The Martini Theory: Part 2 of 3 “Finding the Right Community”

Years back when devising the Martini Theory, Dough really didn’t understand at the time that the three components were listed in order of importance. He knew them as the three steps of the funnel but was unaware that they were positioned from most important to least important.

As pointed out in last month’s article on the Martini Theory, the most important aspect of one’s search for a place to retire is clearly finding the area that best meets your needs. Those include but are not limited to weather, beaches, location, dining, entertainment, medical services, shopping and more.

Once an area has been scouted and agreed upon, moving to step 2 of 3 is critical to your retirement happiness. Here are some helpful tips on how to match up a community with your personal interests.

Research

Having the internet at our disposable 24/7 is an amazing advantage that we have over our parents and grandparents, who retired to Florida based upon very little information. The old adage of “boy, do I have some nice, dry land for you down here in Florida” was way more truthful than myth, as how did anyone really know if they were being fed a line of lies?

That being said, if you have a community or two or ten in mind that you like, get on your computer and start researching. If a developer today is not satisfying their residents, you will know about it in 10 minutes. When people are not satisfied with something, they use the web to express their opinions. On the other hand, you do have to take everything you read in stride, for no community ever has 100% of their residents fully happy.

Be sure to also research the developer of the community, even if they are no longer involved. A 15-year old community where the developer left five years ago can be in as much of a pickle as one that is only two years old and having financial difficulties. Developing raw land is a massive physical and financial undertaking, and many have left behind significant wake.

The Older a Community Is…

A Dougism from years past indicates that in general, the older a community is, the older a community is. What? If a community opened in the late ‘80s or early ‘90s, one must understand that what is inside the community tends to be older. Examples are amenities (pools, tennis courts, building), roads, clubhouses, home/floorplans and very possibly, people.

So, if you are 58 years old and looking for a “Young” community, you may want to thoroughly research which community has more contemporary people such as yourself. Of course, we are speaking of generalities here, but if you move into a community where everyone is building a home at or close to the same time, chances are you can also grow with that community. On the flip side though, you have to endure the growing pains of that community in terms of construction and in some cases, waiting for amenities to be built.

Activities

The majority of clients we work with are moving to Coastal North Carolina only knowing a few, if any people. Therefore, making friends is paramount and for one of the best ways to do that is finding clubs or activities within your community.

Examples might be golf groups, bridge clubs, exercise classes, tennis & Pickleball lessons, planned social events/parties, Mahjong and Canasta groups, traveling/dining clubs, quilting groups, fishing expeditions and so on.

Be sure to ask to see a list of clubs and groups that a community offers before you consider investing into a community, as this will provide you with an excellent understanding of whether or not there ae like people in your potential future community.

Fees

Just about every community that offers an active lifestyle has HOA and POA fees, and it is important to fully understand them before signing on the dotted lines. A Property Owners Association (POA) is generally the fee you pay for being a part of a community. POA fees typically include your portion of the Amenity Center, common grounds maintenance, possibly some utilities, etc.

Homeowners Association fees are for the home you live in. Depending on whether you have a single-family home, condo or townhouse, your fees could include lawn care, outdoor home maintenance, common ground maintenance, insurance and so on.

As always, be sure to consider the source of information you are receiving on a community. You have worked non-stop for 30-40 years, possibly raised kids, cured famine in foreign countries, invented the internet and built bridges across oceans – so the last thing you want to do is retire to a community that doesn’t meet your requirements, for that mistake can be a timely and expensive proposition. Best of luck!

Should We Have Zigged When We Zagged?

On any given day in the life of an adult, we make approximately 35,000 decisions. Therefore, in a one-year period, an adult makes nearly 12,775,000 decisions. No wonder why Doug goes to bed so early each night – he just made a whole lot of decisions!

With all these decisions to make, it’s easy for us to look back and say “hey, what would have happened if we zigged instead of zagged?” Or, what if we chose this profession over that profession? Or should Doug have attended Harvard vs. University of Tennessee? (Go Vols) Or how about if he chose this family to grow up with versus that family? (just kidding, we all know that Doug made the right decision in life.)

Should We Have Zigged When We Zagged?

Here’s a good example of a zig-or-zag story:

 Back in the mid-90s when Doug was living north of Boston, he and his neighbor Bill and his buddy Ed from Chicago, took a cruise. One evening about halfway through the 7-day cruise and before dinner, they were walking on the Lido deck in search of a cocktail, and as they approached the pool, there was a bar on the left with people and a bar on the right with people. Doug made the decision to go to the one on the right, where they met two sisters from Boston. Twenty or so years later, Bill is still married to one of those sisters and has 3 daughters. Imagine if they had zigged instead of zagged?

Important Decisions

We all make important decisions in our lives.  Some we choose correctly and others, perhaps not so well. But hey, life is too short to have regrets as the incorrect decisions hopefully pave the way for correct decisions down the line, right?

