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10 Things Your Active Adult Community Won’t Tell You

Category: Active adult communities

March 11, 2015 — Whether you are in the shiny model home or the posh real estate office, it’s the positive that gets accentuated when you go looking at retirement real estate. According to the enthusiastic salesperson the amenities are great, the fees are low, and the neighbors – well, they are especially interesting and friendly. What’s more, there are only a few more great homes available before the whole project is completely sold out.

But unfortunately there are often things unsaid, whether you are looking at buying a new home in a brand new community or a pre-owned unit in a 55+ community that has been around for decades. This article will help you understand some of the potential pitfalls by pointing to situations you need to ask about. Mind you, most active communities are well run entities thoroughly enjoyed by their residents. This article is designed to help you identify the ones you want to avoid or treat very carefully. So here goes: 10 things Your new active adult community might not tell you – unless you ask:

1. The developer owns the amenities and does what they want with them.
Sometimes this works out great. The developer stays involved in the community and has a vested interest in keeping them in great shape. But other times they are uninvolved, maximizing fees and not investing in maintenance and improvements. Mind you, even when the community owns the amenities there can be problems.

2. It’s a land lease community and the average yearly increases really add up.
There are advantages and disadvantages to land lease communities, and you need to understand them. One of the big minuses is that the yearly rents continue to go up year after year, eventually adding up to big bucks in your final years.

3. The delinquency rate on community association (HOA) dues is going to cost you money.
There are a lot of financial ares you need to investigate when you buy into a community. While the situation is much better now than it was in the depths of the recession, there are communities where a substantial number of the homeowners are behind in their fees, which can cause problems as the association runs low on money.

4. The rules about pets, exterior decorations, parking, guests, renting, etc. are capricious and ever-changing.
Before you buy, ask a lot of questions. Are your needs going to be met for pets, parking, renting, etc. If not, better find another community with rules that fit your preferences and situation.

5. You can buy a resale for a big discount on what a brand new home costs.
One thing about the retirement market – there is a lot of turnover. People change their plans, they get sick or die, and homes change hands. So if you are flexible about what you want in a home and don’t absolutely have to move into a new one – check out resales. A wonderful but slightly used home might be available for much less than a brand spanking new one.

6. The transition between developer and Home Owners Association is up in the air and the process for that undefined.
This is perhaps the trickiest phase in a community’s life cycle. There are a lot of ifs and uncertainties about this transition – who will own the facilities and infrastructure, how will it get transferred and what does it cost, what kind of reserves and guarantees are there, what is the developer’s role in the future, etc. If the transition has not yet been made yet, it is wise to ask a lot of questions.

7. To get the features you want on a base home will it cost you more than you thought.
Generally it won’t take you too long into the buying process to get a bead on this issue. But be prepared and a careful shopper; sometimes deals are available if you ask.

8. The HOA has not put away enough in reserve funds to cover expenses that will be necessary in the near future.
This is yet another serious financial issue you need to be on top of. Failure to keep adequate reserves usually leads to the next issue (assessments). Stuff wears out: roads, elevators, roads, swimming pools, golf courses, etc. A responsible board has a long range plan that puts away money to keep them all in good shape on a reasonable schedule.

9. There is a history of unexpected assessments.
Occasionally an assessment is unavoidable, such as a reaction to a natural disaster. But any pattern of unexpected and large assessments is a pretty good sign that this community and its board is not doing a good job of planning.

10. The Board is dysfunctional.
Make sure you have read the recent board minutes. Are there good minutes, are the elections documented with new board members rotating in? Talk with residents and get a feel for how they feel the board works.

Bottom line
Sometimes even the most thorough investigation fails to anticipate a problem. But generally a solid job of due diligence into your new community will turn up the red flags you need to know about. Spend the time in advance, and avoid headaches and regret down the line.

Comments? What kind of difficulties or surprises have you encountered while shopping for a home in a 55+ or active adult community? Or were there unpleasant surprises after you bought that you wish you hadn’t encountered? Have you bought and later regretted it. Please share your thoughts in the Comments section below.

For further reading:
Home Owners Associations: Friend or Foe?
Part 1: Meet the New Boss, Your HOA
Part 2: What You Need to Know About Homeowners Associations?
Part 3: What Happens When the Developer Leaves and the HOA Takes Over

Posted by Admin on March 10th, 2015


  1. Lots of very sound advice in this short article. When we were looking to purchase in an active adult community we did not understand most of this. Went through the new build 18 years ago and community transitioned from builder control to owner control in 2007. Got lucky I guess as our community came through it all financially very sound, more than adequate reserve fund (2.9 million) and great BOD management through the years. Our very savvy residents on committees such as finance, reserve planning, capital planning, audit all play a big role. Some communities keep assessing owners for shortfalls or dues go up substantially once the builder no longer subsidizes amenities such as the golf course or restaurants which are the two money pits. You should ask about dues history, any and all assessments that have taken place, size of reserve fund and if the builder is in control what are they subsidizing that will essentially become a homeowner cost when they leave….and, when will they leave.

    by LJ — March 11, 2015

  2. We are interested in Solivita in Kissimmee, FL. They are just about built out and the builder will be leaving. Does anyone know their financial status or what it’s like to live there? We are considering waiting until that transfer happens to be on the safe side. Any information would be appreciated. Thanks!

    by SandyM — March 11, 2015

  3. We are just starting the process of retiring and moving. To whom do we ask these questions when we are visiting potential communities? Do some of the states have better protections than others? We are looking at South Carolina.
    I have been researching online for months but are first visit to the area for house hunting will be in the next two months. Any suggestions on how to get the most of our visit?

    by kathy — March 11, 2015

  4. Many active adult communities have resident ambassadors, so that you can chat with residents rather than just with sales people and admin. Our community (in Arizona) and many in our area have such ambassadors. Otherwise just compile a list for the people you meet with and indicate that these are important questions that you need answered about the community. If you are looking at a golf community, you should be fully aware of what the subsidy is to golf course operations, same for restaurants on site…they basically never make money so know what you are subsidizing thru your monthly dues. Ask the breakdown of what the dues cover. You should always review the CC&R’s so that you know what rules are in place regarding pets, parking, maintenance, etc… If the builder will be leaving within the next few years, ask about the financial impact…when our builder left we renovated the sales office, and the community took out a loan to pay the builder back for some amenities, it wasn’t huge but it did take about 7 years to pay it off. These are all things that as this article states no one will tell you about. It is actually easier to understand the financials of a community that is no longer under builder control because the transition is already completed.

    by LJ — March 11, 2015

  5. I should also have mentioned that if you use a buyer representative Realtor, and they have a good level of expertise in the community you can get lots of information from them. Or, at least have them help you get the information that you need.

    by LJ — March 11, 2015

  6. What is a land lease community?

    by Bennie Jones — March 11, 2015

  7. In a land lease communityou buy/build home and lease the land it is on….best example might be a mobile home park where you own the mobile home but pay monthly lease for the lot. These certainly can grow in rates, my parents were in one and what started as $150/mo grew to $400+/mo by the time they left 14 years later. Usually the community provides some amenities like a pool so similar to an HOA fee but higher due to the leased land component…I guess it would be important to know what the rate history has been and know that it will only go up. The offset is that you don’t pay property taxes just personal property tax.

    by LJ — March 11, 2015

  8. All good information. One thing my wife and I learned quickly while looking at communities is something called CDD (Community Development District) fees/taxes, usually a bond that pays the developer or city/county for putting in sewer, water or access roadways. Found these in both South Carolina and Florida. In South Carolina it was a one time payment of around 1K. In Florida it was between 1+2k annually for 20 years. Add the CDD to property tax and I would be paying as much as I presently do in Minnesota. Also ask about CDD if you are purchasing a resale
    home in one of these active communities.

    by Bruce Schumacher — March 11, 2015

  9. We purchased Dec 2014 in Trilogy of Orlando. (Located in Groveland, FL) We have had a wonderful experience. No CDD and HOA fees cover cable, internet, grass cutting plus all the amenities at $357 a mo. We looked at Solivita, the Villages, and Stonecrest which is located near the Villages as well as communities near the ocean and did our research. Trilogy is also Solar Power homes. So far my electric bill is around $10 a mo. Yes we did pay for upgrades but went with a smaller home to get the upgrades we wanted. So far we love it. Right now we are going there about 5 times a year until my husband can fully retire in 2017. Shea Homes is the builder and they want to make sure you are happy. I work part time for a small builder in Maryland and I know how the process works. In my office we received a magazine listing the top builders in the USA. Out of over 300 builders Shea Homes ranked 17. Just thought I would share my thoughts. I have gotten a lot of good info from Top Retirements.

    by Vickie — March 11, 2015

  10. Vickie: Thank you for providing this info! Can you also tell us what the approximate real estate taxes are in your area, and if you had any trouble finding insurance? An hour’s radius around Orlando is on my list of possibilities – at least I’d know the kids would come to visit once a year for their vacations!

    by Sharon — March 12, 2015

  11. Vickie,
    I loved Trilogy and plan on staying a few days next month. I had 2 concerns about the community. The club house is so beautiful And big i wonder how the cost to maintain will reflect in future Hoa payments when builder moves on. The other point is that their is a $550 CDD for the water retention mgt. and should last 20 years. Did u happen to check out DelWebb in orlando or heritage hills?
    Good luck with your future home in Trilogy and we may see you some day.

