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December 2017


Words of wisdom from the inventor of ShootingYourAge.com.  Plus, the most reasonably priced homes near the best real estate metros in the South.

December 2017 
Punta Espada, Punta Cana,
Dominican Republic

Where Your Income Goes Far in Purchasing an Urban Golf Home


The online mortgage resource, HSH.com, has published a helpful list with a twist:  The salary you would need to earn to afford median-priced home in the 50 largest metro areas in the U.S.  Although many baby boomer couples have retired and no longer earn a traditional income outside their investments, pensions and social security payments, some will apply for a mortgage and will need to show the equivalent of a salary.  For others who will be relocating and paying cash for their new homes, the HSH list prepares us for which cities offer expensive houses and which offer more reasonably priced real estate.

As you might expect, the usual suspects — San Francisco, New York, Boston, Washington, D.C. — are among the most expensive metro areas.  (San Jose, because of Silicon Valley, tops the most expensive list with a median home price of $1.165 million and a required salary of $216,000.)  The least expensive market among the top 50 metro areas is Pittsburgh, with a median-priced home of $146,000 and a required salary of just $35,000.  The most reasonable southern cities on the list are Memphis ($173,000/$38,000) and Birmingham, AL ($199,000/$40,000).

Other southern cities on the HSH list are ($ rounded to nearest thousand):


Atlanta $204,000/$43,000
New Orleans $204,000/$44,000
Nashville $234,000/$47,000
Charlotte $243,000/$47,000
Virginia Beach $224,000/$48,000
Tampa $229,000/$49,000
Jacksonville, FL $232,000/$51,000
Richmond, VA $259,000/$52,000
San Antonio $220,000/$53,000
Raleigh, NC $268,000/$54,000


Of course, some retiring couples might prefer a home far from the urban whirl (see at bottom), but for those looking for a golf community near the activities and services only a big city can provide in a warmer climate, this list provides an index of affordability.  Below are some golf community homes currently for sale in selected near-urban areas.  Given the amenities offered inside the gates of golf communities and the generally higher maintenance standards enforced by property owner associations, prices are slightly to substantially above the median home price in the respective metro areas.


Homes for City Slickers

Northwest Atlanta, Cross Creek Country Club
Condo, 2 BR, 3 BA, 1,300 sq. ft.  

Charlotte, Highland Creek Golf Club
Single-family, 4 BR, 3 BA, 2,346 sq. ft. Golf/lake view.

Virginia Beach, Cypress Point Golf Club
Single-family, 4 BR, 3 BA, 2,180 sq. ft. Golf view.

Jacksonville, FL, Hidden Hills Country Club
Single-family, 3 BR, 2 BA, 1,830 sq. ft.  Golf view.

Richmond, VA (Midlothian), Brandermill Country Club
Single-family, 4 BR, 3 BA, 2,200 sq. ft.

San Antonio, Oak Hills Country Club
Condo, 2 BR, 2 BA, 1,242 sq. ft. Pool/golf view.

Raleigh, NC, Eagle Ridge Golf Club
Single-family, 4 BR, 3 BA, 2,950 sq. ft. New home.


Unless a golf community is loaded with the most deluxe amenities, such as the Cliffs communities of the upstate region of South Carolina, prices for real estate in remote areas are substantially lower than near the big cities.  Here are a few examples at some drastically low prices.

Bargains for the Recluse

McCormick, SC, Savannah Lakes Village
Single-family, 3 BR, 2 BA, 1,406 sq. ft. Golf view.

Salem, SC, Keowee Key Golf Club
Single-family, 4 BR, 3 BA, 1,248 sq. ft.  Golf view.

Nellysford, VA, Wintergreen Resort
Condo, 4 BR, 3 ½ BA, $1,840 sq. ft.  

Chocowinity, NC, Cypress Landing
Single-family, 4 BR, 3 BA, 3,050 sq. ft. Bay view.

Camden, SC, Camden Country Club (Donald Ross)
Single-family, 3 BR, 3 BA, 2,672 sq. ft. Edge of golf course.


If you are considering a search for a permanent or vacation home in a golf-oriented area, please contact me for a free, no-obligation consultation at editor@homeonthecourse.com

Recently I made the acquaintance of Brad Chambers who, like me, has developed a web site focused squarely on baby boomer golfers.  Whereas my mission is to help golfing couples find the best possible home beside a golf course, Brad’s mission is to provide as much information as possible to improve the baby boomer’s game.  The obvious overlap and the same target audience has convinced us to collaborate in ways we will be discussing in the coming months.  For starters, here are Brad’s thoughts on moving to a golf community, which he and his wife plan to do in the coming few years.

