Explore the Best Places to Retire,Vacation, or Relocate
Where you live affects how you live. Why not choose to live in a place that facilitates the lifestyle you desire?
Looking for the ideal location or perfect getaway for yourself and your family? Time to retire to the destination of your dreams? The ideal-LIVING Resort & Retirement Show is a fun and convenient way to explore the best places to vacation, retire, or relocate. The Show features exhibits that allow you to view and compare over 75 top resort and retirement communities from many different states and international destinations, conveniently in one location. Come tour the ideal places and communities you’ve been searching for from the mountains to the coast without leaving your area. At the ideal-LIVING Show, you’re invited to attend informative and inspiring presentations led by relocation experts who can help make your next move…well, ideal.
Ideal-LIVING offers a turnkey relocation solution that makes it easy for you to find your ideal destination, life, and home. Since 1989, the company has been helping thousands of people each year make the right move.
At the ideal-LIVING Show, you can attend one or all of the special presentations and speak with representatives from over 75 communities from North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, Virginia, Delaware, and Pennsylvania plus international destinations from Panama, Mexico, Costa Rica, and more. Take advantage of special “Show Only” discovery travel packages offered by many exhibitors — you won’t know until you go.
Admission to the Show is free and there is no obligation. So, take ideal a step further by choosing your neighbors when you bring your friends.
Founding and growing a successful business is not for the faint of heart. It requires unparalleled focus,unswerving attention to detail, and a clear-eyed sense of one’s goals—as well as the commitment to see them through. Often, getting such a business off the ground—not to mention keeping it running strong—means spending time away from family. In the case of these three incredible developers, however, running their own business is just the contrary. The Viera Company, Logan Homes, and On Top of the World are all family affairs—and they’re much the better for it. All three companies have created business models with room to incorporate family members at every level of involvement—from board members to sales directors, managers to CEOs. When it comes to building a legacy to remember, for these three developers, it’s all in the family.
The Viera Company: A Family Affair
In 1926, Slovak immigrant Andrew Duda and his sons produced their first cash crop of celery—an event that laid the foundation for the establishment of the Duda family legacy. Two decades later, those sons—the “three seniors”—
purchased a 43,000-acre tract of land in Brevard, FL, on what would become the Sunshine State’s Space Coast, with the intent of creating a major cattle operation. Today, that tract of land is Viera, the 15th top-selling master-planned community in the United States. With a deep-rooted commitment to environmental preservation, dedication to philanthropy, a wide range of education and worship opportunities, and stellar amenities, Viera has evolved a great deal over the years. But one thing hasn’t changed: It remains a family affair.
“There are currently 27 Duda family members working for the company,” says C. Scott Miller, VP of Sales and Community Management, who has been with the company for 25 years. “There are 19 fourth-generation family members in roles ranging from the CEO/President position to leadership roles across all major business units, and we have eight fifth-generation family members involved in various facets of the company, from western vegetable operations in California to homebuilding and land development here in Viera. We also have six family members serving on the board of directors, including a third-generation family member serving as Chairman of the Board of Directors.”
With all that The Viera Company has already achieved, company President Todd J. Pokrywa believes there is still a lot of room for innovation. “While today Viera currently has over 23,500 residents, 10,500 homes, three million square feet of commercial space, and 10,000 jobs across 350 businesses, at buildout the community is projected to be home to over 60,000 residents, up to 31,000 homes, over seven million square feet of commercial space, and over 25,000 jobs across 600 businesses,” says Pokrywa, who wrote his thesis on Viera while studying urban and regional planning at the University of Waterloo.
Pokrywa has nurtured an interest in Viera since childhood, when his family traveled from Canada each year to vacation on Florida’s Space Coast. “I was intrigued about the community from the very beginning, given the long-term vision and commitment to stewardship that the family expressed when unveiling and pursuing the vision for Viera. From early on in the development, the community has enhanced the quality of life for its residents and provided an environment for businesses to be successful,” he says.
Given that he’s been with the company for a quarter of a century, C. Scott Miller has a unique perspective on Viera’s growth over the years.
“I suspect that the three seniors likely did not envision that their Cocoa Ranch would transform to the major master-planned community that is Viera today, but I am equally confident that they would be proud of the fact that the project has been successfully built with attention to detail and an overarching sense of ethical stewardship,” Miller says. “I find it humbling when I look back at the boldness that the third-generation family leadership took in electing to develop a master planned community over an enormous parcel of land. Viera means ‘faith’ in Slovak, the native tongue of Andrew Duda, and the success of Viera lies on the back of the same foundation of faith and hard-working perseverance that the three seniors and their father exhibited in starting the company in the early 1900s.”
Logan Homes: Like Father, Like Son
In 1986, Logan Homes built its first luxury home on the southeastern North Carolina coast. The seeds that gave rise to the company were planted three years before, though, when president and owner D. Logan, Sr. was still a teenager. “My dad kicked me out of the house when I was 16, which led to a career digging ditches,” says D. Logan, Sr. with typical humility. “I worked for a contractor for a while. Then I started Logan Homes when I was 19.” D. Logan was introduced to the world of custom home building by starting first as a carpenter’s helper where he assisted in building some of the finest homes along Wrightsville Beach and Figure Eight Island, after which he turned his dream into a reality and began Logan Homes.
