Are Houses Too Close?

One of the negatives people considering active adult communities bring up is “houses are too close together”.  At first glance, that’s an understandable concern since the houses are closer together than in many communities, even though smaller lots have been the trend for some time. That’s why many older homes have larger lots.

Having lived in a Del Webb community for almost a year, here is my take on this.

The developer has done a wonderful job positioning the homes for maximum privacy using different lot elevations, varying house set backs, curving streets, berms, green belts  and woods.

Terraced lots
Terraced lots. Taken from the back corner of my lot.

I have only heard this “too close” concern voiced by people who do not live in an active adult community, not by those of us who do live in one. Here is why.

On a personal level, I know my house being close to the neighbors house on the side yards is not a problem.  In fact, I like my yard better than the one-half acre suburban lot I moved from. Getting a good lot for me was just luck because I didn’t even conscientiously consider that.

back yard
right side of my back yard
  • I have a better view that my last house. I can see the sun rise every morning from my back door. From my patio I see a larger view of the sky and at night I can see the stars.

    sunrise from my patio
    sunrise from my patio
  • I have never ever heard the neighbors while inside our house. The hardie plank siding plus extra insulation helps, but hey we don’t sit around playing ZZ Top and ACDC at full volume either. Remember most noise is made by kids, so that is not a problem.
  • Because lots are terraced, at least here at Village at Deaton Creek, I have a very private back yard.
  • Smaller yard is easier to take care of.  Even though the HOA cuts lawns and provides other services, I do water and flower planting. Much easier with a small yard.
  • Our smaller back yard is more usable. We rarely ventured off our deck over looking our larger yard at the last house. Here we are not lacking in yard to use. In fact we can make the surrounding area to our large patio more tailored to our likes. Smaller can be better. We added a railing along the edges of our patio ( with HOA approval of course!), put out some planters, put out Mary Ann mother’s Irises along the sunroom foundation and some calico river stones. I am thinking of my next project right now.

    patio
    patio
  • Because the community has plenty of green space and is located in a forest, there is all kinds of wild life. There are deer, foxes, coyotes, turtles, plenty of birds. There are also 8 miles of walking trails and a pretty large creek. So the allocation is really smaller lots to more undeveloped green space, not a bad trade off.

    Does this look too close!
    Does this look too close! Taken from my patio.

Pay Attention To Your Lot

Lots and homes vary quite a bit. I am sure some have more privacy than others. If this is a concern to you, then pay attention to the lot and position of the home, not just the inside of the home. Consider the back yard, the front yard, front door and window views.

Don’t let your first observations that “houses are too close” throw you off in your home search. Just be observant and mindful that your lot is important too.

View from my front door
View from my front door

Kind of nice not looking directly into a house across the street.  That’s just a little 8 house cul de sac street with not much traffic.  I don’t know that I would like the same set up with a street with heavy traffic.

 

Front looking left
Front looking left

One good thing for privacy is that the driveways are not right next to each other.

 

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Places To Walk

Places to Walk

Walking is the number one exercise most people get in retirement and is one of the best exercises you can do. Having places to walk near where you live that are accessible, safe and walker friendly is a big advantage.

Having places to walk in your community and neighborhood makes it easier to just leave your home on foot, to get started right away and save the hassle of driving to somewhere to walk. Plus if it starts to rain or other weather condition come up, well it’s not far back home.

Developers of 55+ Communities, especially Active Adult Communities like Del Webb communities, know that having places to walk in the community is important to those of us buying homes in their communities. They do an excellent job of including walking areas in their communities.

Since I am an avid walker myself, walking 3 to 5 miles about 5 times a week, I have discovered and benefited from having these lovely places to walk in and near my Del Webb Community. These are common in other active adult communities too and are a big reason to live in one.

Walking in the Community

Sidewalks in Community: There are sidewalks on both sides of the street.

Every house in the community has a sidewalk in front, that goes for miles around the streets and cul de sacs of the community. You can walk out your front door and just keep going for as long as you want.

Deaton Parkway
Deaton Parkway

Parkway Walking: Our Deaton Creek Parkway goes from the front entrance to the back entrance of the community and connects all the neighborhoods. From any house, it is a short walk to the parkway where you will be joined by other walkers on a wider path.

 

 

Trail at Village at Deaton Creek
Trail at Village at Deaton Creek

Community Trails: We have eight miles of trails within our community, through the woods and hills and along creeks and lakes of North Georgia. There is a handy trail map for reference.  Trail entrances are located close to your home. This is a good way to get in touch with nature while getting your walking in.

