17 Key Elements We Looked For When Selecting The Perfect Retirement Community
There are many things to consider when preparing to retire. The main thing is to know where you are going to live. We looked for key elements when choosing our ideal retirement community.
1. Early planning and savings account
When you’re just starting out in the working world, retirement might be the last thing on your mind. Starting to save early in your working life gives you choices when you’re ready to retire. Planning early and saving money are keys to a successful retirement, as well as having a plan for your golden years.
Luckily, we now have great choices because our spending and saving habits throughout our careers were similar.
2. Moving for retirement
Does it make sense to move in retirement? For my husband and me, it made sense. California’s high cost of living makes it difficult to enjoy a comfortable retirement with ever-rising prices and increasing demands on our fixed incomes.
Many families deal with aging parents, and so do we. It’s nearly impossible to find an affordable one-story home in Southern California. The stairs become unmanageable for the elderly. As we age, it makes sense to plan around our needs to find the right community to stay in without moving significantly when we’re old.
3. A gradual transition
Our transition to retirement is a gradual process. My husband retired 14 years ago while I continued to work to support my mother in her final years. We stayed in California to do it.
Now I chose to work because I don’t want to give up my passion for teaching, traveling and writing as a professional. The joy of retirement is that I can do whatever I love with the comfort of knowing that my golden years are protected.
4. Choose the perfect retirement community
Choosing our “final” home was relatively easy for us. We often discussed leaving California when we fulfilled our family obligations. Here are the results.
On the fateful trip to Arizona, when we took my mother’s ashes for burial with her husband at the Phoenix National Cemetery, we visited a model home while waiting to meet friends for lunch. After lunch, we revisited the model homes and picked the one we liked. A serious discussion ensued about the possibility of making Tuscany Falls in Goodyear our home on our trip back to California. After more discussion and a second visit, we signed up. We have confirmed the essential things for us in our perfect retirement community.
You should know that we spent many years visiting the area of Phoenix where my parents lived, so the Valley of the Sun was already a good candidate for a retirement home.
5. Economic issues
Being on a fixed income makes saving an essential part of the retirement equation. Is this state and city a place we can afford for the long term? How do we control costs? Will we be able to maintain our standard of living as prices rise?
6. Low taxes
Low personal taxation and favorable business taxation are attractive. Although I feel retired, I still run my business from home and have to consider city and state requirements to do so.
7. Fewer government regulations
We resist the heavy hand of government in managing our lives. States that encourage people to act responsibly are essential for us.
8. Geography and climate
Growing up in Michigan, I never realized that anyone could live anywhere in the world, choosing their lifestyle and region.
After a 2 year solo stint in New York, I traveled to Southern California on vacation and decided to start living the California lifestyle.
After 40 years and many miles later, my husband and I decided it was time to leave the Golden State.
Owning a family vacation home in Oregon’s Mt. Hood National Forest for several years has provided fond memories and closeness to parents. However, this has never been a serious consideration for a nursing home as good medical care is some distance from home in the mountains and the weather in winter is harsh.
Goodyear, Arizona is poised for growth. Freeways off of Interstate 10 are well planned and move traffic quickly around Phoenix.
10. Location – Proximity to loved ones
Proximity to where our children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren live has become more important to them, as much as to us, as we get older.
When we decided to move to Arizona, I checked the flights from PHX to PDX. With one direct non-stop flight a day, I knew Goodyear was our new home. This only adds 30 minutes to our flight time. Many of our relatives live near Portland.
There are still 2 days of driving between Goodyear and Mt. Hood, although 4 hours more. However, the caveat with driving, whether from Southern California or Arizona, requires crossing mountain passes. We will not be riding during the winter months.
Since Goodyear is a 5 hour drive from Orange County, we can keep our doctors, dentists and other service providers on if we wish. After the move, we will find emergency services and build relationships with health care providers in our new hometown.
With great options in the new location like the Mayo Clinic, we know healthcare in Valley of the Sun is reliable and excellent. Because there are so many retirees in the area, good health care is a priority.
The same Southern California stores are conveniently located in or near Goodyear. Fresh and healthy choices from grocery stores, local small businesses and farmers markets make the transition easier.
When I designed my “retirement” life, I looked for health and wellness options for daily exercise.
When we first considered Tuscany Falls for our retirement home, a gym and pool weren’t our top priorities. My Snap Fitness gym membership accepts Silver sneakers, the closest to our new home being about 20 minutes away. Another great benefit for seniors is the Silver Sneakers program.
After the construction of our house began, we took a serious look at the fitness facilities. There are two gymnasiums with equipment and trainers available, three swimming pools, and movement classes on the menu.
Other facilities include tennis courts and pétanque courts. Many pickleball courts are always packed with players, and more courts are being built because it’s so popular. Two restaurants, a bar/lounge, a theater and lifelong learning programs specially designed for residents are available. We can join clubs and participate in activities for free or for a small fee.
I am enthusiastic about the quality of facilities and services that are part of my retreat package. When you select a perfect retirement community, the included amenities make your life better, even luxurious. This lifestyle is an unexpected benefit.
14. A Convenient Transport Corridor
I think of transport when we can no longer drive our vehicles. Goodyear appeals to me because our home is close to a major airport and the culturally rich city of Phoenix. Goodyear is close to the Interstate and public transit, so it’s possible to survive without a car.
I love road trips and being minutes from a major highway where I can easily access the whole country is appealing. When we lived in Southern California, we had to leave before dawn to get out of the Los Angeles Basin to all points north, south, and east.
15. Destinations within 2 hours
Proximity to exciting destinations within 2 hours is also appealing. Especially in the hot months where we need to escape the triple digit heat, I want to have interesting places within 2 hours drive. I love day trips and weekend getaways, including Arizona’s beer trails and wine regions. These opportunities fill the void for extended trips abroad.
Many of our longtime friends already live in the Greater Phoenix area, so we can continue to nurture those relationships. With activities planned for seniors in the community, sports for all levels and interests, clubs, resort activities and gatherings, I’m sure our move to this perfect retirement community will make our golden years easier with satisfaction.
The Valley of the Sun is a culturally rich region. In addition to fantastic dining options, golf, public art, museums, lifelong learning opportunities, stunning scenery, regional parks and the Cactus League for spring training the national baseball team, this true assortment of offerings makes our Goodyear, Arizona pick a perfect retirement community choice.