Active 55+/Senior living

Locals Thrilled with Atlanta’s 55+ Communities

With Georgia ranking as one of the fastest growing and most attractive places for those 55 years and older, communities throughout metro Atlanta are happy to provide the best housing options, activities and more for anyone who is retired or may still working but chose this area as their new home for the later years.

“A low cost of living and a pleasant climate are possible reasons for the greater Atlanta area’s status as one of the fastest growing places for retirement in the last few years,” states a report on “Sandy Springs and Marietta are popular suburbs for the retired, but the city of Atlanta also has many options for those in search of a retirement community.”

Below is a culmination of stories told by locals living in some of the best 55-plus developments and neighborhoods in metro Atlanta. Learn more about what drew them to the area, what occupies their daily schedules and why they recommend you check out their community in the future.

Gary and Kim Mistovich closed on their home at Sun City Peachtree in Griffin in February. “We’ve been here long enough to know we love it,” says 59-year-old Kim. “It’s been the best move ever. “The former educators, who retired in 2012, are originally from Massachusetts, but lived in Covington until earlier this year. “We actually looked at Sun City for about two years before moving here,” Kim says. “We were waiting on the Covington real estate market to rebound, and once it did, we were gone.”

Kim says they joked with their real estate agent while searching for a home that they wanted to move somewhere for the “lifestyle,” and Sun City is the perfect match. The couple, which celebrated their 36th wedding anniversary in July, plays golf and enjoys the swimming and tennis facilities and dancing socials, in addition to the “unbelievable” amenities center. They also like the easy access to Atlanta, lower cost of living and home designs. “They are spacious,”Kim says. “You downsize in square footage, but the house lives big.”

The couple also says since moving to Sun City Peachtree, that it’s the most active they have been in years and they are taking advantage of the many offerings. “One of the women in our [neighborhood card] group said once, ‘I feel like I’m in college again, but without the responsibility of studying,'” Kim says. “We’re all kinds of footloose and fancy free, and there are so many things available for socialization and a healthy, active lifestyle. … It’s wonderful what is offered here!”

After becoming “empty nesters,” selling their home and remaining in the Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin, area while living in a condo for about a year, Frank and Evelyn Schmidt picked metro Atlanta to relocate. Neither is retired — Frank, 64, sells new construction homes for Acadia Homes and Neighborhoods, and Evelyn, 56, is an administrative coordinator at TJ Maxx. But Frank says, “We felt the climate, along with some good options to extend our careers made this a good choice. Evelyn was researching 55-plus communities when she ran across Soleil Laurel Canyon.”

The couple closed on their new home in February and moved in shortly thereafter. Frank says the surroundings, affordable housing, many amenities and an easy commute to Atlanta and the northern mountain areas led to their choice in Soleil. “Working for Acadia made sense, since the company has loads of opportunities for growth throughout metro Atlanta,” he says. “We also took into consideration the slightly lower cost of living compared to Wisconsin and the senior property tax break for residents of Cherokee County.”

Together, they enjoy neighborhood gatherings, potluck dinners at the clubhouse and the peace and quiet they have discovered in their new community. “The clubhouse is great, with all the exercise equipment, the indoor pool, billiards room, library and so much more,” Frank adds. “Beautifully landscaped, the entrance is over two miles of serenity just to drive to our home. Friendly neighbors, a very active community association, great Georgia weather. It’s really a slice of heaven on Earth.”

Sue and Lamar Jones, both 65, moved from Acworth into Nature Walk’s The Retreat in an effort to downsize in preparation for retirement. “We wanted a smaller home, nice amenities and to have our yard maintained,” says Sue. She retired from Depew Orthodontics in Kennesaw after she was employed there for 13 years, while Lamar still works for Equipment Controls Company as a representative support manager, representing Pietro Fiorentini.

The couple is originally from the Atlanta area, but chose The Retreat because they loved the greenspace and Sue says they fell in love with the homes there. “The natural look of the area, pool and clubhouse are extremely impressive,” she says, adding that they moved there about a year and a half ago and believe it’s the best place they could have picked for their retirement years. “We love our neighborhood.”

