Meet the New Boss – Your HOA

Category: Active adult communities

NOTE: July 31, 2012 – This updates our 2009 article on Home Owner Associations, the introductory piece of a 3 part series about these important, but controversial organizations. The 2nd in the series features an insightful interview with Joe West, CEO of the Community Associations Network about the issues buyers should know about Home Owners Associations before they sign on the dotted line. Part 3 focuses on the transition from developer-run HOA to one controlled by the HOA.

Many people moving into an active adult community will find new meaning in the lyrics from that great 70′s song by The Who, “Won’t Get Fooled Again”. In the song the punch line is “Meet the New Boss, Same as the Old Boss”. That’s where Pete Townsend warns that “the new revolution” might not be any better than the last one. The parallel for baby boomers applies to the Home Owners Associations (HOAs), also called Community Associations or Condo boards) that govern most these communities – be careful what you are buying into.

The subject of Home Owners Associations is a very complex one and cannot be adequately covered in one short article. In this piece we will try to lay out some of the broader issues that you should be aware of when moving into a community governed by a Home Owners Association.

If you have been living in the suburbs in a single family house for the last 30-some years, you might not be prepared for the authority that your new Home Owners Associations has in many areas you take for granted. To name just a few such rules:
- Dress code in public areas; joggers must wear shirts, cover-ups in common areas, etc
- Pets can’t weigh over (25, 40, ?) pounds
- Number, breed, and type of pets is restricted
- Use of common areas like pools, picnic areas, and trails – including when, how, and who can use them
- Renters must rent for at least (1, 3, ?) months (or no renting at all)
- Renters cannot use certain facilities on same terms as owners
- Parking restrictions apply by location or type of vehicle
- Guest restrictions
- Age of residents

This is not a piece against Home Owners Associations. We believe they are an important component to successfully living in a 55+ or condominium development that has shared facilities. These organizations are essential to the effective operation of any community: they set the rules, enforce compliance, manage the assets, and look out for the financial and legal well being of their communities. The people that volunteer for these boards tend to be unsung heroes – they work hard and they spend a lot of time unraveling really thorny questions. Far too often their only reward is to be interrupted and criticized everywhere they go by someone whose narrow self-interest was affected by a policy or rule.

Some folks have a constitutional inability to live around rules. Those people might want to think twice before moving into a community with an HOA, because the association is going to have a lot to say about what goes on (or doesn’t go on) in their new community. As an extreme example, if they want to have junk cars or funny lawn ornaments in their yards, or have a pen full of barking beagles, an organization with an HOA is a bad fit for them.

If you go…
Regardless of whether you go into your new community positively or negatively disposed towards HOA’s, here are some considerations you should keep in mind.

1. Due diligence. Before you buy your new home find out as much as you can about your HOA. Read the rules, check out the minutes, and understand the financial condition of the HOA. This step is crucially important so you are not surprised later on.

2. Be aware of the law. Some states, notably Florida and California, have extensive laws regulating Home Owners Associations, while other states have almost no law on the subject. You should be assured that your association is following both the regulations and best practice. For example, you generally have a right to prompt and accurate minutes of official HOA meetings. Buyers have a right to examine financial documents.

3. Learn about the problems your community might be facing. Some issues to be concerned about: foreclosures or delinquent dues; excessive litigation with neighbors, former owners, or tenants; overdue major maintenance items (and funding thereof), unexpected assessments.

4. Who are the people on the board? It is always wise to meet with at least some of the current board members. Ask them about the big issues facing the community and get a sense for their qualifications and ability to handle them. The quality and expertise of the board is extremely important if they are to handle the significant issues they face.

