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.
Karen – Never 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.