Choosing the right community for you.
Great, you now have a pretty good idea of what will make you happy in your dream home as described in Empty nest: How to find a new home. Now let’s start your search for the ideal community where your dream home will be located. Each community has its own personality and a variety of assets and tradeoffs. Remember that you may have to be making a few compromises on where you end up searching.
For instance, no matter how much you want it, you will not be able to combine privacy and lake frontage; small town intimacy with major shopping centers, nightclubs and gambling casinos. So, just like you did with your personal choices, sit down and answer these questions to help you center in on what you will need to look for in your new community.
- Does the community you are looking at meet the criteria you listed under Tailoring your decision for you? (see: Empty nest: How to find a new home) You just spent a good deal of time carefully defining your dreams and your wants, so don’t set that aside when you make your other decisions. It is important take all the time you need to look in depth at each community and ensure that it has easy access to all the things that you want to enjoy and that it is located within the distance you want to be from your present home, family, and friends.
- How central is this community to the activities (the ones you listed) you enjoy? Few communities have everything you might want, and if they do, they might be more active and busy than fits your idea of a dream home. You might want to find a location that is central to all you enjoy and have a short drive to access the variety of diversions instead of just those in a single community.
- What are the houses of worship like? Is your denomination available? Church life and friends are important to many, while others simply want to have a place to go for special occasions such as Christmas candlelight services, Easter sunrise service, baptisms, weddings, bar mitzvahs, etc. How close is the worship house of your choice? Have you gone to a service there and felt comfortable and welcomed?
- How close to a university or community college? Universities and community colleges each can offer a large variety of benefits. Not only the obvious one like classes you may want to take, but others including entertainment, fairs, athletics, gymnasium, guest lecturers, and a large variety of specialized classes for the specific activities you might want to take up. As a side note, the entertainment at universities is often free or priced at a very good value.
- Are there the types of health care and specialists you need in the area? How close are they? What specialists do you see annually now? (Think of allergist, ophthalmologist, paediatrician, dermatologist, dentist, chiropractor, massage therapist, or any other health-related services you use periodically). Are they available in or near your community? Do they take your insurance? Can you get a recommendation and referral from your current providers?
- How close to a major airport? Look for major hubs so you and your friends have the service and connections you will need when visiting. Remember, too, that some people have access to private aircraft and can use the smaller local fields.
- What are the average high and low temperatures for summer and winter? What are you used to? What do you want to avoid? Do you want to sleep with your windows open during the summer? Will you need a dehumidifier or a humidifier as part of your heating/cooling system? Some areas have homes that use only fans during the summer and that may not cover your particular needs.
- What is the average rainfall and snowfall in the area? How comfortable are you with your driving skills during inclement weather (especially if you choose the mountains)? Will you need to purchase a car with four wheel or all wheel drive for your safety and peace of mind? Remember, too, that in many places the average high temperature in the winter is high enough so that snow melts pretty quickly and is gone from the roads in a day or so.
- What restaurants, theaters, and other amusements are nearby? One of the joys of the smaller towns is that they are quiet and peaceful; the drawback is that some of the diversions and amusements you might enjoy may be a small distance away in another township or village.
- Does the postal service deliver to your home or will you need a post office box? Private companies such as UPS, FedEx, DHL and so forth deliver to your door. There are, however, developments to which the United States Postal Service will not deliver and you will need to rent a post office box in that case.
- What is the tax rate? Be sure that you are not taxed out of your new home. Many times we forget to ask and get an unpleasant surprise when we get that letter from the local taxing authorities.
- Are there other accommodations nearby for extra guests or reunions? What is the range of price and quality of nearby lodges, cabins, motels, bed and breakfast inns, and other accommodations? Will they suit friends and family that will not be staying with you and are they close enough to be convenient?
Just like before, this is just a start for you, take your time and enjoy the planning and the exploring the various communities. Once you’ve found your community you’ll need to focus on the home specifics that will make you happy.