The Huffington Post’s New Devil – Home Owner Associations

Category: Active adult communities

July 19, 2011 — The Huffington Post is the world’s master of controversial publishing. Recently they really stirred things up in their “expose´” of Home Owners Associations (HOAs), “Home Owners Associations Cause Trouble in Retirement Communities“. Their one-sided broadside apparently hit a nerve too, generating 634, mostly angry, comments at last count.

The thrust of their mostly one-sided article was this: bad guy HOAs unreasonably foreclose on innocent homeowners, causing catastrophic damage. In particular, the authors cite the Inlet House Condo complex in Fort Pierce, Florida. The community has fallen on hard times, with units that sold a few years ago for $76,000 now going for as little as $3,000. Rats had infested vacant units and sewage was seeping into lower level units. Huff Post took issue with the HOA’s assessments and subsequent foreclosure of condo owners who failed to pay those assessments or other fees. Hundreds of angry people apparently agree, as they vented with Comments laden with examples of diabolical HOAs, vowing never to conform to these power grabbing boards

We respectfully disagree with both the major thrust of the Huffington Post piece and their angry commentators. Make no mistake, Home Owner Associations (often called Community Associations) are not always angels. There are plenty of examples of power-crazed, short-sighted condo boards. Many boards are guilty of poorly thought out rules, selective enforcement, and fiscal irresponsibility. Fortunately, many states and organizations recognize that these boards serve an important function, and are working to improve them. Florida now mandates training for board members as a way to improve management.

But on the other hand…
People who live in condos, co-ops, and planned developments share ownership of facilities and infrastructure. They also typically live close together and usually move into the community because it represents a certain look and lifestyle. Someone has to manage all that, or if not, the situation would become like the town in an old western where there is no sheriff, and the mob takes over. Serving on a condo or HOA board is not that dissimilar from jury duty, or offering to help in a volunteer organization. Everyone enjoys complaining, but only the brave (or foolish?) step up to help out. If you belong to an association and won’t volunteer or come to meetings, don’t complain.

The housing and financial meltdowns have been very, very difficult for condos and community associations. In Florida in particular there are many associations where a significant percentage of the units are in arrears for dues or assessments. Up until recently, most associations were fairly powerless against homeowners who either chose to or were forced to default on their obligations. When even more than a small percentage stop paying on time, the results are catastrophic for the other residents. Cash runs out, bills don’t get paid, and employees and services have to be cut. The owners who pay their bills suffer unfairly. As the Post article eventually pointed out, quoting Association manager and Inlet House resident Janice Stinnett: “It’s unfair that everyone is paying extra to cover these deadbeats”. The problem eventually becomes a vicious cycle. Prospective buyers see that the community is in trouble. Property values fall, and more and more owners either walk away or stop paying dues and assessments. Although it hasn’t happened yet in big numbers, eventually some of these communities will totally fail, and all of the owners will lose equity.

We were appalled at the sensational nature of the Huffington Post article, so we asked Joe West, President of the Community Association Network if he would comment about it. His response is below:
———-
Joe: The article conveniently overlooks the millions of Americans who decided they wanted to live in an environment with a set of rules on how certain aspects of that environment would be operated. Instead it focuses on those who, having moved into this environment, decided they didn’t like some part of it. And when they didn’t get their way, or if they got reprimanded or fined, they ran to the press crying that HOA’s are evil. The people who wrote this article obviously didn’t do much research, or have any basic understanding of the subject matter, and the complete absence of any data supporting any of the claims. They didn’t challenge or ask the person making the statement to provide any sort of facts regarding any of these descriptions.

The news media treats condo’s and HOA’s as if these associations were some monolithic entities crushing the hopes and dreams of individuals. That might get the authors better placement in the news but it is neither truthful nor accurate. The association is a group of people who made a choice to live in a community that had certain restrictions and rules, and elected people from among themselves to govern the association. What is interesting is that somehow the media looks at associations as if they were supposed to be perfect and that human foibles somehow show a failure in the “system”, rather than a microcosm of society in the U.S. today and representative of how electoral government works. Individual homeowners have the same method of resolving disputes with their association as they have with their government, they can take them to court. However they somehow think that there should be some form of “cheaper” solution.
So maybe the authors, or the people they interviewed, might be willing to answer these questions:

– When someone stops paying the assessments they agreed to pay, how long do you allow it to continue before you take any action?
-How much hardship do you want to put on their neighbors to cover their share of the bills? None of the people complaining were serving on a board, faced with the decisions of how to pay the association’s bills, with a declining revenue base. They could complain, but they didn’t have any constructive suggestions, just bile.

Step into the shoes of those unpaid volunteers who have to make the decisions they are required to make. It’s easy to complain – it’s not so easy to make the decisions that have a real impact on your neighbors.

Homeowner and condominium associations are simple:
First, you don’t have to live in one. So for all of the commenters who hate the thought of living somewhere where someone else has some degree of control over your residence and actions – good news, you don’t have to. Of course local governments are beginning to enforce local ordinances a little more so you’re never really going to be “living free”.

Most recent state legislation mandates greatly increased administrative actions on behalf of the association, at increased cost to all owners. These are often enacted as a result of media stories or “anecdotal evidence” presented by upset homeowners, many of whom broke their agreement to abide by the covenants, conditions and restrictions when they moved in. Even the veteran putting up the flag pole – yes the problem was the pole, not the American flag – agreed to abide by the rules when he moved in, so does his breaking his word make him a “dishonorable” veteran? The gentleman in the article who stopped paying his assessments in protest is part of the problem, not part of the solution, and unfortunately, will find out that that he’s going to be on the losing end of this disagreement.

After 35 years of working with associations, I’ve found that you get the association you deserve: “you get who you elect – good boards make good associations – bad boards cause problems”. Almost all of the board members I have met (which number in the thousands) try to do right by their neighbors. Most are not power-hungry dictators. But you would never know that by reading anything in the media today.
Homeowner and condominium associations are not going away. They represent a win-win to local government and developers by increasing property density and the tax base while reducing municipal costs. Without them, your local taxes would be much higher. They will never be perfect and there will always be people who move in and then decide that the rules don’t apply to them, or they will elect some idiot to the board who has his or her own agenda that an owner disagrees with – and trouble will ensue . But you get that with every organization in the world – when people and their personalities are involved – conflict eventually happens.

Condo’s and HOA’s have become a popular “punching bag” with the media. They can present it as a “human interest” story and rarely get countered by spokespersons for the association, as it would normally require the board to meet, and that never fits in with the news timeline. The media, in fact, has become the “bully” that homeowners have accused the association of being. I track news stories about condos and HOA’s and if you took every negative story about associations that has been reported about during the past year, (even the stories that only reported the owner’s side), you still wouldn’t have 1/10 of 1% of the associations out there. Not exactly a major trend. But people don’t sell books or get their names in the news when it comes to boring facts.


Thanks Joe, we appreciate your insight into this situation.

For 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 over to the HOA
HOA Rules and Regulations – Friend or Foe

Comments Please
What do you think? Could you live in a community governed by an Association, as about 1 in 5 Americans do? Have you had experiences good or bad? And what do you think boards should do with their delinquent owners? Let us know in the Comments section below.

Posted by John Brady on July 19th, 2011

29 Comments »

  1. I live in a community with an HOA – yes, our covenants tell us when we can (and can’t) put out our trash, when we can/can’t park our car on the street (rather than in our driveway or garage), if we can paint our home a certain color, minimum square footage requirements when building a home, etc. But guess what? We actually READ the convenants before we purchased in our community, to be sure we were okay with the guidelines. We do have a few people who are unhappy with the rules – they are the ones who never obtained a copy of the Covenants before purchasing, and decided (too late) it wasn’t for them. Our community is beautiful – and the volunteer HOA members should get a lot of credit for that. My advice is READ THE COVENANTS before purchasing – if you can’t abide by the rules, don’t buy in a community with an HOA.

    Jan Cullinane, The New Retirement: The Ultimate Guide to the Rest of Your Life (Rodale)

    by Jan Cullinane — July 20, 2011

  2. I am in total agreement with the lucid piece written by Joe West. My wife and I have been considering retirement for several years (and wishing that we could for longer than that!). We currently live in a very nice rural area, but unfortunately one that stridently fights any type of zoning … a word that causes anger and hate. Thus, we have neighbors with outside wood-burning stoves that interrupt our enjoyment of the very outdoors we love, loud yapping dogs, a personal saw mill, baying sheep (in the yard!), use of heavy equipment late at night by one neighbor, neighbors shooting rifles at squirrels on their bird feeders (and hitting our bedroom window!!), etc, etc, etc. I am fairly libertarian and do not care what you believe or do … until it infringes upon my rights (to health, safety, peace of mind, value of my home, etc.). We intend to look at the covenants of any community closely … not even so much for ones we cannot abide, but to see that they ARE stringent enough … and that they ARE enforced! As Joe stated, one has the biggest power of all in that the consumer may simply walk away … to another site that more fits with their lifestyle (pets, mixed ages, types of structures, etc.). However, do NOT expect me to have much/any sympathy for someone who moves into a community THEN expects everyone to change to THEIR desires.