5. How effective and how prepared is the HOA for handling troublesome issues? Until you move into a community you probably aren’t aware of all of the issues that need to be managed – it can be almost as complex as running a small town or a very large business. Some of these include:
- Major maintenance sinking funds (money put aside for future major projects like paving, roofs, elevators)
- Annual fee increases, assessments, and budgets. What is the history of increases? Look for an organization with steady, modest increases and an absence of unexpected assessments. Erratic fees and unpleasant surprises are usually a sign of ineffective management
- Insurance. Is the HOA adequately covered for legal and natural disasters? Are they paying too much or have the wrong policies in force?
- Pets. Few issues cause more trouble between sometimes oblivious owners and touchy non-owners. Sizes, breeds, numbers, access to facilities – the potential areas for conflict are legion
- Renters. How long (or how briefly) can they stay, do they have equal access to facilities?
- Visitors and family members. What are the rules about visitors, especially younger people in a 55+ age restricted community?
- Facilities. Go to just about any facility (swimming pool, exercise room, etc.) within an active adult community and look for the list of rules. Dollars to donuts the list of potential infractions will be long and onerous. That’s because someone, somewhere, was inconsiderate. Once someone annoys the wrong person, a rule will come out to try to control that issue.
- Water leaks. In many communities water leaks, particularly in unoccupied units, are a major issue. Are there policies and procedures for prevention and remediation?
- Environmental problems. Mold, asbestos, chinese dry wall, leaking oil tanks, natural disasters – all of these issues must be handled intelligently.
- Personnel. An HOA usually has employees – sometimes a facilities or property manager, a business manager, security guards, maintenance personnel, clubhouse and possibly restaurant workers. Does the HOA hire effective managers and monitor and review their performance?
- Rule making history and enforcement. An effective HOA has to be a bit like Solomon. They must have specific and general rules in place to cover most contingencies, and be prepared to reasonably address problems that come up unexpectedly. Look out for long lists of petty rules that try to cover every narrow issue that ever emerged. On the other hand when truly troubling issues come up, like one we know of where a disturbed adult child continually harassed his neighbors, is the board up to the task of removing the source of trouble?

6. New communities often have a bigger challenge. A new development generally forms an HOA soon after the first owners move in. At the beginning there might not be a big talent pool to draw from, and there is no institutional experience. So the new HOA’s track record might be rocky at first. Truly effective board members take a class or other study to learn how to be more effective. Relations with the developer might be tricky, particularly as the community sells out and the developer turns over assets and/or management.

7. Be prepared to serve. Like we said earlier, there is no great reward for serving on a volunteer HOA board. But somebody has to do it to ensure the success of the community. Particularly if you have management, legal, or building related skills; and especially if you have common sense, volunteer to take your turn on the board. Someone has to run the place; you might as well know the person doing the job!

For further Reference:
Part 2: What You Should Know about Your New Home Owners Association
Part 3: What You Should Know When the Association Takes Over from the Developer
Wikipedia article on Home Owners Associations (very good)
Community Associations Network
Community Associations Initiative
When Active Adult Communities Go Bad

Posted by John Brady on November 9th, 2009
Comments (53)
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53 Comments »
Jan Cullinane says

As you note, John, it’s a good thing to consider and think about before purchasing a home. I live in a master-planned community with an HOA – the community doesn’t have to be age-restricted (mine isn’t). Some of our neighbors object to having to submit a color change for approval if getting their home re-painted; others have disliked receiving a letter reminding them to bring in their trash cans within a certain time after trash pick-up, or to remove stains from their driveways. Others want even more rules. So, read over the covenants that govern your community carefully before buying, and be sure you’re on board.

November 11th, 2009 | #

Kevin Price says

I am the newly elected President of a Homeowner’s association in MA. I agree it is essential to review the covenants (they usually pass with your title). It is also a good idea to get copies of the last several years worth of association meeting minutes to get a sense of issues affecting the association and how they were dealt with by the association’s Board and membership.

November 11th, 2009 | #

old nassau says

Two comments:
1. Regard your HOA as an added set of your suburb’s zoning/co laws, which are an added set of your county’s zoning laws, which are an added set of your state’s zoning laws. Example (from above): if the suburban you wants to add onto your home, you need construction permits. If the 55+ you wants to repaint your house, you need HOA permission. Residential suburbs generally have restrictions about renting, home businesses, junk cars, lawn maintenance, etc. So do HOA’s. One difference: you get a set of HOA rules and regs that you must sign at closing. Zoning laws are strictly your responsibility.
2. Given the present housing problems, be very aware of the financial base of your HOA. Too many foreclosures, abandonments, and dues-delinquent owners: Your HOA fees skyrocket.
3. On a more numerous note: Florida state law specifically PROHIBITS any HOA from prohibiting (not reasonably restricting)the installation of clotheslines, solar or rain collectors, etc: “(1) Notwithstanding any provision of this chapter or other provision of general or special law, the adoption of an ordinance by a governing body, as those terms are defined in this chapter, which prohibits or has the effect of prohibiting the installation of solar collectors, clotheslines, or other energy devices based on renewable resources is expressly prohibited.”

