Last June, Kathleen Roche's husband, Jim, swore to her that he would never live in an apartment.
The couple had been considering moving out of their Ellicott City home of 48 years and into a senior independent living community, but could not agree on a place.
Last week, comfortably settled into the Brightview Rolling Hills residential facility on South Rolling Road, Kathleen was focused on planning the year's upcoming holiday parties and get-togethers that the couple would be hosting in their new apartment.
So far, she has already booked the private banquet room for a brunch on Sunday with her friends, a bridge game later this spring and a Christmas party in December.
"Everything about it is wonderful," she said of the Rolling Hills community, "except the landscaping."
That's because Brightview Rolling Hills just opened a little more than a week ago. The Roches, along with more than 20 other residents, moved in on April 13 as Rolling Hills' first residents.
The new building is Brightview's twelfth community in the state of Maryland.
Just a quarter-mile from Brightview Catonsville, Rolling Hills has a capability to house older adults at every end of the spectrum of need.
The building contains 143 apartment homes, some designed for independent living, some devoted to assisted living and others reserved for residents in need of memory care, staff said.
The building, as a whole, is designed in an almost hotel-like fashion. With a lobby area filled with couches, large communal balconies overlooking what staff say will soon be gardens and a fire pit, a restaurant-style dining room, movie theater, outdoor bar, hair salon, fitness center and pub, residents are encouraged to get out of their apartment, mingle with their neighbors and staff, and get involved with the community, staff said.
"Our communities are designed to fit in with the community at large," said Deanna Lawrence, executive director of the Rolling Hills apartments.
Before beginning construction, she said, Brightview builders studied the architecture of the homes and buildings in the surrounding area and worked to include the same kinds of features in the newest Brightview center.
Scattered throughout the building are old photographs of historic Catonsville, for example, and the surrounding areas to add to the connection to the surrounding area.
Another draw, said Sarah Schlenker, copywriter for Brightview Senior Living, is the building's size.
"It's a smaller community," she said.
The apartments themselves vary in size and layout.
Those looking for independent living can pick between apartments that range from 580 square feet to 1,250 square feet.
For residents in need of assisted living or memory care, options fall between 300 square feet and 660 square feet.
The average cost to live independently at Rolling Hills, according to Brightview staff, is $3,450 per month with all the community's amenities included.
Assisted living, which involves more services, costs about $5,410 per month.
Residents who may need to live on the lower floor for memory care will pay an average of $7,000 per month.
Seventy-eight-year-old Virginia Hoffman lived in her home in Catonsville just more than a mile away from Rolling Hills for 10 years before moving into Brightview on April 14. She picked an apartment overlooking the woods and the neighboring Catonsville Family Center Y.
"This is the place that I want to be," she said "I have no grass to worry about, no snow to shovel."
She plans to continue to do a lot of the activities she has been doing for the past few years, such as volunteering at the Arbutus Senior Center a short distance away and at her local church, but she's also looking forward to meeting some new people at Rolling Hills.
If anything, she said, the move has given her more time to do the things she wants.
"I don't have the house to take care of anymore," she said. "I'm just where I should be."