    by alex — March 12, 2015

  12. how expensive are the homes in that area ? say 2 to 3 bedroom homes;

    by george dardonis — March 12, 2015

  13. I found homes like that with a decent amount of upgrades could range from 250 – 300k (1600-1800sq ft). My problem with Trilogy was that price point gave you a lot with zero appeal. Not talking lake view but I don’t want to see what your neighbors got on the grill either.. ????

    by Alexander — March 12, 2015

  14. Vickie,
    We visited Trilogy one time and their homes are absolutely beautiful. What made you decide on Trilogy vs. Solivita?
    Solivita has all the wildlife and that’s what attracts us to that area. We plan to do the 2 night stay in Trilogy to find out what it’s really like. Enjoy Florida!!! We hope to be there soon.

    by SandyM — March 12, 2015

  15. We purchased in SaddleBrooke, a Tucson active adult community, back in the 90s during a time when the developer had control, and if he’d maintained it we’d still be living there. But he transitioned it to homeowner control at the insistence of a handful of homeowners that desperately needed to be in control. A year later the annual dues skyrocketed, assessments became common, and nearly everything you can imagine doing around one’s home required a payment to a various HOA committee comprised of hand picked minions for the board.
    Be very cautions before signing the bottom line of a home contract. It will be a laborious procedure, but read the CC&Rs and any other rules or guidelines in place at the time. Don’t bother talking with the HOA hand picked selection of homeowners acting as community representatives because their opinions are totally tilted toward everything positive because they have to help seal the deal in order to continue getting perks such as free meals at the clubhouse restaurant. Venture into the amenities and talk with people at random about their overview of the community and you are going to hear a more accurate picture of what to expect after settling in for a while.
    This is a beautiful place, but it comes at a price not only in the ever increasing annual financial cost for the dues, but also in the amount of invasive oversight you are willing to endure from a domineering HOA.

    by Smokey — March 12, 2015

  16. Does anyone have any comments about Plantation Oaks in Flagler Beach, Fla.? Visited there last year and
    liked it a lot but I would appreciate any input from residents. It is a manufactured home community and it is
    land-lease…Is there a “cap” on the amount the land-lease can increase on a yearly basis?

    by Lora — March 12, 2015

  17. Taxes around $2600 year. Insurance $560 year. We will be applying for the Florida homestead credit on our property taxes when we move there full time. We live in Maryland right now and get the homestead credit here. You can only get it in one state. Also, like I said Shea Homes is in the business of selling homes. Homeowners ins was not a problem. We were contacted by an agency that works closely with Shea homes and we purchased from them. I contacted several other agencies and some did not insure in Florida. Even my own agency USAA. Smooth sailing for insurance and I purchased from them and figured I could change after settlement but so far so good. Solivita is beautiful. But……the area surrounding Solivita was not what we were looking for and the open area outside of Trilogy as well as the rolling hills and the convenience of restaurants and shopping fit for us. Florida has it figured out. Instead of state taxes you are taxed other ways. TOLLS everywhere but the roads are well kept and we realize the money has to come into the state someway. We wanted to be in the middle of Florida vs the ocean. Our thoughts were our family will come if there is a lot to do. Plus its Florida!! In our older years we want a community instead of being out in the middle of no where plus not knowing the area. A 55 plus community is somewhere we feel we can age in.
    Like I said just sharing my thoughts.

    by Vickie — March 13, 2015

  18. Vickie, not sure if we will buy in Trilogy but I could not agree more with most of your personnel assements. From beautiful area, proximity to Disney, Shopping and a 55 active community we could age in. Please check into the CDD (550 yr) but for you it’s a moot point at this time.
    Good luck and many happy healthy years at Trilogy….
    Ps…. if Trilogy was our choice we also felt the Villa gave us everything we wanted with size and upgrades for a price within our budget…. your info on insurance and taxes were helpful..

    by alex — March 13, 2015

  19. Thanks again Vickie – very helpful information.

    by Sharon — March 14, 2015

  20. We visited Trilogy last month for an afternoon. The development is coming along nicely. The communityy center is very nice there is an indoor and outdoor pool. Plenty of activity centers, gym and a large ballroom.
    We looked at the villas, as the larger homes would have been out of our price range. Of course, when you look at models, there are lots of upgrades and designer furnishings, which made them look even nicer.
    The surrounding area still has room to breathe with rolling hills, an active large winery with plenty of events, and Clermont is a nice town with a cute downtown, and all the big box stores.
    Although we don’t have plans to move to central Florida again, it was a nice community to see and guage others with.

    by Bill — March 14, 2015

  21. From what I can tell there isn’t much difference between living in a condo and living in an active adult community; Same challenging home owner association issues. This, despite the fact that I assume that people actually own their property in an active adult community. Am I wrong about that? Based on our limited experience with our condo, it is better to have the Developer/builder kept in charge of the home owners association for as long as possible as then you are able to make him/her fix problems caused by shortcuts in construction and shoddy workmanship. Once they depart, good luck with getting anything fixed.

    by Lynn — March 14, 2015

  22. Three years into the “due diligence” aspect so is there anyone that can extend insight on the Robson Communities. Lifestyle and well communities are a key factor.

    by Stan — March 14, 2015

  23. Robson communities, aside from location, are all functionally alike meaning homeowner controlled once he sells a set percentage of lots/homes, and this is typically 80%.
    The communities give a nice appearance, are well maintained and have ample amenities. However, keep your checkbook close at hand because the annual dues tend to have an automatic increase with many in the 8% range. That didn’t gain much attention or interest by the residents in the early years of SaddleBrooke, for example. But over time that percentage can become daunting when added to the typical myriad of other HOA expenses and special assessments, and these can be levied up to a certain dollar amount without the approval of the homeowners, and they are often left in place indefinitely even though the initial issue had been resolved.
    If you enjoy being told virtually everything you can and can’t do with the outside of your home and your entire yard, then by all means get on over there and sign the dotted line. But remember that you weren’t warned ahead of time.

    by Den — March 15, 2015

  24. Hi Vickie 1
    You have said that shea builders was # 17 on the list ; I was wondering , who is # 1 on 100 top builders?
    Thanks George ;
    I’m looking to built a new home in Florida , any sugestions will be appreciated.

    by george dardonis — March 15, 2015

  25. George and Vickie:

    I too wondered who was #1 on the top Builders list and also where can we find this list? Where does GL homes fall on it? It seems all the builders in Florida are building the same type home with the same interior layout, with a slight variation here and there? Do any of the top builders have unique yet functional designs for retirees?


    by Jennifer — March 15, 2015


    Above is the link to the magazine with the list.

    by Vickie — March 15, 2015

  27. The list of the professional builders, the housing giants, ranks each of the builders on their revenue during the year 2013. The number one builder ranked on the list, D.R. Horton, had the greatest amount of revenue and the most home closings in 2013.


    by Tom — March 16, 2015

  28. wish the builder list was based on customer satisfaction.

    by elaine — March 17, 2015

  29. The way I looked at the list is you wouldn’t sell very many homes if customers were not satisfied.

    by Vickie — March 17, 2015

  30. Those living in 55 + communities in Tucson, which ones are considered the best? I thought that Saddlebrooke was one of the best, but from what everyone is saying, it really isn’t. Any advice on moving to one of the 55 + communities? I plan to do so within the year,

    by cathy — March 18, 2015

  31. We were interested in 55+ manufactured homes in SW FL- Bonita Springs – Punta Gorda. Does anyone have recommendations or cautions for any of them?

    by Debbie — March 20, 2015

  32. Anyone have info on Robson Ranch Casa Grande, Az? Visited and it looks very nice, well maintained and residents we talked to raved about it.
    Have heard many good comments about Robson with the exception of one of them in Tucson.

    by Mike Mc Caughn — March 25, 2015

  33. I am interested in an active adult community in Arizona and also considering Las Vegas. After reading about Robson and Triology, I am leaning toward Triology if affordable. Any one have insight into the Sun City communities in AZ and Nevada? Thanks.

    by Annette Pietrzak — June 16, 2015

  34. We are planning on retiring in about 2 years and have been very interested in the community of Fairfield Glade, TN. We are from upstate NY and want to get back closer to home but don’t want to deal with the harsh winters anymore. We may need to work part time. My husband currently deals poker at the Mirage Casino in Las Vegas and I do transcription for real estate appraisers. I’m assuming we’ll be able to find part-time work in the Fairfield Glade area. Any input from any of you readers? In addition to Fairfield Glade, TN, we are also exploring living in southeastern Kentucky and northern North Carolina.

    by Marlea Ellis — June 17, 2015

  35. We are interested in Brunswick Forest in Leland NC just outside of Wilmington. Anyone know anything about this community?

    Editor’s note: Here is a place to start if you havent seen before.

    by Bobbie Gaski — June 17, 2015

  36. […] further reading 10 Things Your Active Community Won’t Tell You Home Owners Association: Friend or Foe The Most Popular Active Adult Communities for […]

    by » How to Find the Right Active Community for Your Retirement – A Checklist - Topretirements — July 4, 2015

  37. Wondering if anyone knows anything about Riverside Community in Ruskin FL. We have been viewing online and hope to visit in a couple of months to check it out. We are 2 years away from retirement…. figure its never too early to start planning.