 

Gym in Activities Center: Here you have the treadmills.  For a bonus, walk down to the gym!

Walking Outside the Community

Friendship Parkway
Friendship Parkway

Friendship Road: Going outside our community entrance you will be on Friendship Parkway with LifePath, which provides a 10′ wide concrete pathways for about 10 miles.  This connects our community, The Village at Deaton Creek, and Northeast Georgia Medical Center’s River Place to Chateau Elan in one direction and to Lake Lanier in the other direction. Many other active adult communities we have visited, have similar accessible paths just outside their communities too.

Mulberry Creek Community Center
Mulberry Creek Community Center

 

Recreation Center and Parks: I found the Mulberry Creek Community Center last year and walked on their indoor track all Winter. Here Mary Ann is making the rounds.

 

 

Little Mulberry Park walking trail
Little Mulberry Park

Little Mulberry Park has 890 acres and 5 miles of paved multi-purpose and soft surface trails around 3 lakes and beautiful scenery!  Just check with your local county parks, recreation and senior centers for walking opportunities.

5k race walk
Robert’s 5K race walk

 

 

Local 5Ks: These days they have a 5k walk/run event just about every weekend and many will be very close to you. In March, I walked the Road Atlanta 10K (about 6 miles), then did the Flowery Branch Disabled Vets 5K, followed by the local Flowery Branch High School 5K, followed by the Eagle Ranch 5K right next door. Oh, then the SC Senior Games 5K, the Georgia Games 5K, the USATFGA 5K, the USA Masters Games 5K and probably one of two more.  Visit active.com for 5Ks near you. Even though it may be mostly runners, there is always plenty of us walkers too.

Mall Walking: In our community, we have a number of Mall of Georgia walkers. Walk in a comfortable environment in any weather. Open from 10AM to 9PM but you can join the Mall Walkers Group for access before the mall opens or just go when you want. They love mall walkers!

NE Georgia Medical Center: Our new hospital right next door to our community asked me to start a local walking group to promote health.  I have mapped out the route and will start on October 2nd. Your local hospital may have a walking group too.

Types of Walking

Solo walking on the trails at Deaton Creek
Solo walking on the trails at Deaton Creek

Individual Walking: Some people like to walk by themselves or with their pet. Walking and thinking. Walking to clear your mind. Walking on a trail through the woods to get in touch with nature. Everyone should take a solo walk in the Winter time, like I was doing in this photo.

Walking at the park
Walking at the park

 

 

Social Walking: Before I moved here to my Del Webb Community, I was an active member of Park Place, my local senior center and walked three times a week with the Park Place Pacers.  We walked at the park where the center was located for about an hour and had the best time talking and walking. You can really make some friendships walking with others and the time just flies by.

Speed or Power Walking: Power walking refers to walking with a purpose as opposed to a slow, comfortable stroll along the seaside.

walking
Race Walkers

Race Walking: This is a competitive style of walking which I do. Race walkers must maintain good form and the knee of the lead leg as it passes under the body has to be straight and both your feet cannot lose contact with the ground at the same time. Race walking is an Olympic sport with distances of 20 kilometers for both men and women and 50 kilometers for men only. I will be watching the race walking events at the Rio Olympics this week on my TV. Mile for mile, race walkers burn more calories than runners.

Walking Basics

Get Good Shoes: As well as insoles if you need them and lightweight athletic socks with a high wicking capacity.

Warm Up! Start slow and build up speed slowly.  After walking 5 minutes, stop and stretch.

Safety: Take a cell phone with you and an id. If walking in the community, take your Owners ID. Let people know where you are going to walk.

Map of a walk
Map of a walk

I see I am getting a little carried away with this “Places to Walk” post,  when all I wanted to say is that since I moved to an Active Adult Community, I have plenty of places to walk. It’s probably not mentioned or considered at time of purchase, but the benefit of places to walk nearby is one I am enjoying!

 

 

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USA Masters Games

Mary Ann and I just returned from the first ever USA Masters Games. The Games are billed as the National Sports Festival for Adult Athletes.

Masters Games have been held around the world: in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Australia, Europe and South America. With the Games held this week in Greensboro NC, the plan is to have the USA Masters Games every other even year here in the US. Today at the closing ceremony, it was announced the host city for 2018 will be San Diego.

I attended and competed in the 5K race walk with about 27 people from all over, including the guy next to me who came from India. The track and field events were held at North Carolina A&T State University’s Aggie Stadium, which was an impressive venue.

