Monthly Archives: January 2014

Hunter’s Pointe – The Residences

Hunters Pointe The ResidencesAs mentioned in my previous post, I would like to explore some of the various Adult or Active Lifestyle Communities to find out first hand what attracts new residents to these communities.  My first such community is Hunter’s Pointe – The Residences, situated in Welland, Ontario.

I couldn’t help but notice the beautiful homes in the Hunter’s Pointe community when I played golf at the Hunter’s Pointe golf course.  So after a challenging 18 holes of golf, my wife and I decided to drop by the sales centre and take the tour. We were not disappointed.  The model homes were presented with first class upgrades and left us with a lasting impression to say the least.  That was the beginning of our search for an Active Lifestyle Community.   In the following months we must have visited at least 8 of these Adult Lifestyle Communities in Ontario.

I decided to email Hunter’s Pointe – The Residences to see if I could talk to someone about posting an article on what attracted their new residents.  Thanks to Wendy Wontner, the sales associate at Hunter’s Pointe – The Residences, who was gracious enough to answer a few key questions.

What are your customers and potential customers telling you about their wish list when looking at Active Lifestyle Communities?

Customers are looking for programs and recreation facilities available for those who want to be more active and sociable .  New residents are tending to be younger (in the upper 50’s to mid 60’s). They like the 150 kms of hiking trails that are nearby not to mention the championship 18 hole golf course that is absolutely beautiful along with its large club house.  Customers are looking for single story bungalows or townhouses that are both affordable and equipped with all of the conveniences needed.

What motivated your customers to move to your Active Lifestyle Community?

Many were about to become empty nesters and wanted or needed to downsize from their larger homes in the big city.  They wanted to move away from the hustle and bustle from larger neighbourhoods and to seek out people with common interests.  They were really looking for an increased sense of security and a more peaceful life. They wanted to move to a smaller community with a village type setting with access to nearby restaurants and retail outlets. They were aware of the 150 residents who had already located here and heard about some of their successful lifestyle transformations.

Moving from a larger home in the city had provided them with sufficient funding to purchase a new home at Hunter’s Pointe.  Customers had actually moved from as far away as Vancouver, Ottawa, Huntsville, Montreal as well as from the Greater Toronto Area.

What’s the typical story behind your customers moving to an your Adult Lifestyle Community?

The typical story would involve a couple in their late 50’s to mid 60’s who have finally decided to downsize and move to a smaller community where they can relax and join in to various activities.  They love the location because they can secure cheap flights, just across the border, to the southern USA states for their winter getaways.

They are blown away by the size of the Recreation Centre and the amazing golf course next door, not to mention being in the middle of Niagara wine country.  They are fully aware that a new home builder, Luchetta Homes, has taken over and has plans to build another 250 bungalow and townhouse style homes, in the 1500 square foot range, over the next several years.  This provides a number of choices for anyone who is downsizing.  They are secure in understanding this community is a going concern and will keep on improving.

Hunter’s Pointe – The Residences is well worth the visit.  Many thanks again to Wendy Wontner for her contribution to this post.  If you are in the search for an Adult Lifestyle Community, I would urge you to take the tour with Wendy.




Active Lifestyle Community Living

The time will come when you might say to yourself “this house is just too much for the two of us” or “taking care of these gardens and our lawn is way too time consuming” . Perhaps, it’s time to downsize but where would we move to?  The children have long since moved out, but we don’t want to move too far away from them and our grandchildren. What to do?  Why not consider an Active Lifestyle Community, also known as an Adult Lifestyle Community.

There are more and more of these Active Lifestyle Communities being developed to accommodate the growing number of “empty nesters” who want to connect with more people their own age who have similar interests.  However, there are so many questions and factors to consider in deciding which community is most desirable.

Key Factors in Choosing an Active Lifestyle Community

1.  Location

The three most important rules in real estate are location, location, location.  You want to choose an area that offers several winning qualities.  If possible, you would want to locate somewhere near your children because family is so important.  Proximity to a hospital, medical centre, dental care, pharmacy, retail, service and grocery outlets is also high on the wish list.  A short drive to enjoy some entertainment might be important too.  Perhaps a winery, a casino, a movie theatre or even a zoo. So many things to consider, time to make a list.

Another consideration is what happens if you and/or your partner cannot drive anywhere. Are there alternative modes of transportation available, for example, affordable taxis or public transportation.

2.  Home Builder

Choosing a reputable home builder is paramount.  It’s so important to secure feedback on the quality of homes being built in the community you decide to settle in.  Has the builder delivered on time?  Have there been a large number of complaints filed against the builder? Granted no builder is absolutely perfect and things will need to be rectified post- delivery.  It’s important to understand how responsive and effective the builder is in repairing those post-delivery items.

The types of homes available from the home builder is also key.  A bungalow with an open floor plan and a main floor laundry room might be preferable to a two-story house with stairs to climb.

It’s important to be aware of the covenants and restrictions applicable within an Active Lifestyle Community.  The builder must provide full disclosure on all of these.  For example, some communities will only allow two people per household.  Others will allow children and/or grandchildren to visit but not live within the community.  Pets may be allowed but must always be on a leash. Some may require prior approval before any landscaping changes or other outside home improvements are conducted.

