Not Your Parents’ Retirement Home

For many Baby Boomers, the idea of moving to one of the popular “resort-style” 55+ communities is regarded as either too much or too expensive. But with today’s real estate market, many middle-income folks are selling the old family home for more money than expected, making these fun-in-the-sun communities a possible alternative for aging in place. In this blog and occasionally in future blogs, I will look at some of the possibilities.

Golf Carts: Yes! Golf Courses: Not So Much!

The traditional view of active adult communities includes images of golf courses and more golf courses. However, today’s Baby Boomers have other ideas. While some “love driving golf carts to the grocery store or pharmacy, residents are less enthused about the game of golf than earlier generations,” Bill Bullock, vice president of Minto Communities, told Senior Living Innovation Forum in 2018. “The stereotype of seniors spending their days on the golf course is about 20 years out of date.”

Many older adults keep working or find new avocations after retiring from their careers, so such features as a business center and conference space are high on many needs lists. Staying fit and active also is a high priority and, in southern climes, access to the beach is a must.

A Margaritaville Vibe

One of the newest communities catering to this new spirit of active adult communities is a particularly quirky location called Latitude Margaritaville in Daytona Beach, FL. Sound like a Jimmy Buffett song? Well, the connection is intentional. Developed by Minko Communities and Buffett’s Margaritaville brand, Latitude Margaritaville offers the lifestyle one imagines when listening to a Buffett tune. Buffett even owns a place there. In addition to well-appointed homes, the community features a Town Center, entertainment venues, indoor and outdoor recreation facilities, and more. And while there’s a partnership with local golf courses, there isn’t a private club on site.

In keeping with the desires of baby boomers, Latitude Margaritaville offers such amenities as a Fins Up Fitness Center, Barkaritaville Pet Spa, Latitude Bar & Chill Restaurant (featuring a “Cheeseburger in Paradise”), Paradise Pool, Changes in Attitude Poolside Bar, the Last Mango Theater for dances and banquets, and the Coconut Telegraph Business Center, all named for well-known Buffett songs. There’s also a private off-site beach with constant shuttle service to and from the community to the beach; and because it is situated in the center of the city of Daytona Beach, there also is a 200,000-square-foot neighborhood retail and grocery center right across the street (accessible by golf cart). Latitude Margaritaville markets itself as a fun vibe to appeal to all older adults.

Buyers can customize and get fresh beachie homes at affordable costs (new lots can be purchased for as low as $500), often allowing them to use the cash from home sale up north to buy all cash or with only a modest mortgage, and still have money to drop into the bank. Looking at current listings at Latitude Margaritaville, you could buy your own little piece of paradise for as low as $291,500, or have the luxury dream home for around $455,000. With the price of the average home in the United States coming in at around $357,000, it is more than a catchy song that grabs your attention at these active adult communities.

But is Resort Life for Me?

Latitude Margaritaville boasts that it appeals not just to “Parrotheads” (Buffett fans), but to the entire 55+ community. And Minko Community’s own research bears that out. But in many ways, the pros and cons of this unusual, living-inside-a-Buffett-song locale are no different from all other 55+ communities. For any 55+ active adult community, there are pros and cons to be considered. As always, it’s a good idea to work with a financial advisor to discover what might be a perfect solution for your Third Chapter Living.

Here’s a list of items to keep in mind when considering a 55+ active adult community:

  • HOAs — Active Adult Communities have Homeowner Associations, which charge a fee that covers such items as trash removal, shared facility maintenance, a reserve fund, landscaping, and exterior maintenance. Depending on location, monthly HOA fees can range from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand. The major benefit of an HOA is that the fee reduces the maintenance homeowners are responsible for. The downside is that sometimes, major repairs may be needed in the community, which can necessitate an increase if HOA dues to cover the cost. HOAs also have rules and regulations that must be followed, including what owners are allowed to display outside their homes, exterior paint colors, how to use shared amenities, and more. Fines are issued for failure to comply to rules.
  • Living Among Other Boomers — This can be a positive or a negative. Active adult communities have a minimum age requirement of 55 (or, in the case of a marriage, one of the two people needs to be 55). This opens up opportunities for owners to be part of an active social scene through programs, activities, exercise classes, special events, and formal and informal get-togethers all targeted to people similar in age to themselves. But for people who enjoy living in a neighborhood with people of all ages, this can be a negative, feeling unnatural without kids, newlyweds or mid-career neighbors.
  • Security — Most active adult communities are gated; some also have private on-site security staff. Such communities also have well-lit parking and common areas that help the sense of safety.
  • Medical Needs — Active adult communities are not retirement centers, and by and large do not offer included medical services other than occasional wellness screening and health fair-type services. While a few do offer continuing care services (which come at a much higher price tag), most do not. Buyers requiring in-home care or other frequent assistance need to consider those additional costs when looking at active adult communities.

It’s tempting to imagine living in a community where the biggest question might be (to quote Buffett) where to find a lost shaker of salt, where it’s always “5 O’Clock Somewhere.” But carefully considering the pros and cons of active adult communities will help determine if they meet the requirements for your Third Chapter Living.

Third Chapter Living celebrates, challenges, informs and promotes conversations about housing issues affecting the Baby Boomer Generation. Check out our website to learn more about our work. Our Facebook Group is a resource center with tips and recommendations on navigating those issues. Share experiences with others who are looking for Housing Downsizing Tools that allow them to successfully age-in-place.

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