Rather than aging in place in the suburbs, the boomer (me & you) could sell our large suburban home and move to a smaller, maybe more efficient livable home nearby. I doubt we could make any money from our equity swap if we are paying cash for the new retirement home, but at least we would be in position to enjoy life without the larger property taxes, insurance and property maintenance expenses, traffic and no one home during the day.
Maybe the new place would be in a 55+ community with plenty of activities so we could meet some new friends. It would be one level with livable design features already in place. Wouldn’t this make life much better for people who are retiring.
Take a look at this interesting graphic about the history of Active Adult Communities. Many Active Adult Communities are located in small towns. The hot states for active adult living are: Texas, Florida, North Carolina, Georgia, South Carolina, and Arizona.
I have written about the positives of Active Adult Communities and sometimes it looks like it is all positives. (just scroll down to the bottom of this page for a list of posts about positives) So for the last few months I have been asking people, especially people who live in Active Adult Communities, what are the negatives.
A recent 15 day cruise gave us a lot of time to talk with wonderful people we met that live in Active Adult Communities in California and Arizona. These were mostly Del Webb Communities. They could talk for hours about the positives. When we finally asked them about the negatives, it took them a long time to come up with anything. That is a good sign!
1. Number one complain was the Homeowners Association. The HOA were too restrictive, or too noisy, too petty, too political. I know in any subdivision that has a HOA they came become like little dictatorships and really piss people off. When you add all the additional restrictions an age qualified community must have, then all the more to deal with. Also mentioned was neighbors reporting neighbors for violations. Even some taking to doing their own inspections vigilante style. (Having said this, the HOA board members are hard working residents and usually do a great job!).
2. Several residents of the communities originally built by Del Webb in CA and AZ felt the new homes built in their communities after Del Webb sold out to Pulte were not up the the same standards of quality. I hear that in my active adult community as well. ( A lot of resident upgrade their own homes with improvements).
The following comments were related to us from a third part.
3. One 50ish couple from Atlanta didn’t like the Hilton Head Active Adult Community they bought in, so decided to sell and move back to Atlanta. They felt the residents were too old for them. Be sure to find out the average age in the community, it does make a difference to some. Older developments tend to have older residents, which, for many youth-seeking boomers, might just be a deal breaker.
4. A couple of people did not like The Villages in Central Florida. It may be been too large for them. Plus they may have heard the rumors of all the sex parties!
There is always the stories of people moving across the country to live in a new community but later deciding they wanted to move back to be close to their long time friends and relatives. I don’t think that is a negative of the community itself.
Some people that have never lived in an Active Adult Community say they would not live in this type community because all the residents would be older and they like the diversity. There is a lot of misconceptions about Active Adult Communities. I don’t take that as a negative of the community, just one person’s view. The next person may think it is wonderful opportunity to meet new friends and socialize during the day with people who don’t have to be at work. Plus I know I value the friendships I have made with amazing people that are 10 and 20 years older than me. Everyone is not the same age, so there is diversity in ages.
Now living in a Del Webb Community for over 4 years, I would say the gossip turns me off. That is unique only because there are some many social gatherings which can be fertile grounds for gossip. But the outdoor sports I usually participate in has none of that.
Many of the larger Active Adult Communities are located in small towns on the edges of large metro areas and may not have all the nice restaurants you are used to or the upscale specialty grocery stores like Whole Foods, The Fresh Market or a Trader Joe’s. But usually they are not too far away.
As you may know by now, I think there are way more positives than negatives of Active Adult Community living. Most people say they wish they wished they had moved in sooner.
“I wish we had known we wanted to move here 5 years ago,” my new neighbor Karen said rather wistfully a few days ago. “But we didn’t know!
She was speaking about one of the most remote places in the middle of nowhere: the town of Dubois in the upper Wind River Valley of Wyoming. Like so many who have chosen to retire here, Karen and her husband came once on vacation, returned and returned again, and gradually fell in love. Others have fallen in love right away.
When my husband suggested actually moving to Dubois rather than just visiting, the idea seemed crazy and impossible. Leave New York City for the wilds of Wyoming? But it’s only wild in a wonderful and different way, and 8 years on I’m deeply grateful that we moved here.