    P.S. In another sequence on this board, I mentioned that “professionals” are sometimes on in a “stealth” mode. However, Jan has never been one of those. Not only has she been upfront with the book she publishes, but her information and willingness to contribute has been fantastic. Thank you, Jan.

    by Mad Monk — July 20, 2011

  3. I happen to be the president of a small HOA with 36 townhouse units. One of the big problems with our complex is apathy. Virtually no one cares about anything except themselves. At annual meetings we virtually never have a quorum. So little can be done. Except things that the board can approve without the members voting. Plus the original declarations and bylaws were not written well and that leaves the HOA vulnerable to abuse in many ways.

    We almost always have at least one unit where the owner does not pay assessments. Currently we have an owner who has abandoned the property. The bank has failed to foreclose, we are contemplating foreclosing ourselves but the filing fees are high and the mortgage is upside down by a lot, so the likelihood of recovering either our assessments or attorney and filing fees is not good. The owner has fled to another state which further complicates matters.

    It is true that an HOA can foreclose over a few thousand dollars, but it is not all rosy to do those things especially with a small complex where resources are limited.

    by Randy — July 20, 2011

  4. Reference “Mad Monk” comments. What he said about looking until he finds a convenant that suits him. That may have been possible in the past, but I can tell you, in this area at least, the covenants are pretty much cookie cutter copies of each other. So the choice is not finding one that suits you. It’s more how much can you stand/live with to be in the area you wanted.

    by Greg — July 20, 2011

  5. HOA are a horror. Controling the storage of Jetski and Motorcycles INSIDE your garage.

    by john — July 20, 2011

  6. I considered buying a condo and looked at a few with HOA covenants, which I did take the time to read. Also spoke with friends who live in a community with an HOA.

    I’ve decided it isn’t for me. Restrictions like how many plants you can have on a balcony or whether you can put a holiday wreath on your door during the holiday season tells me there are too many controlling people living in these communities.

    I agree that people need to read the rules before purchasing, and make sure you understand them. If you can live that way, great, but moving in and then ignoring the rules is not fair to those already living there.

    by Kathy — July 20, 2011

  7. I would love to live in a controlled 55+ community, especially a gated one. I could easily live by most of the rules, as I am tired of living on the “outside” with loud neighbors (parties), kids, etc. However, most communities permit visits by “grandchildren” for extended periods of time. Good for grandparents, but not so good for people who pay fees to live in an adult environment. But the worst part is the lack of a “ceiling” on fees. I have known retired people on FIXED incomes that moved in when fees were, let’s say $150 per month, and now, a few years later, the fees are approaching $500 with no end in site. A person on a FIXED income can only absorb so much, then that’s it. Without a “cap,” you could end up in your 70’s or 80’s losing your home because you can’t pay the ever increasing fees. When you simply cannot afford to live in your PAID OFF HOME because of fees, and the HOA can foreclose on you because of it, something is wrong. And it doesn’t matter that there’s a pool, a recreational facility, or even a gate. If you’ve been priced out, and need to look for alternative housing in your later years, that’s just not right.

    by Chris — July 20, 2011

  8. Thanks, Mad Monk. I sincerely appreciate your comment (and love the name).

    Jan Cullinane, The New Retirement: The Ultimate Guide to the Rest of Your Life (Rodale)

    by Jan Cullinane, co-author The New Retirement: The Ultimate Guide to the Rest of Your LIfe (Rodale 2007) — July 21, 2011

  9. Wow! So you don’t like people telling you what to do! Maybe you enjoy living with neighbors that are too lazy to keep up there homes or don’t mind living with people that have Boats, Trailers, and what ever stored in there yards or a purple and green home. Well you need to pack your things along with all of your Blue Tarps and move to where your fellow Pack Rats live. I don’t mind rules.

    by Brad — July 21, 2011

  10. We live in a community of 285 single family homes. Our HOA is all volunteer and is completely open about all its dealings. Residents are invited to all meetings and can run for office annually. There is no management company used, so the major expenses are trash removal and landscaping/mowing of the common areas. Our daughter however, lives in a condo development with over 750 units. While there is a condo association, all management is contracted out. That is the crux of the problem and the difference between an association that is responsive to residents and one that puts everything on a third party. They lose all contact with the people who live there. Some of the board members are owners who rent out their units, so they have even less interest in day to day operations.

