The Humorous Side of Retiring to Florida

A Few years ago, my wife and I moved into a retirement development on Florida’s southeast coast. We are living in the “Delray/Boca/Boynton Golf, Spa, Bath and Tennis Club on Lake Fake-a-Hachee”. There are 3,000 lakes in Florida; only three are real.

Our biggest retirement concern was time management. What were we going to do all day? Let me assure you, passing the time is not a problem. Our days are eaten up by simple, daily activities. Just getting out of our car takes 15 minutes. Trying to find where we parked takes 20 minutes. It takes a half-hour in the check-out line in Wal-Mart, and 1 hour to return the item the next day.

Let me take you through a typical day: We get up at 5:00 am, have a quick breakfast and join the early morning Walk-and-Fart Club. There are about 30 of us, and rain or shine, we walk around the streets, all talking at once. Every development has some late risers who stay in bed until 6:00 am. After a nimble walk, avoiding irate drivers out to make us road kill, we go back home, shower and change for the next activity.

My wife goes directly to the pool for her underwater Pilates class, followed by gasping for breath and CPR. I put on my ‘Ask me about my Grandchildren’ T-shirt, my plaid mid-calf shorts, my black socks and sandals and go to the clubhouse lobby for a nice nap.

Before we know it, it’s time for lunch. We go to Costco to partake of the many tasty samples dispensed by ladies in white hair nets. All free! After a filling lunch, if we don’t have any doctor appointments, we might go to the flea market to see if any new white belts have come in or to buy a Rolex watch for $2.00.

We’re usually back home by 2:00 pm to get ready for dinner. People start lining up for the early bird about 3:00 pm, but we get there by 3:45 because we’re late eaters. The dinners are very popular because of the large portions they serve. We can take home enough food for the next day’s lunch and dinner, including extra bread, crackers, packets of mustard, relish, ketchup and Splenda, along with mints.

At 5:30 pm we’re home, ready to watch the 6 o’clock news. By 6:30 pm we’re fast asleep. Then we get up and make five or six trips to the bathroom during the night, and it’s time to get up and start a new day all over again.

Doctor-related activities eat up most of our retirement time. I enjoy reading old magazines in sub-zero temperatures in the waiting room, so I don’t mind. Calling for test results also helps the days fly by. It takes at least a half-hour just getting through the doctor’s phone menu. Then there’s the hold time until we’re connected to the right party. Sometimes they forget we’re holding, and the whole office goes off to lunch.

Should we find we still have time on our hands, volunteering provides a rewarding opportunity to help the less fortunate. Florida has the largest concentration of seniors under five feet and they need our help. I myself am a volunteer for ‘The Vertically Challenged Over 80.’ I coach their basketball team, The Arthritic Avengers. The hoop is only 4-1/2 feet from the floor. You should see the look of confidence on their faces when they make a slam dunk.

Food shopping is a problem for short seniors, or ‘bottom feeders’ as we call them, because they can’t reach the items on the upper shelves. There are many foods they’ve never tasted. After shopping, most seniors can’t remember where they parked their cars and wander the parking lot for hours while their food defrosts.

Lastly, it’s important to choose a development with an impressive name. Italian names are very popular in Florida. They convey world travelers, uppity sophistication and wealth. Where would you rather live: Murray’s Condos or the Lakes of Venice? There’s no difference — they’re both owned by Murray, who happens to be a cheap bastard.

I hope this material has been of help to you future retirees. If I can be of any further assistance, please look me up when you’re in Florida. I live in the Leaning Condos of Pisa in Boynton Beach.

55 and Over?

W.C. Fields

W.C. Fields, one of America’s best one liner treasures, had some rather tasty comments on children:

  1. Children should neither be seen or heard from – ever again
  2. I like children – if the are properly cooked
  3. They are also very good with mustard

At Carolina Plantations Real Estate, we often are asked if we have any 55 and older retirement communities along the Carolina Coast. To my knowledge we have zero on the North Carolina coast. I have heard there are one or two small 55+ communities in Myrtle Beach and Del Webb has a joint down in Hilton Head.  That is all I know of – officially that is.

55 And Older Living

The majority of 55+ communities appear to be in Arizona and Florida – which makes sense because traditionally, these two locations draw a mature audience. The Carolina’s on the other hand appear to be targeting a more youthful and active group of retirees. If you are in your 50’s and 60’s, many still have a whole lot of gas remaining in their tanks including rounds of golf in their bags, morning power walks in their new sneakers, games of tennis with their rackets, trips up the river in your kayaks and many, many more neighborhood parties to attend!

To best understand if Brunswick County has any 55+ communities, one really needs to do a quick study of the economy here along the Southeastern Coast of NC. When you drive south from the Cape Fear River and downtown Wilmington towards Little River, SC, you will not see the never ending array of huge Class A office building one finds in the suburbs of DC, Atlanta, NY, Chicago, Boston, Baltimore and so on. You will though see lots and lots of Loblolly Pine trees.

Brunswick County historically is a service oriented economy. Beach hotels, rentals, golf courses, restaurants and grocery stores dot our sparse landscape. Therefore, the average person in their 20’s & 30’s seeking employment here will more than likely max out at a salary of $35,000. So, even if you have two young adults working here full-time, the best they will bring home is $70,000.

The reason why this analogy is important is because with a combined (top) income in this range, purchasing a home and living in one of the many plantations in our area is less likely – which equates to less Big Wheels on the sidewalk and babies in the pool.  Therefore, our plantations here are predominantly filled with retirees. Of course it is not to say that there are not young children in some of the higher end golf plantations, but if there are, the yellow bus has a very quick route to follow.

Our neighborhoods here love children and we don’t insist that they be removed from sight after 5 PM. However, if you were a young couple with young children, would it make a lot of sense to move into a community with mostly retirees? The many plantations here in Brunswick County only have a handful of younger children living in them. Right, wrong, good, bad, we don’t have signs at the entrance to our communities that say children not welcome or tolerated at certain times of the day or night.

The one exception to this rule of thumb in our area is Landfall – which is arguably the premiere private golf course community in Southeastern North Carolina. Landfall is located on the east side of Wilmington and is within walking distance to Wrightsville Beach. Of the 1,600 homes already built in the gated community, there are numerous young professionals who have been rather busy, as the community boasts a population of over 700 children.

If you are in need of a community with strict rules governing children, your best bet is to stay on I-95 through the Tar Heel state and don’t stop till you see orange groves or cactus fields!!