Categories
Atlanta

Small Town Retirement Options – Serenbe Community in Georgia

Bosch house at Serenbe Community

2020 update: This original post was from Mary Ann and I visiting Serenbe a few years ago.  We loved that visit and took plenty of pictures.  As an update the community really is special. Here is a recent article that will give you more reasons to like Serenbe. What Makes A Neighborhood Resilient?

Yesterday my wife Mary Ann and our neighbors Scott and Dawn set out to visit the HGTV Green House for this year.   We drove from our Johns Creeks Georgia home down to the southside of Atlanta, then another 20 miles out in the countryside to the Serenbe Community. Here are some pictures and information about this wonderful community.

Categories
Georgia

Georgia Income Tax Exemption for Seniors

State of Georgia Income Tax – Retirement Income Exclusion for 2020

*Currently in Georgia at age 62 citizens may exempt retirement income from state income tax.

You don’t have to be retired, just have retirement income which is defined as follows.

Taxpayers who are 62 or older, or permanently and totally disabled regardless of age, may be eligible for a retirement income adjustment on their Georgia tax return. Retirement income includes:

  • Income from pensions and annuities
  • Interest income
  • Dividend income
  • Net income from rental property
  • Capital gains income
  • Income from royalties
  • Up to $4,000 of earned income

For married couples filing joint returns with both members receiving retirement income, the maximum adjustment for that year may be up to twice the individual exclusion amount. Retirement income exceeding the maximum adjustable amount will be taxed at the normal rate.

For the purposes of this paragraph, retirement income shall include but not be limited to interest income, dividend income, net income from rental property, capital gains income, income from royalties, income from pensions and annuities. Up to $4,000 net business income earned by an individual from any trade or business carried on by such individual, wages, salaries, tips, and other employer compensation, shall be regarded as retirement income.

Here is a link to the State of Georgia Department of Revenue about the Retirement Income Exclusion.

This is a major benefit for the state of Georgia seniors and anyone considering relocating to Georgia.  We applauded the state of Georgia for passage of this benefit for the seniors of Georgia. This will be a boost over the long terms to the retirement communities of GA.

*This is our understanding of the Retirement Income Tax Exclusion for the State of Georgia Income Tax. Please check with your tax professional to verify and see how this effects your personal situation. This is not income tax advise.

Categories
Small Town Living Small Towns

How is Living in a Small Town Different

Smalls towns are not what they used to be. These days they appeal to most everyone who wants a brake from the rat race of urbanized living. Small towns offer so much more than they used to.

That being the case, what are some of the differences you will notice if you move from a metro area to a small town.  I am about to find out moving from a metro area that is getting more urbanized everyday to a small town out one the fringes of a metro area. This move will be to a Del Webb community and that seems to be their ideal location, far enough but not too far, from metro areas.

My post: Anticipating a Move to a Small Town

We have purchased the home and are downsizing our current household belongings, meeting with an interior designer who is giving us input on what to bring and will help set up our home in the new community.

So we are in the process of moving, but are following our new community with many visits to the community and surrounding area during our moving process. Observations are being made and I am updating this page with new observations.

The purpose of this posts will be to share my observations about how living in a small town is different and I have two observations to start this list and will add more as we move.

1. More Influence in the Community.

Kind of like you become a bigger fish in a smaller pond type thing. Your input and efforts make a bigger difference. Example: The county wanted to dig up one of the new tennis courts in my new community to lay a utility line and said they would return the courts to same or better condition.  They did not. They tried to repair the courts but they kept cracking. The county was not going to do anything further but talk.  In the recent county elections the community got behind a new candidate who took their tennis court issue seriously and with help of the community got elected. The new commissioner got this problem taken care of.  That is one example and I am sure there are more not just in politics but in volunteering and other causes.

2. Traffic is different.

Traffic is lighter and is less congested but some things are further away.  So you might drive further with a less congested drive and arrive about the same time. In fairness, many things are closer but some are not. I will hone this initial observation once I start living there everyday.

I very much look forward to continuing this list very soon with my observations of how living in a small town is different than living in a metro area.

3. Churches are Small Too.

Rather than the huge mega churches found in the city and suburbs, smaller churches are all around. In this area many of them are quaint architecturally.

4. Fresh Produce is available.

In the city, the organic farmers markets on Saturday were high priced and very little selections sold by middle men making their markups taking produce from boxes from who knows where. In a small town, there are produce stands selling fruits and vegetables that taste like they should at a reasonable cost.

Robert and Mary Ann Fowler

Categories
Small Town Living

Observations About Moving To A Small Town

I moved to a retirement community out on the far edge of the metro area, away from the suburbs where my wife and I had lived for 36 years.  I knew life would be different and here are some of my observations about things I noticed are different. I am happy to report that we are loving it!