In fact, the Games introduced us to Greensboro’s other impressive venues including The Greensboro Coliseum Complex, which features the largest seated arena in America.  Next door is the Greensboro Aquatic Center where we watched the diving and synchronized swimming competitions.

There were several thousand people attending these Games and I believe they were a successful start to what can become a major Adult sports event.

Having the USA Masters Games held every other year in the even years, while the National Senior Games are held every other year in the odd years, will give us adult athletes a major event to attend every year.

The great thing about attending these Senior and Master Games is that it gives you a chance to compete with some of the best athletes in your age bracket in the country and to show what you can do, after training so hard. You get to view other sports competition also, at no additional cost.

You get to meet and socialize with others with the same interests in the sports you love so much. Many of the people attending  these events live in Active Adult Communities and participate in the sports in their communities. This gives them a chance to compete at a higher level.

Another benefit is that it gives you a good reason to travel. You really get to know the host city during your stay. In addition to Greensboro, during the last 12 months, I have been to Senior or Master events in Minneapolis/ St Paul, Albuquerque, Florence SC and enjoyed each one.

Here are some pics taken from my phone of events Mary Ann and I attended after my competition.

First we watched table tennis. These guys were great and so fast! They were very serious about their competition.

Table Tennis at USA Masters Games 2016

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Next we took in an Ice Hockey game at the Greensboro Coliseum.

Ice hockey at USA Masters Games

Next, we went to the Greensboro Aquatic Center where we watched the divers compete from 4 different levels. Wow,the high dive is really up there!

Diving at USA MASTERS GAMES

Next groups of ladies were doing a fantastic job with the synchronized swimming. They were having a great time.

swimming at usa masters games

Start of the 5k race walk. I am in the red shirt 6th from left.

5k race walk at USA Masters Games

Gold, Silver and Bronze medals were awarded. (Me on right).

medal ceramony usa masters games

There were many other kinds of sports at the 2016 USA Masters Games including Road Racing, Soccer, Softball, Swimming, Tennis, Field Events, Triathlon, Volleyball, Water Polo, Weightlifting, Golf, Martial Arts, Figure Skating and Pickleball. So after you compete in your sport, it’s great to attend some of these other events like we did.

For more information, visit their web site at USA Masters Games.

I think we may plan to go to the next USA Masters Games in San Diego in 2018. Getting a group from our Del Webb Community to attend together would be such fun!

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Dancing

Activities at a Del Webb Community: Dancing

Last night, my wife Mary Ann and I were guest at the Square Dancers Club’s party in the Clubhouse here at Village at Deaton Creek, a Del Webb community. Our neighbors, who are avid square dancers and members of this club invited us.  As you can see from the above photo, the dance floor with filled with people promenading to the tune of a live band and a professional caller.

Many of the folks in the club have been square dancing for years.  I think the party was given to round up some new comers such as us. There were members present from at least two other area square dance clubs. We got invited to take dance lessons from three different clubs.

The people genuinely looked like they were having a good time as they serenaded around the dance floor to the callers’ instructions. They were smiling and I noticed they bowed to their partners to start and then thanked all the other dance partners in their square at the end of each dance. A square consists of four couples and during the dance you might find yourself dancing with another partner, so it’s a pretty social dance.  They take breaks and enjoy refreshments and visit with other members of the group.

The caller was experienced and sang some of the calls. The music was enjoyable by itself. The calls brought smiles to the dancer’s faces and some miss steps were met with laughter.

This dance club meets Tuesday evenings each week and is something to look forward to, seeing friends, enjoying the music and trying out new dance steps.

Del Webb communities have a variety of dance clubs and all are open to anyone living in the community. Dance lessons are given frequently for those who want to learn. We were members of a dance club for over a year and loved to just keep taking the lessons… that was our favorite part to be honest.

Of course line dancing is extremely popular also at Del Webb communities. They usually have classes for beginners, intermediate and advanced dancers. Most senior dances of all types usually have a line dance or two thrown it. Line dancing is popular on cruises also. Just need yourself, as you will have a dance floor full of partners!

Yes, dancing is one of the most popular activities at Del Webb and other Active Adult Communities.

 

Ladies Card Games

Since moving in to our Del Webb community, Mary Ann and I learned to share many activities but there are some activities we both do on our own.

One activity Mary Ann enjoys is the ladies card games, especially something called Hand and Foot.  It is kind of like playing Canasta I have heard.

There is a large group that plays at our clubhouse, but Mary Ann plays with a group of ladies on our street and they take turns playing at each other homes, usually playing for several hours the same day each week. It seems like Thursdays are the hot card game day of the week in our community. The group is either 4 or 6 and they play as partners of two. The regular schedule makes it easy.

