We decided to move. Not sure if we have decided to retire, but we have definitely decided to leave North Carolina. It isn’t that there’s anything wrong with North Carolina; we just want to go somewhere new. It may sound kind of irresponsible, to those who have always lived their lives responsibly, but we are excited by the idea of starting somewhere new. We no longer have kids to consider and we don’t need the big house; we’re experiencing what so many baby boomers are now going through: the opportunity to do our own thing.
There were 76 million people born between the years 1946 and 1964, the traditional window for the baby boom generation. That means that they will retire over a 19-year period. Simple math shows that 76 divided by 19 is 4 million, or almost 11,000 people a day retire.
The next question, which you think is easy when it really is not an available option at the time, is where do we go? I won’t give you all the background of why this and why not that. When we finalized our list, South Carolina was on the top, so that is where we decided to start our search.
I want a community that was over 55+, not because I need to be around people my age; I just do not want to deal with children. I had three children, they grew up and I am still recovering from that.
We started with Del Webb communities, the leader in this space and well deserved.
They had the foresight to see these boomers coming and anticipated what they would be looking for. We found two great places in Hilton Head by Del Webb. One had 8,000 homes, which means roughly 16,000 people and the other was much smaller with 500 homes. If you were a golf fanatic, you would prefer the bigger community, which is equipped with 6 golf courses and appropriately named Sun City, with an emphasis on city. If you didn’t want all those homes and people, or the rolling hills of golf courses, the smaller community was a better choice. Each had salt-water pools, social clubs of all kinds and the newest phenomenon called pickle ball courts. We liked both places for different reasons, but we were not excited. We tried to be excited; it was only 30 minutes from the beach. The 55+ communities were outside of Hilton Head and therefore there was really very little in the surrounding area. What I have learned is the builders buy enormous tracts of land about 30-45 minutes from the city, which is the only way they can build these expansive communities. The surrounding roads were all new and paved, but there were no streetlights, and so once the day was over, it was pitch black. It was really totally dark. I have not seen darkness quite like that ever and wondered if it was just me that found it so uncomfortable. I asked others in the community, and they explained, they didn’t drive at night for that reason but I would get used to it. If they weren’t driving at night, obviously they haven’t got used to it!
Golf, social clubs and a new sport called pickle ball did not interest me and would not play a role in my decisions. What I do want is a community with adults close to my age, a salt-water pool I could swim in, roads I could drive on, a grocery store 5 minutes away and a place to work, if I want to. So we needed to keep looking. I knew when I found the right neighborhood, I would know it right away.
After two visits to Hilton Head, and trying to fall in love with these two very different communities, we knew we had to keep looking. You either have chemistry with a community or not: you can’t force it. As we headed home, back up to North Carolina, we decided to see what Charleston had to offer.