Are You an ‘Active Adult Community’ Kind of Person?
As I’ve gotten older I’ve started to think a lot about retirement. Not yet, but eventually. I’m 57 years old and I’ve been working nonstop since I was in college and truthfully I don’t want to work too long into my golden years. I know retirement may not always be what it’s cracked up to be, and sometimes men in particular find it demoralizing to stop working. But I’m not worried about that — I want to stop working by my mid-60s.
I actually have a plan for retirement, both financially and in terms of what I’d like to do with my time. Leslie is a financial planner so the money part is situated. I’ve also created a written plan for what I want out of my retirement. It includes things such as having a few active hobbies, volunteering in the community, vacationing, attending baseball games, having a nice place to go on walks, and watching soccer on television. Nothing too complicated…just spending my time enjoying life and giving back.
Recently though Leslie and I have had a few discussions about retirement lifestyle and I’m not sure we agree on one thing — where we will live. I’m not talking about geography, since we agree on that. But Leslie sees herself living in an “active adult community” and I’m not so sure how I feel about that.
I guess I never saw myself living in a place like Sun City or Leisure World. I think I get the appeal of being around others in your age bracket with built-in opportunities for friendships and activities. Yet something about the concept makes me squeamish even though I want friendships and activities. Leslie recently told me she thinks she is an “active adult community” kind of person, though she’s still at least 10 years away from retirement herself.
My parents moved to a 55+ community in Nevada when they got older, and for a while, they really loved the lifestyle, until they started to run out of money and needed to make alternative arrangements. In their last few years, I could tell they regretted leaving the active adult community but as I said their decision was financial. When I think back to their years in the 55+ community I think of them as already old, even though I’m creeping up on the age they were when they moved into that community. Maybe I’m less worried about living in an active adult community and more worried about getting old?
One of my arguments against a 55+ community is that you can live among younger people and still find ways to engage with people in your age bracket. You can join a gym or a community center. You can sign up for Meetups designed for older adults. You can make age-appropriate friends anywhere. I think I’m worried that if I live around seniors, and play with seniors, I’ll feel old rather than young. I’m not really sure I see myself signing up for pottery classes at the clubhouse or taking the short bus to the mall. I told Leslie today that rather than take the bus to the beach I’d prefer to hop on a Vespa or electric bike. She said I’ll be too old for that and will probably fall off and break a hip. I mean, she’s right that my body isn’t what it used to be. Sometimes I already feel like a 57-year-old in a 77-year-old body.
Active adult communities are everywhere here in Arizona. In fact, seniors are everywhere here as well. The thing is, I make fun of the snowbirds and blue hairs — I can’t be one of them!
If you’re getting up in years too, have you given any thought to how you will live? What do you think about the active adult lifestyle? Should I embrace my golden years and lean in, or keep fighting to maintain some semblance of what I think of as respectability? I’m truly interested in your opinion on the matter.