You Play Golf. You’ve Retired.
You Want to Move. Now What?

by Brad Chambers

I am Brad Chambers.  I have a golf website named www.ShootingYourAge.com, which is aimed at the Baby Boomer, retired, Champions Tour age golfer.  The tag line of Shooting Your Age is: “Growing Older, Golfing Better,” and I really believe that captures what my site is about.  I also believe it captures what www.GolfCommunityReviews.com is about.  

I play golf.  I’m recently retired, and I want to move (eventually) to a golf-oriented community.  How would I go about doing that?

I ran across Golf Community Reviews when I was doing some Google searches, mostly out of curiosity, regarding communities that might be possibilities when my wife and I decide to officially, formally, no-kidding retire.  Larry and I communicated back and forth, and we realized we have a lot in common, including an interest in golf communities.  My wife and I are smack in the middle of the demographic that Golf Community Reviews is aimed at -- a retired, or soon-to-be retired, couple looking to retire to a golf community and wanting to know the various options that are available.

What, Exactly, Is A Golf Community?

The first questions to ask and answer are: Just what is a golf community, and what is the right one for me (and you)?

That may sound like an obvious question, but it isn’t, at least to me.  When I grew up, Holston Hills Country Club, a beautiful Donald Ross course that still holds U.S. Open qualifying tournaments, was the place in Knoxville, Tennessee.  For decades, my personal definition of a “golf community” was Holston Hills, or any of the traditional country clubs throughout Knoxville.  And Holston Hills isn’t just the name of the course; it is the large neighborhood and stately homes that surround the course, also called Holston Hills.  Many older, stereotypical country clubs throughout the U.S. are a loose combination of golf course, club and adjacent neighborhood.  I would be short-changing me, and you, if I ignored traditional golf country clubs and neighborhoods that surround them as an option under the “Golf Community” definition.

Years later, after leaving Knoxville, I was exposed to what I personally term a golf community.  One of the first was Fairfield Glade, a 90-hole retirement community in Crossville, about an hour west of Knoxville.  Five golf courses and housing options that were envisioned from Day 1 to appeal and cater to retirees, many of whom play golf.  Once I realized such places existed, I started seeing them everywhere.  

Because I’ve had the opportunity to experience some golf buddy travel rounds over the years, many of which were played in “golf communities,” I began to appreciate the variety that are available.  After running across Larry and GolfCommunityReviews.com, I have learned about many more.  If nothing else, it became clear that golf communities come in all shapes, sizes and price points…which, to be honest, makes my, and likely your, job more difficult, not less.  

The Country Club

I still believe a traditional country club and adjacent neighborhood very much fits the golf community definition.  Many country clubs offer golf memberships included as part of the cost of purchasing a home within the community.  Others offer phased-in packages where you can purchase a membership when you please.  The bottom line:  If it is likely that the next home is the last place we will live, we should not ignore a traditional country club neighborhood as an option.  

Here are some contrasting pros and cons about traditional country club neighborhoods and the more modern golf communities:

  • You will generally get more house for your money in the traditional neighborhood.  These aren’t newly developed golf communities with tourists and transients mixed in with homeowners, and you won’t pay extra for the many amenities found in planned developments.  A traditional country club neighborhood has been built-out for years, so you won’t find the new eight-story condo complex being built around the corner. The houses are older, may need some updating, and therefore you may get more bang for your purchase price.
  • To reiterate, traditional neighborhoods are generally more stable than those in which transients come and go on their way to and from the beach and other destinations.  Because of their maturity over decades, the landscape seems more grown in than are newer planned developments.  If you prefer a mix of older and younger residents to all retirees, you won’t mind the school buses in morning and afternoon. 
  • Many traditional country clubs are in older parts of town that, while once very desirable places to live, may not be quite so much now.  You should perform due diligence on how housing values and the surrounding community infrastructures have held up.  Of course, newer communities, especially those that are gated, won’t feel as encroached on by the outside world.
  • Amenities that are now usually designed into modern golf developments, such as easily accessible bike paths or greenways, common areas and open spaces, aren’t typically found in traditional country club developments.
  • There are exceptions, but the great majority of country club courses are a standard 18-holes.  If you like to play a variety of courses, the traditional country club isn’t going to be your cup of tea.  Or pint of beer.