  1. Less traffic. It’s so funny because we used chuckle when people complained about our traffic, thinking they just were not used to city living.  Now we say the same thing and have enjoyed getting away from the awful traffic!
  2. People are friendly.  Out in public the people you encounter at the park, in restaurants, and the workers nearly everywhere, overall are just more relaxed and friendly and considerate. People seem to show their personality more.
  3. There are plenty of places to eat out and buy stuff.  Restaurants are less crowded so you don’t get the mad lunch hour rush as much. With a major mall only 15 minutes away, that is close enough.  A Publix and a Kroger a mile away. Haven’t found anything that I missed so far except maybe a Whole Foods or Fresh Market. Oh, my Amazon Prime works just great with two day deliveries.
  4. More scenic countryside.  I love driving out our back community gate, passing barns and farm houses and a lamas farm!
  5. More places to walk. Our subdivision has plenty of nice wide sidewalks.  Out on the main street there are wide sidewalks. The high school track is open after hours for anyone to walk! (not so in the suburbs where they lock the gate) Several parks and even a rec center with an indoor track.
  6. Your vote counts.  The just had an election for school board president and someone won by 8 votes!
  7. Community fairs and events.  People really turn out and support the community events.  Be it a 5k run, arts and crafts fair, or Christmas parade, people come together for these events.
  8. Medical services close by.  My dentist is 5 minutes away.  I visited the orthopedic doctor yesterday at the medical building next door and got there in 5 minutes or less.

I haven’t noticed anything that I miss from my old community of 21 years, except some friends that I don’t see as often. There was a risk in moving out to a more rural area but that has now been officially resolved!

I like living in a small town!

Categories
Over 55 Communities Small Town Living

Lessons Learned From My Stay At The Villages Florida

Lessons Learned From My Visit To The Villages Florida

I made a mistake of calling The Villages in Florida a small town, according to one of my social media friends.  He said “Obviously you have not been there!”  Well I took this under advisement and booked a weeks stay at Lake Sumter Landing in the heart of The Villages. He was right, The Villages is a large place with 120,000 residents and 60,000 golf carts, three town squares, probably 15+ recreational centers and much more. In fact, here in 2020 they are building another whole new section. The growth continues.

I had been hearing for years how much residents loved living in The Villages and I have to agree they have an attractive and somewhat unique idea. So returning from my trip I began thinking of what makes The Villages so unique. What ideas could be learned so other 55+ communities and small towns could benefit from what The Villages is doing.

Here are two ideas that struck me as unique that The Villages is doing and that might be a good idea in other places too.

1. They simply call their senior centers “recreation centers“. I like that. Everyone knows many people don’t like the name “senior” so senior centers started called themselves “adult centers” and other such names.  They are really only recreation centers.  Why not call them 55+ Recreational Centers or whatever minimum age fits.

2. The Villages are open to anyone to visit, eat, shop and use. Their three town squares have all kinds of events like the Arts and Crafts show and the Classic Car show when I visited. Families and persons of all ages were enjoying the town squares. Now the “villages” as they call the residential communities do have a security gate but the rest of The Villages is wide open. I like that.

I think towns could benefit from idea 1 above and just call their senior center “55+ Recreation Center”. I also think 55+ communities and small towns could benefit from more of a collaboration in joining the 55+ Community or even several 55+ Communities around a rejuvenated town square with shopping, activities, entertainment, outdoor spaces and the like. It would benefit the town and the community, which really are one and the same.

I still think, even after my visit, The Villages have a small town feeling.

Even though in total they are quite large, the town squares certainly gave me the feeling of a small town. People greeted, acknowledged and spoke with others like they do in a small town.  Like a small town, people were relaxed and not in a big rush. The recreation centers are close by to each residential community so you are likely to meet your neighbors there. Yes, I think I still consider The Villages a small town.

Robert and Mary Ann Fowler

Florida 55+ homes for rent

Categories
Georgia

Retirement in the North Georgia Mountains

north ga mountain view from deck at Big CanoeWhen it comes time to retire in Georgia, many people just look North to the Georgia Mountains, a short distance from Atlanta.  You are still in your home state and can easily visit the metro Atlanta area to visit friends or attractions.  Also you can get to know the new area where you will be living full time even before your move by making frequent visits to get to know the area.

We have two sets of friends who have done just that.  Tina and David bought a foreclosure in Big Canoe, a wonderful mountain community about one hour north of Atlanta.  David does home renovations so it has been perfect for them to fix it up and even thought they have been working hard on the house for almost a year, I think they really enjoy going up to the mountains and enjoying as well as working.  We went up on July 4th to see the fireworks at their mountain home and fell in love with the place.  They are not planning on moving there full time just yet, but are up there just about every week. There are many 55+ communities in Georgia but most are on the edge of Atlanta and not that far up in North Georgia.

The other couple, our friends Jim and Jean retired to the North Georgia Mountains.  Knowing they would like to move to the North part of the state, Jim got a transfer to the Gainesville office a few years before his retirement date.  This put them in a perfect situation to go ahead and move up to Banks County Georgia, where they built a perfect retirement home with screen porch overlooking a stream on five areas. This worked out so good Jim even delayed his retirement since he almost felt he was retired.  This transition to a new area by relocating his job worked out for the best.

Jim and Jean visit us in Alpharetta or we just meet in Gainesville for dinner, half way for each for us. Really it is not harder to get together with them now than it was when they lived in DeKalb County in the metro Atlanta area.

They both like living in the North GA mountains even though there are some inconveniences.  Jean says the water supply line has broken many times to their home and the head of the water department just keeps making repairs rather than run new lines that are needed.  Jean says he has a “small town mind” about things and just looks at people like them as complaining “wealthy people from Atlanta”, which she says they are not.  However building a barn and getting a horse, chopping your own firewood from your property and just listening to the crickets perform a symphony from your swing on your screened in porch makes in all worth it.

Jim and Jean knew what they wanted and went for it.  I know I and others who envy them.

As an update to this post, Mary Ann and I retired to Northeast Georgia area in Braselton and love living in the Del Webb Over 55 Community there. We are close to Gainesville and Buford. We like the view of the mountains from our patio and love driving the area.

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