3.  The Overall Cost

The cost to buy your house and property or to buy your house with leased property is one thing, but there are so many other expenses to consider. Keeping in mind, the builder makes a huge margin on any and all house upgrades.  If you are a “do it yourselfer” then these costs can be minimized.  House upgrades made prior to your move in date will factor into the overall property assessment value which in turn determines your property tax valuation.

Typically, an active lifestyle community requires that everyone contribute to a pooled set of maintenance fees.  These maintenance fees can vary considerably depending on what the overall cost is to maintain the common areas within the community.  The more facilities, the more the maintenance fees.  Some communities may only charge a minimal monthly fee for the use of the recreation centre by having volunteers within the community taking turns with the maintenance of the common areas.

Other costs to consider are the property taxes, water, hydro and telecommunication. Some smaller communities may require higher charges for water and/or property taxes due to a smaller number of residents within the particular county.

4.  Services and Amenities

One of the most appealing factors in moving to an Active Lifestyle Community is to take advantage of as many recreational activities, services and amenities that are available.  After all, your maintenance fees already cover these.

One service that is available with some of the communities is property security and management during extended absence periods.  For anyone who travels south for the winter months this is a critical service. Home insurance companies usually require that your unoccupied home be visited by someone at least once a week.  Having a monitored alarm system and a responsible property management service to visit your home while you’re away is a critical service to have.  If this service is not covered within your maintenance fees, then you would be required to seek out a private property manager and to install your own alarm system at an additional cost.

The list of recreational facilities and activities available will vary.  For example, there could be:  Swimming, tennis, golf, snooker, table tennis, pickle ball, shuffleboard, lawn bowling, car rallies, coffee mornings, holiday parties, dance classes, exercise classes, crafting, library etc.   The list is long with an opportunity for everyone to join in and enjoy.

Volunteering is essential in all Active Lifestyle Communities to help plan, organize and run all of these various activities.

5.  Average Resident Age

The average age of an Active Lifestyle Community is typically between 60-70 years. Keeping in mind that 60 is the new 40.  Granted some even younger “empty nesters” have chosen to move to a community and continue working from home.  The key attraction is the social life.  So many friendly people with similar interests, hobbies and recreational activities makes for some amazing gatherings and parties. There is nothing better than a huge sense of belonging and sharing laughter with new friends and neighbours.  The bond is so much stronger in a community where you share and help each other in need.  These are friends you will meet and they will be friends forever.

I plan to document in upcoming posts on what some of the actual Active Lifestyle Communities around Ontario and Florida have to offer anyone who is considering moving to one of these communities.  In the spirit of transparency,  I live in an Active Lifestyle Community in Ontario.  I can honestly say it has been a truly rewarding experience.


Hints and Tips for the Snowbirds

Travelling south for the winter months is a dream come true for many of us northerners. To be able to escape the harsh winter storms is truly a blessing.  Going south for the winter may not be for everyone but for those of us who live for warm and sunny days, it just lifts our spirits to no end.  To be able to say, “it’s just another glorious day in paradise” is truly an amazing feeling.   When you meet others on the street during your warm morning walks, you just can’t wipe the smile off their faces.  If you can manage it, I seriously recommend it!

I have been spending our winter months in Florida for the past 6 years and I have a few hints and tips to pass along to anyone else who is thinking about making the trip south for an extended period of time.  The obvious thing, you most likely already know is, as a non-American, you need a valid passport and in some cases a specific travel visa.  As a Canadian, I would pass along these tips:

  • You should set up a US bank account at your Canadian bank branch.  You can then obtain a US Credit Card with your local Canadian bank e.g. Visa or MasterCard.  This will allow you to purchase goods in the USA with your US credit card without any problems. Then you can simply pay off your US credit card balance online through your bank with your US bank account.  This avoids taking out cash and paying ATM fees. Not to mention paying for increased exchange rates when compared to converting Canadian funds to American funds online.
  • Having a US bank account in Canada also allows you to pay off US based credit card company balances with a check.  For example, large retailers in the US offer better discounts for purchases made with their own credit cards.  Retailers like Kohls often offer 15%-30% discounts if you use their Kohls credit card.  Why not secure a Kohls credit card, use it when discounts are being offered and then pay off the Kohls credit card balance before the due date with a check from your Canadian based US checking account.  Please note it takes at least 2-3 weeks for the check to clear in your bank account.
  • You should always purchase Travel/Medical insurance as our Canadian Health Insurance plan will not cover the massive costs of health care in the USA.
  • You should also be aware if you have an automobile accident in a parking lot, Florida laws are that each individual is responsible to pay 50% of the overall damages.  It doesn’t seem fair when someone else is totally at fault and damages their vehicle and you don’t have any damage.  It certainly makes you appreciate no-fault insurance a little more.
  • If you would like to rent a DVD at a Redbox vending machine, they require a US Zipcode.  To get around this, you can set up your account online with Redbox and simply enter a 99999 code for your Zipcode and this will pass the test with your Canadian based US credit card.
  • Another trick I learned is how to get around the Zipcode request when paying for gas at the pump, with your Canadian bank US Credit Card. How annoying is that when you have to go inside with your credit card while you pump your gas outside? Well, thankfully both Master Card and Visa have now fixed this. All you need to do is enter, at the gas pump, the numerical digits from your Canadian Postal Code and add 2 zeroes at the end.  For example, if your Canadian Postal Code was N2P 4S6, then the Zipcode to enter would be 24600.  Please note that some gas stations have totally disabled this capability for international credit cards, so you would need to go inside to prepay for your gas.
  • If you are into retirement magazines, like, there is an excellent article in the Nov 2014 issue which talks at length about the “New Rules for Snowbirds” and how much time Canadians can spend in the USA.

