So, we retired when we were 57 years old and married for 35 years. What are we going to do for the next 4 to 40 years. (My grandpa Scherr was retired more years than he worked). The circumstances of our retirement were complicated but briefly it involved our office building accidentally being destroyed and we had to relocate it, changes in the credit card processing industry and how it would affect our clients and our own health. So with selling/insurance from the building and business and other sources we actually purchased two vacation homes. One as a family retreat and meeting place, a six bedroom home on a non-motor boat lake in the Catskills and the winter home in Florida which is a 2 bedroom plus den and 2 bath. We have a nice soft bed with no metal frame in the den so we sleep more than 6 if needed and the regular guest room is on the opposite side of the house from the master so guests can have a private space.
So how do we keep busy when we are in Florida, Well there’s the repetitive things like Ron plays racquet ball 7-8a twice a week and tennis at 9 or 10:30 3 days a week. I have water weights everyday at 9:30 and boxing at 3-4 twice a week etc, Then there are clubs like photo club, arts and crafts, drama etc that meet from once a week to once a month and then there are shows, some brought in by the homeowners association and some by the clubs (some you can bring guests and some it is only for people in that complex. My son’s in-laws purchased 4mi away but we hardly see them because we are doing stuff at our complex and they are at theirs.) Among the stars we’ve seen are Don McClean, Joan Baez and Peter Noonun, we’ve seen lots of tribute bands and even bigger groups like Capital Steps and also a variety of local/regional entertainers that also do the cruise boat gigs. And in on top of that we’ve had several concert and theater venues which we’ve either purchased individual or season tickets. WE had two years where we juggled two or three Tuesday night subscriptions. Some sites are better than others on returns and exchanges But you can see how we keep busy.
And then of course there are the visitors and actually this is something you need to check before you purchase, Our complex does not allow diapers in the pool so my kids really can’t come down again until the 2 year old is out of diapers. But another nearby complex does not let children in the pool at all. In general Valencia Shores is kid friendly The Men’s Club does all sorts of kids programs (ages 5=17 ish) during the December school break and people often pass around high chairs, car seats and Pack n Plays
So moving is never easy, finding new stores, new practitioners, doctors, etc, but Ron and I personally made a good choice with Valencia Shores. We’ve formed nice friendships for the future and every once in a while make an acquaintance with some one that shares our past history
Purchasing a unit in one of these units new can be a full time job. It takes 40–60 hours to pick all the colors and fabrics, landscaping and more. We opted for a resale unit that was about 10 years old. The disadvantage was that most original owners are 10-15 years older than ourselves but the advantage was that the clubs existed and had leaders, whereas the new construction was just starting to organize clubs, etc.
There are a lot of little things that might not seem importanto but could cause you to love or not love the new home in the long run.
So in no particular order, here is a list:
Orientation of house, where does the morning sun and evening sun hits the house.
General landscaping what does the HOA take care of and what can you customize
Mail delivery-to home or central pick up (newer communities are central)
Sports – type of court surface, procedure for court times and how to find players . How competitive. Teams?
Sidewalks, bikes, shopping
Clubs, how to join, etc.
How to buy tickets, any special seating or other things you should know
Unique customs like how to buy cards and certificates for condolence and happy occasions
Card playing- – how to find and join games, what expected
Do people entertain or go out , who pays who drives (frankly I don’t mind going out and splitting down the middle unless one side h s drinks or wine and other, but I prefer Friday nights homecooked. (Of course there was the time that we accepted an invite from someone wo said she used to be kosher and I said we were kosher style. Ron especially wasn’t too happy when she served chicken parmigiana).
Closets (how many, layout – the difference between a bedroom and a den is that a bedroom has a closet and door and a den doesn’t have to have either
Colors (Dark woods that you love up north may not work.)
Flooring (open layout – we wanted to be able to do a table for 20 for seder if necessary)
Street names (Our complex has really odd street names generally two unrelated words but our street is on of the funniest – Playa del sur Blvd – which translates to South Beach Blvd. We are a standard E-W street in the northeast corner of the complex)
Grandchildren Friendly (Valencia Shores has special Kids Week events including entertainment and field trips)
So this essay is a long time in “the making”. I’ve written and rewritten it many times over.
We retired at the beginning of 2016 but we actually started looking at 55+ “resort style” communities a year or two prior. We looked in the greater Phoenix area (Sun City, Canto Mia), and The Villages(central Florida) and the Valencia groups in western Palm Beach county. We ultimately purchased a resale unit in VALENCIA SHORES. But let me share some of our thoughts, experiences, and observations. There are so many factors to think about, I hope these notes will help you in making a next stage of life decision.
So first there was “our grandparents condo”. In the late 1960’s and through probably the early 1980’s our grandparents, many of whom started their lives in the US in tenement houses, purchased condos in places like Century Village and Kings Point. These were apartments in three to five story buildings. There were pools and a clubhouse and some activities. Some had golf courses. Shopping was often close by.
The next generation were the grown up free spirits of the Woodstock generation. Most of them had pensions and/or early IRA accounts and did well with their investments in the 80’s. Their 55+ complexes often had golf/country clubs and townhouse or attached homes
Now the end of the baby boomers are retiring. They are spoiled. This generation of “resort style”55+ features single family homes of 3 to 5 bedrooms (often bigger than the homes where they raised their families) with top of the line appliances and lots of activities to participate .