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How to Find the Right Active Community for Your Retirement – A Checklist

Category: Active adult communities

July 4, 2015 — It’s out there somewhere, the perfect place for you to retire. A community with the right combination of activities, ambience, neighbors, type of homes, etc. that matches exactly to what you are looking for. The reality is there might be dozens, even hundreds of places that where you can retire happy, if you can identify and analyze them. This quiz will take you through the major issues that will help you understand and rate the communities that are a good match for you.

About this checklist/rating sheet
For each question there might be several answers that describe you and your preferences, so choose as many as fit. Once you complete this form you will have a better idea about your overall preferences. Then, by rating different communities against these questions the right retirement choice will start to emerge. At that point you can use the Advanced Search feature at Topretirements to help you identify communities that match your criteria in the state and/or regions you are interested in.

One way to use this tool is to print out the pdf version (see end of article). Mark items in the first column with a Y (Yes) if that attribute is important to you (some items ask for a rating). In the second and third columns put the name of the community(s) you are evaluating, and then rate on a 1 to 10 scale how well it measures on that attribute.

1. What type of community are you looking for:
55+
Active adult
Independent living
CCRC
All ages
New Urban
Land lease

2. What type of housing matches your lifestyle:
Rental
Ownership
Single family
Duplex/town home
Patio home
Single floor living
Apartment
Condo
Manufactured Home
RV
Other

3. What is your ideal location:
Northeast
Mid-Atlantic
Southeast
Central
Mountain
Southwest
Pacific Northwest
List states you are most interested in here
Other

4. Geography and climate
Minimum winter temperature
Maximum summer temperature
Rural
Urban
Small town
Close to town
Walkable/bikable
Shops, restaurants or professional services within the community
Other

5. Are you looking for a particular theme to the community that you are looking for?
Golf
Tennis
Artistic
Past employment (military, arts, postal)
Religious
Cohousing
Social
Boating
LGBT
RV/Mobile Homes
Other
None


6. What are your cost constraints (indicate your minimum expectation and maximum allowable):
Home cost
Monthly rental
HOA fees/dues
Yearly maintenance, insurance, and taxes
Annual assessments

Note: Fees for different communities can be very different. But you do have to consider all the factors – including value received (resale value, level and variety of amenities, taxes, etc.)

7. What are you looking for in neighbors, and how well does the community measure up:(indicate: high, medium, low for each item. Then rate the prospective community against your preference)
People have to be like yourself
Welcoming and friendly
Prefer to keep to yourself
Actively want social interaction
Socio-economic status

8. What types and level of activities do you want:
Activity level you desire (little, medium, much)
Social director
Clubs
Places/opportunities to meet other people (informal or formal)
Sports you must/want to have
Activities you must/want to have
Leagues to participate in
What it is like for people who don’t participate

9. What does your ideal slate of amenities include:
Clubhouse
Golf
Tennis
Pickle ball
Arts and crafts studio?Theatre or ballroom
Continuing education
Fitness Center
Swimming pools (what type – indoor, outdoor, lap, children’s, etc.)
Other
Other
Other
Other

Note: A community might have many or few amenities. The question you have to answer is, will you use them or are you paying for something you won’t use.

10. What are the rules that might apply to you:
Are you in general very rule abiding, neutral, or a rule breaker
Will your pets fit under the rules
Will you have visitors such as an adult child, much younger spouse, or grandchild living with you
Do you want to do decorating or landscaping that might nor be permitted
Parking – how many cars and types of vehicles (RV, boat, trailer)

11. Does the Home Owners Association (HOA, or Community Association) deserve to have you: (In most cases the answers should all be Yes. But it is important is to rate the HOA against the criteria)
Are minutes from a recent meeting available
Have you met anyone on the board
Is the HOA run by the residents or the developer
Do board members have staggered terms
How long has the community been in existence
Who owns the facilities
What kinds of assessments are there/have there been
What is the level of financial reserves on hand?
What is the delinquency rate on community dues

Summary
These questions should give you a start for how to evaluate different active communities against your preferences. But undoubtedly you will want to refine and add your own considerations too. With this Communities-checklist-TR2015 you can print out the checklist to compare and contrast different communities.

Comments?What other questions can you come up with that would help you identify the optimum community? Which of these issues resonate the most with you? Please share your thoughts in the Comments section below.

For further reading
10 Things Your Active Community Won’t Tell You
Home Owners Association: Friend or Foe
The Most Popular Active Adult Communities for 2014
10 Questions to Ask Before You Buy in An Active Community



Posted by Admin on July 4th, 2015

58 Comments »

  1. Good framework for decision-making.

    As you say, it’s important to identify your “non-negotiables” and there will be many communities that will fit the bill. Research by behavioral economists have found that those who narrow their search to several communities that have their “non-negotiables” and then pick one will be happier in their choice than those who feel they have to investigate absolutely everything out there for every single quality. It’s called “satisficing” by psychologists, and “saisficers” are generally happier with their choice.

    If it’s a new home, be sure it has elements of universal design incorporated into it so you can age in place longer: such things as “comfort height” toilets, wider hallways, at least one entrance without steps, rocker-type switches and lever handles. Here is a handy list:

    Also, take a look at the larger community. Is there one-stop shopping for age-related services? “Complete” streets (ones that can be used for walking, biking, as well as driving)? Longer yellow lights/good lighting/larger signage? All these will become more important if you want to age in place.

