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Stereotypes Can Mean Missed Opportunities When It Comes to Finding Best Place to Retire

Category: Best Retirement Towns and States

June 2, 2020 — Back in 2014 we wrote a piece (updated this March) that tries to make the point that people’s stereotypes might keep them from finding their best place to retire. Will Stereotypes Keep You From Finding Your Best Place to Retire? was quite popular and generated 65 interesting Comments. Those drove home the message even better, because they were the experiences of real people as they went through the process of finding a place to retire. This article features a selection of some of the more interesting, wide ranging Member Comments from 2014 – we think you will find them still useful! (PS – we took snippets from the Comments, you can read them all in the article).

Paula on Las Vegas

There’s nothing like seeing a place in person to help either confirm or dispel stereotypes. My DH and I recently spent a week in Las Vegas, somewhere we’d never been (and had never desired to see), staying with friends who in the housing crash bought a small second home there (their first home is in Ithaca, NY, where we also live). We were very pleasantly surprised at the incredibly reasonable cost of living there — if our friends were to move there for year-round residence, they would easily save $10-15K on property taxes (less than 20% of what they are here), income taxes (none), cheaper gas and groceries, incredible senior centers and Ys and discounts for Nevada residents at museums, Vegas shows, etc. 

Penny on 55+ Communities

My husband and I said we’d never want to live in a 55+ community (and explored several other areas, including AR & TN)…until we visited friends in SC at a Del Webb. It’s like summer camp for adults – yes, there are dues/fees/HOA to contend with, but those are what provide the vast array of activities, so it’s a trade-off. We are just about 16 mos. from retiring & have since made several trips to Sun City – and love it more each time. 

KarenNever a FL 55+ community

When my husband and I started looking in Florida for a retirement area and home I was very definite that I did not want to live in a 55+ community, never would live in a “trailer” and didn’t want the east coast because of hurricanes. (I grew up on the west coast). And after much research and loads of visitations, I have bought in a 55+ community, purchased a double wide mobile home on a golf course, and am 5 miles from the beach! I truly have to laugh at myself for ever saying NEVER. I am so happy my husband patiently let me see for myself that I was basing all my focus due to stereotypes I bought into at first.

On exploring different places – Cherie

One message to everyone: A week’s visit is a vacation which generally is fun. If you’re serious about a place, take the time to spend at least a month. When you have to grocery shop, drive in the traffic, meet the locals, etc. you’ll get a much better feel for life there and how you will fit in.

Jody about Nevada and Low Humidity

So many people talking about high humidity being a problem. Low humidity can be just as unbearable. We moved from California to Nevada (Reno area). After only a few months, we were ready to move again. Humidity levels are around 16% most of the time. Our skin looked like the cracked, dry desert that surrounded us. … We had been taking trips to Reno for 30 years before retiring there, but only a few days at a time. It wasn’t until we spent a few months there that we realized the problems that a low humidity climate can cause. Bottom Line: The best advice I’ve seen on this forum (that I wish I’d followed) is to rent for a year before buying. We learned our lesson the hard way.

Skip: Florida vs. Texas

We moved to the west coast of Florida lived there for a year then moved to the east coast. We were very lucky we never bought on the east coast, we ended up moving to Texas a few years later.

Rich – Be open to the possibilities

Now we are beginning a new phase — we plan to go to places of interest for longer periods — like a month or more. That will give us the chance to better know places we might still consider moving to (not that we have any real INTENT to move). But as others say, things change. We are older now and less able than even 10 years ago, let alone when we built this house. For example, we have never really considered a “retirement community” but now we have a month-long reservation to rent in one near Sedona AZ. Cold weather is not an option, but we will also rent in the mountains 2 hours west of Denver. We just know now that it is extremely difficult to predict where we want to be in 5 or 10 years. (But consider this — Asheville NC is a very real possibility). I hope this post will help others in their approach to retirement options. Truly stereotypes are best when debunked personally.

Sunlovingal – Go for it!

