Is the grass too long and the weather too hot to mow? Are you looking out the window at all the new kids, literally, on the block?
Maybe it's time to leave your old life behind and begin an exciting new one. Short of moving to Costa Rica, there is a way to shake things up that doesn't mean far away places with strange sounding names. Locally, a number of active adult communities may offer the option you seek. But how do you decide if a move like this is right for you?
Debbie Kukla, sales manager at Toll Brothers Active Adult Collections at Bowes Creek Country Club in Elgin, says couples (or individuals) should consider the following questions:
Are we looking for a lifestyle that caters to our interests?
Do we want to mow the lawn and shovel the snow or do we want that time to do what we want to do?
Do we need a home that we can lock-and-leave for the winter months?
If you answered yes to any of the above you may be ready to move into an active adult community. Luckily, there are many to choose from in this area, from Chicago condominiums to suburban single family homes or townhomes.
Erin Miller, director of sales and marketing at The Clare at Water Tower in Chicago, says that a major benefit of living in an active adult community is maintenance-free living.
"With no house and lawn upkeep, residents can enjoy each day to its fullest," she says.
However, Miller says seniors should consider several elements when embarking on the search to find their perfect fit: location, meaningful amenities, a lively group of residents who share similar interests, and for many, excellent health care services and programs that are easily accessible.
Give me the city life
For urban dwellers and fiction writers Judith Barnard and her husband Michael Fain, location was all-important. The couple, who have written several books together under the pseudonym Judith Michael, lived in a condominium in Streeterville just blocks from The Clare.
"We watched The Clare being built from the ground up and were very intrigued by the idea of this community in the center of it all, " says Barnard, of The Clare, Chicago's only high rise active adult community.
She says the decision to move was an easy one since, in addition to continuing the lifestyle they already had, The Clare represented the future and eased concerns with its Lifecare agreement that offers on-site health care services
"Though we have no health concerns today, we know that our lives can change overnight," Barnard says. "By moving to The Clare we were able to alleviate our family from the burden of worrying about us without giving up a single thing from our current way of life."
The couple enjoy an active lifestyle and it was important to them to find a community of like-minded people.
"The Clare embraces residents who are not looking to drop out of life; instead, they want to do it all," says Barnard. "The residents are involved in Chicago's many organizations, serve on local boards, as well as participate in many common interest clubs and groups. All aspects of the community that made us feel right at home."
Trading old for new
When suburbanites Sue McMahon and her husband Bill moved from their 100-year old Victorian home in Geneva's historic district into a nearly 2,300-square foot townhome in Bowes Creek in Elgin it was like coming home again.
"We started out our married life 41 years ago in our first home in Elgin, so we have made it back home," Sue McMahon says.
Sue McMahon heard about Bowes Creek from someone her husband worked with who moved there. "I checked it out, fell in love with the area and one of the townhome models and after three years of trying to convince my husband we should make the move, we did," she says.
The McMahons spent a lot of time being around people, Bob as a schoolteacher and Sue working for the U.S. Postal Service, so they liked the idea of moving into a community that would promote social interaction.
Family figured into the McMahons' decision as well. They have one son in Montgomery and another in Appleton, Wis.
"I wanted a place where our 1-year-old grandson and our 3-year-old granddaughter would look forward to coming to visit," says Sue McMahon. " I remembered as a child going to visit my grandparents in Chicago and not even being able to go out to play as they lived on a busy street. Here at Bowes Creek our grandchildren can swim, play tennis and just run around and have fun."
Kukla says the McMahons are typical of the residents they have at Bowes Creek.
"Most of our clients tell us they want to move closer to their families," says Kukla.
"They finally have the time to dote on the grandkids, go to soccer games, or just spend time together.
When thinking of a move one must consider finances as well and seek the community most suited to their budget. It's important to weigh the pros and cons of the different communities and what is being offered and compare that to your present living situation. Miller says working with a community's sales counselor gives seniors and their families tools to develop personal financial plans that take into account the expenses of maintaining a home versus what a community offers where lawn maintenance, shoveling snow, etc. are things of the past.
"Many are surprised to learn that retirement living is more affordable than they think," says Miller. "Sales counselors provide cost comparisons, different financial programs, and tailored options for each prospective resident at The Clare helping to make the transition much easier."
Communities that offer single family homes and townhomes often have options and upgrades so clients can find a match to their budgets.
"We are known for our pre-priced customizing options so our buyers can make changes to their home at an affordable price," says Kukla.
Find it, buy it
Before embarking on your search Barnard suggests making a list of the things that are important to you and how you would like to live. "Then meet the people that reside in the community that you are considering; try the food, explore their homes, and take part in some of the activities," she says. "Then ask yourself if what you experienced matches everything on your list."
There are several ways to find active adult communities, with word of mouth being a primary source.
"While Realtors are familiar with retirement communities, The Clare encourages seniors to explore options themselves," Miller says. "One way of doing so is by speaking to friends and colleagues when first beginning the search to allow you to receive information about a community from someone you value and trust. Or speak with a sales counselor who can help answer the questions you may have." Kukla has found that the Internet is placing an increasing role in house hunting today.
"Many of our clients have found us on the Internet or through their real estate agent," says Kukla. "We also see many of the golfers at our golf club decide they want to call Bowes Creek Country Club home."
Barnard and Fain visited The Clare four times prior to making their decision.
"Several of the warm and welcoming residents met with us and invited us to join them for dinner and to participate in community events," Barnard recalls. "The Clare has fulfilled all our expectations," she adds.
McMahon's advice to anyone contemplating such a move is: "Do it."
"We all make our own destiny and if you really have the desire to change your lifestyle then you need to do it while you can," she says.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun