17 Key Things We Looked For When Picking The Perfect Retirement Community – TravelAwaits

There are many things to consider when you get ready to retire. The essential matter is where you are going to live. We looked for some key things when we chose our perfect retirement community.

1. Early Planning And A Savings Account

When starting in the working world, retirement may be the last thing you think about. Starting to save money early in your working life provides choices when you are ready to retire. Early planning and saving money are the keys to a successful retirement, as well as having a plan for your golden years.

Fortunately, we have excellent choices now because our spending and saving habits throughout our careers were similar.

2. Moving For Retirement

Does it make sense to move when you retire? For my husband and me, it did make sense. The high cost of living in California makes it difficult to enjoy a comfortable retirement with prices continually rising and more demands on our fixed income.

Many families deal with aging parents, and we did as well. It is almost impossible to find an affordable single-story home in Southern California. Stairs become unmanageable for the elderly. As we age, planning for our needs makes sense to find the right community to remain in without a significant move when we are old. 

3. A Phased Transition

Our transition to retirement is a phased operation. My husband retired 14 years ago, while I continued working to support my mother in her last few years. We remained in California to do so.

Now, I choose to work because I am unwilling to give up my passion for teaching, traveling, and writing as a professional. The joy of retirement is that I can do everything that I enjoy with the comfort of knowing my golden years are protected.

Eagles Nest Golf Course.
Eagles Nest Golf Course (Photo Credit: Julie Diebolt Price)

4. Picking The Perfect Retirement Community

Picking our “final” home was relatively easy for us. We often discussed moving away from California when we accomplished our family obligations. Here are the results.

On the fateful trip to Arizona, when we took my mother’s ashes for interment with her husband in the National Cemetery in Phoenix, we visited a model home while waiting to meet friends for lunch. After lunch, we revisited the model homes and picked the one we liked. A serious discussion ensued about making Tuscany Falls in Goodyear our home on our return trip to California. After more discussion and a second visit, we committed. We confirmed the essential things for us in our perfect retirement community.

You should know that we spent many years visiting the Phoenix area where my parents lived, so the Valley of the Sun was already a good candidate for a retirement home.

5. Questions Of Economics

Being on a fixed income makes economics a critical aspect of the retirement equation. Are this state and town a place we can afford for the long term? How do we control the costs? Will we be able to maintain our standard of living as prices rise?

6. Low Taxes

Low personal taxes and favorable business taxes are attractive. While I feel retired, I’m still running my business from home and must consider the city and state requirements to do so.

7. Fewer Government Regulations

We resist the heavy hand of government in running our lives. States that encourage residents to act responsibly are vital to us.

North Lake in Goodyear, Arizona.
North Lake, Goodyear, Arizona (Photo Credit: Case Caitlyn / Shutterstock.com)

8. Geography And Climate

Growing up in Michigan, I never realized someone could live anywhere in the world they wanted, choosing their lifestyle and locale.

After a 2-year solo stint in New York City, I traveled to Southern California on vacation and decided to start living the California lifestyle.

After 40 years and many miles later, my husband and I decided it was time to leave the Golden State.

Owning a family vacation home in the Mt. Hood National Forest in Oregon for several years provided great memories and closeness to relatives. However, it has never been a serious consideration for a retirement home because good medical care is some distance from the house in the mountains, and the weather in the winter is harsh.

Outdoor living area/patio at our model home.
outdoor living area (Photo Credit: Julie Diebolt Price)

9. Infrastructure

Goodyear, Arizona is poised for growth. Freeways exiting from Interstate 10 are well-planned and quickly move traffic around Phoenix.

10. Location – Proximity To Relatives

Being close to where our children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren live has become more important to them, as much as to us, as we age.

When we got serious about moving to Arizona, I checked flights from PHX to PDX. With one direct, non-stop flight daily, I knew Goodyear was our new home. It only adds 30 minutes to our flight time. Many of our relatives live close to Portland.

It’s still a 2-day drive from Goodyear to Mt. Hood, albeit 4 hours longer. However, the caveat with driving, either from Southern California or Arizona, requires crossing mountain passes. We won’t be driving during the winter months.

11. Healthcare

Because Goodyear is a 5-hour drive to Orange County, we can keep our doctors, dentists, and other service providers, if we wish. After moving, we will find emergency services and build relationships with healthcare providers in our new hometown.

With good options in the new location like the Mayo Clinic, we know health care in the Valley of the Sun is reliable and excellent. Because there are so many retirees in the area, good health care is a high priority.

The same stores in Southern California are conveniently located in or near Goodyear. Fresh and healthy choices of grocery stores, local small businesses, and farmer’s markets make the transition seamless.

Pickleball court.
Tuscany Falls pickleball courts (Photo Credit: Julie Diebolt Price)

13. Lifestyle

As I designed my “retirement” life, I looked for health and wellness options for daily exercise.

When we first considered Tuscany Falls for our retirement home, a gym and a swimming pool were not our top priorities. My Snap Fitness gym membership accepts Silver Sneakers, with the closest one to our new home about 20 minutes away. The Silver Sneakers program is another excellent senior citizen perk.

After construction started on our house, we took a serious look at the fitness facilities. There are two gyms with equipment and trainers available, three swimming pools, and movement classes on the menu.

Other amenities include tennis courts and bocce ball courts. Many pickleball courts are always filled with players, and more courts are under construction because it’s so popular. Two restaurants, a bar/lounge, theater, and lifelong learning programs specifically designed for the residents are available. We can join clubs and participate in activities for free or for a nominal fee.

I am excited by the quality of the facilities and services that are part of my retirement package. When you select a perfect retirement community, the included amenities make your life better, even luxurious. This lifestyle is an unexpected benefit.

14. A Convenient Transportation Corridor

I think about transportation when we can no longer drive our vehicles. Goodyear lures me because our home is close to a major airport and the culturally rich city of Phoenix. Goodyear is close to the Interstate highway and mass transit so that it is possible to survive without a car.

I enjoy road trips and being just a few minutes from a major freeway where I can easily access the entire country is appealing. When living in Southern California, we had to leave before dawn to get out of the Los Angeles basin to all points north, south, and east.

Parked golf carts in front of pickleball court.
golf carts at Tuscany Falls (Photo Credit: Julie Diebolt Price)

15. Destinations Within 2 Hours

The proximity of exciting destinations within 2 hours is also enticing. Especially during the hot months when we need to escape the triple-digit heat, I want to have interesting places within a 2-hour drive. I enjoy day trips and weekend getaways, including beer trails and Arizona wine regions. These opportunities fill in the void for extended foreign travel.

16. Friendships

Several of our long-term friends already live in the Greater Phoenix area, so we can continue to nourish those relationships. With the planned activities for seniors in the community, sports for all skill levels and interests, clubs, resort activities, and gatherings, I’m sure our move to this perfect retirement community will ease us into our golden years with satisfaction.

17. Entertainment

The Valley of the Sun is a culturally rich region. In addition to fantastic dining options, golfing, public art, museums, life-long learning opportunities, stunning landscapes, regional parks, and the Cactus League for the national baseball team’s spring training, this veritable smorgasbord of offerings make our choice of Goodyear, Arizona a perfect retirement community choice.