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If You Could Break the Mold, What Would Your Ideal Retirement Community Look Like

Category: Active adult communities

October 14, 2011 — Last week we received a request from a member that might strike a chord with you. Horseartist wrote and asked: “In vain I search for the uniqueness I’m seeking in finding that place that will be my retirement nest. I’m NOT into gardeners and condos, golf carts and patio homes. Suggestion: Could you open a forum for the likes of me? I don’t even know what you’d call it, except perhaps “Out of the Mainstream: Ideas for People looking for Something OTHER than the gated community lifestyle”.

We’ve met and talked with a lot of folks who have similar feelings. A golf, tennis, or boating community just isn’t for them. Neither is a cookie-cutter approach with a gated community consisting of identical townhomes spread around a clubhouse, usually with a swimming pool and exercise facility thrown in. What they want is something a little more interesting, more in keeping with communities in the real world. There is undoubtedly a range for what makes a community interesting – with one person’s idea of retirement community nirvana being vastly different than another’s. We think the common thread is, however, a place that is interesting, one that lets its residents feel like they retain their individuality, and doesn’t feel like a slave to conventional ideas.

Taken to extremes, what these folks are talking about is co-housing, a cooperative approach to living which we have written about before (“Cohousing Might Be Your Answer“). Or, a naturally occurring retirement community, where folks stay where they live now but share services to make aging easier. Taken to a niche approach, they might be interested in one of the many specialized communities for equestrians, astronomers, artists, or pilots. We’ve written about that too, “Finding Your Niche Community“. New urban communities are definitely interesting too, and just might be the ticket for someone looking for a more creative place to retire.

So the question is, what you would like to see in a retirement community? What would the setting be – rural, urban, suburban, new urban master planned? What would be the amenities, if any? Tell us in the Comment section below. In the meantime, we have attempted to answer Horseartist’s question below.

Pastoral Communities
We admit it, we are making this term up. But there are some communities that perhaps have what horseartist is looking for – an agricultural, or pastoral approach to a community. Jan Cullinane, author of The New Retirement: The Ultimate Guide to the Rest of Your Life (Rodale) and a frequent contributor to this site, immediately suggested 3 good ones; we’ve added a few more. Most of these types of communities aren’t really designed as retirement communities, although in practice most of the residents might be over 50. If you know of some more pastoral or non-cookie cutter communities, let us know.

Prairie Crossing in Grayslake, Illinois. All of the homes in this community are sold, although resales are available. Their website offers a free downloadable book about “Building a Community with Farms”. This community, open to all ages, is located across the street from a commuter rail station. There is an organic farm on the property, which is also part of a nature preserve. The community is dedicated to sustainability, a healthy lifestyle, and a sense of place.

Serenbe Farms is in Chattahoochee Hills, Georgia. This community is designed to be fully part of its natural surroundings. There is an Inn, houses that are within an easy walk to shops and restaurants, a working organic farm, equestrian center and miles of trails.

Bundoran Farm is about 15 minutes outside of Charlottesville, Virginia. The Farm is a preservation development where over 90 percent of the 2,300 acres are protected landscape. That acreage is dedicated to cattle pastures, forests with trails, and orchards. At this point they appear to be selling homesites, we are not sure what stage the development has reached.

Fearrington Village in just outside of Chapel Hill, North Carolina. As you enter this interesting and well-established community it looks like you are going on a farm visit, because you will go by the working cattle farm (featuring Belties). But then you arrive at a bookstore, shops, and 5 star inn and restaurant. The community offers single family homes, townhomes, and there is even a Continuing Care Retirement Community on the premises.

Winnipaug Cottages is in beautiful Westerly, Rhode Island. While not really in an agricultural setting, these villas are set in the 134 acre Dr. John Champlin Glacier Park and near the ocean.

A number of communities in the American West break the mold as well. Although some of them offer golf, others tend to focus on their proximity to outdoor recreation rather than a lot of traditional amenities. The Knolls at Hillcrest in Bozeman, Montana is an interesting example. Located within the city for convenience, it is also adjacent to the great outdoors.

Urban developments are another approach to avoiding cookie cutter communities. Look in the Topretirements Directory of Active Communities (use “Find a Community” on the top right of the page) under cities like Boulder, Philadelphia, Seattle, Atlanta and Denver and you will find some examples that while not exactly pastoral, are interesting and break the mold.
What do you think?
Let us know about communities that you find interesting. And here is another question – if you were designing your own retirement community – what would it look like? Let us know using the Comments section below.

