If you have been following Picture Retirement for the past year, you know that Malcolm and I have been ‘trying on lifestyles’ while waiting for the housing market to right itself. After we purged a lot of ‘stuff’ and sold our home more than a year ago, we spent some time in a nearby beach cottage, we took a few short road trips to check out some desirable locations, we moved in with my MIL for nearly eight months, and for the past three months, we have been living in an age-restricted rental apartment.
When it comes to sampling lifestyles, this is a three-in-one-place opportunity. 1) Apartment living 2) Age Restricted Community 3) Size (how small is too small)
We have learned a lot about location and size, but we are still unsure of ‘community’ and what that might look like for us.
We have always lived in a planned community, governed by an HOA and Board of Directors, which is both a plus and a minus. HOA (homeowners association) communities are uniform in appearance, usually gated, and have documented rules that homeowners must follow. Some communities offer style choices but remain within a singular theme – Coastal, Spanish, Mediterranian. Most have no age restriction, but lately, it seems that fifty-five and over communities are gaining in popularity in our area.
After having experienced three months in a fifty-five and over apartment rental community, we are not yet ready to make a determination as to whether we would want this homogenous community lifestyle in a ‘forever home.’ But, we can see the appeal.
Our apartment is comfortable for a transition home, but we already know that 1400 sf is not enough space to accommodate our lifestyle and hobbies. Malcolm’s baking supplies take up one full closet and my camera equipment and craft supplies don’t have a dedicated home, so they are sorted in my clothes closet. The kitchen is adequate, although not entirely comfortable for the two of us together. I certainly don’t mind taking turns cooking. 🙂
Of course, none of these are life-altering problems, just minor inconveniences. The pros of being here by far outweigh the cons.
- Amenities – pool, gym, hair salon, fitness instructor, theater, pickleball, bocce ball
- Events – weekly cocktail parties, live entertainment, educational talks, field trips, fitness classes
- On-site management team, maintenance staff
- Manageable, low-maintenance space
This over fifty-five community is a rental apartment complex of just over 100 units. It is self-contained within a small property and not contiguous with other communities. It is in close proximity to downtown, restaurants, the beach, our friends, and not far from Malcolm’s mom. We haven’t experienced a significant downside since moving here, and adapting has been fairly easy.
- Being here encourages frequent physical activity and participation in social activities
- We find it easy to meet new friends in this environment
- We have eliminated burdensome home maintenance tasks and associated costs
- There are no HOA fees or Board of Directors with arbitrary rules to endure
- We eliminated our property tax bill and homeowner insurance fees
I realize that I have made a fairly good argument for living here forever and not owning another home, but we still believe that it will make sense in the long term, we just have to be smart about it.
We have determined a few things that we definitely want in our next home. I am sure we will adjust this list a few times during the next year or so, but as of today, these are the things we are sure of.
- New Construction
- Planned community
- Housing options ranging from small condos to estate-size homes within the same community
- A flexible floorplan that will accommodate aging in place (min. 2,000 sf)
- One level, no pool, low maintenance yard or no yard, small patio for an outdoor grille
- Community pool, gym
- A park or walking trails (green spaces)
- Close to hospitals, markets, libraries, and restaurants
- No golf course!
So, there you have it. The housing market is beginning to shift (ever so slowly) and we have visited a few new developments in our area. While some of them have homes and floorplans that suit us, none of them have the location and proximity to goods and services that we are looking for. Isolating ourselves in the boonies for our elder years is off the table. In the meanwhile, we will continue to enjoy our comfortable little, maintenance-free space and wait for the right opportunity to surface.
“Unexpected change can be like a breath of fresh air a little brisk at first, but magic for the body and soul.” ― Susan Wiggs
Related Posts – In case you missed any of our transitions