According to MarketWatch, many may retire to the south and make a beeline for Florida’s warm weather, beaches and income-tax-free living, but retirement pros say they may be overlooking an option that’s both interesting and less overrun with retirees: Georgia.
Local homebuilder Jim Chapman, who started constructing homes in metro Atlanta in 1998 and active adult communities in 2005, says metro Atlanta is drawing those 55 and older to the area because of its great weather, professional sports options, entertainment options like the College Football Hall of Fame and the world’s busiest airport, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. “All these wonderful things attract people to this area, including even the jobs. Many of our residents do still work. I’d say at least one member of each household does. … There’s just a lot of attraction to the city of Atlanta and a lot of attraction to stay here, but the golden attraction is a grandchild,” Chapman says, adding that adult children and grandkids are often reasons why anyone 55 and older comes or stays in the area.
An Atlanta native, Chapman served as board chair in 2011 on the 50+ Housing Council for the Georgia Home Builders Association, and he will serve as chair of the 50+ Housing Council for the National Association of Home Builders in 2016.
In addition to what metro Atlanta has to offer, the 55-plus communities themselves are attracting retirees to the area. On the following pages, learn more about the area’s developments and what each has to offer residents as it relates to programs, classes and extracurricular activities.
As an exclusive award-winning mountain, lake and golfing community, the amenities at Lake Arrowhead are world-class, showcasing a 540-acre crystal clear lake with 21 miles of shoreline. “The mountain peaks piercing through the low hanging clouds is breathtaking,” says Judie Woodall, managing member. “If you love wildlife, hawks, wild turkeys, blue heron and dozens of other bird species, along with deer, fish and raccoons, Lake Arrowhead will keep you intrigued. You’ll fall in love with the shimmering lake, championship golf course, tennis facility, pickleball courts, numerous swimming pools, miles of hiking and biking trails, and championship bass fishing.”
A few activities that residents may also enjoy boating, canoeing, kayaking, swimming, computer classes and training for those with limited experiences, and classes on new technology that allow homeowners to stay connected to family and up to date on current events. “Matching activities, exercise and intellectually stimulating events, keeps homeowners physical and mental stimulation triggered and in a globetrotting mode,” Woodall says. “Studies show that that keeping your brain and body challenged and engaged can actually help to prevent Alzheimer’s disease and ward off other illnesses and diseases. Staying active mentally and physically is good for your long-term well-being, so get moving.”
NatureWalk at Seven Hills, recently named Atlanta’s “Gold OBIE 2015 Community of the Year,” is one of the largest master-planned communities in the Southeast and features The Retreat, a neighborhood designed exclusively for both active adults and homeowners who prefer low maintenance, single-level living. “The neighborhood is golf cart-friendly and homes come with built in golf cart storage,” says Mark Stevenson, NatureWalk developer. “The neighborhood is embraced by miles of nature trails, perfect for walking, hiking or biking. Residents enjoy a private clubhouse and an adult-only saline swim facility.”
Popular activities include growing fresh vegetables and flowers at the community horticulture center, meeting neighbors at “NatureWoof,” a dog park for man’s best friend, playing tennis at the ALTA tennis complex, bird watching, enjoying concerts at the community amphitheater and entertaining grandchildren in the 12-acre water park. “Connecting or communing with the great outdoors is good for both the mind and body, and living in a neighborhood that reflects the best of man and the best of nature is a vital component to a healthy life well-lived,” Stevenson says.
Almost all of Soleil’s 50-plus clubs are at full capacity, but clubs related to cooking, theater, photography, hiking and trains, in addition to the various charitable organizations many residents belong to, all seem to be the most popular for both men and women, says Lauren Fritts, a sales assistant with the community. “The endless charities that our residents help with is beyond amazing,” she says, adding that the newly formed theater group is the most popular and fastest growing club she’s seen in the community during her six years there.
The hiking club has many members and they participate in hikes all over north Georgia, in addition to the photography club, which takes many field trips to capture the area’s local scenery. The train club, which was recently started, constructed a running train track around the Christmas tree that was enjoyed by visiting grandchildren. “We hear many times, ‘there is just too much going on around hear’ or, ‘we are busier now then when we worked,’” she says. In addition, she says that it’s important for residents to stay active because it keeps them young and helps them remain independent longer, improving their overall quality of life as they age.
Flowery Branch, Georgia
Celebrating 10 years on the lake, activities offered in the Sterling on the Lake community never end. Located north of Atlanta in Flowery Branch, residents enjoy tranquil lakes, beautiful protected open spaces and a lively Village Center. There are many opportunities for Sterling residents to get involved, including an active tennis community, hiking groups, Bunco, canasta, cooking and gardening classes, men’s coffee, ladies lunches and an array of fitness classes including Yoga, PiYo and Aqua Aerobics, just to name a few. The Sterling Silverstreaks kickball team also helps residents feel like a kid again with competitive play against nearby communities.
A full-time activities director provides programming that engages the mind and whets the appetite for adventure and experiences for Sterling residents. Activities at Sterling continuously challenge residents to broaden their interests with a combination of new opportunities like social mixers and local, national and international travel and longtime favorite hobbies like card games and book clubs. With the variety of activities and opportunities to get involved, age is just a number at Sterling on the Lake.