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"Over 55" communities
Old 05-15-2011, 07:20 PM   #1
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"Over 55" communities

Hi. I've been absent from this forum for a while.

My wife and I have previously looked at some of the "over 55 active adult" communities. We looked at one when we were visiting our daughter in MA this weekend (we live in VT.) I doubt that we would want to live quite that close to her, but what I see from these communities is: 1) nice homes with lots of room; 2) no maintenance (lawn mowing, mulching, snow plowing, etc.) although you obviously pay for that via a monthly fee; 3) probably a lot of folks with whom you would have something in common living in the same community.

But there are some downsides to a community such as these.

Anyone have any personal experience they'd care to share?

Thanks.
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Old 05-15-2011, 07:44 PM   #2
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You just have to be aware of the restrictions and whether you can live with them . I lived in a community that restricted plants ,color of home , trucks, bird feeders & Large dogs . The dogs had a weight limit . I am not sure who weighed them . The only other downside is the lack of diversity in the neighborhood .I did love having everything taken care of & the instant friends.
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Old 05-15-2011, 08:22 PM   #3
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We have been living in a "55 or better" community now for 6 years and like it alot. We make use of the many amenities (indoor pool, fitness center, walking trails, etc.) that would not be nearly as close and convenient if we lived elsewhere. The community has 800 single family homes. The HOA takes care of all of the common areas, snow removal, trash removal, etc.

It is extremely important to study the governing documents of the community before you buy. There are lots of rules about nearly everything. If you can't or don't want to live with those restrictions, it is better to find that out before you buy.

I have gotten involved in the governance of the community and am now the chairman of the finance committee. Running an HOA of this size is like running a small town government.

We have found it easy to make friends as all of our neighbors are at a similar stage in life. We have found a subset of folks who share our interests in travel, theater, dining out, etc. and hold quite a few group activities with them.

We like not having children around all of the time. This kind of living is not for everyone but it seems to suit us very well.
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Old 05-15-2011, 08:22 PM   #4
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But there are some downsides to a community such as these.

Anyone have any personal experience they'd care to share?

Thanks.
DW's former officemate lives in one. And one thing she did not like is the frequent news that so and so have this medical condition (heart attack, emergency,etc) or worse yet, so and so passed away.
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Old 05-15-2011, 08:52 PM   #5
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My parents lived in a 55+ community for about 30 years. They loved it. The only problem was that my mom stayed there until she was 90 and by that time she was the oldest person there. The activities that they offered were no longer good for a person of that age. Younger people started to move in and be on the "board" and she did not like the changes that they were instituting.

The house went up in value and we were still able to sell it in 2008 during the real estate crisis when it was necessary to move her to assisted living.

There are restrictions and they are enforced but it did not seem to bother them.
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Old 05-15-2011, 10:11 PM   #6
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I looked at one of these communities before I built my current home. And my brother is moving to one in SC in 5 months. If you like and use the activities in the community, that is a plus. If you don't, you pay for something you don't use. One major point (good or bad) is that most do not allow any children under 18, except for short visits.

The next time my DW and I move, we will likely move to one of these communitities.
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Old 05-15-2011, 11:39 PM   #7
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It is extremely important to study the governing documents of the community before you buy. There are lots of rules about nearly everything. If you can't or don't want to live with those restrictions, it is better to find that out before you buy.
This may be true for over-55 communities as for other HOAs-- the bigger the community the deeper the talent on the bench for the governance, as well as for the finances.

Smaller communities are all too susceptible to tyrants, dog-weighers, and apathetic owners. It can be a lethal combination.
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Old 05-16-2011, 05:23 AM   #8
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We are looking at several in AZ, and have talked with family/numerous friends who took the plunge and really have enjoyed themselves. Folks advice to us is to take our time and look at many different communities, there's no rush.