    What about public transportation ? Proximity to good medical care and airports? Look at the community from a singles’ point of view. If you’re a woman, there’s an 80-90% chance you’ll be single at some point. If you’re not planning on ever moving again, is it still a good choice?

    These are just a few other items to consider for your “non-negotiable” list.

    Thanks, TopRetirements, for such a wonderful site.

    Jan Cullinane, author, The Single Woman’s Guide to Retirement (AARP/Wiley)

    by Jan Cullinane — July 5, 2015

  2. Investigate the nearby area and town. You’ll likely be going there for shopping etc. and you’ll be governed by city/county laws and ordinances. This could affect your lifestyle.

    by John H — July 5, 2015

  3. to anyone who can help. for those of you who have followed me I am 75% for the Greenville SC
    area for relocating. have visited once, again in fall. I have been getting a lot of push back from
    my daughters about the distance from them which is NJ. they insist I can find a $200,000
    house in nice area in DE. I have researched DE and cannot compare to a $ 180,000 house
    in Greenville with $800 RE taxes. I did read an article recently that DE was rated # 1 state
    for retirement over all. I did not find such a price in DE. can anyone provide any info on DE,
    safe nice towns in that price range. am I wrong ? not familiar on DE. thank you.

    by john v — July 6, 2015

  4. Hi John V, I had posted this earlier but it never appeared on the blog. I have copied it and posted it under your question about DE. Also added my thoughts about Delaware.

    I had looked at Delaware before deciding on the Greenville area. I know that your money can stretch quite a bit further in SC than in Delaware. I looked in both northern and southern Delaware but lots were too small for us and housing + taxes = More $$. A plus to living there is no sales tax, but they get your $ one way or another, usually in property tax. Maybe you owe it to yourself to have a look, esp. since your daughters live in NJ.

    A friend recommended that we take a look at Greenville since her daughter was living in the area. Around the same time, it showed up on one of the lists (Forbes?) as a desirable retirement destination. I took one trip on my own and then we moved from Houston and rented for awhile in Greenville before buying our current home. We have an older home with 7 acres — I know, I know, we are a bit cuckoo but this is something we needed to do after living in a small house in Houston for 5 yrs! We are enjoying the peace and quiet, knowing full well that this will not be our last house. We are semi-retired in that hubby will go back to work in a contract position; I may also look for a part-time job once my SC license is approved. I forgot to mention that the area has 2 large health care systems within reasonable driving distance, although finding a PCP that accepts Medicare can be challenging. I’ll be happy to answer any more ?s that you may have – I usually check the site daily although I can’t always bring up all of the discussions.

    by Fionna — July 2, 2015

    by Fionna — July 7, 2015

  5. again, thank you Fionna for your help. I even have researched mid-PA ( harrisburgh ) area.
    I keep coming back to Greenville area for what they offer for less $$$ .
    I have noticed the brutal heat there this past week, but you also won’t have to worry about
    snow in 5 months. there is NO utopia. it’s a stressful decision for anyone my age or any age.

    by john v — July 8, 2015

  6. John, you can find $200K homes in Delaware. I have visited Heritage Shores in Bridgeville and it has nice amenities (fine golf course, too) and an active 55+ group of residents. I love Greenville, but famiy is family and there is always a price to be paid for what we want. Best of luck.

    by Larry — July 8, 2015

  7. John V,

    You are so right – the decision as to where to retire can be quite stressful. It has been hot here this past week, but one tries to get outside early to do any outdoor work. Last winter was colder than “normal” in Greenville, but no worry about snow; I have heard that Greenville has icy roads occasionally, but then no one ventures out. If one is retired it is not an issue. Regarding PA, we had considered that state also, but taxes seem to vary widely depending on where you live. All the best and let me know if I can provide any more info.

    Fionna

    by Fionna — July 8, 2015

  8. John, You mention your daughters want you to live close by. Do you want to live close to them? Perhaps the cost should come second to that consideration. Just thinking.

    by ella — July 8, 2015

  9. john v — I think another question is whether this is your daughters wanting you to live close to them so that they can easily see you when they want, or is is you wanting to be near them for your own reasons? Obviously family is important and obviously your preference would be to have easy access to them. But this is your life — and there is a limit to your lifetime. If that says that you must be near your children, then that gives your answer. However, your daughters have full lives ahead. If they want to be with you, they will make the effort to get there. Perhaps they might decide they want to move themselves.

    Also, what do you do when your children have the great opportunity to move somewhere else? That might never happen, but lives and careers develop. At that point you yourself might be stuck alone or with your children in separate places.

    I don’t live in Greenville — have barely visited there. But living in NC, we have many similarities. I encourage you to make a long-term visit there (or anywhere else in the area) to see if you can be happy there. By long-term, I mean at least a month. Since summer would likely be your major difference from NJ, that would be a good time. Other seasons will be very enjoyable in general. However, it is also the Southern culture and the lifestyle that you want to meet personally. I have lived all over the US and even in Europe. I love Southerners and the Southern lifestyle. Sure there are bigots — but I’ve found those people all over the country. Don’t make your lifestyle decisions based on television media.

