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
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.