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Does anyone live in a 55+ large community with lots of amenities?
Old 08-27-2007, 10:06 AM   #1
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Does anyone live in a 55+ large community with lots of amenities?

DH and I don't really want to move (we moved to a ranch condo in an active senior community of 76 homes, less than a year ago and are very happy) but we may be forced to due to road construction that is going on right outside the entrance and make make the entrance/exit very steep and trecherous). So we explored two over 55+ communities in the north Georgia area (there seems to be so many lately!). They have anywhere from 750 to 1500 homes.

The clubhouse was extremely large and well appointed---indoor pool and jacuzzi, yoga/exercise room, card rooms, arts and crafts, etc. Lots of activities. But I'm just not sure we would really take advantage of all the amenities. We don't play tennis. Don't play cards. Don't like the arts and crafts they do (like painting premade ceramics). I think I would use the indoor pool during the winter, but I'm not really sure.

Does anyone live in one of these communities? How often do you participate in activities and use the amenities?
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Old 08-27-2007, 10:55 AM   #2
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The clubhouse was extremely large and well appointed---indoor pool and jacuzzi, yoga/exercise room, card rooms, arts and crafts, etc. Lots of activities. But I'm just not sure we would really take advantage of all the amenities. We don't play tennis. Don't play cards. Don't like the arts and crafts they do (like painting premade ceramics). I think I would use the indoor pool during the winter, but I'm not really sure.

Does anyone live in one of these communities? How often do you participate in activities and use the amenities?
I don't live in one of these organized retirement communities tangomonster, but, like you, have done some research.

DW and I find the lists of "amenities" highly overstated/exaggerated/overrated. Typically, they consist of a public building that can accomodate swimming, working out, crafts and public gatherings. And the list always ends with the statement "and much, much more!" Oh poop......... Much, much more of what?

We get everything the organized communities typically offer from our local park district and library, less than a mile away, and also the variety of living in a multi-age, multi-cultural community. Because we typically utilize the facilities weekday mornings, when most of our w*rking neighbors are all hitched to the plow, crowding isn't an issue.

Our observations were collaborated by friends who sold their suburban home and moved to a Del Webb community (Sun City) just west of Chicago. Pre-move, they kept raving about the "amenities" they were going to enjoy. Post-move they're still searching for "amenities" that weren't already readily available to them in their suburban location.

I'm sure our view on this might change when, in a decade or so, we hit our 70's and develop more of an appreciation for the guarded gates, quiet atmosphere and narrow age band of the residents.
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Old 08-27-2007, 11:10 AM   #3
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DH and I don't really want to move (we moved to a ranch condo in an active senior community of 76 homes, less than a year ago and are very happy) but we may be forced to due to road construction that is going on right outside the entrance and make make the entrance/exit very steep and trecherous).
Given what you said, above, I wonder if it might not be best to try to stick it out where you are. Moving is a pretty big hassle and expense, and by the time you find a neighborhood, find a house, close on it and move, the construction may be done.

I would give you some insight on 55+ communities, but I have no experience with them. I like the idea of living around older people (no poorly behaved teens bouncing their basketballs off my walls or running around my front yard, for example). However, I am one of those people who would rather not live in a planned community, due to fees and due to what I have heard about petty tyrants on homeowners' associations in some communities.
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Old 08-27-2007, 11:31 AM   #4
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I like the idea of living around older people (no poorly behaved teens bouncing their basketballs off my walls or running around my front yard, for example). However, I am one of those people who would rather not live in a planned community, due to fees and due to what I have heard about petty tyrants on homeowners' associations in some communities.
I feel exactly the same way. We spent too much time in suburban developments where the kids run wild. Too much noise, no concern for property, and the parents don't care what they do. Basketball hoops in every driveway, where you get the ka-thump, ka-thump, ka-thump of basketballs at all hours of the day and night. I like the idea of living in a community, but from what I've read so far about those planned places, the fees seem to be really high, and we are also unlikely to use the "amenities". I recently saw a home for sale in a small (probably about 40 homes) over-55 community without a clubhouse or any obvious signs of "amenities". I think that's more my style. I didn't go so far as to investigate what the HOA fees are, since we're not quite ready for a change yet.

