8 unconventional retirement communities

Aspiring Hemingways, die-hard recreational-vehicle fans, Harley-obsessed boomers: If you’re feeling a little uninspired about your retirement options (another community based around a golf course? Really?), you’re in luck. A new breed of retirement community is catering to those whose interests lie a little outside the mainstream. —by Catey Hill, Marketwatch

8 unconventional retirement communities

Nalcrest Hey there, Mr. (or Ms.) Postalworker. Wondering where you’re going to retire? Nalcrest, a retirement community founded in the early 1960s in south central Florida, was built exclusively for postal workers. “Before the strike of 1970, wages for letter carriers were very low; in New York City some of us were even on food assistance,” says Tom Young, who handles operations for Nalcrest. “So the idea behind Nalcrest was to create an affordable place for letter carriers to retire.” Even today, this community charges a maximum rent of just $520 per month, which includes the home, utilities other than electricity, and grounds maintenance. There are 500 one-story apartments with around 700 residents, as well as a recently renovated pool, shuffleboard and bocce ball courts, a 75-acre lake (for fishing, kayaking and boating) and a small restaurant.

8 unconventional retirement communities

Nalcrest Hey there, Mr. (or Ms.) Postalworker. Wondering where you’re going to retire? Nalcrest, a retirement community founded in the early 1960s in south central Florida, was built exclusively for postal workers. “Before the strike of 1970, wages for letter carriers were very low; in New York City some of us were even on food assistance,” says Tom Young, who handles operations for Nalcrest. “So the idea behind Nalcrest was to create an affordable place for letter carriers to retire.” Even today, this community charges a maximum rent of just $520 per month, which includes the home, utilities other than electricity, and grounds maintenance. There are 500 one-story apartments with around 700 residents, as well as a recently renovated pool, shuffleboard and bocce ball courts, a 75-acre lake (for fishing, kayaking and boating) and a small restaurant.

8 unconventional retirement communities

ShantiNiketan When you look around ShantiNiketan, you won’t find the usual retirement community amenities like a pool or tennis courts—and that’s how residents here like it. ShantiNiketan, near Orlando, caters to Indian Americans 55 and over, and its unique features reflect their cultural preferences. “Indians like to sit and chat and watch Indian movies or walk outside,” says Jeffrey Ignatius, who founded the community with his father Iggy in 2010. “They aren’t really into swimming.” The community also has an on-site prayer room and extensive vegetarian cuisine options. Home prices range from $160,000 to $180,000, and monthly fees, which include utilities, property taxes, homeowners’ association dues and an optional meal plan, are less than $1,000 per month. The community thus far has sold out, but Phase 2 with 112 more buildings will open by 2014.

8 unconventional retirement communities

ShantiNiketan When you look around ShantiNiketan, you won’t find the usual retirement community amenities like a pool or tennis courts—and that’s how residents here like it. ShantiNiketan, near Orlando, caters to Indian Americans 55 and over, and its unique features reflect their cultural preferences. “Indians like to sit and chat and watch Indian movies or walk outside,” says Jeffrey Ignatius, who founded the community with his father Iggy in 2010. “They aren’t really into swimming.” The community also has an on-site prayer room and extensive vegetarian cuisine options. Home prices range from $160,000 to $180,000, and monthly fees, which include utilities, property taxes, homeowners’ association dues and an optional meal plan, are less than $1,000 per month. The community thus far has sold out, but Phase 2 with 112 more buildings will open by 2014.

8 unconventional retirement communities

Aegis Gardens When the team at retirement community management company Aegis Living saw the plans for Aegis Gardens, a community for Chinese Americans near San Francisco, they loved them. The designers envisioned a blue and white color scheme, a grand staircase leading toward the front door in the main building, a beautiful fountain in the middle of the community. Aegis’s consultants from the Chinese community, however, were less enthusiastic. Turns out, white is associated with death in China, and the staircase and sharp angles of the fountain were interfering with the building’s chi, or vital energy. The Aegis team reworked the entire plan before finally opening the facility in 2001. Now residents enjoy a Feng Shui-designed facility with staff that speak a variety of Chinese dialects; popular activities include Tai Chi, calligraphy classes and mah-jongg. Aegis Living is building a second community near Seattle, which is set to open in 2014.

