Tips & Picks

Yearning for a Traditional Community in Retirement Check Out New Urbanism

By Jan Cullinane

Would you like to live, play, and work (if you’re considering working!) all in the same place? If so, new urbanism with its neo-traditional or traditional neighborhoods may be for you. This style shares several principles which make them great as retirement communities. This type of community is pedestrian friendly, which reduces residents’ need for cars; offers a mix of shopping, homes, and offices; offers a variety of architecturally interesting housing designs with homes close to the street and lots of porches; and features narrow roads.

 New urbanism stresses increased density so that most everything is within a 10-minute walk. A neo-traditional neighborhood will have a well-defined edge to it—no “bleeding” into the next town or neighborhood. Its supporters claim the creation of compact, integrated villages fosters a sense of community, is environmentally friendly, raises the standard of living, and provides a better quality of life. This type of community is often called a TND, which stands for Traditional Neighborhood Development. This planning system puts educational facilities, civic buildings and commercial establishments within walking distance of homes.

This type of neighborhood (old new urbanism!) can be found around the world in places like Capri, Venice, and Florence. In the United States, cities such as Annapolis, Maryland; Alexandria, Virginia; Venice, FL: Saint Augustine, Florida; Savannah, GA; and Washington, D.C. reflect this type of configuration. There are approximately 600 of these neo-traditional neighborhoods either built or being developed in the United States. A few TNDs are retirement communities built for active adults 55+, while most are mixed generation communities. Sample towns that exemplify new urbanism include the ones listed below.

Celebration, Florida. Just south of Orlando, Celebration is now more than fifteen years old. Developed by the Disney Corporation, it really sparked the new urbanism movement in the United States. A total of 12,000 residents is expected by completion of the community. Housing possibilities include apartments, terrace homes, bungalows, garden homes, cottage homes, townhomes, village homes, and estate homes. Example of price: a re-sale condo in the downtown area is listed for $375,000, a three-bedroom, two bath single family home is offered for $439,000.

 Habersham ( or 877-542-2377). Located 8 minutes from Beaufort, South Carolina, 30 minutes from Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, and 1 hour from Charleston, South Carolina, and Savannah, Georgia, Habersham’s location is great. The Habersham Creek encourages boating, fishing, and swimming. Available homes, including lofts, townhomes, flats, and single-family homes, begin around $400,000, and homesites begin in the $100,000s.

I’On ( or 866-330-8200). This is a 243-acre neo-traditional neighborhood in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, 10 minutes from Charleston. This development, which will ultimately include about 760 homes, began in 1997. Lots begin in the $200,000s, and available homes start in the $600,000s. Porches are at least 8 feet deep to encourage rocking chair action and socializing with neighbors.

. This is where the new urbanism movement was born. Located on Florida’s Panhandle on the Gulf of Mexico, Seaside was the setting for the movie The Truman Show. Developed on 80 acres and begun in 1981, Seaside has 430 “cottages,” many of which can be rented. Want to purchase a cottage? Sale prices easily range from $1 million and up, with condos, townhomes, and some cottages also available.

Sunset Island. This 37-acre neighborhood in Ocean City, Maryland, nudges up against the Assawoman Bay and is 2 blocks from the Atlantic Ocean. A mix of condos, townhomes, and single-family homes makes up this almost-600-unit property. Prices for condos begin in the upper $400,000; townhomes, in the upper $400,000s; and new single-family homes from $1.0 million. A fishing pier, green spaces, a beach, pool, and walking paths are incorporated into the planning. Contact or the three builders (Main Street Homes, 410-524-1245; NV Homes, 888-348-6060; and Ryan Homes, 888-343-7926).

The Village of Providence. Another appealing TND community in Huntsville is the Village of Providence.

The Texas Coast area is building a number of new urbanism communities as well, including Beachtown (a $1 billion development near Galveston), Evia, Cinnamon Shore, and the Shores of South Padre.

While most people are very enthusiastic about new urbanism, there are critics of the movement. The criticism chiefly centers around over-reliance on unimaginative 19th century architectural themes, while others say some of them are more than playgrounds for the rich than real towns.

Whatever your feelings, if your goal is a pedestrian-friendly community where you can live, eat, shop, and (maybe) work, check out a neo-traditional neighborhood.

About the Author:
Jan Cullinane is the co-author of The New Retirement: The Ultimate Guide to the Rest of Your Life (second edition, Rodale, 2007), and a regular contributor to Ocean Breeze, Living Southern Style,, and She is also the Retirement Expert for the National Association of Baby Boomer Women (NABBW). Her website is Jan conducts retirement seminars, along with co-author Cathy Fitzgerald, through their company, Retirement Living from A to Z.

 Editor's Note: Additional links and comments provided to Topretirements by Mary Ellen Jaske: Mary Elllen commented that you can google "walkable", "smart growth", "liveable" to try and find suggestions. Might also try "master planned communities".

There is a new complex in Niantic, CT that is suppose to be within walking distance of things.

What I have found is that communities may be 'walkable' but you can't get living quarters within the city with the exception of larger cities. I think this is a concept that is just beginning to 'bloom' outside of larger cities.

For further Reference:
Walkability, the X Factor in Best Places to Retire
Walkable Communities
List of the Best New Urban/Masterplanned Communities in the U.S.

Follow this link for more about TND's and a great list of these communities worldwide

For more practical articles about selecting retirement communities


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