    From what I have observed, third party running of an association rarely works out well for the residents. The contractor is responsible to the board and not individual residents, so they can pretty much ignore them. And most residents simply don’t have the time to file a complaint.

    As to complaints about high fees and heavy handed collection tactics is that, if you don’t want to run the risk of these, then don’t move into a home that has such management. Remember, local governments will foreclose or sell your home at a tax auction if you don’t pay your property taxes.

    by AZBound — July 21, 2011

  11. :grin:Like so many others, when I looked at a very nice new unit, I was almost ready to sign. But a co-worker friend insisted that I read the CCR’s. Great friends are wonderful to have. This community required at least some yard work for all residents. One of the conditions specified how high my grass could grow before the HOA hired someone to cut it for me-and of course I had to reimburse the HOA for this. There were several other really nit-picky things. I decided to buy elsewhere. When the salesman found out my reasons, he revealed that he had lost 6 buyers for the same reason.

    by Ver24x — July 21, 2011

  12. One Observation and two supportive examples.
    (1) The Huffington Post, and other tabloids, present governing bodies – from HOA’s through city councils to the feds – as if they are alien invaders from Mars, rather than humans elected by the very constituency some of whose members complain. Don’t like the rules: run for office.
    (2) HOA’s can marshal large groups of residents/voters to influence local governments. Next to my community, Century Village of West Palm Beach, a developer wanted to turn a closed golf course into an apartment complex. The CV Association gathered opposing petitions, and transported several hundred residents to the zoning board meetings. No development.
    (3) A resident purchased a condo, and attempted to hold prayer meetings, thrice daily, seven days a week. The CVA filed a complaint, kept a log of comings and goings, and, again, filled the hearing room. Found in violation of condo agreements and residential zoning.

    by oldnassau"67 — July 21, 2011

  13. The wonderful part of living in this great country of ours, is having the freedom to do pretty much whatever we want . . . the terrible part of living in this great country of ours, is someone else exercising their freedom, doing things I do not want them to do . . . yes read the covenants! Not having people do things I do not want them to do, is far more important to me then having the freedom to paint my house pink!!!

    by Randykp — July 22, 2011

  14. We love our condo and HOA oranization.

    by Susan — July 23, 2011

  15. As a former HOA board chairman I can say the Huffington Post is spot on. The fundamental problem with HOAs and Community Associations is their unbridled power. They can foreclose on property worth many thousands of dollars for failing to pay a few hundreds in dues or violating some petty decisions of a a self-appointed taste police. And when it comes to the excuse of “read the rules before buying”, your intepretation of what you think you read may be completely different from what the HOA thinks you read. So then we come to appeals to the boards capricious, petty actions. Tough luck homeowner — when it comes to making up rules out of thin air, they are GOD and you are nobody. There is no arbitration from an outside neutral party, so you go to court and they spend your dues money and everybody else’s in the neighborhood on legal fees until you are bankrupt and they take your property from you. Elderly people are the most common victims, but even we younger folks can get caught in their traps. In my experience living with a HOA produced little more than frigthened suspicious neighbors and declining property values becuase prospective buyers did not want to pay fees to be harrassed by nosy boards.

    by Mike — July 26, 2011

  16. I would like to know who came up with the idea of an HOA? What’s even more surprising is that the people who would be willing to give up their rights (along with their hard-earned cash) to live in an HOA neighborhood. Non-HOA homes are getting harder to find. If an HOA came to my neighborhood, I would get a Sherman tank.

    by J.H. — December 26, 2011

  17. J.H., not everyone would agree with you. Some/many might find the idea of LIMITED control so that one’s neighbor cannot have giraffes (junk yard, auto body repair shop, etc.) in the back yard to be a good thing. If one does not want to live in such a “controlled” community, don’t … seems simple to me.

    by Mad Monk — December 27, 2011

  18. I live in a HOA community and the board members think they are God. If a resident complains, they are put on the boards black list. Most the the
    residents don’t go to the meetings because the board members will do
    what they want to anyway.

