Adult Lifestyle Community Living - Pros and Cons - from where I sit
There comes a time in most of our lives when we decide that it is time to sell our single homes and move into either an apartment or a condominium. This decision can be made for a number of reasons, one being health issues related to age, or just the fact that we want to do more traveling and would rather not have the ongoing upkeep of maintaining our homes.
The reason I find myself in an Adult Lifestyle Condo Community is that my husband had reached a point where he was concerned about our 17 years age difference He wanted to know that should something happen to him I would be settled in a place where I would not have to worry about maintenance, and that I would be in a community where I would have things to do. We discussed this at great length and came to the conclusion that it was a good time to make this change. Of course neither of us expected that I would be losing him six months after we moved in.
Living in an Adult Lifestyle Community
So, understanding that this was not an easy time for me in the beginning, I would like to put together for you the pros and cons of this type of community, using my own as a model. This is from where I now sit two years later. As you can see from the photo, my community has an absolutely beautiful clubhouse and there are many activities to take part in there, as well as functions to attend.
These are things I see as Pros!
- Indoor swimming pool that is beautifully maintained at all times. With the pool comes a schedule, because of the many activities that surround it. Some of them being: aquafit classes, freestyle swimming, grandchildrens' time to enjoy the pool. Visitors are always welcome
- Hot tub alongside the pool, everyone is welcome to use it - visitors included
- Exercise classes in the main party room of the clubhouse include: Zoomersize, Pilates and Yoga to name a few. All of these are from instructors brought in, and for a small fee.
- Ballroom dancing classes as well as line dancing.
Other Things the Clubhouse offers
- Card nights for Euchre, Bridge, Poker, Military Whist - etc. etc.
- Painting classes
- Floral arrangement classes
- Beautiful library room - many of the books are donated and shared by all of us residents
- Our own Book Club
- An exercise room with state of the art equipment - the only place a visitor cannot attend.
- A Billiard Room with two pool tables
- Darts - in the Billiard Room
- Throughout the summer months there are monthly potluck dinners, very well organized into pods to sign up to and register your contribution.
- Special celebrations such as Oktobefest, Italfesta, Ceilid - dinner and dance
- A wonderful New Years Eve party
- There is a fee for all of this (except the potluck dinners) - but the ticket prices are very reasonable, usually $15 or $20 for resident; $20 or $25 for guests - depending on the function
- As well the main party room of the clubhouse is available for rent for residents to hold family birthdays, showers, weddings etc. I held Craig's Celebration of Life there, and found out that there would be no charge for the party room because of the circumstances.
- Several different events are brought in for entertainment throughout the year.
December 1st Wine & Cheese Party at the Clubhouse
Continuing on with the Pros these are some of the outside activities that are offered in my community . From my research I see that when a clubhouse is part of a community, most are offering the same activities:
- Tennis Courts
- Bocce - folks are still trying to get me out, maybe next summer
- Shuffle Board
- Horseshoe Pits
- Walking Trails - not only around the community but a wetlands area with pond, and a few species of wildlife.
- Golfing - off site, but with a group of residents.
Special things the Clubhouse and the community offers
Couples and Singles alike take part in these activities. For a person alone, it is a great opportunity to fill some lonely hours.
- Tuesday morning coffee hour at the clubhouse - not just for women, men attend too.
- Monthly ladies luncheon outside of our community. This is a neighbourhood effort where we make sure those who do not drive have a way to join in. The men in the community have started up something also for themselves.
- Every summer there are 4 or 5 day excursions. Some of them have been to Chicago, Boston -and this last fall there was a trip to Tuscany. I'm still waiting for the Wine Tour! : )
- Within our community there are many people with special trades, i.e. electrician - so if you need work done, it is right at your doorstep.
- As well, there is a community effort for those who vacation in Florida during the winter or cottage during the summer . There is always someone to look out for your place, so you have peace of mind while traveling.
- And of course you do not have cut your grass or shovel your snow.
The Neighbourhood Community
These are very big Pros:
- Great neighbours who are supportive of each other
- A good mix in personal relationships. There are singles, who have not been married, some who have been divorced and several who have been widowed both male and female.
- A good mix in age range - members of this community are anywhere from their 50's right on up to their 80's.
For my first year here, this was probably my main support, and one that I think was and still is very important.
These are some of the things that could be seen as Cons of an Condominium Adult Lifestyle Community:
- Maintenance Fees. Every condominium corporation has maintenance fees and I guess one of the things you want to look at when buying is "how much" and what does it cover. I have heard of some outrageous fees in various instances.
- What is "yours" vs what is "common element"? For example, I can do what I want inside my townhome unit, but I cannot change anything outside without asking permission. The outside bricking does not belong to me.
- You cannot therefore paint your door a different colour than your neighbours in the same unit as you. We are four in my unit, and we all decided we didn't like the terracotta coloured doors. Too bad - that's the colour, but I must admit I have grown to either like it, or put up with it. In the end they knew what suited the brick.
- Anything that you add to the outside exterior of your unit, i.e. screen door, storm door, must first be approved and be coordinated with trims on the house. This also goes for sun awnings on the deck - approval for colours, according to brickwork has to be granted.
- While there is a contract which we pay for out of our maintenance fees for grass cutting and snow shoveling and blowing, I find that there are still things to do with regards to lawn maintenance. After all, no one is going to do it quite the way you would.
- One must ask permission to even extend your garden from the original design done by the builder. Drawings are submitted for this to make sure you are not overstepping your allotted space.
- Building of decks have to be according to their specifications, certain type of lumber, clear stain and do not step outside of your "exclusive use area".
- Even though you do not own the property around your townhouse, i.e. the grass etc. you are requested to try and take care of this with regards to watering in the summer and keeping everything green and weed free.
- Different phases within a condominium community could come under different rules and regulations causing some to wonder "why that can be done there, but not here". Thankfully we have only 3 phases in my community, each with our own condo board that co-ordinates with the main condo board. Another lifestyle community near us has 19 phases, all with their own condo board. That might be a nightmare.
- If you do not have a good committee looking out for all of the plusses and minuses on the financial end, you could find yourself somewhere along the way putting money out of your pocket for various maintenance issues. This could happen if the reserve is not adequately looked after.
- Our clubhouse, while huge, cannot accomodate everyone - there are over 400 units here, and so functions such as potlucks and dinner/dances are first come, first served with regards to tickets. Some residents have been disappointed to not be able to get tickets to some of the more popular events. The "early bird gets the worm" has true meaning here.
- If you are a person who does not care to engage in activities and functions that the community offers through the clubhouse and neighbourhood, then you are paying through your maintenance fee for nothing. It is not a case of "opt in" or "opt out".
My Opinion - for what it's worth
In the end I have decided that for me the pros outweigh the cons. Regarding the cons, even though some things can be disappointing with regards to door colours etc., I can certainly see the logic in all of this. It could be a nightmare if everyone was allowed to do "their own thing".
And for the pros - what I like the most out of all of this is that you are absolutely free to take part - or not. No one is here to bug you or insist that you join in on activities or functions that you are not interested in.