    Rich

    by Rich — July 8, 2015

  10. This Sioux Falls, SD lady is hoping to retire in the South Carolina Low Country (beachfront) in the next 5 years. Myrtle Beach has caught my eye in many lists and Google investigations. Originally from Dallas, I am longing for Southern Hospitality, grits and beaches. The decision is Condo or not? It appears that to live “on the beach” that the commercial lifestyle of beach front high-rise condos is the only option. I do not want the hassle of the yard. I hear pro and con on the condo lifestyle. My second question is Myrtle Beach in the midst of the resort town living or perhaps a slower pace at a nearby adjacent town (Surfside, Pawley’s Island, Murrells Inlet, etc) — Are any of the smaller towns more pleasing? I plan a trip to MBSC next Spring — and want to make the MOST of the trip and gain as much insight as possible. Anything I should not miss or not bother with? Thank you! Pamela

    by Pamela — July 8, 2015

  11. I can’t say enough to thank all of you ( Rich,Ella,Fionna and Larry ) for all your help and
    concern. I will absorb all your help and thoughts and hope to make the right decision.
    it is a scary time , cannot afford to make a mistake, I know you all understand that.
    and if I have any more questions I know I can call on you. God bless you all and thank you.

    by john v — July 9, 2015

  12. Pamela, the towns you are considering are what is known as the Grand Strand. My advice (re your second question) would be to plan your trip in the summer where you can see for yourself how crowded it gets. All of the towns you mentioned run together. Although they claim a difference, frankly I don’t see it. My wife and I retired to Charleston area (from Texas) because she wanted to be by the beach. BIG MISTAKE. Cannot wait to put in our five years (due to fact we bought a house) and get back to Texas’ wide open spaces. Even she agrees. There is so much traffic here that she refuses to drive the interstate to even get to the beach. That goes for either winter or summer. But, to each his own although even my brother-in-law, who lives in New Jersey, refuses to consider Myrtle Beach as a retirement destination because of the crowds.

    by Andy — July 9, 2015

  13. Andy – Have to agree with you. Pamela – I took a trip over to the coast of S.C. for retirement research a few weeks ago, and the traffic around Charleston was so bad that I couldn’t wait to get out of the area. There wasn’t a chance of finding parking in Charleston itself, but maybe I was there during one of the frequent festivals. I then drove up to Myrtle Beach, and quickly figured out it also wasn’t for me. The high-rises, tourist stuff and traffic is not what I want. I also went through the smaller areas like Pawleys Island, etc. too. I spoke to some residents in that area who complained about the Myrtle Beach creep, and that traffic and crowds are worse all the time. I also spoke to a man in Murrells Inlet who told me that their hospital was very small, so he had to go to Myrtle Beach to find a specialist when he needed cardiac care. Something to think about.

    Miserable traffic is one of my complaints about Charlotte on the other side of SC too. I’m still looking for that perfect place, but I doubt it will be really close to a beach because of the crowds. I still want to visit Wilmington, NC but one of my coworkers went there a few months ago. He said he’s dropped it from his own list after the visit because of the traffic. Seems to be a theme here.

    I was wondering why there is so little info on Virginia? Any feedback on it as a retirement state?

    by Ted — July 10, 2015

  14. Ted, I’m glad you mentioned Virginia. I drove thru the state recently from the North to the South, and then West to Tennessee. It is a beautiful state! I’m not interested in the DC area, but more the SW corner and maybe the Shenandoah Valley. I do wish there was a lot more information!

    by ella — July 10, 2015

  15. Pamela, please do not be deterred by Andy and Ted’s comments about the area south of Myrtle Beach. The traffic, tourism and population density is nothing like Myrtle. My wife and I have owned a vacation condo in Pawleys Island for 15 years; I have a long term view of the area from Murrells Inlet to Georgetown. The only thing crowded about the area is the number of supermarkets; #5 within four or five miles of our condo opened last year, which is incomprehensible given the few thousand yearround residents. (Not a lot of traffic in the supermarkets, that’s for sure.) In any case, there are a few weeks a year where restaurant reservations are a challenge (good group of eateries, by the way) and the beach parking lots (all beaches public) don’t yield parking spots easily. Andy and Ted make the common mistake that there actually is a perfect place for retirement. People who avoid traffic wind up in communities that are 45 minutes or more from “civilization.” That’s fine if your idea of a great schedule is to play a little golf and watch a lot of television. If you are allergic to traffic, you are going to wind up with very little to do where you live because there is an obvious reason for traffic (traffic=popularity in retirement areas). In short, the area from Pawleys Island up to Murrells Inlet is far from the maddening crowds; I encourage you to take a look. And, Ted, regarding Virginia, anywhere within about an hour of D.C. is going to have a lot of traffic. You might like the western mountains of VA, but you will get some snow there in winter. If the beach is your thing, Virginia’s beaches are going to be more crowded than the Carolinas’ beaches. I wish you well finding the perfect place.

    by Larry — July 10, 2015

  16. Less traffic in SC? Try Beaufort area on the coast, Aiken for mid- state. We looked in both areas and love their small and charming downtowns, many community choices depending on your personal preferences, and overall tax advantages of SC. Columbia is close to Aiken for city amenities, and Savannah and Charleston are close to Beaufort for the occasional city visit and major airports. Have also heard from friends in Greenville about how great that SC town is. We visited Myrtle Beach area years ago for a family vacation…other than lots af great golfing, it did not fit our wish list. Good luck!

