How Do I Find an Active Adult Retirement Community?

Q&A with a Reader

I am interested in retirement simple living in a small manufactured home or park model in an active retirement community.

How can I find the right community?

It should be affordable.

The climate should not be extremely cold or extremely hot all year.

It should be in the U.S., particularly in Oregon, Washington, Nevada, Arizona or New Mexico.

Thank you,

Donna

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Hi Donna,

Thank you for taking the time to write.

I have some links here that you can research to get lots of information on active adult communities. There are many of them around, especially in the sunbelt of the US.

If you Google Active Adult Communities you will get pages of listings. For narrowing down your results, just put in a state and many will show up for that location. Then you can communicate with those communities directly, getting more pertinent information for your needs.

On our Housing Page there are several listings for active adult communities, including Top Retirements which offers a directory of active adult communities for the nation and for the states you listed in your email.

The more you know about what you want, what is important to you (climate, international airport, restaurants, activities), how much you want to pay for the manufactured home, if you want to own the land underneath the home or lease the land, and whether or not you want a small, medium or large community, the easier it is to find your “perfect place.”

We recommend that before you purchase a home in one of these locations, that you go to visit in person and stay a season or two. There is no rush. You need to know if you like your neighbors, the community itself, and if it is close by the things that are important to you such as grocery stores, movie houses, an airport or anything else that might be on your list. If you can, purchase from a previous owner and you will save some money. The best time to look for houses for sale is just before the annual lifestyle fees or rent is due. For many personal reasons (illness, a death in the family, becoming elderly, not being able to afford two homes anymore, etc.) people might choose to not renew their lease and their home goes up for sale.

Another important decision to make is whether or not you want to own the property on which the home sits or if you will be comfortable owning the home and leasing the property. The difference in these two options are thousands and thousands of dollars – not just at the time of purchase, but also in the cost of annual home insurance. Find out what your maintenance responsibilities are. If you own the land, chances are that the maintenance requirements are higher. If you lease the land, often the community has a budget which pays for tree trimming, watering and so on.

Take your time. It’s exciting to be looking for a community where you might fit in and have a good time for years to come.

Good luck. I hope you find this information to be useful to you.

All the best,

Akaisha

Related stories and links

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Our Relocation Page

Our Housing Alternatives Page

Our Retirement Lifestyle Choices Page

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My Volunteer Experience in Cuba

Lynn Lotkowictz for Global Volunteers

In mid-January, I flew from Tampa to Havana on a trip that would introduce me to a country that has been off limits for me (and most Americans) for most of my life. I participated in a one-week service program in Cuba with Global Volunteers, a non-profit, NGO based in Minneapolis.

Classic old cars are seen everywhere

Along with 19 other volunteers ages 30-78, I spent a week on various work projects that included painting a fence at our base (The Cuban Council of Churches), spending time with seniors at a senior care center and working with students on English in an evening program. Another team did crocheting with a women’s group for part of the day.

Every afternoon we had a few hours of free time before working with students practicing English for about two hours. Later we all met for dinner, with our excellent team leader, Stephanie, at various locations.  The trip was a combination of helping our host community and a wonderful cultural learning experience for a group of Americans, most of whom, had never been to Cuba.

For more information on Volunteer opportunities click here!

Living with the Locals

We stayed in Miramar, a nice residential suburb of Havana near many of the city’s foreign embassies. All 20 volunteers stayed in guest houses within three or four blocks of each other. We were two blocks from the water and near our base at the Council where we met each morning around 9:00.

Cuban Vendor

The joy of staying in a suburb is that you have the opportunity to observe people going to work and school and regularly interact with the locals. Put simply, it is a more authentic experience than staying in a hotel. You feel like a part of the community, particularly since you are there to help in some small way.

We walked throughout the area every day and night.  I never felt nervous nor did we see anything that looked questionable. The only danger I encountered was the uneven sidewalks which, like many of the buildings, are in disrepair. Also in the evenings many streets did not have lights so we walked with caution and used flashlights when necessary.

Getting Connected

There is very little internet on the island. Missing connectivity, we asked our hosts about options. They told us there was an “Internet Park” about a twenty minute walk from my casa. There, they said, we could purchase a card from a mini mart or store, but we were told there are long lines and forms to fill out along with passport information. The alternative was to walk to a certain small park and connect with a young gentlemen and his pals who our hosts said would sell us a card for 5 Kooks (approx $5.00 ) for one hour of internet. The card provides a password and username.

Local Taxi

My three new Global Volunteer friends and I decided to visit the park. It was trashed with empty beer cans and bottles and many young people on their phones sitting on the ground. There was a group of men standing around who possibly looked like our connection.

We approached the young men,  and they immediately offered each of us an internet card. With our $5. purchase complete we took a photo together with the “sellers”  and then enjoyed the internet for about 30 minutes. (We kept the card for another day’s use.) Mission accomplished. As we walked back to our work site I wondered, would I even consider walking up to a stranger in, let’s say, Central Park or Chicago and purchasing an “off the grid” card with the hope it worked? And then take a photo with them? Probably not.

Music, Art and Entertainment

If you choose to stay the weekend, you have the option of adding on the weekend package of people-to-people activities. Or you can make your own plans for the weekend. The Global Volunteers program includes a tour of the Ernest Hemingway House, art galleries, Old Havana and a morning lecture from two local professionals who discuss history, education and some politics. All and all it’s a great value that includes meals and accommodations.

