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.
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.
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.
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!