Today, we are all where we are at because we have made billions of well-guided decisions, so let’s take a step back and congratulate each other because there are a lot of places, we could be that are certainly less desirable! Doug means, our lives might be far from perfect however, on the other hand, Los Angeles currently has 59,000 homeless people – not 59,001, agreed?

Choosing ‘where to retire’ is unequivocally one of the last major decisions adults make, so it is imperative that one studies the effects of zigging or zagging, as the implications on your quality of remaining life lie in the ballast. In fact, we think y’all might be surprised how often we meet people who have zigged when they should have zagged and wound up making an expensive mistake. We all know that moving is one of the world’s worst experience and it’s also very costly too!

Best Team on the Coast

To Doug’s knowledge, there is no real estate company in America that is better educated on the area they serve than the team at Carolina Plantations. However, we know you may be checking out other areas, so be sure to find independent Brokers that can help educate you on the area/s you are looking at. Well informed Zigs or Zags will lead you to a happy retirement and if coastal North Carolina is right for you, Team Carolina Plantations wants to assist you on your first retirement move, not your second or third. We hope that you will be able to find your forever home here on our beautiful coast line!

Envisioning Your Retirement

In the movie Caddy Shack, Chevy Chase was playing golf and providing his caddy with some tips when he uttered three divine words of wisdom – “Be the ball.” These infamous words have been repeated on golf courses worldwide for decade’s so, how about if we change up the words to read “Be the retirement”?

To be all knowing of retirement is an endless quest, as there are mountains of information on how to retire successfully. The #1 agreed upon essential element to a successful retirement is financial planning, for without proper resources, it’s off to work we go, and go, and go, or…………

Envisioning Your Retirement

The team at Carolina Plantations Real Estate are the self-anointed and self-proclaimed, #1 Retirement Experts in coastal North Carolina. That is a lot to live up to but hey, we are up for the challenge 24/7! Our knowledge of the retirement process, our area and the many opportunities here on the coast is second to none, so let us help you envision your first day of retirement.

Envisioning Your Retirement

Can You Envision it?

You both wake up early, put on some new exercise clothing & full action sneakers and are off for a brisk walk of 2 miles. You wave to the newspaper kid, milkman leaving the Johnson’s house and those other new retirees walking down your street. You get home and begin preparing a healthy meal of fresh, chilled and sliced New Zealand Kiwis and Costa Rican Papaya, along with organic coffee and natural double organic sugar cane sweetener with a touch of Pasteurized skim milk and of course, a 10 oz. glass of fresh squeezed Florida Orange Juice and, one thin slice of 100% Cracked Whole Wheat bread with a smidge of real Wisconsin Butter. Your local newspaper is on the breakfast table, which is btw, located in your beautiful and fabulous new home where you selected all interior/exterior colors, cabinets, hardwood floors, granite countertops, lighting, appliances, plumbing fixtures, carpeting and so on. (And, why you didn’t follow a career in home design is well, beyond you, right??!)

Playing on the wall mounted 30” TV is your favorite cable news channel, which is indicating that the Dow Futures are UP and gas prices are DOWN. You take your spouses hand, bless the food and continue to say how great it is to be married to him/her and how much you love them, which goes on for a good 1 ½ hours.

Now it’s 7:30am. What the heck are you going to do for the next 12-13 hours??

Just don’t retire, envision your retirement!!

Envision Retirement Now

There are many of you who are reading this blog every month who will probably never leave the home, city or state you are living in now once you retire. Well, that is fine because you too need to plan what the heck you are going to do with your time everyday to fill the void of an 8-10 hour work day and 2 hours of commute time. That’s a lot of time slots and appointments to fill.

So, just what can possibly fill your time? THAT, my friends, is as legitimate of a question that I can ask, and the answers very much vary as to your living circumstances. Those that do decide to stay home and not move, will have to really forage to find many of the options listed below as most are found in active communities focused on (younger minded) retirees.

Envisioning Your Retirement

Retiring is not for the faint of heart. You just might find, like so many before you, that you need to get away just to have a break in your busy schedule! And FYI, it’s not all that unusual for a calendar for a retired couple living in a community geared at active retirees to look like the following:

Envisioning Your Retirement

What do you want your retirement to look like? My suggestion is to write out a sample week of retirement and share it with your loved one so that you both are on the same page. If you are single, heck, you are lucky as you don’t need approval or buy in, do ya??!!!

However, this is a pretty serious exercise that costs nothing and can help you from making a major mistake. For example, if you want to do all the above, you better move somewhere or live somewhere where all of these activities are available, right? And that takes us back to Step #1, The Martini Theory. First, find the Area that best matches your lifestyle (weather, medical, sports, entertainment, shopping, dining, etc.) Second, then determine which community meets your social/demographic needs (activities, fitness, location, people, etc.) Lastly, is the well soaked olive, or your home. This is the EASIEST part of your retirement process as there are plenty of great homes everywhere! Allow us at Carolina Plantations to help you find your next home that you can retire in on the Coast of North Carolina!

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, 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.

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!!