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Old 08-16-2014, 06:08 AM
 
Location: Buckeye
601 posts, read 715,507 times
Reputation: 1389

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We've spent the past several months giving very serious thought to our retirement living. Hours have been spent on the internet looking at various web sites specializing in selecting the 'perfect' place to spend those golden years. Now I'm having some second thoughts.

As noted on other pages of this site we recently visited several age-restricted communities in Arizona. We have chosen a few as our favorites. They are gorgeous. Perfectly manicured community lawns, waterfalls, golf courses with views of mountains and desert. The homes lined up perfectly and no matter the age they all appeared new. Most importantly the residents seemed warm, friendly and happy. So no matter where this post takes me I am not, in any way, denigrating the life style chosen by residents of retirement communities. I am however rethinking whether or not they would live well for us.

My wife and I have, from time to time, thought of having a retirement home similar to the home seen in the film "On Golden Pond". A modest home set on a lakeside where family would come and visit, where life would be beautiful and simple. Our biggest hurdle has been economics. Have you ever priced lakeside property? But as I gave this thought I began to realize part of the attraction of such a setting is the "country feel" this setting promotes. That led me to rethink life in a retirement community.

While retirement communities are well designed with lots of amenities they do appear to us to be very 'suburban', that is, there are rows and rows of similar looking homes on well maintained streets. Residents have limited choices for destinations from home. They leave home (sometimes by golf car), go to the recreation center or golf course then return home. Day after day, back and forth, taking the same route time and time again to the same place. For shopping it's usually to a nearby strip mall where you'll find groceries, home supplies, perhaps a hardware store and maybe a gift shop or two. It's not unlike where I live now (only the weather is much, much better!).

While we found these communities to be very lovely and the people to be very friendly, do we really want to move from one suburb to another? Might we be better off finding a great American small town where we might find that modest home with a yard, white picket fence, garden and perhaps it's a short walk to downtown where there are locally useful businesses? Where is Mayberry?

We're now rethinking our future which might include more of a small town environment. There are a couple places that might be better for us. One is Hot Springs Village in Arkansas where there are about 15-thousand residents spread over 26-thousand wooded acres. Nearby is the town of Hot Springs which has more of a small town feel and not filled with strip malls. The other is perhaps the worlds largest retirement community, The Villages in Florida. While the residential areas of The Villages still look very suburban these areas are built around town squares featuring shops and restaurants. Yes, there are some strip malls there as well but that is not the only source of shopping.

Fortunately we have a couple years, maybe three, before we make a move. We've gone from being absolutely sure we're going to move to a specific Arizona community, to rethinking what we really want to do, what type of life style do we really want. Everything seems to be still on the table.
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Old 08-16-2014, 06:23 AM
 
Location: in the miseries
3,302 posts, read 3,579,301 times
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You should try renting in the Villages.
It is turning into a metropolis with the population over 100,000.
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Old 08-16-2014, 06:49 AM
 
Location: Whereever we have our RV parked
8,778 posts, read 7,701,741 times
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I've also spent a lot of time figuring out "retirement". Still haven't come to the conclusion, but suburbia doesn't appeal to me at all. But neither does the small town. Right now, RVing is on the front burner. My wife has bad allergies, and the last thing we want to happen is to pick up and move into an area that is just as bad for allergies as where we live now. Plus we both like the idea of, if you don't like it, pack up and start the engine.
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Old 08-16-2014, 07:29 AM
 
Location: Great State of Texas
86,093 posts, read 72,498,448 times
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There are no rules that say you have to "settle down" once retired.
Rent for a year or two and move about to find what you want.

Renting isn't wasted money if you find out the community is not what you thought.

And when you do find that "special place" you'll know it.
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Old 08-16-2014, 07:50 AM
 
Location: State of Being
35,885 posts, read 67,160,016 times
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We chose Mayberry. We have visited Del Webb type communities in several states, AZ, NC, SC, FL, VA, TX, starting back in the 90s. We just didn't feel we would get as much bang for the buck in those communities, although they are very well managed.

We highly considered Hilton Head until January of this year, when we decided to buy a townhouse (owner occupied only) in the town where I grew up and went to college. Because I know the area, have friends and family in the area, the social transition will be easy. And as luck would have it, I had toured the townhomes when they were built so saw the construction - and knew what we were buying (and know several retired couples who live there).

Not to say that in 5 years we might reconsider Hilton Head (or Charleston or Savannah). But because of hubby's health issues, we decided to stay closer to his physicians and family/friends. And who knows - in five years we may feel we need Assisted Living . . . so all options are still open for the future. However, we will be about 1 mile from a lake, closeby to amenities, church, college, medical, art center, friends and family . . . so if we stay in this townhouse til we die, we will be satisfied with that decision.
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Old 08-16-2014, 08:00 AM
 
Location: We_tside PNW (Columbia Gorge) / CO / SA TX / Thailand
22,558 posts, read 39,944,045 times
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There are many excellent small towns / affordable lakeside / mtns stream places in TN (Tax friendly and low CoL).
Retire Tennessee
I suggest far NE (Kingsport / Gray, TN) I plan to add a place here in next 2 yrs.
I Also like Chattanooga.