November 11th, 2009 | #

John Brady says

Thanks for these wonderfully insightful and helpful comments. You guys are great! John

November 13th, 2009 | #

Ezra Moser says

Having lived in a planned unit development with a HOA for the past 10 years and served on the board for 3, I can speak from experience in saying I look forward to retiring in a community without a HOA. The costs far outweigh the ineffectual benefits. At a most fundamental level, you are not gaining a new boss, you are joining a gulag when you buy into a HOA. You may think you own your home, but the HOA is God and your are nobody when it come to the rules. In my state they can take your home (as in foreclose on your property) for pretty much anything they see as an infraction of the rules. Your only means of appeal is with the board itself. You have no right to a fair and unbiased hearing with an independent arbitrator. And as far as qualifications for serving on the board, forget about it. Most people join to gossip about their neighbors and decide on how to enforce their petty taste preferences on the rest of community. Most of the things people think they need a HOA for are already covered under your city’s nuisance or enviromental hazards laws (like troublesome pets, and junk cars in the yard).

November 18th, 2009 | #

sharon Mercier says

Can a HOE covenant prohibit me from posting “No Trespassing’ sign on my property? I live in Alamosa, Colorado

September 27th, 2010 | #

Admin says

Sharon, Within reason and without discriminating or running afoul of state or federal regulations, an HOE can have any rule they want if properly passed by the board.

September 30th, 2010 | #

ron says

HOA’s are like the Government, the ones that govern the least govern the best.

May 7th, 2011 | #

Car60 says

We lived in an HOA and it was the worse experience in our entire life! They “strong armed” the poor family on the circle and harassed the hell out of them! They “picked” them apart over any little thing! We had one old man who would have nothing better to do then ride around on his scooter in a circle and report to the Hoa anything on anyone “his” little group did not like! The circle was filled with mean spirited people! One decent man died in his home and was there 30 days till someone found him! His neighbor was a creep who harassed him day and night. You did not know this man even lived there but he was harassed to his dying day. His yard was spotless! Well, I got to all of these low life people. I sold my home for $200,000 less then what I bought it for!!! Ha, ha. Joke on all of you who harassed everyone and kept it tight!

May 7th, 2011 | #

LuluM says

Wow! What a sleeping dragon! I have had HOA’s in various situations. Some great experiences, some not so great. Is there any way to ask for references so that you can talk to people in the community prior to choosing to buy or rent in an area? You can read the minutes and the covenants and still not get the whole picture. The management company is often key. I am not planning to buy, but I could invision renting in different areas for the experience. In that instance I would not even have access to the same info a buyer would have.

May 7th, 2011 | #

Christine says

We have a second home in a very nice community outside of Bethany Beach, DE called Waterside, and our HOA has been great. We have rules but most are reasonable and not petty. Ours is not a retirement community specifically, and I think the 55+ communities are where the problems tend to arise. Seniors are just pickier about stuff and more easily annoyed. We have a variety of ages in our community which is nice. Most people respect the rules too. Our HOA is very well run, with good folks on the board who are not just in it for their own interests, and we have the best property management co. in all of DE. So, it’s not bad everywhere folks. We run a tight budget and HOA costs are reasonable. Just do your homework and ask the right questions like the article says.

May 28th, 2011 | #

Sue says

We owned rural acreage that was governed by a poorly designed set of CCRs and HOA structure. I served on the board for three years and instead of being thanked by residents, I was belittled and harassed. It was one of the worst experiences we have encountered, and we are selling the last parcel after 15 years. We adore the property, have incredible views and had planned to retire there but decided that we weren’t HOA people. Think carefully about your views and personality before you buy into one.

