Showcase Listing

The Grove is an upscale, manufactured home community for active adults 55+, located in sunny Bradenton, Florida, on 40 lush acres of form...

Showcase Listing

Embrey Mill® is an all-ages master-planned community located in Stafford, Virginia, just north of Fredericksburg, and offers a totally st...

Showcase Listing

Wendell Falls is a new, all-ages community located just minutes from downtown Raleigh, North Carolina, and features an eclectic, walkable...

Showcase Listing

Cresswind Wesley Chapel is a vibrant, brand new 55+ active adult community Located just 40 minutes from Charlotte City Center.  Wesl...

Showcase Listing

Life at Heritage Shores is full of amenities, activities and social opportunities. When you live here, each day can be as active or laid ...


Jay Michaels’ Pursuit of the Perfect Active Adult Community – Part 2

Category: Active adult communities

Note: This is the second in a 3 part series. Here is the link to see Part 1, “Destination Williamsburg, Jay Michaels Retirement Tour Bus“. Part 3: 5 Years Later on the Bus

Last year about this time, I reported on my travels to Williamsburg, Virginia and Chapel Hill, NC in search of a retirement destination.  My wife Jane and I have continued our search over the course of the last ten months, visiting a number of active adult communities, and wanted to share some observations from our travels.  We welcome input from people on our search.

First of all, let’s review again the things that are important to us in choosing a retirement destination.  We presently own a seasonal home in north central Pennsylvania and our children reside in Cleveland and Washington, D.C.  We want to live in one home and be able to visit our children without always being dependent on scheduling air reservations in advance.  Close proximity to an airport and good health care are also very important.  We are both recently retired for the time being, but would like to be somewhere where we could pursue employment opportunities.  Having access to numerous activities and opportunities to meet people is also important.  I am a golfer and a golf community may be desirable.

I will briefly describe each of the developments and areas visited.  We visited a number of communities in North Carolina and like the idea of a warmer climate.  We also visited three Pennsylvania developments since we would be close to our children and Pennsylvania does not tax retirement income.   While visiting our daughter in Cleveland, we also visited an over 55 community.  We are offering our opinions on these developments but please remember these are matters of individual preference and also are based on initial impressions.

Pioneer Ridge in North Ridgeville, Ohio
Pioneer Ridge, an over 55 community Del Webb community in North Ridgeville, Ohio, is very nice with close proximity to the Cleveland International airport and excellent health care at the Cleveland Clinic.  When complete, there will be almost 600 homes. The real estate is very affordable with base pricing ranging from about $133,000 to $225,000. The amenities include an outdoor and indoor pool as well as a nice fitness center and a beautiful clubhouse. We liked this development for the amenities and because our daughter lives in Cleveland, but the climate is not ideal and the housing is not as upscale as what we wanted.

Traditions of America at Liberty Hills in Freedom, PA
This is an over 55 community in Freedom PA., which is about a half- hour from Pittsburgh.  There are about 325 lots and it is impressive how well it has sold through a slow economic period.  The location is attractive to us since it is close to two major interstates, I79 and the PA Turnpike and this would make it easier for us to visit family.  It is also close to the Pittsburgh Airport and has easy access to outstanding health care at UPMC health system.  The housing is upscale and is what we like.  They have a nice outdoor pool and clubhouse that includes kitchens, activity rooms and a fitness and exercise room.  The setting is rural and pretty, but there would be traffic in getting to outside activities and restaurants, given this is near the Cranberry area that has experienced extensive development.  Our memories of Pittsburgh weather scare us a little and although we like the “smallness” of this development it is too small to support a golf course.

Penn National Community, Fayetteville PA
This community is set in a very rural and remote area and driving to it was quite beautiful as you pass large Mennonite dairy farms. It is situated outside of Chambersburg, PA. and is about two hours from Washington, D.C. and Baltimore, Maryland.   The 1400-acre community was started in 1968 and has over 1,000 homes, with available lots for new homes. There are two golf courses, and a club house with a grill room and a pro shop. There are walking trails and the community is located next to Michaux State Forest and the Appalachian Trail which we liked. We would have been more receptive to this development if it had only one golf course, and instead had an indoor pool and fitness center as well as a better dining facility and better access to larger communities.  There are not a lot of new homes being built in this development.

Fearrington Village near Chapel Hill, NC
"Belties" grazing at Fearrington VillageFearrington Village is a quaint community in Pittsboro, NC, just 8 miles from Chapel Hill. It is a unique and fun place to visit and has a relaxing and peaceful feel about it. It is situated on a farm with belted cows, barns and a silo. Within the development are a book store, restaurants, an inn, and some small shops.  The houses are in “neighborhoods” and include condos, townhouses and new homes with older homes found in the “historic” section.  The resale homes will fit most budgets and the new construction begins at about $400,000.  Amenities are a la carte and they include the Swim and Croquet Club and a membership to the fitness center which is run by Duke University.  This community is first class and has a five star restaurant.  There are many clubs and activities for the residents and a farmers market comes once a week during the summer and fall.  We really appreciated the quality of this development but are concerned as to the remote location and that the new housing options may be beyond our price point.

Carolina Preserve in Cary, NC
Carolina Preserve in Cary (near Raleigh) is a large Dell Webb over 55 community in the final stages of completion. The two-story clubhouse is beautiful and includes an indoor pool along with a large and very active fitness center. There are several well-appointed card and game rooms with many activities happening every day including lectures, parties, and special events.  There are also tennis courts and an outdoor pool, bocce court, and a chipping and putting green.  The clubhouse and amenities we really liked.  The lack of a restaurant and golf course were negatives for us in a development of this size.  Also the number of houses on the development were such that we felt it was a little crowded.

12 Oaks Holly Springs NC
12 Oaks is located approximately 20 miles from downtown Raleigh and offers several choices in housing and builders. The community includes a Jack Nicklaus golf course, a clubhouse with an outdoor swimming pool, tennis courts, and fitness center.  The clubhouse also includes a golf shop and a café.  We thought the development was a little more speculative, i.e. had further to go in it development than some others we visited and was not as close to Raleigh as what we would like.  The community of Holly Springs itself does not have a lot that would attract us.  We did not look at any housing in this development.

St. James Plantation in Southport, NC
We visited St. James Plantation located minutes from Southport, North Carolina and about 30 minutes from Wilmington.  Southport is located on the Intracoastal Waterway in southern North Carolina and so the climate is as mild as it gets in North Carolina.  St. James is a community that has been in existence for over twenty years and will have over two thousand home sites when completed.  The community has many distinct neighborhoods as well as condos and villas; much of the natural habitat has been preserved. The development has over six thousand acres and has walking trails, a marina and restaurant on the Intracoastal Waterway, a private beach and beach club on the Atlantic Ocean, 81 holes of golf and four clubhouses, and an outside amphitheatre. We have not visited a community with such extensive amenities and so much to offer.  We did not get a complete sense of the costs to live there and wonder if it is beyond our budget.   There is a significant initiation fee that is paid by all homeowners and then membership levels at various costs can be selected.

Status Report
We have not yet concluded our search but a few things stand out.  Everywhere we went people seem to believe that the place they live is the absolute best choice.  This is good evidence that all of these communities have a lot to offer and that people have diverse tastes.  This also makes us feel that once we commit to a place we will join the ranks of satisfied retirees.

We thought that St. James Plantation and FearringtonVillage had the most to offer and kept us within a day’s car ride of our children.  However, both are located in North Carolina, a high income tax state, although property taxes are low in both places.  Fearrington Village is about fifteen minutes south of Chapel Hill and so there are employments opportunities, but it is not an overly convenient location to all parts of the Research Triangle.  The nearest urban area to St. James is Wilmington and we are unsure about employment opportunities there.  Although the Pennsylvania communities have the tax advantage I mentioned earlier and are closest to our children, we did not feel there were as many amenities in the places we visited and the climate is a drawback for us.

Next Steps
We tell ourselves this is an adventure and journey and there is probably a good reason why we have been unable to lock in on a place with conviction.
Our next steps include visiting St. James again and visiting Charlottesville, Virginia since we do not feel we gave that area a good look.  Other than that we just keep thinking and reading and waiting for the light to come on.  We would appreciate your thoughts more than you know since this may be what we need to get the wheels turning.  In particular, if anyone has information on communities we should visit in Charlottesville that would be great.

For further Reference
Part 1: Destination Williamsburg, Jay Michaels Retirement Tour Bus
Part 3: Jay Michaels Retirement Bus 5 Years Later
North Carolina Directory of Active Adult Communities
Ohio Directory of Active Adult Communities
Pennsylvania Directory of Active Adult Communities
Sandy’s Active Adult Adventures: Part I
Sandy’s Adventures: Part II

We hope you enjoy Jay Michaels’ impressions as much as we did. BTW – have you been out visiting regions or communities – we’d like to hear from you too! Let us know about it in the Comments section below.

Posted by John Brady on May 14th, 2012


  1. […] Note: This is Part 1 of a series. Here is the link to Part 2, “Jay Michaels’ Search for the Perfect Active Adult Community“. […]

    by » Destination Williamsburg, VA: Hop on Jay Michaels’ Retirement Tour Bus Topretirements — May 14, 2012

  2. Thanks so much for taking your journey. I am still working and we are not able to “car trip” the search yet. It sounds as though our search criterias are similar. Enjoy your travels, be safe, and I will look forward to future posts.

    by Donna Sweeney — May 15, 2012

  3. Thanks for your notes. We just made a similar trip to “scout out” places (3 yrs away) Was not as impressed with Wilmington as others were but loved Bluffton. Still checking options out.

    by Trish Reynolds — May 15, 2012

  4. When people move into an active adult community, they tend to stay there. So, the newer active adult communities have an average younger age. Something to consider when you’re thinking about where to live. And, look at it with a view to becoming single. Although you might be part of a couple now, if you’re a female, chances are 80 – 90% you’ll be single at some point. Also, be sure that universal design principles are incorporated into the residences so you can age in place longer.
    Jan Cullinane
    The New Retirement: The Ultimate Guide to the Rest of Your Life (Rodale)
    The Single Woman’s Guide to Retirement (John Wiley & Sons)

    by Jan Cullinane — May 15, 2012

  5. We visited several of the same communities you did in NC, with similar reactions. Though we are NOT golfers, we purchased a home in Regency in Brier Creek Country Club in Raleigh. They still have some lots available for new builds. If you are still considering the Raleigh area, it’s a community you definitely should consider. Great location for what we BOTH are looking for.

    by Jeanette — May 16, 2012

  6. St. James Plantation and River Landing (both in the general Wilmington NC area) are lovely with great amenities. They are among the most impressive places one could find for retirement but bring your broker with you and financial analyst.

    I am generalizing here rather than listing everything but at St. James Plantation, golf initiation fees are around $30K, annual cart fees over $3K, food and beverage fees about $600 a year; member dues about $4800 a year, and then there are the HOA dues which vary from around $350 a quarter to more than $800 a quarter.

