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Where Are the Most Innovative Retirement Living Options: 10 Examples

Category: Active adult communities

March 31, 2021 — For every person who loves the idea of an active adult or 55+ community , there is probably another who loathes them. For those who do not want to live in an active community, there are several common criticisms. A big knock comes from people who don’t want to live with a bunch of old folks.  Other slams are that they are boring, cliquish, difficult for singles, and expensive.  In this article we will explore a group of a developments suitable for those 55+ that break the mold, and that take bold measures to provide retirement choices that are innovative and attractive.

At the risk of omitting dozens of other really innovative ones, here is our list of great places to retire that think out of the box. We promise to add more in the Comments section of this Blog as we come across them.

What makes these active communities so great?

Here are some of the attributes and types that make these retirement communities so innovative and desirable.

55+ Communities within larger all age developments. This type of community, where a 55+ neighborhood is built into a larger, all-ages development, solves the problem of people who don’t want to be completely surrounded by older people. Although most of the 55+ neighborhoods have their own set of amenities, they normally also have access to the larger and more expansive facilities of the master planned community.

Etown – Jacksonville, FL. The smart-living community is built around technology, sustainability, and conveniences that will enhance a modern way of life. Smart-home technology, eco-friendly features, and community-oriented amenities are part of the package. A Village Center will feature shops, restaurants and neighborhood services. In addition, 50% of the community’s acreage will remain as a preserve along with parks, and ponds. eTown will be made up of several neighborhoods each offering housing choices, including one for 55+.

Cresswind Peachtree City, Peachtree City, GA. This new 55+ community is located within Peachtree City, which has amazing resources and commercial centers connected by golf cart. Here you will find single-family ranch homes, a spacious 17,000 sq. ft. Clubhouse with indoor and outdoor pools, fitness center, sports courts and more. The community is connected to over 100 miles of golf cart and biking paths that wind throughout Peachtree City

Unique focus. Communities that focus on a particular lifestyle can be the ideal destination for people in search of their dream. For example, there are those devoted to equestrian, boating, or of course, golf. Not to mention those that exist for people who have a common vocation, such as acting, clergy or NGO, and letter carriers.

Silver Falcon – Sherman, TX.  a fly-in community where you can live with your plane. The Sherman Municipal Airport is a public airport located less than 30 minutes North of McKinney, and features a lighted, 4,000’ runway. The community offers 90 properties for aviators and families, with five different home or hanger options.  Residents also enjoy a clubhouse, restaurant, and on-site fueling.

NOHO Senior Artist colony in North Hollywood, California, is a 62+ arts-focused senior community just north of Los Angeles. Whether you’re an artist or simply take pleasure in the creativity of life, you can rent a one or two-bedroom apartment in the vibrant NOHO Arts District. It offers amenities, programs and social events. Unique features include a visual arts studio, digital arts room, and stadium-style performing arts theater. It is not the only community with this type of focus, nor is it new. New Jersey’s Actors Fund Home retirement facility is for retired Broadway actors and stage hands – you can bet they ham it up there! Indian River Colony Club in Melbourne, FL is for retired military personnel.

Academy Village is a unique 55+ active adult community located in Tucson, Arizona, that includes the Arizona Senior Academy which is dedicated to Lifelong Learning. Founded by a former Univ. of Arizona president, residents enjoy concerts, lectures, artistic performances, wellness programs, field trips and mini-courses.  All residents become full dues-paying Academy members, and also enjoy the community amenities which include a fitness center, swimming pool, onsite Village library, computer room, game room, tennis and pickleball courts and hiking trails.

Built for community. The standard cookie cutter approach to active adult communities is to spread the homes, townhomes, or condos out along streets with amenities like clubhouses and pickle ball courts here and there. But to get to almost anything but an amenity, a car is an everyday essential. However, In a new urban development, cooperative, or urban cluster everything  essential is situated within walking, bike, or golf cart distance. There is no need to get in your car for a quart of milk or to see a doctor. Example:

Agritopia is a unique community located in Gilbert, Arizona, that is developed on an urban farm which is the heart of the community. Comprised of 450 residential lots along with commercial, agricultural, and open space tracts, the tree-lined streets and pathways make the entire project accessible to pedestrians. The farm offers certified organic row crops, fruit trees, and livestock. Residents meet at the community square which has a coffeehouse, farm stand, and a farm-to-table restaurant. 

