A Sense of Community, Whatever that Means….

Social media is a purveyor of all things, from the simplest of thoughts, ideas and pearls of wisdom to the most complex multi-dimensional concepts and musings. Emotions including feelings of loss, happiness, confusion, jokes both funny and not so funny. fashion, recipes, and surveys garner likes, comments, disapprovals or whatever else a respondent is feeling at the time. Being able to connect with friends from a long forgotten time has, for me, been the biggest blessing of social media. Others might feel that the past is the past and there is no need to resurrect friendships from a bygone era. Whatever your view, the sense of community social media provides has created communities across the globe.

Having a connection to someone, someplace, some time is a basic human need. We all search for that connection, that tie, that sense of belonging. As the approximate 76 million baby boomers reach or have reached the age of retirement, according to published reports, 10,000 boomers are retiring every day, the transition to 55 and over communities becomes more and more enticing especially in states that have a lower cost of living, more forgiving weather, access to good healthcare and universities, and little or no state income tax.

Although relocating to a state with all of the aforementioned attributes is a draw for some, many baby boomers are choosing to remain close to home due to their desire to stay near their children and grandchildren. Downsizing to a 55 and over community enables boomers to “right size” without having to worry about shoveling snow or cutting lawns which is often done as part of the HOA agreement.

Fifty-five and over communities are not a fit for every baby boomer. A growing number of retirees are looking for a multi-generational lifestyle, access to universities and/or colleges, museums, the arts, fitness and health programs, and affordable housing.

Having recently retired my husband and I are faced with such a dilemma, “What to do?” Let me preface this by saying that I have a tremendous dislike for winter. The cold, grey days and blistering winds leave me pining for the long hot days of summer or at a minimum spring…… OK, I’ll admit I’d settle for an Indian Summer when those wonderful autumn days are unseasonably mild and the weather is dry.

My mourning for summer begins in mid to late October as the setting sun says adieu earlier and earlier each afternoon. By Halloween, as the school buses divest of its last precious cargo, trick or treaters are trick and/or treating in darkness AND I may add temperatures, hovering between 50 and 64 degrees in New York, where I live, versus 60 and 86 degrees in Orlando, Florida; No contest for me but OK, I’ll let you decide.

Many if not most 55 and over communities have some type of visitation program. For a nominal fee, potential buyers are given the opportunity to either stay directly on-site in one of the homes allocated for guest visitors or housed in a nearby hotel. Regardless of the accommodations, guests are given the opportunity to mingle with residents, use the amenities, and in general live the “lifestyle.” Getting a birds eye view is a wonderful way to explore the proposed community in real-time. In June, my husband and I used that time to discover which community,  if any, would be the “best” fit for us.

I would strongly recommend narrowing down your options by taking advantage of the “Discovery Days.” Sales personnel are more than willing to accommodate potential buyers. If you narrow down your choices but you’re still not sure, visit the property or properties for a second time. Moving is one of the biggest decisions and stresses you will experience in life, so the more comfortable and informed you are when making the decision the better the outcome will be.

One last piece of advice, start early in the decluttering, sorting and deciding what to keep and give away process. Over the years we accumulate a whole lot of “stuff!” I’ve just thrown out expense reports from three jobs ago, after all who knows if I might have needed them??? I think NOT! From people who’ve gone through this process already I’ve gotten some wise advice, “If you want to move in 6 months, you need to give yourself at least a year or longer to be ready for moving day.” At first I thought that time-frame was ridiculous but now I’m a believer!

If you have any suggestions, recommendations or advice please leave a comment or comments below. I’d love to hear your thoughts, successes and in general, what works or worked for you and what pitfalls, if any, should we avoid.


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