    Thanks any info you can give us

    by Betty — November 4, 2015

  38. Does anyone know the general differences between Del Webb Sun City communities and the Lennar 55plus communities? I visited Sun City Carolina Lakes in Indian Land/Fort MIll, SC, but Lennar is building a community almost next door to Carolina Lakes.

    by nancy — November 5, 2015

  39. Nancy, one thing…in general Sun City DelWebbs have golf courses and “non-SunCity DelWebb” communities do not. Lennar communities may or may not. I think that Lennar are better quality houses, but as a single person I favor Del Webb because of the clubs. I like Toll Brother quality of houses best of the over 55s that I have looked at, but again like the diversity of clubs better in other communities. In Fredericksburg, VA, neither of the 2 del webbs or the lennar have golf courses

    by elaine — November 6, 2015

  40. Thanks. I know the golf course at Carolina Lakes is public. The new Del Webb going in – Carolina Orchards – is across from Anne Springs Greenway, which is a very nice facility. I did a tour of Carolina Lakes done by a resident and really was drawn to the clubs and amenities. Resales there seem high compared to going in new, which could be a problem. I really want to move out of my existing home – too large, taxes too high, neighborhood has become mostly very young couples.

    by nancy — November 9, 2015

  41. Betty: My husband and I are interested in the Riverside community in Ruskin, FL. We stayed in one of their model homes for a weekend to check out the community. The houses are really nice. The ones that we are looking at are not very big, which we like. We like the fact that there is a marina where we can launch our kayaks (and there is kayak storage at the marina). There are two clubhouses. The one at the marina has a small restaurant. The other clubhouse is newer and quite nice. It has a kitchen, a workout room, a small theater, a gym where dances are held and a wonderful outdoor pool. The clubhouse by the marina also has a pool. If you have any specific questions, please let me know. We, too, are a few years out from retirement, but we are doing our homework now.


    by jtpsail — November 10, 2015

  42. Great info everybody! We are all in the same boat so good to share.
    Have visited Trilogy Orlando and liked it. Shea homes seem a little better built than some of the Drl Webb and Heritages we’ve seen in other areas, but it’s probably all the same labor pool so no matter lol.
    Going to see Solivita next month for closeness to Disney but concerned about the surrounding area. Anyone have any insight about that and the various Disney commutes? Anything that doesn’t require going on I-4??
    Thanks all for the help! We moved from NY to Raleigh area few yrs ago so anyone wanting any info, happy to help out.
    Also in FL is it better to go thru an outside realtor who may give more info and show resale too or just go to the development? And if so, how do you find a good realtor over the Internet?
    Thanks everybody!

    by Jan — November 10, 2015

  43. Any information on well managed 55+ diverse communities in Boca Raton or Broward County, Florida with medium price under $185,000 – ( 2+ bedrooms / 2+ bathrooms/garage) townhome or condo ? Activities, clubs , Low HOA, low property tax with no membership fee. Thanks.

    Editors Comment: Start here and also look under Boynton Beach on our Florida Directory

    by Sonia — November 10, 2015

  44. Jan –
    I live in North Florida and I would advise you to get a realtor. When negotiating with a developer a realtor will have your best interests in mind and it will not cost you any more money. I found a great realtor by calling an ASHI home inspector and asked them to recommend a good realtor. My husband and I are considering moving to the Raleigh area but have concerns about the ice and snow. We have always lived in Florida so we are not use to living in that type of winter weather. Also, did you have any difficulty finding doctors? Any advice or information you can give would be appreciated.

    by Cathy W — November 11, 2015

  45. Jan –
    I live in north Florida and I would advise you to get an outside realtor. They will have your best interests in mind when negotiating with a developer and it will not cost you any more money. I found a great realtor by calling an ASHI home inspector and asked them for a recommendation. They gave me several names. My husband and I are considering a move to the Raleigh area and would appreciate any advice or information you can give. We are concerned about living in an area with ice and snow since we are not use to it. We have always lived in Florida. Did you have any difficulty finding a doctor and how was the medical care there?
    Thank you for any information you can give me.
    – Cathy W

    by Cathy W — November 11, 2015

  46. Hi Cathy!
    Thanks for the advice about the outside realtor! Will try the home inspector route as suggested.

    First, this is a beautiful area with a mild four season climate. Colder in the winter than Florida but not brutal and the sun always comes out at some point. Definitely way way less heat and humidity than Florida. It does snow and ice occasionally in the winter, but then everything pretty much shuts down and you just stay home for a day and then all melts.

    Medical care here is EXCELLENT with some of the best hospitals and doctors in the world. They do tons of clinical trials here too so they are really up to date. Lots and lots of doctors. Every specialty you can imagine.

    My only reservations are that it has been getting progressively more crowded here – they say 100 people per day move to Wake County – and if you have to go anywhere during rush hour, it’s a big hassle. So if you need to work, you need to live close by. If that’s not an issue, you’ll be fine. You can also choose from city to suburban to more rural living and still be within 20-30 minutes of everything. Lots of parks and greenway walking trails even right in the middle of downtown and all over the suburbs.

    Other than that, the people are friendly and polite, there are good restaurants, decent theater and concerts, beaches 2-3 hours to the east and mountains 3-4 hours to the west. Lots of transplants from the NE and MW so no one feels out of place.

    If you need any other info, please don’t hesitate to ask!

    by Jan — November 12, 2015

  47. Jan –

    Thank you so much for the information about the Raleigh area! We have been there many times looking at various communities and we really like Heritage in Wake Forest. We don’t think we want to live in a 55+ community and we have been told by our realtor that Heritage has a section where a lot of retired people have moved. Do you know anything about Heritage? Do you know of any other community where active retirees have settled other than 55+ communities? It’s very difficult to make a decision when you don’t know anyone there so it is very helpful to talk with someone who lives there!

    by Cathy W — November 12, 2015

  48. Sonia: Check out Wynmoor Village located in Coconut Creek, Broward County Florida. My husband & I were there recently & found it to be a beautiful place, very reasonably priced, tons of clubs, no membership fees, exquisite landscaping, several pools, huge clubhouse, gated community, in general pretty much anything you could want. Only negative there are no garages as far as I know. You can go to if you are interested. Best of luck in your search.

    by Maureen — November 12, 2015

  49. Cathy –
    Heritage is right down the street from us. We pretty much do all our shopping and eating in there or surrounding Wake Forest area. It is lovely! There is even a new Publix they are just breaking ground for in the main shopping area.

    The homes are all sizes and types – single family, townhomes, condos – and building a new maintenance-free ranch style enclave also I heard. The place is landscaped beautifully and constantly maintained, there is a golf course and a pool but I don’t think a gym (there is a great one just down the road that some from Heritage join)

    BUT – it is a huge development and more building every day. Anytime one of the older homes with land goes on the market, Heritage snaps it up and puts in 20 more homes. So constant construction. And lots of traffic at key times – think school drop offs/pickups and evening rush hour – so that’s something to think about. If you can avoid those busy times, it’s a pleasure to get around. Have heard from others that selling homes go quickly since Heritage is so desirable.

    It really is a beautiful and well maintained community. And you already know the Wake Forest area is so nice and near enough to everything.

    Just curious – where are you in north FL and anything bad about FL that is making you want to move north? We have been looking at the Orlando surrounding area cuz I love Disney, but still on the fence about heat, humidity, bugs, tourists, crime, costs. So pretty much confused about what I want to do.

    by Jan — November 13, 2015

  50. Jan –
    We live in Tallahassee which is a medium size college town. It is very pretty here with moss draped oak trees and the traffic isn’t too crazy. But since we do have a LOT of college students the crime is really bad near the 2 universities. All of our friends have left the area and our daughter, son-in-law and grandson live in Virignia Beach so we wanted to move closer to them. I certainly understand your hesitance in moving because we feel the same way. I don’t know if I would like living in such a large metropolitan area.

    Orlando is a huge city with a lot of crime, tourists, heat, humidity and everything else you mentioned. Personally, I wouldn’t live there but have you checked out nearby towns such as Mount Dora and Clermont? I have a friend who lives in Lady Lake in a gated community and she says it takes her 1-1 1/2 hours to get to Orlando. She takes a day trip to Orlando to shop, etc.

    We will be making our decision as to whether or not we will relocate right after the first of the year. If you hear any more about the ranch style enclave please let me know. We would be very interested in that since most places up there are two story. If you have any other questions, let me know.

    by Cathy W — November 13, 2015

  51. Cathy-I will let you know when I find out anymore about the maintenance free ranches at Heritage. We have visited Clermont and Mt Dora and did think those areas might be nicer/safer than too close to Orlando. Will do some more digging on our next trip. I hadn’t heard of Lady Lakes so will definitely look into that too – thanks!

    by Jan — November 14, 2015

  52. Cathy-If you know any decent gated communities in Lady Lake – your friend’s or others – please let me know their names. Thanks!

    by Jan — November 14, 2015

  53. Jan –

    The community in Lady Lake is called Harbor Hills. They have a beautiful clubhouse, a golf course, a small gym, pool. It is not a 55+ community but there are a lot of retirees there. They have many social events throughout the year. It it located about 6 miles from The Villages and that is where you would do most of your shopping, etc.

    by Cathy W — November 14, 2015

  54. RE: Wynmoor mentioned above…not for dog lovers

    by elaine — November 14, 2015

  55. Jan – Just a note about bugs, snakes etc. I moved from PA to SC for work in 2013. I live in a non-55+ neighborhood. This summer I had the interesting experience of looking out my window and seeing a giant black snake slithering across my backyard, getting up to look around peridiodically. It was the first snake I’ve ever seen, and he has not come back. It was actually interesting, after I finished freaking out. He went under the fence into a small strip of woods and was gone. Later I also discovered a little brown snake slithering into a driveway drainhole. I have found geckos frequently on my back patio and elsewhere, and once I spotted a salamander in my driveway. A little different variety of bugs, and it seems like there are more spiders in the house. People have warned me that a termite contract is essential. I have a beautiful red shouldered hawk that sits in my fence and surveys my little yard frequently. Presumably, he’s looking for the bunnies, squirrels, geckos and other wildlife that I was surprised to find in such a small yard. I don’t seem to see as many birds compared to PA other than the usual Canadian geese and a few robins. Overall, on my bug & snake index, I’ll trade this wildlife for the horrible stink bugs in PA. I have found that the hotter summers are bearable (I just take things a little slower, and people do their exercise earlier in the morning or later at night). I was indoors in the winter in PA, and I’m indoors in July and August in SC. I like 70 degree days in November! The tree pollen in the Spring can be pretty messy and I’ve noted I will have to have the house powerwashed for mildew about once a year, but neither is a big deal. I’m trading that for snow and ice removal. Weirdly, I think the fruit and veggies in the market were better in PA even though they’re fresher here. I can buy fresh shark meat and other new things here, but I can’t get fresh kielbasa…go figure.