    Housing and the different variety of “neighborhoods” are wonderful and can accommodate almost any preference. But know that there are separate fees for Tennis, beach club etc.

    My impression is that to live at St. James (and River Landing is not that far behind in costs) you need a retirement income providing disposable after taxes $100K a year (not including any housing costs or medical expenses etc.).

    by Semi-retired — May 16, 2012

  7. Jeanette,

    Thank you for your input. We did visit Regency at Briar Creek brifly but did not have enough time to spend there so I did not comment about it. Can you highlight the things that you like since we are now interested in spending more time there given your comments? Thank you.

    Jay Michaels

    by jay michaels — May 16, 2012

  8. Semi-retired,

    Thank you very much for the information on the costs of living at St. James. This is exactly the type of information and help I was lookng for and your analysis and perspective is very helpful.

    Jay Michaels

    by Semi-retired — May 16, 2012

  9. Can anyone give feedback on the active retirement community called “The Coves at Round Mountain” located in NC? Retirement is a few years away and want to get out of the Midwest winters and humid summers…we both golf (but not consumed by it) and are avid outdoors people. Thanks in advance for any feedback!

    by CM Smitty — May 16, 2012

  10. Looking at 55+ communities in Delaware. Any feedback????

    by kathyj — May 17, 2012

  11. Jay,

    What my charming wife and I have learned in our search is the following:

    1. #1 question to ask is the financials and business plan for the development so you don’t get stuck in an undercapitalized project; find a mire of lawsuits for failure to build, perform or amenities closed due to underfunding; and how many homes have been built versus what is projected.

    2. What are the HOA fees and all fees for amenities such as golf membership; food/beverage commitments; tennis club; fitness club; and do any require bonds. Add these up and for most quality golf centric developments you are looking at an annual outgo of at least $10K PLUS HOA and any mortgages, assessments, flood or other conditional insurances; and medical expenses as well as travel (unless the development is walking distance to doctors, food, hospitals etc.).

    3. Weather conditions! Know where you plan to live as it might be beautiful and have perfect amenities for your dream retirement. But if it is in a hurricane zone (research the frequency of hurricane or lightning storms (see the Orlando area which leads the country in lightening strikes), low above sea level ground etc. then you will face higher insurance needs such as flood, hurricane, and other disaster insurance not to mention bug fumigation for mosquitoes, termites, etc.

    4. Take no one’s word for it….get it in writing! I don’t care how nice they are or sincere they seem to be, you need it in writing.

    5. Talk to people who live there and are not selling the place. Find out their impressions, any litigation, any uncompleted promises, and nearby facilities that are adequate for your health, nutrition, and entertainment.

    6. Living somewhere where you need to travel 50-70 miles for “big city entertainment” such as theater, sports, dining, or other entertainment is unrealistic if you are close to 70 years of age or above as night driving may become a problem for you and spouse or other medical conditions.

    7. Research the hospital and emergency facilities carefully. How many beds, ER unit, MRI/CScan etc. and variety of medical specialities. As we age we count on such services in desperate times.

    8. Culture of the development and the surrounding area. No, I’m not talking about how many art galleries but where are the people originally from and do you find compatibility with their “culture” or way of thinking. This means lifestyle wise, politically (in today’s very polarized political atmosphere don’t take that lightly) and level of education. You don’t want to be in a community of 10% college grads while you have advanced degrees and perhaps professional degrees as you will find compatibility difficult. Pretty scenery doesn’t replace liveable enjoyment.

    9. How wired is the community and surrounding area? Cable or do you need satellite service? Wireless? Access to the internet, mobile phones, etc.

    10. Distance from the airport and what are the carriers and frequency of flights? It doesn’t do much good to land somewhere and find that the beautiful little airport only has three flights a day on subcarriers which require you to connect to one or two other airports to get a plane to your destination.

    11. What can your family (children and grandchildren) do when visiting you? What are the ages of youngest members of the family. Lovely pastoral settings are a total bore to children and teenagers. Are there parks, amusement facilities etc.? Swings and monkey bars are good for one or two hours only!!!

    12. Climate, climate, and more climate. While it sounds lovely to get away from snow, ice, and weather below 60 degrees, what about the humidity? Do you or your beloved have any medical issues that make humidity an enemy? Don’t count on living in air conditioning all the time as that is like going from one cell block to another rather than enjoying life and recreation. Also if Melanoma is an issue consider whether you need a place with more shade, away from beaches etc. Think what your doctor would say to you about your potential retirement living. Too often people say “you go from your air conditioned car to air conditioned home or mall etc.” which is just a silly gloss over of reality. Ask people what the temperatures from April-October are like in a car in southern climes.

    13. Places to inquire about potential retirement living while visiting those areas: the library (ask and also look at past issues about weather); the county recorder of deeds at town hall; the tax collector at town hall; and even the police department to find out about crimes in the area. Know before you buy!

    14. It is probable that your retirement place will be your LAST place so speak to a local attorney about taxes, laws governing the area and what you need for your living will and wills/trusts upon retirement there. Don’t rely upon the state laws which were applicable at your last place of residence. You need to update all of your legal affairs including final plans!

    Good luck and good hunting!!

    Semi-retired Counselor

    by Semi-retired — May 17, 2012

  12. As to the question about Delaware retirement communities, I recommend that you check the highway congestion which is considerable plus are you really changing seasonal temperatures sufficiently for your desired retirement.

    by Semi-retired — May 17, 2012

  13. For semi-retired. Great suggestions for all of us considering retirement moves. Thank you for your research. I agree with the issue of high humidity levels, living inside with the A/C all the time, is not really living! Been there, done that for too long. Would rather take long walks outside in cool, crisp, clean air!

    by Rory — May 17, 2012

  14. Thanks so much for information you can’t easily find. We are trying to find a spot in NC – checking out Fearington Village so your information was great as well as spots in FL – Orlando area vs. Space or Treasure Coast – any insight would be appreciated! Marilyn

    by Marilyn Gazzette — May 17, 2012

  15. For KathyJ. We are retiring in a 55 + community just north of Dover called Spring Meadow. We looked at several communities and chose Spring Meadow because it is small (260 homes),has nice amenities, friendly people, and low cost of living. It is not to far from major hospitals, airports, and collages and there is a golf course and fishing pond across the road from Spring Meadow which do not belong to the community. There are many age restricted communities in Deleware and which you choose should depend on your interests. If you like beaches, there are several near the major beach cities. In those, you will have to deal with more traffic and crowds, especially during the summer, and you are further away from airports and major hospitals. The communities like Spring Meadow that are more inland are still only a couple of hours from major beaches. For example, the closest non tourest beach from Spring Meadow is about 10 miles away. There can be traffic problems on the interstates, especially during beach weekends or major events in Dover, but when you get away from the beach cities and Wilmington, Deleware is a pretty rural state with a slower pace of living.

    by HarryF — May 17, 2012

  16. We visited Regency homes at Briar Creek today in Raleigh based on Jeanette’s recommendation and we liked it very much. The Arnold Palmer golf course looks really nice and the clubhouse was very impressive. There is a lot of construction activity going on there and it appears there are not a lot of lots left. Thanks for recommending Briar Creek.

    by Jay Michaels — May 17, 2012

  17. To HarryF – thanks for your info on Delaware. We are leaning towards southern Delaware, west of route 1 but not as far inland as Heritage Shores. We were impressed with Independence and liked the location, but we haven’t found anyone living there to give us their thoughts. Coming from Washington, DC, suburbs, we don’t want too rural of a community but something with a slower pace. We hadn’t really considered north of Dover but may have to give that some more thought. Thanks again!

    by KathyJ — May 18, 2012

  18. For CM SMitty: The Coves at Round Mountain is a fairly (6 yrs) new community located in Lenoir, NC, which is midway between Blowing Rock and Hickory. It is a very diverse community in that it has beautiful mountain views, river frontage, community garden, waterfalls, a horse stable, and miles of trails (not paved) through the forested areas and along the river. The golf course is what I would label a “country” course because it is short and hilly with no clubhouse. They planned to re-do the course or rebuild it with a signature course; however, that plan was put on hold due to economic conditions — disappointing, yet understandable. The mountaintop lodge (community center) is in place with the swimming pool and fitness center planned by the end of the year. So not all amenities are in place. The good news is that the developer continues to invest in the community, though not at the same level as we expected.

    by SuzannaP — May 18, 2012

  19. To Rory…I agree with you 100% that I Would rather take long walks outside in cool, crisp, clean air! I have lived in Fl. 14 years and I am so tired of the hot steamy heat and spend all my time inside 6 months a year. So do you have any good places in mind that does not have hardly any snow and does not have a long winter. We can not afford CA we need to watch our pennies. Any ideas? Thanks…Kathy

    by Kathy — May 18, 2012

  20. Hi Jay, Thanks for all the info! I think you got it all and this is a great help… Where are you retiring to? I wish we had the money to go and spend a month in a few different places. Unless you live some where you really don’t know. You just have to go by what others say and then everyone is so different so even that’s hard to go by. I live in Fl. and find I hate it 6 months a year. But then I used to live in upstate NY and I hated it there 6 months a year. Hibernate in the heat or in the air half a year and that to me is NOT FUN! CA weather is perfect so I here but it’s very congested and has a lot of natural disasters and on top of that is too expensive. I can’t figure out how the middle class can afford to live in CA. Thanks for taking the time to write all you have it will be very helpful! Kathy

    by Kathy — May 18, 2012

  21. To Kathy. You might want to consider the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia from Front Royal and Winchester down to Roanoke. Two months of hot, two months of cold, an early Spring, and a gloriously long Fall.

    by Judy — May 19, 2012

  22. Next week, we are starting our first search down South. Will be looking at Hendersonville and Ashville, NC and then over to Faifield Glade, TN. While we are in those neighborhoods, any suggestions on other areas to look at?

    by Locobill — May 19, 2012

  23. SuzannaP…thank you for your input!

    by CM Smitty — May 19, 2012

  24. can anyone tell me about Cookeville, TN or any other are of middle TN?

    by Terri — May 19, 2012

  25. TO: Locobill

    I’d be very interested on what you find out during your trip. I like what I see about Fairfield Glade on their website…activities, lakes, outdoors stuff and the real estate prices and cost of living index, and weather look favorable.

    Curious about other costs like golf (initiation fees, food minimums, etc), HOA dues, etc. Also, something to look at, I notice it is not just an active retirement community. It is also a “resort”. Not sure I want a bunch of tourists “inflating the population” and crowding the amenities, but it could be a non issue.