Posted by John Brady on October 14th, 2011


  1. I’d like to see an active adult community with REAL walking trails that meander through natural/wild areas for some distances (not sidewalks that skirt roadways or “trails” that circle a small wooded plot). Also, a REAL (not man-made) pond/lake where waterfowl and frogs live. And a community entrance, community center and exercise facility that fit into the setting, that don’t look like the Taj Mahal!

    by Zeech — October 15, 2011

  2. I like what Zeech said, especially natural trails. Want to be near a city for culture, restaurants. Would like people who are intellectually stimulating, perhaps playing bridge and otherwise socializing. A pool is very nice.

    by macfish — October 15, 2011

  3. OK!!!!! I’ll add our (self & spouse) to this …Zeech and macfish have expressed our very wishes. Come on developers … we aren’t all interested in Arnold Palmer golf courses!!!!!

    by Mad Monk — October 15, 2011

  4. I’d design my perfect retirement community with 400+ holes of golf…three town squares…90 miles of golf cart paths…..1000+ clubs…..60+ swimming pools….someplace warm…..hmmmm wait a minute I think I am describing The Villages!!!!! It’s always a beautiful day in The Villages!:razz:

    by Gary — October 15, 2011

  5. We’ll (self & hubby) join in on this! Also not interested in the traditional! Will watch for more info on this as we continue our search for a place with natural trails, a community garden, and definitely intellectually stimulating!

    by Quilt Maven — October 15, 2011

  6. We know that there are few totally gay retirement communities and the few that are are extremely expensive and rarely have vacancies. How can your questionnaires be designed to direct those of us 60+, politically liberal but socially conservative, in long-term committed relationships, to gay-friendly communities where we would be comfortable? Is that criterion one that communities can include on their end as they respond to the questionnaire?

    by EM — October 15, 2011

  7. I am single. I would like to live in a park model community adjacent to a big city…really adjacent or in, a big city. I like park models as they are affordable, big enough for me and my needs, cozy, and easy to lock up and go away. I’d like to be able to walk to a grocery store or pharmacy, or coffee shop. I’d like the community itself to have amenities like gym and pool. The big difference here for me is to be in a city. All the park model communities I can find are 10 miles out of town.

    by Ginger — October 15, 2011

  8. While we are physically able, we spend our year in two geographic areas; we snowbird in a 5th wheel to southern Arizona in the winter, and spend the summer at our homestead in western Washington State. We don’t play golf, but enjoy all of the other activities at The Palms Golf and RV Resort in Casa Grande, Arizona. Lawn bowling and shuffleboard are two of my favorites, and my trail boss enjoys water aerobics and some kind of exercise dance called Zumba. And special interest groups abound for crafts and hobbies. During the summer, we like to get out from time to time, and explore the Pacific Northwest in our 5th wheel. And British Columbia too; eh?

    by Paddy — October 15, 2011

  9. We live right down the road from Prairie Crossing. While it is a lovely, natural environment with beautiful walking trails and a great organic farmer’s market, it is right next to a landfill that has had many issues with bad odors and blowing garbage. Also, the winters here are brutal.

    by marie — October 15, 2011

  10. I would like to add to Zeke and Macfish’s idea.
    A very “green” oriented community utilizing wind, solar or geothermal.
    Energy efficient construction.
    Human powered watercraft (maybe electric if there was a solar charging setup).
    I don’t think it needs to be 55+. A little diversity would be welcome.

    by Matt — October 15, 2011

  11. Many of us boomers are pet people. I used to dream of designing a retirement community around a dog exercise area. Have a vet and groomer come in a couple days a week… a convenient petsitter/house watcher service… Bet the association’s insurance would be brutal but one can always dream.:cool:

    by Sue — October 15, 2011

  12. I’ve always said give me a deck with a breathtaking view, a good cup of coffee and a library card and I’ll be fine. Hubby, on the other hand, loves golf, boating, fishing, motorcycle riding, flying airplanes, camping and — oh yes — decorating for Christmas in a massive way. With this vast amount of hobby-activity, we’re looking for all this in a perfect place that is also economical to live. Also must be pet friendly as we have two little yappers we’re not about to get rid of, and after 20+ years in North Dakota we’re looking for a little bit friendlier winter weather. At the moment it appears we have several options in Arkansas that might fit the bill — but that continues to be subject to change…

    by ruth — October 15, 2011

  13. Echo Zeke and Macfish and others: real (e.g. miles) trails in nature, real (vegetable) gardens, pets pososible, fitness center including yoga, green oriented community, near culture (plays, concerts, restaurants and even vegetarian options…)–my husband loves golf but I’d like additional options. We’re a few years off but hoping to find something with warm weather and not too conservative yet not too “crunchy” 😉

    by Jini — October 15, 2011

  14. Zeech was close. For those of us that don’t golf, a golf course is just a large waste of money, land, and water.
    Similarly, having a gate just isolates (either in feeling or reality), and it is very hard to believe that a provides the slightest increase in real security.
    A club house that is comfortable, not overly fancy. Facilities that are open not just for owners, but also for visiting family, friends, and housesitters.
    Nice ballrooms in the club house that could be used for dancing, clubs, exercise classes.
    Walking trails that actually traverse interesting terrain.
    Close enough to the city that residents could walk to at least the essential stores and a few eating establishments.
    A small theater (home thwarted have become inexpensive enough

    by John&Beth — October 15, 2011

  15. I really like the idea of promoting something other than “400 holes of golf”. I don’t play and would be concerned about this being a “boat anchor” around a community that cannot support it. My wife and I will probably keep our main home in the North East, but would like to escape the winter weather and may spend five months away. I like to bike, swim and have hobbies… like Model Trains. I could get into community gardening and really appreciate floral gardens. Being close to the ocean would be really desireable. I also like the idea of being close to a university that provides lectures and workshops.