    I don’t think any place is perfect, so it’s always a balancing act between things that we consider important. I had an Aunt in the 80’s who reluctantly moved to FL with her husband, although she was terrified that her beloved poodle would either be eaten by a gater or carried off by a hawk. After 2 years in Florida, she would come back to visit and rave about Florida. She just loved it, and enjoyed meeting people from all over the country who also retired there.

    I’m still not sure where I’ll retire though. Family is back in PA with the stink bugs and snow….

    by Kate — November 15, 2015

  56. Kate, nice description of life in SC. I’m in CT and we have never had stink bugs until last year and this year. They are disgusting and cling to my screen door trying to get in. I do all I can to make them leave but some have gotten in the house and sometimes in the middle of winter all of a sudden one is in the bathroom clinging to a toothbrush! UGH, they are repulsive!

    Just a thought on you not being able to get kielbasa. Try looking on line and have it shipped to you! Especially in the colder months when less chance of spoilage even when packed with ice. I order sausage from a butcher in Rhode Island. He makes it fresh and I have him ship me like 30 lbs. He packs it with dry ice. Shipping from him only takes about a day and once we get it we pack them up in vacuum sealer bags and freeze. We have enough for a year. We usually order in February. I am sure you can find many places that would ship kielbasa to you!

    Put these key words into Google and lots of links will come up: kielbasa by mail order

    Another thing I have been doing is ordering things from Walmart. If you put together an order of $50 you get free shipping. I have ordered paper plates, like 4 bundles, a 15 pack of paper towels, dinner napkins, shower cleaner. I really like ordering stuff on line, get free shipping and have it delivered to my door! I also ordered two movie DVD’s. Costco has some house hold things too you can order and have it delivered to your house! It’s nice to shop now and then but so nice not to have to shop for it, pack it in your car then put it away. Saves me time and gas! And as everyone knows, it sure doesn’t take much for $50 to add up!

    by Louise — November 15, 2015

  57. i dont know where you are in SC Kate, but Beaufort has fresh Kielbasa.

    by Debra — November 15, 2015

  58. I’m in Fort Mill, near Charlotte! I will definitely plan on hunting for kielbasa by mail order in Jan or early Feb, when temps here are actually down in the 30s and 40s. I’m still working (and my company won’t accept deliveries for us) so I haven’t wanted to order food products that would sit on a porch. Good tips though! Louise– I used to be able to find fresh kielbasa in butcher stores around Easter in Bridgeport and Stamford, when I grew up there 40+ years ago. (When I started my retirement search, I actually considered returning to CT for about 15 minutes. That’s how long it took me to discover all the taxes and the high cost of housing.)

    Funny – when I moved to PA from CT, my biggest frustration was in not being able to get a hard roll. When I asked for them at a grocery store, I was asked why I would want stale bread. After I explained, they suggested I buy Kaiser Rolls! Not the same thing at all! And I never understood the PA enthusisam for dumping handfulls of “Chipped Ham” on bread (ham that is shaved so thin that you can’t tell the quality of the meat.) I learned that bologna is called Jumbo, and soda is Pop. Yes, I eventually learned to live without hard rolls :-). And I suppose I can learn to live without kielbasa in SC, especially since I’m discovering the joys of Bojangles’ Southern biscuits. Discovering new regional foods is part of the fun, after all.

    by Kate — November 15, 2015

  59. Kate-Enjoyed your bug/snake comments! We briefly had a vacation home near Disney – found snake in the shed. I screamed and ran. DH tried to “encourage” him to leave by whacking the shed with a heavy hammer. Neighbor came over in flip flops with homemade snake trap, gently slid it over snake’s head and carried it off to a nearby field to release. Just what your used to I guess lol.

    by Jan — November 15, 2015

  60. Jan – since we’re on the subject of bugs and snakes, how often do you see snakes in your neighborhood in Wake Forest? And what about black widow spiders? I have heard these are a problem up there. I have a terrible fear of snakes and thankfully have not seen any around my house in several years.

    by Cathy W — November 15, 2015

  61. Thanks for information on Wynmoor Village, now it’s on my list to visit.

    Also researching BOCA DELRAY GOLF & COUNTRY CLUB AND Lexington Club Boulevard, 55+ Active communities in Delray Beach, Florida. Anyone with specific description of these communities? Relocating from another State. Budget is under $185,000 – (2 bedrooms/ Den/ 2+ bathrooms/garage) townhome or condo with balcony. Must have varied Activities, clubs, Low HOA, low property tax with no membership fee. Thanks.

    by Sonia — November 16, 2015

  62. Cathy-My DH saw one small snake going across our yard in the 5 years we’ve been here. And it was when they were doing construction behind us. We have not seen any black widow spiders at all. My DH sprays the outside of the house quarterly with something from Home Depot and the builder did a termite treatment so we keep that up each year. I keep most things – sugar, flour, cereal etc – either in plastic storage containers or plastic baggies. Have not had any bugs in the house other than occasional earwig, just like NY. Bugs just not an issue here, although one of our neighbors who is from CT told her DH she won’t move any further south than this cause the bugs keep getting bigger the further south you go. ????

    by Jan — November 17, 2015

  63. Jan – it’s true we have have a lot of bugs here in Florida. We have a lot of roaches and some are huge that fly, fleas, fire ants, mosquitos, centipedes, silver fish, many varieties of spiders, love bugs that appear in the fall and spring that can damage your car paint, etc. Also there are alligators in all parts of the state, pythons and iguanas in the southern part of the state. Some areas have bears, wild boar, coyotes, armadillos, etc. If you live in a large city you probably won’t see most of this wildlife but smaller cities and out in the country you will see them or hear them. But there’s no ice or snow! ????

    by Cathy W — November 17, 2015

  64. We bought a villa in Ocala Fl, and we are extremely happy with our purchase and life style. We live at OnTop of The World. Our 1740 ft villa was $64,000, our HOA is $401 and the amenities with it are worth every penny, We traveled both coasts and the Keys over a three yr period of vacations, staying at try out programs, doing in depth research, and so far OTOW is best by far. Only a couple of negatives, but many more positives. I would b happy to answer any questions. We are not ambassadors, we are simply a senior couple who budget and analyze and wanted the best of all possibilities that fit our priority list ( yes, an actual list we made to compare to offerings across the state; made it easier to talk to realtors and not b pressured. They could only try to argue against our list…. ) Do your research… Make a priority list…. Take your time, randomly talk to residents, don’t give into pressure, sales tactics

    by Joani Zoldowski — January 5, 2016

  65. Hi Joani,
    We are going to look at OTOW. Would you elaborate on the couple of negatives? Would you consider sharing your list?

    by Ron — January 6, 2016

  66. What are the negatives about Top Of The World we are very much interested we visited there last year just to look and had a sales rep tour So far we also checked LEGACY OF LEESBURG IT SEEMED NICE BUT TOO QUIET AND TOO MUCH WILD LIFE WE ARE NOT INTO CANOES AND BIRD WATCHING I was thinking villas like you are in now are also good for us. WE HAVE BEEN TO THE VILLAGES BUT THAT PLACE IS TOO BUSY AND CROWDED THANK YOU FOR HELPING US DECIDE….

    by Lily Bass — January 6, 2016

  67. Joani, Is that a typo on the price? How long ago did you buy? I’ve been drawn to OTOTW but need to investigate it and other communities further before making a decision. The amenities there do seem impressive and I would use them. Did the HOA recently increase? The last I remember the HOA was somewhere in the $300s for a maintenance free home. Thanks for the info.

    by Tessa — January 9, 2016

  68. We just visited Saddlebrooke Ranch outside of Tucson for 3 days- the grounds are attractive and the residents seem very friendly. Our concerns are how isolated the communities – both the original Saddlebrooke and the new Saddlebrooke Ranch- are. Residents felt the Phoenix airport was as close as the Tucson airport ( which offers less non stop flights) and that involves over an hour drive across the desert; there seemed to be no public transportation. Nor were there any real restaurants located nearby other than the community HOA restaurants and those seemed bland to us. We are actually homebodies, but like to venture out occasionally and the streets and highways are completely dark- wonderful for stargazing, but difficult for aging eyes to navigate. We could not pick up uber , there seemed to be no options. Even a drug store or gas station or grocery store seemed to involve a long drive. We are used to living in the country, living 30 years in a small town, but these communities seemed particularly isolated for an aging population who migh expect to be driving less and less over the years. Does anyone here have experience living in a situation like this – perhaps we are the only ones thinking about building a new life in a community- and also aging in that community.