    Thanks in advance for sharing!

    by CM Smitty — May 20, 2012

  26. @Locobill Please let us know what you find on your search. We are very interested in the Asheville/Hendersonville area as well. We are interested in being close to shopping and restaurants as well as any area that is walkable. I agree with CM Smitty on information on HOA fees, food minimums,etc. Have fun searching.

    by Lisa — May 21, 2012

  27. Fairfield Glade is an attractive development with so many features such as lakes, meadows, mountains, golf, fitness etc. But here too you need to look at what is involved in getting to “the Big City” for entertainment. Knoxville is 75 miles away; Nashville is about the same etc. Those are the nearest big cities. Would driving in winter (it does get a bit frosty) at Fairfield Glade due to its elevation bother you? Would you be able to drive 75 miles at night?

    by Semi-retired — May 21, 2012

  28. Semi-retired….We currently live in a small town in NW Indiana. The closest mall is 30 miles away and Chicago,, “the big city”, is 65 miles away and it gets frosty here too!! We still have big box stores, movies, and restaurants locally. Having the big city over an hour away means we dont deal with the traffic, crime,etc if we lived closer. If we want to see big name entertainment, we make it an overnight outing. So many won’t find 75 miles too big an issue.

    by Locobill — May 22, 2012

  29. How interesting! I grew up in northwest Indiana about 20 miles from Chicago’s Loop. My husband and I (in western NY) have considered Indiana (though further south): at least as far south as Indianapolis, probably further. Well-run state these days; low taxes and many nice areas. I still have a few relatives there, but the relatives we’re the closest to are in FL and SD. 😥

    by Marian — May 22, 2012

  30. As is the opposite case as those living in Fla, May through Sept is very nice in NW Ind. Then it goes down hill. We are tired of the winters living on the east side of Lake Michigan…can you say “lake effect snow?”. Property taxes are low, income taxes are not. The state seems to be weathering the fiscal bad tomes, bad many think that is partially because the governor sold the Ind Toll Road to a foreign consortium. Have seen articles that say that that money is running out.

    by Locobill — May 23, 2012

  31. Anyone know about the Del Webb places in Central California?

    by Carol — May 28, 2012

  32. To: Carol

    I can’t help you with Central California, but if it is anything like his place at Sun City Grand in Surprise, Arizona…it is spectacular! Just too hot for me to consider year round living and I don’t want to maintain two places during retirement.

    by CM Smitty — May 29, 2012

  33. I’m not sure the “active retirement community” is the best place to retire. These places can be very insular–gated, private, exclusive and clicky. If you want lots of activity now it may be smart to consider a small city with a well developed liesure services department that has parks, public golf courses, baseball, swimming, extensive library etc. most of the cost for these are in the taxes with a small user fee for some of the activities. Also keep in mind that active stuff may be good for your lifestyle for a limited period of time. Maybe if you are retiring in your mid fifties you will do that active stuff for a long period. Think what you will be like when you reach 65. Will you be up for doing all that active stuff on a daily or weekly basis. Some of that is covered in your monthly maintenance fee. Will you want those high monthly costs when you are not doing all that “active” stuff? Probably not. Many of the communities which sell the “active” lifestyle such as The Villages in Florida are now in the process of developing old age homes and assisted living places to accomodate the ever growing number of community residents who can no longer participate in the ?active? stuff. Always when consider where you want to live be sure to keep in mind that in 5 or 10 years you may look or be much less active. We are glad we live in a small city with so much to offer and will be suitable as dwe age or become a household of only one person.

    by David M. Lane — May 29, 2012

  34. Where does one possibly retire to when their husband is no longer alive? Seems as though most of these retirement communities are geared toward couples. We did look at brochures on the Villages, etc. Now things have drastically changed for me. Any advice?

    by LInda — May 29, 2012

  35. David M. Lane, where do you live? Thanks!

    by Kathy — May 30, 2012

  36. I am a single woman, never married. I have moved regularly for jobs so I really do not have a place that i would call home. Although, I have lived in places that I have enjoyed, I do not think I want to retire to them since things have changed in my life (for example, snow skiing would not be a part of my social life now). I want a friendly urban or close to urban area. It is the “friendly” that is a challenge. I have lived places where it is definitely couples only attitude.

    I have always had male friends, female friends and couple friends, but I was (still am) working. I want to find an area with that same attitude outside of a work environment. Would love to hear of places like that. So let Linda (who has always been part of a couple) and me (who has never been part of a couple) know of some alternatives.

    by Lane — May 30, 2012

  37. HELP PLEASE ANYONE…..We want to go to WA. & OR. For a trip to see the areas. Since we have never been there and don’t know anyone there how do you find different neighborhoods, subdivisions towns etc to be able to see what area you would like the most? I was thinking of a guide but don’t know if there is even such a thing is a guide to show you the different areas people live in. Does anyone have any clues? Is there anyone out there that can tell me how to go about finding an area? HELP PLEASE….Thank you! Kathy

    by Kathy — May 30, 2012

  38. Kathy – we just returned from a wonderful weekend seminar in Asheville called the Creative Retirement Exploration Weekend or CREW. It was connected to University of North Carolina Asheville where they have a Creative Retirement Center. This is a very valuable resource! They can help connect visitors to their areas with other retirees and various resources like realtors. I would suggest you go online to OLLI which is Osher Lifelong Learning Institute and search for these centers in places you are interested in. I see from their website that there is one in Seattle and 2 in Oregon. They can give you information on various communities and may even have a program like the one we attended in Asheville which was amazingly informative and great to network with other potential retirees.

    by cherie — May 30, 2012

  39. A few comments to bring some additional thoughts to potential retirement moves:

    1. There is no such thing as the perfect place. Some of them are better suited to you and your needs better than others. That is simply reality.

    2. How much does humidity affect you or any health conditions you have? Will you really stay out in the sun when past 60 years of age? Can you handle or want black ice in more elevated areas? What kind of shopping suits you, malls or strip malls or small town centers etc.? How close are top grade medical facilities? Are airports nearby and provide non-stop or one stop flights? Is the area a storm area and what are the costs in home insurance, flood insurance, and replacement?

    3. What is your lifestyle and what do you want it to be? If you like quiet days and nights, then perhaps a retirement centrific community would work as would a smaller town. If you like theatre, symphonies, concerts, art gallaries, and museums then a large city and its proximity should be considered. Above all, don’t gloss over your ability to drive at night or even drive long distances (50-100 miles) for such entertainment. Overnight stays may not be in everyone’s budget in retirement.

    4. Compatibility of views, education levels and interests are important. If you are a conservative, you may not be happy in a college town. If you are a progressive, you could be miserable if no one around shares your views and they are open about theirs. This is the toughest consideration as there is no easy research on the mind set of people. Read the local papers (on line), search voting trends, ballot issues etc.

    5. 55+ gated communities or mixed communities. As someone mentioned the 55+ communities could be clickish but you know there is turnover in such communities so it won’t be forever. Would you be happier knowing that there are a variety of ages and people in your community which can add vigor and those physically active plus lawn cutting services etc. Or would the noise level of younger residents and their children bother you now?

    6. Look carefully where you go, read, google/bing, check records and be sure to talk to people not in the business of selling to you. There is no garden of eden so much lies under the surface of brochures and sales talk. Ask intelligent questions and ask others what they have experienced. Remember the funding of the development can make 100% difference in what you thought you were getting and what you get.

    7. Some things I learned in more than five years of researching Florida were sink holes, water levels, lightening, wildfires, drought, partially empty strip malls, humidity levels, hurricane paths, and services. So, Florida is out for us.

    by Semi-retired — May 31, 2012

  40. Some days these blogs are so-so. Today’s offered good insights which anyone can use; generalized enough to transfer to any specific area and specific enough on whom to reach that I sat here and said “YES”!!!:lol:

    by Ann — May 31, 2012

  41. Comment to “Semi-Retired” 7 items: I had to chuckle because he is so right in many comments! We moved two months ago from Texas to Florida and everything mentioned particularly in #7 pertained to Texas which is not retiree friendly in many areas and has horrible weather where we were in the DFW area. We are finding it delightful in Florida where we are – they cater to seniors, no problem finding doctors who take Medicare, shopping, beaches, etc. all close by. Weather so far is great – love the sea breeze. Humidity is a bit high at times but that’s when you go in the house or relax in the community pool! We are buying in a 55+ community, renting there until our house is built. There are people here anywhere from mid 50’s to the 80’s. We see very little evidence of clickish groups – if anything people are so darn friendly and want to get together all the time, our social calendar is too full. Many people have lived here through the best and worst of the 2000-2012 time period when homes were so expensive and then worth less than half of what they paid and not one has said they would give up living in this community. We looked at many communities on the west coast of Florida and found a 55+ community definitely best suited our needs and we are in our mid-60’s. Good luck to everyone out there looking!

    by toni — May 31, 2012

  42. Toni, it would be helpful if you would identify this community and town you like so much.

    by Linda — May 31, 2012

  43. Toni, yes please tell me where you live? Thanks

    by kathy — June 1, 2012

  44. TO: Semi-retired- Great article. Thank you. So where do you live now and where are you going to retire?

    by kathy — June 1, 2012

  45. Currently we live in Fairfield County, CT (the Gold Coast) and it is fabulous with so many woods, beautiful grounds and great New England towns. BUT, this is not the place to retire unless your hedge fund children are supporting you! The average income per home is over $200K/year so you can imagine what that would be like on retirement income….terrible!

    We are currently considering North Carolina and Virginia, although we are both a little alarmed at the political climate there (sorry, don’t mean to offend anyone but we are strong progressives). My work is advising political candidates rather than practicing and my wife is in psychiatry at a local hospital. Anyhow, we want to simplify our lives and find places where she has an active Catholic Church in the area (at one time very difficult to find in the South other than large cities) and I want to golf three to four times a week.

    So, we have friends in the Ashville/Hendersonville area as well as the Charlotte area plus Williamsburg, VA. What we have heard is very positive about the Ashville area but have been told of the black ice problems in cold weather (yes, it does snow there). So, we are researching the Triangle which is Chapel Hill-Raleigh-Duram and a bit further west to Winston-Salem as well as the Wilmington area.