How is Dubois remote? It’s more than an hour’s drive to the nearest big towns (Jackson, Lander, and Riverton), and 3 hours to the nearest Interstate. Most of the surrounding terrain is public land, much of it officially wilderness, owned by the US Forest Service, the US Bureau of Land Management, or the state of Wyoming. By one standard, a survey from the US Geological Survey, is only about 40 miles away as the crow flies from the most remote spot in the lower 48 states, in the southeast corner of Yellowstone Park.
Nonetheless, we do have many of the advantages that residents from Washington DC, Chicago, even Paris and Stockholm may consider essential to the good life. Dubois has a choice of good restaurants with different cuisines, two places to buy a latte or cappuccino, and two taverns. It also has world-class Internet service, thanks to the fact that the head of the local telephone company was a prime mover in the national effort to bring broadband service to rural areas of America. (Telecommuting is a distinct possibility: I worked from Dubois for a large international corporation for 8 years before I retired, and others here also have Internet-based careers.)
Surrounded by some of the most spectacular vistas in the American West, Dubois (it’s pronounced “dew-boys”) is home to a diverse mixture of active and very interesting people who are deeply committed to maintaining what we love about this village of 1,000 residents that swells to 2,000 in the summer:
The variety and beauty of the landscape: Situated near the Continental Divide, we live about an hour’s drive from the south entrance to Yellowstone Park, on the ecological dividing line between high Alpine forest and red rock badlands. We are surrounded by two major ranges of the Rocky Mountains, the Absarokas and the Wind River Mountains. This may be the only place on earth where you can see all three mountain-building processes (tectonic, volcanic, and sedimentary erosion) from one location.
The nature of the community: A combination of the traditional independence of the American West and the vitality of its newcomers, Dubois’ community is deeply self-reliant and also welcoming. Generally, people here don’t care what you used to do or the size of your bank balance; they care how you relate to your neighbors. We mind our own business but respond quickly if someone is in trouble. What’s more, the proceeds from almost any event in town (and we’re ferociously busy in the summer!) go to local charities.
The history: The first visitors to the area were the trappers who opened the West. Next came the hardy homesteaders and then the tie hacks who cut logs that supplied the railroad ties that opened the rest of the West. Butch Cassidy lived and owned property here. One of the best preserved gold-mining ghost towns in the US, South Pass City, is an easy day trip away near Lander. A recent and surprising discovery atop a nearby mountain, the remains of a Shoshone village, inspired a curator at the Natural History Museum in New York to call Dubois “the epicenter of Rocky Mountain archaeology.”
The activities: We may live in the middle of nowhere, but we have plenty to do. Artists, photographers, and musicians gravitate here, so weekends are busy with jam sessions or performances by musicians, art or photography shows, speakers about history or archaeology at the local museum, an eye-popping quilt show, or pack-horse or chariot races. You might join the tourists at the weekly square dance or rodeo. It’s often difficult to set aside time for what you might really want to do instead: fish, hike, golf, or get away in your camper.
The climate: The Shoshone natives settled here centuries ago partly because of the mild climate. We call it the “valley of the warm winds,” sheltered from wintry blasts by the Tetons over near Jackson and our hovering wedge of local mountains. Summers in Dubois are cooler and more pleasant than elsewhere in Wyoming (or almost anywhere). We often find the winters more temperate and tolerable than back in New York City. It may snow sideways for four days, but then it all blows away.
The economics: Real estate prices are modest. We traded a small 3-bedroom second home in Connecticut for a very large 4-bedroom log lodge with a cathedral ceiling. We don’t find prices of necessities any higher than anywhere else. There’s no Macy’s or Nordstrom’s, but we do have a Family Dollar.
The downsides: Dubois has only a part-time doctor, a full-time nurse practitioner, and a dentist. It takes over an hour to drive to a specialist or a hospital (but that could take just as long in New York City). Shopping is limited (but now, of course, there’s the Internet and FedEx). US mail generally takes a day longer than in a large city. The produce in the supermarket in winter is often disappointing, and you may have to wait for your next trip to Jackson if your recipe calls for chipotle-flavored mayonnaise or dried seaweed.