    by Allen — January 28, 2016

  69. We are moving a group of comments here that didnt fit where they were originally posted:

    We are seriously considering moving to the Arbors by Del Webb in Durham. Any info would be helpful.
    Thank you.
    by maryann — May 17, 2016

    maryann…a note of caution regarding Del Webb/Pulte Homes. Like many customers, we were so enamored by the “lifestyle” in Del Webb communities that we didn’t focus on the quality of home construction and property infrastructure. After doing a lot of research, we chose another builder and community.
    by Ronald — May 18, 2016

    maryann, I agree completely with Ronald. I have visited two Del Webb communities in the Carolinas and found in both that the quality of construction was not what you would like, especially since they were model homes.

    by Dick — May 18, 2016 | Edit This

    Re Del Webb/Pulte: I have visited several of their communities in several states and found the quality of construction lacking in each of them. Also vastly overpriced. In their Charleston community, they didn’t even offer a handheld showerhead as an option! Pretty amazing. Needless to say, I passed.
    by Linda — May 19, 2016 |

    Linda: I live in a Pulte home in a non-55+ community right now. It’s ok. Not the best, but definitey also not the worst housing product. (On our HOA Facebook page, the first time homeowners freak out over things like a 7-8 year old water tank starting to fail, or a 10 year old furnace needing an expensive repair. They immediately claim that it’s because Pulte is a bad builder. In reality, home ownership is a continuing drain between temptin gotta-have improvements and repairs.).

    I recenty toured Del Webb model homes in Blufton and Charlotte, and noted some odd deficiencies. The raised dishwashers that are intended to benefit 55+ residents so they don’t bend over are….not next to the sink! It makes no sense to rinse dishes and then carry dripping dishes down the counter a few feet. Also, the toilets were not comfort-height. That simple feature wouldn’t cost them much, but it seems pretty basic. My biggest issue with Pulte is the lack of customization though. They’ll paint the walls in your new home, but not with your color. They wont give you an allowance to pick your own flooring (I was told to buy the cheapest flooring from them, and then just rip it out). Giving you new toilets that have to be replaced is another example. Their business model may be cost-efficient, but it certainly makes it more difficult for buyers to purchase their dream homes.

    I too had the same issue with Del Webb. They tell you to buy the cheapest countertops and then tear them out and get what you want. And no comfort height toilets in a 55+? It speaks to building quickly and cheaply and take it or leave it. But their prices are not really cheap. We may end up in one of these but I hate the waste that would happen to get what we want. Do any of the 55+ have wide enough doorways and hallways for wheelchairs and 0 entry showers? Perhaps they don’t really want you to age in place in these communities. The Villages really took the cake when we looked there several years ago – they build the houses, choose the colors, counters, floors and everything as they open up each new street. That is what you get – take it or leave it. At least it can be nice quality and if you like the color scheme you don’t have to throw out perfectly good flooring and buy what you want later. Is there a thread for these kinds of questions? My friend in an upscale Del Webb in suburban Chicago had part of her ceiling fall down in her large home after living in it less than a year. Yes, Webb fixed it but she had to move out and was inconvenienced for several days, plus it was a big mess.

    by Admin — May 20, 2016

  70. We looked at Del Webb in Ponte Vedra FL. Loved the area- a master planned community, Nocatee. We were ready to buy as the model homes seemed lovely, although my husband DID observe that the building products were very low end and worried about their endurance. When asked, the agent told us there could be no substitutions, just upgrades as offered in the floor plans. The final blow came when he strolled over to look at houses “in process” – lots of problems in construction – we left and never looked at another Del Webb community. Please be vigilant and before you buy, spend the money for a home inspector to spend a few hours with you looking at a model as well as homes in various stages of being built in the community. If they will not let you do this, RUN!

    by SandyZ — May 21, 2016

  71. I have owned a villa in Sun City Hilton Head (a Del Webb community) for a year now and have had no problems with the construction at all. It was built in 1999 and I cannot attest to the new builds, but have been very happy with mine.

    by Trish R — May 21, 2016

  72. Follow to SandyZ… Yes when you look at the bones of Del Webb homes under construction, you can see why many owners have issues later, or right away with some new homes. Look closely at the concrete slab prep, structural/framing techniques, HVAC design, insullation and venting…all unseen on Model Homes.

    by Ronald — May 21, 2016

  73. We’re living here in Los Angeles and planning to move to Heritage Hills in Clermont, Florida. Anybody can give me advices about the area and the community? Thank you!

    by Celia Gehr — May 21, 2016

  74. Celia,
    LA to Florida big move, good luck. We checked out Heritage hills and the views from pool into there grape vine mountain side is really nice. Clermont is a nice location and I believe you can take your golf cart to Publics. My concern was gym was small and dark and no pickle ball which leads to me think slightly older community. Did not like they provided NO stay and try accommodations, which I think is very important. You do get a nice house for the buck as everything is included. If we’re to stay in that area I would look at Trilogy, very nice.
    Good luck

    by alexmac — May 21, 2016

  75. carold,
    I am sorry but the houses in the villages are a total blah and come with a hefty price tag. the new builds have no back yard privacy and are very plain. You want fancy its gonna cost you, the Cdds are a bit high and the place has so many rentals it’s a bit disturbing. I have been on two tours of the villages and the motto is ” Your buying a lifestyle not a house ”
    With the houses they offer, you better believe it..

    by alexmac — May 21, 2016

  76. Alex thanks for the information!

    by Celia Gehr — May 22, 2016

  77. I am about to close on a DW Charleston house built in 2010 and y’all are making me nervous about all the construction quality comments and wonder if anyone can be more specific (and if I should back out of the deal.)

    Any non-cosmetic specifics? I have an engineer coming to inspect this week.

    by Laura — May 30, 2016

  78. Laura, If you have a qualified home inspector that you can trust and is contractually liable for errors and omissions, then he/she will likely uncover these deficiencies. Sadly most inspectors don’t have any skin in the game, and will require that you hold them harmless from what you are paying them to do. Don’t trust the accuracy of disclosure statements from the current owner, since they never offer any legal standing to the buyer. Knock on neighbors doors with similar homes and age ranges and usually you will find many who will share their experiences and tell you specifics of what to look for. Good luck and tell us how it goes for you.

    by Ronald — June 1, 2016

  79. We took the plunge and did buy at the Del Webb community in Durham…Carolina Arbors…I agree about the dishwasher….makes no sense….I never had a dishwasher that was not next to the sink. I hope to follow the construction closely……maybe get a certified inspector. Most people I spoke to did seem happy. We will see.

    by maryann — June 2, 2016

  80. I have lived in Del Webb Charleston for almost 3 years. We built our house knowing that Pulte is not a custom builder and that they are not the best out there. They are also far from being the worst. We had a few relatively minor issues that they took care of with a lot of perseverance. We looked at another 55+ community in Summerville and really liked the construction quality much better but it was a small community and did not have the amenities that Del Webb has. We love the lifestyle here and would make the same decision again.

    by Kathy — June 2, 2016

  81. To Kathy in Summerville… do you go to a beach from Del Webb? How far and what beach? And traffic considerations to the beach? We visited Summerville several years ago and it is a sweet little town but with the growth I assume the town has grown too. Thanks.

    by Carold — June 3, 2016

  82. I hear many complaints about del Webb, but where are the good alternatives for the southeast that has decent amenities without having to spend over 350,000?

    by Vickie — June 3, 2016

  83. I, like Vicki, am apprehensive about purchasing a Del Web home and would also like to hear from one and all on alternative builders/communities.

    by Eileen — June 3, 2016

  84. I, also, am reluctant to buy into Del Webb homes. Vickie, have you looked at GL homes? We’ve been researching active adult communities for some time now and we’ve heard good comments about them. They have a development in the Tampa area called Valencia Lakes where many of their villas start in the mid 200s.
    Hopefully we’ll visit Valencia Lakes next August to see if we can take Florida’s heat and humidity!

    by Lana — June 4, 2016

  85. To Carold, we usually go to the beach at Isle of Palms, about a 45 minute drive. We only go during the week, not on the weekends. Traffic in Summerville can be heavy at times. We try to time our trips to avoid the busy times. Summerville is still growing and so is the area out by us. We will be getting a new hospital about 5 miles away in the next few years which I am sure will bring more shops and restaurants. Summerville will be getting another exit off of I26 as well which should help with traffic. We will be able to use the overpass to get to the area where rAzela Square shopping center is located.

    by Kathy — June 4, 2016

  86. Thanks Lana,
    I haven’t headed about GL. I’ll check it out. Now with unknown of zika that the media is making such a big deal about, anyone concerned about that?

    by Vickie — June 4, 2016

  87. Vickie: I can tell you that our local news stations and the bug companies are all aggressively advertising for spraying for mosquitos (South Carolina near Charlotte NC). Our HOA even posted info about having all backyards sprayed. I have a kid who is medical professional, who has expressed concern about visiting over the months were mosquitos are most active. Her hospital has been giving alerts and training for Zika, just as they did for Ebola. She said that the problem is that they don’t yet know how long the virus wil remain in the body, with warnings recently being upped to 6 months (and she’s planning on getting pregnant within the next 2 years).

