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
modern phenomenon where adults (usually, but not necessarily over 55) live and have access to different athletic and recreational opportunities like golf, tennis, and hobbies. There is more often than not a clubhouse with a fitness and meeting room. An outdoor and sometimes an indoor swimming pool are popular amenities. Some active communities have themes; like those oriented to specific occupations like postal workers, religion, or ethnicity; or avocations such as aviation, boating, the arts, etc. The move to active communities reflects the changing view baby boomers have of themselves – what self respecting boomer wants tell their friends they are moving to an (old-sounding) retirement community, when they could be talking about their active adult community.

Other options
In addition to active adult communities there are other retirement options. So called 55+ communities are usually the same thing as an active adult community, but they might not have any amenities to keep you active. There are others which typically cater to older retirees: independent living, retirement communities, assisted living, Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRCs), and nursing homes. Note that some active adult communities are age-restricted (usually 1 person has to be at least 55, or sometimes another age like 50), while others, even if not formally restricted, are in practice mostly 55 and over. Of course when your retire you don’t have to live in any of these community types – you could live in a co-housing community or in an urban condo. Or, just stay in a single family home in an all-ages community like the one you lived in before you retired.

Advantages
If you are the kind of person that might enjoy living in an active adult community you might see these advantages:
Plenty to do. Many have extensive amenities and even a Lifestyle Director. You can be busy from dawn to dusk if you want.
Ready made social interactions. Your neighbors are in the same situation as you: just moved in, looking to meet new friends.
Like minded people. There is a certain amount of self-selection – if the community has a great golf course, you’ll meet golfers. If there a lot of clubs or arts related activities, that’s the kind of person you will meet. Plus you will probably be with your economic peers, those who can also afford to live there.
Walk, bike, or take a golf cart to your daily activities. Walk down the street (or take your bike or golf cart) to the fitness center, social hall, or swimming pool. No need to drive through the suburbs every morning.
Freedom from pesky young people. Many people have had enough of loud stereos, oblivious teenagers, or pouting kids. They prefer the quiet and order from a mature neighborhood.
A home suitable to your lifestyle and age. The homes in almost all communities are designed for baby boomers. Most have first floor masters, limited steps, and low maintenance.
Strong zoning regulations. Active communities usually have a prescribed look. They don’t want junk cars in the yard, weird house colors, or jammed in accessory buildings.

Disadvantages
Then again, if you are not the ideal candidate for an active adult community, these disadvantages might be what keep you from wanting to live in one:
Lack of diversity. First there is age diversity, particularly if yours is 55+. You might not see many young people. Then there is economic and racial – you will be living amidst people who look an awful lot like yourself.
Home owners associations and rules. If we see one red flag for many people, it is the HOA (or Community Association as they are often called). Many people have an aversion to rules – how many and what type of pets you can have, the color of your front door, where guests can park, what you can park, etc. If you hate rules, an active community is not for you!
Fees. Some communities have very reasonable fees, others do not. Usually you get what you pay for. The fees cover a lot of common expenses, like roads, insurance, taxes, elevators, building maintenance, staff, amenities, etc. If you would rather have more control over where your money goes, don’t move in. Likewise, some boards are better run and more reasonable than others.
You are not a joiner. There can be pressure in an active community to take part in social activities. If you want to go your own way and don’t enjoy other socially interested people, stay away.
Life in a fishbowl. Homes in active communities are usually quite close together. People can’t help but know some of your business. Beware if that is a problem for you.
Far from city center and need to drive (often, but not always). Most active communities are located far from any established town, a factor driven by the availability and price of land. While that keeps you far from crime and the hustle and bustle, it also means firing up the Oldsmobile to go into town for shopping, doctor’s appointments, etc. As you age, that will become more and more difficult.

Peculiarities
As opposed to the traditional retirement community, there is normally a lot more going on day to day in an active adult community than elsewhere. The people in these communities like to stay busy.

Fearrington Village or The Villages have an adjunct that provides a transition to a higher level of care (CCRC, assisted living, etc.) as you age. The advantage of communities like those is that you do not have to move and find all new friends and doctors as you go into your later retirement years.

Some communities have very high fees and some have much more modest ones. That can be a function of what amenities are offered and who pays for them. The expense structure might be a legacy from the original transfer of power from developer to Home Owner Association. Some communities have great boards managing them, others not so good. Research is important no matter what type of community you choose to live in – there are plenty of issues that can trip you up if you are not careful (see list of articles in Further Reading for more).

Bottom Line
Do you think you could live in an active adult community? Or, if you have or do live in one, what are the advantages and disadvantages that you see? What type of person is the right kind of person for this type of community? We are hoping that this article is only the starting point of the discussion about “Is An Active Adult Community Right for You” – your always insightful comments will be even more interesting.

For further reading
10 Things Your Active Community Won’t Tell You
Are You Active Adult Community Material (2011)
Home Owners Associations – Friend or Foe (a series)
What One Couple Is Looking for in a Community




Posted by Admin on November 2nd, 2015

125 Comments »

  1. Can’t wait to hear what others think since I’m in the middle of making this decision! Two co-workers are in the process of retiring, and both have chosen 55+ communities. One is choosing a large community in FL, for reasons including security guards, golf, and a lifestyle with the potential for social activities with like-minded people. He mentioned that he and his wife are going to be happy to live in a neighborhood without kids. The other has chosen a small (about 35-40 home) 55+ neighborhood near family. It has few amenities, but the HOA fee covers lawn care. He just wanted to get away from yard work, and have a new home designed for aging with a yard where grandkids can play.

    I’ve done an estimated retirement budget for my current home, and am doing comparisons to some 55+ communities that I have visited. If a HOA fee covers lawn maintenance, garbage or something similar, I adjust the budget. (So far FL is much more expensive, due to the high community fees.) I have to decide if it’s worth paying $1,200-$3,600 or more a year to have a great pool, community center, social opportunities, gym facilities, etc. On the other hand, I find myself being irritated by the pettiness of the HOA in my current neighborhood. And I get irritated by neighbors who watch either other like hawks since they have nothing to do but gossip, by excessive sharing on the neighborhood Facebook page, etc. A cave in the woods with no neighbors at all might actually be more my speed LOL.

    by Kate — November 3, 2015

  2. (Sorry about the typos – wish we coud edit after hitting “submit.”)

    by Kate — November 3, 2015

  3. I have older relatives who have and do in live in active adult communities. My 90-year old uncle does, and he and his young 80-year old wife are active in many things with many friends. They are the “right” people for this lifestyle. But most of my other elderly relatives chose not to go this route. They are not the “right” people, and neither am I. Having spent time with my uncle and aunt, and with my dad who tried out and rejected a 55+ community, I saw enough to know that I want to be around a diverse neighborhood with multicultural, multi-racial and multi-generational community members. I am a perennial student whose current interests include master gardening, welding to do sculpture, a creative writing MFA, and maybe a PhD in academic leadership. Too much I know, so I’ll have to figure out which direction to go, but tuition is free and my curiosity is driving me forward. I want to be in a intellectually stimulating community that supports MY choices, which I don’t see in the 55 pluses. I don’t believe I would have many friends there. I may be the neighbor with the weird house color, who has neighborhood kids knocking on my door to check out what’s happening now, and whose blackberry vines, rose bushes and fruit trees are spilling over the fence into someone else’s yard and life. I consciously value and respect the rights and values of my neighbors, even though HOAs and rules don’t interest me, and build relationships with my neighbors. I remember my aunt saying, we have to put our dog into a wagon and take her to the community patch of grass to do her business; and then, guilty and proud, she snuck me behind her condo to show me the patch of grass she tended so she could release her poodle into its own back yard for its own piece of real estate – an illegal act. This is not how I choose to use my retirement liberty, time and resources. Those who do, best to you and good luck!

    by Elaine C. — November 3, 2015

  4. I have noticed that some of the newer active adult communities are located within a larger master planned community. This provides the benefit of living with your age group but not being far from other age segments. The community amenities are often shared so you are not totally limited to “active adult” daily encounters with others. I am newly retired and think the active adult lifestyle would work for me. My spouse is still working and doesn’t think much of the active adult community idea. Maybe she would be OK with one of these blended communities. I do know that I too am tired of yard work and doing maintenance on a large 5 bedroom house. I look forward to a house designed specifically for my desired lifestyle. One that is one level, energy efficient, low maintenance and big enough to provide the two of us sufficient space so that we aren’t tripping over each other constantly.

    by LS — November 3, 2015

  5. Listening to older relatives experiences and reading the responses from other articles on active adult communities, I decided I would not be happy “within” the confines of any retirement community. I love the younger generations, and I feel they keep me young minded and open minded. I want diversity, and don’t need a group to find entertainment. When the time comes for my wife and I to give up owning our home, we feel that living near a college would provide the mind stimulation that we crave. That is why we chose a small town 30 minutes away from a college to search for a smaller home. Now if we happen to find a smaller home near the college now, of course we will purchase it. Different strokes for different folks.

