Retirement Communities of Today
So this holiday season has brought me a startling realization.
I’m getting older.
Shocking I know – but here’s the really funny part. So are you.
While it’s a fact of life that everyone does truly comprehend on some level, as a society we tend to neglect the fact that every day we’re a day closer to our “Golden Years” or the “Autumn of our Lives” or whatever you want to call it.
In my own case, I was hit with it full force with this simple idea over Christmas while rough housing with my son. See, he’s getting older too, and growing – and suddenly it seems I’m feeling it a little bit in my back several hours after picking him up and holding him upside down so I can tickle him (yeah, I’m one of those dads.)
Now I’m sure I’m not the only guy to get teased about being put away in “the old folks home” just because he’s looking for a Tylenol in the kitchen, but in my case I happen to know a few people who actually work in a Senior Living community. So naturally, when the conversation returned to normal, we got into talking about real options for my retirement. Out hiking along the beach with the dogs, I was reminded of those conversations you have with grown ups when you’re a kid; “what do you want to be when you grow up?” Only it becomes “how would you like to live when you retire?”
Then again, will you really want to retire? It seems to me that more people these days are “semi-retired” or “consulting” than ever before. I’ve heard that “50 is the new 40” and I’ve noticed that more than a couple of magazine covers at the check out have celebrated older famous women who are “aging well”.
Staying active is the mantra of the modern retiree. Keeping a hand in the work force has become part of the strategy, and none of this jibes with the pop-culture image of a rocking chair on a porch in a Senior Living Facility.
So what’s a modern, active, older adult to do? Believe it or not, one of the best options is a Retirement Community.
Active Adult Living
If you’re like me, the first obstacle after “but I’m not that old” is getting your brain around the difference between Senior Living Facilities and Retirement Communities. Senior Living Facilities are generally more like what people think of when they say “Old Folks Home.” Retirement communities emphasize modern active lifestyles.
So what is a modern, active, lifestyle, anyways? Well, for example I remember my Grandad telling me about how almost the day he turned 40 his doctor recommended that he slow down, take it easier. Fortunately for me, he opted to stay active – and playing golf with him was a big part of my adult life. Nowadays, as we get older we’re reminded by doctors keep active, to get more exercise. Whether it’s golf, long walks, cycling, jogging, woodworking, or running a small business, keeping active is having a positive effect on the quality of life for modern retirees.
This emphasis on quality of life is the core concept behind modern Retirement Communities. On the surface, these places look like fancy resorts. The homes are beautifully designed, well crafted, and built with environmentally friendly materials using modern construction practices. They have beautiful golf courses, walking trails, spas & health clubs, and nice restaurants. Look closer, and you’ll realize that they encourage exercise, activity, health & nutrition. They’ve dressed it up like candy – but it’s actually good for you.
Choosing Your Lifestyle
So really, what it all comes down to in deciding on a Retirement Community is choosing a lifestyle. Maybe starting a new career is way more exciting to you than retiring. Or maybe life’s more interesting living next door to people who have also had interesting lives. Or maybe living in a particular place can be an inspiration for how you live.
Maybe you see yourself touring the California Wine Country, visiting vineyards and dining in nice restaurants. Maybe you see yourself as a nature photographer in the Arizona desert. Maybe you just want to walk on a Florida Beach or walk 18 holes on an exclusive golf course.
Whatever your vision of your retirement, semi-retirement, or re-careering might entail, there is a modern Retirement Community that will not only fit your vision, but encourage you to fulfill it.
Compare the Amenities
Of course, not all Retirement Communities are the same. Choosing your retirement home should be a careful consideration based on more investigation than “is it in the wine country?” or walking around and seeing what color flowers they’ve planted.
Look at the homes, do they reflect the local architecture and feel of their respective locations. Homes in the desert of the Southwest should feel in place in the desert, and homes in the Pacific Northwest should feel at home among the forests.
Look at the neighborhood design. Does it feel like a community, or just tract homes?
Did the designer incorporate curvilinear streets for traffic calming or does traffic fly down ruler straight grids? Is public access limited for greater privacy, or will there be just anyone wandering around?
Well-designed Retirement Communities will offer enclaves within the communities, and feature a variety of floor plans. You want elevation options, and elements like varying rooflines and thoughtful home site placement to best showcase the natural splendor of the area you’ll be living in.
Look at the common areas. Do they offer interactive “cyber-cafés” where you can surf the net, enjoy a latte, or read the paper? Are there spas and steam rooms? Can you get a real therapeutic massage? Is the fitness centers equipped with the newest machines, or is it just a weight bench in a closet off the pool deck.
For that matter, look at the pool. Can you really swim laps in it, or is it more like the little pools you find in cheap motels by the interstate?
Look around, look carefully, and compare closely. Choose your Retirement Community wisely. You are, after all, choosing where and how you want to live out your retirement (or whatever). It’s an important decision and it warrants some serious scrutiny.
New Homes Suited for Active Adult Retirees.
In addition to the amenities offered by various Retirement Communities it’s really important to consider the homes themselves. It’s pretty much a given that people looking for an active adult retirement lifestyle do not want cookie-cutter homes, but there’s more to it than a choice of colored granite for the counter tops.
You want a variety of floor plans to choose from. You want a space that that will honor the local design style, but offer some flexibility to fit the way you want to live. Whether you want a separate casita for visiting guests, an office studio, your own cigar and wine tasting rooms, or an old-fashioned den, you want a builder who can accommodate you without a lot of hassle (or expense!).
Look at the way the homes are built. What kinds of materials did they use in the construction? You’re choosing an active and healthy lifestyle, did the builder take the environment you’ll be living in into consideration? Are they a green certified builder?
Look for builders who offer technologies such as solar electricity generation systems, solar-powered attic fans, Energy Star® appliances, dual-pane, low-e windows and high-performance insulation. These innovations will conserve energy and save you money every month. Think of it as saving the planet and your wallet at the same time.
While you’re shopping, ask the builder if they use low VOC paints and Green Label carpet. These products emit fewer chemicals into the air than older interior design products. You’ll literally breathe easier if they’re used in your new home.
Recommended Retirement Community
If you’re at that point of deciding on your Retirement Community, make sure you take a look at Trilogy Homes.
Trilogy began creating Active Lifestyle Communities in 1999, and specializes in offering superior homes in forward-thinking, master-planned communities. Amenities include world-class resort clubs and tons of recreation choices, reflecting the changing needs and aspirations of Baby Boomers. Trilogy communities are located in Washington, California, Arizona, and Florida.
Trilogy’s communities are built in partnership with Shea Homes, one of the best known and most highly regarded builders in the world. The quality of Trilogy Homes is a reflection of this partnership. But what makes them a “must consider” in choosing a Retirement Community is that they offer a “Test Drive” for prospective buyers.
Under the Test Drive programs, those considering purchasing a home at an Active Adult Community, can try on the life of a Trilogy Member for up to 4 days 3 nights. This includes the accommodations, playing championship golf or relaxing at the luxurious spa, unlimited access to Members-only pools, athletic clubs and more, as well as dining at fabulous on-site cafes, bistros and restaurants. Check them out at www.trilogylife.com