    Since the virus is reportedly typically asymptomatiic except for pregnant women and their babies, we don’t know if it is something that we might have encountered during our lives and never known it.

    It is timely that the UCONN Alumni magazine arrived yesterday. There’s an article in it about Zika, since a Pathobiology and Veterinary Sciene professor from Brazil has been researching a Zika immunization since last November when when the connection wih microcephaly was identified in Brazilian news reports.

    I have a cruise scheduled this summer, and I see the cruise lines have Zika info available, recommending consideration of repellants.. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Disney and other Southern vacation spots do the same. And our discount stores now has a display of mosquito repellants near the big display of sun blockers.

    by Kate — June 5, 2016

  88. There really should be no surprises when buying in an active adult community. The sales people are great and that is their job, but your job is to attend a board meeting or at least get the Minutes from the last couple of meetings mailed to you. There may be issues you want to know about.

    by Jemmie248 — June 5, 2016

  89. Thank-you Jemmie248, that is a great idea. I just added it to my list.

    We are starting to look for a retirement community to relocate to permanently in southwest Florida, someplace that has planned activities and is relatively small.

    Del Webb doesn’t sound too promising. Verandah is one is on the list to do additional research of, as well as Pelican Preserve.

    It’s really tough because there are just so many communities, and many more being built all the time.

    Does anyone have any comments to share about Verandah and Pelican Preserve, or any other communities?

    by Sue — June 5, 2016

  90. The comments section is very helpful, “real world” advice. Here is my contribution at age 72 and with 45 years experience as a nurse. My husband and I think that finances and health realities are as important as home design etc. while planning. Unless you are extraordinary, you can count on frailty in your late 80s. That usually means no driving, increased costs for assistance, eventual widowhood (with loss of spouse social security). So we decided that saving the nest egg was our first priority in order to fund the frail years. Therefore we decided to not fund maintaining a golf course or any community on leased land. How many amenities do we need while robust and able to drive to the public golf course, public pools and the duplicate bridge clubs? Develop friends among neighbors, volunteer activities, interest groups such as hiking clubs. My sister in Beaufort SC has a cute home in Picket Fences (Horton is the builder) with HOA of $75 per month for yard maintenance, security gate, seasonal pool, hiking trails, and Natures beauty galore. In Seattle we have a coop apartment on a busline; but for the dark winters we chose a Park Model RV resort in the Palm Springs area where we own the lot, Desert Shadows RV Resort. When frailty arrives, we sell both and move to a continuing care community that provides the continuum of care from an independent apartment to nursing home on one campus near family in Seattle with the nest egg intact. Maybe not as glamorous as a country club but no financial worries by living below our means on each step of the continuum. We are happy and having fun. This is my contribution to the Top Retirements discussion.

    by Janet Harvey — June 5, 2016

  91. In Feb. 2016 I drove through Sunflower RV Resort in Surprise, AZ and was quite impressed with all the activities they offered that were exactly those I’d like to get into when I retire: woodworking, photography, lapidary, pickleball, stained glass, dog park, and on and on. Also loved seeing all the groups of people gathered on their porches/decks (for evening cocktails? I’m not a drinker, but it looked very friendly). They were also having a party with a band and dancing at the pool/bar area. The Park Models were all well maintained and interspersed among the RV’s. I resolved to come back in the summer (I live about 20 min. from there) to see how it looked in the summer when the snowbirds were gone, which I did a few days ago. I toured about 5 homes for sale and realized what a change it would be to trade in my 1500′ home with pool for a 400-800′ park model! Found out there are 2500 people there in winter, but only 250 people in the summer! Most shocking, disturbing, and disappointing of all is that all those activities I would be moving there for, are not necessarily even available for 7 mos. of the year!!!! If the volunteer mgr of the activity is a snowbird, they have the key to the activity room and you’re locked out for all the months they’re not in residence. And even some of those that are open due to a yr-round in-residence mgr., may not be readily usable because they require a min. of 2 people to be present (I’m single so don’t have a husband to ask to accompany me): I’d always have to find and coordinate room use with another person. No spontaneity allowed! Besides that, the depreciating factor of park models and the probability of annually higher lot rents eventually outstripping my budget are both negatives for the bottom line. So, it looks like this avenue is a disappointing dead end for me. So glad I checked into it though. But now what?!

    by Anne — June 5, 2016

  92. The RV lifestyle is wonderful, I was on the road full time for 7 years after my husband passed away suddenly. But its not for people who want to stay in one place. In the winter you travel or have a permanent spot in a warm climate, Mexico, Arizona, California, Florida, But in the summer you travel to cooler climates where you can spend most of the time outside sitting under the awning. In the winter snowbirds flock to the warmer states where they enjoy plenty of planned activities. Wherever you find RVers you will find lots of fun and I found single people were included in all. If you want to settle down in one place please don’t pick an RV park.
    My 2nd husband & I visited Panorama Village, a 55+ community of single homes in Hemet, CA. On the 3rd day we bought a house, planning to just stay during the winter. We loved it so much he hated to leave for vacations to other places. All HOA’s are not created equal. We have a 7 person board of volunteer directors and this has worked well for over 50 years. I have served for 10 years, 5 as president and we always operate for the good of the majority of homeowners. We are not the bad guys. It has kept our monthly assessments down and at this time for the price of $87.00 per month you have a private 9 hole golf course where you can play any time, a beautiful swimming pool, 3 Jacuzzis, clubhouse where private parties can be held, workout room, billiard room, shuffle board building, library and card room. Visit our website 2 bedroom, 2 bath attached garage homes are selling from $130K to 200K I think. California taxes are not bad 1% value of your home and only take a hit on state taxes if you have a huge income.
    We had an HMO insurance provider for the past 16 years with no monthly premiums and you can’t beat it. Now I’m widowed and thinking of moving back east with my children in Ohio and spending the winters in a rental at Myrtle Beach or area. which is why I’m reading this retirement site.
    I have to admit crime in Hemet has increased but they are working on a sales tax to increase our police force which took a hit during the bad economic years. From what I read, crime is bad all over.

    by Ellen Brantley Bettis — June 6, 2016


    by GIA LEE — June 6, 2016

  94. Does anyone know about Queen Creek and the over 55 communities there? Any experience with that city?
    Thanks so much

    by Arlene — June 7, 2016

  95. to janet Harvey 5 june 2016. I like the way you think, about the END DAYS & the journey down the road. very practical and common sense. my wife and I agree on conserving the financial means of support. thank you for sharing.

    by davefh — June 9, 2016

  96. Kate in DW Cane Bay –

    Thanx for the info you have posted.

    I closed on my house there today! Would love to get to know you and others there now since I won’t be moving in until next year.
    Please if you or others from DW Cane Bay wish to get in touch, please email me


    by Laura — June 10, 2016

  97. Any one know if Heritage Hill in Clermont Fl is “single friendly” It is a beautiful development, closer to stores, shopping, hospitals, etc than Trilogy I want to check out Solivitaand & Valencia Lakes near Tamp, however I am leaning toward Heritage Hills, It now has a “stay” program for a couple of days.

    by jean — September 27, 2016

  98. Jean’s comment about The Villages was moved to this Blog:

    by Admin — November 6, 2016

  99. Jean from post dated 9/27/16…..I live in Solivita for almost 13 years. I am married, but can tell you we have hundreds of single people ( mostly women) and a very active singles group . Very friendly community. Beautiful homes and very beautiful preserve land…..come look if you haven’t already purchased.

    by Joy — November 11, 2016

  100. Re: Joy’s post – my cousin also lives in Solivita and loves it!

    by ella — November 12, 2016

  101. Make sure you inquire about resale rules!
    We loved Trilogy Orlando, everything what they say is true, until we listed our house for sale. Shea Home has ultimate control of getting prospective buyers past the welcome center (the gate). For everyone else it is difficult if not impossible. We requested written rules for the realtors and home owners representing the re-sale homes to have equal access and support bringing future buyers into the Trilogy community, and that listings for sale or an open house for re-sale homes with community maps are aloud to be handed out at the gate. Only these beautiful Re-sale homes build through 2016 have the larger lots and are very competitively priced. These homes are to long on the market, I can only repeat it is not easy to bring prospective buyers to our homes just because of missing printed fair selling rules for the realtors, homeowners and Trilogy alike.

    by Gisela — April 18, 2017

  102. Does anyone have any comments about the Glades in Naples Florida? It is an older golf course community, but has many amenities. I am trying to get any information I can find.

