All’s Well That Lives Well read more
By Christina Mimms
While Florida has long been recognized as a retirement capital, metro Atlanta is well poised to compete for that title given all that area offers. With proximity to an international airport for the travel many retirees anticipate, a mild-to-moderate climate that offers all four seasons of the year, a thriving culinary and arts scene, a number of major corporations’ headquarters, golf courses, boating opportunities, access to several major hospitals, housing options to suit every lifestyle and more, metro Atlanta can easily attract—or keep—residents age 55+ seeking an active lifestyle as they age.
Additionally, in recent years, North Georgia as a whole has become a very attractive option to active adults who felt the effects of the pandemic. The many parks and walking trails, as well as proximity to the mountains, allowed older adults to avoid complete isolation and maintain a healthy lifestyle. And with the rise of remote work, many Americans living in expensive coastal cities—including those over 55 who remain in the workforce—departed for markets with myriad job opportunities, a lower cost of living and a better quality of life. Combined, these features have made the local area an undeniable hot spot for the active adult population.
Location, Location, Location
“Sunbelt cities such as Atlanta are popular destinations for these movers,” says Judie Woodall, a managing member of Strategic Real Estate Advisors. “They offer warmer climates and tend to have comparably lower tax rates. Population growth in 2021 had 10 of the top cities located in the Sunbelt. With more active adults still working, Atlanta offers many remote and in-office opportunities for older employees.”
What’s more, according to Lori Lane, president of Georgia Properties’ New Homes Division for Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices, many older home buyers are moving to be near their children and grandchildren. “They are looking forward to a relaxed luxury resort-style lifestyle and are ready for their next chapter in life,” she explains. “They are looking forward to making new friends and memories.”
Lake Arrowhead is one such community that offers the best of all possible worlds to active adults. Located among the beautiful golf courses, mountains and lakes north of Canton, the area is in close proximity to Northside Cherokee Hospital, the Wellstar Health campus, fabulous dining and shopping in downtown Canton and the premiere Cultural Arts Center at Reinhardt University. Residents who want to venture into the city to attend a sports event or a fine arts performance can do so easily.
Also located near Canton is Soleil Belmont Park, which features 471 low-maintenance homes situated on large home sites. The community is known for its resort-style amenities, including a 9,800-square-foot clubhouse, a health and fitness center, tennis and pickleball courts, an arts and crafts studio, community gardens, a coffee shop and cocktail bar, billiard and card rooms and more. Conveniently located between downtown Canton and Milton, the community provides access to some of the metro area’s most coveted locales, from Gibbs Gardens and the North Georgia Mountains to a wide array of local outdoor shopping and dining establishments.
Bring It Home
Equally important to the area of residence is the type of home a buyer can select. In planned communities for the active 55+ adults, residents will likely find the home features they seek, such as less square footage, single-level living or master bedrooms on the main floor, stepless entries, curbless showers, security features like onsite security officers and minimal landscaping.
For instance, Hickory Bluffs, a new active adult community located in Canton and developed by leading homebuilder Lennar, offers low-maintenance ranch-style homes with spacious kitchens designed for open entertaining, as well as plenty of storage space and connected home technology. The community boasts five floor plans with anywhere from two to four bedrooms and space for optional bedrooms as well. The plans are open and welcoming and provide the perfect amount of flexibility to allow buyers to create the active adult home of their dreams.
At Traton Homes communities, buyers not only have access to onsite amenities like clubhouses, pickleball courts, pools and dog parks, but also open floor plans with an adequate family and dining room space for hosting extended family gatherings and overnight guests. “Storage is also high on the priority list for everything from holiday decorations to family keepsakes,” said Kimberly Garwood, director of marketing for Traton Homes. “And having a clubhouse to gather and play cards, join a book club or watch the big game without having to host the event makes getting out and meeting new people easy and fun. Homeowners always say they wish they had made this move sooner.”
Additionally, new homeowners in communities offered by Windsong Properties have the opportunity to work with designers to personalize their home prior to construction. Windsong home features include quality low-maintenance materials, open floor plans, abundant natural light, plentiful storage and comfortable outdoor living areas.
Moving out of a home of 25+ years full of memories to a new community, perhaps in a different part of the metro area, represents a major life decision, often full of emotion as well. But the positive gains from this lifestyle change can bring peace of mind and great opportunity.
“Quite a majority of our new 55+ residents are moving to improve their quality of life—whether it means downsizing to something more manageable, being close to extended family or making new friends who are in a similar stage of life,” Garwood explains. “The low-maintenance lifestyle affords them more time to travel and enjoy the activities that they had postponed before. Our homeowners love their new lifestyle and access to social activities.”
The latter has become a huge draw for active adult home buyers across metro Atlanta. For example, in the 55+ communities built by Windsong Properties, a clubhouse is a central point at each location to serve as a hub for community gatherings, social events and other activities that bring neighbors together to socialize and form friendships. “Our amenities and community designs offer places to play, relax and thrive,” says Kris Johnson, chief revenue officer. “A clubhouse is truly the heart of every active adult community and central to its success.”
The same can be said for Hickory Bluffs, which boasts a pool, tennis courts, fitness center, clubhouse, sport courts and more. “Neighbors are eager to meet one another, form new friendships and groups like ‘walking with wine,’ enjoy friendly competition on the courts and not have to worry about lawn maintenance,” says Nikki Raines, marketing coordinator for Lennar Atlanta. “They love having more time to devote to their families, new friendships and new or renewed interests.”
Put It All Together
Making the leap to a 55+ community can be a life-changing decision. As the process begins, it’s important for home buyers to do some research to find the perfect community fit. As Woodall advises, “Learn about the reputation of the developer and the builder to ensure they execute with high standards and consistently do what they say they’re going to do. Look for a community that offers a safe environment in a guarded or gated-entry environment so when you’re visiting family or traveling, you have the added peace of mind. And embrace a community with an ongoing calendar of activities which allows you to be as social as you wish.”
Are the days of visiting Grandma and Grandpa in Florida or other coastal communities in the past? For some couples or individuals nearing the latter part of their careers or retirement age, moving far away from family and friends doesn’t make sense. Fortunately, they can take advantage of metro Atlanta’s many offerings while aging in place and finding a community where they can truly feel at home.
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