    by DeyErmand — November 3, 2015

  6. We chose a smaller (1200 home) 55+ community due mostly to our interest in golf and other amenities. We are in a larger master plan with all ages in surrounding communities. We do take advantage of onsite education, entertainment, dining, fitness programs…there is more to do than we are interested in. Our residents are very active, many still working. Mostly we enjoy the friendships made as most of us came to Arizona to seek winter sun, so we are all away from home. The decision was best for us but we understood all of the “rules” before our purchase and enjoy the lifestyle. I’ve seen the community come together when residents have been ill or lost spouses…the support within our community has always been very positive. Also, you don’t have to be restricted to life in the community, we are in a college city and participate in college sports, all of the performing arts, hiking in the area and wonderful dining outside of our gates. We had checked out a huge (5000+ home) 55+ community far from the city and we could not see ourselves living in such an isolated world. So, there are different types of communities to meet differing personal styles.
    If you don’t wish to live by the rules, don’t see yourself using the amenities that you are paying for, or are not seeking such a lifestyle then I recommend you don’t buy into it….but, for us it has been terrific and we have been here 18 years.

    by ljtucson — November 4, 2015

  7. I echo ljtucson’s comments. We also chose a small active community with more amenities and social activities than we ever imagined! Be ready to pay for all of that! We also realize that 15 -20 years or so from now, we will probably need a different type of housing situation and will no longer be able to enjoy the expensive amenities – golf, tennis, Marina, etc.. Planning for that with long term health care insurance as well. Two, or maybe three phases of retirement was a new understanding for us. We Boomers are a flexible bunch however! We are choosing the active lifestyle for as long as we can – after that, who knows?

    by SandyZ — November 4, 2015

  8. We are coming up on our second anniversary of living in a 20-yeat-old over-55 community which is large and still growing. What drew us here were the amenities; swimming, fitness centers, golf, low maintenance homes. I should have known I wouldn’t be much of a joiner though everyone says you do only as much as you want. The problem for me is that I do feel I am on the outside looking in on those who are much more active. I’m not as close as those who go from one activity to another. I appreciate the rules which keep the homes looking nice but it also seems there are a lot of people making rules to give themselves a sense of power and meaningful lives. I thought I would be OK with the closeness of the homes to each other with the trade-off that we would have no lawn maintenance. But I’m not OK living so close to others. I might appreciate this more if I was older and had more physical limitations but I recently came to the conclusion if we could sell this and not lose money, I would.

    by MarjieW — November 4, 2015

  9. One of my pet peeves would be people who move into our community and they are so thrilled with how beautiful everything is and the wonderful amenities, then they complain about the rules and the HOA fees/subsidy to golf/subsidy to restaurant/maintenance of amenities/new pickleball courts. Everything is kept so beautiful and orderly due to the rules and yes it takes money to keep the amenities up to date. So, like SandyZ says at some point when we no longer take advantage of all of those things we will move on because it won’t make sense to pay for them, I don’t expect the community to change to fit my circumstances. So, everyone who considers a 55+ community should do their homework to understand the HOA and the costs up front. And, in our community often people will rent a furnished home for 3 months to see and feel the lifestyle… also,talk to homeowners not just sales people. If the builder is still in control, ask about what they are subsidizing because when they leave those costs shift to the homeowners.

    by ljtucson — November 4, 2015

  10. At one time in my life I was enticed by the offerings of retirement communities…so much fun it seemed. Then we had my mother (in her 90s) moved in with us and ultimately we ended up caring for her after a stroke. With several examples to draw from, we clearly saw where ‘family’ is who cares for you when the time comes that you need it..not friends. Living in a retirement community can take you far from family making a situation difficult for all. Now many of you will say ‘well live the way you want up until that time’…..yes, I get that.

    However, again dealing with medical deliveries, hospice and seeing our neighbors deal with the same for a period of time, I decided that in an all-adult/retirement community this could be a frequent sighting. It doesn’t bring you happy feelings.

    Instead I love decorating for holidays ….with Halloween just past, LOVE having children come to our house so I can see all the cute costumes and the fun and joy in their faces…I would really miss seeing and having children around. Talking with them as they walk to and from school….it’s a much better uplifting experience.

    by CJB — November 4, 2015

  11. My wife and I are planning to move to an AAC within 5 years and have one picked out. I will still have 5 years of work remaining as an Airline Pilot but my wife will be retired and like the idea of a community of like minded/aged folks while I’m gone and when I retire. Lots of stuff to do without traveling miles each time-just step out the door.

    by Stu — November 4, 2015

  12. We looked at “active adult communities” here in Florida, including some of the big ones with golf courses, large community buildings, 100s of clubs and activities. We decided we would prefer to live in a gated condo community in a small city, Winter Haven Florida rather than be stuck in a gated compound with all “like minded people.” We have a large {headed all year} pool, tennis and 2 shuffleboard courts. For golf there are plenty of courses outside the condo environment. We prefer the small city (37,000 people) with ample healthcare close by, magnificent library, college, community theatre, lots of parks and walking trails and 50 lakes within the city limits 3 of which we overlook from our 4th floor condominium unit. We can walk 4 blocks to the grocery or drive there in 5 minutes. I will take living in a condo community with 79 units in a small city anytime over living in an active adult community. We can find our own entertainment and diversions easily within the city. Fees including water, cable TV, grounds care, heated and maintained pool run $255.00/year. Just paid our tax (city,county,school) $230.00/yr with our full time living in FL homestead exemption. People in gated active adult communities with hundred of homes are paying 10 – 15 times that amount. Look seriously for a small city with lots of places and services to enhance your life. That’s my thought on “active adult communities.”

    by David M. Lane — November 4, 2015

  13. Good food for thought. When I retire next August, I was planning on moving into an active 55+ community. Being by myself, I realize that I need to be a part of something bigger than myself. The list of cons is interesting. I had figured that I could participate in activities as much or as little as I wanted. At this time, I can’t see how ‘peer pressure’ would be an issue. Especially if I really don’t care what other think. Some of the cons, to me, are not really negatives at all. I should probably visit one more time to investigate further. Thank you all for your comments and relating your experiences.

    by steven — November 4, 2015

  14. We have a suburban home on 2 1/2 acres with gardens and landscaping. The plan is to move to a community with more built in social life and less maintenance. The problem is that I am already 72 years old and I can’t guarantee that my wife and I will remain healthy enough to benefit from an “active adult” setting 6 to 8 years from now. We might not be fit enough nor energetic enough to to enjoy all the activities and that might make the move less appropriate for us. The alternative might be to follow the children and grandchildren to their next location even if such a move does not meet our short term goals. What do others readers suggest from experience or just wise advice?

    by Peter Weiser — November 4, 2015

  15. The most critical factor in any active adult community is the HOA and how they function.
    I lived in an active adult community for 19 years until the HOA finally pushed me and countless other homeowners out due to intrusive rules and outright greed for their pet projects, most often being implemented without a vote by the homeowners that were ultimately picking up the excessive tab.
    This is unfortunate because most active adult communities were initially well intended and focused on ensuring a tranquil, safe living environment for those who chose to live there.
    However, when the HOA has nothing better to do than ride around in golf carts and taking photos of small clumps of overnight weed growth that’s 1/4″ taller than allowable per the absurd rules, then it’s time to move to another community that doesn’t feel the need to micro-manage virtually every minuscule exterior detail of one’s home.
    Talk with some people who’ve been living in the community in which you may have an interest in order to get the straightforward, inside scoop about the way things are actually being managed. Otherwise, taking everything at face value in the literature you receive won’t necessarily tell the true story, it’s primarily about selling homes.

    by Denny — November 4, 2015

  16. I echo Steven’s comments. My vote is for an active 55+ community, mind you, five years ago I would have never thought I’d live in one! However in the last 5 years several of my friends moved into an active adult community so I had the chance to visit with them for an extended peroiod of time to experience the lifestyle. My recommendation is to evaluate the HOA rules and fees against your own preferences to make sure there is a good fit.

    by Nikki — November 4, 2015

  17. Wow, I am starting to wonder if this type of community is right for me. I just want to meet people in social card or Bunco or Mai Jong settings, have access to golf either in the community or nearby, and feel like I belong in a larger group. But people measuring my grass or bothering me about minor details…no thanks.

    by Bonnie — November 4, 2015

  18. We spent the last four winters in Gold Canyon, AZ, primarily and entire town of seniors in the East Valley. Going back to the late 90s we had a child enrolled in UA in Tucson, and visits to the senior communities in that area were our first experiences with them. Our opinions formed then remain the same today. Not for us. It doesn’t take long before 75- year-old clerks in the Wally Worlds and McDonald’s begins to take its toll. I want to have a crying kid annoy me once in a while and see a dog bigger than a teddy bear occasionally.

    Of course, it’s all very subjective. And we could change our minds if we become ill, I suppose. But for now, in our 70s and still able to spend a hard day in the Superstitions on 4-wheelers, we’ll stay in age-diverse situations.

    by Craig — November 4, 2015

  19. Thank you for this story and for the comments above. It’s so helpful to have the good, the bad and the ugly revealed by people who know whereof they speak.

    Like many, my husband and I have been wavering on this issue, but have nearly decided that when we downsize sometime during the next few years it will likely not be into a regulated community, whether 55 plus or otherwise. The bottom line is that we like little kids, teenagers young adults, middle aged adults, people our age (early 60s) and people who are older than us. We’d miss that diversity and find homogeneous living tedious after a short while, amenities or no amenities. Plus we remain slightly rebellious at heart, so HOA rules might soon feel more like a challenge than a comfort. (Eek!)

