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"Fair orchard trees wave their fruit-laden arms, And nature smiles in her Autumnal charms." ~John Askham

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Today's Community Review:

The Oasis, Menifee, California

Menifee is in Southern California and the site of The Oasis, a large, gated 55+ community with single family homes, a clubhouse, an adjacent golf course and grounds dotted with crape myrtles, palm trees and pine trees.

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Previous Reviews:

Power Ranch, Gilbert, Arizona

Close to Phoenix in southern Arizona, Gilbert is the location of Trilogy at Power Ranch, a stylish 55+ neighborhood within a larger development. Single family homes are for sale, and amenities include a large clubhouse, an 18 hole golf course, swimming pools, tennis courts, an activities director and more.

The Cloister at St. Henry, Nashville, Tennessee

Nashville is in north central Tennessee and is the site of The Cloister at St. Henry, an established 55+ community with single level duplexes, a small clubhouse, a heated swimming pool, neighborhood events and more.

Creek View, Carlisle, Pennsylvania

In pastoral south central Pennsylvania, Carlisle is the location of Creek View, a quiet, family-owned, 55+ manufactured home community. Amenities include a cozy clubhouse, a pond, walking trails, RV parking and more.

Solera at Stallion Mountain, Las Vegas, Nevada

Las Vegas is in southern Nevada and is the location of Solera at Stallion Mountain, a handsome 55+ neighborhood within a larger country club development. Mediterranean-style single level homes are for sale, and amenities include a large clubhouse, a swimming pool, a spa, tennis courts and an adjacent golf course.

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Communities by State

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Age Restricted Communities 101

The kids have moved out. They have launched themselves into a career, parenthood, home ownership. You decide it's time to downsize. But how? Into where? You're still healthy, active. You're not ready for a continuing care community. The decision can be daunting.

A 55-plus or active-adult community is one option. The only legal exception to non-discriminatory fair housing laws, an age restricted community is run by a homeowners association that offers some exterior maintenance and amenities to its members. Amenities could include a private golf course, sizable clubhouse, 24/7 security, or transportation to and from local hospitals or shopping malls. Housing in such a community can range from modest condominiums to attached homes to luxury estates.

How will you decide? Are you ready for the time it might take? Demand for homes in active-adult communities is on the rise. You'll be competing against other baby boomers, maybe even some Gen-Xers. Start your research a few years before your retirement date. Find a real estate agent that specializes in master-planned communities or senior home purchases. The National Association of Realtors does offer training and certification for senior specialists.

Look at the location. Does it have the right weather? Is it close enough to family? Is downtown too far away or not far away enough? Will you have acclimate? What are local taxes like? Check out the neighbors. Are these the people you want to age with? Make sure you know what services might be available for you as you age. Is your 55-plus community near a hospital, a grocery store, a bank, a pharmacy? Can they get you to the hospital and grocery store once you decide you no longer want to drive? Maybe the community offers grocery delivery? Are there senior fitness classes, personal trainers?

Be sure you understand what amenities you are paying for. Some communities require that you buy an equity membership or hide the cost of that lap pool and golf course in high HOA fees. Inspect your prospective community's activity calendar. Does it have the right mix of leisure and lecture? Are there too many card tournaments and not enough day trips? Do you hate golf, need 39 shuffleboard courts? Is there an activities director?

Understand your prospective HOA. How long is the list of restrictions? Do the board politics give you pause? Will they force you through a long approval process? Will they ask you for bank records and references?

Investigate the community's financials. Are they solvent? How well did they weather the crisis when the housing bubble burst in 2008? And what about the builder? How long have they worked for seniors? Do they understand aging in place? Do they understand the need for zero step entries, wider hallways? Or have they just gotten into the game? Del Webb is credited with inventing the age-restricted community. Keep your eye on what they're building. Other companies to watch are Lennar, Shea, and Taylor Morrison.

Remember, you're not just buying a new house. You're buying a new way of life.

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