8 unconventional retirement communities

Aegis Gardens When the team at retirement community management company Aegis Living saw the plans for Aegis Gardens, a community for Chinese Americans near San Francisco, they loved them. The designers envisioned a blue and white color scheme, a grand staircase leading toward the front door in the main building, a beautiful fountain in the middle of the community. Aegis’s consultants from the Chinese community, however, were less enthusiastic. Turns out, white is associated with death in China, and the staircase and sharp angles of the fountain were interfering with the building’s chi, or vital energy. The Aegis team reworked the entire plan before finally opening the facility in 2001. Now residents enjoy a Feng Shui-designed facility with staff that speak a variety of Chinese dialects; popular activities include Tai Chi, calligraphy classes and mah-jongg. Aegis Living is building a second community near Seattle, which is set to open in 2014.

8 unconventional retirement communities

Escapees CARE For avid RVers, life is a highway—that is, until life forces you to “hang up your keys” for a while. Enter Escapees CARE. At this facility in Livingston, Texas, visitors can park their RV on the grounds and get nursing care, meals, and more on site. “We like to not be tied down to one place, so we’ve created a program here where you can come in on a month-to-month basis if you want,” says Russ Johnson, the facilities director. For example, if an RV lover has surgery and can’t get around that well, but doesn’t want to have to recuperate in a nursing home, he or she can pop over to Escapees CARE; residents are welcome to stay longer, even for years if they’d like. Prices for one of the 35 spots average about $850 a month, with which you get nursing care from 9 to 5 Monday through Friday, transportation to doctor appointments, and three meals a day plus snacks. Just remember, it’s BYORV (bring your own RV).

8 unconventional retirement communities

Escapees CARE For avid RVers, life is a highway—that is, until life forces you to “hang up your keys” for a while. Enter Escapees CARE. At this facility in Livingston, Texas, visitors can park their RV on the grounds and get nursing care, meals, and more on site. “We like to not be tied down to one place, so we’ve created a program here where you can come in on a month-to-month basis if you want,” says Russ Johnson, the facilities director. For example, if an RV lover has surgery and can’t get around that well, but doesn’t want to have to recuperate in a nursing home, he or she can pop over to Escapees CARE; residents are welcome to stay longer, even for years if they’d like. Prices for one of the 35 spots average about $850 a month, with which you get nursing care from 9 to 5 Monday through Friday, transportation to doctor appointments, and three meals a day plus snacks. Just remember, it’s BYORV (bring your own RV).

8 unconventional retirement communities

8 unconventional retirement communities

Lasell Village There are retirement communities on college campuses—and then there is Lasell Village. Here, you are not merely encouraged to take classes, you are required to—to the tune of 450 hours of classes a year at Lasell College, ranging from French cinema to social psychology to current events to fitness and volunteer work. (You can take classes with your peers or with students at the college.) “Each of our 16 buildings has a classroom,” says Paula Panchuck, the vice president of the village. “The architecture here literally supports our mission.” Of course, the 200 residents at the Newton, Mass. community also enjoy other activities, from swimming in the heated pool to Pilates in the community room. Lasell Village is a continuing care retirement community, which means it offers independent and assisted living, as well as nursing care. Entrance fees start at $300,000 for a one-bedroom apartment and monthly fees start at $3,100.

8 unconventional retirement communities

Lasell Village There are retirement communities on college campuses—and then there is Lasell Village. Here, you are not merely encouraged to take classes, you are required to—to the tune of 450 hours of classes a year at Lasell College, ranging from French cinema to social psychology to current events to fitness and volunteer work. (You can take classes with your peers or with students at the college.) “Each of our 16 buildings has a classroom,” says Paula Panchuck, the vice president of the village. “The architecture here literally supports our mission.” Of course, the 200 residents at the Newton, Mass. community also enjoy other activities, from swimming in the heated pool to Pilates in the community room. Lasell Village is a continuing care retirement community, which means it offers independent and assisted living, as well as nursing care. Entrance fees start at $300,000 for a one-bedroom apartment and monthly fees start at $3,100.