Many 19-year-olds wouldn’t have the savvy to start their own business—much less one that is still thriving 32 years later—but D. Logan, Sr. is the exception. Honesty and integrity along with determination and dedication to excellence have kept the company going. “We did custom building for about 15 years. Then, 15 or 20 years ago, we started developing our own land,” he says.
With a wide range of plans in their portfolio for personalized and move-in-ready homes in both North Carolina and the South Carolina lowcountry, including new master-planned communities in Bluffton, SC, Logan Homes has come a long way since those early days.
“The home you build is only as good as the people who build it,” says D. Logan, Sr. Always trying to improve the building process, he has fostered the same passionate attitude throughout Logan Homes’ nearly 80 employees over two divisions. He has assembled and empowered a team with attention to detail that embraces cutting edge technologies to create homes and communities at competitive prices. He is quick to share the accolades of his success with his team who helped propel Logan Homes to its success, including Vice President, PJ Kelly, who has worked for Logan for over 23 years, and CFO, Patrick Lennon, who arrived in 2010 with a wealth of construction accounting expertise.
The founder’s son, D. Logan, Jr., now the company’s sales and marketing director, also followed an entrepreneurial path, Logan, Sr. says, “My son was a salesman from early on. When he graduated from high school, he came to me and said, ‘I don’t want to go to college with my sister … I want to join Logan Homes.’” Remembering his own beginnings, he decided to give Logan, Jr. a try. “He’d started out at an early age—13 or 14—working on job sites during the summer. When he was 16 or 17, he started out as an assistant superintendent. I put him in sales three to four years ago, and now he’s the sales manager. He’s an incredible entrepreneur,” Logan, Sr. says.
Logan, Sr.’s daughter, Mary Catherine Santos, also works for Logan Homes in pre-construction operations. “She is incredibly efficient in ways that I never was, and very good with permitting. She is excellent with the nitty-gritty details and working with municipalities,” Logan, Sr. says.
“My dad is extremely driven and extremely passionate,” Logan, Jr. adds. “D. Logan is no slouch. Yes, he’s built a successful $100 million a year company, but he’s in the details daily. He knows every single in and out of every single warm body in this office. It’s very rare for the president of the company to still be that intimately involved. It’s not that he’s scared—it’s that he loves it. He’s itching to be in every single detail.”
Logan, Sr. agrees. “I love what I do.”
On Top of the World: The Colen Family’s Legacy
In 1947, the late entrepreneur Sidney Colen founded On Topof the World Communities, Florida’s oldest privately-owned land developer. “As a child of the Great Depression, he wanted to build a good, secure life for his family. Development and building also fulfilled his own very entrepreneurial drive. (It was) a perfect match-up,” says Colen’s son Kenneth, who has served as president of On Top of the World since 1981.
Sidney Colen’s vision was to create “a community of great scale that would not only support expansive amenities, but would also support an arts and education component. He understood that the arts are the highest and most noble expression of human creativity,” Kenneth Colen says.
Even the greatest visionaries need to start somewhere, and Kenneth’s father “literally built his first home and sold it (to the chagrin of his in-laws, who thought he should move into it with his new bride and start a family).”
After years of quality homebuilding and development, in late 1975 Sidney Colen purchased 12,500 acres of land in Ocala, FL, based on a handshake deal, with the details written on the back of an envelope—and the company’s flagship retirement community was born. Today, On Top of the World’s Ocala community offers a stellar range of amenities, continues to fulfill its mission to protect the environment through conservation easements as well as partnerships with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and builds eco-conscious “Water Wise” homes and yards. The community also features Circle Square Cultural Center, The Ranch Fitness Center and Spa, a farmer’s market, and a range of retail outlets.
On Top of the World operates a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) educational foundation, Master The Possibilities, which “offers residents (and non-residents) the opportunity to continue to expand their educational discovery horizons, to develop skills in a range of arts, by active participation. It’s one thing to be passively entertained, and entirely another to be actively engaged as a creator,” company president Kenneth Colen says, echoing his father’s passion for arts and education. “There is a great give and take, a sharing of ideas and dialogue that can be very engaging. Participants take an active role in determining class offerings. If there is interest in a topic, MTP will make it happen.”
This resident-driven approach is also visible in On Top of the World’s “maker space,” home to a woodworking and metals shop, as well as their R/C Flying Field, another resident-led initiative. “We have the land, they have the interest, and it’s a beautiful marriage of the two. With over 140 R/C club members, the original concept of an airfield continues to evolve, and now includes a drone obstacle course as well as a radio-controlled car track,” says Colen, whose sister Leslee plays an active role in community management at the company’s Clearwater, FL, location. The siblings’ cousin, Robert Colen, serves as On Top of the World’s Director of Warranty Services in Ocala.
Under the next generation’s leadership, On Top of the World continues to offer thoughtfully-designed, energy-efficient homes in welcoming, pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods. Starting in late 2019, the company plans to return to its roots, with a new single-family housing development featuring green space and an extensive trail system.