May 29th, 2011 | #

» The Huffington Post’s New Devil – Home Owner Associations Topretirements says

[...] Further Reference Home Owners Associations – Friend or Foe Meet the New Boss – Your HOA How to Get Ready for Your New HOA What You Need to Know When Your Developer Turns the Community [...]

July 19th, 2011 | #

Bob says

There is another side to the HOA issue. I have lived in a townhome with no HOA. Getting all neighbors to agree and pay for maintenance of common facilities is often a nightmare. Our driveway looked like a moonscape for 3 years before we could get 10 out of 13 neighbors who use it to pay to have it repaved. I’ll live with HOA rules because at least obvious necessities are addressed in a timely fashion.

August 1st, 2012 | #

Linda says

My view is that all these problems arise because people don’t review the documents prior to buying. You mentioned reviewing the rules and the minutes. There are other documents you need to review: articles of incorporation, bylaws, and–most importantly–the declaration. And, of course, there are always people who think rules apply to everyone but them.

If you want to park an RV on the street, don’t buy into a community governed by an association. If you want to paint your house any color you want or put a basketball hoop in your driveway, don’t buy in a community like this. There is a reason the regulations exist. The majority of the people in the community want it that way and it preserves their property values.

I’ve lived in a community governed by a homeowners’ association for 20 years. I’ve served on the board for many of those years. We’ve had our problems, but they’ve all been resolved. It helps that we are a small association and most of the neighbors are considerate of one another. We consider ourselves a neighborhood and behave accordingly. We’re currently self managed and the board members regularly attend board training sessions. Our treasurer has, at her own expense, become a certified property manager.

So, it’s not all bad. Do your homework. Read the documents. Meet the neighbors. Talk to the board. You can get a sense of whether or not these folks are people you would want as neighbors. And whether or not the rules and regulations fit with your lifestyle.

August 1st, 2012 | #

David M. Lane says

Can’t emphasize enough, check out the rules and what is included in the line of services in the fees–lawn mowing included? water, sewer and garbage pickup? the pool and when it is heated and to what degree. Are there restriction on children, visitors if so what are they? can you place a sign on your lawn if you want to sell? What are the restrictions if you should ever want to rent your place. That can be a biggie. Is the place self managed or is there a management company running the place. Places run by a management company tend to be better run and rules more uniformly enforced. Remember, the fee imposed may not be too much considering all that you get in return. With the association you may well get peace of mind if you travel and do not want to worry about taking care of all that stuff that is your responsibility in a single family home on a street.

August 1st, 2012 | #

Chuck says

We live in a well-established neighborhood in Albuquerque, where the covenants were written in the late 1970s. They are short, to the point, and make sense to us. We were considering a possible move to the outskirts of the Denver metro last year, and reviewed the covenants for those locations we were considering. This convinced us not to do it. The degree of control over homeowners by a HOA is a personal decision, and we just aren’t into having someone tell us the legal size of a bird bath…for example. But the point of the article on HOAs is a good one. There shouldn’t be any surprises if people do their homework and decide what feels right for them.

August 1st, 2012 | #

Shirley Kappa says

I agree with Linda about HOA’s…there are some good and some not so good. I moved to our gated active adult community from a Northern Virginia community with no HOA. After 10 years of battling the zoning commission for delapidated properties, the zoning and health departments for overcrowding and multiple families issues, and putting up with tasteless neighbors who parked cars on the front lawns, planted corn in their front yards, decorated their lawns with every species of gnome known to man…I love my HOA and God bless them for having rules!

August 1st, 2012 | #

Marge says

I lived in a co-op, HOA there was so strict that they insisted that no resident could have anything but white christmas lights! LOL!!!!

August 1st, 2012 | #

Ray says

I can’t get the part 3 link to work.