    by SandyZ — July 10, 2015

  17. To put my criticisms about traffic into context (and I’ve lived everyone from rural areas to NYC), I think traffic is bad when I have to spend more than an hour to drive 20 miles. I’d put Charlotte rush hour and some of the traffic I encountered in Charleston in that category. It’s like driving in NY, Boston, the NY metropolitan area, etc. Nothing compares to LA. Of course, as retirees we can pick & choose the hours that we drive, and if we’re only driving a few miles to a local grocery store and drugstore it probably isn’t a big deal. On the other hand, we should probably weigh how long it would take for an ambulance to get us to a decent hospital if we need urgent care, or if it takes an hour to get to a movie theatre.

    by Ted — July 11, 2015

  18. Ted, I like your example of the hour to a decent hospital. But you can live in an area free of almost any traffic and still be an hour from a “decent” hospital, even if the ambulance can drive 60 mph all the way. My prior note was a reaction to the implication that stop and go traffic in Myrtle Beach during peak season was the case south of Myrtle Beach, in the Pawleys Island area; that is just not accurate, as you can be at Georgetown Hospital in 12 minutes and at the Waccamaw Community Hospital in 15. My experience in Charlotte and Charleston is like yours, but I daresay that 25 minutes south of Charlotte, in the Tega Cay and Rock Hill areas of SC, the traffic is easier to maneuver — and when you need an urban fix, you can be in the city within a half hour. I think there are a few movie theaters along the way.

    by Larry — July 11, 2015

  19. Larry: I’m actually living in the Rock Hill area right now. It regularly takes me almost 1-1/2 hours to get to downtown Charlotte (making it in 50 minutes-hour is a good day, as long as there aren’t any fender benders along the way on 77 or 485). Thank heaven for XM Radio and books on tape. Seems like there are also huge apartment complexes and new home communities going up on every bare piece of land, so traffic is expected to get worse. The area South of Charlotte has boomed thanks to the Ballantyne office parks. North of Charlotte might be a little better, but Trilogy will be adding 3,000+ homes by Lake Norman soon. Sometimes I feel like I’m back in the NY Metropolitan area in this part of the state. I’ll be planning a visit to check out Raleigh-Durham.

    by Ted — July 11, 2015

  20. I would be interested in your perspective of the two hospitals you cited. A retiree I talked to at a Pawley’s Island restaurant warned me that both of them are small & only a step above urgent-care facilities. He said he had to go to Myrtle Beach for a good oncologist and cardiologist. Sounds like you’d disagree with him?

    by Ted — July 11, 2015

  21. Ted,
    In truth, my only experience with the Waccamaw and Georgetown hospitals was in their emergency rooms (Georgetown excellent on a few occasions, Waccamaw okay). But if I had cardiac or cancer issues, I would target an area with hospitals that specialize (and that would not be Myrtle Beach). I just spent three days in the Greenville, NC, metro and everyone there raves about the excellence of the heart center (Vidant medical system) that has lured a few renowned cardiac specialists and surgeons. They are building a world-class cancer center as well. And I did not find traffic too burdensome. As for traffic south of Charlotte, I defer to your experiences. My original intent was to defend the area south of Myrtle Beach whose roads are unclogged for all but the peak seasons (and even then I find them tolerable).

    by Larry — July 12, 2015

  22. Thanks Larry. No cancer or heart disease yet (knock wood), and I’m just weighing access to medical care as a factor for potential retirement areas. I gave myself a year for research. I think I should I have given myself more time.

    by Kate — July 13, 2015

  23. This comment came in from Alice and we moved it to this thread:

    Does anyone have any experience they would like to share regarding HOT SPRINGS VILLAGE (Hot Springs, AK) or SAVANNAH LAKES VILLAGE (McCormic, SC). Thanks!

    by Admin — August 13, 2015

  24. John,
    We recently visited Heritage Shores in Delaware, and the community has a lot of amenities. With that said, they have the highest HOA fees in the state and those fees DO NOT cover lawn maintenance or snow removal. We did not see anything there is the 200K range, more 300K +.

    by judy — August 14, 2015

  25. Hi All, I have been reading all posts for several years now and it is time to make a decision on where to find our retirement home. We are very lucky that we have a summer home at a great resort in NY. The costs are low and we have everything we need close. The problem is that this past winter was cold with tons of snow, then again we live at a Ski resort. We are looking hard in SC for our primary home. We have a budget of just under $200,000 and would like to live within a 10 minute drive to use our boat more than 4 months a year that we get in NY. We also would like to find a community that has golf that is not $100.00 per round. We want a pool that we can use yeas round to swim laps and a location to walk. Again, I think SC is a great state to find a retirement home but we are just not sure where to find a home that we can afford and still keep our summer home in NY. Thank you in advance for any help!

    by Bob & Barb — August 15, 2015

  26. Alice, We are looking hard at SAVANNAH LAKES VILLAGE. We are going for a visit in October on our way to FL. I would love to have any comments good or bad on if we should buy our retirement home at this location. The costs are low but it looks like they are in the middle of no where. Any information on this location would be great. Thanks.

    by Bob & Barb — August 15, 2015

  27. John, What was the HOA?

    by elaine — August 15, 2015

  28. Hello and thanks for your post on using a checklist to help locate communities that fit retirees needs and wants!

    This was one of the first things my husband and I did once we both retired last year. We wanted to move somewhere where we would be surrounded by others who were retired and had things in common with us, but we also wanted an active adult community in Delray Beach where we could continue to exercise both our minds and bodies.

