Don’t Be Stuck in the Suburbs After You Retire!

My wife and I were stuck in the suburbs in a 4 bedroom, 3.5 bath, three level home with a half acre lot. We were the only retired people in the whole subdivision of 25 homes! Retiring after working 45 years, we were now feeling a little out of place in a subdivision with large SUVs speeding past our house taking kids to their activities or even to their school bus stop at the entrance. I was 58.

We were good friends with our neighbors, who were 10 years younger than us and still working. We had even gone on 6 cruises with them and out to dinner most Friday nights. But during the week, we were stuck in our subdivision with no where to go except lunch.

Our city of Johns Creek did open a new senior center and we joined and became active members. I even served on the activity committee. We got a taste of how we liked doing stuff with those we liked and related to.

That was better, but that was not enough. We looked around, considering our options of where to live. Someplace that was not the suburbs that was clearly kid and work centered, something we were not.

We took our time looking around visiting Big Canoe and Bent Tree in the mountains, Destin at the beach, and small towns nearby.  We decided a small town on the outskirts of our metro area would be nice; kind of the best of both worlds. We could still visit the suburbs, be close enough to have lunch with our friends and make it back home without too much trouble. But nothing was jumping out at us.

Then we discovered Active Adult Communities and found 4 or 5 around our metro area. We made some visits to active adult communities of Del Webb and other builders.  We signed up for the program where you visit the community and stay in a villa for 2 to 4 days to see what the community is like. We did that program three times. We thought about it.

We really like the Active Adult Community concept. The locations were perfect. It would give us a welcoming community right off the bat. A lot of other people just like us were moving there. The Active Adult Communities were all in good places to live. They had done their research.

Then reality set upon us and we froze up. We needed to down size and get rid of a lot of stuff. What about selling our home we had lived in for 26 years in a down real estate market. This would be a major upset to our lives, a lot of unknowns. We procrastinated and our excitement about moving waned.

We continued getting rid of stuff and business records going back 25 years that we no longer needed. Numerous trips to the shredders and to Goodwill. Selling stuff on Craig’s List and giving stuff away and dumping the rest in the trash.

Before we knew it years had gone by, then one day we made another visit to the Active Adult Community we most liked. We came back home and decided it’s time to do this. At age 67, we were finally making our move.

We hired a buyer’s agent to help us find a home in our Del  Webb Active Adult Community.  We looked at new homes and priced all the options. The buyer’s agent said we should considered resales and we found one, a 2,777 square foot ranch called the Cumberland Hall model. She helped negotiate a deal and we moved in!

Now 10 years later, after we starting retiring, we realize we should have moved a little faster. We love living here and it’s going on two years we have been here. Why did it take us so long?

We were stuck in the suburbs, having lived in the same house for over 25 years and in the suburbs for most of our working careers.  Moving and change is hard, but it turns out it was something we managed very well. We adapted to our new home and community almost right way. We never looked back. We know we made the right decision and feel for people who are stuck in the suburbs after retiring and do not quite know what to do.

Moving to a home and a community better suited to making you happy is the way to go.

Robert and Mary Ann Fowler

small town retirement

 

Active Adult Community History


AV Homes, a nationally respected builder of award winning homes and 55+ communities, sent over this interesting graphic about the history of Active Adult Communities that I want to share with you. Many Active Adult Communities are located in small towns. The hot states for active adult living are: Texas, Florida, North Carolina, Arizona and California.

AV-homes-infographic_FINALforwebFor more information, visit AV Homes

Searching for Retirement Home Can be Fun

Getting out and exploring new things is always fun. Exploring retirement home options can fall in to that category.

Destin FL - Where to retire
Getting out and exploring new things is always fun.  Exploring retirement home options can fall in to that category.  Maybe you have a little more time to take a few days off. Explore retirement options in your area, your city, your region and far away. Make it your hobby to research and then to travel and experience new options you now have.

Experience the Vacation Getaways at the Active Adult 55+ Communities with a trip of 3 or 4 days and see first hand what they are all about. In addition you get to visit the town and area where the community is located.  These are positive experiences at very little costs.

Next visit small towns in your area and region. This would be as short as a day trip, an overnight trip or spent 2 or 3 days and visit several small towns.   Do your research first on the web and plan your visit. Visit during a festival or town event would be interesting as well. There are many advantages to retiring in a small town but just visiting can be fun too.

Next travel to a resort area and combine a vacation and a retirement research trip. Go to Hilton Head for a week. While there explore some of the communities in the area.  Warning: don’t buy any timeshares while there. Enjoy your vacation and learn something too. You have a legitimate reason for visiting the communities, you are not wasting anyone’s time. You are the prime prospect, but most communities are helpful and low pressure.  If you really did fall in love with the place, maybe renting for a season would be a good idea first.

Finally explore your own city. Research first then go downtown and experience the mixed use, high rise, loft, town centers and other interesting concepts in your very own metro downtown or midtown.  What would it be like to walk to restaurants and museums from your very own condo. Urban life is not for everyone but there are some boomers moving downtown to experience the advanatages of retirement city living style.

But the main to remember is to have fun! There are no deadlines and you don’t have to do anything. Take your time during your visit to take it all in.

Analysis of a Move to a 55 Plus Community

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.

55 plus community model home

Del Webb 55 Plus Community Here We Come

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.  It is all on one level and has a large corner office and 3 bedrooms, one of which could be our second office.  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.