These are just a few hints and tips I have learned and I am sure you might have even more to share.  Please do so and share them as comments to this post.

Time is on your side

Thanks to some incredible medical breakthroughs and medicine, we are living longer healthier lives.   Granted, retirement life can be quite busy but there will be times when you might wonder what to do.  Either way, the lyrics to the song by Earth, Wind and Fire sort of sum it up to some extent.

“Time Is On Your Side”  by Earth, Wind and Fire

Time is on your side
No more need in running
No more need to hide
No more need to cry

Life is what you find
Wondering on the other side
No more need to sigh
No more need to lie
Make it what you can
No more need in wasting
Love’s around the bend
No more time to lend

Hope the best to be
Just to make you see
Love’s around the bend
No more time to lend
Now it’s up to you
It’s all up in your head
What are you going to do
Bring yourself true

It’s time to make that list of the things you would “love” to do.  Perhaps a trip to Europe, a Caribbean cruise, reading more books or even writing a book.  Whatever you choose, for once in your hectic life, you actually have the time to enjoy it.


 I know volunteering isn’t for everyone but if you have a soft spot for anything charitable where you can give some of your time back to a great cause, it can be very rewarding.  I have discovered another type of volunteering that my wife and I do quite frequently.  That would be helping our children with their “Do it Yourself” projects.  Whether it be painting, staining, finishing a basement or helping them to move from one place to another.  It takes time and energy that will always be appreciated.


Keeping in mind how precious little time you have when you are working full time, the need to downshift during retirement is both satisfying and healthier.  I’m not saying by any means that you need to turn into a couch potato. You need to take the time to spread out the activities in your life to a more manageable pace and trade off stress time for leisure time.  Time is on your side.


Having sat behind a desk during my whole career, the need to exercise was paramount. Thankfully, I did participate in a variety of sports activities during my working career. However, you soon realize that you can’t play hockey, basketball, softball, golf and volleyball for ever.  So I downshifted to playing golf and walking 5-10 kilometers a day, weather permitting.  As a result, I have managed to keep my weight, blood pressure and overall sense of well being at a truly enjoyable level.  I can’t stress enough how important this time is in your retirement.

Time is on your side, you just have to use it ever so wisely.


Remembering the Good Times

It’s not unusual, right?  To flashback to some of the key moments of your working career.  I know I certainly did.  I remember working 48 hours straight desperately trying to meet a critical cut over date for a software release.  I remember working with a small team of 8 people where we designed, developed and delivered a first class system under budget and on time.  I remember, most of all, the feeling of total relief when we finally resolved critical problems before the computer system was scheduled to come up live the next day.  There were some real adrenaline rushes.  However, these would be followed by the next major challenge and stress maker. A lot of memories, some really tough ones, but most of all some good times.

It was not meant to be!

I even dream sometimes about what I could have done, knowing what I know now, to better resolve a conflict situation.  I also remember what I could have done, should have done and would have done if only I had been more of a risk taker.  The fact that I had a mortgage, a newborn child and a fairly secure job made the decision, to become an entrepreneur and to start up a computer consulting business, an extremely difficult one at the time.  I have absolutely no complaints about the path I chose. Being able to retire early and to live through new experiences has made it all worthwhile.

All was not lost!

The amazing thing with having children you can actually have an opportunity for a do over. As it turns out, my son, came across the same crossroads in his career.  He had to make a decision to quit his high paying technology career to become an entrepreneur.  Tough call to be sure.  As a parent you only want what’s best for your children.  Your first instinct is to be conservative but then you realize why not let him at least try.  Then there won’t be any second thoughts later on like I had.  As it turns out, my son did start up his own blog, wrote and published an eBook and developed a series of programming video tutorials for paying members.  How cool was that?  For me personally, the interesting part was that I was able to assist in the company he set up and I now find myself as the Chief Financial Officer of my son’s company.  I had found yet another part-time job to excite and recharge myself.  The opportunity to develop business plans, to discuss new product ideas and more importantly a chance for some father and son bonding.  Granted my part-time CFO job, with this start up company, was destined to be a volunteer one.  After all he is my son.

It’s great to look back from time to time but I keep telling myself there still a whole lot more living left.  We are living so much longer now and we all need to experience the “overtime period” to the fullest.