“Home building and development are noble professions,” Kenneth Colen says of carrying forward his father’s legacy. “When done right, they have tremendous power to influence people’s lives for good and for many years.”
The Stories of Seven Couples Who Lowered Their Taxes & Improved Their Lives
By Kelly Godbey
“What we saved in taxes, we now use to fund our lifestyle.”
~ Leslie Jacobson of Dataw Island, SC
In 2018, the number one reason people were considering a move was to save money in taxes, followed closely by moving to a better
climate. So, we interviewed people to see how much they saved in taxes when they relocated to a low tax state. As I spoke with each one of them, their lifestyles simply overpowered the amount that they saved. While saving money in taxes was wonderful for them all, their stories were more about the new lives they lead. Meet these joyous people who moved from a high tax state and improved their lifestyles.
Leslie and Bill Jacobson of Dataw Island and Logan Homes
Saved $6,000 a year in property taxes
“If you had told me in 2016 that I would be living in South Carolina, I would have told you that you were crazy,” said Leslie Jacobson, formerly from Montgomery County, PA. In the Spring of 2016, they mapped out a trip from Williamsburg, VA, to Savannah, GA, and toured developments down the coast. Leslie says: “On this trip a light bulb went off for me … This is what my life could be? …This is what my taxes could be? … This is what the weather would be? Then Bill said, ‘I want to look at this place I saw in Ideal-Living magazine, Dataw Island,’ so we went there and stayed with a Discovery package. We narrowed it down to two places, then we bought a lot at Dataw Island in the spring of 2017. And, we moved in May 2018.”
The Jacobson’s knew they wanted Logan Homes to build their home. The Jacobson’s home has a pond view and a golf view. “Logan Homes were in our price range, and we love the product. Logan builds quality homes and they have a great design center. They have really streamlined the process. We used one of their floor plans and customized it the way we wanted it. We made a lot of modifications in the kitchen. I tell everyone we live in paradise,” says Leslie.
“The people who we have met have been so wonderful and gracious. We have become a part of ‘Island Friends.’ Dataw Island puts together groups of nine to 12 couples who rotate dinners at their homes once a month that gives us a chance to get to know new people. We were social before, but this was even easier to meet people.”
Leslie loves the beach and Bill loves golf. Bill (64) plays golf three to four times a week and Leslie (56) just isn’t ready to retire yet. Their taxes were in excess of $11,000 prior to moving, not to mention the new SALT tax legislation that would have eaten up all of their $10,000 deduction for state and local taxes. They encourage others to do their due diligence by attending an Ideal-LIVING Real Estate Show, just as they had done. Bill says, “You’ll know the place is right when you see it.”
Larry and Sherry Sherman of the Villages at Citrus Hills
Saved $5,000 a year in property taxes
As an accountant, Larry Sherman did his homework before moving from a small town in Connecticut to Citrus Hills, FL. The Shermans were tired of fighting all of the snow and ice, so climate was a big factor, but so was saving money. By moving to Florida, they saved seven percent in state income tax, as Florida is known for NO STATE INCOME TAX. And, even saved a couple thousand dollars on property tax for cars every year. Larry still works part-time as a CPA and keeps himself busy along with going outside everyday and exercising. They both take much better care of themselves living in Florida than they did previously. He says, “Sometimes I have to pinch myself to see if this is real.” He now loves to golf, as does his wife, Sherry, who has just taken up golf in addition to donating time to various charities. The Shermans are busy every day, from day trips to kayaking and socializing. He says, “Don’t wait too long in life. You only get one shot at life, so don’t hesitate; come down and try. I used to work 80 hours a week during tax season, and you have to think of yourself. You have to enjoy life while you can, even if you have to take a loss in selling your home today.”
Pam Avila of Hot Springs Village, AR
Saved $9,000 a year in property taxes
Relocating from California a year and a half ago to Hot Springs, AR, was a big change and culture shock for Pam Avila, and she loves it! At 75 years young, Pam still runs a consulting business, now working with marketing. She has always been an entrepreneur. In California, she had a tech consulting business that worked with companies such as Microsoft and Apple.
When it was time to partially “retire” Pam knew that there was no way she could afford to stay in California, so she looked at places around the country and found a wonderful cost of living and tax situation in Arkansas. “It’s been an adventure!” Pam says. “I came here on a Monday and bought on a Wednesday. It just felt right! You hear about ‘Southern Hospitality,’ but you really don’t know until you experience it.” Pam now goes to dance fitness classes twice a week, enjoys kayaking, and even goes line dancing.
Just by relocating, Pam saved $9,000 a year in real estate taxes, not to mention a lower cost of living. The home costs in California were approximately three times what she paid for a home in Hot Springs Village. And, all of the costs for services like landscapers, plumbers, and electricians are much lower. And, the property tax for the same car went from $450/year to $27 per year.
Spread across 26,000 acres in the Oachita Mountains, Hot Springs Village is the largest gated community in the U.S. with all of the amenities you can imagine, including nine golf courses, 12 lakes, two marinas, fitness centers, country clubs, and over 20 miles of trails. It’s easy to see why Pam fell in love.