About this time of year, my husband and I begin to discuss exactly when we should head back east to spend the holidays with the rest of the family. I anticipate my return to New York City with pleasure, because it’s a chance to relax in a place where nothing ever happens (that I can’t miss) and where I hardly know anybody (after four decades). Before long, I’m dying to get back home to Dubois.
(Read more about daily life in Dubois at www.livingdubois.wordpress.com.)
Today let’s look at the financial costs to retirement relocation that needs to be considered if you are pondering the question whether to stay put or to move to greener pastures when you retire.
Cost of housing is a factor, maybe one of the largest, if you need to keep an eye on your nest egg. And who doesn’t? I wouldn’t think most people would relocate from a less expensive area to a more expensive area, it’s probably the other way around. Unless it is to a resort area maybe. Consider how much you can get your current home and properties if you are an owner. More than one person says it is a great idea to rent first in the new location, just to see if it going to work out for you before you buy. If you buy right away before learning the area and then need to move, then the property selling expenses could be a huge expense.
Proximity to family and friends. This certainly is a major consideration, if not financially, then for other obvious reasons. This might be proximity to children, which is the case many times, or proximity to a parent(s). One second thought, I guess there is a financial considerations with the cost of travel for visits, having to hire a nurse or sitter in case of medical emergencies when you can’t be close. etc. Having relatives close by to help you out on occasion saves you money too.
General Cost of Living: You can get this info from the Census web site. On your visits to scout out the new area you will observe how the routine daily expenses compare to your current location.
State and location property taxes: If you buy, then this should be looked at as a significant financial consideration. Another factor to consider is does the new location have an school property tax exemption for seniors?
State and local Income Taxes: This has traditional been a major factor in relocation to Florida and other states with no state income taxes. However now many states have tax benefits for seniors. Georgia has an exclusion for retirement income.
Weather and utility cost: Compare average utility costs and which utilities are needed.
Insurance costs may vary. When I moved from the metro suburbs to a small town I found my car insurance was higher. You would think less traffic would mean lower car insurance costs, but it’s the opposite.
Eating out may be cheaper in a small town compared to city or suburbs.
Entertainment. If you retire to a small town you may spend more of your time enjoying outside activities. If you move to one of the Active Adult Communities, many activities are included. This may be a savings. Senior Centers also have many free activities and these days many are very nice.
With four seasons this New England state of Maryland has several small towns which we consider the best to live or retire in. Here are three towns from our list of the best small towns in Maryland.
Located along Maryland’s eastern coast, Easton has approximately 10,000 residents and is know for its excellent health care system and its cultural activities including a historic theater and art venues. Easton offers four seasons and a variety of outdoor activities. The Chesapeake River offers a nice location for sailing, fishing or boating and the town presents seven scenic golf courses that are noted throughout the region as some of the best holes in New England. The Eastern shore offers retirement and 2nd homes as well. Chesapeake Active Adult Living Community, a Del Webb 55 Plus community is located in Easton MD and should be checked out if you are 55+. Easy commute to Washington DC, Baltimore and Annapolis from the Eastern Shore.
The town of Crofton was originally a gated community that surrounds a large scenic loop that encompasses two elementary schools, a country club and a town hall. One year Crofton was named one of the 100 Best Places to Live in the US. The Crofton Parkway is designed for bicyclists and joggers who long for outdoor exercise and fresh air offered in Crofton. The area is a safe community with an exceptionally low crime rate. Crofton is only thirty minutes away from Baltimore MD which makes it a desirable place for city dwellers wishing to slow down a bit. Crofton’s population is about 28,000.
Another desirable small towns along Maryland’s eastern shore lies the picturesque town of Tilghman Island, the so-called Pearl of the Chesapeake Bay. The area is considered to be unspoiled and a place where one goes to unwind and relax. The town is filled with quaint spots for shopping and dining, City walk sightseeing, the Tilghman Watermen’s Museum and is a working watermen’s village with excellent fishing, an excellent retirement activity. Take a visit to Tilghman Island for a peaceful getaway to check it out.