There are several 'planned' retirement communities too (Much lower key / modestly priced)
this is nice, but didn't fit me.
Uplands Village

Retire Tennessee
Retirement Communities in Tennessee :: Retirement Living Information Center
Many like Crossville / Fairfield Glade.
Crossville Chamber - Relocation >

That said... I am not into HOT and humid, (yet) so I currently have small rural places (<$100k) WEST of Missouri River that are rented and also have a spot for me + RV spots for friends / rental. (100% cash flowing with a FREE place for me to stay - apartment in shop, or guesthouse). Currently tax free WA state in Columbia Gorge, Hill Country TX (Tax free), and moderate taxed Colorado (Near Loveland / Estes Park). Each are near a CHEAP airport and I keep an econo car and motorcycle at each place. I can get to all for under $100 one-way (That does not buy much gas (which I don't use anyway... free Cooking oil is a good economical choice for retirees)).
We have a great circle of friends / churches / activities in each location.

These places I will eventually sell on contract, and live wherever I want (or can afford). I have 40 more yrs of retirement to decide where 'home is'... (maybe 40 more yrs, or maybe less than one day...)

I highly suggest using Evergreen Travel Club, or Affordable Travel club to go and stay with locals while you select " perfect / ideal HOME". There is a profile of hosts and I have been abe to stay in many 55+ places as well as some very cute lakeside cabins! And I get to learn a ton from those who have gone before me in pursuit of their quest. (Often built their own dream house and moved a few times... BTDT myself). The cabins / homes I have stayed in TN have been an education in history!! For $10/ night including meals... tough to beat! (worldwide).

Remember... as a couple (in USA)... every 24 months you can pocket $500k in tax free gains on the sale of personal residence. As a retiree, that can really help the cash flow!

I bought a scrappy abandoned Dairy Farm that was adjacent to a freeway and new exit w/ truck stop and McD.. I rezoned to commercial, platted, and added utilities. 24 months well spent (and I didn't have to go to work everyday )
The house... let's just say... it was liveable and I spent $0 fixing it, cuz I knew it would fall to a bulldozer.! (actually was a cute farmhouse with nice 'build-ins' and fun passage ways. I kept my mail / voting / Credit cards / cell phone all living there. I RV'd for much of the 2 yrs, and went back to college (as a retiree). Again... time well spent.

Last edited by StealthRabbit; 08-16-2014 at 08:11 AM..
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Old 08-16-2014, 08:31 AM
 
8,195 posts, read 11,911,100 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GeneR View Post
Residents have limited choices for destinations from home. They leave home (sometimes by golf car), go to the recreation center or golf course then return home. Day after day, back and forth, taking the same route time and time again to the same place. For shopping it's usually to a nearby strip mall where you'll find groceries, home supplies, perhaps a hardware store and maybe a gift shop or two. It's not unlike where I live now (only the weather is much, much better!).
I've heard people say this previously, and to be perfectly honest, I just don't get it. The gates and/or walls of a 55+ community are not topped by barbed wire; these are not prison communities. What would restrict a resident of a 55+ community from going out an enjoying any aspect of that city's amenities? In Las Vegas, for example, 55+ communities ring the Strip. One could live in a 55+ community and choose to take part in their own community's activities one day and then get in a car and enjoy fine dining or world-class entertainment the next.

I suppose the key is to find a city whose amenities, weather, etc., you like, and then find a 55+ community in that locale (if that is your preference). But whether you choose to live in a 55+ or a non age-restricted community really shouldn't impact on your participation in those amenities.
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Old 08-16-2014, 08:41 AM
 
Location: Tampa Bay Area
232 posts, read 240,828 times
Reputation: 426
I believe the original Mayberry was Mount Airy, NC. I don't know what it's like there now.

I live in Florida and was originally thinking about the Villages. After doing much research, although not a visit, I'm leaning against it. There's a lot on the web and this forum about the Villages. Do some reading and take a vacation there in the summer and winter. Winter is very crowded. Summer is very hot.

I like being in the 55+ communities. Yes some seem sterile and too polished, but at least your morning cup of coffee won't be disturbed by water skiers on your lake or screaming kids or constantly barking dogs or teenagers speeding down the street throwing garbage out the car window. Golf carts are fun, and the retirees are happy to be there and most are from other places just like you and readily accept newcomers.

A one year rental lease is a must in wherever you choose. If it's THE place, keep an eye open for a good deal for purchase. Some of the best deals happen through word of mouth. If it's not THE place, move on to your second choice.

The ideal situation, IMO, is snowbirding.
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Old 08-16-2014, 11:55 AM
 
Location: Whereever we have our RV parked
8,778 posts, read 7,701,741 times
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If you really want Mayberry, try a small town in MN, Wis. or Iowa. My son lives in one and they really like it. Virtually no crime, walk to schools, town pool. In winter the block off a street for sled riding. Quaint little downtown and a couple of festivals for the kids. Most people keep their houses up pretty nice. He lives in a neighborhood with houses that are in the 100 yr. old range. Most people keep them up very nice, flowers in the yard and grass cut. Very homey.
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Old 08-16-2014, 12:03 PM
 
29,775 posts, read 34,863,854 times
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What do you want to spend your retirement doing and what places will maximize that opportunity.
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