    I love St. James Plantation and River Landing as they have everything I want but my wife would be unhappy there as it is quite expensive HOA’s, golf fees, and other costs. Plus neither of us in retirement wish to “hob knob” anymore or wear jackets and dresses etc. We want to just enjoy our life, give to the community, help those in need, work with charities and the ill, homebound and legally troubled. We’d be a big fish out of water in a lot of these places which is why a college based community is probably best for us such as Chapel Hill, Raleigh or Durham. I am interested in Cary, NC which is just outside of Chapel Hill and is quite progressive. Hope this helps.

    by Semi-retired — June 1, 2012

  46. Toni: Could you tell me which community you settled on in FL? My husband and I just returned from an exploratory trip there, and I loved Apollo Beach and Venice. There are so many 55+ communities, my head is spinning! I was thinking perhaps we could go again this summer, both to concentrate on certain areas and see what summer is like in FL. Thanks!

    by Kimbee Jeanq — June 2, 2012

  47. To Kathy.Linda & Kimbee…

    We are living in Pelican Preserve, 55+ community, Fort Myers, FL You can check out the website which has all the floor plans and prices listed on-line. The sales office is very helpful and will send you brochures – ask for Terri Brown. She is a wonderful agent. I wish all of you much success in finding the right community. We are very sure we picked the right on!

    by toni — June 3, 2012

  48. Jo-Ann

    Has anyone found an area in the south that would be a comfortable place for active single adults?

    by JoAnn — June 3, 2012

  49. Semi-retired: My husband and I were seriously considering the Cary/Chapel Hill area, too, until this … vote on same-sex marriage and hetero cohabitation came about. It’s really cooled off our ardor for the area.

    by Kimbee Jeanq — June 3, 2012

  50. My partner (hetero) and I just returned from the Asheville/Buncombe County area of NC. We too were put off by the vote on same sex marriage but Buncombe County was one of the few holdouts in the state and the diversity and open-mindedness there is apparent. The prices in Asheville proper are a little high from what we’re used to in PA but towns like Waynesville and Hendersonville are lower. There is a variety of adult communities throughout the area. The humidity is not as high as other parts of the Carolinas or FL however they do experience a shortened version of winter with occasional snowfalls. But they apparently disappear far faster than my normal concept of a snow! We also stopped at the community of Fearrington Village just outside of Chapel Hill in Pittsboro. The humidity was noticeably different from Asheville. (Can you tell I don’t care for high humidity?!) The village center was charming and everyone was very friendly at the restaurant where we stopped for lunch. But while I was there I questioned a young black woman who worked there regarding diversity and without losing her smile, she confirmed that the development was very “white bread” ie not very diverse. We crossed it off our list. Back to Asheville and environs!

    by cherie — June 4, 2012

  51. My wife and I are continuing to try to balance out our objectives in thinking about a retirement site. Semi-retired healped us with his comnent about no such thing as a perfect place. We are now thinking of learning more about Fredericksburg, Va. because it is close to our two children in D.C. and the climate is better than in Pittsburgh. Using the top retirement tools we have been able to determine that there are several large over 55 communities there and in particular we wanted to look at the Del Webb Celebrate community. It looks like there is a lot to do in Fredericksburg. Does anyone have any thoughts about Fredericksburg? We would appreciate anyone sharing their insights with us.

    by jay michaels — June 4, 2012

  52. Cherie and Semi-retired,
    Please look at Fearington Village again. I know this community quite well as I have watched The Fitche’s develop it over the years. The community is not”white bread”. There are many residents from all over the world, educated, talented and very friendly. The Village has a Health Care neighborhood group that takes care of the residents along with many clubs and neighborhood groups that are outreaching. We have been there many times over the years and as we have children in the area are thinking about it for our own retirement home. Look at The Fearington website to get a more realistic overview. One of the great things about it is that as close to Chapel Hill, Raleigh, Cary and Durham that it is, it is also in Chatham County with much lower taxes as well as UNC and Duke medical being topnotch medical care. I just wanted to set the story straight about the diversity. Fearington Village is really a diverse,friendly community.
    Linda H

    by Linda H — June 4, 2012

  53. Linda and Lane, It’s nice to hear that other people who are by themselves, whatever the reason, would also like to find a friendly, compatible place to retire where they can be comfortable and included in the community. I’d be happy to hear from you if you find some possibilities. I will also post any of the places I find in my search. Hopefully, we will have many choices.

    by JoAnn — June 5, 2012

  54. I am interested in reading the book on retirement for singles. I just realized that most folks are ignoring it because they think that finding a retirement community where singles are comfortable is of not interest to them. I am just looking for interesting friendly people with diverse interests. I am certainly not after someone’s husband (or wife:) )…and do not want to be a 3rd wheel on a regular basis. Sadly, most of us will end up being single at some time in retirement. I thought that an active adult community would provide more diverse activities. However, maybe just a friendly city will fit the bill better. I would love to hear about communities that might fit the bill.

    I will let you know if I find anything, but am still working and do not have that much time to explore.

    by Lane — June 9, 2012

  55. How does one that doesn’t have the time because they still work full-time and doesn’t have the funds to travel to all these states to check out retirement spots, go about finding the best place to retire?
    I am new to this site and won’t be 55 until next year. My husband and I are trying to decide, stay in CA, not so retirement friendly, but my family is here, or move to another state. Our kids are in the Navy so trying to live near them is somewhat impossible.

    by Gale — June 11, 2012

  56. Lane,
    You expressed my feelings to a “T.” I’ve read about active adult communities that are “clique’ish”. Don’t want to be a 3rd wheel either. I’m interested in DE, PA, and possibly VA. Does anyone have any information about these states? Also, what is the name of the book to which you refer?

    by Nancy — June 12, 2012

  57. Gale, you’ve made a good start by reading and participating in this blog! You might also want to subscribe to a magazine called Where To Retire which covers a diverse area of popular retirement locales and communities. Just by reading and doing a little online research, you can undoubtedly start to eliminate certain spots.Once you narrow things down, then you can plan a vacation around the different locations until you get closer to retirement age. Just think how much time you’ll have to look around and make this important decision! You might also enjoy reading the retirement books that are out right now particularly How to Retire Happy, Wild and Free by Ernie Zelinski and The New Retirement: The Ultimate Guide to the Rest of Your Life by Jan Cullinane and Cathy Fitzgerald. I believe Ms Cullinane might also have a new book coming out soon as well. Are you out there, Jan?

    by cherie — June 12, 2012

  58. I’m here, Cherie! I’ve been out of the country the last several weeks, and I’m doing final edits to the manuscript for my new retirement book, so haven’t been keeping up on this site as I’d like. In addition to this excellent site, people can try the free quiz. An easy way to help you determine your priorities and provide you with a suggested list of places to consider for retirement based on your input. And, there is something called Check it out. It’s a real estate show (free) with representatives from many large communities (primarily located in the south). The shows are held in hotels in a variety of places – the next one is in Falls Church VA in August. Disclosure – I did talks for this company for a number of years. It’s another easy, free way to find out more about a lot of communities if you live close to one of the areas where a Live South Expo will be held.

    by Jan Cullinane — June 13, 2012

  59. To the singles – I have met a number of singles (mostly women) in Fairfield Glade. They all seem to have chosen their new location based on their individual interests – hiking, pickle ball, fitness center, line dancing, mster gardening etc. Although there are many “single” groups to choose from in Fairfield Glade, they came based on the groups/clubs that share their interests. The ones I talked to are all glad they decided to come here. The focus is not being single, but being with people with shared interests. Hope you find what you are looking for also.

    by Holly — June 13, 2012

  60. Nancy, the book is “The Single Woman’s Guide to Retirement” by by Jan Cullinane. It is not out yet. I am hoping it will have some good hints.

    by Lane — June 13, 2012

  61. Thanks Holly, I will will look at Fairfield Glade and see if it might be a place for further research…sound like something I would like and this is the kind of information I would like from the blog. I have lived in 7 different states and moved for job without knowing anyone in new location. Friends have come from work, outside interests/clubs, neighbors and to a lessor degree from church. Since I will be losing work as a source of new friends, I want to be sure the neighbors are friendly. I have found that some communities are just friendly than others. I would like diverse activities which is why I am looking at active adult…but a nice friendly community as well whether active adult or not.

    by Lane — June 13, 2012

  62. Jan, I just took this quiz again and I took it once before and it does not work very good at all. It gives you mostly places you strongly did not want. There are no simple answers.

    by kathy — June 14, 2012

  63. Thank you for the advice Cherie, I will look into the books!

    by Gale — June 14, 2012

  64. For all those retirees out there…is there a place to retire with all the hustle and bustle and things to do of New York and the great access to everything because of the subways….BUT, affordable for those of us on very limited budgets?
    I would love to retire in an area I can walk out my door have shops, food,transportation, etc. It seems all the places I have seen are way over my $100,000 budget for a condo. I love the beach too, but ouch the cost in Cali.

    by Gale — June 14, 2012

  65. Sorry the quiz wasn’t helpful for you, kathy. The site is a tool that can help you determine your priorities, then the quiz algorithm weighs what you enter (it gives different priorities different weights) and tries to find a fit. Sometimes it can’t based on the input provided, and you get a place that holds no interest for you at all. Here is one of the FAQ on the site – perhaps you had an experience like this:

    I asked for sunny beach spots! Why did I get small cities in the Midwest?

    The quiz database tries to find a balance between all your answers, and it also weighs some questions more heavily than others. Sometimes it’s impossible to reconcile all your needs. I.e. if you request the ocean and sunny beaches on the Pacific Coast, but you also answer that you don’t want to pay more than $150,000 for a home, the database will not be able to offer you homes in California. There are no sunny beach towns with average home prices at or below $150,000 in that state.

    You are right, sometimes there isn’t a simple answer.

    by Jan Cullinane — June 15, 2012

  66. We have been investigating our health insurance in connection with contemplating our next move and think it is likely we will be moving from Pennsylvania to Virginia. Health insurance seems like an important consideration that should not be overlooked for an early retiree (pre medicare).

    We live in Pennsylvania and are on cobra, so we would be able to get insurance under the HIPPA rules in Virginia after cobra ends, but it would be expensive-roughly four times the normal premium. So we are contemplating trying to obtain insurance now but have found only two companies where the insurance is “portable” and has a good network in both locations-United and Aetna. Has anyone been in this situation and have any advice in general or specific to these companies?

    by jay michaels — June 15, 2012

  67. Once again, good advice from Jan. We all want *ALL* of our desires fulfilled. However, sometimes … often … most of the time … heck, ALWAYS … compromise is in order. Just because our politicians have forgotten that is no reason for the rest of us to do so. 😉

    by Mad Monk — June 16, 2012

  68. Hi Jan, I understand what you are saying but find it strange what they came up with. I said strongly disagree to no hot humid places and no long cold snowy winters. Half the places they chose for me were in Texas where it is hot and humid and the other half of the places they chose had 40-50 inches of snow a year. Looking for a retirement area is the hardest thing I have ever done. They say if you get 80% of what you want is good. I have not found that 80% yet. Have a great week end…..

    by kathy — June 16, 2012

  69. Kathy, I can see why you’d be surprised at those answers! If you’re the same Kathy who said in an earlier post that you’re interested in WA and OR, here are three specific suggestions for WA: Port Townsend, Kala Point, and Port Ludlow. For Oregon, check out Bend, Northwest Crossing, The Falls at Eagle Crest (has other neighborhoods within it), River Canyon Estates (in Bend), Lake Oswego, and Ashland. Hope that helps. Find realtors in these areas who can show you these places, and/or drive around yourself to take a look (that is what I’d do – and did for research for my book). For additional suggestions, check out your library or bookstore for books that include recommended places to retire, and find issues of “Where to Retire” magazine that investigate areas in states of interest to you. Or, you can try putting “master planned communities in Washington,” or “active adult communities in Oregon,” for example, into your computer search bar.

    by Jan Cullinane — June 17, 2012

  70. We still plan/hope to visit WA/OR … perhaps as early as this September … “retired” Friday and now on road (yes, roadtrip) to Denver to visit grandson. So, we will also use any info Jan (and others) can provide … and return the favor once we learn more … I am fascinated by nortghwest WA, but that might wear off. BTW, if we had the money, we would probably retire to Marin Co CO, or perhaps anywhere in the mountains of CO. However, there ared truly MANY wonderful places … unfortunately they are wonderful for some monthys/not others, too expensive to live there, or some other reason. We THINK that spending wisely (i.e., CHEAPLY) we can do some of this traveling (before my knees are totally gone!) and come to some idea of a permanent “resting place.” 😉

    by Mad Monk — June 17, 2012

  71. Mad Monk, congratulations on your retirement and good luck on your quest! I’d join you in Marin if money weren’t an option!