    We will soon be onto our next phase of the American Dream, hopefully downsizing to a home 1000 SF smaller, one story, minimal yard, no pool, safe neighborhood with a variety of ages and stages, easy commute to markets. Very exciting stuff!!!

    by JCarol — November 4, 2015

  20. This year I sold the house I had lived in for 50 years. The preparation, winnowing, and sales processes were traumatic, and I am now certain I do not want to own a home again. l’d much rather rent and be free to go elsewhere if the rent goes up too much, the neighborhood degrades, or I just want a change. This is maybe a strange view for someone over 80, but I feel good about it now, and that’s what counts.

    I have had moments when I have been envious of those who live in 55+ active communities that sound like summer camp for grownups, with all the amenities and programs. But I find all of that is available “on the outside”. My daughter is renting in a very nice 15 year old complex in Newport Beach, CA, where everything is clean, looks new, and feels secure. If a faucet leaks, she calls the concierge and it is fixed immediately. The neighbors are friendly but unobtrusive & quiet. Management wants us all to be happy. I have been, and will continue staying with my daughter for a few months at a time between trips. I have found that everything of interest to me is within a 15 minute walk or 10-15 minute drive. The Oasis Community Center in Corona Del Mar has so many activities that I have to be careful to not overdo. Programs & services include all kinds of exercise (plus a beautiful fitness center for a very reasonable annual fee), arts, crafts, memoir writing, computer training, day trips, multi-day excursions, and much more — all for very low or no fees. For those who no longer drive (like me), a shuttle is provided to get to the classes & home again for only $3 a day. The University of CA at Irvine is nearby, should I feel the urge for serious academic work, and it has an Osher Lifelong Learning program. There must be such areas elsewhere. It is not necessary to limit myself to a 55+ community.

    Good luck.

    by Sallie50th — November 4, 2015

  21. But a “traditional retirement community” may have has the same disadvantages ascribed to an “active retirement community” – “lack of diversity….HOA or COA rules and regs…..Fees….fishbowl – etc.
    And may have the same advantages – lotsa clubs, activities, certainly “Freedom from pesky young people”, strong zoning.

    And vice-versa.

    Retirement communities are not one or the other – active or traditional. There is a spectrum – and there may be a spectrum within a single community. I think that a community with separate homes (HOA) is more active than a condo or townhouse (COA) community: As people age, they move from the former to the latter. But many communities have both types of housing – and amenities can range from active sports (golf; tennis; bicycling; aerobics ) to more sedentary (pickle ball; chair aerobics; petanque; cards.)

    I would suggest visiting various communities, and renting first. Which do you want: manned security gates and walls or open thoroughfares? On site stores, markets, medical – or nearby? Golf course – executive or professional, open to public or only to residents? Urban or rural? A 55+ community is very different than a preponderantly 65+ or 70+ one: which do you prefer?

    by OldNassau67 — November 4, 2015

  22. MarjieW, do you mind disclosing where you live? We also have been wondering how people feel about the physical closeness of the homes in these communities. Not having outside maintenance as a tradeoff to hearing your neighbors talk/play music/TV in their house while you are in your own home? Or at least hear neighbors while in your lanai – are the houses that close? Maybe in FL you always have closed windows and AC on. You can take care of windows looking into next door windows with top-down bottom-up blinds etc. but wondering about the noise. Most communities allow kids to visit 90 days a year. Does it happen that grandkids are dropped off for the summer? Are your neighbors babysitting for grandkids during the day? Have heard that happens here in the north where 55+ developments are near major cities where adult children work. I like kids but don’t want to live next door to them anymore. Thanks for any responses.
    And to the person who is starting to look two years out before they retire – reading contents of these blogs might help you realize the sooner the better unless you know exactly where and what you want!

    by Carol — November 5, 2015

  23. My wife and I have been looking at communities for the past 6 months. We have visited several during this current visit. I like the comments of David M. Lane about a small community like the one he is in. All the places we have looked at or visited have large fees used for the upkeep of all the facilities. We have been in Florida now for over a month and the traffic in Orlando is out of hand and people drive like there is no speed limit or laws. So I guess a smaller community could be the answer to a better retirement life.

    by Bob & Barb — November 6, 2015

  24. Bob & Barb – did you ever stop at Savannah Lakes Village? If so, would you mind sharing your impressions. Thanks.

    by Alice — November 7, 2015

  25. My husband and I are New Yorkers who relocated to Maryland due to great promotions while we were working. While we love Maryland, it has become too expensive now that we are retired. My husband and I have been looking at some of the 55+ and Active Adult communities in NC. The “Active Adult Communities” are beautiful and great for the working person who wants to take advantage of all of the amenities offered including maintenance free upkeep. Cons:The HOA fees in the AAC can be expensive ranging from $200 to $400 a month, the houses are way too close together and we don’t like people telling us what we can and cannot do. There is nothing really wrong with the 55+ communities if you only want to be around people your age. We did find other new communities where there is no HOA at all or the HOA fee is minimal (usually for the pool maintenance) and there is no restriction on age, you do have to mow your own lawn which is not that big (hire out) and they don’t really tell you what to do, It all depends on what you are looking for. We originally wanted either of the first 2 communities because I tend to be very active but we liked the last option better. I can always find an aerobics class somewhere and somewhere to walk safely. Before you decide, visit all three to make an informed decision for what fits your lifestyle.

    by Sharon — November 10, 2015

  26. My husband and I are retiring next year and would like to relocate. I read your e-mails and enjoy them. Our problem is that we are looking for a planned community around the Chicago area or Pittsburgh area that has many retired people but also has a percentage of young. I was looking at Penn National around Gettysburg, Pa but there is at least 90 miles to Baltimore or Washington D.C. What I like about Penn National is the 80% of adults but also 20% of young. Houses are reasonable with no HOA fee. Penn National sounds like the perfect place for me and my husband plus the fact you can raise a foster child under 18. Most adult communities have restrictions on young children. The only problem I have with Penn National is the fact it is not close to a major city with all the amenties.

    If anyone knows of a community similar to Penn National that is close to a major city, please let me know. It seems like all the 55+ communities have restrictions on the young. Like to see more comments from retirees who have relocated to new locations. Would also like to find a friendly, reasonable, close to a major city locations. Any suggestions?

    by Rita — November 10, 2015

  27. Sharon,
    You mentioned you did find other new communities where there is no HOA at all or the HOA fee is minimal. Can you disclose them to us. Thanks for your input as it closely relates to how we feel.

    by Ron — November 11, 2015

  28. Sharon, HOA fees are a concern for us too. But perhaps they are like taxes – somehow all the infrastructure has to be paid for whether paving roads or maintaining a community pool. We are hoping this next move, wherever it is, will be the last but if you are an active person as you ‘mature’ you may not want to drive to find aerobics or a safe place to walk. You might be safer to pay for the amenities and have them at your fingertips, or a golf cart away. Some of the places we have liked are not near amenities we might want if the are not in the community. I know because I look for Pilates classes if we are considering a place and found that I felt it would be too much of a hassle to get there. Incidentally, Pilates is one of the best exercises to keep flexibility and strength as you age. Sorry, had to throw that in.

    by Carold — November 11, 2015

  29. Lower HOA fees generally mean less amenities (like a pool, clubhouse, tennis, shuffeboard, exercise/yoga classes and walking/biking trails) and little or no routine maintenance such as individual unit lawn care, exterior and roof maintenance, etc. And a gated community (which is almost always outside the jurisdiction of many customary city benefits), even without much in the way of amenities, can also have fairly high HOA fees due to road repair requirements, drainage and related pond/lagoon isues and maintenance, and gate maintenance expenses (especially if the gate is manned). Like most anything else, with HOA fees, you usually get what you pay for. Lower is not necessarily better.

    by Clyde — November 12, 2015

  30. TO: Sallie50th can you tell me where in Newport Beach you or your daughter are renting & what are some of the rents? We want to move to CA from NY to be closer to our children but so far most things have not been affordable to buy but maybe renting would be the way to go? Thank you

    by Virginia — November 12, 2015

  31. To Ron: Check into Beazer Homes or HH Homes $40 a month or $120 every quarter. I think Eastwood Homes may be the same, but I do not remember. As Clyde stated, “lower HOA fees generally mean less amenities. Those places only had a pool and I think the fee is for pool and road maintenance. I’ve also gone to Del Webb builders of Carolina Arbors and they have all the amenities, Pools, Golf, Walking Trails, fitness center, etc. and the $174 monthly HOA fee. Gorgeous place and everything you want for a 55+ community but the houses are too close together for me which changed my mind. Looking at HOA fees like taxes is a good way to look at them for the upkeep of the infrastructure. Checked Epcon Builders in Cary, NC, HOA fees around $215 and lots as high as $50,000. Checking McKee Home builders before making my decision.

    by Sharon — November 12, 2015

  32. Another note on HOA fees, triggered by some of the comments. When checking out a community, consider if the roads belong to the neighorhood or the town. One of the communities I liked had not turned its roads over to the town where it was located. This community was therefore responsible for its own road maintenance and had a higher insurance cost in its HOA. (This community also had to pay for plowing, etc. since it was in a state where winters are cold). Arguably it was a new community with new roads, but this cost has the potential to hit a community very hard in the future. The developer’s HOA fees kept the reserve cost low, in order to keep the HOA fees low for sale. Sooner or later, this expense is going to hit the community. If the developer cut any corners in road construction, it’s likely to be sooner. A town will examine roads very closely before accepting them from a developer, but I’d guess that most homeowners are more worried about their own homes when purchasing than the community’s apparently nice new infrastructure.