No worry.. Be happy…find a place that you love..somewhere you have been, and have said, ” I want to live here someday”. I’m sure you all have said that sometime in your lives. Go for it! Time is tickin’ If you keep it simple, you can always change your mind and move back to your roots! But why not enjoy a little bit of fun time while you can

Margie – Large vs. small and HOA fees

We visited Pelican Preserve and it was very nice. The only thing I am concerned about is the fact that is it relatively small compared to some of the Sun City’s and since a lot of people who live in these communities in Florida are snowbirds, we wonder if it will feel like a ghost town in the Summer months. Also if there are less residents, if something needs to be done in the community it has to be spread among a fewer number of people. So HOA fees and assessments could rise. If you are in a complex with 7000 homes and something needs to be done a smaller amount from each resident may be needed. 

Toni – Small vs. large and HOA fees

I do not agree on the assessments relating to larger vs smaller. The more residents, the more upkeep and demand for bigger and better facilities/activities. (Toni loves Pelican Preserve)

Rich on finding rentals

There are a number of options to check into for rentals. If you have a specific community in mind, working with the “company” is one option. If you are still scoping out an area, local realtors can help. Another option that we have found really helpful and kind of fun to just browse is VRBO or Home Away (basically the same organization). VRBO is Vacation Rentals By Owner. We’ve found two places to stay and MANY other options in a wide variety of retirement communities all over the country as well as just single homes, condos and apartments. These are private and you could stay for a few nights or a week, but typically monthly rentals are available and generally cost MUCH less on a nightly basis. f you try VRBO, be sure to check out the many reviews and review sites for the property including Trip Advisor. It can be worthwhile to reserve early — looking out for June in March is very limiting. Looking out for June in the previous October is typically wide open.

Sharon on real estate pressure

One thing that I find very confusing and stressful is high pressure real estate professionals. I have been visiting 55+ communities and went to a Where to Retire in the South conferences where developers presented their communities. I feel like I’m buying a used car or dealing with bait and switch tactics. Forget looking at model homes, since everything in them is an extra. Do you like that front door? $2,500. Want a handle on the door? Hardware is another $250 or more. … I can tell I’ve been researched, since I have spotted credit searches, people looking at my LinkedIn profile and salesmen have mentioned my profession. Buy today and get a discount – prices are about to go up! The best locations are about to be sold to someone else! My email is full of high pressure follow-ups from developers and their salesmen trying to be my best friend.

Robert on downsizing

Downsizing is def a great idea. We did so about 5 years ago. Never regretted it and saved a bundle of $$$. I am amazed at the “seasoned citizens” = Oops – “Seniors” that I come across who want to buy these large homes at unblvble high prices and for what? To impress their neighbors? For guest that may or may not come? We raised 3 children in a 1200 sq ft rancher w 1 bath a million years ago. It was fine then and even better so now – especially since we are on a limited budget. Small house – small bills 

Valerie: the planning process

My husband and I visited Arizona (July) and Texas (September) last year and visited many 55+ communities. He’s retired, I am not. By starting early, it kept us from jumping at the first home/community we saw. We came home, took a deep breath, filed everything away and resumed our daily lives while keeping up with the homes for sale, etc. in the communities we visited. This year we’re chilling. Reading articles, blogs, etc. to get a better feel (I didn’t know AZ has something called Valley Fever – my husband has asthma!) and deciding what are we going to sell/donate as we slowly begin the process of downsizing. All of it won’t be done in one year, but over the next 3. We’re also doing a little traveling since we’re unsure what our budget will allow once I’ve retired. Next year we will visit both locations in the winter 

Sharon: Changing my mind

I just visited Carolina Lakes outside Charlotte, and was dismayed at the traffic. I’m also slowly revising my feelings about what I need as I see model homes. When I started looking, I thought I would need a much larger home and was considering a house instead of a condo. At this point, I’m pretty sure I want a condo or unit in a complex that does the yardwork. I have revised my thoughts about the size that I need. My wants vs. wishes list has been changing too. This is really a process of self-discovery, and can’t be rushed.

Bottom line: As always, hats off the great Members of this site who take the time to share their real world experiences. They are all so interesting – and real! Please add on your retirement search experiences – what you learned, what changes, how it all ended up. So many people can profit from the hard work and learning you went through and learned! Please post in the Comments section below.

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Posted by Admin on June 2nd, 2020

16 Comments »

  1. We researched retirement areas around the country for three years before settling on Scottsdale. It is a wonderful city (when open), with 900-plus restaurants, interesting desert scenery, major-league sports and arts, and friendly retirees, as few people are FROM here in retirement. We knew that the heat would be an issue, as we are golfers, tennis players, hikers and enjoy all sorts of outdoor activities. Can’t do much of that after 9 a.m. in the summer, as we learned during many visits!

