My wife and I moved to Florida from Houston, TX. She surveyed the entire area before settling into the over 55 retirement communities’ lifestyle. Although, we were not married at the time I had offered to assist her in moving to Florida. We had been neighbors since 1984 for about 5 years.
Factors That Contributed Moving to Florida
There were different factors that determined moving to Florida. Downsizing was one. She lived in a four bedrooms, 3 baths 2700 sq ft home with a 5000 gallon swimming pool. The pool was completely screened in and landscaped to perfection. The property was located on a half acre of land on the bayou. Her home was beautifully landscaped all done by her. She did all the maintenance around the yard. Which was a lot of work for one person. It was like a garden paradise.
Factor number 2 was that she had been recently divorced. It was time for a new beginning in a different part of the country. This leads to factor number 3. She suffers from a lot of allergies and the air pollution in the Houston/Galveston area was not the best for healthy living. The area is loaded with large numbers of petrol chemical refineries. Some are the biggest in the country. The smell and the pollution can get very toxic at times which affected the air quality, depending on the way the wind was blowing. So she was ready for a change in the environment.
Chose A Community That You Want To Make Into A Home.
There were certain amenities my wife required from a community she was going to make into a new home for herself. Since she was a single lady at the time, security was a very important priority. Another one was a swimming pool since she is an avid swimmer, she swims 1/2 mile a day.
She has three siblings in Central Florida so she wants to be within proximity of all three. The community had to consist of single family, freestanding homes. She was not interested in a condo type or mobile/manufactured homes lifestyle. Florida has a lot of condos and mobile home communities’. These properties are affordable to “snowbirds” that winter in Florida but still have their primary residence up north.
Deciding where to live is very important and should have a complete knowledge of the available communities’ in the area. One community that met all the qualifications is The Villages which is situated South of Ocala, FL and about 100 miles NW of Orlando. It is perhaps one of the premier over 55 retirement communities’ in the US. There are more than 120,000 residents living in the Villages. It is a golf cart community meaning you can go anywhere withing the Villages in a golf cart. They have a full staffed hospital equipped with emergency room facilities and doctors offices of all specialties throughout the Villages. Restaurants, various golf courses, community swimming pools, shopping centers, theater, movies and plenty of outdoor and indoor activities. Just about anything you care to do is available to the residents. This is a very active community.
Which Community To Choose
My wife made a thorough search of the various communities’ in the area, including The Villages. Along with her sister and husband, they visited any potential place where she felt she would be happy living.
The place she selected is located on a lake and just across the lake lives her sister. The Villages is 30 miles away and we visit their restaurants and doctors offices. One of the reasons The Villages was not on her list was because of the maintenance fees. As it turns out, our maintenance fees are more than The Villages.
We live in a gated community which is a lot smaller with about 700 homes. Amenities included in our community are; Olympic size swimming pool, tennis/boccie court, horse shoe, shuffle-board, walking trails are their outdoor activities.
We have a large recreation center that hosts different plays throughout the year. There are different activities for the residences such as card playing, bingo, weight room, arts and crafts, etc. There is a full kitchen for functions put on by different clubs such as chores, line dancers, tap dancers, ballroom dancers and others. A computer and small conference room is also available.
In addition there is a light house at the top of the highest hill. It is also used for outdoor events. There is a patio with outdoor furniture.
This is a small quiet community situated about 40 miles SW of Orlando and all the theme park activity. Lake Harris is part of a chain of lakes connected by canals for boating activities. Entrance to the community is by bar code and to the swimming pool and recreation center is by card scanners.
Your Decision Is Final
So, in my personal opinion, the smaller over 55 retirement communities are favorable over larger communities. One without a golf course since neither one of us golfs but we enjoy all the amenities we need. Do your research before moving. Make a list of all the amenities you would like to have in a retirement community.
Also, is a retirement community right for you? Some retirees feel more comfortable living among residents of different age groups. Retirement communities have a lot of deed restrictions, some you would not find in a typical family subdivision.
When you decide on a location, visit the area to see what is available. Some communities have rentals you can rent and see if the community is right for you. If you decide to move after retiring, take your time start before you retire and don’t rush the process.