    by Jean — December 27, 2011

  19. Jean, you are sooooo correct. Beware of HOA run communities. If you must live in one “keep your mouth shut”. Every time a new Board takes over and new practices are put into place non comformists, those who have divergent opinions and voice them, and brains are ignored and then shunned. It is like a high school cafeteria. Some retirees, usually those who have had power positions during their past lives, or those who have had none seek complete control over others to enhance their own self image and interests. In these situations you can sit back and watch them take care of themselves and their friends and professed supporters first and the remaining residents last. Certainly there must be some controls over theses ego-centric do-gooders who are in positions of power for the wrong reasons. I suppose there are some HOA run communities that are well run, but not that I have had the pleasure of observing.

    by Don Hoffman — December 28, 2011

  20. I purchased a townhome in area where my husband and I had lived years ago before he passed away.It was a great place years ago, however, that has all changed. Some of my neighbors that I knew years ago still live there and many have passed away. However, many of them have changed. They have become bitter, gossiping, nasty people. It is don’t do as I do but do as I say mentality. So many things were covered up in the townhouse I purchased and I have had to pay dearly for them as well – not only in dollar value but in frustration and tears. Chalk it up to experience I suppose. I have had so many roof leaks I can’t begin to list them all. Of course the HOA is supposed to be responsible for the roofs as well. Well i need a new one so badly, however, they will not approve it so they “FIX” it. Well you can only fix a roof so much and then it is time to replace it. I am now labelled as a “Trouble Maker” in the area by many so they do not speak anymore but that’s okay. I find it troubling, however, when one of the board members needs something fixed on their property and/or unit they take out the checkbook and just write away! Well after a year of renovating, etc. and “fixing” the roof per se it is up for sale and I am getting the heck outta there if all possible. The unit does look fantastic and it is a great price for the area I am in by Northwest Florida. I just really want to recup my monies used to renovate and remodel the kitchen area. I have learned my lesson and I am going to rent for awhile which is what I should have done to start with. I suppose it was a process i had to go thru. One can never go back and try to achieve something you had years ago if you know what I mean.

    by Mary Ann — February 6, 2012

  21. My state, NC, apparently has many homeowners living in HOA’s who are not happy, and are attempting to gain support from the General Assembly to see to it that HOA’s are compliant with State Laws, as we have no oversight committee. It didn’t matter that I read the By-Laws and the Covenants before I purchased, or had a Real Estate background, I thought I knew what I was getting into, boy was I wrong. Our common areas once looked great, now look as though no one cares, even though our dues supposedly cover these costs.
    The Board of Directors have no real estate backgound, much less understand their responsibilies, and should you complain or offer solutions, you are blacklisted and retaliated against. At the very least they should be required to take classes and pass a State exam to see if they even comprehend the State laws.
    We are making great strides here in NC to see that HOA’s are in compliance, but it is taking a long time. I empathasize with anyone going through the emotional turmoil of trying to enjoy the peaceful existence of your home.

    by D.R. — March 17, 2012

  22. I’ve never lived in an environment where the HOA management had a lot of power; however, I have lived in countless apartment complexes. I was always so glad that we had a standardized set of rules for the shared areas and hours. I’m glad you recognized that in your article. Too often all HOAs get lumped together and tarred with the same brush.

    by Sophie Mortimer — June 26, 2012

  23. Boy, I just read D.R.’s comment on HOA’s in NC. I’m thinking about possibly moving to NC. I currently live in a condo in CT and I have to say the HOA in my complex has been pretty good. I’ve lived in the complex for 20 years and served on the Board for eight years. I know no matter how much you check out the association things can still be bad. We’ve had a good management company that does what the Board decides is needed. I sometimes think maybe I should just buy a house but then I can’t see myself shoveling snow and cutting the lawn, replacing the roof, etc. I owned a house before and there’s always something that needs to be done and that means having the money to do it. Lots to think about!

    by Karen — June 28, 2012

  24. When or if my husband and I move from our current lovely U.S.-Canada border area of western NY after he retires we will absolutely avoid anything run by an HOA. Yes, some are ok; but you won’t necessarily know ahead of time whether that’s true of the one you choose — even if you research it. In the two different neighborhoods we’ve experienced here in Youngstown and Lewiston, NY, we’ve never had any problems with neighbors. They’re fine people. The two towns themselves do have by-laws re: where boats/RVs can be parked, etc., but that’s it (and garbage pickup costs are taken from property taxes). I am a gardener and we have cats (indoors) and a backyard fish pond. There’s no way on earth I want some HOA telling me I can’t have a pond, what I can plant, how much of it and where. Or that we can’t have cats, even indoors. Or what color my shutters or garage door have to be (or siding, if we had it: our house is brick). We and four of the nearby neighbors all hire the same mowing/snow plowing company. Their fees are moderate and they do a fine job. The few (new) neighborhoods in the area that do have HOAs charge FAR more for the same services and little else, and residents submit to a number of restrictions. If some people are into that, so be it. But we certainly aren’t.