Visiting a Senior Home

My favorite weekend activity was the excellent quality live music everywhere day or night. Street entertainers, restaurants and bars and coffee shops all have talented solo or group performers. Artwork is plentiful and there is a wide variety of architecture including colonial, Spanish, Art Deco and contemporary.

Entrepreneurial Spirit

My students on two evenings were a young couple in their early 20s. Allen is an independent contractor at a tour company and is eager to learn English so he can better communicate with visitors. His wife Daniella takes care of the home. She knew some English and is eager to help him. We review his tour prices, look at what’s included and add some language to make the tours more appealing. We go over phrases such as, “Welcome to Havana, my name is Allen and I would love to show you my country. What is your name?

After some competitive analysis, we determine that he is competing with the fancy old American cars that all the tourists seem to love. Their hourly rate is $50 per hour.   We work on an appropriate response. “Yes, those old American cars are beautiful, however, instead of $50 per hour you might want to consider my van at only $15 per hour.” Allen masters three or four sentences that we work on intensely for two nights.  They are sure to enhance his business opportunities.

Touring in style

It’s a pleasure to see a 23-year-old happily married, entrepreneur with such enthusiasm and eagerness to succeed. When we finished the second night, he looked at me and said “God Bless you and thank you.” I was beginning to see how individuals can make a small but significant impact in a short time and, more importantly, understand these very warm and welcoming people.

In addition  there are people who are operating and creating small businesses out of their homes or garages that are serving meals, coffee/beer and other small businesses like repair shops and such. Homes are renting out rooms to visitors for additional income. This is all new and Cubans seem very happy with new opportunities.

Yes, the streets, sidewalks and many buildings are in disrepair, run down and there is much need for improved infrastructure, painting, plumbing, and electrical. Litter is an issue in some neighborhoods. For many, work is hard to find and salaries are low.  Supplies of every kind are limited. Many of the local grocery store shelves are sparsely stocked.

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Looking Ahead

The refreshing thing is you sense the change that is coming. In a lively conversation with one of our casa owners, she described it like this. “It started like the snowball on top of the mountain, it’s rolling down and getting bigger and bigger and you cannot stop it.”

Tourists from all over world have been visiting Havana for years and now there are many American visitors. In Havana we saw a cruise ship, red double-decker tour buses and souvenir shops. Colorful flora and fauna are everywhere and a walk along the Malecon — a walkway along the sea wall — is the perfect place to people watch.

Havana, a city of three million, is bursting with activity and a colorful history that people want to experience.  It’s old, it’s new, it’s Spanish, European, modern, young and fun!

I only saw a small part of Cuba on this trip. But I’m sure I’ll return again to visit Varadero, Santiago de Cuba, Trinidad and other places on this fascinating island.

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Best Loan Options for Retirees

 

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The 6 best tips to reduce morning anxiety

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Should I Manage My Own Portfolio or Hire a Professional?

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Beauty and Skincare- Tips for Healthy and Glowing Skin

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Do You Need a Reverse Mortgage Set-Aside?

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Getting out of Debt- Paying off Loans after Retirement

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The Best Merchant Account for Your eBay Business

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Life Changing, Changing Lives

Lynn McClenahan

As I get organized here in Portland, Oregon to return to Guatemala for the fourth year in a row, I’m thinking back on how this “love affair” began with this country.

For many years I have been involved with an amazing organization called Dining for Women.  With over 450 chapters now in the United States, this educational giving circle has raised nearly $6  million donated to grassroots projects around the world that empower women and girls.

In 2013 I went with a DFW group and visited five of the programs we had donated money to in prior years.  We visited MayaWorks, Starfish One by One, Mercado Global, Friendship Bridge and 13 Threads.  While I had done a great deal of traveling before this trip, this was the first time I had the opportunity to see behind-the-scenes extreme poverty.  It was eye-opening and life-changing for me.

All of our books lead to adventure. Don’t miss out on yours!

These beautiful women and children were living in various conditions, often with lots of family members in one room, many times without a flushing toilet, predictably with chickens, and a cow out back, and usually their small villages were far from grocery stores or medical help.

We were greeted with such warmth and smiles of appreciation.  With Friendship Bridge we were able to see examples of their micro-finance small business transactions. We participated in the teen mentoring team building training at Starfish One by One.  We had a four directions fire ceremony with 13 Threads.  We tried a back strap loom at Mercado Global.  Mi corazon estaba lleno. My heart was full.

I stayed an extra ten days after this first trip and got connected with yet another wonderful organization, Mayan Families.  This social service program with several preschools in the highlands of Lake Atitlan also does amazing work with children’s education and nutrition, medical help for families, ancianos (elderly), and artisan support and training.

After that first year of infatuation, I’ve returned to Guatemala every year to study Spanish, visit some of the programs and projects that Dining for Women still helps support, and do some volunteering with Mayan Families including visiting our sponsored preschool children and their families.

I am now hooked on this country and this way of traveling.  I no longer can be just a tourist (though there is certainly some of that on my trips). Guatemala is an amazing country and Lake Atitlan is simply stunning. The indigenous culture still exists including the native dress in many villages with women and men wearing hand woven fabrics. The physical beauty of the natives themselves is remarkable.

Yes, there is extreme poverty.  Most visitors may never see this side of Guatemala with so many people who struggle to survive.  My love affair will continue as will my efforts including monetary donations to worthy programs to make a difference. My connection to Guatemala has been life-changing for me, and hopefully, in even a small way, also for them.

For more information on Volunteering in your retirement, click here and here.

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