8 unconventional retirement communities

NoHo Senior Artists Colony The brand-new NoHo Senior Artists Colony is a community for those 62 and up in the trendy North Hollywood neighborhood; it was created exclusively for artists. Being that it’s Hollywood, most of the current residents are writers and actors, but it’s open to anyone who has a desire to be artsy. Noho is built adjacent to a performing arts theater that plays host to the well-regarded Road Theatre Company. Residents of the community get to use the theater when there are no professional shows running, and some of the actors in the theater company live in the community. The NoHo colony doesn’t simply give a nod to arts: In addition to artists’ studios, the community offers an array of educational programs. “The arts classes and programs can culminate in a performance or publishing or creating a film,” says Tim Carpenter, founder and executive director of EngAGE, a nonprofit devoted to turning senior apartment communities into vibrant places to live. “We want people to achieve a goal.” Though only a handful of residents have joined Noho thus far (it just opened last month), the management expects roughly 150 to move in within the next year or so.

8 unconventional retirement communities

NoHo Senior Artists Colony The brand-new NoHo Senior Artists Colony is a community for those 62 and up in the trendy North Hollywood neighborhood; it was created exclusively for artists. Being that it’s Hollywood, most of the current residents are writers and actors, but it’s open to anyone who has a desire to be artsy. Noho is built adjacent to a performing arts theater that plays host to the well-regarded Road Theatre Company. Residents of the community get to use the theater when there are no professional shows running, and some of the actors in the theater company live in the community. The NoHo colony doesn’t simply give a nod to arts: In addition to artists’ studios, the community offers an array of educational programs. “The arts classes and programs can culminate in a performance or publishing or creating a film,” says Tim Carpenter, founder and executive director of EngAGE, a nonprofit devoted to turning senior apartment communities into vibrant places to live. “We want people to achieve a goal.” Though only a handful of residents have joined Noho thus far (it just opened last month), the management expects roughly 150 to move in within the next year or so.

8 unconventional retirement communities

Lake Weir Living Whoever said retirement was about slowing down clearly hadn’t met the residents of Lake Weir Living, a “toy-friendly” boomer community in central Florida—built around the idea that no kinds of community restrictions should keep retirees from enjoying (or parking) their RVs, motorcycles, boats or vintage Buicks. Here you’ll find boomers whose lives revolve around hopping on their Harley or into their hot rod (their “adult toys”) and whizzing around town for a Sunday drive, thrill-seeker style. The community offers customizable homes (20 have been built so far, with room on site for more than 1,500 more) with the option for a five-car garage or even a 50-foot garage customized for an RV, so residents can keep all their toys safe in one place. Plus, the community sits amid roads and rolling hills and near a national forest and the beach, which Schuster claims offers residents “the best scenic riding in the state.” The community is right by The Villages—a massive retirement community big enough to take up multiple ZIP Codes—so residents have plenty of fellow retirees nearby. Home prices for the community start in the low $100,000 range, and currently about 50 people live there.

8 unconventional retirement communities

Lake Weir Living Whoever said retirement was about slowing down clearly hadn’t met the residents of Lake Weir Living, a “toy-friendly” boomer community in central Florida—built around the idea that no kinds of community restrictions should keep retirees from enjoying (or parking) their RVs, motorcycles, boats or vintage Buicks. Here you’ll find boomers whose lives revolve around hopping on their Harley or into their hot rod (their “adult toys”) and whizzing around town for a Sunday drive, thrill-seeker style. The community offers customizable homes (20 have been built so far, with room on site for more than 1,500 more) with the option for a five-car garage or even a 50-foot garage customized for an RV, so residents can keep all their toys safe in one place. Plus, the community sits amid roads and rolling hills and near a national forest and the beach, which Schuster claims offers residents “the best scenic riding in the state.” The community is right by The Villages—a massive retirement community big enough to take up multiple ZIP Codes—so residents have plenty of fellow retirees nearby. Home prices for the community start in the low $100,000 range, and currently about 50 people live there.