For that home across the road.
-- Bob Dylan,
Who among us would not want to live in Paradise? For me, it would be a 3,000 square foot home on a nicely wooded acre with water and golf course view, walking distance to the clubhouse, interesting neighbors who respect our privacy and don't gussy up their lawns with funny looking doodads, 20 minutes to a big shopping mall (not for me, mind you), 10 minutes to a supermarket (for me), a golf course (or two) that will be as much fun to play as my skills diminish as it is today, and a Homeowner's Association that manages the community's finances so well that owners would rarely suffer any annual dues increases.
Okay, it may be too much to ask, but you can get closer to Paradise if you avoid making certain mistakes before you buy. I have talked with people who are happy with the choices they made, and to others who admit a few years later that they chose unwisely. Some of them have even borne the expense of moving a second time because that first home did not fill the bill. As a public service, I will offer here in the coming weeks some
We start with Mistaken Assumption #1: An hour away from culture and entertainment and restaurants is close enough.
After a life of raising children and doing the soccer mom and dad thing, working and commuting up to 10 hours a day or more, many of us are just ready to chill in retirement. And that means a quiet place in a community far removed from the traffic and pollution of a city. But how far is too far? One hour might seem an appropriate trade off. Our own second home in Pawleys Island is one hour from Charleston, about the most charming, atmospheric city in the south, with great restaurants and other attractions. We know from the experience that the one hour to Charleston is no big deal...but then there is the hour back. After a big meal with a glass or two of wine, the return trip seems twice as long as the first leg of the trip.
Now, for those who want to get away from it all, and stay away, there are some wonderful options, such as Albemarle Plantation in Hertford, NC, 90 minutes from Norfolk; Cooper's Point more than an hour south of Savannah; the Cliffs Communities in rural South Carolina; or the islands of Daufuskie and Bald Head, reached only by ferry and with no cars allowed. But remember that if you move to a place to be an hour away from culture and entertainment, you are actually two hours or more away - the hour down and the hour back.
Whether you are well away from civilization, as at Melrose Plantation on Daufuskie Island (above), or at The Reserve in Litchfield, SC, an hour from Charleston (below), you may be farther than you planned from entertainment and other activities. Plan wisely.