Peter and Susanne Lividini of Heritage Shores, Bridgeville, DE
Saved $15,000 a year in property taxes
When the Lividini’s retired, they made a lateral move from a 2,700 sq. ft. home in New York to a 2,600 sq. ft. home with property taxes of $1,877 a year. Peter says that living in Putnam Valley was just too expensive with high taxes and a high cost of living. He was a school teacher in Harrison, NY, where the average costs for monthly taxes are between $16,000 and $60,000 a year.
The Lividinis now live the epitome of the active lifestyle. Peter retired at age 62 for a different way of life. He says, “When I was working, I had 45 to 50 minutes a day commute, and now I have so much time. The best part of retirement is that I didn’t expect retirement to be like this! At Heritage Shores, there are so many amenities. I bowl every week, play pickleball three days a week, bocce ball on Mondays, every other week there’s water volleyball, and I bike to the gym. This place is scheduled like a cruiseship with something different to do all of the time. I even started golfing and play nine holes two to three times a week.”
According to Peter, living at Heritage Shores is like being at “Cheers,” where everybody knows your name. There are many clubs where residents show up to learn about anything from history to science fiction. They even have groups where homeowners plan trips to various destinations for groups.
In addition, Peter is an artist who works on commissions and has set their new home up like a gallery. But, it’s not all about Peter, Susanne is very active too. They still make time for each other, like going for bike rides, and social gatherings. The pair loves to hang out at the Sugar Beet Market, where you’ll find lots of Heritage Shores residents listening to music or grabbing a bite to eat. Susanne participates in co-ed water volleyball, plays mahjong, and is a member of the “Red Hat Society” that raises money for charities and social issues.
Peter says, “It’s fun! It’s everything we’ve always wanted.”
Jere and Jill Hassberger of Fairfield Glade, TN
Saved $6,000 a year in property taxes
In July 2017, Jere and Jill relocated to Fairfield Glade, TN, from Ann Arbor, MI, for a better climate with four seasons of moderate temperatures with a lower cost of living. While Jere is now retired, Jill still works remotely. They have found their new life in Fairfield Glade quite enjoyable, as have many other Midwesterners. In addition to saving approximately $6,000 a year in property taxes, they have also saved his pension from being taxed, as there is no state income tax in Tennessee. (His pension was taxed in Michigan). Jere says, “When you put it all together, Fairfield Glade was great from the golfing and hiking to the community to the weather to the cost of living.”
The weather is so conducive to outdoor living that Jere now tries to play golf at least two to three days a week on one of the 90 holes and five courses available at Fairfield Glade. They also enjoy hiking and being closer to their daughter in Nashville. Many residents also enjoy boating and fishing on one of the 11 lakes in the community or enjoying the racquet sports from pickleball to tennis.
The Hassbergers had looked at planned communities in Georgia, North Carolina, and Tennessee, and recommend that others spend time in a community and take advantage of discovery travel to help them make a decision.
Dodie and Gary Koch of Waterways, Richmond Hill, GA
Saved over $8,000 a year in property taxes
The primary reason the Kochs decided to relocate was that living in Connecticut was cost prohibitive, in addition to cold winters. They both said, “We don’t have to suffer through this!” And, they didn’t. The Kochs relocated to Waterways in Richmond Hill, just outside of Savannah, GA, in January 2016, and they still have a summer place in Vermont. They started looking in northern Florida, but decided on Savannah for the great culture and food.
Dodie takes classes at the Savannah Learning Center and even works with the Dolphin Project where she counts dolphins in the estuaries around Savannah. Every morning they walk for three miles around Waterways, a 2,300 acre development with boat access. “The community looks like it has been here forever; they love the trees. There’s no clearcutting here!” says Dodie. They also love to cycle around the 12 miles of paved roads and talk to their neighbors.
According to the Kochs, the community is very friendly with new families, young couples, and retirees. It keeps them young at heart. It’s a melting pot with people from all over. Their new home is so well-built that it is incredibly efficient, costing less than half of what they paid in Connecticut for their utilities (they save $1,000/year just for utilities).
“As a New Englander, I always thought of Georgia as the deep South. But, I have embraced the South. I really enjoy the Southern culture,” Dodie says. And, the Kochs agree,“You are never too old to try something new. Don’t be afraid to take the leap!”
Gerard and Jane Sunderland of Brunswick Forest, Wilmington, NC
Reduced taxes by two thirds
Wilmington, NC attracts thousands of retirees each year, and three and a half years ago, it snared Gerry and Jane Sunderland from Wooster, MA. Jane was ready to retire from nursing and Gerry’s job was flexible, so they could move anywhere. Although they already had a second home in Vermont, they wanted to get closer to the sea. They knew immediately it was the right place for them when they reached Brunswick Forest.
The Sunderlands were looking for a lifestyle near a city. They thought they would downsize when they relocated, and did, but then after they built, they decided to add on a huge sunroom with air conditioning and a fireplace so they could host more parties for all of their new friends.
They now have many more friends than when they lived in Wooster, MA.
