May 6, 2013

Another Retirement Option: Spiritually Based Communities


If I say, "Sun City," you probably have a definite image: a planned community in the sunbelt somewhere. Your mental picture includes golf courses, golf carts, an activity center, a pool, and streets lined with small homes.

Such retirement communities are still the first choice for many for their satisfying retirement. They are safe and secure, have plenty of planned activities, and are usually located near first class medical facilities. Living in Phoenix I am quite familiar with the various Sun Cities - after all Dale Webb invented the concept and opened the first one on the west side of Phoenix on January 1, 1960. Over 50 years later the original Sun City has nearly 39,000 folks calling it home.

In the last several years other organized retirement options have become available. A year ago I wrote about some different retirement options that included living on a cruise ship full time, relocating to another country, or living in an RV and serving as a park ranger. A follow up post detailed the growing interest in cohousing, either for those 55+ or for mixed generations. The Cohousing Organization is an excellent place to look for more information.

Multi-generational housing is also increasing in popularity. Grandparents, mom and dad, and children share the same house. Sometimes this is due to economic need. But, in many cultures, having everyone together is a tremendous way for an extended family to care for each other in a very tangible way.

Another growing option is to stay in one's own home as long as possible. Aging in place is a valid choice for many. Better overall health, better home health care services, and home modifications make staying in a home you love a reasonable answer for many. Continuing care communities, with independent, assisted, and nursing care living are the first choice for many. 

A fellow sent me an e-mail recently about yet another choice that I had not heard of before: a spiritually based retirement community. I know there are retirement homes sponsored by various religious denominations. But, this idea is different. Those who are looking to deepen their spiritual growth and development live with other like-minded retirees.

Located in Hawaii, Polestar Gardens is for seniors interested in spending their golden years in the company of like-minded souls, deepening their spiritual life--not just in entertainment and amusements, but in meditation, chanting, and creative service. their web site states they follow the teachings of Paramhansa Yogananda but welcome those from other paths who feel attuned to these universal teachings of meditation and service to others. They are not affiliated with any other organization.

While Polestar Gardens is not my spiritual cup of tea, I find it so encouraging that the number of options we have continues to expand. Where Betty and I will choose to move when the time comes we continue to discuss. Who knows what options will exist when we are faced with that decision.



13 comments:

  1. Bob,

    It is interesting that so many options are springing up for people to choose from, since as you state, no one size fits all. Personally I could not see moving to a one of the retirement communities such as the Del Webb sites or others like them. My primary reason is that I believe they charge prices out of step with the value that the owners actually receive. For as many years as we can handle it we plan to stay in our own home, and in what I consider a "normal" community.

    Moving overseas has much more allure for a variety of reasons, costs being the primary factor, or perhaps even full-time RVing, something we thought about at one time. I can also see us in a multi-generational setting as well, with our daughter and son-in-law moving in with us. It will be interesting to watch what others do irregardless, and which shake out to the the top one or two choices after all.

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    1. The increase in choices is an excellent example of a market-driven development. With millions of people turning 65 each year, there is a tremendous incentive to develop options for all different tastes and interests.

      Betty and I have only one firm rule: our daughters will not have to carry any burden. Where and how we decide to live as we age will be decided by keeping that one parameter firmly in mind.

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    2. I agree with that one Bob. Our 2 daughters will not carry any burden either!! We will make our decision based with that in mind also.

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  2. Good Morning. Good article, it is surprising how many options there are when considering where and hot to retire. Bob and I thought very carefully about relocation last year. Sun City appeared to fit the bill for us. My grandmother had moved here in the 60's and my parents in the 80's. So we took a leap of faith, sold the house, packed the truck and here we are. For us at this time it appears perfect. It has a good balance of ideal weather, low cost of living and excellent facilities. How we will handle additional care etc when the time comes remains to be seen and decided. We are glad to know that the options right here in our current community are well developed.

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    1. My in-laws lived in a Sun City development in Florida. It's biggest failing, since corrected, was a lack of a nearby hospital and strong medical support. They had to travel over 30 minutes to the nearest hospital.

      The Phoenix area Sun Cities don't have that problem. They are surrounded by first rate care facilities, with everything else needed within a short drive somewhere in the metro area.

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  3. We're still pondering if and when for our next steps. There really are lots of options!

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    1. Now you had added another factor...Tucson!

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  4. I absolutely agree, Bob. I love the variety and choices seniors are getting to make about where and how they live. Housing the second largest expense after healthcare for seniors. This is forcing some to be very creative. Where we live is also about community and belonging. The opportunity to be with like minded people can be very important. All of these are considerations.

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    1. One of the decisions that has to be made is whether to live in a community that is age-restricted or not. I've heard good arguments on both sides of the equation and have not made up my mind.

      Does community come from similarity or familiarity? I don't know.

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  5. One new friend moved close to a university when he retired. He loves the campus atmosphere and wide choice of activities, and recommends university living for retirees, whether they attended the school or not.

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    1. I do love the atmosphere of a vibrant college campus. If I had my druthers I would live in a small city that had a small liberal arts college as an important part of its daily life. I have yet to find that in a climate Betty and I would enjoy year round.

      Of course, with the RV or other options we could live in that dream environment for the part of the year that had pleasant weather. That may be something we will explore further. Thanks, Dick for the reminder.

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  6. Good comments, Bob, I'm impressed. Your readers seem to be willing to explore. A far cry from just a generation ago where there was the expectation that seniors would just go and stay our of the way somewhere. I recall going to Miami Beach some thirty years ago and vowing that I would never calcify sitting around in a lawn chair staring at a TV set.
    I like the question about whether to seek a community with diverse age groups or seniors only. I also like the idea of seeking out a university town. The good news is that there are many options, and by virtue of talking about them we open doors of opportunity for others. Thanks for posting about Polestar. Pay us a visit sometime...who knows, you may like Hawaii.

    Much Peace, Grigor

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    1. Thanks for making me aware of Polestar's efforts in this area. The more options the better. I agree with you about the calcification...not my style.

      Hawaii...I've been to the Aloha state over a dozen times and love the islands' ohana spirit and the friendliness of the people. I actually had a business client in Hilo and love the quiet pace of the east side of the Big island. You have picked a gorgeous location.

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