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Old 08-27-2007, 11:53 AM   #5
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It is so incredibly important to take your time when investigating these communities. Remember they have spent years and huge sums to develop the marketing to appeal to the buyers. We carefully thought about each item we would or would not use. Very little was of interest because we do not swim or play gold or tennis. Why should we pay for those amenities?

We have done the investigating and have determined we would be better off financially to stay in the same city where we have all our established ties and to buy into a community such as a smaller patio home or condo community that is established in just the right area of our town.

I think we have found several all located on one road that has wide sidewalks for several miles in each direction. Almost every store and facility is located on this medium sized artery and we could walk, bike, segway, or drive easily to everything, even a major hospital and a YMCA.
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Old 08-27-2007, 11:57 AM   #6
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My mom lived in a senior apt. complex and did use most of the amenities. She moved there at age 89: swam, enjoyed the beautiful restaurant (rent included 15 meals a month with waiters), library, computer room (she loved to play computer solitare but couldn't master e-mail). She also played cards, did crafts, went to bible study group classes, loved hearing speakers like political candidates (seniors/retirees are a huge voting block[?], John Kerry spoke there) and most importantly made many friends. Dogs and cats were allowed and people of younger ages often visited along with their kids and babies.

A friend often tells the story of his grandmother who came to life at a senior apt. complex after a lifetime of living in a single family home.

For myself the most important amenity would be a swimming pool. I hate the idea of a single-age community although I live in an area which is mostly 20 and 30-somethings, no children but many dogs. I would prefer living among all age groups and lots of dog and cat owners.
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Old 08-27-2007, 06:04 PM   #7
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Tango,

We have lived in a "55 or better" community of 800 single family homes for two and a half years now. We did a lot of research before buying here. We looked at almost all of these communities in the D.C. area and at some in N.C., Ariz., and Nev. as well. We decided to remain in the D.C. area to stay in contact with friends and family.

I make a lot of use of the amenities. I use the indoor pool and hot tub nearly every day and the outdoor pool during the summer months. We attend social events in the clubhouse. I walk on the walking paths in good weather. DW uses the fitness center. We make use of the meeting rooms for groups not sponsored directly by the community.

Our monthly dues are currently $215, which covers use of all amenities, as well as all common area maintenance, snow removal, trash pickup, etc. I consider that amount a bargain for what we get.

The best thing about the community, beyond the amenities, is the large and diverse group of friends we have made here. There are so many interesting and accomplished people here that it is easy to find folks with whom we share activities. In the last 6 months we have had group excursions to: the Bodies exhibit, a lunch cruise on the Potomac, a trip to Charlestown (W.Va) races and slots, a tapas feast, Chinatown, and several other events. Next week a large group of us are going to see Frankie Valle at Wolftrap.

Overall, we couldn't be happier with our choice.


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Old 08-27-2007, 10:35 PM   #8
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Thank you "tangomonster" for posting this question.

My wife and I are going to Texas to check out several "active adult" communities in a few weeks, and I appreciate the variety of comments. I've interacted with "Grumpy" on this subject before and think the prospect of a "large and diverse group of friends...,"as he states it above, is most attractive. I've lived in many cities with nice homes and no one knowing his/her neighbors. (I've experienced some friendly neighborhoods too, but they seem to be in a distinct minority.)

From the "active adult" communities I've visited, I've been struck by how much more expensive the houses are there than in similar quality homes in non-"active adult" communities nearby. The amenities are alleged to be the difference, but I really wonder ... On the otherhand, if those communities even come close to delivering on the promises (which is clearly the case with "Grumpy"), then I suspect they're worth it. I'm interested in buying into a comfortable lifestyle at this point, more than saving money.