Shepherd Village – Shepherdstown, WV. This new co-housing active adult community will be made up of a total of 30 households. The clustered neighborhood of environmentally sustainable homes will also feature preserved green spaces and a shared Common House on a rolling, wooded 19-acre site. Individual community members will own their own homes and share ownership of the Common House, and community gardens.

Transportation and Easy access to essential services. Location and design can ease transportation issues. If a development is built far from civilization because that is where the land was cheap, get ready to spend time in your car. Driving can become an important issue as we age and lose our driving skills, so access to public transportation can be a huge plus. Mixed use developments that include office and shops along with residential can be a great solution. So are communities within an urban center or with easy connection to an area with medical offices and stores. Some examples:

The Canyons – Portland, OR. A new, accessible and modern apartment community in a walkable and bikeable neighborhood. It offers an on-site concierge, an open air atrium, and each apartments has its own HVAC system. Other amenities include a ground floor cafe, and an open-air market place with eateries and small shops.

The Village of Providence – Huntsville, AL. offers a true village experience with architecture inspired by classic Southern towns. Picturesque single-family homes are intermixed with brownstones, traditionally styled town-homes, cottages and apartments. Amenities include parks, an outdoor swimming pool, a Meeting House with card room, kitchen and gym. The bike friendly community also features a town center with professional offices, restaurants, boutiques, and retail shops.

Close to unique attractions. A great location can take the boredom out of any place to retire. If one is surrounded by water, mountains, or outstanding recreational facilities, that can make a huge difference in the quality of everyday life. Example:

Sundance Meadows – Bend, OR. A picturesque, mixed use community designed to cater to those who enjoy the great outdoors. It features a livestock ranch with horseback riding, swimming, fishing, miniature golf, and a recreation center with planned entertainment and social activities. The development also acts as a vacation destination that includes camping areas and homes that are available for rental on a weekly basis, along with an RV park.

Bottom line. There is no reason why you have to settle for boring or cookie cutter when it comes to finding a place to retire. There are interesting choices out there, you just have to find them. If you are aware of other innovative places to retire, please let us know in the Comments section below.

For further reading:

Posted by Admin on March 31st, 2021


  1. Thanks so much for this article. This is the kind of information I enjoy the most. Hopefully, you will expand on this idea with more locations. I am specifically looking at Virginia, so if anyone of the wonderful people who post here knows of a place there please let me know.

    by Sally Marcheterre — March 31, 2021

  2. Hi Sally,

    Virginia does have some unique communities which we have listed on our site, and two that may interest you are:

    A 55+ agri-community near Richmond, Virginia, in Glen Allen,
    Chickahominy Falls was Virginia’s Community of the Year for 2020.

    ElderSpirt is a co-housing community that is built around the concept of helping one another. It’s an independent living community that fosters wellness and independence with a mutual support system.

    And as you mention, members may have more communities they can suggest.

    by Jane at Topretirements — March 31, 2021

  3. Another interesting community is Fair Oaks Ecohousing in Fair Oaks CA. It is a multi-generational, earth-friendly cohousing community with a strong green focus located in Fair Oaks, California.

    by John Brady — March 31, 2021

  4. Thank you Jane and John, I will investigate your suggestions. Love to hear more from your readers also.

    by Sally — April 3, 2021

  5. This is a topic of great interest to me, as well. I hope we hear more suggestions made by people who are aware of these types of communities.

    by Jes — April 4, 2021

  6. The down side of a 55+ communities is that when your children inherit the house and they are under 55. They would have to sell the house. That might be important to some people.

    by Tom — April 5, 2021

  7. As to inheriting a unit in a 55+ community, rules differ from place to place. Some allow heirs under 55 to live there, even without a person over that age. Also, some 55+ communities allow a percentage of people under 55 to live there without inheriting. Again, it’s important to actually read bylaws and community policies before buying.

    by Clyde — April 5, 2021

  8. I’m sure CCRC come with many alternatives. The one near us, Galloway Ridge at Fearrington Village allows someone to buy into a private, small single family house with care features (independent living), move into condo-type living and/or assisted living as needed, and on to nursing level care including a memory unit. They are associated with Duke Health and provide truly great amenities.