good luck!
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Old 05-16-2011, 05:46 AM   #9
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They don't appeal to me, but a co-worker who retired and bought a house in an over 55 community near Phoenix just loves the place after 2 years. I am sure it depends on each person's wants and needs. In support, I live in a non- retirement community with an HOA we don't care for, so that can happen to anyone. And if you choose an over 55 community, you can leave the "reservation" as often as you like...best of luck.
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Old 05-16-2011, 05:51 AM   #10
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My 79 yo sister moved into one in Tuscon a couple of years ago. I was surprised because she is a non-conformist type who would have rejected the idea when she was younger. But she wanted to move to warmer climes (from a Colorado ski town) and she found this an easy and affordable choice. She likes it and it does seem like an OK place to me.
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Old 05-16-2011, 06:17 AM   #11
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One point I never understood: the "benefit" of lawn mowing and snow removal. I don't live in a planned community, but I have that benefit now - I pay for it, just as one would as part of the monthly fee. So that should not be a factor in making the decision.
The other benefits/drawbacks come down to personal taste (I, for one, like the diversity of ages in my immediate neighborhood, so doubt I would ever move to one of these communities).
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Old 05-16-2011, 07:29 AM   #12
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One point I never understood: the "benefit" of lawn mowing and snow removal. I don't live in a planned community, but I have that benefit now - I pay for it, just as one would as part of the monthly fee. So that should not be a factor in making the decision.
The other benefits/drawbacks come down to personal taste (I, for one, like the diversity of ages in my immediate neighborhood, so doubt I would ever move to one of these communities).
It depends on how much one wants to pay for these services. I live in an HOA controlled community and have ~.4 acres to take care of. So the cost of the maintenance could definitely be a factor in one downsizing to one of these 55+ communities that generally have zero or near zero lot lines with much less lawn/landscaping/driveway. We have looked at a few of these in the DFW area and have not ruled them out, but are concerned about the lack of age diversity, as I suspect being around some younger folks may help us to feel younger ourselves.
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Old 05-16-2011, 07:39 AM   #13
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One point I never understood: the "benefit" of lawn mowing and snow removal. I don't live in a planned community, but I have that benefit now - I pay for it, just as one would as part of the monthly fee. So that should not be a factor in making the decision.
The other benefits/drawbacks come down to personal taste (I, for one, like the diversity of ages in my immediate neighborhood, so doubt I would ever move to one of these communities).
The "benefit" is that everyone has it done and you don't have to worry about the looks of the neighborhood. Maybe. A lot of these communities around the country are having problems with maintenance when home-owners let their houses go back to the lenders. The owners stop paying fees and the maintenance goes downhill.
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Old 05-16-2011, 08:12 AM   #14
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My DH and I have lived in an over 55 community for almost 4 years, and we are pleased with our house as well as the community. There are over 600 homes, and a very active HOA that seems to be consistent and fair. The HOA rules are clearly for the greater good, and enforced. We are good with that.

We currently pay $155 a month which covers the grass cutting and edging as well as our basic TV cable and the common areas including the clubhouse. (We pay more for added channels). I'm at the heated pool and in the hot tub almost everyday....much easier then having our own which we have done in the past.

We have lived in the communities with families and kids.....and never want to do that again. We are offically "curmudgeon's" and are fine with that. This community is about 50/50 year around residents and "snow-birds", which works well.
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Old 05-16-2011, 09:36 AM   #15
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I am reading this thread with great interest. Thank you all for the commentary.
I am still on the fence about staying put (if it ain't broken... ), or downsizing to a controlled and maintained community arrangement like this within the next 5 years or so. I would definitely want my own separate dwelling with my own front door, but with a very small size, easy to maintain yard. I like my privacy, and the ability to socialize when I want to or not that living in a house gives me.
Keep those comments coming...
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Old 05-16-2011, 02:46 PM   #16
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We are getting ready to move to the Villages in Fl. It is a huge community currently at around 80,000 people. It's like Disneyland for seniors.
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Old 05-16-2011, 05:08 PM   #17
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You mean there are not a lot of spoiled grandkids, always screaming in the pools? That is something I remember from living with parents in FL. Not their grandkids (they didn't have any yet); those belonging to the neighbors.

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We have lived in the communities with families and kids.....and never want to do that again. We are offically "curmudgeon's" and are fine with that. .
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Old 05-16-2011, 06:12 PM   #18
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Each community has two pools, one is for over 30 only and the other is a family pool. They are not located next to each other. Notice the crowds in the pool.
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Of all tyrannies a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies, The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.
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Old 05-16-2011, 07:36 PM   #19
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Mom and Aunt live in retirement community in Florida. Very nice, particularly if you like the amenities (community center, golf courses, fitness center, hobby clubs, etc.) Like others have said, some limitations that cna be annoying.

I just turned 55 and would be eligible, however there are too many "old" people (70s and 80s) there and not enought people our age - something to consider is you age in relation to the community you are considering.
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Old 05-16-2011, 09:28 PM   #20
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DW's former officemate lives in one. And one thing she did not like is the frequent news that so and so have this medical condition (heart attack, emergency,etc) or worse yet, so and so passed away.
The biggest downside for us. Were only in early 40's but have thought about these types of communities. Seems like it would be a constant downer. People you live near, become friends with, etc. always dying, going off to nursing homes, hospitals, etc.

On the other hand, they seem like nice, pleasurable places to live, but we've done the burbs thing before and didn't really like it. Just kind of vanilla. We have no idea where we will end up and a 55 plus may be in our far off future, but we'd like to try a little variety before we decide. Who knows, maybe a condo downtown or cabin in the woods is more our style?
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