    We had planned to travel and explore new northern attractions in the summer, but can’t this year, and we are realizing that the relentnessness of the summer heat — and the consistency of it, day after day, 105 or so degrees for three or four months — does not fit our lifestyle in a pandemic, where we are pretty much in place for the summer. I would not recommend falling in love with a sunbelt state during a one-week vacation in February. Visit a place during the season of extreme temperatures and don’t kid yourself into thinking that you will always love it. We have run into many people who regret having sold their homes up north, and choose to get small cabins in northern Arizona or in the mountains of Colorado. We will be looking at the Pacific Northwest. All the time people in our community shuffle around — either buying bigger homes because they’re here forever and have kids in the area, or downsizing here and buying something smaller in a less unforgiving climate. Know yourself, your lifestyle, your family situation and your finances before making a leap. And research, research and research some more.

    Ed LaFreniere
    retirementhumor.net

    by Ed LaFreniere — June 3, 2020

  2. Well, I read my comments above from six years ago and I must agree — good thoughts! In Spdes!

    Quick catch up for any who don’t know. We decided after all our travels and experiences to stay where we are and just travel more for the same good reasons. We found that every time we spent time away, what we really thought was best is our home. Add to that the trouble and cost of getting ready to sell, the purchase of a new place that could never be as good as what we have and discovering that, regardless of downsizing, a sell/buy would not produce enough profit to really make a difference in our lives. Covid-19 has added a new perspective. We are so happy to be going through this difficult time here — in our home. Obviously, this is note a good answer for everyone, but time to explore and compare is a great thing.

    by RichPB — June 3, 2020

  3. Been a snowbirds for 14 years now because there is no one perfect place. The 6 months of winter in in my small motorhome because I’ve found there isn’t even one perfect place for even 6 months! Lol!!
    On another note the one thing here that always disappoints me is that everything is mostly about couples and active retirement communities. My activities are hiking, biking and kayaking and you don’t need a community for that. And as an old bachelor without children I sure don’t need all the huge houses like most advertised here. I’ve never lived trying to impress others, and am never impressed by others show of material wealth. Why have a three bedroom house for 1 or 2 people?

    by Bob — June 4, 2020

  4. Does anyone have input about moving from a house to a condo, carriage home, patio home, townhouse, apartment or back again, lessons they learned? Frankly, I don’t know the difference between some of those categories. Read some great comments here about housing choices, but every time I see a place for sale in a community that interests me, I really want to know why it’s for sale and where they went. The surveys said most retirees want stand alone houses, is that your experience?

    by Daryl — June 6, 2020

  5. Right now I dream about a second floor condo with a wall of windows looking out over a sunny, warm harbor with a two block walk to the beach, but mentally scurry back to my little ranch when viewing the price tag and the eagle-sized nest egg required. Maybe Rich’s idea of stay here and travel more is more reasonable.

    by Daryl — June 6, 2020

  6. I’m looking for information on living in Athens, GA. I know this isn’t the right place, but I haven’t been able to find a way to search the forums for recent info. Can anyone help?

    Also, I do wish there was more information from single people….many of us choose to be without a partner but life and retirement and moving to a new place is vastly different from the experiences of couples.

    I’ve been following this website for 7 years or so and it’s one reason I moved to the Beaufort, SC, area. I have since learned this is not my place and am ready to move on.

    by Judy Reese — June 6, 2020

  7. AND one more thing: I think the admins do a fabulous job, even though there are things I wish I could find that I can’t. It has been a wealth of information for me.

    by Judy Reese — June 6, 2020

  8. Hello Judy Reese,

    Here is a great resource on any cities. Good luck with your Athens, GA research.

    http://www.city-data.com/city/Athens-Georgia.html

    Regards, Danno

    by Danno — June 7, 2020

  9. Hi Judy
    If you go to the Topretirements.com at the bottom of this page, you’ll see the drop down menu. There you’ll find State Guides and Retirement Ranger listed there. You will be able you to put in most things you’re looking for in a retirement location.
    You may also want to post your question on the Forum under Athens GA You can find it in the drop down menu.