    Remember that our knees can be replaced when they wear out. For that, you will want to be in a major metropolitan area with a very good orthopod. I’ve been through this twice with my mother. And I’m sure my day will come.

    I’ve pretty much eliminated “cheap” from my search. I’m too much of an urban person for everyday living–like my delis, libraries, cultural resources, etc. close to hand! I’ll settle for reasonable. Love to travel to all these remote places, but wouldn’t want to live there.

    by Linda — June 17, 2012

  72. Linda – sorry, by CHEAPly I did not (necessarily) mean living in a 40-yr-old trailer in the middle of a swamp noodling for catfish (though, hey, each to his own). What I meant was deciding what is important and spending on those, but economizing wherever else possible. We do not need a Lexus/Buick/etc. For some that is there choice (a very nice, reliable and comfortable car). For us, the 40+ mpg of our Honda Fit is ideal. We do not need a large house (which of course is VERY relative) in a gated community. The list goes on and on. Our choices are more to spending to eat healthy (which can be EXPENSIVE), medical care, visit our kids (and grandson), check out some possible areas for later “settlement.” Etc. BTW, I also value libraries VERY highly. Our system lets us see what is available in two counties, and they also have current DVDs (films and the ability to sooth my addiction to British TV shows (old and new)). They can be borrowed free for one week, renewed, and our local branch is beside my wife’s part-time job. We wanted to celebrate my retirement by going to see our grandson and getting away for a while. So, to save money and have the ability to stop when and where we wanted, we road tripped. We stayed at Motel 6s, which we haven’t done for years (back in the day when they would “leave the light on for ya”). However,we learned that “economy”-class had deteriorated, with properties not being renovated or even maintained. It was just that for us, having a “nice” place to put our heaads for the night was not as high on our lists as the journey itself (and the fact that we were past the sleep-in-a-tent-on-the-hard-ground years). With limited funds, one can make choices of where to spend those funds.

    by Mad Monk — June 18, 2012

  73. Mad Monk, I’ve also done some road trips recently. Discovered Super 8 was not for me. My “smoke free” room smelled as if an army of smokers had been there. Spent one night in one and said never again. Decent motels can be had for not much more. That’s what I mean by reasonable as opposed to cheap. So for me, I’m willing to spend a bit more to achieve the level of comfort I want. I think everyone needs to find what they’re comfortable with. I’m WAY past the sleep in a tent years!

    by Linda — June 19, 2012

  74. Locobill…you said you were going to look at Fairfield Glade in TN. You got any information on that retirement community for those of us that are interested?
    Seems like maybe a few of us can get this blog back on a relevant track…blah, blah, I won’t say any more.

    by CM Smitty — June 19, 2012

  75. CM Smitty…Faifield Glade is definitly worth investigating. We spent an afternoon looking at the area and and was surprised at how big the area is, yet you dont feel crowded because the homes are so spread out. It is about 12,000 acres and has all types of housing available. We met with a realtor who took us around to several samplings of area and homes. You can find a home fromthe low $100k to $500k. I liked some beautiful new townhomes on one of the several golf courses for under $250k.

    They seem to have an active HOA, with a beautiful community center. Their HOA is structured on an ala carte basis. You only pay for what you use, beyond a small base charge.

    We did not get into Crossville, to see the town, maybe another trip. FG is just under 60 miles from major shopping malls in Knoxville.

    We will probably look at it again. However, the Hendersonville, NC is in the front running in our search. We really like this area just below Asheville.

    by Locobill — June 20, 2012

  76. TO Elaine or anyone else…Elaine wrote me and gave me this info below. I can’t find what I am looking for… I am trying to find a blog on CA. Like this blog is. I can’t find one. I don’t want just retirement stuff I want lots of info for CA. So I am hoping to find lots of people writing in like this blog does. Can anyone tell me how to find something like this only on CA.? THANK YOU ALL. I do love reading all this stuff as I learn so much!

    Kathy, Go to my June 11th post and see the Editors note to find other blogs. They are by category: for example there are 84 blogs under Best Towns and Communities. Probably one of those would be better for you than this one if you are against hot and humid. Some are more active than others…look around and have fun finding a blog and then a good community for you.

    by kathy — June 20, 2012

  77. To Carol i have been searching out all of california and have found a Del Webb community called sonora in Bakersfield Ca that is not only beautiful but they have more active 55+ than i have seen in most places they are run /built by Castle and Cooke which seems to be an upgrade from most places. i spent some time there and watched the community have their own parades, contests ect. far enough out of town so no traffic congestion 3 hr to beach 2 to mountains still close enough to take grandkids/family to disneyland or magich mountain or waterparks. These are stickbuilt houses not mobiles.

    by Kat — June 20, 2012

  78. Lovely spots for California include beach communities of Atascadero,Grover beach, Pismo Beach, San Luis Obispo County, Monteray, Salinas, Watsonville. The further up the coastline you go the more lush and green the areas become you can find properties starting around $14,000 if you really look but beware of anything on “craigslist” you can search out on Multiple listing sites or”mls” of just about any city. hope that helps.

    by kat — June 20, 2012

  79. Locobill…thanks so much.

    Been to Asheville once and really enjoyed it. What active retirement communities are worth looking at in Hendersonville, NC? Thanks for sharing.

    by CM Smitty — June 20, 2012

  80. Fredericksburg, VA. Jay, I did not see any responses to your request for info on Frederickburg VA. I live in Fredericksburg (less than 5 years), although I am not retired. There are a fairly large number of active adult communities. Some large, some small, some still building.

    There are also communities like Lake Caroline and Lake of the Woods that are not age restricted and have a wide diversity of homes, ages, etc., but may appeal to active retirees who do not want age restricted. They are gated, but have a wide price range of homes. More expensive is Fawn Lake (not age restricted) I have never been to any of these.

    Several are large active adult like the two Del Webb locations (Fall’s Run and Celebrate) one is still building. There are others that are still building like Virginia Heritage (45+) and Regency at Chancellorsville. There are also smaller ones like Legacy Woods and Mansville Club. There is a Realtor at Century 21 Ad Venture that has a flyer that has Preferred Easy Living Homes that includes communities of age restricted and non age restriced.

    Located about half way between DC and Richmond, it is an interesting area, lots of history. Downtown Fred’burg is unique and charming. I just read in the newspaper about a club “Still Hot to Trot” chapter of the “old People’s Riding Club”. I do not ride, but thought that was great. Plenty of restaurants, shopping etc. Definitely worth a visit

    by Elaine — July 6, 2012

  81. Please can someone write an honest description of Charleston, Myrtle Beach and Bluffton, SC for retirement. I don’t mind humidity for a couple of months a year, nor do I mind mild winters 🙂 I would like to know about the cost of living, things to do if you’re in your 60’s and the people. Are they mostly from different areas of the country settling in South Carolina (I would like that by the way), or mostly people who never left,etc.

    by DianaF — July 7, 2012

  82. I’m also interested in these areas. Looking at the possibility of Hilton Head Island. So if anyone has any useful information, this would be great to share. Thanks.

    by Iris — July 8, 2012

  83. One of the areas I’m looking at is the Charleston, SC metro, including the towns of Summerville, Ladson, Goose Creek, etc. I’m thinking of a winter home there with perhaps becoming permanent when my girlfriend retires. Crime, weather are two important issues. Any comments or suggestions?

    by DrJoel — July 8, 2012

  84. Diana, Iris, and Dr. Joel,

    You may want to check out Daniel Island near Charleston. Daniel Island is a 4000 acre new urbanism community with tons of amenities and about a 20-minute drive from Charleston. Climate: Average highs of around 60 (January) or 90 (July); average lows around 40(January) or 74 (July). Can be humid in the summer. Wide range of price points and housing. From condos (starting around $150,000) to estate homes (in the low millions). Daniel Island has people relocating there from all over, and according to Trulia, only .77% of residents are affected by violent crime. Average household income in $77,000. Close to beaches and the airport.

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

    BTW, I am NOT a realtor; just visited Daniel Island for research on my book, and I know people who live there – and love it!

    by Jan Cullinane — July 8, 2012

  85. Iris, Dr Joel-we are leaving verye early tomorrow to visit Bluffton, Myrtle Beach and Charleston (Summerville btw). So, we will see how all of these places are and report back. We figure we will see the worst of Myrtle Beach because it is the tourist season, as well as Hilton Head Island/Bluffton areas. The weather should be the hottest and most humid. While Daniel Island sounds lovely, we will not have 77,000 in retirement income, so that would be out…

    by DianaF — July 9, 2012

  86. We are moving to the Venice area in Nov. We loved it from the very beginning. Is anyone considering or moving to that area? Would love to hear any input or opinions that you have on this area. Thanks.

    by MKB — July 9, 2012

  87. Good Morning,
    We want to retire in, or near, Athens, Ga. Our daughter just relocated and now that we are both retired we would like to be closer. We are thinking a gated community and activities. All comments and thoughts would be much appreciated. Thank you, Susan

    by Susan Gee — July 9, 2012

  88. Just starting the search. Looked at Portsmouth, NH. Nice town, good services, and not overly hot in summer. We are looking not necessarily for a retirement community, as a community to retire to. We like having young families around and do not mind living among them. So a mixed age condo community would be with us. The locale is more important. Looking only at the east coast, and are not afraid of some winter weather. Currently living in the high taxed state of CT and went to get it in a few years.

    by jschmidt — July 9, 2012

  89. When you’re looking at retirement communities, especially those with big names or highly advertised, be sure to look at the alternative retirement communities near by that may not have the flashy names and perhaps hugh ammenities that you may not plan to use extensively. Also look at private homes on streets within city limits, condos and villas in the area. You may be surprised at the difference in costs. Many cities, especially in Florida, offer lots of liesure services including libraries, public golf, swimming, escellent parks and recreational facilities that are available to little or no cost. You may well be better served outside of private retirement communities. Do check it out extensively.