Jane had never golfed before and now is a self-acclaimed golf-aholic. They enjoy golf, tennis, pickleball, biking, and walking; they are active all day long. They love all the culture that the Wilmington area has to offer, including seeing shows at Thalian Hall and the Wilson Center.
Their taxes are now at least a third of what they were, and their cost of living is so much less, including entertainment and dining options. Even the parking is significantly cheaper than in the Boston area.
The Sunderlands advise, “Try everything at least once. Reach out and meet people. We’ve never regretted it.”
As retirement draws near, tax-friendly states become more desirable. Cold weather and high-tax states motivate soon-to-be retirees to seek the opposite of both. Retirement tax-friendly states with lower property taxes have become the priority.
When considering relocating, it’s important to weigh many factors including lifestyle options, cost-of-living, as well as the dreaded tax bills.
Earlier this year, Federal tax deductions for state and local taxes (SALT) were capped at $10,000. In many areas around the country, property taxes alone exceed $10,000.
According to ATTOM Data Solutions, the nation’s largest property database, there were nine counties in the country with a population of at least 100,000 that had average annual property taxes of more than $10,000: Westchester ($17,179), Rockland ($12,924), and Nassau ($11,415) counties in New York; Essex ($11,878), Bergen ($11,585), Union ($10,863), and Morris ($10,294) counties in New Jersey; Marin County California ($11,295); and Fairfield County, Connecticut ($10,612).
Give Yourself a Raise
Move to a tax-friendly state!
Here are a few of your best options. Click on the state to link to communities in that state on ideal-LIVING.com.
Arizona does not tax Social Security retirement benefits. The state does tax other types of retirement income, like distributions from an IRA or a 401(k). Arizona’s property taxes are relatively low. Median home values are $239,200.
Arkansas does not tax Social Security retirement benefits. Withdraws from retirement accounts and public and private pensions are partially taxed. Property taxes in the state are among the lowest in the U.S. Median home values in Arkansas are $121,700.
Delaware does not tax Social Security retirement benefits. There is a deduction of up to $12,500 on income from pensions or retirement savings accounts. There is no sales tax at the state or local level. Delaware has the 4th lowest property tax rates of any state. Wages are taxed 4.8%. Also, it does not have an estate or inheritance tax. Median home values are $232,100.
Florida has no state income tax, which means Social Security retirement benefits, pension income, and income from an IRA or a 401(k) are all untaxed. Florida has no estate or inheritance tax. Property and sales tax rates are close to the national averages. Median home values are $223,300.
Georgia does not tax Social Security retirement benefits and provides a deduction of $65,000 per person on all types of retirement income for anyone 64 or older. Georgia has no state inheritance or estate tax. Property taxes are moderate. Median home values are $174,000.
Nevada has no state income tax, which means that all retirement income is tax-free at the state level. Property taxes are among the lowest in the nation. Median home values are $273,800.
North Carolina exempts all Social Security retirement benefits from income taxes. Other forms of retirement income are taxed at the North Carolina flat income tax rate of 5.5%. The state’s property and sales taxes are both moderate. Median home values are $172,800.
South Carolina does not tax Social Security retirement benefits and has a $15,000 deduction for seniors receiving any other type of retirement income. Withdrawals from retirement accounts are partially taxed. South Carolina has some of the lowest property taxes in the country. Median home values are $158,200.
Tennessee does not have a standard income tax. Social Security retirement benefits and income from retirement accounts are not taxed at the state level. Property taxes in Tennessee are quite low, but sales taxes are high. Median home values are $157,900.
Texas has no state income tax, which means Social Security retirement benefits and all other types of retirement income are tax-free. Texas has some of the highest sales taxes and property taxes. The median single family home price in Texas is $184,700.
Utahtaxes Social Security retirement benefits. Other types of retirement income, such as pension income and income from retirement accounts, are also subject to the state’s 5% flat income tax, though seniors can claim a small credit against those taxes. Utah has very low property taxes. Median home values are $305,800.
To live where you vacation is more accessible now than ever.
Let’s take a quick look at history. It’s not something you really ever think about, but who actually were the first Americans to take a proper vacation… other than the ultra-rich Vanderbilts, et al. According to research by the Smithsonian Magazine, they suggest that the first American vacationers were lured to the Adirondack Mountains in upstate New York by a Boston preacher, who in 1869, wrote a widely-read treatise on the spiritual and health benefits of time spent lakeside in the forest. An unusually wet spring that year, however, meant the mosquitoes and flies were abundant in both numbers and aggravation. City slickers who had never slept in a starched, white tent under the stars were underwhelmed at the prospect of their vacation.
This is not so much a problem in 2018, when vacation possibilities are endless and luxurious. And with repeat visits, vacation destinations become ever-more comfortable, familiar, homey, and sometimes even soul-transforming. So much so that a vacation destination might just grab hold and say, “You know, this would be a wondrous place to relocate or retire.”
Just ask the couples we spoke to about their transformation from vacationers to residents.