    There are also some links listed at the bottom of this page- check out Adult Communities.
    Athens is listed under Georgia with several 55+ communities mentioned.

    You can also use the search bar to look for any articles in which Athens is mentioned.

    Hope this helps!
    Flo

    by Moderator Flo — June 7, 2020

  10. Daryl, I live about half of the year in an active-adult 55+ condo development in Florida. It’s been my observation that most condos come up for sale because the owner has died, moved on to assisted living or a nursing home, or they want to move back closer to family in their oldest years. As to wanting to live near the beach, a couple of thoughts come to mind besides the fact, as you stated, that properties on or near the beach are usually more expensive to purchase. Hurricane damage and surge flooding is much worse near the beach than inland a few miles. Even if you’re on the second floor or above, flooding almost always cuts off electricity, making it difficult or impossible to live there, even on higher floors, until all utilities are restored, which can take a long time if electrical systems on the first floor have been severely impacted. And the closer you live to the beach, the more costly flood and hazard insurance is, at least for properties along the Atlantic or Gulf coasts. Our condo in south Palm Beach County is 4-5 miles from the beach, or about a 12-15 minute drive, but our insurance cost is much less than for housing nearer the beach.

    by Clyde — June 7, 2020

  11. Anyone have experience with a big stereotype—a condo at the beach? Was looking at St. James Plantation and Hilton Head Plantation online, no visits yet. Also considering somewhere near Virginia Beach. Realize hurricanes, insurance, traffic might be problems, any suggestions? Anyone find their perfect place beachside?

    by Daryl — June 7, 2020

  12. Thanks, Clyde, your comment snuck in there before my second post! I really appreciate your input, you saved me last time, too, with the HOA research steps you posted that I have since printed and filed away for when I begin vetting properties.

    by Daryl — June 7, 2020

  13. Judy – Being single and also renting instead of buying gives one the opportunity to bounce around the country a little easier. What I know about Athens Georgia: Home of The University of Georgia. The Georgia Bulldogs football. This school is a SEC football powerhouse. One of the best college football programs in the country year after year. The University of Georgia and the football program are a huge part of Athens Georgia. I personally have a very strong passion for college football and I hope we get a COVID-19 clearance to play college football this year. Also from a noise standpoint, the University of Georgia has quite the reputation as a party school.

    by Bubbajog — June 7, 2020

  14. Thanks, Clyde, thought I’d be safe off the ground floor. Five or more miles away From the beach sounds close enough!

    by Daryl — June 7, 2020

  15. Bubbajog: I do rent and I love it. However, I’m fortunate that my house is owned by caring and responsible landlords. I’ve had trouble finding those kinds of rentals in other places. And football is meaningless to me…so all those things about Athens you mentioned made me laugh. Glad you have something you enjoy so much.

    Moderator Flo: I will try your suggestions. Thank you.

    by Judy — June 9, 2020

  16. Looking at the title of this article about retirement-living stereotypes and missed opportunities reminds me of when we bought our retirement condo, although we are still snowbirding between Connecticut and south Palm Beach County, FL; we are now official residents of FL. About a year after I retired, I ran across an article in The NY Times (linked below) that caught my eye. It dealt with almost unbelievably low prices on decent condos in south Florida. We had friends who lived in that area, so I decided to look at these low-priced condos. We spent over a year searching and at times staying in the area to see if we liked it, and we did. In 2014 we bought for cash a 2-BR, 2-BA condo with washer and dryer in Kings Point, Delray Beach. It’s now worth in the very low $100’s, three times what we paid for it. It’s in a 55+ active-adult community where the average age is upper 70’s or more, but rapidly changing to include many baby boomers. For us it’s just like any independent apartment living. If we want to mingle with other residents, we can, but we mostly see friends outside our residential community. And in a few years, we’ll likely move there permanently, with an extremely low cost of living that will be more than covered by our Social Security (I waited to take it until I turned 70 last year), although I have an additional IRA we can draw on.. That’s why it’s important, and usually fun, to keep an eye out for types of retirement living/communities and locations you may not be thinking about. Topretirements.com has been very helpful in this regard, with both interesting articles and informative comments from readers. Happy hunting!

    http://archive.nytimes.com/www.nytimes.com/2013/03/10/us/at-florida-condos-too-young-to-retire-but-not-to-grab-a-deal.html

    by Clyde — June 10, 2020

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