We returned this week from visiting a friend who moved to a retirement city in Florida not far from Disneyworld.
It’s perhaps a well-kept secret because we only heard of it when she moved there and she learned of it from another friend whose sister is a snowbird who spends winters there.
In less than twenty years, the planned city has grown from a few thousand residents to over 100,000 and still growing.
Two types of residents live there: the “Frogs” so-called because they are “there till they croak” and Snow Birds who come to escape the harsh winters of their home states.
The city is comprised of many little “towns” and each has service centers, recreational facilities, a mail center and surrrounded by golf courses.
Three town squares, each appropriately named as are the towns, provide nightly entertainment.
We were informed about the general governance of the city, which sounded like a benign autocracy, but perhaps that’s what private developments elsewhere are also run.
Such as no walls between the houses, the backs of houses facing the main roads lack privacy unless trees, shrubs and hedges are planted, front yards must be free of doo-dads, garbbage cans aren’t allowed so trash must be in bags, and one must be 55 or older to buy in, but relatives over l8 can reside there.
Younger persons can visit for a maximum of thirty days.
But folks happy uninvolved in politics “can live like millionaires on a pension,” the trolley guide said.
Each owner pays a $l5,000 bond separate from his mortgage to maintain the roads and other public infrastructures.
An amenities fee of $l45 pays for the recreational facilities including the golfing, though to play on the three championship courses other than the thirty other nine-hole and eighteen hole courses that are “free.”
Our friend said there were several styles of houses each with five different floor plans, but to the casual visitor as we, the houses were not much different from other housing tracts.
Cooky cutter with similar sidings except for the more expensive “custom” homes of block tile sprayed with stucco.
Compared with the price of new houses in California, the houses there can be purchased for the unbelievably low of $150,000 to a high of about $500,000 with pools in their lanais.
Even the lowest priced house of 2-3 bedrooms has 2 baths, a double car garage and a screened patio they call a lanai.
The warm and humid weather requires 24 hours of airconditioning during the summer, our friend said, but the cost is comparatively low from an electric co-op, unlike in Califronia where we are asked to ration for fear of brown-and-black outs.
At the town square we visited on our last night there, the DJ had music for line dancing and urged the audience to participate.
What an extraordinary sight to see hundreds of retires line dancing, some more vigorously than others!
I almost forgot to mention the gated city’s traffic is controlled by a series of roundabouts. You thought Chico had “too many,” well, there it’s at every intersection, along with the ubiquitous golf carts.
Yes, golf carts are the most popular mode of transportation even though one might not be a golfer. They are seen like an army of ants going to the golf courses, shopping, to plays, recreational activities or just to visit friends. There are golf cat lanes like we have bike lanes.
With ‘nary a house with unmowed lawns or sofas on the porch, it is a picture perfect city of manicured lawns, seasonal flowers maintained by landscaping crews and medical facilities, a hospital, shops, restauants and everything else one mgiht desidre to be self-contained, but inexplicably, there is no furneral home nor a cemetery.
It seemed to be Utopia for retirees, amd almost surreal, or
like Disneyland,” our friend mentioned, and though we observed folks there appeared to be happy with their new lifestyle of “something for everyone,” will the Good Life wear off when one is no longer physically or mentally fit?