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Any home is a big investment, and you want to get it right. Where expenses are involved, don’t make assumptions that could cost you later. Read on.
Reynolds Lake Oconee Greensboro, GA
Time Travel: See the World…from Your Golf Community
Many retired couples intend to travel extensively when they finally have the time. Any advantages the near-urban areas of the North have over their counterparts in the South include proximity to airports with international flights. Couples who like to travel should think carefully about their choice of a golf community in the South; travel to and from the nearest airports and then regional flights to larger airports with international flights could become burdensome more than once or twice a year.
Here are a few door-to-door times from select golf communities in the Southeast to Charles de Gaulle International Airport in Paris, France. Total times include the drive from each golf community to the airport that makes the trip as quick as possible.
Census Data Confirms North to South Exodus – and to Oregon too
The migration from northern states and California to warmer climates seems to be gaining even more momentum. In just the past few weeks, we have seen Census Bureau data that indicates a steady stream of population, especially baby boomers, heading south to the Carolinas, Florida and neighboring states in the first two decades of our century.
One recent study for Where to Retire magazine written by Professor Don Bradley of Samford University shows the transfer of income in and out of all 50 states by citizens 60 and older. In a dramatically colored map in the print version of the magazine, the dark blue states indicated income losses of $300 million and more, and included New York, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Ohio, Michigan, Illinois, California and, a surprise for me at least, Virginia. States that saw the biggest gains, $150 million or more each, were Oregon, Nevada, Arizona, Colorado, Texas, North Carolina, South Carolina and Florida. New York was the biggest loser, with a net loss of just over $1 billion. Florida was the net winner with an inflow of nearly $3 billion. Other big winners, in order, were Arizona, South Carolina, North Carolina and Oregon to round out the top five.
The Where to Retire article and map is currently available only in the print edition of the July/August 2018 issue.
Another map, published online by CityLab.com indicates the movement of baby boomers during the first 10 years of the millennium. This map shows a dramatic movement, county by county, especially from the middle of the country and all along the Mississippi River valley to the east and west coasts with the exception of much of coastal California and the high-population areas close to the coast in the middle-Atlantic states. One county in Arizona and three in Florida show the highest rates of inward migration by baby boomers.
All this movement, which has continued beyond the first decade of the century with only a brief interruption for the recession, is causing a near-term rise in real estate prices as developers scramble to accommodate and take full advantage of the continuing migration trend. On the horizon, as some of the most popular areas of the South welcome the biggest numbers of newcomers, is stress on public services and the taxes that are sure to follow. That certainly should not compel any couple from moving south in the coming few years, but the younger baby boomers may see higher costs down the line.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
Five Potentially Expensive Assumptions You Might Make About a Golf Home
I have learned the hard way that how you think you will spend your retirement is not necessarily how you will spend it. Here are five assumptions some of us make that, perhaps, we should test before we put them into action.
Assumption #1: I will play golf in retirement at least four or five days per week
This notion is the residue of once-per-week golf played during a busy career. You have an occasional good round with an under-handicap score and you start thinking, “Boy, if I played this game three or four times a week, I could be pretty good.” That is probably so, but the chances you will play that often in retirement, with all the other activities that avail themselves when you don’t have to be someplace every weekday at 9 a.m. or at the soccer fields or school plays on the weekends, are no sure thing at all.
How to test the assumption: Go on vacation for a couple of weeks and, spouse and weather permitting, try to play golf every day. If after two weeks you are still in love with the idea of playing multiple times per week, then go for it. If not, you might change your plans from living in a private golf community –- typically more expensive and with higher fees – to a community with a semi-private or even public course, where you won’t be tempted to count how much you are losing when you don’t play.
Assumption #2: My spouse and I will travel to far flung places a few times a year
I don’t know any couple that thinks they will be housebound in retirement. Every couple that has not had the chance to travel much in pre-retirement, because of family and occupation considerations, points toward an active travel schedule after their kids are out of the house and they are no longer working. Couples who were able to travel as frequently as they cared to will probably keep a similar pace in retirement.
It may be especially difficult for a couple to split the difference between an active travel schedule and a home in a remotely located community. In many out of the way communities, home prices and fees are so reasonable that it will leave plenty of discretionary income to dedicate to international travel. But with, say, a two-hour drive to a regional airport, and then one or two connections before hopping a flight overseas, travel more than once a year might seem burdensome. (Still, we could not find total door-to-door trips from remote golf communities in the Southeast to Paris, France that lasted as much as 12 hours.)
