Very often some of the best ideas for posts come from the BRITW (best readers in the world). A while back a regular visitor sent me the following e-mail, looking for my feedback. After providing some of my thoughts I asked her permission to share her questions with you, the real experts of a satisfying retirement. Please read what she had to say. I have removed a few specific references to keep her thoughts anonymous.
"This morning I was thinking about our recent downsizing and how at one time we had looked at an "active retirement" village vs. a regular neighborhood. I am so glad we chose to say in an "integrated" neighborhood!
The larger home we just left was in a neighborhood of mostly older folks, many were retired but it was not a retiremenet community. Still, it was darned quiet, the HOA meetings were filled with crochety older folks (sorry), many of the homes were not lived in very often as many of our neighbors who were retired lived elsewhere part of the year. We desperately needed some new viewpoints, and well, it was boring!!
When we visited (a planned community) a while back it was beautiful but in a disneyland sort of way. My husband was afraid of it! Also, friends of ours said that there was an ambulance taking someone away almost every day or week!
No kids! No bikes in the street, no basketball hoops…we decided against it.
Now, we're in a nice neighborhood in (a Phoenix suburb) our neighbors are a medley of baby boomer-almost-retirees, a couple of retired singles who have homes here, younger families, and families with teens. My next door neighbor is that throw back to the 50's: a MULTI GENERATION family! My new friend over the fence, Betsy, is the mother in law, a retired teacher, living with her daughter, son in law and 9 year old.They are a nice happy family! The youngster has someone waiting for him after school every day in his own home! Remember those days? I grew up with a grandmother in our home and so did my husband.
I enjoy a vibrant neighborhood. I don't like TOO much quiet! I love hearing the kids go off to school in the mornings, some even ride their bikes. I wouldn't mind babysitting for a new Mom once I make more friends in the neighborhood, and the diversity is refreshing…enlivening. Anyway–I don't think we would enjoy our "almost" retirement in a segregated retirement community as much as in this vibrant one..
Activities: We have downtown, area towns, the library, the riparian Water Park, the dog park, close-by mountains, and "up north" just a gorgeous 2 hour drive out the Bush Highway. Oh, there's the Saguaro Lake Marina too… and of course the mall, but I don't shop for a hobby… but they DO offer FREE CONCERTS in the nice time of year! Plus many city sponsored classes and activities.I also belong to 3 meet up groups to meet people (of all ages) with my interests (astrology, paper crafts and hiking).
Just a thought for a post.. I would also love to hear from the folks who enjoy their retirement neighborhoods,I love to hear all points of view!"
Obviously, this is a lady who loves where she lives. The idea of a 55+ community is not her cup of tea.The stimulation of a mixed-age neighborhood is important to her.
I know there are just as many folks who want to escape the bicycle-school bus environment. Also, there is the issue of a planned community for seniors that includes different styles of living for different times of our lives (independent, assisted, and nursing center), something rarely found in a "standard" neighborhood.
A third choice is something I wrote about in the post, Retirement Cohousing. This was an entirely new option to me. But, the comments indicated this is a growing trend that offers retirees a legitimate alternative.
OK, your turn. What are you looking for, or what have you chosen to be part of your satisfying retirement? There are advantages and drawbacks to all choices. One of the way we can make the best choice is by considering the experiences of others.
Betty and I keep going back and forth on what should be our next housing choice: condo, smaller home, retirement community while we are still healthy enough to be admitted, cohousing, full time RV…..?