"Life is something that happens when you can't get to sleep." ~Fran Lebowitz
Today's Community Review:
On the southwestern Florida coast, Ft. Myers is the site of Cinnamon Cove, a gated, age-targeted community with condominiums, town homes, single family homes, three lakes, four swimming pools, a spa, a plethora of activity groups and more.
Nestled on a historic farm and dotted by hills and pastures in central North Carolina, Fearrington Village is a community popular with baby boomers and empty nesters. Amenities include a Village Center, garden plots, tennis courts, a swim and croquet center and an eclectic mix of homes.
Tucson is in southern Arizona and is the location of Mona Lisa Village, a quiet, small 55+ town home community with adobe buildings, a clubhouse and a swimming pool.
Gated 55+ LeisureTowne sits in a pine forest in southern New Jersey and is well established. Cute single family homes and town homes are for sale, and amenities include clubhouses, swimming pools, tennis courts, a driving range, dozens of activity clubs and more.
Southern Pines is in south central North Carolina and is the setting for Knollwood Village, a wooded community with condominiums, town homes and single family homes. Residents enjoy a nine hole golf course and a quiet atmosphere.
On South Carolina's northern shore, charming Murrells Inlet is home to Seasons, a handsome 55+ neighborhood within the popular all ages development of Prince Creek. Amenities include a large clubhouse, a PGA - TPC golf course, a lifestyle director and more. Single family homes, most with a view of a fairway, water or woods, are for sale.
Oakwood is just to the east of sprawling Lake Lanier in northern Georgia and is the setting for McEver Mill, a newish 55+ community with single story town homes.
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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