Monday, July 30, 2007

Active Adult Communities...Attitudes...Needs

Over the past week, both Frank and I have had some varying thoughts on our experiences of a week ago. One day we'll both focus on what we liked about one or more community, but the next day we'll recall what we didn't like. Of course, we take turns focusing on the OPPOSITE qualities from one another most often! In other words, he'll say something like "We probably don't want to live TOO close to our daughter - an hour an a half away seems like a good distance. We don't want to get too involved in their lives or make them feel they have to entertain us or take care of us." So I'll go the opposite direction and say how often we wished we had lived much closer to our parents as they aged and illness became the norm. We both remember feeling helpless and frustrated being 5 hours from his mom and 12 hours from my folks. We wanted to be there to change their light bulbs, pick up their meds, help with routine maintenance and bring them to their doc appointments. Of course, all that could/would have taken over our own lives and family priorities, I suppose. Still, being close to one of our children offers a sense of security.

But Frank is right - it's not good to be too close. We don't want to be privy to their lives nor to have them worrying about taking care of us...

And there's "no where land" between our two children - one is in Vermont and the other in central Pennsylvania. We can't afford to live in NY, can neither afford nor want to live in CT or MA, so that leaves PA by default - and actually by choice.

We spend 16 good years living way upstate in PA right on the Susquehanna River - actually on the dike overlooking the river - in a lovely old 1900 Victorian home. During those 16 years, I totally stripped all the gorgeous chestnut woodwork, painted all the walls, and we then added a huge family room prior to our transfer to NJ. That home was for sale a few weeks ago - and we could have afforded it, if we had wanted to go back and the time was right. But we no longer want an old house that requires constant care and upkeep. Nor do we want to live in that small a town - I guess we've become more cosmopolitan since moving to NJ! We're certainly more liberal than we were there - and we were considered liberal back then!

So, we're still exploring options in PA. Landmark Builder's has another community in Ephrata (Stonecroft Village) that we did not see, but that may be good for us. It's a larger community than Briar Lake (with the "puddle") and more in the country. We've never been to Ephrata so we don't know what it's like. But after seeing Lebanon, I'm not so sure I want to live in that town. It appears to be quite depressed an area and we understand that they've lost a great deal of their industries in the past 20 years or so.

Of course, Lancaster, Hershey, and Harrisburg are all relatively close by. Lancaster is an up-and-coming major artists' community. The mayor there is hoping to create the type of artists/craftsmen mecca that other cities throughout the USA are noted for: Gatlinburg, TN; Ashbrook, NC; Portland, OR; and more. This area is home to both the Mennonite and Amish communities and there is an excellent work ethic as a result. There are several colleges/universities in the region, should we wish to audit courses for fun. And the scenery is breathtaking, nourishing, and alive. The pace of living/driving/being is more natural than we've ever experienced in NJ. The area has much to offer.

But do we really want to live in an age restricted development? There are so many pros and cons... and we really don't know how we feel about it just yet. For years we said we would NEVER want to live in a retirement community. Then we got older. My sister lives in Mesa, AZ in a retirement village and she and her husband love it. They like all the community events from which they can pick and choose. They each have different interests and both have found things that are both fun and satisfying. They have an "instant community" with abundant opportunities to meet others of the same interests. Elaine can teach watercolor painting and take tap dancing, Bob can play sports and be the social guy he is at heart. All of these things make a retirement community look good to us.

Also, retirement communities are the new wave of the future since the baby boomer's are not far behind us. There are communities of all sizes springing up all over the country. Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee have some great places at extremely low prices. But they are no where near our kids! The whole East Coast has communities sprouting up faster than weeds - but we can't afford the majority of them. Pennsylvania seems to be our best bet on both the location and the finances.

Now all we have to do is find the right community - and then the right floor plan! We are planning to visit Stonecroft Village in Ephrata, which, we've been told, does not have any mature trees but does have amazing vistas of the countryside & nearby mountain chain as well as fantastic sunsets. The houses are a minimum of 20' apart - which is more than most of these developments. We've seen the houses at Briar Lake and know the construction is good and that we'd be allowed to make floor plan changes - including pocket doors, which hardly anyone else offers, but which are great space savers.

We also plan to go up to the Bethlehem/Easton area to see model homes there that are like the ones to be built in the Traditions of America's Liberty Hill community just outside State College, PA. But just when we get around to doing either of these visits is anyones guess, at the moment. Frank's work schedule holds precedent and since I'm not able to drive for more than an hour or so before my shoulder/arm start aching, I can't go check them out my myself and report back to him. Beside, he wants to see them too - and has noted that we each notice very different things about each community and when comparing notes, we have a much better idea of things than either one of us has alone.

Well, enough of this for the moment. It's time to do some art! Or work on my web page... or finish the laundry... or trim the hedges... Live in the NOW!


Gerrie said...

I moved to a place 3 miles from my daughter and grand kids. I sometimes go for a week or more and do not see them. We are very respectful of each other's privacy. Yet, we have the comfort of knowing that the other is there if need be. We try to have family dinner at least every other Sunday. Steve and I have gotten so entrenched in our own activities that we sometimes forget why we moved here!! So, don't try to hard to be that far from your family that is my advice.

Pat's Place said...

Yes, I can see why you chose to move closer to the kids - the Grandkids, of course! Alas, ours are considerably older and already leaving the nest for college, etc. Besides, we don't want to go North and that's where they live!

Nope, we'll head to PA, our homestate for 16 years prior to coming to NJ. Granted, we lived way upstate back then and now we'll settle just south of the middle of the state. But there's lots more culture down here than up there - and bigger cities, conveniences, and hospitals, too!


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