    by Ron — October 16, 2011

  16. I think that many of us “boomers” have gotten away from the golf thing. Frankly, a lot of us found it too expensive when we were raising our kids and just were working too hard to ever get into it, so now we are just not interested. What Zeech has outlined is pretty close to what we are looking for. We will be retiring in about 1.5 years and leaving the winters of New England for the Southeast where we have lived before so we know about climate and such. What we would also like to add to Zeech’s requirements would be good medical care that is not 50 miles away as well as what the others have added in terms of inexpensive cultural events, which probably means location near a college or university.

    by Fred — October 16, 2011

  17. I agree about the interesting walking trails. How about biking trails? And I would love to have a golf course that was not a designer name, affordable and walkable.

    by jane — October 16, 2011

  18. Co-ops are okay. Yet the concern with co-ops is that there is still someone (ie an association, board, community etc with restrictions and fees) who will have a say in what a homeowner can or cannot do. I am for individuality and retirement freedom, but only HOA-free or co-op-free communities can truly offer homeowner freedom. Lake Weir Living in Florida returns to pre-HOA living, like that of our parents or grandparents. We offer a homeowner a community that’s not cookie-cutter and truly independent. Visit

    by Neil Schuster — October 16, 2011

  19. Zeech and Macfish capture my sentiments exactly. It would also be nice to have a natural swimming area (lake, bay, ocean). I like the idea of being near a college town, or other “intellectually stimulating” environment. Not just a fitness center but “whole life center”, with an educational component, such activities as Yoga, Meditation, Martial Arts, Nutritional learning, Spiritual development. Opportunity for retirees to be employed in the community, whether paid or volunteer. Much more, you get the picture.

    by seaverb — October 16, 2011

  20. I’m the one who posted the original question to John, so now I see so many replies that I think I’d like to add something.

    I looked over the three sites, and they have that “corporate” feel that turns me away. Too organized, too Disneyland-ish to appeal to me.

    The idea I’m thinking about is a 900 acre farm that sells three-acre “plots” that are defined with space in between for trails, with that natural pond (or ponds) for the folks to use. There would be mowed trails (chiggers or snakes not encouraged!) and livestock would be “limited” to those that are raised for food or eggs. A pony for the kids would be OK, but if you want the equestrian lifestyle (ick), you’d have to go somewhere else. Dressage riders need not buy into this.

    The breakup of a large parcel into lots that were not contiguous could be a problem, but I can see it with the paved road coming through in such a way to connect the parcels and still leave lots of room for your own fencing, your own barn, your own gardens and your own home(stead).

    Would there be CC&Rs? I’d hope not, but cannot envision people coming together in such a way without them–to prevent the bickering that is so poisonous for the totally retired-with-too-much-time folks.

    So how does a farm outside of a college town sound to you folks? Something in the region around Asheville, NC? Far enough away to reduce property value, but close enough to drive in for whatever?

    by Elin — October 17, 2011

  21. My husband and I have visited southern Active communities from cost to coast for the last 4 years looking for the perfect place. We moved to Green Valley AZ a year ago, it offers a lot of what everyone is describing. We still work so my husband has a job opportunity near Phoenix so we’re now moving to Canta Mia in Goodyear. A new community that we’re very excited about. We feel the key is desiding the area where you want to live and then find the community that best fits your lifestyle.

    by Lori — October 17, 2011

  22. I love this blog.It is perfect for us boomer who do it our way. Now if some developers will read it. I visited at continuing care community recently and asked where is the disco. It was a bit too gentile.Let’s have some dance parties. Friends and I were wishing for some “snowbird communities” where we could summer north and winter south!I can handle the early reired years but want to make a deposit on a safe, well-run nest for those frail later years.

    by Cynthia Smith — October 18, 2011

  23. Rather than “going in circles on the lawn” (golfing) I’d like a travel-based retirement community where we can learn about the world, not just tourist zones,and volunteer.Let’s put our aged shoulders to the wheel, use our experience and wisdom to make the world better for all.

    by Cindy — October 18, 2011

  24. So many good ideas have already been expressed, but I would like to add that we Boomers are an active, social, and healthy lot for the most part. We also enjoy a sense of individuality our parents did’t. So I’d like to live in a community with a very diverse array of architectural styles, set in a landscape of varying elevations with a large body of water nearby. Some sort of social gathering spot to hold community events would be nice as well.

    by Scott — October 20, 2011

  25. Scott – We think we have found what we are looking for – which is much along the lines you speak of – in Fairfield Glade TN. Many custom built homes in a rolling area with 11 lakes within the development. I don’t know if any of them fit your requirement for “a large body of water nearby”, but if you are looking for the social gathering spot as well you’ll find that in Fairfield Glade as well as shopping, churches, banks, restaurants and what we hope is a much less expensive cost of living. Can anyone else comment on Fairfield Glade TN?