Nick and Diane Karbonik first started bringing their girls to Ocean City, MD, and Rehoboth Beach, DE, 40 years ago during summer vacations from their home near Baltimore. So there was no learning curve when the couple decided to retire at The Peninsula, an artfully-sculpted 800-acre community tucked between those two historic beaches and framed by the expansive Indian River Bay.
Diane reveals, “A couple years ago we were visiting our daughter and son-in-law, who is the head golf professional at a country club in Rehoboth Beach. One day he managed to get us a tee time at The Peninsula. I remember driving through the community that first day and saying, ‘Gosh, I could live here.’ And now we do!”
The Peninsula offers gracious waterfront living, a predictably spectacular Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course, and a stunning new clubhouse that just opened last year. Amenities also include an eight-court tennis center; an indoor, outdoor, and wave pool complex; athletic club; a protected nature reserve; the restorative Calmwater Spa; and gourmet fare from the Terrace Grille.
“When we first started coming here on vacation, Rehoboth Beach was a sleepy, little summer town. But now it has year-round vibrancy, with plenty of great restaurants, quaint shops, civic activities, and of course the historic boardwalk, which is great multi-generational fun,” explains Diane.
One of the added benefits of The Peninsula’s central location is easy day-trip access to Washington, D.C., Baltimore, and Philadelphia (all just over a two-hour drive), and Historic Williamsburg and Jamestown are just over three hours away.
“When we first started coming here on vacation, Rehoboth Beach was a sleepy, little summer town. But now it has year-round vibrancy, with plenty of great restaurants, quaint shops, civic activities, and of course the historic boardwalk, which is great multi-generational fun.”
— Diane Karbonik
We thought the Karbonik’s 40-year vacation history with Rehoboth would hold the record until we met Gail Mitkoff, who has been vacationing in Ocean City from her family home in metro Washington, D.C., since junior high, a full 50 years!
Decades of blissful vacationing at Ocean City over the years finally led to a more permanent villa purchase there in 2015, overlooking a rare eagle’s nest near the beach. But a year later, retirement took hold and Gail decided to seek life in a more formal community and a single family home, where friends were easier to meet and recreational amenities were in abundance.
Enter Bayside, a welcoming planned community on Fenwick Island, just a stone’s throw over the Maryland border north into Delaware, and a new chapter in life.
Gail had to stop and gather herself prior to describing all the activities in which she participates at Bayside. “Well, first there is the golf course, which I don’t use a lot, but it sure is beautiful to look at. And I certainly take advantage of the new health and aquatic center, biking trails, crabbing, and fishing, not to mention the miles of sublime beach strolls that can only come with a coastal life. And I even joined the mahjong club,” she said with a twinkle.
Gail is also in regular attendance at the Bayside Institute, a catalyst for bringing community residents together in wellness, creative writing, heart- healthy cooking, kayaking, flower arranging, and loads more. And she thoroughly enjoys concerts at the community’s outdoor Freeman Stage, featuring musical artists like Vince Gill, Smokey Robinson, the Celtic Tenors, a theatrical performance of Mary Poppins, and more.
The same central location travel benefit go for Bonnie and Tom Nelson, who purchased a vacation condominium 15 years ago at Bay Creek in Cape Charles, VA, overlooking the historic waters of the Chesapeake Bay. Turns out Bay Creek was just far enough south from their permanent residence in Kinnelon, NJ, to get close to water and enjoy a more temperate climate, while enjoying all the benefits of living among both Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus golf courses.
Three years ago, the Nelsons graduated from vacationing in the condo to a more permanent residence in a single family home wrapped by holes 3, 4, and 5 on the Palmer course, which the grandkids have turned into a kind of five-hole loop to play after dinner when the course is quiet. Now in high school, those kids learned to play golf at around age five from the assistant golf professional at Bay Creek, and one of them has made his high school varsity golf team as a freshman!
Bay Creek is predictably rich in amenities, most noticeably a two-mile stretch of sand beach, one of the few beaches on Chesapeake Bay’s eastern shore. There’s also a marina, beach club, and fitness center, plus bayside dining at the embracing Coach House Tavern.
Bonnie is an accomplished gardener, as evidenced by their home’s recent selection for the 2018 Eastern Shore Home and Garden Tour. “What attracted us to Bay Creek in the first place remains what we love today: The great vistas, the beach, the golf, and the amazing sunsets,” offers Bonnie.
Cape Charles is a vintage seaside town overlooking the Chesapeake Bay on Virginia’s Eastern Shore. Founded by a railroad magnate in the late 1800’s, it was said to be designed around New York City, with even a small “Central Park.”
Dorothy and Marv Gelb | St. James Plantation, Southport, NC
Some folks are more quickly smitten than those who have waited 50 years, like New Yorkers Dorothy and Marv Gelb, who bought a pre-retirement lot on their very first visit to St. James Plantation in Southport, NC, in 2006. The pair was visiting Dorothy’s best friend since third grade, Linda Jenkins, and her husband Bob.
Dorothy describes that, “The Jenkins gave us a glorious tour of St. James and coastal Southport as only locals can, then took us out on their boat for a picnic cruise on the Intracoastal Waterway. And we were sold. It’s that wonderful here.”