    by David M. Lane — July 10, 2012

  90. Does anyone have any real world information about life at the On Top of the World community in Ocala Fl?

    by Jim Rogers — July 12, 2012

  91. Regarding Hilton Head, Myrtle Beach, Bluffton, SC. We have lived on our boat for past 5 years and go south from Maryland each year. I have spent a month or two each time in the Carolinas. Hilton Head is very built up. Real estate is not cheap and there is one gated community after the other. Beautiful developments. Shopping seems to be directed to outlet malls or driving to Charleston or Savannah for larger dept stores and malls. I have a heart condition and the only cardiologists visited offices two times per week in Hilton Head. There was one cardiologist with a practice in Beaufort.
    It was surprising to me how close all these places were to each other. Once you leave any of these coastal cities/towns, it is very rural.
    We have stayed in Georgetown, SC 3 years running. We love it there. Politics very conservative as it is in SC in general, but the people are friendly and not aggressive about their views. It is near Myrtle Beach and Pawleys Island. Great area. We looked at houses in Myrtle Beach and found a variety in house prices. It is mainly a highway with stores, restaurants, etc. built along it. More doctors here. Golf courses abound. We are told that in the summer traffic is horrible because of beach/vacation traffic. (After living in DC metro area we have decided bad traffic is relative.) Met people who had moved to Myrtle Beach from mostly northeast. New Jersey was well represented. We seem to connect with those folks. There is plenty of fishing in that area. The Waccamah (sp?) river is one of the most beautiful, natural rivers we have seen. Plenty of beautiful tributaries, too. Easy accesss to Atlantic, as well.Charleston is 60 miles from Georgetown, and Myrtle Beach is about 20 miles north. People who have major medical issues go to Charleston, which has excellent medical facilities, shopping, etc. To be clear, there are shops, restaurants, etc.locally–just not major stores. I haven’t spent much time in Bluffton. It is smaller than Hilton Head and seems to me to be a “suburb” of Hilton Head. They are so close to each other. There are lots of gated golfing communities. It is just smaller. When we were there two years ago, an enormous upscale gated community was under development in the area. For the record, we are big shoppers nor do we fish or golf. We were/are considering the area and have tried to look at the area objectively and meet and talk with as many people as possible.

    by Linda — July 12, 2012

  92. Jim I to would like to get some input from people who live at On top of the world about there day to day life and what makes there homes stand out. I have read there news letters and there advertisements and they sound great but agree that info. from the people in the community would be great.

    by Brad — July 13, 2012

  93. I look at many of the websites for active adult communities. I find that I waste a lot of time trying to find the size of lots and often do not find anything. Like many I do not want to spend hours on taking care of property. However, I do want a fenced area and enough room to keep competition dogs in shape. I have aa couple riend who want to garden, but not a huge lot…just a fenceable area to personalize. I know that many retirees do not want this. But…how hard is it for an advertisor to give lot size ranges? Somewhere like The Glades might suit me, but there may be more urban areas that have small, but serviceable lots if only that info were easily available.

    by eric — September 11, 2012

  94. Eric, Many communities won’t allow fences. Be sure that you look closely at the HOA regulations before you buy. Also, consider searching “HOA-Free community” via Google. HOA-free communities allow fences and list larger lot sizes (that’s their advantage).
    Good luck with your research!
    – Neil

    by Neil S. Schuster — September 12, 2012

  95. Thanks Neil, that is exactly what I mean! I look at all these slick websites and that info is non existent. I do not necessarily expect to find the fencing question answered on a web site or other HOA info (size of pets is another, no of pets, age of “other” occupants, no of days that the grandkids can stay, whether HOA management will change after buildout, etc.)…yours is an important reminder! But I do at least expect to find lot size. Lot size is important to both sides. Some are suprised to find they actually need to take care of their lot, mow their own lot, for example, and that doesn’t work for some either. For built out communities, I can at least find that info on resales.

    Please top retirements suggest it to your “partners”…surely they know the lot size range (for example .10 ro .19 acre lot size) and can put that info on their websites. Occasionally, I do see .25 up acre lot size, but often nothing.

    by eric — September 12, 2012

  96. I agree with several of you including Eric and Neil. When searching for communities the websites give extremely limited information and in manufactured home communities they fail to even menton the lot rent which of course is an important factor to many. I cannot find any place to hear what members of the community say about their day-to-day activities or enjoyment of the community. My husband and I do not golf yet nearly all of the communities are on a golf course and the HOA membership includes golfing in their fees. I have wondered too whether I could have a small area fenced for two small dogs as well as the size of lots. I imagine the communities expect you to visit and THEN find out if you would be interested in living there. The trouble with that thinking is when you are looking out of the state and need to physically travel to each area it is costly and time consuming. It would certainly help if they would put very specific information on their websites so you can easily pinpoint the ones to see in person.

    by Karen — September 12, 2012

  97. I agree with Karen. I’ve been searching for an adult 55+ community and they don’t really give any specifics, i.e., what the cost of everything is and what is going on in the community on a day to day basis. This is very important to me since I’m single and still working part-time. But I plan on moving to Florida, hopefully, if I find a place. Then I just can’t go somewhere and buy – I’d probably have to rent and that creates a problem too.
    Don’t really know what to do next.

    by Joan Jarzynka — September 13, 2012

  98. Eric, Karen, & Joan, I’m curious. What’s your normal process for finding retirement community information? What online resources do you use? What magazines do you subscribe to, to gather your information?

    Retirement information gathering is truly like writing a book report. You have to really do you homework. Let me know from where you gather information, and I might have some suggestions for finding what you’re looking for: also, you can email me directly at

    – Neil

    by Neil S. Schuster — September 13, 2012

  99. We are looking for a retirement community in or around the San Antonio Texas area anyone have any suggestions?

    by Lisa — September 13, 2012

  100. Just to “stir the pot,” my partner and I subscribe to Where to Retire and earlier this year we took the Creative Retirement Weekend down in Asheville. We presently live in PA. While the magazine features many retirement communities and there are ads galore in the magazine, they all direct you to their respective websites. The articles rarely feature “negative” issues or interview residents, happy or otherwise. So following our weekend in Asheville, we went out of our way on our return to PA to visit one of the few communities that interested us. Unfortunately the office was closed so we could only drive around and attempt to strike up conversations with residents. We came away with a very negative impression. Like we would be Stepford Wives and have to pay for our choice! But like Karen, Joan and Eric, if we did this with every community of even vague interest, we would spend our entire retirement wandering the countryside. While not entirely an unattractive idea, it is costly and time consuming. We are planning to spend the entire month of March in Asheville, renting, in order to look around and visit but the search for a rental through a variety of websites is difficult. The rentals are expensive, many won’t accept our one small pet and some are already booked. This is NOT an easy or pleasant task and I feel like it should be both!

    by cherie — September 13, 2012

  101. I am spending hours hunting for a retirement home and gettin tired. These
    blogs were very helpful. Agree, some sites do not list prices or specifics. I just thought they were mostly condos or very small lots. I am interested in rental property and a “Built-in community” because I am single. How do you research that? Also, access to lake or beach and humidity levels are important. Stephanie

    by C. W. Birch — September 13, 2012

  102. cherie, if your looking for rental property’s go to or they have homes all over the world and they also have reviews from others about the homes.

    by Ricks — September 14, 2012

  103. Have people forgotten about the telephone ? I call the communities and have my questions answered quickly. Sometimes the phones are manned by residents who volunteer their time and they are a great source on information. Once,unknowingly I called the community’s clubhouse and the phone was passed around during their cardgame as everyone had something to add.
    I noticed Top Retirements does list phone numbers,but if no one answers then I call a real estate office in that community’s town and they are normally helpful.

    by Ted — September 14, 2012

  104. Cherie, How did you like the Creative Retirement Weekend in Asheville? Was it worth attending? I just recently heard about it and thought that my partner and I might attend next year.

    by Kathy — September 14, 2012

  105. Somewhere awhile back there was a relatively detailed discussion of the CREW (creative retirement exploration weekend) in Asheville. But to some it up, from my perspective, it was very informative and even more importantly it inititated thought and conversation on both our parts and (horrors!) we were encouraged to share our ruminations with each other! We actually discovered that we didn’t necessarily share the same retirement expectations and it helped us get on the same page. The facilitators were often people who attended the workshop years ago and decided to settle in Asheville. They were able to answer questions about the city atmosphere that were a bit more esoteric than the facts that realtors present. I think it would be great if other towns had one of these workshop weekends! I highly recommend it.

    by cherie — September 15, 2012

  106. Yikes! I know there were some grammar and spelling police monitoring this site so make that SUM it up not SOME!! I was an English major and I know how cruel the spelling/grammar police can be!

    by cherie — September 15, 2012

  107. My husband and I are in the process of researching age restricted Active Adult Communities in the Myrtle Beach area. I am already retired, but my husband won’t be retiring for another year. Does anyone have any advice or input that they could give to us on those types of communities in that area? So far, we have visited a Jensen community called Country Lakes in Little River, SC (which we were not too keen on) and Lakeside Crossing, which is located right outside of Conway, SC. We were very impressed with Lakeside Crossing, but we would like to visit some other communities while we are vacationing in Myrtle Beach next month. Would anyone be able to give us some other suggestions? Thanks!

    by Valerie L. — September 15, 2012

  108. Valerie L – you need to look at Myrtle Trace. I found this community on-line and fell in love with it’s beauty. There are actually two sections to the community – one side consist of older homes (development started in the 1980’s) and then there is Lakeview which has newer homes (older homes have wood siding and newer ones have vinyl). This development is right across from Lakeside Crossing in Conway, SC. We love it here – have lived here just over 3 years. HOA fees are reasonable and the community has a very active clubhouse. Should you look at this community without a realtor, you will not see any for sale signs so you may have to look on-line or in local paper to get a sense for what is for sale. Prices are very reasonable right now – Myrtle Trace is definitely worth looking at (and people are very friendly here – made friends quickly)!

    by Bonnie — September 16, 2012

  109. Thanks so much for the info, Bonnie. It’s always so nice to have someone who already lives in a community and who enjoys living there give their viewpoint. We will be sure to check out this community whenever we are in the area next month, and before then I will be sure to check for sales listings online. Do you know whether they are still building homes in the newer section (Lakeview)? We like the idea of buying a newly built home, but we are not necessarily stuck on that idea. Thanks again for taking the time to give your input. I sincerely appreciate it.

    by Valerie L. — September 16, 2012

  110. Valerie L – I agree. It certainly helps to be in touch with someone who actually lives in a community that you are looking at. I do not believe that there is any new construction in Lakeview; however, there may be a lot or two that I am not aware of – I will try and find out this information for you. Myrtle Trace is definitely worth looking at. By the way, in Lakeside Crossing (which we also looked at), you do not own the land. I don’t know if that would be a concern for you, but for some reason, my father would never consider buying a home on land you didn’t own, perhaps because you will not have control over the “rental” fee for the land. I will admit they have beautiful models, very reasonably priced, but because of my dad’s input, I would not consider living there. If you are looking for elaborate clubhouse, pool, and other amenities, Lakeside Crossing definitely has them. Myrtle Trace is what I describe as more “homey” so it really comes down to personal taste. In addition to Myrtle Trace, there is Myrtle Trace South and Myrtle Trace Grande – all in the general area. Myrtle Trace Grande is fairly new and may even have new construction and both of these developments are 55+ too! Good luck on your searching – we have lived several places and Myrtle Trace feels like home!

    by Bonnie — September 17, 2012

  111. Bonnie,
    Can you please tell us what the average cost of the new homes go for and the cost of the average resales are going for? What is the monthly hoa fee an property tax?

