attraction for many folks is the opportunity to enjoy beautiful beaches that go from the West Coast of Florida all the way to southern Texas, where the Lone Star State runs into Mexico. In this article we will compare and contrast these 5 Gulf Coast states: Alabama and Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana,and Texas. (links go to our mini-retirement guides to each state). Population and income data is from American Fact Finder-U.S. Census Bureau.

A Few Facts
Texas, with its close to 27 million population, is by far the more populous of the 5 states. Florida’s total estimated 2014 population increased to just under 19.9 million, adding 1 million people from 2010. Its West Coast is not as crowded as its East Coast, where more of the population lives. There were an estimated 4.8 million people in Alabama, 4.6 million in Louisiana, and 3 million in Mississippi during 2014. (more…)

Posted by Admin on November 7th, 2015

Is an Active Adult Community Right For You

Category: Active adult communities

November 3, 2015 — Where do you stand on active adult communities – are you a person who can’t wait to move into one, or do they represent the type of place where you wouldn’t want to be caught dead? This article will talk about the advantages, disadvantages, and peculiarities of this type of retirement lifestyle. But mostly we hope you, our Members, will share your thoughts in the Comments section at the end of the article. Your insights will help the rest of us learn how different people feel about them, especially those who have actually resided in an active community.

The original active community was Sun City, located northwest of Phoenix, Arizona. Founded by Del Webb, it is still going strong, 55 years after it opened. The one that most people in the eastern part of the U.S. know about is The Villages, a community of over 100,000 with 33 golf courses and 3 town centers, and that sprawls over 3 counties in Central Florida. Active communities range from other ultra large communities like California’sLaguna Woods Village with its 230 clubs, to very small communities like the thousands listed in our Directory of Active Adult Communities.

What is an Active Adult Community
The common denominator is that the term “active adult communities” describes a very (more…)

Posted by Admin on November 2nd, 2015