    Thanks so much!

    by Jennifer — April 20, 2017

  103. I have stayed a Glades, and they have a golf course they are redoing right now. The HOA fees are a little high unless you play golf all the time then it’s worth it. If you don’t play golf you still pay for the fee. You can also go to the Glades web-sight and look what the places look like. If your not looking for a golf community and just want a nice place Sunrise III right across the street is nice. They only have a large swimming pool and nothing else.

    by Richard — April 21, 2017

  104. The Glades does have a golf course and a challenging one, and nine swimming pools. I read that you do not pay anything for the golf courses unless you play….considering what I pay up here in DC. The condos are a bit dated but many have been renovated as well. Many thanks Richard.

    by Jennifer — April 22, 2017

  105. You only pay for the golf cart, and that around 20 bucks.

    by Richard — April 22, 2017

  106. We have lived in a Trilogy community (purchased resale) for the past 5 years as snow-birds. Let me say that SHEA having control of the community has no real interest in making the community the best it can be for the residents; they are in it for SHEA, and will cut corners on things/homes to keep more money in their pockets. Be sure to do your homework on Shea – ask questions of current residents. Their Sales Team tends to be misleading on many subjects (one was encouraging you to build a golf-cart garage when there was no way you could drive your golf-cart to the course (not permitted on city streets, no cart paths!)) One example is a new pool just built with NO sunshade overhead. NONE! And a handful of umbrellas around the pool. In the Arizona sun! This was not an oversight, this was an intentional cost savings for SHEA. They also hire their own landscaping company to do the general common areas. Any suggestions/complaints usually fall on deaf ears. Had we know all of this prior to buying, we more than likely would not have bought in a SHEA community. We are currently looking to build new in another 55+ community where we have heard from many that the HOA is always striving to make the community better for the residents/homeowners. We’ve had it with Shea Homes.

    by Sue Marie — April 22, 2017

  107. Question to last post Sue Marie – It sounds like you are talking about a trilogy in Vistancia of NW Phoenix. We have been looking at that community by Shea. I would be interested in knowing what other new community you are looking at as mentioned in your post. Thanks!!!

    by E Boehm — April 23, 2017

  108. Sue Marie what 55+ community are you building with

    by Ron C — April 23, 2017

  109. For Sue Marie…Are you in Trilogy at Vistancia. I was looking at that community in the Phoenix, Az area? What other community are you looking at that is not shea? Thank you for your advice!!!

    by Loralee — April 23, 2017

  110. Sue Marie, your comments about SHEA Trilogy communities has made me think twice about buying a home in one here in CA. The homes look nicely designed with quality materials, but it’s good to know they are not much concerned about the residents. There are a couple of Del Webb communities being built in So CA. They have been established builders of 55+ communities for many years. Does anyone have experience with their newer communities?

    by Celecel — April 24, 2017

  111. Celecel: No personal experience, but I live close to Sun City Carolina Lakes in South Carolina near Charlotte. I’ve been watching the community closely in our local newspaper, talk to residents in the stores and library, and have been considering moving there upon retirement. I’ve also visited Sun City Hilton Head a few times. Watch out for extra fees: a new resident fee, and everything appears to be an option. They won’t customize new homes other than with the builder’s options (this community is sold out, but they’re building another one within a few miles); a salesman suggested I buy a stripped down model and do things (certain tile, paint colors, comfort height toilets, jetted tub, backsplash etc.) myself after the closing. They had some road problems that needed to be fixed before the community could turn the streets over to the community — the one near me has gates, but they aren’t locked/closed to traffic and the golf course is public. If the community was gated, the road issues could have cost the community a lot of money. HOA fees appear to have gone up by 1/3 since I started looking at the community 2-3 years ago. Someone just complained in the local paper that there was yet another increase because Pulte didn’t include community center roof repairs in the HOA reserve calculations. On the other hand, it looks like it’s a very active community with lots of clubs, a farm market (open to the public), Alzheimer walks, etc….and residents look very happy as they use their golf carts on a private back entrance to the little shopping mall that is also owned by Del Webb. I’ve met a few people who are moving out because they said there are cliques and politics, but that’s probably the same in any of the larger 55+ communities.

    by Kate — April 25, 2017

  112. Can anyone offer any feedback about Brunswick Forest near Wilmington, NC? Also looking at a JHOV builder property in Summerville, SC. Any information would be most appreciated. Thank you.

    by Randy — April 25, 2017

  113. The Del Webb communities build by Pulte are not of the quality of the original Del Webb built homes. One example would be the wood frames are pre-fab delivered to the building site. Personally check construction by visiting the building sites, from the slab foundation until completion. In addition, no matter whose community you are looking at, check with the county clerks office in the county of the community and the home office of the builder for previous and pending civil litigation. The inquiry will not go into details, but discuss the basis for the filing. It may be nothing and than it may reveal potential problems.

    by Michael — April 25, 2017

  114. Hi Randy,
    If you use the drop down menu on the home page and do a general search for Brunswick Forest you’ll find articles and comments from readers which may be helpful. You can also find info and comments on the community if you search under 55+ communities in NC.

    by Moderator Flo — April 25, 2017

  115. Kate and Michael, thanks very much for your feedback and tips. Finding a retirement community is not an easy thing. Your comments point out that in-depth research is essential, but in the meantime prices are rising. Sometimes I feel the need to act quickly but I think it’s wiser to do my research.

    by Celecel — April 26, 2017

  116. All these comments are souring me on 55+ communities. I want a peaceful retirement, not having to wrestle with all these issues! We originally started looking for a nice town with a decent community center with an active seniors program, pool, and other activities in lieu of a 55+. Did not want to fund a golf course as part of my HOA’s. Excellent medical at the top of our list. Trying to spend no more than $200,000 for a ranch house. Does anyone know where I can find such a place in South Carolina?

    by Sue — April 26, 2017

  117. Sue, I’ve mentioned on this site before the town of Aiken, SC, just across the border from Augusta, GA. A search of will show many nice 3/2/2 homes in the $189-220K price range in or near Aiken. Allen has a sizable regional medical center and is also close to hospitals in Augusta, including one of Georgia’s four state university medical schools and teaching hospitals. Augusta also has a VA Hospital. Both Aiken and Augusta have a state university.

    by Clyde — April 26, 2017

  118. I have also soured on the 55 communities. Are there any towns in central or southern NJ that fit what Sue was asking for in a town.

    by elaine n — April 27, 2017

  119. OK, so let’s say you’ve found that perfect community: HOA association is at least clique-resistant, dues are reasonable, climate is agreeable, medical care is good. Now, how long do you expect to live in that community? What happens if/when assisted living or memory care is needed? Is it easier or harder to sell a home in a retirement community?

    by RonP — April 28, 2017

  120. Elaine – you might explore Holiday City in Toms River NJ close to nearby Ocean County Mall. Rte 37 is very developed with stores and eateries plus medical center. It is a large older community that has been adding on to over the years. You can see older models from more recent built in 1990 – 2000’s. No golf course but community center and pool. MIL lived there for nearly 20 years and really enjoyed it.

    by JoannL — April 28, 2017

  121. Sue,
    South Carolina has many areas with low cost housing. What are you interested in? Suburbs of Columbia, Charlotte NC in SC Sumter Florence all nice areas close (1 hour) drive to the ocean. Anderson SC is a fast growing suburb of Greenville and located very near Lake Hartwell

    by Ron — April 29, 2017

  122. Thank you JoannL, I did go to some of the places in Toms River, my concern was that when the next hurricane comes I will be rushing to the other side of NJ, so why not start there. So much of that area is low.

    by elaine n — April 29, 2017

  123. Elaine – the communities you are interested in are far enough in land that storms like Sandy did not impact them. It was homes on beach front properties or in “some” areas a few blocks in that had flood issues. Holiday City is several miles from the beach. My sister has a house in Ocean Grove 3 blocks from the beach and she had no problems with Sandy storm. You could inquire at the communities you are interested in to hear first hand what residents experienced if that would help you.

    by JoannL — April 30, 2017

  124. thanks so much, I will try and do what you say.

    by elaine n — April 30, 2017

  125. I am so glad that I stumbled onto this website; so much great information! Are there any current Pebble Creek (Robson) people here that can give me a general sense of that community? My husband and are are looking for a place that has a lot of clubs and activities, and one that has RV parking nearby with an active RV club. We are soon to retire and can’t wait to move out of Southern California, but want to be close enough to our adult children, so we thought the Phoenix area would be good.

    by JanU — June 11, 2017

  126. Hi JanU
    You may want to check out the State Guide for Arizona and use the search engine for more specific topics about retirement in the Phoenix Robson area.
    Hope this helps!!

    by Moderator Flo — June 12, 2017

  127. JanU
    Robson’ Pebble Creek Golf Resort in Goodyear does have more than 40 clubs/activities which includes an RV club with its own RV storage. Goodyear is located west of Phoenix with real estate costs more reasonable then east Phoenix area.

    by Michael — June 12, 2017

  128. We are looking at Del Webb Orlando and Heritage Hills in Clermont. Getting a luttle concerned after reading the negative comments about other DW communities. Should I be? Any pros and cons about these two over 55 communities? Thank you

    by Bev Chern — August 12, 2017

  129. My husband and I recently did a Try before you Buy stay at Trilogy, Charlotte, NC. We had visited in June with a realtor and toured the models. We stayed 2 nights in the Graeme home. All of them are very nicely decorated of course. Liked the layout of the home except I did not like that when lying in bed you could see into the kitchen. I know this is the new open concept I wanted (we currently live in a 4 bedroom Colonial) but I think in the long run it would bother me. We went to a social night and met with some current residents, one couple had been there from the start (18 months), another couple had moved in a week ago – they invited us to their home …honestly I think they should have bought a larger model with all the stuff they had!! They did not get all the upgrades as they are DIYs.

    The way of life is appealing, I like the security gate, knowing that the area will be kept up, no run down homes or chained dogs, the Freedom Boat Clib is very appealing. We liked the closeness of Birkdale Village and Huntersville, Davidson, but there is tremendous growth there and the traffic is bad.