Participating in many community activities, they are in book clubs, play Bunco, enjoy Saturday morning brunches with friends and much more. Sue and Lamar also play tennis on an ALTA team, and she is president of The Retreat Advisory Board. “It is difficult to describe how wonderful our neighborhood is,” Sue adds. “The Retreat is a 55 and older community with miles of great golf cart trails, one of the nicest clubhouse facilities you could ever find, wonderful neighbors, extremely quiet surroundings and lots of activities for everyone.”

Tina and Darrell Crews, who are retired from their first jobs — Darrell, 72, worked at Lockheed Martin, and Tina, 71, was a registered nurse — moved to Sterling on the Lake three years ago. However, after being a nurse for 21 years, Tina decided to head back to work, and for the last two years, she has worked part-time for two builders in her community. “Not only do I like living here,” Tina says, “I like working here!”

Originally from Paducah, Kentucky, Tina and Darrell relocated to Georgia so that they could live closer to their only son. He works for Delta Air Lines, which is headquartered in Atlanta, and has lived in the area for 26 years. “As we were getting older, I wanted us located near him,” Tina says.

The Crews came across Sterling on the Lake after visiting friends at Lake Lanier and seeing signs for Flowery Branch. “I got a feeling of peace and just being at home,” Tina recalls. “It had everything we were looking for; beautiful grounds, swimming pool, club house, walking trails, canoes, shopping all around, the Mall of Georgia was 10 minutes away, dining and lawn maintenance.” She also boasts about the ranch-style homes with a master bedroom on the main, access to a library on site, monthly socials, swimming, tennis and hikes with friends. “It has been a perfect fit due to the activities and the people who live here,” she says. “We have wonderful friends and neighbors now, and it only gets better!”

Ernie and Judy Thompson, both originally from Illinois, moved to and lived in Alpharetta for 13 years after retiring from their professions in New Jersey. Ernie says, “We weren’t born in the South, but we got here as soon as we could.” Judy, 70, taught for 25 years, and Ernie, 72, was director of professional affairs with J&J for 35 years after serving in the Army and running a consulting business for five years.

They stumbled upon their community, Brookhaven at Johns Creek, during a Sunday drive and knew it was where they wanted to retire. Knowing the reputation of Jim Chapman, the builder, the couple says they knew it was the perfect active adult community for them, in addition to being a great location for shopping, medical facilities, highways and more.

Between the two of them, they participate in water aerobics, play pickleball, walk on the trail, attend knitting group, monthly coffees for men and women, luncheons, dinners and potlucks at the clubhouse and volunteer. There is also bridge, canasta, Mexican train, book club, a happy hour, senior Olympics twice a year, bocce ball, croquet courts, tennis and garden plots available. And there are a number of veterans with common interests and a nice support group of neighbors for the Thompsons.

“It is nice to have so many activities at the clubhouse and in our development without having to drive somewhere else; and to have neighbors with common interests,” Judy says. “Moving here was a great decision!”

Scott and Paula Hall, who own and operate a family business in Jasper (about 60 miles north of Atlanta), relocated to the area from Minnesota in 1981, originally living in Woodstock for nearly two decades before deciding to make Lake Arrowhead in Waleska their new home about five years ago.

“Towne Lake in Woodstock became very busy … when we moved there, it was just a one-lane road,” says Scott, 65. “When we left, Towne Lake had built another school, apartments, a movie theater, it was a four-lane road and four or five traffic lights were on the main road. It just got so congested, and we just needed a quiet place to live.”

The couple respite at Lake Arrowhead and also shortened their commute to the family business. “Scott always wanted to be on a golf course and me the mountains,” says Paula, 55. “So, we were drawn to this area and we get the best of both worlds. Scott played golf there once and kind of fell in love with it … we even bought a house on one of the greens.”

Activity-wise, the couple plays golf together there, go on lots of hikes, occasionally rent pontoon boats and participate in book clubs. They also spend a lot of time at the area park when their six grandchildren are visiting. “It’s our little slice of heaven,” Paula says. “We sit on the porch and it’s still hard to believe that we live here. It’s a very tranquil place for us.”