    by Holly — October 21, 2011

  26. I’d like to find a place where 55+ people are integrated into real life and not herded of into isolation amongst ourselves. Europeans are better at this concept of making older people feel welcomed and valued. I’ve always enjoyed the company of younger people and hope to find a place where I can continue to participate and perhaps give back of the life lessons I have learned the hard way. I’d like exercise groups for fit elders (not just practicing sitting down and standing up) with Zumba, Pilates, weights. And of course this dream place has to be in a warm climate, with theatre, arts, and near to a large body of water if not the ocean, and have access to local organic produce.

    by Phyllis — October 21, 2011

  27. I still don’t see the idea of small “farmettes” for those of us who are interested in gardening and small livestock raising. I liked Holly’s place in TN, but even with several acres, the folks there are using it for privacy rather than utilizing the space for livestock (CC&Rs against that?)

    i currently own ten acres in Southern CAlifornia in an equestrian community with CC&Rs and architectural guidelines (no metal roofs, e.g., even though standing metal roofs are both beautiful and utilitarian–they speak to the corrugated metal ones, and that’s a downside to CC&Rs as technology gives folks options not available to the originators of the CC&Rs)Those ten acres are prohibitively expensive to build on because of those CC&Rs.

    I’m here in North Georgia this month looking at options for places, and thinkign that what I envision can happen somewhere within 600 miles of this area (north-wast and north, mostly).

    Dreams are cheap. Making it so is more costly, that’s for sure!

    by Horseartist — October 22, 2011

  28. Horseartist – there is a horse stable in Fairfield Glade. Sorry I don’t know more about it, but it is on the South edge of the development and there are signs throughout the development providing directions. There are community garden plots on the farm where the stables are. It looked as though the water for the garden plots was provided. Community members have developeda dog park as well. It looks as though the community continues to develop what they want to be a part of their lives with new things added all the time. Recent additions include an eye clinic and the community hospital’s new health center including weight rooms, swimming pool, and a women’s health center. This fall was the grand opening of a Good Samaritan campus. This includes independent living duplex condos which are filling as fast as they can be built, independent living apartments, assisted living apartments, dementia care wing and full nursing wings. A new ambulance center was added to support the new facility. We met a number of home owners who have their house on the market as they move into the Good Samaritan. With 12,000 acres there seems to be plenty of room for new ideas as residents come together to determine what it is they want. Anyone else have information on Fairfield Glade?

    by Holly — October 24, 2011

  29. I am looking for a place to retire or be a partime resident in southeastern US that is not necessarily a retirement community. I have 2 horses and prefer to have them stabled than have to take care of them myself. I am open to being a snow bird and returning to PA for the summer. Any suggestions?

    by Liz Morgan — October 25, 2011

  30. When my husband and I retired 6.5 years ago we moved to central FL to a 55 plus gated community. He loves it and I hate it; I was 60 and there are way too many old people here. I feel like I have one foot in the grave and the other in a nursing home. We would like to move to NC, Durham area, but Fearington is way too expensive. We looked at The Villages three times but we felt like we were in the Stepford Wives community. Any suggestions? We’d also be willing to relocate to SC, or upper GA. He likes all sports and plays golf, volleyball and softball and as long as I have access to a library, I’m happy.

    by Posie — October 26, 2011

  31. Holly, I’ve looked at Fairfield Glade in the past, but it doesn’t appeal to me, as the houses are all too ‘ranch’ generic and the lakes are tiny. (I love to sail) We are currently looking seriously at the New Bern, NC. area, and the Grand Rivers community at Kentucky Lake. If you love to sail, these two areas offer a low cost of living, access to tons of amenities and beautiful scenery.

    by Scott — October 27, 2011

  32. One of the most compelling features of the town I’m in now (Ridgefield, CT) is the Open Spaces policy that has resulted in hundreds of acres of undeveloped town-owned land. As a result, we have mile and miles of trails and hilly terrain for daily hiking & dogwalking, and a very rural feel. I’d like to retire to a community that retains this relationship to nature, but has better access to long term care and transportation. Any suggestions?

    by Frank — November 1, 2011

  33. Liz, have you considered Ocala, FL? Real horse country area in the middle of the state.

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

    by Jan Cullinane — November 2, 2011

  34. Having to compromise with some things, we are looking at Diamondhead, MS and Fairhope, Alabama. Neither is a cookie-cutter community (although some are nearby). Both are near the Gulf or Mobile Bay. Both include a variety of age groups. Trails aren’t the best. Fairhope is know for its “culture” with a high number of artists. Both are reasonably close to cities (New Orleans and Mobile) for reasonable health care. Both have shopping within walking distance. Diamondhead is becoming a city so we don’t know what will happen to taxes.

    by Caroline — November 6, 2011

  35. […] 18, 2011 — Earlier this month we generated a lot of member feedback with our article, “If You Could Break the Mold, What Would Your Ideal Community Look Like“. Members have made 34 comments so far that reflect a wide range of opinions, from those who […]

    by » What Baby Boomer Guys and Gals Want in Their Next Home Topretirements — November 18, 2011