The Gelbs have had a lot of time to reconsider their lot purchase, but repeated vacations over the years confirmed their love of the area, and in 2016 they built their dream retirement home and have quickly become engaged in the local community.
Bob is an adept piano player and has become in high demand, playing ‘standards’ at charity fashion shows, art galleries, the local hospital, and fundraisers for the St. James Service Club. Dorothy is very active in the Southport Presbyterian Church, when she’s not playing tennis or taking a tennis clinic.
St. James Plantation is just an idyllic 6,000-acre planned community of beautiful coastal landscape tucked at the very southeast tip of North Carolina. Life at St. James is all about being outside and being active. The community has 81 holes of golf, 13 tennis courts, a marina, a beach club, four fitness centers, and 36 miles of hiking and biking trails. Naturally, there is also the Intracoastal Waterway and Atlantic Ocean beyond for boating, paddleboarding, and kayaking.
“We are completely embracing the active lifestyle in Southport,” remarked Marv. “We are on the Atkins diet, we’re bicycling every day, going to the beach and pool, and living as active and healthy a lifestyle as we can in this beautiful setting.”
And, of course, they can always grab a can of bug spray at the marina store in the event of an unusually wet spring!
“We are completely embracing the active lifestyle in Southport.”
— Marv Gelb
The Peninsula on the Indian River Bay offers an exquisite collection of homes in vintage coastal architecture. With a Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Course, unmatched amenities and instant access to Delaware's famous Atlantic beaches, there is simply no place like The Peninsula on the Indian River Bay.
Bayside is an award-winning classic beach resort community developed by the regionally renowned Carl M. Freeman Companies. Tree-lined streets showcase a community of stunning homes - all inspired by the New England coastal towns.
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In this age of health, wellness, and organic everything, active adult living has essentially become synonymous with being alive and over 55. And, the building and development industry has responded…in force.
Active adult communities have been around for a while, but suddenly they’re everywhere and the number of baby boomers flocking to them is at an all-time high.
According to the National Association of Home Builders, the 55+ housing industry market reached 71 points, the highest reading in history, in the fourth quarter of 2017. The 55+ single-family HMI is based on builder perceptions of new 55+ single-family home sales, both current and expected for the next six months and traffic of prospective buyers. Builders are asked to rate conditions as “good,” “fair,” or “poor” (or, for traffic, “high to very high,” “average,” or “low to very low”). The responses are used to create diffusion indexes on scale of 0 to 100, where any number over 50 indicates more builders report positive than negative conditions.
So, what has changed? For starters, the number of baby boomers who have reached active adult status has increased dramatically in recent years. The United States Census Bureau reported that the number of U.S. residents age 65+ increased from 35.0 million in 2000, to 49.2 million in 2016, accounting for 12.4 percent and 15.2 percent of the total population, respectively.
Then, there’s the societal or ideological shift from canned or frozen, and rocking chairs and knitting to community gardens, fresh and local only. Social groups and fitness centers are everywhere you look.
A continually heightened focus on nutrition, overall health, community, and a long, vibrant life is driving baby boomers to seek situations and communities that support an active and healthy lifestyle. So, all-day porch sitting and days spent crocheting are a thing of the past. Not to worry, though, active adults haven’t totally given up the chill and focused life. They’re just doing less of it, or doing it with friends or in groups for smaller chunks of time, making even relaxing activities inherently more “active” given their social nature.
History and Popular Culture
The first active adult community on the scene was Del Webb’s famous Sun City community in Arizona in 1950. A mile-long waiting list and record sales within the first 48 hours was a sure sign that Del Webb was on to something. Fitness-focused, 55+ restricted, and activity and socialization-centered, Sun City was a 180 degree spin on mid-century retirement communities.
Now, nearly 70 years later, active adult communities can essentially be found everywhere in the continental U.S. And, the non-active senior has become the more rare of the two.
Active adult icons from the famous to the super-fit are good representations of this new retirement era we’ve found ourselves in. Here are a few standouts.
There’s President George H. W. Bush, who celebrated three of his birthdays – 80, 85, and 90 years old – skydiving from an airplane. Rolling Stones lead and great-grandfather, Mick Jagger, still appears on stages around the world. And, none other than the great Betty White, pegged “the grandmother we all wish we had,” became the oldest person to host Saturday Night Live when she stepped onto the SNL stage at age 88.
Then, there’s the slightly less famous, Judy Meyers, the oldest female competitive barefoot water-skier in the United States. All it took for Meyers at 53 to first try barefoot skiing was a dare.
Now 74, Meyers not only “walks” on water but also flips, turns, stands on one leg, and does tricks that would make your body hurt just watching her.
And, finally, there’s the great Ida Keeling who, with her daughter’s help, wrestled herself from depression after her losing two sons in her late 60s by taking up running. At 95, she was both setting and breaking 100-meter race records and, days before her 101st birthday, became the fastest running centenarian in history. Now 102, Keeling is still running with no intention of stopping.
And, these are just a handful of the hundreds of stories like them. While these examples may not represent the average active adult, they do represent the trend toward a “55 and better” mentality.