    We are in our early (60’s, no kids) husband retired a little,over a year ago. I feel that we should look at other communities and am now realizing how long this could take and exactly how much ‘stuff’ we have to dispose of if we go with open plan. Do we want a place with ready-made clubs, social life or find it ourself with local Cubs, volunteering, etc. Ballroom dancing is a hobby for us, so need a studio close by.

    We currently pay $10,000.00 in property taxes where we live (NJ) and do not have a ‘lock and leave’ home as we like to travel. Lot of indecision at moment. All of the comments have been helpful and I have read each one of them. We do also get WHERE TO RETIRE, bit that can be misleading ..we visited Winchester and Harrisonburg, VA and disliked both cities, nothing like the write up in the magazine.

    Will continue to read this site.

    by Linda — October 8, 2017

  130. Linda,
    We are from New York.
    My husband and I were in the same situation as you several years ago. We searched what seemed like every 55+ community from Delaware to Florida. Did several “stay and play” stays meeting residents and taking part in whatever activities were available. We just never found the right combination of community and town. We wanted to continue our volunteer activities and we also wanted to continue our ability to see live music and theatre which is important to us. Luckily, last year we visited our son in Austin Texas and while there, visited Georgetown, home of Sun City Texas. While an active 55+ community it is not gated. It has an incredible number of chartered clubs and activities and has beautiful state of the art fitness and sports complexes.
    Making a dramatic move from the northeast to the southwest is pretty daunting so we decided to test the waters by renting before deciding to buy. We’re glad we did. Living in the “open concept” model for six months showed us quickly that it wasn’t for us. Instead, we shopped for a previously owned home and purchased a ten year old house on a beautifully landscaped , trees lot backing to the golf course. We paid less than we would have for a new property of the same sq footage. Much nicer floor plan along with many upgrades.
    Long story short- we love the city, the community and the house.
    Good luck with your search. Don’t settle on the plans being offered currently. Take the time you need to look.

    by Pat — October 9, 2017

  131. We are seriously considering Trilogy at Ocala Preserve (Florida). Does anyone have any recent experience with purchasing a home with Shea at this community. We really like the homes and the amenities, plus the people seem really nice. We are concerned about the quality of construction and viability of the community.

    by Nancy Kilpatrick — January 22, 2018

  132. Hi Nancy K
    You may want to post your question on the forum under Ocala FL. You can find it in the drop down menu.
    Hope this helps!

    by Moderator Flo — January 23, 2018

  133. Hi Valerie R.
    We moved your question to our Blog on the “Classic Old Towns of Florida”, which you will probably find very helpful.

    Also, if you go to the website you’ll see Search Retirement Towns by State. Mt. Dora is listed under Florida along with several 55+ communities. You can also use the search bar to look for any articles in which Mt. Dora is mentioned.
    You may also want to post your question on the Forum under Mt. Dora FL. You can find it in the drop down menu.
    Hope this helps!

    by Moderator Flo — June 14, 2018


    by MIKE NOLAN — March 4, 2019

  135. I was leaning towards Dell Web Port St. Lucie. I am from New York . After reading all the post. I am going back to owning my own home as an active adult. I don’t need amenities. I will find my own. To many rules. I am leaning towards Virginia. Are there town that is safe not to dead a good mix of young and old where I can get a decent house.

    by marilyn — December 12, 2019

  136. We just signed with Pulte in a 55 plus community and are being forced to become a social member of the adjacent (not in the community) golf club. Is this even legal? I don’t golf and my husband has Parkinson’s. They offer nothing of value to us other than possibly the fitness room and restaurant. We have to maintain the membership as a homeowner as long as we live there. Kick back for Pulte, win-win for the golf club. What happens when we are 80? We still have to maintain the membership. I can’t even believe that this is legal. Anyone else experience this?

    by Jan Ciampi — December 12, 2019

  137. Jan Ciampi, You are being forced to sign for a golf club? Is it stated in your signing papers? I’m sure you read all that through & maybe even with a lawyer? I certainly would be contacting one. I’ve never heard of this especially if it isn’t even in the community. Talk to the board people at your community, get their help if possible. Good luck

    by VTRetiree — December 13, 2019

  138. Does anyone know if HOA communities ‘rent out’ their amenities to outsiders? Use of pool, exercise equipment, golf course?

    How about hotels? Can you buy day passes to use their pool and exercise equipment without renting a room?

    by Louise — December 13, 2019

  139. Jan and Louise, Jan the many clauses and open-ended billing potential in the HOA documents are why we decided not to join any of the various HOAs we encountered in our search in the Carolinas. I am sure on a page buried in the documents you will find a paragraph that says something like the HOA members will be charged for any changes the HOA Directors deem beneficial, and hence how they will get to get you to pay for their “added” benefit. Ceding that level of control to a potentially changing BOD at an HOA was totally unappealing to us. We are in upstate NY so not a good place to retire, BUT the known costs and taxes, albeit high, were better than the open-ended costs later in life we could face in one of the sites we searched out. Do not get me wrong the facilities were great, the people wonderful and the location was excellent, but the devil has always been in the details. At one place I remember the sales agent, telling us that the HOA rep makes a daily tour of the facility to ensure compliance and to write up any violations. That level of control totally turned off my wife and me, so we exited the facility. We have decided to stay put in the cold north and make our current home more age in place friendly. Yes, it is a compromise in cost and climate, but we did not want the potential issues you are now seeing. Good luck.

    Jan, I know that most of the major hotels do offer day passes and season passes t use their pools and such amenities, but you most likely would need to speak to the local General manager not the 1-800 lines. I know at Marriott, they had a small sign at check-in that spoke to these offerings.

    by BruceB1013 — December 13, 2019

  140. Jan: Definitely talk to a lawyer (and your realtor, if you worked with one). Go back through your sales contract too. I remember looking at the small print in a Sun City sales package at one point and seeing a lot of gibberish about HOA fees, capital investments, a “bond assessment” and more. During my shopping, I learned that many of the large 55+ communities have additional closing fees for the developer to recoup money spent on roads, amenities and more. Realistically, it’s just a different way of calculating purchase prices. Instead of higher purchase prices up-front, the developer can claim to charge lower purchase prices (that are then burdened with extra closing fees). In some cases, it also looked like the developer retained ongoing revenue streams and interests. The book Leisureville about the Villages in FL was fascinating about its developer’s family’s continuing financial interests — and even some control — over the community. During my retirement destination shopping, I saw many communities where the developer has ownership interests in nearby shopping and amentities, like Margaritaville and some Sun Cities. That can be a good thing since the residents benefit from having nearby amenities too.

    I always thought an under-valued question relates to 55+ community roads. On the plus side, gated means there is security. On the negative side, there is a cost for that securty AND gated community’s roads are usually not turned over to the local government for maintenance. As a result, HOAs have to include road maintenance in reserves (even though property taxes include road maintenance that gated communities don’t receive). Even when a community isn’t gated, communities can run into costly surprises if the developer didn’t get its roads inspected and turned over to the local government (as the ungated Sun City in Fort Mill, SC discovered, resulting in litigation with Pulte since the community had to do expensive road repairs to get the local government to eventually accept them).

    It’s always a good idea to research litigation involving the community. Your lawyer or a lawyer-friend can do a quick search on Westlaw, in addition to googling local newspaper articles. When I was shopping for a 55+ community, I weighed new construction vs. existing homes. I discovered a class action in the Hilton Head Sun City, for ex., relating to stucco homes in the older section of the development. My realtor had not mentioned that. It wouldn’t have stopped me from purchasing one of those stucco homes (I eventually decided not to move to a 55+ community), but I definitely would have considered it when pricing homes and in the home inspection. As another example of the importance of research, I discovered that a nice home overlooked a golf course that had filed for bankruptcy…leaving an open question as to whether a developer might turn its lovely view into a future housing development. Doesn’t matter if you’re shopping for 55+ or not. Research is always important.

    by Kate — December 14, 2019

  141. Thanks Kate and others for opening my eyes about the potential nightmare of HOAs, having no experience with them or friends affected previously. I’ve been reading articles about them, especially HB 595 in my state that ostensibly gives homeowners more rights but actually does the reverse. It was rewritten by industry lawyers before being approved. I will avoid communities with HOAs. Your comments help me more than people trilling about amenities and clubs.

    by Daryl — December 14, 2019

  142. I have lived in a Sun City Anthem Henderson Nevada a Dell Webb Community for 4 years. We have over 7,000 homes, it is not gated. We have wonderful amenities including one huge clubhouse and a smaller one with indoor and outdoor pools, gyms a high offering of clubs, tennis, pickleball, bocce, etc. Our dues for all this is around $100 a month. We do not have a golf course, but a semi public one in the community offers discounted rates to Sun City residents. I retired here from Florida where I lived for almost 30 years. Got really tired of the humidity and hurricanes. Granted over 55 communities are all different, but I feel like I made a great choice. If we had to support a golf course and it were a gated community the monthly dues would be a lot higher.

    by Nancy — December 14, 2019

  143. Looking for any information about delWebb in the Woodlands, texas ?

    Hubby & I are considering the over 55 development now …

    Appreciate your comments and experiences.

    Thank you
    by Kelli

    by kelli — January 14, 2021

  144. Fairfield Glade TN is really pretty, lakes, great golf, safe, healthy/Medical, good weather. The town, Crossville does not offer a lot of variety shopping, dining, and you usually end up on rt 40.

    by Hal — August 24, 2021

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