  36. Would love somewhere near small farms for fresh veggies,but close enough to get to a college town( so there will be something to do) without much traffic.Open spaces around us . houses nearby, but not right next to each other so our neighbors don’t have to hear us or see inside our every window(3 acre lots good).Animal friendly and environment friendly,& people friendly, where your neighbors are happy to see you go by.
    Ideal house: small 3 bedroom, one level,with a great room & split bedroom plan;southwest pueblo style would be perfect.Very little to NO care natural landscaping.

    by Lee — November 20, 2011

  37. Scott’s comments, October 28, 2011, emphasize our wishes for moving to the Southeast. We now live in the #1 worst state (Connecticut) for retirees. We have been concentrating on South Carolina, Florida, Tennessee.

    by Yvette — January 23, 2012

  38. Hi Yvette- Where in S. Carolina and TN are you concentrating? We are researching those areas as well. Not thrilled with Florida since we lived in Naples, FL for 5 years. Found the heat in the summer to be unbearable.

    by LisaJ — January 26, 2012

  39. LisaJ and Yvette-I have been researching the Myrtle Beach area-mostly North Myrtle Beach and such. I find the homes very reasonable, taxes good, area is beautiful and we like it more and more. What have you found??

    by diandto — January 27, 2012

  40. Diandto- We have been researching two Del Web communities, one in Blufton,SC one in Ft. Mill, NC. Also, want to take a look at an active community near Asheville. Wish we could find something like the Villages in the Carolinas or TN. We really don;t like Florida nor do we like the size of TV. Any ideas?

    by LisaJ — January 27, 2012

  41. We live in CA now and are searching for a more reasonable place to live. Focusing on Blufton SC or New Bern NC now as we like being fairly near the ocean. Lisa J & Yvette keep us posted on your search. Maybe we’ll end up being neighbors.

    by Joyce L. — January 27, 2012

  42. Lisa, I have visited models at two Del Webb communities, the one in Ft. Mill and one in the Raleigh. For models, I found the workmanship to be disappointing. Make sure you visit……

    by Dick H — January 27, 2012

  43. To Dick H and LisaJ, I have not personally visited any Del Webb communities but have heard the same thing about the workmanship from friends.

    by katjac — January 27, 2012

  44. Dick H and katjac, thank you so much for the “heads up.” Have you found a place that you are retiring too?

    by LisaJ — January 27, 2012

  45. Any thoughts on Asheville vs Hilton Head??

    by LisaJ — January 27, 2012

  46. LisaJ-I have only nice things about Asheville; it is supposed to be a cute city with lots to do. We prefer the ocean because the salt air is good for asthmatics, and I am one. I have heard there are many retirement developments in the Myrtle Beach area-not Del Webb. I have a wonderful realtor-if you’d like her name-let me know.

    by diandto — January 28, 2012

  47. I’ve visited a number of Del Webb communities while researching my books (I’m NOT a realtor nor do I work for Del Webb). The newer Del Webb communities are more sensitive to construction issues and the desire of potential buyers to customize their homes than the older communities.

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

    by Jan Cullinane — January 28, 2012

  48. For those thinking of something in TN we just closed (long distance) on a home in Fairfield Glade TN outside of Crossville. Fairfield Glade has 90 holes of golf for those that golf (we don’t) and 11 lakes for those that enjoy the water (or guided catamaran tours on 2 of the lakes for those like us who will have company that would like a boating view of the beautiful homes on the lakes) and no cookie cutter homes in the area we purchased. Homes can be and have been built by any builder of the owners’ choice in most of the 12,000 acres, much of which is not and will not be developed. There are two newer neighborhoods that builders have purchased for their exclusive right to build. Resale homes are available from the 1970’s to almost new as well as lots still available to build on. Some of the older neghborhoods have neighbors that you can spot outside your windows, but our (resale) home has no neighbors in sight. We are making our first trip down as new owners, taking a few sticks of furniture with us in two weeks. Stay tuned for more details, or email me with your questions and I’ll do my best to answer as we walk just a few steps ahead of many of you. We are both 55, each working in our own business, and will begin to spend more and more time away from our cold and expensive Illinois as we slowly migrate South to TN. Stay tuned for more news from Fairfield Glade….

    by Holly — January 28, 2012

  49. Holly-Please keep us posted on Fairfield Glade. What are the HOA fees? Can you have a boat? How many homes? Active social life?

    by LisaJ — January 29, 2012

  50. I have heard good things about Fairfield Glade in Tn; I cannot live in TN because it is landlocked and my allergies are terrible in Central Texas, so I would think it is more of the same:(.

    by diandto — January 29, 2012

  51. We have looked at a number of Del Web Communities they looked fine but they don’t want to change any thing and every thing is an extra cost. There base price is exactly that “BASE”. Not for us!

    by Brad — January 29, 2012

  52. Great discussion and great ideas. Could you folks comment on what you would like in the home? In other words what features? Formal Living or Dining?, Study or office?, Exercise Room?, two masters on one floor (one for aging parents)?, security?, low maintenance?, accessibility as, no stairs and wide doors and hallways? One floor or two?, concrete slab, basement or crawl space?, landscaping?. Does anyone care about renewable energy as solar to provide all the energy needs with no utility bill?