I've been to several of the Del Webb communities, a Robeson community and one whose builder's name I forget. None of them made me go "wow," but none of them turned me off either -- except for the perception that there were no "young people" around. I don't know if I like that or not.
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Old 08-28-2007, 06:55 AM   #9
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From the "active adult" communities I've visited, I've been struck by how much more expensive the houses are there than in similar quality homes in non-"active adult" communities nearby.
I've really been struck by the prices also. We are not that far from one Del Webb community in Maryland. I've looked at the cost of some of the homes there, and the price of a mid- to upper-end home in the development is about the same as we'd get for our 3 bedroom home on 4 acres. The taxes are about 30% more than what we pay now, and the monthly fee is around $200. But I understand that the fee covers the bulk of the insurance (the home are single-family but still condos) in addition to maintenance and amenities. I'm guessing that when it comes down to it, the monthly fee is a bargain, as Grumpy said, when all things are considered.

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Old 08-28-2007, 07:43 AM   #10
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I lived in a small maintenance free community for awhile .Loved having the yard taken care of ,the swimming pool and tennis court ,plus the neighbors were great .The maintenance at that time was $150.00 and included cable tv.The negatives ,a lot of bickering about small issues ( birdfeeders were a major concern ) and we had a guy I nicknamed the tree nazi who used to make sure our plantings were approved by the board .
I have also visited a friend at The Villages in central Florida. Too fakey and much too big for me plus the houses were cheapely made .Unless you are someone who needs to be busy every minute steer clear of those places .
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Old 08-28-2007, 08:59 AM   #11
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Unless you are someone who needs to be busy every minute steer clear of those places .
Oh my! Thank you for pointing this out. I have so much personal, solitary stuff that I want to do in retirement that I really wouldn't have time for a lot of group activities. Maybe I would be more suited to living someplace secluded (but with city water and sewers) than in a 55+ community. I just don't want a lot of noise or intrusion on my solitude.
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Old 08-28-2007, 09:57 AM   #12
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Oh my! Thank you for pointing this out. I have so much personal, solitary stuff that I want to do in retirement that I really wouldn't have time for a lot of group activities. Maybe I would be more suited to living someplace secluded (but with city water and sewers) than in a 55+ community. I just don't want a lot of noise or intrusion on my solitude.
I couldn't agree more! That is exactly what we are looking for when we retire in 3 1/2 years... We are looking at Taos and Colorado for retirement because we want to live in an area with lower humidity than Texas. We'd like to be near a decent -sized city for occasional entertainment, medical etc., but secluded enough that we can enjoy nature and plenty of solitude.
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Old 08-29-2007, 03:34 PM   #13
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Sometimes I feel that it would be nice living in a diverse community with different ages. In an ideal world, there would be a mix of different types of people. But I'm definitely glad to be living in a community of older people. While I don't require much in housing (such as square footage, amenities, etc.) I do like to live in a peaceful, civilized way. I had to escape my last ultra-cheap condo because of too many twenty (and thirty) somethings who were partying outdoors all night long or coming home noisily and standing outside talking on cell phones at 3 a.m.

Even now, there are still some issues because there are no age restrictions here (someone has a college-age granddaughter living with him, others have college kids who were home for the summer). This is not to trash younger people per se, but these kids in their twenties have done the following:

* parked where they weren't supposed to
* interrupted meetings in the clubhouse, coming in and talking on their cell phones right outside the meeting room that didn't have a closed door
* run around the clubhouse in wet bathing suits
* brought a baby into the pool without diapers
*ate an entire cake that a woman was storing in the clubhouse refrigerator and left the dirty pan in the sink!

So, while I'd like to be tolerant, I don't think I'd ever live in a community again where the predominant age was under forty!
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Old 08-29-2007, 04:48 PM   #14
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While you are looking consider your quality of life if you could not drive or if you needed assistance or nursing care. Often couples move to an active community but must move when one becomes frail. One thing a friend observed is that widows are isolated in a community of couples, single women just don't fit in but widowers often have an active social life.

