That anemic, antiseptic-smelling place where you used to visit Grandpa in his final years? That's a thing of the past. Same for the idea of the typical "retirement community," which was reimagined as the more evocative "active adult" many years ago, thanks to masterplanned developers like Del Webb and its Sun City brand. And now it's going through another reincarnation, away from the typical and toward a more tailored, more exciting, more personally rewarding, and sometimes more exotic experience. One thing is for sure. This isn't your father's retirement.
Excuse the ironic lyrical intro, but there's just something about the idea of Jimmy Buffet, singer of "Margaritaville" and purveyor of perhaps the ultimate in relaxed, retirement-age "livin' it up," putting his name on a retirement community. Which is what makes Latitude Margaritaville so enticing to a new group of retirees looking for more than water aerobics.
"If there's one person in the world who knows how to kick back and relax, it's Mr. Margaritaville himself," said House Beautiful. "Maybe that's why Jimmy Buffett partnered with Minto Communities to create a community for people 55-and-older in Daytona Beach, which promises to reflect the lifestyle embraced in Buffett's songs."
The community is planned to have 6,900 homes designed in Old Florida and Key West architectural styles, priced from the low $200,000s, and located within - not surprisingly - a "total tropical vibe. Of course there's a pool with cabanas instead of a park or statue like most town squares," they said. "Music, food and beverages will be big part of the community, along with relaxation thanks to an onsite fitness center, indoor lap pool and spa and the outdoor resort-style pool." And, you can expect Jimmy himself to show up for concerts.
Homes are expected to be finished in 2018, at which time a second location of the singer's retirement communities, Latitude Margaritaville Hilton Head in South Carolina, will also be underway. This newly announced location will include more than 3,000 homes in a classic coastal architectural style from the low $200,000s, with amenities including "a private, resident only Town Center, resort-style pool, fitness center, social hall, game and hobby rooms, arts and learning programs, indoor and outdoor dining with signature food and beverage concepts, pickleball, tennis courts and more," said Forbes. So how is the idea connecting with retirees? "There were over 10,000 registrants in the first two weeks of offers for the Daytona community and there are more than 70,000 at this point," said Forbes.
Coloring outside the lines
If an endless vacation vibe isn't your thing, perhaps being part of an artist's colony is. That's the idea behind the NoHo Senior Arts Colony, a new community of one- and two-bedroom luxury apartments for those 62 and up that offers a "new way to enjoy your next chapter," they said. In the middle of the vibrant NOHO Arts District in Los Angeles, this retirement option offers "more than just the typical pool and fitness center, with "unique features including a visual arts studio, digital arts room, stadium-style performing arts theater -- The Road Theatre Company's second home -- and complimentary arts and wellness programs offered by EngAGE®."
Senior Living notes that the "posh" NoHo Senior Arts Colony is "mostly Hollywood writers and actors, and anyone into the artsy business" and that the theater is "open to be used by retirement community residents whenever there are no shows scheduled."
One of the fastest-growing retirement trends today is tiny home living. This gives retirees the freedom of their own space in a smaller footprint with less maintenance and the camaraderie of others in a village environment, if they so choose, or privacy if they wish to be located on their own piece of land. Depending on zoning, tiny homes can be placed in an existing back yard - a choice many retirees are making so they can have their own space while being close to family.
"The benefits of tiny homes are obvious," says George Chmael, the CEO of Council Fire, an Annapolis, Maryland-based consultancy that advises nonprofits, corporations, governments and communities on sustainable building practices, on AARP. "There's reduced maintenance, a reduced financial burden and added movability and mobility for a change of circumstances." For seniors, that means: less home maintenance work, lower expenses, and "the flexibility to adapt to whatever the future brings."
The popularity of this retirement option has given way to a new term: the "granny pod." The self-contained, 12-foot x 24-foot units, like those being sold as MedCottage, are being promoted as a potential option not just for retirees looking for an inexpensive option that allows them to be within arm's reach of loved ones, but also as "the solution to nursing homes," said David Wolfe. "These ‘Granny Pods' are specially built with the safety of a senior in mind. They include a small kitchen, bedroom, and bathroom all designed to safely house a senior. The bathrooms are handicap accessible with railing and safety features built in."
Additional safety features include webcams so family and caretakers can monitor them, padded floors to protect against falls, and high-tech "robotic features that can monitor vital signs. In addition, they can filter the air for contaminants while sending alerts reminding when to take supplements, superfoods, and superherbs."