    by Danny G — March 15, 2012

  53. Zeech and Macfish capture our wishes too – we love nature/wildlife, but like to be close to amenities (shopping, restaurants, gas stations, health care)
    Danny – We’d like a living room and dining room, need an office/den, exercise room a must. Low maintenance, prefer basement, security, and our preference is still Master bedroom on 2nd floor. If the stair case is wide enuf, it will allow for the chair type “elevator” if needed when less mobile. Open airy concept with large rooms. We have what we call our “big room” over a 2 car garage that we designed to take advantage of the size of the room with an ‘A frame” type roof – we boxed in lights along both of the top sides of the slant, which also allowed us to put in a half moon window and take advantage of the height of the ceiling by not boxing it in like most folks do. We’ve gotten so many compliments on the room – this is a design folks should use for those rooms over the garage.

    by LC — March 16, 2012

  54. 2 bdrms max (1 bedrm possible), 1 floor, slab (NO basement), elec. heat (possibly hot water in slab/floor), low maint., solar/wind/geotherm/etc big plus, no garage (carport ok), min. landscaping, no dangerous materials in manufacturing. I.e., small, able to pick up a go whenever want, VERY easy to maintain.

    by Mad Monk — March 16, 2012

  55. Mad Monk has hit on most of what I would look for in a home with the exception of a carport, I would like a garage 2 car would be big enough.

    by Lefty Omalley — March 17, 2012

  56. I would like what Ginger, way back in Oct. wanted. My only difference is I cannot buy I have to rent. I don’t want golf, tennis, etc. A nice exercise area, pool, sauna maybe, and walking to everything. I believe a car should be used on occassion. I like public transportation. I was thinking about the Scottsdale, AZ area. What about Sun City? Is it good and convenienct. I don’t need constant get-togethers, but friendly would be great. Someone to walk with and maybe a chum to go to theatre or dinner on occassion. I also want good medical care and everything as decent and affordable as possible. A place which has transportation to stores, banks, libraries, etc. would be ideal.We who have to rent don’t seem to be included in these suggestions. Also, singles are overlooked. I ownly read about people who are couples.

    by AJ — March 18, 2012

  57. What has put me off from retirement communities is the endless sameness of the streetscapes and the tiny lots. Developers have been short on creativity and architectural interest. Can anyone suggest a community that has some charm?

    by Judy — March 18, 2012

  58. Wildflowers 55 plus community in Wallkill, New York. Love it and love the area. Bethel for concerts, great shopping in area, commutable to New York City and near our kids. People are wonderful and active club house/community. No golf so you are not paying to maintain a golf course you don’t use if you don’t play. Price wise it is comparible to Florida,probably less expensive because you don’t have to treat mold and insects. Anyone wanting to stay in New York… you’ll love this community and the area. When I want to go to Florida or South, I will take a few weeks or a month and go there. Jackie

    by Jackie — March 18, 2012

  59. Lefty Omalley – I have nothing agaisnt garages, except when they are UNDER the house in a cold climate (like ours!) … we didn’t design the house, and being young didn’t know better … now we do.;-) Also, I have worked on our cars (limited: oil/filter changes, spark plugs, points/etc (at one time), and even changed exhaust systems and pulled the head to replace gasket and have work done). But, I am to point of merely taking car to Walmart/Sears/etc and let THEM do it (using any coupons I can find online). I also don’t want to do yardwork, so no need for storing mower/garss seed/fertilizer/rakes/etc. … been there done that … for way too many years. Now, want to cycle rails-to-traisl, hike, fish, travel, relax, read, watch intriguing TV series/films, surf the Internet for travel ideas and interesting topics, help sons however possible (babysitting grandson, assiting other son with yet another non-profit startup … and many other adventures (barging/biking the Erie Canal & possibly same in Europe; visiting friends from years ago that I lost contact with … due to cutting all ties with VERYTHING after returning from a prolonged SE Asian “vacation” in 1970)). Thus, I (and, yes, my highly valued partner) are entering that new phase … and looking forward to it!!!! So, no garage for me … but that’s just me.

    by Mad Monk — March 18, 2012

  60. Definitely want something even smaller than our current 1700 sq.ft and with more of an in-town atmosphere. I’ve been checking out various cities on to find a walkable community. Don’t care about golf, pools or amenities – costs just keep rising. Would like a small garden plot to potter around in. But the mental image of sitting on a broad front porch & then walking or biking to a local cafe for a latte & maybe catching a movie or taking a class in the evening really speaks to me!

    by cherie — March 18, 2012

  61. Okay. Here is what I heard –
    Natural Walking Trails through the woods, deer, rabbits, and squirrels (no genuine imitations)
    Pond with frogs, turtles and maybe a snake or two
    Close to restaurants, gas, banking, library and medical facilities
    Golf or tennis not important
    Low maintenance
    Living Room (Formal ???)
    Dining Room (Formal in addition to breakfast room???)
    Exercise Room
    Open floor plan
    2-car garage with bonus room overhead
    I was surprised by Mad Monk wants a slab.