Editor’s Note: Occasionally for some unexplained reason WordPress blogs (which this page is on) show a list of recent Blog posts instead of the intended page. If you click on the refresh/reload button the proper page should come up. We tested it and the link appears to be correct. Thanks for pointing this out

August 1st, 2012 | #

Michele says

We Picked LakeWeirLiving.com to build our retirement custom dream home in Ocklawaha Florida because – no HOA Association – No fees – We take care of our own property – We can have all the toys – You can have a 1,2,3,4,6 no limit garage and sidepad. 1/4 acre or more of land, beautiful trees. We are building a home which we will use every room including our open Lania and screened in pool. Live free of restrictions – We can have all the conviences of a retirement community just 8 miles away at The Villages then go home to our own Oasis in the Forest. Have all the Best Neighbors who feel the same.

August 2nd, 2012 | #

Susan says

I am busy getting ready for our condo association’s picnic on Sat. We love our condo association and the people in it. We have a sense of community and when we have something come up we are fortunate that we all agree on what needs to be done. We are also proud that we are developing a good reserve for when we need new roofs, etc.

August 2nd, 2012 | #

Tina Beck-Shapiro says

We lived in an HOA community in NJ for almost 23 years. If we added all the expense we laid out we could have bought our own pool, had our lawn mowed and hired a team to take care of the four letter word SNOW. We have a custom built home at Lake Weir Living where we enjoyed the freedom of choosing the color of our house..we have a Little Pink House (Only in America:)…we have a pool and our two dogs enjoy a private yard..Neil Schuster (Co-Managing Partner) and Adriana Rosas (Director of Marketing) were with us every step of the way while our house was being built..their personal attention makes the process an easy one..We have wonderful neighbors and more on the way…check us out at LakeWeirliving.com I know you will be glad you did!

August 2nd, 2012 | #

Kathryn Baker says

I live in a neighborhood with a HOA. It is a good one and not run by idiots. The rules are reasonable and I have been here for 19 years and have no complaint. However, I would not move into another HOA community because I don’t trust most of them to be fair or even reasonable. Especially the ones for Seniors….they are the worst, they have nothing else to do but get into other people’s business and try to impose their taste on the entire neighborhood. Another reason for not being in an HOA development is that all problems become your problem. If you are in a condo and some of the areas need attention, it becomes your expense even if you are not able financially at the time. When you are an individual homeowner in a non HOA area you can decide when and if you will make improvements or repairs.

August 3rd, 2012 | #

Danny says

How and When is a person able to get access to HOA financial statements, past HOA meeting minutes, and a copy CCRC’s for review prior to closing on a sale of property in a development?

August 3rd, 2012 | #

Neil S. Schuster says

@Danny, All HOA minutes & financial reports are available to the Public. Typically the HOAs records are kept somewhere on the premises, i.e. manager’s office, club house library, or building office for a condo establishment. You can review records at any time. Simply ask, and state that you’re an interest party. Good luck!
- Neil

August 3rd, 2012 | #

Karen says

My husband and I are planning to retire in Florida. We have decided we would rather not live in an area with an HOA. We don’t plan to play golf or live on a golf course and we have an RV, Harley Davidson, golf cart (the pugs like to ride in it) and we’d rather be able to have toys, etc.

Can anyone tell us about the Vero Beach area? We have visited there a few years back but at the time didn’t look at it as a future home. Does it seem congested? Are the insurance rates high? This is such a good group to give well thought out information so we’re turning to all of you. Thanks so much!

August 4th, 2012 | #

Kimbee Jeanq says

Karen: Michele is absolutely correct! Lake Weir sounds like the perfect place for you. You have got to check out their website! I’ve been getting info from them and AARP highly recommends them.

August 5th, 2012 | #

Mad Monk says

Kimbee Jeanq – I searched on AARP’s site and found no mention of Lake Weir on any of it’s pages. Where did they mention Lake Weir?

August 6th, 2012 | #

Karen says

Thanks Michele and Kimbee for the information about Lake Weir. We’ve looked at their website and explored that idea but we really want to be further south where it’s warmer. Also, there are good points about being close to the Villages and there are also some not such good points too. We haven’t ruled it out yet. Thanks, again.

Does anyone have any input about Vero Lake Estates in Vero Beach, Florida? Thank you!