    We didn’t choose a CCRC because we have good long term care, want to age in place as long as reasonable and love our home in it’s wooded location location. Otherwise, selling out and moving to the CCRC was quite attractive. Everyone needs to choose how they want to live out their years so far as feasible.

    by RichPB — April 5, 2021

  9. I agree with RichPB and will add that as events happen, needs also may change. My aunt and uncle had a lovely lakefront home that they thought would be the place they’d spend all their days, but after my uncle died and after a scary ice storm that cut off all travel for multiple days, my aunt decided that it was no longer the right place for her alone. I hope to have a Plan A, but have the flexibility of spirit and grace to pivot if circumstances change.

    by Carol — April 6, 2021

  10. Richpb mentioned Fearrington Village near Chapel Hill, NC. It is a good example of a community for retirement that is out of the box. It has single family homes where a mixture of retirees and families with kids live. It also has townhomes close to the center. There are many amenities and clubs. In the center there is an elegant restaurant and hotel, plus a few shops and a great bookstore. Then when you age the Galloway Ridge option is right there with a CCRC. It is the rare community where you can transition for all ages living to end of life without ever having to move.

    by John Brady — April 7, 2021

  11. Touchmark in the West Hills near Portland, Oregon is an option we are looking into. It has a vineyard, greenhouse, indoor pool, and gym. Restaraunt style dining etc. Please check it out and if it meets your requirements let me know. Thanks

    by Donna — April 7, 2021

  12. RichPB-

    I have visited Fearrington Village and found it absolutely delightful and I think I would seriously consider relocating there were I not so happy with my current situation. It’s an absolutely beautiful area with many opportunities to participate in educational, cultural and artistic endeavors. It really has some wonderful options!

    by Barb — April 8, 2021

  13. Anyone living in Fairhope. Ala area or Osprey Cove , St Mary’s Ga?

    by Roberta — April 8, 2021

  14. Hi Roberta
    If you go to at the bottom of this page, you’ll see the drop down menu. There you’ll find State Guides listed where you can search for information on both of your locations.

    There are also some links listed at the bottom of this page- check out Adult Communities.
    Fairhope and St Mary’s are listed under Alabama and Georgia with several 55+ communities mentioned.

    You can also use the search bar under Basic Search to look for any articles in which your areas are mentioned.

    Hope this helps!

    PS – We moved your comment about Fairhope and St. Marys to , where it might get a better response.

    by Moderator Flo — April 9, 2021

  15. Virginia is a big place. It offers urban, ocean front, remote mountains, and much in between. Which part are you interested in? As with any place, do your homework and visit!

    by Sandie — April 9, 2021

  16. Hi Sandie,
    I am from Virginia and have lived all over the country. I am not particularly interested in the lower southwest section like Bristol, or the North Carolina border area but am open to most other parts of Virginia. My main interest is in the innovated ideas that the article mentioned. It is a beautiful state and there are so many areas that are interesting. Hopefully some of the contributors here have some ideas or know of someone who is currently living there. I am hoping to relocate to my home state for my final retirement phase at some point in the future.

    by Sally — April 9, 2021

  17. Sally,
    We live in central Virginia, west of Richmond. Chckahominy Falls, mentioned above, is located near a recently approved project with an arena and other amenities, so you’d have rural aspects close to “stuff”. We are very pleased with healthcare options here. It was one of the reasons we chose to stay here in retirement.
    Also, we visited The Village of Providence and Fearington. They are both well worth consideration.

    by Sandie — April 10, 2021

  18. Sandie,
    Thank you so much for your information! I have been away from Virginia a while now so anything you can tell me is greatly appreciated. Accessible high quality healthcare is at the top of my list of necessities. We are not so much looking for a 55+ type of community, but more of an age blended situation. Another thing I value is being close to nature, but not far from a good quality grocery store.

    This blog provides real people responses that are so helpful and you taking the time to respond is so wonderful, thank you again!!

    by Sally — April 10, 2021

  19. I too would love to hear of more alternative communities especially ones that have a true sense of community, with folks helping each other out. And not too huge.

    As a single person I’d love to find casitas with a lovely garden courtyard near to services needed, gym, pool, library, groceries.

    I’d like to explore places in New Mexico, Arizona (a bit too hot), and Washington State and Oregon, that aren’t wildly expensive (PNW).

    Thank you for reaching to non-tradition retirement options!

    by Vicki — August 4, 2021

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