    We have children and grandchildren in South Florida so a 55+ community in the Southeast was ideal for us. We decided a single floor plan would be best, so we wouldn’t have to worry about stairs. Using a checklist, we also found that we wanted to be close to the grocery store and a golf course for my husband.

    Thanks again for the great article and ideas for making a checklist. It definitely helped us in narrowing our search for a retirement community and we couldn’t be happier with our decision. I’m sure this will help many others in their hunt for the perfect home come retirement.
    Best,
    Debbie

    by Debbie — September 29, 2015

  29. Any thoughts or insight on the Southport/Wilmington area. Wife and i are planning 4 days in early Nov to visit some locations with a 3-4 yr timetable to move. St James Plantation was recommended. Honestly, been a bit jaded by The Villages, as both sets of parents live down there, but we don’t want to go that far. l love golf but life wont revolve around just that

    by Mike — October 8, 2015

  30. We will be visiting the Gulfport, Biloxi, Ocean Springs Mississippi area the end of January, looking to see if this might be the retirement destination that we are looking for. Anything we should be aware of about this area?

    After a week there we will be spending a month in the Port Aransas area of Texas, near Corpus Christi. My brother and wife spent a month there last year and will be going for a much longer time soon. They have an RV and loved the place they were staying at in Fulton. It sounded as if there were alot of retirees there and lots of activities. I like the sound of activities! Is that general for the whole area or maybe just the specific RV place where they stayed?

    Vicki

    by Vicki — October 9, 2015

  31. After visiting Hilton Head, SC for many years, we knew we wanted to retire there someday. We looked at Sun City Hilton Head and really thought that would be where we would settle. We visited Hilton Head Lakes last month while on vacation in HHI. Loved it!!! We are in the process of buying a lot! We can buy the lot, and build in a few years when we are closer to moving. We are excited and wish we could build now.

    by Pauline — October 9, 2015

  32. Debbie, which active adult community did you decide on and why?

    by Maureen — October 10, 2015

  33. We are considering a Shea/Trilogy community in NC. Does anyone have experience with other Shea/Trilogy communities — quality of construction, management, etc.? Thanks.

    by rgifford20 — June 17, 2016

  34. You make a great point about how you should consider the type of retirement community you are looking for. It makes sense that you would want to choose someplace that matches your lifestyle. My parents are still pretty active, so I would think that they want to look for something that is more independent and allows them to participate in a lot of different activities.

    by Marie Watson — July 21, 2016

  35. Just want to give everyone another thought for your retirement planning. Family CAN BE important ! We moved from NJ where my daughters live to western NC in 2007. We love the mountains but with the 12 hour trip back to NJ it got old fast. In Dec. 2009 we were blessed with our Grandson! Well, that changed everything. I used to think, too, that I should live where I wanted to live. But it became more important to know our Grandson, for him to know us, and I miss my daughters. We are 10 years older now and that drive is too much even for 2 days. I have been looking in VA. for a few years now. But we want the mountains still so we are hoping to find an active adult community with garden/patio homes or cottages, which is maintenance free with adequate amenities and has long range mountain views in the Roanoke area, which is also affordable. I too am hoping to read about new developments going into that area. Roanoke is a lovely old town with cultural availabilities, hospitals, shopping and even has an Amtrak station. The train is pleasing to both my husband and I, and easier than the long trip in a car, as you can walk around, get food and use the restroom, all without losing time. So we are hoping that a developer finds land within a half hour of Roanoke and builds a community in which we would want to live. We have missed so much of our Grandson’s youth and my daughter’s lives I realize now that we went too far away from them. So keep that in mind as the years come faster and faster with every year and before you know it the drive is too hard, flying is difficult, long, expensive and limiting on what you can take with you. Life isn’t easy and retirement has it’s complications as well. But think about family, especially as you age and illness can come anytime and you’ll need/want family around for the comfort they will provide. You don’t need to live next door but they have full, busy lives and it shouldn’t be too much of a burden on them to get to you.

    by Bev — March 8, 2017

  36. Bev: Your posting really hit home with me. I was that kid who had several children, a job and a spouse with a degenerative illness. I had been relocated for work, and my parents did not want to move to be nearer to me or their grandchildren. They weren’t around for babysitting or help, but we spoke frequently and they would occasionally visit. With my limited vacation time and an active family, we seldom were able to travel to see them. I guess it worked ok at the beginning, but eventually their health deteriorated and they were unable to travel anymore. They did not want to leave their doctors and a move would have been impossible for them at that point. I tried to handle hospital and doctor communications on the phone, used up vacation and sick time for emergency trips (including some 10-hour drives in the middle of the night), and spent countless hours crying because I could not be there for them the way they needed. I swore that I would never do that to my own kids. Now my kids live in snow belts and locations where the cost of living is much higher than my present situation. They are trying to convince me to retire and move near them. Several will be getting married, and grandchildren are on the way…and in each case, I will be the only grandparent. I keep remembering what I went through with my own parents, and thinking about the importance of family. Skype isn’t able to give hugs or make cookies, and I know that visits eventually stop. It isn’t healthy to sit and drive for long hours, and even with stops I know that my eyes and reflexes eventually won’t be good enough for long road trips. If I move, I’ll be trading weather and cost of living (I’m not in a position to own two homes). What am I going to do? I haven’t decided yet. However, I know what it feels like to be the kid when parents have medical emergencies ..and it was truly awful. If I knew that I’d get cancer, or have a stroke or heart attack at age X, it would be easy to plan. Unfortunately, we never know when there’s going to be a crisis. Living in a 55+ community and making lots of friends to help out (or hiring home health care workers, etc.) can help, but I know that it wouldn’t replace family.