August 6th, 2012 | #

Kimbee Jeanq says

Mad Monk: I read about them in a past issue of Modern Maturity, the AARP magazine for boomers. I’m sorry; I don’t remember which issue.

Karen: You are welcome! I want to be further south, also. I love the Gulf area, especially Venice. We’re going down there again tomorrow for the second time in two months…we’re doing some serious focusing on that area right now.

August 7th, 2012 | #

Smokey says

The safest way to avoid the inevitable frustration that occurs from a rampant board is to avoid HOAs. While their original purpose was reasonable and had potential, they can and generally will spiral out of control rather quickly and quietly when people with hidden agendas get themselves elected to the HOA board. People who are busy going about their personal business and attempting to enjoy their lives and retirement years don’t have the time or interest in becoming embroiled in a HOA board membership position. And to say that “everyone” can serve on one of the board is ludicrous, especially when considering the limited number of board seats and substantial number of residents in most communities, the odds of getting elected are dependent upon a form of grammar school popularity contest.
If you want true happiness in your retirement years, perform due diligence before buying into a community with a HOA that has a mountain of rules and regulations that are intended to tell you what, when, where and how you can do most things around your home and the community.
Then again, if you think you’d enjoy being a puppet, by all means jump into a HOA, but don’t forget to bring your checkbook because they aren’t cheap and the cost will always rise even though you probably won’t have a say in the matter.

August 13th, 2012 | #

Neil S. Schuster says

Hear, hear, Smokey!

August 14th, 2012 | #

Susan Dee says

Smokey’s comment certainly validates the experience my husband and I have had with an HOA. I served on the board for a while but the Great Spenders for Silly Reasons took over and won’t let go… they talk a story that resonates with just enough of the community to keep the votes. It’s sad because we have a fairly small association with many who are getting quite old and will find themselves bound by regs that hurt their abilities to handle their own financial affairs. Be careful – HOAs can be a great aid in keeping a community looking good and being what you want, but it can also reach deep into your bank account and your personal business.

August 14th, 2012 | #

DrJoel says

While it’s true that many HOAs are more trouble than they’re worth, with so many individuals not caring about their communities, they are sometimes a necessary evil. I’ve lived in many communities with boards and without. I’ve been on the boards of a few as well. When the HOA board actually cares about the area, it makes a huge difference in appearance and value. While over-regulating anything is not needed, some basic rules are in order not to have the few ignorant folks tearing up your spot. I’ve seen homeowners have a “used car lot” on their property – really makes the value of the surrounding homes plummet. I’ve seen people put up fencing which looked like a 3-year old did it and after about 6 months it looked like a slum (they also took the same care with the outside of their house). Sadly, associations are needed because there are those people who couldn’t care less about their homes and surrounding property, which does affect neighbors and neighborhoods. Now, if the city or county rules are strict about things like this, then you really don’t need the HOA.

August 14th, 2012 | #

David M. Lane says

My wife and I have been retired for 14 years and have lived in two different condominiums with condo boards over that period of time. I have served on the board twice and my wife once. We try to attend condo meetings and share our thoughts at meetings and share our thoughts with individual board members in between. We have survived in both condo developments. We did our homework before buying in each place. We are glad we live in a place that has rules in place and that there is someone looking after things. We are glad our place is gated, has assigned covered parking, a pool heated all gthe time and is well maintained. Both of our condo were relatively small but large enough to handle the needs of the place and be aware that this is our home. Both condos have been conservative in their fiscal affairs and our maintenance fees have been maintained in a conservative way. Where we are now, we have a consulting management company with a manager here once a week. The board works well with the management company. They take care of the research on projects and monitoring work done. Our board has an active role in all affairs of the place. The consulting management company costs us $10.00/mo. each unit and that is pretty good. We like the HOA and like that water/sewer, cable TV, and outside maintenance and care and heating of the pool year round is in the fee. Our fee is $235/month. We do not have reserves. There has never been a special assessment in this condo complex of more than $1,000 per unit. Each unit owner has been conscientious in paying their monthly fees and special assessments. Many of our unit owners maintain a special account at their bank called “special condo account” with enough money in it to cover special assessments when they occur. When we came here we had some concerns about the condo not having reserves but set the account up right away with $750.00 in it and we add $30.00 to it. That way we don’t have to worry about the association officers being tempted with large reserves at their disposal. No problem with that. Be sure to see how reserves are handled in any HOA you buy into. We probably will always live in a place with an HOA and are pleased with that arrangement.