Mary Ann says it’s good mental exercise but I suspect it is the social aspect that the players enjoy the most.  Mary Ann always comes home with a bit of neighborhood news. Coffee and snacks are served.

Other benefits of playing Hand and Foot with this group is that it keeps you in contact with your neighbors. When we were new to the community, it was a great way to really get to know your neighbors.

These types of card games are going on almost every day of the week throughout the community and at the clubhouse.  Just because I give the example of the ladies card game, it in no way implies men don’t play. There are plenty of men playing card games and not just poker. Anyone can just show up at the clubhouse when any card or table game is on the schedule and be included. If it’s just you, you will have no problem finding partners to play with. It fact it’s a great way to meet people and find new friends.

As far as popularity, I would guess that card and table games are enjoyed by more people than any other activity at a 55+ active adult community.  It’s easy to learn, to find people to play with and you can play all year long.

To give you an idea of how popular card cards are, just looking at our schedule this month, here are some of the card games scheduled (not even counting the many table games).

  • Shanghai Rummy is a card game for 3 – 8 players.  In some parts of the country, it is called May I?.  It is a version of Contract Rummy consisting of a series of rounds.
  • Duplicate Bridge Club, Rusty Bridge Club, Contract Bridge Club
  • Double Deck Pinochle Group
  • Hand and Foot has been a huge hit in our community. If you are in an existing Hand and Foot Player and just can’t get enough OR you would like to join others in the fantastic game similar to Canasta, join this group and let’s get started with some more Hand and Foot!!
  • The Men’s Poker Group meets every Tuesday in the clubhouse lounge. A third table has been added so there’s now space for more players.
  • Hearts Group
  • Co-Ed Texas Hold’em Group
  • Spades Group
  • Euchre Card Game Club
  • Daytimers Texas Hold’em Group

If you don’t see a card game you would like to play, you can just start a group.

We All Have Possibilities

More Possibilities in Retirement

We all have possibilities that we don’t even know we have. We can do things we never dreamed we could do.

In middle age many of us get into ruts, doing the same things over and over while giving up some things along the way that we used to love to do.

Retirement presents the next phase of life’s possibilities for us. It’s our job to discover them. It may be something you have always dreamed of doing, but it could be something you never dreamed of doing.

Senior games and athletics has given me a taste of that. When I began walking at our senior center, I had never even heard of race walking, but now I compete at National Competitions. I used to run track in high school and was sure those glory days were over, but track competitions now are just as thrilling.

In our mind we grow into thinking we are limited as the list of things we will never do again grows every year. But many opportunities are there for us that we don’t seem to consider because of our age and other factors.

I have seen older athletes that really surprised me at how good they were and making me feel a little guilty that I prejudged them by their age and appearance. So it’s not a good idea to limit what other people can do either!

There are many example of people who have done wonderful things later in life. We shouldn’t let our thinking limit us, especially when we have the time to try something new and exciting.

Sometimes it takes a little courage and getting over the fear of failure to try something new for the first time.

What new things have you tried lately? This month I took pickleball lessons and started playing for the first time.  I didn’t think I would like it but I found out it’s fun and as Larry says “habit forming” to play.  My wife Mary Ann played today for the first time and she liked it.

Someone suggested I play on the softball team here at our retirement community and I have been reluctant.  Maybe I will give it a try; who knows I may love it. Maybe I will get bonked on the head trying to catch the ball. But that would be something to play softball again, something I never thought I would be doing again.

That’s one good thing about living in an Active Active Community, there are so many activities that you can try. Maybe I should try something that would be challenging and scare me to death, like being in a play or a painting class.

When and if you do try something you never dreamed you would be doing, it is very satisfying and gives you a feeling of confidence.  You begin to feel you can do more than you thought you could do and may even start to see things you never dreamed you could do as possibilities.

Expand your possibilities, like 91-year-old Betty Lindberg who set a world’s record in track (photo at top of page).

Hospital Nearby Is Mandatory

When you are looking for a 55+ active adult community, you are probably thinking about all the fun activities and the wonderful amenities that the community has.  The active adult lifestyle is what draws us to these communities, but one thing I would highly suggest is to check out the nearest hospital to the community.

Lucky for us, the 55+ community we chose has a brand new 100 bed hospital (Northeast Georgia Medial Center)right new door.  That’s a picture of our hospital at the top of this post.

Believe me, we would not have moved here if not for that hospital. It was not the reason we moved here, but without it would have been a reason NOT to move here.

