My wife and I were discussing her mother’s dilemma. She is 88 years old and in a nursing center rehab program now for two months with her fate becoming increasingly clear; she will not be able to live by herself anymore. She fell in her home and couldn’t get up.
Only a little over a year ago she turned down a chance to move to a nice little independent living community when her name came up on the list. She said she was still not quite ready for that.
She had placed her name on the waiting list for this independent living community maybe 5 years ago. But each time her name came up she wasn’t ready. My wife and I couldn’t understand her decision not to move to a better place, where she could socialize more and be near help if she needed it. This last time in an interview meeting, the director of this community advised her not to wait too long – enjoy in while you are still able.
Now it appears she will be skipping the independent living stage, going straight to assisted living or to the nursing center. She didn’t want to move when she had a say so, but now it looks like she will be moving with no say so.
We see parallels in our own lives. When we sold a business five years ago we started looking around for places to retire. This process helped me to start Retirement Media which has turned out to be an enjoyable retirement job and I am still learning and exploring the options.
The time was not right for us. Where have we heard that before. Are we doing the same thing as my mother in law. Just not ready yet. It is not like we are giving anything up. To the contrary, this should improve our lifestyle. So why are we reluctant. It is really the real estate market or is it something else.
Last year when we told our neighbor of our plans to move to a 55+ community, she replied “so that’s where you are going to end up?”. Humm. Didn’t think of it that way. Or did we?
Even a change for the better is hard to make. You are giving up what you are familiar with for something new. Maybe now I can understand the mother in law’s reluctance a little better.
After looking for over a year, we found the perfect 55 plus community for us. It is on the edge of the metro area, about 40 miles from downtown but 18 minutes from a major regional mall and more retail-shopping. Nearby there is a winery with hotel and six restaurants, 15 minutes from outlet mall, and nearby some good places for lunch. It is far enough but not too far. We can still meet our friends in the metro suburbs for lunch every month. It will definitely change our way of living to a new lifestyle while being close to familiar areas too. Not a major relocation but a positive adjustment none the less.
Forty percentage of the people living in Village at Deaton Creek, this active adult community on the outer edge of our metro, still work. This means, at age 62, some will be our age or younger. So the age balance is right for us.
It took us some time to come up with the model home that we decided on. We live in a 4 bedroom, 3.5 bath two story with full basement. Not because we had a big family, but because we had a home office and one employee. We no longer have the employee coming over and have cut back the business to the minimal, but still my wife and I do want our offices. We had thought going in the perfect retirement home for us would be a “ranch with a basement”. Basements we found out are a little pricey. A basement runs $50,000 and then $30,000 to be finished, thus $80,000 extra for a finished basement. At Del Webb they have come up with another less expensive option, that of a loft. The finished loft is an option that runs $23,000 to $25 ,000 more, but does add a large room, a bedroom and a full bath upstairs. So we reasoned that would work as I could have my office in the loft and my wife could have the office on the main level and like the 2 bedroom plan. So a 2 bedroom with a loft we went searching for. But when touring the available homes, there was not a loft available, so it would take 5 to 6 months to have one built the Del Webb salesperson explained. Huh.
So next we decided to check out resales so we went through the brochures we picked up while riding around in our golf cart during our two night vacation getaway stay at the community. I asked about any listings with a loft and none were available since the loft is a relatively new option and none of the resales have a loft. But the agent did tell me about another listing which is a large ranch in the Overlook section rather then the middle size homes in the Vista collection. The plan was the Cumberland Hall floor plan.Â It is all on one level and has a large corner office and 3 bedrooms, one of which could be our second office.Â We liked the floor plan layout too. In addition, this resale has a large screen porch and a nice kitchen and many extras. The price was only $15,000 more that the two bedroom with loft that we would have to wait 6 months for. Wow, this is maybe the one for us!
The resale agent was very helpful. She could come to our current home and let us know the market price and what we could expect to get. So how would this work, we begin to ask. Would we contract to buy the resale and immediately list our current home for sale. Do you sell your current home first to reduce the risk then find a home to move to? One resident said she listed her home for sale and put a contract for Del Webb to build her a home but her home sold within two months. What did she do I asked? Got on a boat and traveled she replied.
Being the cautious planner that I am (and who isn’t when you are retired), none of these options looks that great. Yes, we could cash in a CD and buy the resale while listing our current home for sale. Both homes are similar in price so we may almost break even. Then take the sales proceed and buy the CD back. Sure there is a 3 month interest penalty, but that may not stop us. However the bigger risk is selling our current home. We have heard story after story about negatives of selling in this market. It is in great condition, with many improvements in a good location (doesn’t everyone think their home is special and more valuable than the rest of the neighborhood). Or another option would be to sell our current home and then find our new home, but that means maybe moving to a temporary residence if we cannot find a home to move in to right away. I don’t like moving that much.
About now I am asking, and why are we moving? Oh yes, the new lifestyle, new friends, activities, slower pace, nature walks around the pond, fun, etc. Yes, we are sold on the community and have a floor plan we think would work for us. We are positive about the move, it is just how to do it.
So thinking about this during this long Memorial Day weekend, my wife and I think we don’t want to put ourselves in an uncomfortable situation right now, just because we would like to move to a 55 plus community. We have our house paid off, we are retired, so why complicate matters. Our assessment is in this environment it is no time to roll the dice and try to sell your home if you don’t have to. We don’t want to move twice and we don’t want a vacant unsold home to worry about. We still plan on moving to a 55 plus community and now have a much better idea of where we want to live and the floor plan that would suit us. You just don’t know until you have checked things out, if it will work for you. We will keep our options open and look forward to making the move when the time is right for us.
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.
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