Modern Golf Developments

I am not going to go into detail about the various type and design of newer golf developments.  Larry does that here and at GolfCommunityReviews.com on a regular basis.  There are golf communities that feature 18 holes, 36 holes, 54 holes, and more.  Some property owners have access to all courses, some have access to one and pay extra for others, some developments require membership and/or green fees at every course within the development.  In other words, each golf community is unique.

Now What?

Larry is the expert; I’m the person he would be advising.  When the time comes for my wife and me to search for a golf community, here is how we intend to approach it, in more or less chronological order:

  • Decide first, as Larry wisely suggested recently, on the topography and location where we want to live.  Coast?  Inland?  Mountains?  Each has pros and cons.  And until I narrow it down, I will be overwhelmed with options.
    • Do I want a course where I can walk and exercise?  If so, a flatter course (i.e. not in the mountains) will be more suitable.  
    • Do I fear hurricanes, or just hate high humidity all summer?  Then the coast is not the place for me.
    • Do I really enjoy varied terrain with elevated tees that overlook the horizon?  Then the flat coastal courses, and even some in the midlands, aren’t going to work.
    • Do I want a rural or urban location?
  • Pick a state.  I’m from Tennessee so that has appeal.  But I love the ocean, which doesn’t fit Tennessee.  I don’t necessarily want Florida heat in the summer, but I don’t want Rhode Island cold in the winter either.
  • Create a budget.  If the most I can afford is a $250,000 home, and the cheapest housing option in a development starts at $400,000, obviously it’s silly to consider that as an option.  Look at the housing options and prices and see if they are within our budget and, if not, move on to the next one.
  • Compare cost of living in our potential locations, including state income and property taxes.
  • Realistically set our home parameters:
    • Single-family, condo, townhome, or patio home
    • The type of community.  This is where the comparison between a traditional country club community and more modern golf development (see above) becomes an important decision point.
    • Size of the home we want, and whether general costs per square foot in the areas we target will accommodate our budget
    • HOA fees and what they include
    • An overall yearly estimate of what it will cost to live in the communities we are targeting, plus golf membership, taxes, and all other major components of the cost of living.
  • Work with someone like Larry and Home on the Course to help us identify finalists and hook up with a realtor or realtors.  Personally, I think three developments is a good number for the finalist list, keeping in mind each will have multiple housing options to consider.
  • Create a spreadsheet, or at least a Pros and Cons sheet, for each finalist.  Identify what is good and what is not so good about each location.  Every person will have different criteria on their lists.  We intend to be diligent and objective about rating and ranking what the strong and weak points are within each development.  No one, especially me, is going to remember –- without notes -- if that fourth house we saw in the third community had the basement or not.   
    • I believe it’s wise to wait until I have my development finalists down to three before I start playing the courses.  
    • Make careful notes and be objective about the overall experience and ambiance after playing each course.  What did I like and not like?  Is the course really difficult and, if so, am I going to enjoy playing a really difficult course every day?  Is it too easy?  What are the conditions like?  How friendly is the staff in the clubhouse?  Are there multiple leagues and fellowship opportunities?  My wife plays golf; is there a lady’s league or a co-ed league?
    • Go house hunting with a local realtor who knows each community well.  
    • Most Important Step: If something just doesn’t feel right, go to the next finalist on the list and start the process again.


These are reminders I know I will have to repeat to myself as I go through this process:

  • Usually, there is no hurry.  I have a comfortable place to live now and, likely, you do also.  If that is the case, and with the right mindset, this process can become a golf-oriented vacation.  I get to play some courses and visit some areas I probably would not see otherwise.  With no time constraints, I can enjoy the journey.
  • It’s going to cost a few dollars to do this.  There will be several overnight stays, several trips, often to a town many hours away, with the accompanying food, gas and incidentals each time.  But this is going to be my retirement home, and I want to get it right; tolerating some front-end expense is a cost-of-doing-business that I accept.
  • There is no “right” or “wrong” answer.  Every place I have ever lived -- and there have been many -- have had their pros and cons.  Some had better weather than others, some had lower housing costs than others, some had more golf opportunities than others.  Wherever we end up will have its unique positives and negatives.  That is life.  Knowing that there is no such place as the “perfect” community will take some of the pressure off.
  • Wherever we end up, I am pretty certain that most of the people, most of the time will, for the most part, be friendly, helpful and make good neighbors.  That has been a constant wherever I’ve lived, and I fully expect it to continue wherever we go next.


Larry Gavrich
Founder & Editor
Home On The Course, LLC



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