    by Kate . — March 9, 2017

  37. Bev, I think you’ve made a great choice in choosing the Roanoke area. I am from NY, and i, too, want to live in the mountains. Right now i’m in NE Tennesse, but haven’t ruled out the Blue Ridge Mountains in VA based on the closer proximity to my children as well. Enjoy your family and hope you find your sweet spot soon!

    by ella — March 9, 2017

  38. Compelling arguments FOR family and yet, what Kate says is also important. I was one of 4 siblings who spread out across the country following work where we could find it. We never had help and my children did not get to know their grandparents well and I am sorry for that. Now, like Kate, we stand at a cross roads. Currently, unhappy, in SE Tenn. we also cannot take the heat and humidity. Quality health services are also important since DH has Parkinsons. Both our parents checked themselves into a CCRC and while we worried for them, we knew they would have services and care.

    So, looking ahead to our own retirement, we started our discussion in Florida and slowly moved up the east coast – finding many reasons to keep going. We finally agreed on Maine. We don’t WANT to be so far away from family – sprinkled up and down the east coast – but, at some point, must do what we need to do, for ourselves. We have lived in New England twice before and loved it so we plan on going back in a year or two. We have visited our target area in Maine and were really impressed. We keep finding things to investigate and get involved with. There is a well recommended CCRCommunity nearby – our ultimate destination and hopefully, friends and family can visit once in awhile. Hopefully we will have some years to be able to spend some annual early spring time with grandchildren and other family while we can still travel.

    Not sure how else to do it.

    by Myquest55 — March 9, 2017

  39. I barely knew my grandparents on either side of both families. My Dad had a Federal job in Manhattan, NY and married my Mom. They lived in NY for 5 years after I was born. Dad was from PA and Mom was from KY. Dad decided to give up his Federal job and of all places in 1958 decided to move to CT. We had no relatives here and no friends in the beginning. I was an only child so my world was small. We went to KY for a few days most years but rarely PA. You really can’t get to know grandparents with just a few days visit and with a lot of relatives around. So here I am in CT still, with no cousins, aunts or uncles. Grand grandparents and parents are long gone. I have lost track of all my PA relatives due to rarely visiting them in my youth. Plus, I have no children so that means no grandchildren. So, my advice is to not isolate your family from relatives. I feel that I have missed out on a lot. I only have one cousin that occassionally corresponds with me by email and she is in TN. I have no idea why my Father decided not to move closer to his or my Mother’s family when he quit his Federal job.

    by Louise — March 9, 2017

  40. Louise, Your story is almost parallel to my own, no family, no children, “stuck” here in CT, and not liking it. I so want to move due to the weather and ever increasing taxes, but I am afraid to move to someplace where I know no one.
    John March 10, 2017

    by Johnara — March 10, 2017

  41. John March, yes, it is quite a dilemna to move ‘somewhere else’. CT is becoming a very unpleasant place to live with its financial status and every day the Governor is shutting something down or hiking prices on services. I feel drawn to the South due to my Kentucky roots but I am also afraid I wouldn’t be able to adapt to the hot humid weather in Georgia or South Carolina where I am most interested in. I don’t even like summer in CT and am thankful for the ac. Would like to hear from others who moved South and if they could deal with the heat and humidity. I know I would be in ac in my house, car and stores. Right now it is snowing in CT and in a while it will be time to shovel. Hub is 65 and still very able but for how many more years! John, even though you would know no one, you can join some kind of clubs, animal welfare, take a college course or even get a part time job. It is tough to move and have no one but people do it all the time! John, maybe you could also take an extended vacation, like a month, to go to a place you might like and check out what kind of organizations you might like to join. Check out home prices, check out some towns and their taxes. Anotherwords, get your feet wet. If after a month you feel uncomfortable, you can come home and forget it. If it seemed good but you still aren’t sure, take another trip.

    by Louise — March 10, 2017

  42. Louise, Jonara…..I am in the same boat. No children, family except for my Chicagoan husband. I’m English…..moved to Lexington,ky from hated Seattle. People in Lex are friendly, but we have NO friends. It’s very difficult. However, this is a super place for retirees. Real estate is cheap, though rising………and grocery stores are plentiful. I suggest you lookers come and see for yourselves. Fir a conservative state, Lex. Is very tolerant and has farmers markets, opera, theatre and music galore. I’m lonely, but……my husband is introverted, so everything is down to me…….this will change with time…….I believe friends are more important than family, who at a late stage can be looking at inheritance…..but friends are always there. Kentucky is friendly to .Retirees…….in many ways, and this is a beautiful state…..?