    by Danny G — March 18, 2012

  62. Maybe someone could comment on these questions.

    1. Would you like the garage floor to be level with the living space floor to eliminate steps into the house?
    2. Do you like a master bathroom with shower, garden tub or both?
    3. Do you want two sinks in the master bathroom?
    4. Is having the laundry room close to the master bedroom a good idea?
    5. Is radiant heating desirable in any room(s)?
    6. Do you have any preferences about yard and landscaping
    7. Would you use a raised bed for veggies or herbs?

    by Danny G — March 18, 2012

  63. One more
    How about a renewable energy system that will reduce or eliminate the utility bills.

    by danny g — March 18, 2012

  64. Danny G, you can lose the snakes as far as I’m concerned!

    Do not want formal anything. Kitchen must have pantry. Would like 2BR, 2BA, small office/den area would be good, garage, everything on one level. Real laundry room, not one of those things you pass through on the way in from the garage.

    1. Would you like the garage floor to be level with the living space floor to eliminate steps into the house?
    Sounds good.
    2. Do you like a master bathroom with shower, garden tub or both?
    3. Do you want two sinks in the master bathroom?
    Nope. Only one of me.
    4. Is having the laundry room close to the master bedroom a good idea?
    Fine, as long as it’s a real laundry room. Room to leave an ironing board up would be a major plus.
    5. Is radiant heating desirable in any room(s)?
    baths. Or maybe a climate where heat is not necessary.
    6. Do you have any preferences about yard and landscaping
    Somebody else takes care of it. It should be done professionally and look good.
    7. Would you use a raised bed for veggies or herbs?

    Also loved the comment above about sameness of some of the Sun City/Del Webb places. I was really put off by that while visiting relatives at Sun City Grand. Also, I find the quality of their homes pretty shoddy. Cheap springs to mind, but they’re not cheap.

    by Linda — March 18, 2012

  65. Mad Monk – I agree with you on the tuck under garage and because I too live in a cold climate, the great state of Minnesota, I think I need a garage. I won’t use it for car repair either, that’s why there are repair shops. No yard work for me, maybe some cactus and rock and I figure that should be low maintenance. Just looking forward to much of the same things you are, hiking, biking, reconnecting with old friends and family and the list goes on and on. Nice chatting with you and have a great day.

    by lefty omalley — March 19, 2012

  66. Lefty, I like your thinkin’. Cacti in MN to avoid yard work. Perhaps a palm tree or two??

    by Danny G — March 19, 2012

  67. Rental One floor, no steps from garage(carport o.k.)one bedroom (two would be nice to use one as an office) BR w/walkin shower-tub is optional. One BR sink
    laundry room-doesn’t have to large. Moderate climate-no yard maintenance.
    Walkable community

    by KAY — March 20, 2012

  68. Here goes.

    1. Would you like the garage floor to be level with the living space floor to eliminate steps into the house?

    Definitely. The less steps the better.

    2. Do you like a master bathroom with shower, garden tub or both?

    Walk-in shower is a must.

    3. Do you want two sinks in the master bathroom?

    No preference

    4. Is having the laundry room close to the master bedroom a good idea?

    Within a reasonable distance.

    5. Is radiant heating desirable in any room(s)?

    In floor hot water using geothermal energy source with supplemental heat

    6. Do you have any preferences about yard and landscaping

    Extremely low maintenance with some possibility of flower beds.

    7. Would you use a raised bed for veggies or herbs?


    Other items.

    At least 2 bedrooms with one as a guest room.
    A craft room
    Pantry off kitchen
    Formal kitchen and dining room not a necessity
    one large bonus room for my model railroad
    Decor rustic western to early american
    exterior log cabin

    by Rich — March 20, 2012

  69. Danny G – Good one. I forgot to mention I would like a warm and drier climate so that would eliminate Minnesota. I wouldn’t mind trading the Oaks and Maples for some palm trees though.

    by lefty omalley — March 20, 2012

  70. Holly,
    We are looking at Fairfield Glade in May for a possible move there in the near future. Do you still like it??


    by Becky — April 13, 2012

  71. Becky. We have moved some things into the house and actually stayed there less than 2weeks since closing since we both still have clients in Illinois. We are headed down for another 10 days in May. So far we have been very pleased. Everyone we have met is warm and welcoming. We have found anything we needed in Crossville (6 miles) or Cookeville (35) and major shopping with all the brand name stores in Knoxville (1 hour). This is just fine for us. The library in Crossville is amazing, the local live theater very good. The art museum in Knoxville is wonderful. We found all the shop keepers to be very helpful. I met women friends at the FFG ( Fairfield Glade) exercise classes and the health center classes. We are both only 55 so a restricted community is not what we were looking for. We love the idea we can stay there forever including the Good Samaritan center added last year with independent condos, apartments, assisted living and full nursing care, but we don’t need it yet! Aging with friends looks possible there.

    Since it is not an age restricted development we found a nice young man to mow our grass for us in FFG. The dog park is a great place for my husband to meet guys early in the morning as the women show up there a bit later in the day.