How to test the assumption: This involves a small investment of time once you have a location in mind for your retirement home. Check Google Maps or some other mapping program and chart the distance and drive time from the community to the nearest regional airport. Then pick a destination you plan to visit in retirement; my own test would be a place like Prague for which there are no non-stops from Southeast region airports (but, hey, I still want to go there). Chart the time it would take from your golf community home to your final trip destination and consider if it is worth it more than occasionally. Then either ratchet back your expected travel schedule -– because it will wear you out –- or change your golf community destination to one closer to a big urban airport with international flights, such as Charlotte, Raleigh or Tampa.
Assumption #3: The people in any community we choose may not be as friendly as we hope
When a couple I don’t know well raises this issue for me, I always think to myself, “Well, maybe you won’t be as friendly as your new neighbors hope.” People in the scores of golf communities I have visited have good reasons to be uniformly welcoming to new residents: 1) They experienced some of the same angst about moving to a new place and they are sensitive to the need to make new people feel comfortable; 2) You are doing the community and its residents a favor by buying a home that another couple wanted or needed to sell, thereby keeping the real estate market inside the gates stable; and 3) As in most human endeavors, you get out what you put in.
How to test the assumption: If you really are nervous about proving to yourselves that the people in your community of choice are friendly, then there is a simple remedy: Rent a home for six months to a year. In most cases, you will be able to use the homeowner’s club membership and you will find out how your prospective neighbors comport themselves on the golf course and in the clubhouse. And there are plenty of other benefits to renting for up to a year: You will get used to the drive time to locations of importance to you -- supermarkets, hospitals, theaters and other activities you are counting on in retirement –- or not.
Assumption #4: I prefer a private golf membership to playing public golf
If during your career years you belonged to a private country club, chances are you will point toward that in retirement. The benefits, assuming you can afford the joining fee and dues, are plentiful, including no transient players to ignore repairing ball marks and divots; a pro who can arrange a game for you if you are a single player (especially helpful in your first weeks in the community); no need to plan too far ahead to book a tee time; a professional staff that quickly learns to address you by name and understands and caters to your preferences (and, in some cases, your peculiarities); and, generally, but not always, a more manicured golf course.
However, even a former private club member might find that, in retirement, the pace of life eases, and a 4 ½ hour round on a nicely groomed public course is no more of a burden than a 4 hour round on a private course. Location may also determine a golfer’s preference for a particular type of membership. In the Myrtle Beach area, for example, there are 100 golf courses within a 75-mile stretch, but only a half dozen of them are private. A golfer who enjoys the diversity of different layouts may opt for one of the affiliate memberships that have sprung up in the area in which, for a nominal annual fee, you have your choice of a couple dozen golf courses at deeply discounted green fees. Or for less than $2,000 annually, you could play the wondrous Caledonia Golf and Fish Club and True Blue Golf Club as much as you want, at a maximum of $30 per round. (The Caledonia rack rate ranges up to $180.)
How to test your assumption: Carve out a few extra days on a prospecting trip to look at communities and play the most highly rated golf courses in the area, including at least one of the private clubs in a community that is on your list. Compare the services at all, as well as the conditions and layouts of the courses, and decide if a difference of a few thousand dollars per year is enough for you to keep it private. In some cases it will be, but in others you might find that opting for variety of golf courses will leave you with substantial extra spending money.
Assumption #5: I have had it with traffic and pollution. Give me a remote golf community.
Some of the finest golf communities I have visited, with excellent golf courses to boot, are located far from what most of us would identify as modern conveniences. One such community, Savannah Lakes Village, offers two entirely different style golf courses, both excellent, and perhaps the most reasonably priced real estate of any multiple-course community in the Southeast. And yet, if you are a gourmet cook or just like to buy your food the day you plan to cook it, Savannah Lakes might not fill the bill. Only one supermarket is located in the area, an eight mile drive away, and a trip to a movie theater, hospital or other services many of us count on is considerably farther. Still, inexpensive and attractive real estate in a peaceful setting on a beautiful lake with amenity fees that are the lowest of any comparable community may be enough to overcome the distances.
How to test the assumption: This advice may seem redundant but it’s an easy one: Rent a home in Savannah Lakes or any other remote community of interest for a month or two and, pretty quickly, you will learn if you can balance the mild inconveniences of remote living against the higher costs of a golf home closer to an urban area. I note that homes in Savannah Lakes are currently renting for as low as $125 per night. A few trips to the supermarket and other places of importance to you and you should have a good feel for whether remote is for you. A week should do it.
Larry Gavrich Founder & Editor Home On The Course, LLC