August 15th, 2012 | #

Lucy McCann says

My husband,Jack, and I have lived in Lake Weir Living for almost 2 years. We don’t regret our move! We have a brand new home — built to our specifications. We live on are large lot with a fence. And the best of all, we don’t have an HOA, CCD fees, or bond fees like other active adult communities. After adding up the difference between our communities and say The Villages (only 8 miles from Lake Weir Living), we saved nearly $150,000. Our neighbors are fantastic, everyone has a big toy and/or a motorcycle and we respect and care for our community without a governing homeowner association.
No regrets!
- Lucy of LWL

August 16th, 2012 | #

Monica says

looking for any comments, information anyone may have on retirement in coastal Delaware, Rehoboth, Lewes, Bethany, etc. We are seriously considering retirement there. We currently are in PA renting. Although PA’s state tax plan for retired people is excellent, they get you in property taxes and they are extremely high making purchasing a home in the $300,000 – 400,000 out of the question. DE has better taxes and a very good retirement situation that makes it more attractive. Thanks for any insight or experience in DE living.

August 17th, 2012 | #

Kathy J says

I plan to retire in 2/2013 at the age of 62. I have investments of $500,000 and would get about $1,075 a month in SS. My husband is retired and gets a monthly income of $2,145 and he will be age 69 this month. He does not have other investments. The $500,000 I have is money I inherited from my father at his passing and is in my name. I also have a pension of $200,000 that I will take a monthly income of about $1,200 per month when I retire. Our house is paid for and both our cars are 2009 and paid for. I will get my health and dental benefits from my employer in which I will not have to pay into. I just want to know if it looks like we will have enough cash for me to retire in Feb. 2013 – we would like to travel in our retirement years and this will take a lot of cash to do so.

I am just so uncertain as to knowing if I am doing the right thing with retiring soon. Any thoughts you can give me – I do appreciate! Or if you know of another venture I can go through with asking questions like this.
Come on retirees – give me some thoughts on this, please!

Kathy J

August 17th, 2012 | #

Jean says

Does anyone have any input on Sun City Carolina Lakes???
Planning to look there since my kids live in NC
CAN someone let me know how that sun city
Is for a single woman thanks:shock::shock::roll::roll:

August 17th, 2012 | #

lefty omally says

Kathy J, I would say go for it. From the information you provided you and your husband would would have 53,000 per year in income. Your home is paid for as is your health care both hugh plusses. Questions I would ask are, is your home bigger then you need, the tax rates in the state you live in and does your husband pay for his health care. One thing I’m looking at doing when my wife retires in the next year or two is selling my home and either finding a active senior apartment or townhome. Doing so will free us from the upkeep and maintenance of a home, snow removel, lawn care, etc. That in turn gives us the freedom of traveling when ever we choose to. Just my thoughts and I hope it helps.

August 17th, 2012 | #

Bill says

Kathy J…. It looks like you are in better shape financially than a lot of folks. Between the two of you, you can count on about $4,200/month. If you wanted to draw from your investments, a rule of thumb is to draw about 4% per year, which would be another $1,600/month. Without either house, car or med insurance to pay, you don’t have any major monthly bills.
Yes, I would say you can retire now….if you really want to. If you hubby is retired and you are not in love with your job, go for it. You will find it very nice. You only go around once, shed the stress, enjoy each other, travel, learn something new, enjoy your favorite sport or hobby. You won’t regret it.

August 18th, 2012 | #

May says

What about hospitals and doctors? Florida is notorious for having bad ones, and that can be a real problem for retiree relocation can’t it?

