January 4, 2011 — Many baby boomers we run into are perplexed about where they will live in retirement. A big concern often centers around the bewildering number of choices – how can they find the town that matches their personality and their dreams for retirement? They often have an easier time ruling out regions or states than have choosing a particular retirement spot.
In our opinion an often overlooked choice for retirement is what is alternatively called the New Urban, Master Planned, or Traditional Neighborhood Development (TND). These communities – some totally new, while others are older towns that have invested heavily in urban planning – deliver on many of the requirements held by so many baby boomers. Those include walkability, easy access to a real town/city center, and an attractive environment with solid recreational possibilities.
New Urbanism is, in our opinion, an oxymoron. “Retro Urbanism” might be a better term. That is because the movement seems more like a return to what towns were like before cars changed everything – there is really nothing “new” about it! There are plenty of examples of very old towns that are a perfect example of great urban planning – like Savannah, GA; Washington, D.C.; Venice, FL; not to mention almost every walled city in Europe. In all of these cases residences are clustered around parks, shops, and restaurants – making everyday life possible without jumping in and out of cars.
According to Wikipedia, “New Urbanism is an urban design movement, which promotes walkable neighborhoods that contain a range of housing and job types. It arose in the United States in the early 1980s… New Urbanism ….encompasses principles such as traditional neighborhood design (TND).” Wikipedia lists many other characteristics shared by these communities.
If you have not been able to come up with some retirement towns that strike your fancy, perhaps you should look at some of the many new urban communities both in the U.S. and abroad. Some of these communities were designed exclusively with retirement in mind, some had little or no thought about retirement living, and some that purposely include 55+ communities along with developments for people of all ages. Here are some, but by no means all, of the “new urban” communities listed at Topretirements that are ideal for today’s retirees (Use Advanced Search and “Search 55+ Communities by Amenities” to find more. Some are towns while others are developments – see notes at end about assumptions about what constitutes a new urban or TND community):
The Village of Providence (Huntsville, AL)
Abacoa (Jupiter, FL)
Nocatee (Ponte Vedra, FL)
The Villages (south of Ocala, FL)
Ave Maria (Naples, FL)
Winter Park, FL
Sun City’s (some, but not all the Sun City’s)
Celebration (Orlando, FL)
Victoria Park, (Deland, FL)
Fleming Island Plantation (Orange Park, FL)
Peachtree City, GA
Atlantic Station (Atlanta, GA)
Washington Town Station (Robbinsville, NJ)
Fearrington Village (Chapel Hill, NC)
The Seaside Village (Sunset Beach, NC)
Verdae Village (Greenville, SC)
What’s in a Name?
For purposes of this article we included communities that we know to be new urban or TND type communities. Obviously there are gradations within about exactly how “new urban” a community is – some fit that description more or less. And, there are no New Urban, master-planned, or TND police out there enforcing standards. For example many active adult communities are master-planned (we sure hope they have a plan!), but that does not mean that their shops and a town center are within a 10 minute walk, or that you can avoid driving to meet your neighbors and get the services of everyday living.