    by Jay kastel — March 10, 2017

  43. Louise – I’m originally from CT, but I’ve lived in NY and PA – now in Charlotte, NC for last 3 years. Spring and Fall are just wonderful. Yesterday was in high 60s, and we’ve had days in the 70s already. Today the local news is fussing over the fact we might get an inch of snow (horrors!) and it will be in the 40s. Western NC around Ashville will get colder temps. It does get very hot here in the summer, but I’ve adjusted just fine. You walk a little slower, do shopping in the morning or at night, and stay inside with A/C. Heck, I was inside more for winters when I lived further north, so I figure it nets out. Each summer I’ve adjusted even better. There is some humidity, and I’ve learned (1) the reason why Southern people use Talc LOL; (2) heated towel racks can be useful to help dry towels in the summer, since they might not dry by themselves; (3) you don’t need humidifiers here in the winter the way you need them with long winters back in PA!!; (4) a good mildew spray is good to keep handy in case you start to see some black spots growing in your shower, so mildew never takes hold; and (5) power wash your house when you start to see green mold or mildew – costs about $300-$350 every other year, and lots of companies are available to do it. That’s less than I paid for my plow service in PA. Another big difference here is the amount of pollen in the Spring. My car is already being covered in tree pollen each day, and people with allergies are suffering. I suppose that’s the trade off for the fact that trees are already flowering. Overall, I’ve adjusted just fine…except for garbage day in midsummer when all the cans are out on the street, and it can become fragrant until the truck comes through our neighborhood. I still have a little trouble with that!!

    by Kate . — March 11, 2017

  44. Kate, I enjoyed reading your description of life in Charolette, NC. Nice to know adapting to the heat and humidity is doable. Had to laugh about the 1 inch of snow ‘horrors’! We had 6 inches yesterday and didn’t think too much about it. Funny though, everyone was at the grocery store the day before getting ‘milk and bread’. That always cracks us up! In fact, some of the young people in the deli were laughing and reminding people to buy milk and bread! We are due to get a nor’ easter on Tuesday, maybe a foot or more of snow, so I am sure people will wipe out the grocery stores!

    Kate, how did you finally make up your mind to move. What motivated you to finally say, I have had it and I am moving? My Hub and I need a good kick in the pants. We keep whining we want to move but just can’t seem to make the first step. Hub had surgery last October and he has been going to follow up doctor visits and testing so that has put a bit of a damper on the idea of moving. However, the governor of CT is trying to dig out of a financial mess which is affecting a lot of things in CT. Like he is planning on cutting over $6 million to our town for schools. So, I am cringing to see if this happens how much more our taxes will go up.

    by Louise — March 11, 2017

  45. I appreciate the commentary and the feedback. I notice that most of you have a spouse, which I do not have.
    I am honestly afraid to do this on my own, and I don’t trust myself to land on my feet, at least mentally. I am naturally somewhat introverted. People suggest joining clubs and volunteering, but I have done that here in central CT and find it hard to make new friends…everyone seems to go back to their own house and families at the end of the day. I live alone and the loneliness increases each year. I am 65 now. My church used to be a great source of socialization/support, but the elders decided they did not want a singles/divorced persons program, so no more.
    With some friends, we tried to plant a “seed” in another church, but attendance lagged. Sorry to go on for so long…just lonely, hate this weather, taxes, and prediction for a Noreaster on Tuesday…….John

    by Johnara — March 11, 2017

  46. John, don’t give up! I am introverted too but am married. I was laid off from my job in 2011 and it didn’t set well with me and couldn’t find a job. I feel I got ‘gyped’ out of retiring on my own. When you make the decision on your own, it is like another milestone in a persons life. I am not a joiner, not a church goer and have not volunteered yet. Right now I sell stuff on ebay. It takes a lot of my time and keeps me busy. I don’t do it every day. Then when stuff sells, I have to wrap the stuff for PO. So it does keep me a bit busy. I also like to grow a small garden in whiskey barrels and I have a giant galvanized tank that I grew morning glories in. Plus, some zinnias in more barrels. This year I am adding a shelf rack on wheels on my deck and will grow herbs such as basil, rosemary, thyme. We grow hot peppers and cook them up with onions then freeze for dinners down the road. Have you checked the senior center in your area? The one in my area offers a dine around club where a bunch of people go to different restaurants to eat and enjoy each other’s company. There is also another thing some of them do and it is like a pot luck thing where each person brings a dish to someones home and they are the host for the evening. Then the senior center itself has exercise things and some programs charge a fee. They have lunch there so you can be around others. Ours charges something like $2 for lunch. They have games, knitting, crocheting, wood carving and offer classic movies and bingo. I know some of these activities seem a bit lame but the idea is to get out and be with people. I belong to the senior center but have not participated in anything. You should check out the library too. They have many things for adults. One thing that I would be interested is book discussions. I guess a group of people read the same book and then they discuss what they like about the book and maybe hidden meanings. Also, I have seen in the Senior Center book that they have trips to the grand canyon or other places. Also, did you see the link to the https://www.latitudemargaritaville.com/ It looks like it will be a really fun place! Due to open in 2018. Maybe getting a part time job would help to get you out of the house. Home Depot and Walmart hire older people. My friend works at WM in Michigan and she told me they have a guy there who is in his 80’s and they love him! He is like everyone’s grandpa or dad. We introverted have to try harder than most to get out of our shells! Do one new thing! What did you do when you worked? If you have a creative side you could make crafty things and sell them on http://www.etsy.com Go to that website and see all the things people create and sell. You could also Join the YMCA or some other health club that has a pool. Some people rent tables at flea markets and sell stuff on weekends. It would be an opportunity to meet lots of people.

    by Louise — March 11, 2017

  47. I would suggest that you look for a community that has an active new residents club and where many of the people are from somewhere else. I moved on my own and now have more social life than I can keep up with! Sometimes I just need some alone time. Couldn’t stand being stuck in CT with onerous taxes and terrible winters. Left Minnesota because of that, although I hear taxes in CT are even worse, if such a thing is possible. At the end of the day I like to have a bit of money left for me!