    Thank you for your assistance,

    by Skip — September 17, 2012

  112. Barbara,
    While checking out the Conway, SC area, the only development that had new homes that we looked at was in Myrtle Trace Grande. At the time, the new homes were selling in the range of about $225,000 and higher. Prices may be lower now but I do not know. There may be a lot or two for sale in either Myrtle Trace (unlikely) or Myrtle Trace South (chance). Average resales in Myrtle Trace range from about $130,000 to $200,000. I have not seen any resale prices for Myrtle Trace South and Myrle Trace Grande resales probably range from low to mid $200,000’s. HOA fees in Myrtle Trace are $65/month and include common area maintenance, clubhouse, and pool. I do not know HOA fees in the other two developments. Regarding property taxes – SC has a Homestead exemption of $50,000 if you are 65 and over. I suggest you check out the following website for property taxes: Sorry I don’t have more specifics but I hope this has helped.

    by Bonnie — September 18, 2012

  113. Bonnie, thanks for the excellent information. it is very useful and I appreciate that you took the time to share.

    by Elaine — September 18, 2012

  114. Bonnie,

    Thank you so much for the valuable information.


    by Barbara — September 19, 2012

  115. Valerie,
    Can you share your view on the community lakeside crossing? This community is in our price range. The community seems to offer a lot of activities. We are looking on line and are leaning towards South Carolina and Florida.
    Thank you,

    by Barbara — September 19, 2012

  116. Barbara, We toured Lakeside Crossing last October when we were vacationing in Myrtle Beach, and we thought that it was a very nice community. We were able to take a tour of the 4 model homes that they had onsite (The Glen Eagle, The Knollwood, The Augusta, and The Troon), and we were very impressed with the layout in all of them. Of course, they were loaded with upgrades, etc., which would no doubt make them much pricier than their base amounts. They are manufactured homes, but they seemed to be very well built. We also had a chance to tour their club house, as well as their fitness center, both of which were beautiful. They have an indoor pool, and we were advised that they were going to be putting in an outdoor pool, as well. We were approached by some of the members as we were walking through the clubhouse, who seemed to be very friendly, and asked us if we had any questions about their community. I check out their website from time to time, and I noticed that they have a ton of activities at their clubhouse, so they must be a very social group of people. However, as Bonnie pointed out, you don’t own the land at Lakdeside Crossing — you only lease it. So that may be a drawback. I don’t remember what the HOA fees were, but I know that they were a lot more than the HOA fees for Myrtle Trace. We may go and take another look at Lakeside Crossing when we are in the area next month, just for comparison sake. However, we definitely want to take a look at Myrtle Trace, as well. In fact, besides the recommendation that I received here from Bonnie, I just received another recommendation today through a friend of mine who has friends who also happen to live in Myrtle Trace. My friend could not remember the name of the community where her friends moved to in Conway, SC, but they were just up to Pittsburgh for a visit this past week, and my friend found out that they her friends are living in Myrtle Trace. According to my friend, these people have been living there for about 2 years, and they just love it. So that is the second endorsement in a couple of days that I have received regarding Myrtle Trace. Good luck to you with your research, Barbara!

    by Valerie L. — September 19, 2012

  117. Jay, where did you end up or is this still a work in progress?

    by Elaine — June 3, 2014

  118. After reading comments on the search for retirement communities, I feel releived that I am not the only only going through this agonizing process. Recently sold our home in NJ, know for it high property taxes, and stated a relocation search for a warmer climate and lower taxes. Unable to zoom in on anyplace that fits are need, thinks some of the suggestions about renting a short time very helpful.

    by bob — August 24, 2014

  119. hiiii

    I really liked your blog! It helped me alot… Awesome. Exactly what I was looking for. Thanks!

    by summegr green resorts — August 3, 2016

  120. Saint James Plantation in Southport NC
    I’m not sure what the club dues are now, but remember, club membership there is not mandatory .It seems like the POA has a number of amenities and activities that can keep you busy and there are TONS of fine restaurants in nearby Southport. Brunswick County has over 30 golf courses, so that shouldn’t be a problem for those wanting to play.

    by Staci — January 17, 2017

  121. Part 1 and Part 2 were fun to read and hit on some places we visited in in NC and SC and could relate. Not many people can do what they did in one long block of time and visit so many towns and communities. But the we never read where they ended up and how they finally found the perfect retirement spot! I hope they did!

    by Jemmie248 — January 18, 2017

  122. Does anyone know if Myrtle Trace allows new homes or are they all resales. The ones I have seen are from the 1990’s. I would prefer new.

    by Louise — January 19, 2017

  123. My first step in finding an active adult community has been to decide that I want Age Restricted meaning 55+. I learned this the hard way. Active Adult does not mean age restricted. I’m still all over the map, but at least that I have narrowed down! I currently work in a 55+ community (leasing) and have heard countless time from people that didn’t think it would matter to them being in a non-age restricted community only to find out that they wanted to be with people at similar stages in life. Not saying that you need to do that, but be aware of it.

    by vickie — January 19, 2017

  124. I am just beginning my search for a retirement home, and am really confused. And a little afraid. I currently live in Michigan, which is NOT a friendly State to live in if you are retired or on a fixed income. I would like a smaller home, in a nice area. Age restricted sounds good, but where is that affordable? Have been looking in N. and S. Carolina. How can one tell if the community is not shoddy construction? Most of the nicer communities are far outside of my price range. Thank you in advance for any suggestions.

    Lynne M.Heslip

    by Lynne Heslip — January 19, 2017

  125. Lynne, do a stay and play and dig, dig. The builders reputation usually easy to find.constuction issues are important but not as important as finding the right community. Also thoroughly research all utilities, taxes, etc. it adds up. Michigan cost of living turned out to be much lower in many areas compared to Arizona.

    by Nancy — January 20, 2017

  126. Louise – I lived in Myrtle Trace for 5 years. There are no lots available; however, one section of the development does have newer homes (street names are Candlewood, Glenwood, Loblolly, Beechwood. Also, there is Myrtle Trace South and Myrtle Trace Grande which are newer development. Each one is a separate development with their own amenities. I loved Myrtle Trace – very active community – so sorry I moved!

    by Bonnie S — January 20, 2017

  127. Bonnie S, Thank you so much! Very good information! Any chance you might move back?

    by Louise — January 20, 2017

  128. And also, when researching builders, we have to keep some perspective. I currently live in a 8-10 year old Pulte house (not in one of their Sun City age restricted communities though). We have a neighborhood facebook page, and I’m amazed at the number of people who post complaints about shoddy construction because they’re starting to experience failures of appliances, hot water tanks, window seals, their 10+ year old homes. It’s not always the builder’s fault!

    by Kate . — January 21, 2017

  129. As far as appliances, I don’t believe you can blame anyone but the manufacturer. When we built our home in 1975 I had all new Frigidaire appliances. My washer was around 20+ years old and was having issues so I decided it was time to buy the Maytag that I thought was ‘movin’ on up’. My Maytag lasted exactly 5 years and the tub cracked. I bought another Maytag and it lasted about 6 years. I also bought a replacement refrigerator and It also was a Maytag and it lasted 1 1/2 years. There was only a year warranty on it. I bought a Kenmore to replace it and it is still working. I discussed this with our local appliance store and they admit that the companies making the appliances do not make them like they used to. My Mom also had a washer and dryer set and she had them for 24 years and after she died I sold her house with the appliances still working like work horses. Contractors will put in ‘competitively priced’ windows to keep building prices down. My household is only two people so the washers weren’t receiving the abuse like a family of 4 would give it with multitudes of loads of wash. Back in the day, you used to get a 5 years warranty now I believe they are all one year warranty.

    by Louise — January 21, 2017

  130. Thank you, Nancy, for the suggestions and advice. I have been using the internet sites to gather as much info as I can, but a stay and play sounds like a good idea. I was in Arizona a few years ago, and checked into the home prices there. Oh My Gosh………….very very expensive. Much more so than in Michigan. But Michigan is not kind to retirees and the weather in winter is awful, so am exploring other States. I know that there is no such thing as perfect, but hope to find a place that is safe, comfortable and affordable. The Dell Webb communities look really nice.

    by Lynne — January 21, 2017

  131. Lynne,
    Just retired and moving back soon to MI after being away 35 years, only to now be near relatives. Have been comparing costs in MI to Hartford area CT where we now live and was surprised to find how high cost of living was in MI.

    Car insurance alone will double. Where did you live in MI.?

    by BeckyN. — January 21, 2017

  132. Louise,
    Unfortunately I moved to NC to be closer to family as my husband has Parkinson’s. Thought I would get more help, but has proven not to be the case. I would love to move back to SC some day – much cheaper living than NC!

    by Bonnie S — January 21, 2017

  133. Has anyone considered cohousing? I tend to be a loner and don’t want to become an old recluse. This looks like a good option to me.

    by Graybuck — January 21, 2017

  134. Hi Becky:

    I am about an hour from Lansing. I am surprised that CT was less costly than MI to live. Have been to CT and the thought the housing prices were out of sight! We visited the Greenville, S.C. area several years ago and thought it was lovely.

    by Lynne — January 22, 2017

  135. Lynne,

    We rent a 6 year old townhouse in Windsor, CT – 3 bedrooms, 2.5 bathrooms, 1800 sq ft,, 2 car garage, full basement, granite, stainless steel appliances, deck, etc. Rent just was increased to $2,195. From rentals I’ve viewed on Zillow for Macomb and Oakland counties (25 miles north of Detroit), something comparable in age and amenities is $2,400 or more. We pay $191 per mo for car insurance, same company will charge us $428 for area we are looking at in Michigan (Utica, MI). Per kilowatt charges are higher in the Michigan area than for Windsor, CT (rural, suburban area 10 miles NW of Hartford, CT). Don’t know yet about food and clothing. My perception is not less based on shopping in my targeted Michigan town in July 2016.

    Having said that, I would agree taxes appear to be more in CT and definitely cost of buying a house.

    CT, and I would say the area north of Hartford, can be a beautiful area and the weather could be appealing to someone that does not mind some cold weather and limited days of heat and humidity. Yes, short period of hot/humid days and same for very cold days and snow. Also close enough to a lot of adjacent areas like Boston, New York, and other New England places. Taxes (including on your cars) is a big reason both individuals and companies leave CT. At time we sold our house to rent and be flexible as I was approaching retirement, taxes were over $5,000 on a $215,000 1960’s house (that was not really that updated) and $1,500 property taxes on our cars.

    Guess the point I am now making is I had a perception that Michigan would be a lot less expensive than CT and many may have thought CT was outrageous expensive (yes, many areas are, but not all). I also think the weather can be very nice for those that don’t like months of heat & humidity or the same for cold and snow.

    by Becky Neuendorf — January 31, 2017

  136. Becky, I also live in CT in Litchfield County. It is gorgeous here. I have to disagree on heat and humidity. We have our AC going from June to early October. I do not like the heat at all and 85-95 degree weather is too hot for me. We get plenty of those temps here. I do agree with taxes. I have an average raised ranch home and my taxes are over $5,000 a year. Cars are taxed pretty high depending on age of car. Snow is one of the most unpredictable things. We have had blizzards with hip high snow to deal with and just yesterday there were icy roads and car accidents all over the place. When you are retired you can stay home on bad weather days but you still have to clean up the mess or hire someone to do so. The older you get, the snow is too hard to manage if you own a home.