    On the other hand, a community that turns over its roads for township maintenance is not going to be able to be gated to restrict public access to those roads. There are pros and cons to this issue.

    by Kate — November 13, 2015

  33. Virginia, Orange County is expensive, but I am now sharing with my daughter & her husband a lovely apartment with 2 master suites with living area between. We could not afford such a nice place if we needed to rent 2 separate apartments. Check out The Colony in Newport Beach, CA. If you don’t need such a large apartment with all the amenities & proximity to Fashion Island, I’m sure you can find something more affordable. Be aware that the farther you are from the beach the higher the temperature, but rents are more reasonable. We are only a mile from the Pacific, & the weather here has been lovely. I have no interest in being a homeowner again, but if you want yet another albatross, be sure to rent in the building or neighborhood for maybe a year 1st. Happy hunting.

    by Sallie — November 13, 2015

  34. Clyde, while lower HOA fees often means less amenities, that is not always true. We searched T/T Fl, and were surprise how little some to the over $ 500/mo communities had to offer…sm gyms, pools, ball courts etc
    We have 3 pools, including one lap pool, 2 gyms,several tennis and pickle ball courts, 3 club houses, a ball field, more activities than we could possibly attend, just for starters, and we pay $ 85/mo. We do own the lots and homes, so we do pay our yearly taxes, which, compared to adding up higher HOA fees, is very reasonable.
    It took us forever to find this place, and yes, we are an hour or so away from the nearest beach. But that also comes with lower insurance and less weather impact. So we are quite happy here.

    by godsgirl — November 14, 2015

  35. godsgirl, would you mind sharing the community that you live in it sounds really nice and affordable.
    Thank you, Barbara

    by Barbara — November 14, 2015

  36. Yes, godsgirl, I too would be interested in knowing the name of your community. Right now, I am sitting in my house looking like a squatter. Our children and spouses came over Labor Day weekend to purge 38 years of “stuff” in preparation for our move to the south to be closer to our children and grandchildren. As life happens, one can never predict what may interfere. My husband had been ill most of 2015 and ultimately passed away September 16. Since it was his wish more than mine that we move, I have put everything on hold in order to catch my breath and reassess what is next for me as I mourn my husband’s passing and decide what’s in store for me as I move forward alone. My house is much too big but right now I am staying put, with no drapes on the living room and dining room windows and two rooms completely empty of furniture. And what I am keeping is boxed up in a “holding area” room next to the garage. I have what I need in terms of kitchen stuff, etc., but for instance, all my Christmas decorations are packed away, etc. Cherish your spouse, because it could end tomorrow. Our retirement plans and dreams are no longer. Not at all how I envisioned my life turning out after working hard for 40 plus years.

    by Mary K — November 14, 2015

  37. Along with Barbara and Mary K, I’d also be interested in the name of godsgirl’s development that has HOA fees of only $85/month. Sounds very reasonable. Is it a 55+ community and do those fees include any lawn care, exterior maintenance/insurance or golf (things many retirees are looking for)? And is the community gated? I’m not wild about gated communities, but they often provide a level of percieved safety and security that is appealing and comforting to retirees, especially those now living alone.

    To Mary K: so sorry about the loss of your husband. Your time of mourning and reassessment sounds sensible and appropriate. All best wishes to you as you move slowly forward. May your children, grandchildren, friends and memories comfort you.

    by Clyde — November 14, 2015

  38. With pleasure
    http://theplantation.com/
    As I have mentioned before, I am merely a resident here and am not mentioning our community for any other reason but that we are happy to have found it.
    As you will see when clicking at the Pal Realty link, the Plantation offers homes in every price range and building style, from mobile homes to what we. lovingly, call mansions…some with their private pools.
    From what I understand, the monthly HOA has been the same for many yearn, and somehow they make it work.

    by godsgirl — November 15, 2015

  39. Apologies for my spelling. Many years, of course, instead of yearn.

    by godsgirl — November 15, 2015

  40. Clyde, we do pay for our lawn maintenance, $ 55/mo, which is very reasonable.
    We have 2 golf courses, but I don’t know about the fees, since both husband and I don’t play golf. I am sure you can find out by contacting the office.
    The community is gated, has 2 staffed, and 1 unstaffed entrance.
    There are several other communities here along Hwy 27, which goes from Leesburg proper to Clermont, and we are the only one with a traffic light. It is a pleasant convenience.
    Another would be a volunteer program where willing folks give rides to other community members for doctor visits and such.
    If you like, check out “The Hawthorne”, a close by community which also has a fairly low HOA. (? 200) From what I understand, that includes some basic cable and lawn care, but they don’t allow pets.
    We are about 20 mins or so away from the “Villages” with all their conveniences, but without all their traffic and crowds.
    Going south, Orlando is only about 30 mins away, if anyone is interested,
    Grocery and ACE hardware, some restaurants, banks, pharmacy, gas station, 3 miles down the road.
    Coming back here after a shopping trip at the Villages, to me, feels like returning to tranquility. But don’t confuse that with lack of activity. Anyone can be as active or as laid back as they please.

    I will gladly provide additional information if I can. Just ask

    by godsgirl — November 15, 2015

  41. Mary – my sympathies. I’m in a similar situation, although my spouse died a year ago. I agree with taking some time to decide what you want to do. My spouse had wanted to retire to FL, and I just took for granted that would be where we’d go. I thought everything was mapped out, and of course lfe throws a curve ball. I’m doing research now, while sorting through the things that will move when I eventually figure it out. (It’s strange to have decorations packed up when you’ve decorated for 40+ years, but you probably wouldn’t feel like pulling them all out anyway this year. Give yourself the gift of some time.) We all know intellectually that every couple will be in our situation someday, but you can’t really prepare. And after a long marriage and joint decisions, it’s surprisingly difficult to have to figure things what you want to do as a solo. Wishing you peace.

    by Kate — November 15, 2015

  42. Thank you, godsgirl, for letting us know of the Plantation. Sounds like a nice place with reasonable HOA fees. I’m sure several of us reading this blog will check it out. Best wishes in your retirement!

    by Clyde — November 15, 2015

  43. Gods girl,

    Can you tell me what the rules are regarding pets. I have three small dogs weighing total 25 lbs that I can’t part with.
    Thanks,

    by Nan — November 16, 2015

  44. Nan, they do have a 2 dog, no weight limit rule. I have seen the occasional 3 dog walker. Those could have been renters. It may be best to call someone at PAL realty to ask for detail, for they may know about exceptions.

    by godsgirl — November 16, 2015

  45. Godgilr, thanks for the info. we plan to take a trip to Lake County fl.
    Is there any sinkhole problems in your area?

    by wen — November 16, 2015

  46. wen, someone had posted a link of sinkholes T/O the U.S., if I recall. It may be best to refer to it.

    Perhaps admin could post it once more? Thank you

    Unless I missed it, I didn’t hear anything in the news about sinkholes near by, That seems to be a more serious problem around the Tampa area. But sinkhole insurance is included in our policy, which runs about 1,000/year for a 2 BR/2 BA, 1, 300 sqft home, resident owned lot.

    by godsgirl — November 17, 2015

  47. dear Mary K and Kate,
    My heart goes out to you both. Surely, you will find your way; but in the meantime, i can only imagine the hurt of your losses. May you know the love and comfort of God in a new and real way, and may family and friends draw near during this very difficult time.

    by ella — November 17, 2015

  48. Is anyone familiar with St James Plantation in Southport, NC or any of the communities in that area? Want to retire somewhere near the NC or SC shoreline and am thinking a community, but does not have to be 55+. Not sure if we would use all that the buy in and the HOA’s cost as well. Thanks for any input!

    by Robin — November 22, 2015

  49. I think it’s really important to realize how different 55+ communities are from one to the next. Some offer more, some offer less. Some have a greater mix of people from different places with different backgrounds. Some areas don’t. We moved to Saddlebrooke, outside Tucson, a year ago. Last week I hiked, played Mahjongg, attended a lecture about time by a UA professor and hung out by the pool. My backyard looks into a large wash and I see Javalinas, deer, quail and an occasional Bobcat. I don’t see people out back, but I do if I sit on my front patio. There are tons of volunteer activities, arts and intellectual pursuits as well as golf, tennis and pickleball. However, you could stay in the house and do nothing or just engage in solitary pursuits. Yes, there are regs from the HOA, but if something is not visible from the street, it is ok.

    I like living here because it is so easy to make friends, or not. It’s really up to me. I’m an active 63 and Dick is an active 70. Maybe this stage will last until I’m too old to travel East to see family. I don’t expect this to be a final move. We’re sure happy now. You can’t paint one depiction of life in a 55+ community because they are so varied.

    by Barbara — November 23, 2015

  50. Alice, on November 7th you asked Bob and Barb if they had been to Savannah Lakes Village. My husband and I went there last spring. It is literally in the middle of nowhere. You get a lot of money for your house but that is the reason why. There is a very small town about 10 minutes away, but all that is there is a grocery store, a Hardee’s and maybe one other small restaurant. The lake is also very nice. But there is literally nothing to do outside of the neighborhood. Hope this helps.

    by Liana — November 23, 2015

  51. Does anyone know of a managed All Age community in Broward County and/ or Palm Beach County in Florida that not only caters to younger residents, but has subdivisions, amenities and lifestyle activities for active 55+ retirees?
    I am a single female, retiring soon and planning to relocate to a retirement community in Southeast Florida.
    I enjoy being with my peers, but would prefer to live in an all age managed community that has age and ethnicity diversity. I would be looking for a townhome or condo under $200,000.00.