August 18th, 2012 | #

Diana says

I am 62 and my husband is 72; he is retired and has a monthly income of 1100. I am still working, but would love to retire in January 2013-but that depends upon if we can sell out house. My retirement incomes will total about 1800 a month, but I plan to work part time to earn a little something. We want to go to South Carolina; the real estate is reasonable,property taxes are low and the weather is agreeable to us.The profit from selling our house will provide us a little cushion, plus enable us to put 20 percent down on a townhouse (that costs about $120,000.The only thing I am wondering about is my social security.I worked jobs that took SS out of my paychecks for about 20 years, and I taught school for 20 years (still do); why am I getting penalized for working in the public school system, when it comes to collecting my eraned SS? It baffles my mind.

August 19th, 2012 | #

Carole says

To Kathy J: IMHO, my advice to you us that you seek out the advice of a CFP-Certified Financial Planner or someone with another financial certification. Also, find a CFP that is fee based and one that isn’t trying to sell you an investment product. No, I’m not a CFP but a librarian by profession. I’ve done a massive amount of research to prepare for retirement, also read Jan Cullinane’s great book, The New Retirement (no, I don’t know her personally). As great and helpful as these folks are on this blog, you should seek out a professional to assist you in making your retirement decision(s). The latest statistics state that a married couple of about your age will need about $240K to cover medical expenses in their retirement years. Based on the amount you have saved, this stat may give you pause as you make this important decision.

August 19th, 2012 | #

Jan Cullinane says

Diana, A good site for finding a fee-only Certified Financial Planner is http://www.napfa.com (The National Association of Personal Financial Advisors). You can locate CFPs by zip code on this site.
Carole, thanks for the shout-out!

Jan Cullinane
The Single Woman’s Guide to Retirement
The New Retirement: The Ultimate Guide to the Rest of Your Life

August 20th, 2012 | #

Billy says

To Kathy J: I wouldn’t use a blog on the internet for financial advice, but I did some quick calculations with your info. As someone suggested, 4%x500,000=20,000/YR,+1,075/MO+2145/MO+1200/MO(only for ~14yrs., assuming no growth)=6086/Month,73032/Year. If you can make it work great, but I would be conservative in your earlier years.

August 20th, 2012 | #

Elaine says

To Kathy J,
I concur with others suggesting professional advice. If you can be conservative on drawing down the $500,000 in early years you can continue growth on the remainder of that money. Not the best environment now for investing, but at least it is some offset if you invest. I am also sure that a financial advisor can be helpful in implications of retiring later, implications of spousal SSI timing and selections, etc.

August 21st, 2012 | #

Jeff says

It would be nice to have $500,000 or more for retirement but many of us baby Boomers hve been under employed and undrpaid and will be lucky to have $200,000 come retirement. There simply is no money to invest in retirement when you have bills to pay just to make it by in real life.

August 21st, 2012 | #

» What You Need to Know about Home Owners Associations Topretirements says

[...] article is the 2nd of a 3 part series of articles on homeowners associations. The first article, “Meet the New Boss, Your HOA”, talked about many of the problems to be of aware of concerning Home Owners Associations. Part 3 [...]

October 15th, 2012 | #

dfield says

Due to title problems, only a quarter of a development we are looking at might be built. The HOA and the agents have said not to worry about the current negative equity position as the developer will make up the difference. How can we determine whether a smaller number of homes can support the large infrastructure (pool, clubhouse etc) and have sufficient reserves?

December 7th, 2012 | #

Jim says

I’m no expert, but when someone (HOA in this case) says not to worry, I would run like hell!

December 8th, 2012 | #

Kathi M says

I would step away fast from the development that might be only a quarter built out. We purchased a Condo in Wisconsin that the builder decided to only build one third of. It was supposed to be small to begin with, 12 units, and ended up being only 4 units. We had to self manage for awhile, when the developer stepped away, and he did, and yours will. Think logically about how he could afford to continue paying funds that all those undeveloped units would have contributed. We were able to finally hire a manager for a small amount of money. It was too much work for us to do alone. Also, it is hard to build up a reserve with a small number of units. But we were lucky we didn’t have any facilities to maintain, just building and grounds upkeep. Don’t go there..

December 8th, 2012 | #

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