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Best Places for Singles to Retire

Category: Singles and Retirement

April 20, 2019 — In many active adult and 55+ communities much of the social life centers around couples. For people who happen to be single, that environment makes it difficult to have a full social life and results in feeling left out. We hope this article can help single people find places to retire where they are happy and feel included.

It would be a mistake to cast all retired single people in the same mold, assuming that all of their retirement needs and goals are identical. Many singles are very happy to go through retirement without a partner. Others are content to be single, but would like to find a place to retire where they feel included and a part of the community. Another group would prefer not to be single, or at least to have more friendships and social interactions than they have now. Regardless of what type of single person you might be, we hope you find this article interesting.

First we’ll talk about specific kinds of places that singles might find attractive as places to retire, and then we’ll include a few Member comments that seem especially useful to this discussion.

Bigger is often better for singles. Choosing too small of a community reduces the potential pool for both friends and dates.  Smaller communities tend to have a more fixed social order, so they tend be harder to crack into  than larger ones. The range of activities is probably smaller, so you have fewer chances of meeting people. That means that 55+ communities like The Villages, Laguna Woods Village, and On Top of the World, all of which have countless clubs and activities, could be good choices. The Villages, for example, has a very active singles club (see their full calendar!) SaddleBrooke near Tucson and Pheasant Run in Barnegat (NJ) also reportedly have active singles clubs.

Active adult and 55+ communities offer a different retirement experience than living in a town or suburb. The environment for singles can be quite different in a town vs. a 55+ active adult community. Towns have the advantage of churches and civic and fraternal organizations to join, and non-profits like hospitals and libraries where you can volunteer and meet all types of people. In a town a single person probably has a greater range of types of people to meet, if you can find a way to meet them. But in a town, and particularly in a suburb, you might not live as close to your neighbors, and therefore have fewer chances for daily interactions.

In an active community, however, social life usually centers around neighbors (and neighborhood parties), the clubhouse, and all of the activities and clubs that are available. The wider the range of clubs and activities, the greater the chance you will find one that appeals to you, and give you the chance to me meet like-minded friends. Assuming your objective is to meet people and make friends, you have to decide which environment – a town or an active community – is most likely give you the most success.

Most of your success as a single person depends on you. No matter where you decide to live, having a happy retirement as a single person is up to you. People who seek out activities and volunteer opportunities not only tend to feel more fulfilled, but they usually make deep friendships along the way. Those who became single later in life, particularly men, have the greatest risk of feeling lonely in retirement. If they relied on work or a spouse for friends and social engagements, it is harder to learn how to make friends. They will have to make special efforts, like asking people you meet for coffee, lunch, or dinner. Look for local singing, hiking, cycling, or acting groups you could join. There is always someone who organizes the sports or activities in a community – either a resident or a sports pro – get to know them and ask them to set you up in a group.

College towns and cities can be ideal for singles. Both of these type of communities have a big calendar of events, which means that you can be out meeting people in many different venues – from taking adult education classes to volunteering to attending concerts. Small cities like Sarasota or Austin or Boulder have nice downtowns and there is always something to do. Moving to a town where there is an OSHER Institute (for lifelong learning) is another great idea. There you can take classes and not only learn something interesting, but meet people with common interests as well. Interesting small towns with a lively cultural scene like Fairhope, (Alabama) might also be a good choice for singles, since they might offer a chance to meet stimulating people.

Stay away from the suburbs. You might live in the suburbs now. If you have a big web of friends, maybe you should stay. But cracking the suburban social scene as a single resident is one of the harder things to pull off, particularly if you only recently became single.

Carefully evaluate the singles scene in any active adult community. A really good idea is to rent before you buy. Attend some club meetings and take part in sports or other activities that appeal to you. Are there other singles, and do the couples actively invite single people to participate? Award extra points if there is a lively singles club. Many communities have special package deals that let you vacation there at below market rates. Even before you try out a retirement place, check out Discussion Forums on this and other sites about specific communities for hints about the single life in those communities.

Think about moving with your friends. If you already have a solid group of close friends, think about retiring together. That could be as simple as moving to the same community or town, or it could even be shared housing. Cohousing is growing type of living environment. Some architects report that designing homes meant to be shared is a growing business.  In addition to instant friends, being able to pool resources and share expenses as you get older is a real attraction.

Social media and online sites can be helpful. Use caution of course, but sites like Meetup.com are great for meeting like-minded people. You can use them to find and join activities in your area, or the places you are thinking about exploring. Another great option is Silver Connections. Meant only for singles and not a dating service, it is designed to help widows and/or singles above age 55 have a group to hang out with and do things together.

