Monday, June 6, 2016

Would you move to a 55+ community?

We are contemplating moving into a 55+ active retirement community and that is a surprise to me!

Our relocation plans post-retirement have always been to move back to S. California which still remains the plan. What is complicating the decision about where to live is the competitive rental and purchase market there, our first grandchild due to arrive in N. California in November and the impossible to know fact of how long my 89 year old FIL will live (hopefully a long time).

Best case scenario right now would be to rent homes in both S and N CA but the cost and competitiveness of the market makes that impossible we think. We do need a place to move to and be comfortable. 

So right now our primary reason to move to S CA is to be close to my FIL who lives in a retirement home/assisted living facility. The bonus is that we would be closer to my older son and DIL and at least in the same state as the other son, DIL and new grandbaby. As we try to wrap our minds around how to make this move work as well for us as it can, we run into some key decision points.

The first was where to live geographically in S CA. It is a large and expensive housing market. We are used to the areas near and in Pasadena where we used to live and where one son and DIL now live. That would put us an hour drive from my FIL though. So we have been thinking that if he is our "job" then we should live where the commute would be short. We would only see our son and DIL on some weekends anyway. I also really want to live where there are abundant opportunities to make new friends. This reasoning let us to consider a 55+ community.

On our last vacation we toured Leisure Village in Camarillo, CA with a cousin who is renting a home there and to our surprise we really liked it. The homes are mostly smaller but no yard work, reduced maintenance responsibilities, lots of recreational options (pool, gym, wood shop, billiards, clubs, golf, etc.) and the location is both near my FIL and the beach. Rentals are scarce and competitive though especially if you have a dog which we do. There are about 10 units for sale right now and buying one would ensure us of a place to live. But who knows how long we would need to live there vs moving to N CA to be a regular part of that soon to be grandchild's life.

Lots of research to do as the reality is that my FIL's life span is totally unpredictable. We could be there 10+ years or a day.

These are some of what we still need to know to make a decision on whether this is the right next step for us:
- Are the units selling near list price or is there a bidding war as there is elsewhere in S CA?
- How long are they taking to sell?
- If we couldn't sell or the market went down drastically, what is the return or cost of turning it into a rental?
- In addition to the HOA fee, what would it cost to own a unit?
- What rentals are available and how would we secure one?

Next vacation to S CA that is planned is a 90th birthday celebration for my FIL in February so this research needs to be done before then so we could actually look at units while there to have a better sense of the variation in space, etc. I will also be researching other options including how to make the 2 home scenario work!

Do you live in a 55+ community or would you seriously consider doing so?



  1. It would not be something that would interest me, however, I am an introvert and don't like feeling like I'm back in school where I have preplanned activities to participate in. I think if you are someone who enjoys having group activities and goes to them with great enthusiasm it might be a wonderful lifestyle for you. I hear from some single women who live in these communities that they enjoy having someone to play tennis, or cards, or swim, or golf with. It would annoy me to have someone calling me or ringing my doorbell to invite me to participate. If it wouldn't annoy you to have your phone or doorbell ringing, go for it...

    1. I can appreciate your point of view. I should have clarified that this is a huge residential community of duplexes and single family homes. Interaction is certainly optional and even my introverted husband was interested.

  2. We moved to our current home to be close to our grandkids while they are still little. We are only about a mile away, and it is the best thing ever! But when our neighbors' kids are riding their go karts up and down (and up and down) ((and up and down)) our street (cul de sac), I do dream of more mature neighbors. :)

  3. Coincidentally, we are visiting homes for sale this week in Leisure World Laguna Niguel. Our motivation is primarily to allow us to 'lock and go', since we travel about 50% of the year, as well as reduce outside ongoing maintenance expenses. I think the social aspects would be nice as well, though we're likely a few years away from utilizing them since we are still in our early and late 50's.

    Camarillo is a wonderful place to live, with one of the best climates in California. Sounds good so far!

    1. Let me know what you think after your tour. My sense of the activities was that you could use them as a gym/YMCA substitue (our cousin swims laps everyday, gym, tennis courts), join a club/book group/community garden) or pursue a hobby/recreational activity (gold, wood shop, billiards). We were told that the typical age is dropping as baby boomers are moving in so the place is much more active than it used to be. I'd still be out and about at OLLI senior u, the public library, etc. No intention of making it the center of our universe LOL.

    2. Well, take that one off the list . . .
      Leisure World Laguna Woods was amazing, and big enough that it actually incorporated and has it's own mayor, but way too 'mature' for us at this time in our lives. Your mileage may vary!

  4. Since your planning depends on your FIL and life is unpredictable it might be a good idea to rent. As you say, for one day or ten years. Imagine buying and soon thereafter selling. We are retired and enjoy living in our home, so I don't know much about 55 plus living.

  5. My immediate reaction was "55+ - all those old people!" until I realised that I'm 68 so would be older than many of them! I definitely think that you should rent because of the uncertainty regarding your FIL. I'm sure that whatever you decide, you'll make the most of it.

  6. Your options are mind-boggling! If I ever considered a 55+ community, I would check it out first to see if the community seemed to celebrate diversity or if everyone was all-of-a-type. I am far on the liberal/artsy side so I would want to be sure there were like-minded folks!


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