Real Life Retirement:  what real people are doing after age 55 


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sun city anthem community center las vegas

The interior of the community center at Sun City Anthem in Las Vegas.  In this building there are an indoor pool, exercise rooms, game rooms, class rooms, health care facilities, a restaurant and spectacular views. Just outside the door is another pool and a highly-rated  golf course.  The homeowners' fees here are fairly high.

 Questions to ask about Sunbelt retirement

Retirement communities in the sunbelt states have come a long way from the dumpy little boxes the Del Webb corporation built in Arizona a couple of decades ago.  Then, the tiny one bedroom retiree homes were substitutes for living in a trailer park.  Maybe there was a pool and a simple clubhouse/meeting room in the community, but mostly the idea was to build something very low cost for older people with limited incomes.

Today, many age-restricted communities are like country clubs.  The homes are spacious, even luxurious--with prices to match.  The clubhouses are opulent.  The amenities seem endless.  And homeowners' fees get higher with each "extra" located within the community.

Luxury retirement vs. economy class

With a little scouting around, it is possible to find other less luxurious retirement communities with fewer amenities and significantly lower price tags even in major retirement centers like Las Vegas and Phoenix.  Ask yourself: 

   - Do you need an onsite health care facility?  Or are you willing to go to a nearby doctor's office? 

   - Do you need an onsite golf course? Or are there one or more public golf courses not far away? 

   - Do you need an onsite restaurant?  Or a billiards room in the clubhouse?  Or could you find similar facilities nearby?

The most important factors to consider before you move to a sunbelt retirement village are:

 1.  What you really need to have within the community. 

 2.  What you are willing to pay for it--both for your retirement home and for those monthly homeowners' fees which seem to creep upwards relentlessly.

 3.  What you can find outside in the larger city or town where the retirement development is located. 

City life, Country Life

The other big question to ask:  "Is living in a big city like Vegas or Phoenix or Tampa best for you?"   Some builders are now moving out into lower cost areas with their newest retirement villages.  For example, there is a retirement village in Mesquite, about 40 miles up the road from Las Vegas.  The cost?  Significantly less than at comparable communities in Vegas.  The amenities are similar. 

'Test-driving' a community before you move.

Some retirement communities allow potential homeowners to rent a villa for a few days within the community to "test drive"  the experience of living there.  Ask the builder about this.   If it is an existing retirement community, rather than a new one, you may be able to arrange a short term stay through a vacation rental company like AirBnB.  (For more about AirBnB go here.)

Revere golf course las vegas

Snowbird Villas

Phoenix and some areas of Florida offer retirees different choices: communities that are basically winter escapes for snowbirds--people fleeing freezing northern winters.  Many of these are more or less RV parks. Come March they empty out as everyone goes back home. 

Other retirees live year 'round in Arizona and Florida but, boy, it is sizzling hot in the summer in both areas.  Las Vegas, which also has long, scorching hot summers, does not have many seasonal snow bird communities.  It is cold, sometimes snowy, in Vegas in the winter. 

Hot Summers Mean Living Indoors

If you are someone who enjoys being outdoors you will find that in the hot summers of Nevada and Arizona, you will spend 4 or 5 months (late May through September) every summer living inside in air conditioning.  It is simply too hot to go outside for any length of time.  And in Las Vegas where winter weather can be freezing, you will spend a couple of more months every winter inside, too.   And then there is Florida with its hurricanes in summer and fall!  For some retirees these weather conditions are preferable to months and years of freezing cold and snow, but others find these local climate conditions are a problem that interferes with the lifestyle they want for themselves.

Other retirees are moving abroad.

NOTE:  All names on this site have been changed to protect individual privacy.  The stories are real, the names are not. 

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