Comments from Members on finding a great place for singles to retire:

I’m an active single person with many interests …..favorite places must be a town/small city with diverse fitness activities (rec centers, pools, running and walking trains, must be pet-friendly, has to have a great library system, changeable seasons, close proximity to my favorite food sources (i.e. Whole Foods, Trader Joes, Wegman’s and Fresh Market + Gelson’s and Bristol Farms) …. I haven’t found my ‘perfect’ place as yet, but high on my list of places I love to spend time in (i.e. short time rentals) are Virginia Beach VA, Palm Springs CA, Charlottesville, VA and Tarpon Springs FL. I love the climate(s) in each of these places in specific times of the year and I find that each place has special features that are very energizing as well as close proximity to colleges and universities which provide continuous lecture series and life-long learning opportunities………I also love New York State (especially the Hudson Valley/Dutchess County along the Hudson River) as well as the Poconos in Pennsylvania around Lake Wallenpaupak/Hawley/Milford PA areas………….. Also recommend you read Melody Warnick’s book titled ‘This Is Where You Belong’ …. this book has been selected to be one of the BEST BOOKS FOR A BETTER LIFE AWARDS in 2016 and I have found it to be a valuable resource. (from Fay)

I am single and moved to The Villages in 6/2014. I am renting for a year to see if I like it. Most people who visit buy a home immediately because the place is quite unique. There’s a lot to do and most people who live or visit rave about the community. There are many organized singles groups. Here is a list of the clubs and other info:
Singles Baby Boomers (http://singlesbabyboomers.com/)
Sumter Singles Club (http://sumtersingles.org/)
Single Golfers of the Villages (http://www.sgvclub.com/)
America Singles Golf Association (http://www.singlesgolf.com/chapter.php?chapter_number=1013)
The Villages Singles Club (http://www.tvsinglesclub.com/)
Single at The Villages – Travel Channel (http://www.travelchannel.com/shows/grannies-gone-wild/video/single-at-the-villages)
Talk of the Villages Single Forum (http://www.talkofthevillages.com/forums/singles-124/) This comment came in from Maggie (thanks!):

One of our favorite experts on singles retirement is Jan Cullinane, a frequent editorial contributor to this site and author of “The Single Woman’s Guide to Retirement“. In her book she solicited input from many single women about many different areas: divorce, death of a spouse, working from home, where to live, dating, caregiving, volunteering, reinvention, travel, and staying healthy.

For further reading:

Comments: Are you single and looking for a place to retire? Please share your concerns, hopes, and experiences in the Comments section below.

Posted by Admin on April 19th, 2019

5 Comments »

  1. I’m curious why Fairhope was included in the paragraph Bigger is Better. It is not an active adult community or a large community, rather a small town.

    Editor’s note: Excellent point Jean. We moved the Fairhope example to a different paragraph since it is not an active adult community (but because of its utopian beginnings it is very different). There are several such active communities nearby, which could be interesting, like the Colony at the Grand and others in Foley, where you could take advantage of the Fairhope experience.

    by Jean — April 24, 2019

  2. Libraries were mentioned above. They offer book clubs, poetry readings, entertainment, computer classes, guest speakers, and lots of clubs meet there (ours hosts an astronomy club, among many others). Many children’s programs are offered as well (meet other grandparents and strike up a conversation). Easy way to meet people with shared interests. (I’m on the Board of Trustees of our local library.)

    Join a club and start playing tennis. Tennis has been found to be the best sport – it’s social, and good for the mind and body. I’m part of a group of tennis women where I live – some of the women players are married and some are single, but we get together a lot as a group, both on and off the courts. Same could be said of pickleball.

    I live in a large master-planned community. One suggestion if you’re thinking about one is to find a newer community – people are more open to meeting others. Once it’s established, you might find friendships are established as well, and it’s a little tougher to “break in.” This can be true if you’re part of a single or a couple.

    Have a dog? Dog parks bring like-minded people (at least when it pertains to dogs) together.

    Volunteer. Remember that most friendships start because of a shared interest. Help others while you’re widening your social circle.

    Jan Cullinane, author, AARP’s The Single Woman’s Guide to Retirement (thanks for the shout-out, John)

    by Jan — April 25, 2019

  3. I find good advice in your comments and recommendations sections. One thing I would like to know about is how to find information about medical and transportation services for anyone who may need assistance now or later. And how do you learn about new communities currently operating or under development. Thank you.

    by Margaret M Zwadlo — April 26, 2019

  4. When looking for information on various types of transportation I check out the website for town and county senior centers. They often offer transportation for seniors. Googling public transportation for the area you’re interested in can also help. Don’t forget Uber and Lyft as well.

    by Staci — April 27, 2019

  5. Ann Marie wrote:
    Is it possible for the newsletter to address living single and showing other properties other than 55+. Most of these are really not affordable for singles. Life circumstances do not always allow for amassing enough money to afford these properties.

    It would be of great help to so many of us. Thank you.

    We replied…
    Thanks for your question. We have a whole Blog section devoted to various articles on Singles retirement, much of which has to do with coping on a budget. See https://www.topretirements.com/blog/category/singles-and-retirement/

    In the Blog the “Best Places” and “Financial” categories also have many relevant articles. And we will continue to write about this as we know it is important to many people.

    Good luck in your adventures

    by Admin — June 26, 2019

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