    Once you are a resident there are email communications to keep you up to date. I have seen a great indication of good governance. An early email stated that the severe weather alert horns were going to be eliminated since better technology with much earlier warnings was more readily available to everyone via cell phones and radios. Shortly thereafter another email was sent out that in response to resident feedback the horns would not be turned off but everyone was still encouraged to add technology to their lifes to be even better prepared and not rely on the horns
    alone. This would have taken years in my IL area and much debate. I was pleased with the swiftness of the reversal of what was not a popular decision.

    I did meet a couple who was renting a condo for 3 months, then a year, after living in an RV for a number of years. They had travelled the 48 states and decided to land in FFG at least for a year. So there are rentals available, short term and long term to check things out.

    I hope you find the answers to your questions while you are there. Don’t hesitate to speak to Shelley Z at Gwin Realty. She was wonderful to work with!

    by Holly — April 14, 2012

  72. We are relocating a group of comments about stairs to this post since they seem to fit better here and were getting another post off track:

    A two story home would be a deal-breaker for me, no matter how perfect the circumstances in every other way. I actually like the act of climbing stairs for exercise, so that isn’t the problem. I am still quite physically able, but have always slightly clumsy, mostly because I don’t look carefully enough to see where I’m going. (Yes, I’m one of those people who manages to walk into posts or trees and who falls at least once a month. Always have been but have never suffered a serious injury.)

    Taking stairs in buildings is fine, and I typically opt for them over elevators, but in my own home they’d be a prescription for disaster. Purposefully and attentively using well-lit stairs that conform to commercial codes for tread depth, width and height is one thing. Using narrower, slippier, home versions 15 or more times a day while schlepping laundry or groceries, AND distracted by who knows what might be occupying my mind at that moment? I’d be on a first name basis with the local EMTs. (JCarol)

    your comments are right on!!Motion is lotion!.You get issued one body and if you don’t use it you lose it. The aging process isn’t for sissies, Health is wealth and stairs will keep you healthy . 20 years from now doctors will tell you take the stairs
    as a prescription for aging well!!! (Brenda)

    Id just like to add a comment re: stairs…….it won’t appeal to many. I’m very recently widowed. We bought a small townhouse, and relished the stairs…the exercise…muscle pulling, …and feeling of accomplishment…….it’s not for everyone…….but we enjoyed using our legs, knowing they were getting a work out. I don’t plan to change anything right now. Stairs are a non aggressive way of using your body, if you don’t go to the gym……think about it! (Joyce)

    Also, out of my own experience, I wanted to address the issue of having a home with either no steps or only one. With a three-story house I can appreciate that perspective, but you need to be really careful of places with “no steps”. We “rented to own” a place like that years back. The one major factor that turned us against buying that house, was that the entry had no step and could flood the entire entry space and into the living room after a heavy rain. Fixing the drainage would have cost a lot more than we were willing to pay. Conversely, in our current home, the main entry is four standard steps up (7 1/2? rise). I added a porch to the “side” entry deck with 3 steps with a 4? rise and 18? wide. With two knee replacements, I learned that the latter is MUCH easier to navigate than any “normal” step. Extra wide 3 – 4? steps are well worth considering if there is room and a modification is possible. (And much better than “no step”.) (RichPB)

    by Admin — May 22, 2018

  73. Ideal? One story home with 2 bedrooms and a small office area to use for my “craft” stuff, kitchen/dining area and living room. Reasonable size closets and bathrooms – not ones that are as large as the bedroom! 2 bathrooms – one with tub, one with shower with seat built in. 2 car garage. Either community or personal garden space. Easy access to grocery/Walmart-type stores, medical,veterinarian, library. Lake/river access in the community so i could play around in the water with a kayak without worrying about how to put it on the car and driving a long distance. Walking trails/natural space in the development, clubhouse with pool/gym/classes etc. Yard maintenance. Proximity to stable and horseback riding trails.Yard large enough that you cannot reach out your window and touch your neighbors house. Reasonable prices and HOA without all these picky rules some have. Anyone know of such a place?

    by nancy — May 23, 2018

  74. I will share an incident in my life for the benefit of others to consider. My mother came to live with me in her later years. One night, sometime after she had retired for the evening, I heard a loud crashing sound. I rushed toward the stairs where it had come from and found my mother lying on the first landing, six steps from the top of the second floor. She had gone to the bathroom directly across from her bedroom door while being half-asleep. When she came out, instead of continuing forward into her bedroom, she turned left, walked a few steps, then turned right to go down the stairs to the first floor. About six months later she suffered a hemorrhagic stroke, went into a coma, and died about two weeks later. This experience, and others from my experiences as an aging person (70 y/o), has influenced my thinking about providing a favorable environment for myself and those of us in our later stage of life.

    by Richard — May 23, 2018

  75. Holly, thanks for your several posts about Fairfield Glade. Are you still there and what are (were) you feelings now — a few years later?

    For anyone else interested, I also notice that a simple Google search on “fairfield glade tn” provides a really diverse list of links.

    by RichPB — May 23, 2018

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