CC community in our home town is a better fit for us.
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Old 08-29-2007, 06:16 PM   #15
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My husband and I moved into an over-55 community about 18 months ago. We love the life style. We are in a community of 1100 homes in North Texas. My husband plays golf and tennis. I use the exercise room and the indoor pool almost daily. We take part in a variety of activities at the clubhouse that includes dancing lessons, cards and other games, plays, and concerts. (I just returned from Mah Jongg)Yes, we could have found these activities where we lived in the 'burbs, but here, we go by golf cart most of the time and never fail to meet up with friends. We live in a newer community, so granted the median age is probably about 65 and things may change as the population ages, but everyone is very active. Our dues are $150 a month and that includes the maintenance of all the common areas. We paid more than that for a gym memberships and exercise classes prior to moving here.

I had a lot of reservation about the life style prior to our move. You guys have mentioned almost all the things that I worried about, but I could not go back to a "normal" neighborhood again. I would be so bored! If we every leave here, it will be into an assisted living situation (hopefully in about thirty years or more) or into another over-55.
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Old 08-29-2007, 07:17 PM   #16
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I have a conundrum concerning housing.

I don't know how long I'll be able to live alone, but I really like being alone. Can one live in senior housing (of whatever sort) without constantly being told you have to socialize (it's for your own good)?

I have a vision of myself throwing something at the fifth or so person to tell me I shouldn't sit by myself.

Solitude and quiet are the greatest boons of retirement.
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Old 08-29-2007, 07:24 PM   #17
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I have a conundrum concerning housing.

I don't know how long I'll be able to live alone, but I really like being alone.
The small town I lived in had a number of old hermits. Guys who lived along the river in shacks they built years ago. They seem to do fine. I think one would have to really want to be alone, and deal with the fear of dying unattended. Once that has been thought over, what is to stop you from living wherever and however you want? Now, with cellphones you likely would be able to make an emergency call if you fell or had problems away from your phone.

As I see it, the fear of death underlies all the planning and messing around with our "presents" in favor of our "futures".

Ha
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Old 08-29-2007, 07:28 PM   #18
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Khan,

I totally agree. I love being alone. No one in my community is knocking at my door saying I must be somewhere doing something every minute. I am the kind of person who can stay at home a few days and love the solitude. I love to read. I love to just putter around the house! In retirement it is nice to have choices and options. I also like people. I choose the activities that I do. I don't do everything, but I do socialize. I love having the options, I love having others that I like being around, I like being part of the group, but I also like my own space and time.
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Old 08-29-2007, 08:30 PM   #19
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Khan ,
If I remember right you are in your 50's .My Mother is still living by herself ( with a little help ) at 91. So I don't think you have to worry about it just yet .
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Old 08-29-2007, 11:57 PM   #20
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I have a conundrum concerning housing.

I don't know how long I'll be able to live alone, but I really like being alone. Can one live in senior housing (of whatever sort) without constantly being told you have to socialize (it's for your own good)?

I have a vision of myself throwing something at the fifth or so person to tell me I shouldn't sit by myself.

Solitude and quiet are the greatest boons of retirement.
My mother lives in an assisted living complex and I have spent a fair amount of time there. I would go nuts in a place like that. They roll up the carpets at 8pm and it is like a ghost town. Dinner is from 5 until 7 but the dinning room is empty by 6. The staff encourages participation in activities and they also have master keys to all the apartments. I was walked in on by a staff member just as I was getting out of the shower. I was pissed!

I you want to be alone this is not a good place to do it. It is an institution and the "man" wants you to get out of your room and "enjoy" all the entertainment they have to offer.
Not for me.

We are looking for a community where we can have a decent sized house but where they take care of the yard. We plan on being on the road several months at a time each year and don't want to worry about a yard but we also want a place we can come to and enjoy some of the things we can't put in the RV and to have a place where the kids and grandkids can come and visit.

We have not found anyplace yet in this area but are still looking.
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