    If there is no such community, any recommendation on quality 55+ Active community in Broward or Palm Beach County within my price range? No membership equity, low HOA. Thank you!

    by Sonia — November 23, 2015

  52. Liana, Appreciate the information regarding SLV. In addition to it being remote, it recently dawned on me that several of the houses I’m interested in have been on the market for a very long time (in one case up to 7 years). We concluded that it wasn’t a good idea to buy a house that we couldn’t easily sell, and so chalked SLV off our list. In fact, after years of discussion, I finally threw out the list entirely and decided to remain in our single family home in an all-age community. Without my husband fully on board with the 55 plus idea, it just doesn’t seem right. But in case of widowhood (ug) I know that Del Webb is just down the street.

    by Alice — November 24, 2015

  53. Victory at verrado has just started to boom. Clubhouse opens next month, it will have a different tone than most and is still part of an established community with a Main Street, restaurants, market, salon. Moving in tomorrow. Greater Phoenix area.

    by Nancy — November 24, 2015

  54. Oh, and I have 3 dogs.

    by Nancy — November 24, 2015

  55. Sonia, check out Wynmoor Village, Coconut Creek, Fl. They have an extensive website.

    by Maureen — November 24, 2015

  56. The right 55+Active community for a single female can be challenging to find. I love traveling, low impact fitness, social/ educational activities and diverse culture. Not too far from the city, shopping and beach is a plus.
    Thanks for feedback/ suggestions on Wynmoor Village and Victory at Verrado from my first inquiry. I am visiting southeast Florida in Spring to tour a selected number of communities that meet my budget [ under $200,000 ] with house style and lifestyle activities I can participate in.

    All suggestions of communities I should look at would be welcome.

    In what city is Victory at Verrado located? Thanks!

    by Sonia — November 24, 2015

  57. Sonia, Victory at Verrado is in Buckeye, Az. My wife and I rented a house there about 6 months before the started selling in the Victory portion of the development. Its a nice place but not for us. We personally are looking for a gated age restricted community. I at least don’t want to see and hear children on a daily basis. Harsh perhaps but that’s just me. IF Victory were even gated we might have considered it. As it stands now I’m trying to get her to decide between Robson Ranch in Eloy and Saddlebrooke Ranch outside of Oracle.

    by Bob S — November 24, 2015

  58. HI, Sonia
    i can totally relate to your post.

    i am a recently divorced 60 something active, youthful body and mind, and totally confused about where to look.

    as per my divorce decree i need to put my house on a market this spring ( i live in lovely Morristown, NJ) and in order to travel/ do the things i want to do, staying in NJ is economically not feasible.

    as a former New Yorker, proximity to town/culture, diverse environment , is quite important, but so is the great outdoors, being close to lake/beach, hiking, etc.

    My budget is about the same as yours, Sonia.

    perhaps we can chat..would love to be in touch with someone is similar circumstances.

    i do have few friends who moved to a 55 plus..but they are all couples ( very different)

    i appreciate any input.

    thanks Eva

    by eva — November 24, 2015

  59. Bob S Have you checked out The Highlands at Dove Mountain? We are just off I-10 and Tangerine Rd. Gated, age restricted and best of all only 1247 homes. Started in 1997, built out in 2007 and no longer under builder control.

    by ljtucson — November 25, 2015

  60. I’d like to defend “remote” communities like Savannah Lakes Village and, in fact, communities everywhere that have one “flaw.” The truth is that no community is paradise. In Savannah Lakes’ case, the fllaw is its remote location. At The Landings, residents love that it is 20 minutes from downtown Savannah, but beachgoers will have to make a decision because The Landings is 45 minutes from Tybee Island, the nearest beach. At Haig Point, on Daufuskie Island, the issue is the high cost of the ferry, the only means of transportation to that beautiful community. At Savannah Lakes, you have to balance its remote location against a beautiful lake, and some of the lowest prices in real estate you will find in such a community. And the amenities charge, which includes golf, is on the order of $100 a month, the lowest anywhere. And as for turning and running because some homes have been on the market for years, that condition can be the result of an overpriced home in an otherwise underpriced market. It is perfectly valid to not want to live away from civilization and conveniences. But it is shortsighted to disquaiify a fine community on the basis of one or two homes out of a couple of thousand that have languished on the market for some years. I recently dedicated part of my free monthly newsletter to golf communities with one flaw. I’d be happy to send a copy to anyone who might be interested.

    by Larry — November 25, 2015

  61. Eva, I spent most of my life in Morris County. It is beautiful but pricy and no more snow for me! My wife and I have looked at retirement destinations from Wilmington, NC south to New Smyrna Beach, FL. We are focusing on Amelia Island, FL but wouldn’t be a good call for you with your budget. I suggest you look at our second choice, the area from Little River south to Pawley’s Island in SC. Very beautiful; great housing choices and very nice people; had all the amenity choices we wanted, interesting communities and adequate health care facilities. Good luck and take care.

    by Richard — November 25, 2015

  62. Hi, Richard

    thanks for your note..your suggestions..i will check them out.

    where in Morris County were you?

    as per my financial planner, who i saw yesterday, my budget can extend to about $350000 ( as long as i don’t live past age 92) lol

    ideally, i would like to travel quite a bit, perhaps spend several months out of the year in Europe( originally from the Czech Republic), so i was being very conservative with my living arrangements, as i may not be there the whole year

    but than, if i absolutely love where i am, perhaps my travel wonder lust may change to shorter trips.

    yesterday was the first time i ” blogged” here, and so glad i did, it is helpful to get suggestions/thoughts from others.

    Thanks Eva

    .

    by eva — November 25, 2015

  63. EVA my contact email is retiringtoFL2016@yahoo.com.

    It appears that we share some common interest and desire in finding that 55+ community with the best fit for the active single female relocating from big cities. Currently I reside in Metropolitan Washington DC; also, I am a frequent visitor to New York City. So, I am accustomed to having access to diverse culture, transportation, educational opportunities, activities, medical facilities, and shopping. While I do not expect to find similar abundance of a big city, I still have that need to have some access and choices without having to drive many miles to a theatre, library , volunteer opportunities, good supermarkets , etc.

    I choose southeast Florida (Broward and Palm Beach County) because I have visited the area a few times and like the ethnic diversity, beach, lack of snow and lack of frigid weather. Additionally, I need to remain active and to find that welcoming 55+ community not only for couples but also for the single female who needs lifestyle activities to facilitate a smooth transition in downsizing to a new home in a new state.

    I have been reading about Boca Raton and Delray Beach, Anyone with knowledge of pet restriction, no equity membership fee, low HOA…….. 55+ communities that meet a budget of under $200,000 [ townhome or quality condo ]? Appreciate all suggestions! Thank you.

    HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!

    by Sonia — November 25, 2015

  64. Thanks Bob S. Whereist The Highlands at Dove Mountain? My preference is Southeast Florida. All recommendations, suggestions are welcome.

    by Sonia — November 25, 2015

  65. ljtucson No, we have not checked out The Highlands at Dove Mountain. My wife believes that she would 1) prefer a newer community that we can grow with and 2) the size of The Highlands at Dove Mountain is smaller than she would prefer. But, we will be down in that general area in February of 2016 and may stop in to take a look.

    by Bob S — November 25, 2015

  66. Eva, I grew up in Florham Park and lived for 12+ years each in both Morristown and Morris Plains. FL appeals to us since our pensions wouldn’t be taxed. NE FL is appealing because they experience the least # of hurricanes. If FL is of interest to you, Ormond Beach is another interesting area and comparable to SC pricewise.

    by Richard — November 25, 2015

  67. Bob S….yes, you should look at The Highlands at Dove Mountain – I’m super familiar with all of these communities since I’ve been here since 1997. We love the convenience of being close to I-10 and not so far from the city of Tucson and airport. I’m okay with Robson Ranch for winters but not very fond of the area in summer and dust storms…it is an extremely flat and open area. I think Saddlebrooke Ranch is lovely but too far out and isolated from the city for us. But, so many great options in the Tucson area – we really love it here and enjoy 55+ community life. Del Webb is also building a new community a few miles up the road from us in Dove Mountain – it is smaller though and no golf course and not gated. Although our community built out in 2007 we have really kept it up to date with great amenities and really strong financials – this is important because once the builder leaves many communities then find out how much the builder was subsidizing and now transferred to homeowners. Also, our average age of new homeowners is just over 62 so it seems like we are pretty young and active here. Also, we are in the foothills of the Tortolita Mountains so it is not only gorgeous, we have tremendous hiking just a couple of miles from our community. Good luck with your search, it is both fun and stressful. We live here year round and just try to get away for short trips to break up the hot summers – trips back to Wisconsin or Flagstaff and the Canyon, Santa Fe and San Diego are all great easy travel getaways.

    by ljtucson — November 25, 2015

  68. A blessed Thanksgiving to all.

    by godsgirl — November 26, 2015

  69. I’ll be short and too the point. I love the idea of interacting with people in my age group, but abhor the outrageous costs I often see in order to have this type of lifestyle.