    by Linda — March 11, 2017

  48. John – I read your comments with interest, and understand your concerns about relocating. I’m a textbook introvert but married to an extreme extrovert – go figure! We have visited several active adult communities in central Florida and the larger ones all have singles clubs. Believe me, I understand the amount of courage it will take to start the process of relocating on your own, and it doesn’t get any easier as we age. Maybe you could get one of your friends to go along for the ride when you visit. Definitely check out at the ones that are still building so you know that there will be other new arrivals just like you who are looking to make new friends. If you can find a place that works for you, then the rewards of the better climate and easier finances will have made it worth taking the risk.

    by Laurel — March 12, 2017

  49. Louise & Johnara: I didn’t move by choice, unfortunately. I was relocated by my job right after my husband died, so I’m here alone. It just happened to be relocated somewhere where a lot of people choose to retire, so I’m getting to try out the weather and taxes. Right now I’m still working, so my days and sometimes my weekends are spent working. However, loneliness is definitely an issue as I look ahead to retirement, which might occur through layoff any day now. I’m also an introvert, and am not in a 55+ community. I spend a lot of time trying to decide what to do in retirement,.

    Stay here…(cheapest option even though my home is too large at 3,000 sq ft). Move to a 55+ community for possible social interactions to address the loneliness that Johnara eloquently described? Should I stay in SC or move back to be near family? Should I move nearer to a beach (my dream)? I’m slowly narrowing down choices. For ex., I’ve eliminated FL from my possible destinations even though it was on my list for years. I’m also considering things to do when I have more free time, to establish a new life without my spouse or work. I plan on joining my political party’s local group, and will look for senior groups per Louise’s suggestion. I see that Meetup.com has senior groups. I might try to find a RedHat group too, or even think about starting one. Our library and Humane Society seem to be overwhelmed with elder volunteers already, and personally I don’t think I’m up to volunteering in a hospital or nursing home. I’ve always wanted to teach, and might look into doing something at a Community College in my former professional field. I used to do some fancy knitting years’ ago, and might look for a yarn store or JoAnne’s classes in crafts, cake decorating etc. Really not sure, but I keep coming up with ideas to try to force myself to meet people here.

    by Kate . — March 12, 2017

  50. John, Here is a website that you can find Social Meetup Clubs.

    https://www.meetup.com/find/social/

    https://www.meetup.com/Active-Singles-CT/

    by Louise — March 12, 2017

  51. We have no children so we’ve decided a larger age restricted 55+ community is for us. Many clubs, including singles clubs for those interested. I’ve spoken with many people in 55+ communities and many people move there to make friends and be social with people in a similar stage of life.

    We’ve been to soleil in northern Georgia, sun city Hilton head, and in April we will visit trilogy in lake Norman nc, del Webb in Summerville sc and several others in Summerville.

    Trilogy has a 5600$ buy in and an Hoa reserve you pay up front. So, that takes away from our down payment. They all have lot premiums.

    For us, it seems ideal.

    by Vickie — March 12, 2017

  52. I am grateful to all of you who commented on my blog entry. It helps. And you give me good ideas I had not thought of. I was not familiar with “new residents’ clubs,” so now I will look for those too. Now, I just need to get the courage to do some of this on my own. John

    by Johnara — March 12, 2017

  53. Thank you for the web links, Louise. I really appreciate that!

    by Johnara — March 13, 2017

  54. Many new 55+ communities provide the opportunity to stay in one of their homes to try the experience out for a reasonable fee. We did one in Hilton head for 3 nights. We only had to meet with the sales rep for a short no pressure meeting. We were able to use the amenities and they have a resident take you out to dinner so you may get the residents perspective. We will also be doing that in Summerville, sc. It’s a good opportunity even if you decide to pick up a resale instead of building.

    by Vickie — March 13, 2017

  55. You are welcome! Now, just do one thing! I had a boss one time who accused me of ‘being in my comfort zone’. I didn’t know that was a bad thing but he was trying to push me and challenge me to do bigger and better things! Make a promise to yourself to do just one thing out of your comfort zone! Good luck!

    by Louise — March 13, 2017

  56. We’re just beginning to consider retiring, probably somewhere in the southeast. I’d like to look at Active Senior Communities, but I’m afraid it wouldn’t work for my husband. Maybe this has been covered elsewhere but do many Active Communities rent places, where we could try out living in such a community for say 6 months?

    by Cathy — March 13, 2017

  57. Louise…..I am Boston born…..have lived in Georgia for the past forty years. I can take the heat much better than I can Northern winters. I will admit it is hot and humid during the summer months here in Atlanta…..but the AC works just fine:)

    If you are thinking of GA…but fear the heat of summer..you could try some of the communities in the North Georgia mountains…..generally cooler there in the summer…and very beautiful.

    Hope this helps.

    by Roberta — March 14, 2017

  58. Roberta thank you for your thoughts. Can you tell me about Kennesaw? Is that considered Atlanta or a suburb of Atlanta. It is on a list of 10 best places to live and has low crime. I also am drawn to it because it is close to a Costco and where there is a Costco, there are big box stores. I am about 20 miles away from major shopping one way here and would like to be closer and in a safe area. I am not a shopaholic but I love Costco and would shop there more often for fresh foods if I lived closer. The fruits and veggies are so good.

    by Louise — March 14, 2017

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