If you are old enough to qualify to live in an Over 55 Community, then you probably already know how important it is to have quality medial services nearby. When there is a hospital nearby, then there is always clusters of medial office buildings nearby as well, all occupied by doctors of all kinds of specialties.  Plus all hospitals have an emergency room.

The good news is that site selection for many of the developers of the larger 55+ communities make sure medical services are nearby.

Besides the all important medical services that hospitals provide, there are other benefits offered.  Some say the cafeteria next door at our hospital is pretty darn good, serving three main meals a day. My wife took yoga classes there and I met with the hospital this morning about starting a walking group. They have a full calendar of talks about healthy living as well as disease management.  Every month one of the nearby doctors comes to give a talk at our community about medical conditions. It’s kind of nice to go to those Doctor talks because you get a preview of the doctors’ personality was well as their expertise.

So don’t go straight to the hospital finder to start looking for a 55+ community but put hospital near by on the required checklist.

Activities is the Answer

I took the photo on top of this post yesterday July 4th. It is at the end of our Pickleball Tournament at our Del Webb Community Village at Deaton Creek and the presentation of the tournament fees and donations to our Veterans Club to be distributed to four local disabled veterans.

The activity helped in a small way to support our veterans and we feel good about that.

Activities at a Del Webb Community and any Active Adult Community are the heart and key to what it’s all about.

Activities on the surface, as we all know, help keep us active, therefore in better health. They help stem the tide of aging a little bit, at least give us a better quality of life while we are still around.

But another powerful purpose of activities, especially in an Active Adult Community, is put you in contact on a regular basis with others that share your same interest and passions.

Like the pickleball group I joined of newbies (new players) taking lessons.  We met each week to take lessons and play a few games.  We cheered each other along in the tournament yesterday, then four of us when out to lunch. Over lunch we learned a little more about each other.  We enjoyed the time together so much we decided to keep this going by scheduling 7pm each Thursday to get together to play Pickleball. We will keep going to the Saturday classes but Thursdays on the schedule is for us.

This is how activities, besides being fun and good for you, introduce you to new friends. We are all new to pickleball because we found out we are all new to this community. This fact plus the love of playing Pickleball are the basis of possible friendships.

I have seen the exact same pattern with people enjoying other activities here. This is why we moved here.

You really don’t need a lot of regular activities, two or three will more than serve your needs.

What House to Buy?

Things to Consider When Buying in a 55+ Community

So you decided on a 55+ community and now need to consider what house to buy. What floor plan, new or resale, what location,  lot or home location within the community.

My wife and I were not mindful of many of these considerations before we bought our home in a Del Webb community, but through the process we became more knowledgeable about them. There is no right or wrong answers, but just some considerations that may be beneficial if you are beginning the process of buying in a 55+ community.

Floor Plans – My wife and I thought we wanted a ranch with a basement. Then we heard lofts were cheaper and that sounded good for awhile.  We ended up buy a larger ranch with a sun room in our 55+ community.

It’s hard to know what you want to begin with. It’s a process of looking at a lot of floor plans. Then it may even come down to availability or which one you can get a better deal on. There are many great floor plans in 55+ communities so enjoy the process.

New or Resale – Everyone loves a brand new home, but there are differences between new homes from the builder and a resale.

A new home is a spec home being  built by the builder or one you contract to have built for you on a lot you have picked out. Many people prefer a new home and they go for a premium. Many times the builder /developer will not negotiate the price and every option you add will add to your price. The new home is usually being built in the current “new” section, so your neighbors most likely will be new too and may be more open to making new friends.

A resale home is one that was owned by another owner and is being offered for sale. There are resales even in new communities that are still being built out. With a resale you are more likely able to negotiate the price with the seller. Many resales are cheaper than the new homes in the same community. With a resale you will be moving in a more established section and the neighbors have been there for awhile. The owner may have made some improvements already and the landscaping is more mature. There is no mud on the street from the builders, or loud noises or workman on your street.

Location within the community.  It may depend if you buy a new home or a resale. How close to the clubhouse and the ball fields? Will you be in the back, center or front of the community? Again, no correct answers, just considerations. How far to the entrance? Also there is a difference between an interior lot and a lot facing out towards green space and woods (or deserts). Exterior lots may have more wildlife but many have unwanted wildlife like snakes too.

Many 55+ communities report people moving once or twice in the same community. I have already heard of that a few times in my community and when we visited The Villages in Florida they said moves within the community are common.

So do your research and decide on a home that feels right for you. Later you can always move within the community.