    by Michael Wilson — November 26, 2015

  70. Hello Richard, and Happy Thanksgiving. I was born in Millburn, grew up(I think) in Chatham Twp lived 10 years in Florham Park(riverside dr), then Basking Ridge. Spent 62 years there. 4 years now in SW Virginia-pretty content here!

    by Doc Stocker — November 26, 2015

  71. Happy Thanksgive, Doc. I grew up on Roosevelt Blvd. in FP.

    by Richard — November 26, 2015

  72. Hi Richard. Small world indeed. Have you made the move to Fla? If so, is it working for you?

    by Doc Stickel — November 27, 2015

  73. Doc, We’re still in Ca. We’ll move either in 2016 or 2017.

    by Richard — November 27, 2015

  74. Hi Doc, It’s nice to see you on this blog again. My husband and i made our trip to several states and towns recently including Galax, VA. I saw what you meant about the area being somewhat run-down, although still appealing in some ways. I thought you were seeking an alternative to Wytheville. Have you changed your mind?

    by ella — November 27, 2015

  75. Hello again, Ella. Hmmmm…..to answer your question, no-well maybe. Tough decision. We have 5 acres 5 miles from Wytheville. We love our house and the property. Many nights the sunsets are breathtaking(no smog?). It is peaceful and serene(especially after NJ). Things are much slower. Probably see more animals than pele, and more trtactors than cars. There is much to love. I feed deer and wild turkeys that are like pets. That said, we still love Waynesville with its restaurants and activity. We’re driving down tomorrow for the day to look at some properties. We’re considering remaining here but maybe a Condo there??? Not an easy decision, but we fortunate to be in either place-wherever that may be! Regards,Doc

    by Doc Stickel — November 27, 2015

  76. Hi Doc Stickel,
    So g l a d you’re enjoying your life in Wytheville. It does sound lovely! As for Waynesville, if i had a second home, i think i’d want it someplace warmer for the winter. Sending warm greetings.

    by ella — November 28, 2015

  77. My husband and I plan to visit a central Florida 55-community for a “Stay and Play.” I’ve read the relevant articles about evaluating communities. However, I want to ask the important questions in such a way as to learn what is reality, not the, “party line.” Are there unspoken issues to persue? We’re particulary concerned about overbearing home owners associations. In a short visit how do you pick up a community’s true vibe? How do you know if your values are compatible? Any suggestions beyond what is available on this and other sites will be appreciated.

    by amy — November 28, 2015

  78. Amy, This website has covered this issue in great detail. Take a look at the blog topics, then take notes on what to cover (and ask about) when visiting a community. One comment that i remember is to read the community’s Facebook page. There are communities that air a mean-spirited attitude for all to read. Hoping that you find exactly what you’re looking for.

    by ella — November 29, 2015

  79. Hello Ella. Your thoughts are understood, and many gravitate to warmer climes, to be sure. I, however have grown quite accustomed to being in and “cradled” by the mountains. Whenever we leave our elevation for the flatlands-be it for the day, or longer, we always appreciate our return. As for the cold-I wouldn’t think a fire(even gas logs) would be so richly rewarding in Florida. That snap you get from crystal clear cold wouldn’t be there. Being “retired” gives me flexibility to go out in the cold if desired, or stay in and watch the flakes with a comforter and good book. Guess I’m just not Florida material. Many of my friends are, and I’ve learned never to say never-but, not yet!

    by Doc Stickel — November 29, 2015

  80. Hey Doc Stickel,
    No, not Florida. Maybe Northern Georgia in the mountains. Just a bit warmer than SW Virginia, but still warmer. Cool enough for a fire, though! 🙂

    by ella — November 29, 2015

  81. Ella, good luck with your quest. Just pay close attention to elevation, please. There is a big difference in climate for instance, between 2500-3000 feet and living at 4000 feet!

    by doc stickel — November 30, 2015

  82. Any thoughts between Green Valley (south of Tucson) and Sun City (west of Phoenix)? Crime? Cost of living? Activities? I think I have finally narrowed my search to these two areas—or possibly Vegas as third option. I definitely want over 55, as I have no desire to have kids on a trampoline in the yard behind me while enjoying my evening martini with my yorkie. 🙂

    by Pat — November 30, 2015

  83. Bob S, SaddleBrooke also offers some new houses and opportunity to build. It is closer in than the Ranch and not as windy. Construction at the Ranch will go on beyond our lifetimes. Most activities take place at Saddlebrooke, as there is reciprocity between 2 communities until 2021.

    Saddlebrooke is closer to Oro Valley shopping and has good access to highways through shortcuts. For new house prices range from $400 to $900, depending on size, areas and views. Nice, newer houses can be found in $300ks.

    I second the comments about Eloy. Isolated, dusty and windy.

    We also looked at Del Webb, but not far enough along for us. We rented a furnished house for a year. It gave us a chance to really look and consider.

    by Barbara — November 30, 2015

  84. Hi, my former New Jersey neighbors ( and others)

    i totally love my area ( Morristown) ..it took my ex-husband 4 years to convince me to move to NJ from the Upper West Side of NYC , but once here, i fell in love with the area.

    however , since i need to sell my home due to the divorce ( and really am ready to downsize from a 4 bdr/3 bath home) .. having to pay $2000 plus for a one bdr apt or $450000 plus for a 2 bdr condo, to remain in the area, is just not that appealing.

    I guess i am hoping for a place with a degree of non conformity, vibrancy, a bit of quirkiness, not the vanilla same old, same old.

    not sure that the typical 55 plus will provide that. but i do want a sense/feel of a community around me, since i am alone ( single)

    does anyone know of a community, 55 plus or otherwise that provides a sense of the things i mention?

    i thought of Ashville/Hendersonville..any thoughts?

    i do believe that renting initially will be the way for me to go, till i find ” that special place”.

    any advice/thoughts/help are welcomed.

    thanks Eva

    by eva — November 30, 2015

  85. Eva – The research will be part of the fun! I recommend, however, that you be receptive to finding that quirkiness, vibrancy and uniqueness in unexpected settings. I have lived in NYC, CT and other locations in the course of my career. I loved Pittsburgh, for example – tons of things to do, warm hearted people, an active music, theatre, ballet, film & arts scene, and a complete lack of pretension. I met someone in Pittsburgh who mourned leaving the “culture” of New York so much, that she was completely closed off to discovering all those good things about being in Pittsburgh. I have a brother who was in the New York publishing industry, who views the rest of the country as a wasteland of culture. Don’t fall into that trap! It’s simply not true. A location may market itself as meeting a partcular artsy criteria, but another location may offer exactly the same lifestyle without the hype.

    I’m a compulsive researcher, which I’m trying to apply to finding my own “special place.” I just bought one of those huge laminated maps of the U.S. I’ve cut it down to just to South of Delaware and mid-Atlanic states and tacked it to the wall in my home office. I bought stars and tag stickers! Here I go…. tags for things that are important to me. My church is not that common in the Southern states (OCA) so I am putting up stars where there are churches. I’d like a University or large college nearby, can’t live without Barnes & Noble and large public libraries, and would like an indoor mall for walking in bad weather. I want to live somewhere where there’s a good daily newspaper. I want to be in a community with more than one hospital. I’d like to be within an hour or two of a large airport, for possible travel. I’m blocking out states like W.V. that tax Social Securty. (I bet you’re thinking that I have too much time to waste LOL). This process is giving me a chance to imagine different futures in different places, and to think about the things that are important to me. It was so simple for my deceased spouse, who just wanted a big boat n Florida. It’s a lot tougher if there isn’t a particular place that has been calling your name for years….

    by Kate — December 1, 2015

  86. For Pat: I am not familiar with Tucson, but I live in N. Phoenix, and I know people that live in Sun City West Phoenix. From what I have been told by them, they all seem to enjoy living there and all the activities. I have not heard of crime there, and we have a reasonable cost of living. Loralee

    by Loralee — December 1, 2015

  87. Found this theory a few years ago and it has lead me after six years to Amelia Island/Fernandina Beach, FL

    The Martini Theory
    Finding a second home or place to retire mimics a Martini glass. Once you know when you will retire, the first step is to determine which area best matches your day to day needs followed by which community best suits your lifestyle requirements. The well soaked olive is the real estate and that’s the easiest part of your search.

    Retire/When?
    Are you going to retire and if so, when? This plays a vital role in your quest.

    Where?
    This is the largest part of the glass and will consume the most time in your search. When you look at areas, it’s critical to understand exactly what the area provides you in terms of medical facilities, restaurants, entertainment, shopping, transportation, taxes, weather, worship and friendliness. And keep in mind the older we get, the less distance we will want to travel!

    Community
    Once your research leads you to a specific town or area, then you need to match your lifestyle & budget requirements with the local communities. They typically offer golf, fitness, swimming, tennis, walking trails, dining, private beach clubs and lots of socializing opportunities, while communities might offer a pool, small clubhouse, tennis court(s) and social activities. The choice is yours.