    by Marian Van Til — June 28, 2012

  25. I agree with you Marian. My mom lived in a beautiful home but it was in a development with an HOA. She couldn’t put up a fence or plant vegetables or hang clothes outdoors, all of which I enjoy doing as a homeowner. However giving up some of the less interesting chores such as snow removal or gutter cleaning is an appealing idea! I guess the best way to approach an HOA is to get a copy of the rules and then sit down with someone from the Board and run through your list of what you want to be able to do on your property and find out if your preferences line up with theirs. Doesn’t hurt to talk to current residents to find out if they have had problems or run-ins with the rules or the rule-makers!

    by cherie — June 28, 2012

  26. To cherie: The problem with HOAs is they change members who can then change policies. I almost bought in a cooperative that had a liberal policy about cats, i.e., OK for them to be outdoors on their own. Then a new board came in and said cats had to be on a leash. Fat chance! So what you think you have now may not be what you will get in the future. The safest course of action is to avoid HOA communities.

    by Judy — June 29, 2012

  27. HOAs came out a real estate boom in the 1960s, where the words “suburbs and condos” became new trending terms. The HOA product is the brainchild of real estate developers, who developed a product and then sold it to the consumer (to regain the investment with a profit) while the consumers (ie. residents) paid monthly HOA fees which increased as amenities aged and needed repair or renovation. However, not until the 1980s did we see the explosion of HOA retirement communities. Today, HOAs are the ‘norm’ for most retirement developments.

    YET, they’re a few No HOA retirement communities…you just have to look for them. These communities have a mutual understanding, “let’s take care of our community together”. Where the residents who choose to live in the No HOA retirement community are likeminded and have the same desire “let’s keep our community pretty, clean, and fun.” They’re typically not gated, don’t have amenities, and lawncare is available through private providers.

    To live with an HOA or without, is a personal choice. BUT living with an HOA isn’t a must. If you do your homework, research, and ask around, you will find your place in the golden sun for your golden years! Just be a smart shopper!

    Try a Google search: HOA-Free community florida

    In my opinion. – Neil

    by Neil S. Schuster — June 30, 2012

  28. We have been retired now about 14 years and have lived in two different condominiums in central Florida. It was a change from the large private home we had for 35 years in western New York state. It’s good there are rules and guidelines and with the economy of the last few years with people not always able to meet their obligations in paying homeowner monthly dues and special assessments I am glad we have a homeowner association with a defined procedure to collect the needed money. Last year our HOA went with a part time management company to help them solve issues and plan for the future. They also handle all dealings with delinquent condo owners so that individual elected directors do not have to play hard ball with owners who are often friends. I don’t always love what the directors do. We attend the monthly board meeting and share our thoughts and ideas. If you live in a place with an HOA you have a responsibility to provide input. Sometimes they listen to our ideas and sometimes they don’t. Approaching age 70 I no longer want the responsibility of routine maintenance, getting quotes for big jobs like painting and roofs, cutting grass, trimming bushes and trees etc. We save lots of money because we live in a condominium. Fees for water/sewer, cable TV are purchased in bulk and included in the monthly fee. This is great. For the $235.00/month all this is taken care of. We can lock one door and be off with our many adventures. I would recommend living in a condominium with HOA as a great retirement option. I would recommend that if you do that you attend meetings, make suggestions and be a good condo owner/resident of the community. This style of living might be harder for highly individualistic libertarian type retirees who want tobe king of their own kingdom and have no rules or oversite. Just remember as you get older its sometimes best to live in a condo environment where there are rules and things are taken care of and their is planning going on.

    by David M. Lane — July 1, 2012

  29. Oh, one more thought. If you really want to change things at your condominium you can always run for the board of directors. Then you can have a vote, make motions etc. Being a director can be a fun thing or and nightmare. Somebody has to do it. Give it a try sometime!

    by David M. Lane — July 1, 2012

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