    I wouldn’t suggest people move to CT unless they make very good money. The State is broke and they are always trying to come up with ways to find new taxes, raise existing taxes when they say they won’t raise taxes! Right now they are trying to get approval to do an investigation to see if they can impose mileage taxes! So if they should pass it people would have to somehow submit how many miles they drive per year and those miles would be taxed and that money would be applied to road repairs. We already have gas taxes that I thought were for that reason. That tax won’t hurt me because I don’t drive that many miles per year. But it will hurt those who drive from CT long distances for employment. CT is not somewhere you want to move to save money!

    by Louise — February 1, 2017

  137. Louise, the tax on mileage is new to me and another good reason to avoid CT. As far as snow, you live in a part of the state that almost always gets more snow then the rest of the state. I too dislike heat and humidity but having lived here 15 years don’t find that many excessive days, with the exception of 2016 which much more than previous years years for CT and most of the US.

    by BeckyN. — February 1, 2017

  138. BeckyN, I am married to an HVAC professional and we crank the ac big time all summer! I have zero tolerance for summer heat. I try my best to open windows, put on whole house fan and other fans but it gets to a point where enough is enough! I have ac and I am going to use it! I heat the house all winter to be comfortable so I will cool the house in the summer to be comfortable. I know a lot of people are tolerant of hot weather and I don’t know how they do it! 2016 was the hottest year recorded historically!

    Tax on mileage is just talk right now. But if the powers to be have their way, you know we will be taxed!

    by Louise — February 1, 2017

  139. The tax on mileage is also news to me, and I’ve lived in CT for 11 years, except for a few months in FL each year. CT has no road or bridge tolls and there has been talk of imposing them. Having lived in the deep south for 25 years, I think the summers here are very pleasant. Even on most hot days, it cools down after 4-5 PM and if you’re lucky enough to have shade in your back yard, it’s nice. Real estate taxes are high, but most school systems are quite good as a consequence. It might be a good idea to own a place in the south where you can live during the winter months and rent a furnished place up here for the summer and shoulder months, if it’s in the budget.

    by Clyde — February 1, 2017

  140. Has anyone lived in a 55+ community and decided to leave??

    by Staci — February 1, 2017

  141. CT mileage tax study:

    by Louise — February 1, 2017

  142. Louise, Thanks for the link to the info about the study on a mileage tax, which appears, if it were ever put into effect, would allow a citizen to have a choice to either pay a mileage tax or the current personal property tax already levied on vehicles. The purpose of a mileage tax would, according the article, likely be for infrastructure repairs (roads, bridges, water systems, etc). Since President Trump and his administration have promised a significant multi-billion dollar national infrastructure repair program that will produce tens of thousands of jobs or more, I expect mileage taxes would not be ever put into effect, since the current federal administration will be handling most infrastructure repair in the new federal program. Nevertheless, retirement planning must often involve looking at state and local tax structures, and the level of services those structures provide (or not), especially health care, transportation, and services and amenities for seniors.

    by Clyde — February 2, 2017

  143. Lynne, sorry we got off track here discussing CT weather when you were interested in active adult communities. I was just intrigued by your comment about Michigan being so expensive. My perception was with its recent economic woes, I thought it would be less costly to live there. But with my recent retirement and move to Michigan scheduled for June, I’ve been comparing Michigan to where I now live in CT and was surprised to find rent and car insurance higher.

    Many friends here in CT are willing to pay the higher taxes in CT to live in this beautiful state. They enjoy the 4 seasons and moderate snow and humidity (based on perceptions from Clyde and me – I too have lived in the South and find the CT summers much more moderate). They also enjoy its proximity to the Berkshire and Catskill Mountains, Boston, New York, beaches, other New England states, historical sites and casinos.

    Although I do not live in a designated active adult community, I’ve noticed many 55+ working and retired homeowners in this development of single family homes and duplex and quad townhouses. Also the HOA has a committee that coordinates activities for a wide range of ages (although not many children live here). There seems to be plenty of opportunities to meet the 55+ crowd here.

    My advice is, if interested in CT, be sure to check a wide range of locations for CT active adult communities, as price should definitely be much lower North and East of Hartford. If you are interested in urban living forget about Hartford – IMO it has little to offer except as a place for thousands to work in the insurance companies (and the traffic), theater, a few good restaurants, museum and a large entertainment venue.

    Look just 15 miles or so outside of Hartford and you will find affordable both suburban and rural options (less all the crime too).

    by BeckyN — February 3, 2017

  144. No worries, Becky! And I thank you for coming back to the conversation. If I may as, where in Michigan are you moving? Some areas are less costly than others, as with every place, but Michigan also taxes your retirement income. For me, that is a deal breaker. And the weather. As I get older, I find the winters much more difficult to deal with. I am looking in the Carolinas. Would love to build a small, one level home, in a gated community, for under 250,000. Have not been successful so far. I wish you every good thing in your move to Michigan!

    by Lynne — February 4, 2017

  145. Does anyone have suggestions regarding 55+ communities in North or South Carolina? Am considering both, and areas far west of the coast. Have heard horror stories regarding some HOA’s. Thanks for any suggestions.

    by Lynne — February 4, 2017

  146. In NC the HOA’s have no accountability, they get the power when voted in and then do what they want and there is no one to report them to. I testified before the General Assembly about the horrors of the HOA’s and they took no action. I was told the homeowner are the only people to take action, but when you have boards that threaten and fine people you live in fear. If you are friendly with the board members you can do what you want, but if not, your life is miserable. The management company’s are not licensed either.

    by elaine n — February 4, 2017

  147. Hey Lynne, I live in NC and know many of these 55+ communities as I am a real estate agent and specialize in downsizing or relocating to NC for retirement. Mr. Brady has a great list accumulated in the communities section of this blog site , just type in the state in the search and many will be listed by the city they ere in or are close to. Hope this helps.

    by huntley — February 4, 2017

  148. I also live in NC also with no club house and no pool, in a nightmare HOA, like I said the state does not make any agency accountable that you can make a complaint and get some relief
    , So I would find out in any state you choose…is there a state agency to file complains with.

    by elaine n — February 5, 2017

  149. Lynne, we will be moving to NE of Detroit in Shelby Township, Utica, and Rochester area. The move is being guided by moving back to Michigan to be around (and help) relatives. Having been born, raised and lived in the area for my first 30 years, I am well aware of the weather, but I think I can adjust (back to) the winter weather better than the prolonged heat and humidity of locations in the South. Don’t know about the growth, traffic etc. in the last 35 years since we left. Because of my husband’s military service and second career, we since have lived in NM, AK, RI, NY, WA, VA, MA and now CT. Have also spent some time in FL each year on visits to my sister.

    Originally my focus was on finding a lower cost town in the South in a location that might offer some relief from the humidity, therefore I was targeting mountain foothills areas with elevations of 1,200 feet or higher. I still wanted to be near to shopping, entertainment, cultural events, etc. This was in contradiction of my husband’s wish to live on the east side of a Mid-Atlantic state no more than 50 miles from the ocean (although we are not beach people) and near major highways. I have been researching facts for 2 years; took trips to Maine, upstate New York, Asheville, NC and Charleston, SC, St. Augustine and Anna Maria Island, FL to see if maybe a higher cost location and more south might be doable, but mostly I read the comments on TR and then did more research from there.

    But after a visit back to Michigan in July, he, originally and me later, decided we needed to reconnect with our relatives there. Since I was not planning on retiring until Jan 2018, we had some time to think about this. Then I was offered an early retirement option from my employer to retire Jan 2017 and I took it. My husband will be working for another 6 years, but works from home. We sold our house a couple of years ago and were renting, so there is nothing holding us back.

    We have enough funds set aside for 2 moves, so we decided to just go ahead and get on with our lives and move back to Michigan, which we will be doing Jun 1. I insisted we rent for a year to give us time to make sure this is the right move.

    I included this narrative to show that sometimes all your planning goes out the window and you just go ahead and make the jump. Maybe it comes from moving around while he was in the Air Force to locations he was assigned to without not always having the choice.

    As far as taxes in Michigan, from what I have read, Michigan does not tax social security benefits nor military retirement right now, but there is a provision that in the future, we will need to choose for one or the other to be taxed. Am I correct that social security benefits are not currently taxed in Michigan?

    by BeckyN — February 5, 2017

  150. Can anyone else share some more pros and cons about living in an active adult community?
    How can you tell how solvent the POA is? What should you look for when reviewing those documents.

    by Florence — February 6, 2017

  151. Florence re: HOW documents – You should take the time to read all of the documents. They can be quite long and you probably won’t understand everything, but many of the major rules will be clearly stated. Ideally, you should have an attorney look at them to summarize your rights and responsibilities. Beyond the documents, you should at least look at the last full year’s budget and balance sheet. A major issue is whether the budget is properly putting money into reserved for certain ongoing expenses that must be covered from time to time. Depending on what the HOA documents cover

    by Clyde — February 7, 2017

  152. (continued), the reserves may be for road/paving (usually if gated), roof replacement, exterior painting or siding replacement, elevator replacement, drainage and related ponds/lagoons, basically anything that has a “useful life,” meaning the number of years it will last before it needs to be replaced. For example, if the roof of the units has a useful life of 20 years, and will cost $500,000 to replace, $25,000 from overall HOA dues should be going into the roof reserve fund each year. If not, there will likely be a special assessment to unit owners when it comes time to replace the roof(s). You get the picture.

    by Clyde — February 7, 2017

  153. Semi-retired — I’m just reading Jay Michaels series and want to thank you for your VERY pertinent advice. If you haven’t done it, I wish you would consider gathering all your posts into your own article. If you have, I hope you’ll provide a link

    by Rich — February 8, 2017

  154. Thanks so much. I appreciate the information. I’m assuming that this HOA should be forthcoming about providing this info.

    by Florence — February 8, 2017

  155. Florence, Unfortunately, “should be forthcoming” and “are forthcoming” and seldom synonymous.

    by Rich — February 9, 2017

  156. BeckyN. To my understanding, both social security and military pensions are exempt from taxes in MI. By the way, I live on Lakeville Lake which is 10 miles north of Rochester. We moved here from Shelby Twp. about seven years ago. We love the “up north” feel and yet we’re close to a multitude of shopping and civic opportunities.

    by Pam F. — February 9, 2017

  157. Most states require that a buyer be furnished and acknowledge reading the HOA policies and bylaws within a certain number of days after the accepted offer, with an opportunity to back out. To make sure you have access to budgets, etc., have your realtor get them.

    by Clyde — February 10, 2017

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URL

Leave a comment