    Home/Homesite/Townhome/Condo
    Truly the easiest part of your quest is the real estate once you commit to an area and a community,

    by Richard — December 1, 2015

  88. Eva, I might echo some of Richard’s thoughts. Formerly born and raised in the Chatham/Basking Ridge area and very conversant with Morristown. Having said that-ask 10 people about retirement and you will probably receive 10 very different answers. Of course retirement means many different things and is quite dependent on the economics, emotion, age, relative health and expectations of us all. These factors vary widely among us, and consequently very hard to give imput without knowing many factors. This I can say-Morristown is not Waynesville, or Hendersonville. That is not necessarily bad, or good. They are much different areas, with differing demographics and perhaps-average ages. Renting in any particular area of interest is a good move, for you won’t truly come to know a place thru weekend visits. 6 months or a year spent in a locale will give you a pretty good idea. Good hunting!

    by doc stickel — December 1, 2015

  89. Eva,

    Some of my earlier decisions were:

    Do I really want four seasons aka Winter? For me, no.
    Can I tolerate very hot/humid summers? For me, yes.
    Proximity to family? For me, not important.
    How important is the ocean? For me, very!
    Taxes, particularly income tax? For me, FL is the place.

    by Richard — December 1, 2015

  90. Godsgirl sent the link http://theplantation.com/ and at $85 a month for HOA it is a real bargain! She describes it to be a real gem. There are a lot of amenities too. However, my Hub is not interested in FL. Can anyone suggests a similar type place in TN, GA or SC?

    by Louise — December 2, 2015

  91. Below is an answer we gave to Brenda, who posed this question. Can anyone else add to the discussion:

    Q: I have been researching for months. Looking for home, condo and now 55+ communities. So here’s a question- do all 55 communities have a sale price and a rental fee?

    Condos seem to have very low fees which at times cover roof repairs, common area up keep, pool and other amenities. No rental fees are mentioned.

    55+ communities don’t seem to bring more to the table for their rental fees.

    What am I missing?
    —–
    A: If a 55+ or active adult community is a place where you purchase your home, there are also Home Owners Association fees. Those pay for common features such as security and roads. In some communities, mostly manufactured homes or RV homes, you buy the home and there is a rental fee for your lot. Those usually include the HOA fees.

    You need to ask the Home Owners Association or developer for all of the documents explaining these fees. They can be quite different in different communities – some offer better value than others.

    by Brenda — January 29, 2016

  92. After just a few months now in our gorgeous gated community, we have learned to really do your homework concerning fees! We knew there would be the HOA fee and the Club dues to use all of the amenities here (they are top notch). There are also specific fees to further access the various sports offerings such as golf, tennis etc. and trail fees, and golf course maintenance assessments, and outdoor pool renovation assessments. Endless financial needs for those beautiful amenities! We have since learned that if you want to join a class, such as yoga, aqua fitness, etc at the gym there is another monthly fee, about $100 apiece! There is a charge for every event on the island, $110 per couple for the Valentines dinner, $44.00 per couple to attend the resident “talent show”, special golf events -today is the Snowbird Open and to play is an extra fee, etc. on and on. Due diligence before you buy folks – these can really add up! Also ask about – and make sure you see in writing – the increases in these fees for the past 5 years- two months into it and we learn the HOA is going up 4.5% for 2016. We are just beginning retirement, so the savings account can handle this now, even in a year when our investments actually did not move and our first year of SS benefits did not increase, but the cost of Medicare took a big jump. It is sad to have to see some of the longtime residents here moving on – in their 80’s – because their financial situations that used to work here can no longer take the squeeze of annual increases that far outpace the gains, or losses, in their nest eggs. So,ask, dig, demand to know all of the hidden fees in the cost of not just living in, but fully enjoying a community ‘s amenities upfront!

    by SandyZ — January 30, 2016

  93. Sandy could you share please what community? I just moved to victory at verrado in Arizona and our clubhouse opens soon.

    by Nancy — January 30, 2016

  94. Hi Nancy – we chose Dataw Island in Beaufort SC and do not regret it a bit – just are glad that we have the funds to fund the surprise fees! Would not have made a different choice if we had known and understand that expenses will be greater in our early retirement when we want to “play” a lot!

    by SandyZ — January 30, 2016

  95. I am penciling my retirement budget hoping for a 55+ community, and am concerned about the type of upward creep and special assessments that SandyZ describes. I have to keep pulling myself back from what I think I can afford, to give myself a lot more room. I am trying to be realistic about whether or not I’m going to use all those great amenities that I’d be paying for, especially as I age. The pools are gorgeous, but will I honestly swim or spend time there over the years? I don’t play golf, so I don’t want to pay to support a course for others. I question whether as a widowed introvert and recovering workaholic, whether I’ll join clubs in those beautiful clubhouses. I look at Facebook and HOA sites, and have noted generosity to charities by groups and clubs in the 55+ communities. Hmmmm. Does my retirement budget consider that? Golf carts are cute, but add costs for maintenance, registration and insurance. There’s a lot to think about, and having a really good cushion appears to be critical. For me, that has meant figuring out what I can afford and then either cutting it back, including choosing a much smaller home.

    by Kate — January 31, 2016

  96. Very wise thinking, Kate! Figure out what YOU want to do in retirement and choose a community accordingly. It appears from the annual financial statements just given to residents that the biggest costs to this community are the golf courses and the various eating establishments in the club. If you don’t think you would utilize either, there are probably many other lovely community options with fewer amenities and smaller fees as a result. Hope others are carefully thinking this through as well!

    by SandyZ — January 31, 2016

  97. After reading all these comments on 55+ communities – I was wondering if there are places that we can discuss where retiree’s live without all the amenties & fees – but close enough so that one can use or find the amenities if wanted. We can easily afford to move to a 55+ but I agree with Kate. Maybe this is wishful thinking?

    by Ron — January 31, 2016

  98. I cannot over emphasize the need for anyone considering a 55+ community to do your homework and ask questions. Meet with homeowners, if you have to grab them in the clubhouse. Golf courses are expensive, if you are not a golfer then you still might like a golf course community due to the additional common area, green space and views created, but know that you will be subsidizing it generally in HOA fees. The golfers here pay most of the costs but not all. In our community lots of fitness classes are taught by knowledgeable homeowners and are free but if they have to pay a Pilates or Zumba instructor then that is extra cost per class. Tennis and pickleball are free and pool and fitness center. We have a full service restaurant on site, it also is subsidized in our HOA fees because they rarely turn a profit in gated communities. Gated is wonderful but it means the HOA has responsibility for street maintenance which is costly. Ask about the amount of money held in reserves for maintenance of everything….a portion of your monthly fee should go to reserve fund. Our reserve fund is so healthy and our finances so strong that we never have needed an assessment to fill in. Other communities use assessments when they need money and you should ask about the assessment history. Also, if the builder is still in control ask about what they are subsidizing while they try to entice you to buy that will be turned over to the HOA when they leave. Our community is built out and that turnover back in 2007 was interesting but we got through it with solid BOD and management team. Essentially you do need to accept that the 55+ communities offer a lifestyle beyond a house and if you do not see yourself using the clubhouse, pool, tennis, pickleball, golf, higher learning, crafts, cards, fitness center, onsite restaurant, etc you really have to ask yourself, “why am I considering this?” I love our 55+ community just 20 minutes Northwest of Tucson AZ and although I don’t participate in much besides golf because I’m still working, I know that it is all here and as I age I might jump in on different things….love onsite concerts and convenience of restaurant. Our HOA fee is $184 and has been going up about 2-5 dollars a year. http://www.thehighlandsatdovemountain.com check us out if you are thinking about Arizona but don’t want the Phoenix traffic, we are cooler in summer – but still hot and we are in foothills of Tortolita Mountains with hiking right here. Also, size of community can be a big factor, we are only 1297 homes with quick access to interstate which I much prefer to a large isolated community out far from the city. So much to consider!!

    by ljtucson — January 31, 2016

  99. ljtucson, this is my first post after lurking for many months. My wife and I are planning to be in Tucson in the first week of June to visit my parents and to explore the various 55+ communities, including Highlands, Del Webb at Dove Mt, Saddlebrooke One, and Green Valley. We live out of state.

    My parents retired to Tucson 20 years ago, bought a house, and then moved into Spendido 8 years ago. We have visited them over the years and like the area.

    I would like to talk with you about your experiences in Highlands (we are not golfers) and to possibly meet with you if you’d be receptive. But I don’t know how to private message you or to otherwise contact you. Any suggestions? Thanks.