Sun City’s success drove home the idea that 55+ could symbolize new beginnings, fresh perspectives, and second chances. And, while the concept definitely turned developers heads, it took a couple of decades and an influx of aging baby boomers for active adult communities to become a widespread phenomenon.
Companies like K. Hovnanian’s® Four Seasons, Traditions of America, and Landmark Homes came onto the active adult scene in the 90s and have developed a prominent following.
Barry McCarron, President of K. Hovnanians’s northeast Division, says that variety is key in K. Hovnanian’s® Four Seasons communities.
“Whether you’re a fitness enthusiast, a tennis pro, or an avid chef, our wide range of group activities meet the diverse needs of our residents. We’ve created a world-class lifestyle environment that supports those passions, and then some. There’s something for everyone here,” McCarron said.
K. Hovnanian’s® Four Seasons communities are speckled along the East coast from New Jersey to South Carolina to Florida. Dr. Amy Rady, resident of K. Hovnanian’s® Four Seasons at Parkland, has lived both extremes.
When she and her husband decided to move from their K. Hovnanian® community in New Jersey, they knew two things: 1 – they wanted to be surrounded by active folks in their age range, and, 2 – that they wanted to be in Florida. They also hoped for the same K. Hovnanian® experience they’d had in New Jersey. When they finally chose Parkland as their Florida destination, they were in luck.
“(We) basically had no other interest in looking at any other area, and we’re very happy that we found Four Seasons K. Hovnanian ® in Parkland,” Rady said. “It’s been wonderful. It’s absolutely beautiful. And, there’s a great ambience within the clubhouse.”
Aside from social and fitness opportunities, K. Hovnanian® Four Seasons resident, Ken Brager, said it’s the connection that he values most. “We came to this community, and I have to tell you that, for the first time, there’s a sense of camaraderie and community here at Hovnanian that we never felt anywhere that we lived before,” Brager said. “I’m not sure what it is, but the people here are just fantastic, generous, fun, and active.”
Landmark Homes, a builder and developer in Pennsylvania, started developing communities specifically for active adults due to requests from customers.
“We found that this was what the majority of our 55+ customers were looking for,” said Cliff Weaver, vice president of Landmark Homes.
Weaver said that aside from a general desire for low-maintenance living, the charm and serenity of the Central PA region, and some universal home design elements, Landmark has learned that one size does not fit all when it comes to active adults residents.
“We’ve learned to accommodate a range of people and lifestyles,” said Weaver. “Yes, some want the one-story 1,200 sq. ft. home that’s easy to maintain,” he said. “But, downsizing means different things to different people. Some folks are moving to Landmark Active Living Communities from really big homes. Small to them may still be big to others. We also find that a lot of our residents equate being active with having visitors and grandchildren come to visit; and, others want to continue to entertain and host parties. Both require more space.”
So, Landmark offers a variety of models with lots of customization options.
Weaver says that the most definitive change in the past few years has been the number of people participating in activities offered. “There was a time,” he said, “when the fitness centers, tennis courts, and other activity centers were empty most of the time. But, now they’re either full of people or about to be.”
This increase in interest, and requests for more activities, has persuaded Landmark to bring on an activities director at the corporate level.
Traditions of America, a 55+ exclusive development company headquartered in Pennsylvania, was named the #1 55+ homebuilder in the nation in 2016 and has a reputation for delivering for good reason. The company, said Jay Goldberg (Vice President of Marketing), was founded out of necessity more than anything.
“Our company founder, Timothy McCarthy, decided 25 years ago to focus on the 55+ lifestyle when he was searching for a new home for his mom,” Goldberg said. “He realized that though there were choices, all of the elements of the purchase process and lifestyle weren’t being addressed by traditional active adult builders.”
So, McCarthy took matters into his own hands.
“One of my favorite quotes,” said Goldberg, “is from John Roman, a resident of our Bridle Path community in the Lehigh Valley of Pennsylvania. He said, ‘I love it here because every night is Friday night, and every day is Saturday.’”
Traditions communities all include clubhouses, fitness centers, social clubs, events and activities, and community ambassadors to help welcome new residents.
So, where are Traditions-bound active adults coming from? Everywhere, it seems.
“But, more often than not,” Goldberg said, “it’s within a five mile radius of the community they move to. They just decide that with their kids grown and out of their home it is just time.”
Many, Goldberg said, are actually returning to the area from a move to Florida or the Carolinas in order to be closer to children and grandchildren.
So, like everything in life, the perfect active adult lifestyle depends entirely on the active adult. And, the great news is, there are lots of options.
What Active Adults Want
ideal-LIVING Magazine’s parent company, RPI Media, issued a survey in 2018 asking 55+ participants to list what mattered most to them when choosing an active adult community.
Activity, the ever-present need for good healthcare, a sense of community, and access to travel hovered at the top. Here’s a look at the results:
Walking Trails 90%
Hospital/Healthcare Provided 90%
Town Center & Shopping 89%
Wellness/Fitness Center 89%
Sense of Community 89%
Swimming Pool 85%
Social Clubs 82%
Beach Access 74%
Golf Course/Club 44%
Tennis Courts 38%
Developers have mirrored these results by focusing their efforts around them.