The new retirement: Watchin' the sun bake on my front porch swing

Retirement today is changing -- and it is anything but boring.

Today’s retirees are living longer, enjoying a more active lifestyle, making friends in different social circles, learning new things, pursuing passions, tapping more options to stay “engaged,” and more, says Christine Russell, senior manager of retirement and annuities at TD Ameritrade.

“Our surveys show they have a positive outlook overall on aging, and they’re looking forward to what in many cases is the most liberating time of their lives,” Russell says.

It’s the new retirement, and it could be a long retirement.

“In many cases, it could be a 30-year period or more so retirees are thinking about it as ‘their’ time. As a result, they’re taking control of this time, focusing on themselves, their happiness and making it what they want it to be,” says Russell.

AARP says this group is not slowing down. “The active adult community is a massive, and fast-growing market,” says Terrance Banks, of the AARP.

In many cases, today’s retirees and future retirees say they want an “experience.” That’s the idea behind Margaritaville, a chain of easy, breezy retirement communities currently opening and under development in coastal communities that were inspired by singer-songwriter Jimmy Buffett.

“It’s all about food, fun and music,” says Bill Bullock, president of developer Minto Communities’ Latitude Margaritaville division. With pools, spas, live music, fitness centers, restaurants and other amenities galore, “we’ve packaged escapism in a place where you can actually live.”

Two Margaritaville senior living communities for the 55-plus set have opened thus far. One is in Daytona Beach, Florida with prices ranging from around $250,000 on the low end for a Villa to $370,000 on the high side for a single-family home. And the other is in Hilton Head, South Carolina with a starting price for a Villa around $245,000, while a single-family home ranges from about $300,000 to $360,000.

National exposure, awards, the association with Buffett (who Bullock says is an active part of the business and the brand) and other factors have additionally helped fuel growth, according to Bullock. The company also plans to open a third Margaritaville near Destin, Florida, in 2021, and sees potential for new future projects beyond the coasts.


“We’re looking into Nashville, Austin and other locations that are associated with music or a certain lifestyle,” says Bullock.

According to Russell, these are things to consider when deciding whether to purchase a home in a retirement community.

HOA fees and due dates

Basically, don’t forget to read the fine print.

"It's common to be excited about all the amenities offered by these active adult communities that folks forget it comes with a fee – and some fees are substantial and often monthly.  Make sure to factor this monthly expense into your budget," Russell says.

HOA rules (and how strictly they're enforced)

Ask to see a list of the community rules.

"If you like to garden for example, you may be limited on how big your flower beds can be, what you can plant, and where, plus still need approval anytime you want to expand a bed. And these approvals can take a long time,” says Russell. “Perhaps you may not be allowed to put up a fence for your dog. Rather, when outside, the dog must be on a leash.”

Property taxes

Be sure to research the local tax info.

"Often folks moving to these communities are from a different geographical area and find the home price is lower than typical prices in their area and mortgage prices may be reasonable, but what about the area taxes? When combined with your other expenses, your budget may take a hit at a time when you're trying to keep your costs manageable to cover any unexpected medical expenses and long-term care costs in retirement."

Vera Gibbons is the Founder of which produces “NoPo” - a free daily newsletter that covers and curates non-political news only within Consumer/Personal Finance; Health & Wellness; Fashion/Beauty; Fitness/Diet