    Dave

    by dcd55 — January 31, 2016

  100. Since we moved to our 55+ community in Goodyear, AZ, called Cantamia, another question has come to light. That is the question of crime. The word is so many of our 55+ competitors are now having crime/theft issues as they are closer to the I 10, and that is one problem we are not having as our community is gated. ( It is also a plus for the Snow Birds that are here only in the winter.) Our club house has fees for services that require outside performers such as the comedy night we have in February and the fee for that is $15 per person, well below what you would pay in Phoenix for a similar event. Most of the programs in swim classes, pool and whirlpool use and, fitness do not have fees. There is a fitness trainer that has a charge for her program. We just had our annual meeting and that is the place to discover the financial strength of a community and it is very solid here.

    by Sue Cook — January 31, 2016

  101. Dave, email me at ljtucson@comcast.net – I’d love to meet with you.

    by ljtucson — January 31, 2016

  102. Somebody told me yesterday that in the snowbird parks in Yuma there are now vacant spots whereas at one time you had to reserve a spot 2 years in advance if you wanted to find a spot. Can anyone provide more information? Is it true and why would that be happening?

    by susan — February 1, 2016

  103. To Nancy who just moved into Victory at Verrado: We’re moving from the mountains of NC to Lot #325 in Victory towards the end of May 2016. Would like to hear how you’re adjusting to your new surroundings and Victory itself.
    Thanks,
    Anne

    by Anne — February 1, 2016

  104. Hi Anne,
    So far it’s great. The setting is breathtaking. The clubhouse should open next week and they already have fitness classes scheduled. People already here are organizing functions. Sales have really started to gain momentum. By May, things should be really active.

    by Nancy — February 2, 2016

  105. Thanks Nancy,
    So looking forward to being back in a community with neighbors and that wonderful feel of Verrado’s little downtown.
    We knew as soon as we hit the tree lined streets off of Verrado Way that this was something totally different then anything else we had seen in the Phoenix area. My wish has always been to be in walking distance of a grocery store and coffee shop. Couldn’t have asked for anything better then Main Street. The walking paths are something I plan to take advantage of in the cooler mornings and possibly a good way to meet people too. This is our 11th house in 38 years………I hope we’ve gotten it right this time:-)
    Anne

    by Anne — February 2, 2016

  106. This Comment came in from Sally:

    Does anyone have a recommendation regarding great quilting, fiber and textile art groups in communities? I am a fabric artist who would like to find facilities and like minded folks in a retirement setting. Thus far, have looked at Quail Creek, AZ that has a fabulous art facility, but may not be exactly the best fit for us. Interested in Texas (Austin area or Hill country?), or some of the lesser priced areas near the WA coast (VAncouver?) or maybe one of the newer communities near Las Vegas. If anyone has any comments on their experiences looking for the same, please post! Thanks.

    by Admin — June 27, 2016

  107. Any one consider the weather in the PHX area, I just moved to The Villages, Fl (fortunately rentin) after living 11 years in Surprise, AZ at a lovely development, AZ Traditioins, however not Single friendly, it is really to hot half of the year to do any walking out side I find The Villages, Fl much too large for me and spread out, the clubs are all over and this area is Huge, I too am looking for a smaller development, maybe NE Fl area, and I am reconsidering the 55 Plus communities, they are very costly and I don’t use most of the facilities. Any suggestion re Eastern Fl, maybe high rise apt or condo livning, some of them have restaurants, theaters, etc. Again I think I will rent because of the fees.

    by jean — June 28, 2016

  108. Does anyone live, or have lived, at The Pinehills, Plymouth, MA? I would be interested in your feedback on either the 55+ communities or the non age restricted communities. We have family in the Boston area, so understand that the winters can be brutal.
    Thanks.

    by Yvette — June 29, 2016

  109. Does anyone have experience with Shea Builders/Trilogy communities? Wondering if they are well-constructed homes and well-run communities. Thanks.

    by Robin — June 30, 2016

  110. Yvette, I live near The Pinehills in Plymouth, MA. It’s a beautiful community with lots of different types of neighborhoods. I have friends that live there and they are very happy with the development. There natural features are beautiful, there are shops, a bank, post office, etc. right on the property. One of the best parts is that it is close to the town of Plymouth, which has a great restaurant scene and a great Main Street. Obviously, it is close to beaches and Cape Cod. The biggest issue, of course, will be the long cold winters…. Personally, we are headed to NC to escape just that!

    by Robin — June 30, 2016

  111. Robin, I have a friend that bought a home in Trilogy at Vistancia in Arizona. She is very happy with the home and the amenities!

    by Loral — June 30, 2016

  112. Thank you Robin. We love New England but that is the one thing holding us back. Good luck with your move to NC.

    by Yvette — June 30, 2016

  113. Does anyone know if the Seattle/Tacoma area would be a good place to retire? I have never read anything on that part of the West Coast….any comments or recommendations to an area that would be close? Thanks, Mary

    by Mary Kasmierski — July 1, 2016

  114. Seattle / Tacoma is a very beautiful place to live. Unfortunately the cost of living ( Homes/Tax) make it difficult to survive on a fixed income.

    Boeing and Microsoft have packed the area with people and due to the limited freeways due t o mountains traffic is as bad as LA.

    I would recommend you visit the area if you are considering relo in that area.

    by Ron — July 1, 2016

  115. Does anyone have any experience with AV Homes? We toured Solivita in Orlando area and thought it was a beautiful development with lots of amenities.

    by Jan P — July 1, 2016

  116. Looking to relocate from CT. Anybody have opinions on various 55+ communities in the Charleston SC area: recommended vs avoid? Thanks.

    by Mary — July 1, 2016

  117. We spent a couple of days in early March at Solivita with their discovery program. We went to dinner with an ambassador couple and that was enjoyable. I was disappointed not to see a lot of people out and doing, with the exception of golf, but that could have been just because the season was winding down.
    The one thing that does concern me is that they have both a hoa and a cdd.
    We will be going back in December to give it another look and possibly find a existing home.

    by Vicki — July 1, 2016

  118. Jan P I contracted to build an AV home. I found them impossible to work with. After they made a construction error I finally was able to cancel the transaction. Their development near Phoenix has been slow in sales.

    by Nancy — July 2, 2016

  119. My wife and I will be traveling to the Reno-Carson City area this summer to check out the 55+/active adult living situation there. We’d be interested in gaining insights from those who are familiar with the two 55+ communities we’ll be specifically visiting; i.e. Sierra Canyon by Del Webb, as well as Regency at Damonte Ranch. We’d also be anxious to learn of other single-home communities or developments in the Reno-Sparks-Carson City area that may not specifically be 55+ communities, yet would still cater to the interests and needs of active, “more mature” (in age) adults. We lived in Reno for five years and enjoyed it then; that was about 15 years ago.

    by Terry M- — July 2, 2016

  120. We have moved these comments from another Blog discussion:

    Judith. Do not want to live in a Del Webb community. Loved the size of the homes. Amenities. People, etc. again my wife and I spoke with, and I worked with former residents of these communities. They loved them but if you went away for a week or 2 or season, you would return to discover several of your friends were deceased. At the same time if a friend passed away while you were in residence there and the spouse did not drive you were semi expected to take that spouse to the DR or shopping or pick up prescriptions or what have you. There children who may have lived close by but who worked would call you to do their mom/ dad a “favor.” I?willdo this but many former residents said these often became long term commitments and if you were to travel for a week or 2 please find a substitute for their parent. We avoided this. We are NOT selfish people and would do this- but then it does become an imposition.
    by Jack— September 22, 2016

    Jack I am thinking that the scenario you described could happen in any community, I formed my business plan to address the fact that adult children of seniors, sandwiched between generations, do not always have the luxury to disrupt their schedules to accommodate aging parents and their needs. There may also be a liability issue if you take on too many tasks for the elderly. I would not drive someone anywhere if they were in fact ill or lacking mobility. It can be a huge burden if the requests become ongoing. Healthy boundaries with the children of the elderly hopefully may help.?by Jennifer — September 23, 2016

    by Admin — September 23, 2016

  121. Jack,
    We live in a Del Webbcommunity and love it. We have many active volunteers who contribute so much to our community but no one is “expected” to do anything.

    by Kathy — September 24, 2016

  122. TerryM-
    Reno/Carson is on our list of retirement places. Along with Boise, Prescott/Tucson and a few others.

    Did you make the trip to Reno/Carson this summer? If so, what was your impressions?

    We have checked out the area a couple of times. The Sparks area has grown up a LOT since
    you last lived there. The DelWeb community is nice. We tend to like the Southern/Central Reno area
    for non-55+ homes.
    Carson is nice. Smaller. Did you venture out to Dayton (east of Carson)?

    One negative about Reno is the winds.

    by mike — September 25, 2016

  123. I’m also curious about the Reno area. Acquaintances visited & rejected the Del Webb community north of Reno near Verdi because of the winds. They are building in a gold community in Sparks. Sorry, I don’t know the name of it. I’ve heard the Reno area is growing by leaps and bounds, mostly because of Tesla. Laney

    by Laney — September 26, 2016

  124. This comments came from another Blog article

    I live in a central NJ over 55 community as do many of my friends (different communities, same area). I dislike it intensely and plan to leave as soon as I retire. Onerous rules, very, very high HOA all close to or over $400 a month. Yes, they remove the snow but the rules say they have up to two days to do so and it takes them that long. Then when they remove the snow they do a bad job and if you ask to have them come back and clean up what they left they tell you to hire your own snow removal service or to buy your own snow blower. They only do it if it is over 1/2 “. That doesn’t sound bad but 1/2” turns into ice and they aren’t responsible for salting sidewalks and driveways so it gets treacherous. They are responsible for the grass and landscaping and other than the areas around the club house many of these developments are in very bad shape. Lots of very old people, over 80. Lots of complaining. Although they are responsible for the outside they fight every repair that is needed and find ways to make it the homeowners responsibility. The taxes are high. I don’t have one good thing about over 55 communities in central NJ.

    Thanks Diane, can you say the name of where you are? Is there anyone out there that has more information on the NJ 55+, I moved to NC and want to get out of here and need to find a place in the north. I thought NJ might be the place but need more help.

    by elaine n — September 26, 2016

    by Admin — September 26, 2016

  125. Elaine n, have you considered Delaware instead of New Jersey? It is a very retirement friendly state (see Kiplinger’s state by state guide to retirement), and there are plenty of active adult communities to chose from.

    by Alice — September 26, 2016

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