By Julia Wood
When my husband and I retired from 40-year faculty careers, we were in our sixties, healthy and active, so we had no interest in a senior community. Maybe later, we thought, but we’re not ready yet.
Six years after retiring, we are living in a senior community, and we love it. We don’t need to live here, but we choose to because it enriches our lives.
For the first months of retirement, we relished not going to campus every day. However, once the initial elation waned, we began to realize how much we had relied on our work lives for social interaction — meetings, shared meals, chatting with colleagues in adjacent offices. Without the sociality that is built into university life, we began to feel rather cut off in our neighborhood where houses sat on two-plus acres and we often didn’t see neighbors for months.
We also tired of doing or arranging for someone else to do all of the chores that come with owning a home — cleaning gutters, blowing leaves, mulching beds, power washing decks, repairing HVAC and plumbing, and cleaning. Those responsibilities took too much time out of our daily lives.
That’s when we began to explore retirement communities. At first, our search was tentative and even reluctant: We assured ourselves we weren’t ready and told ourselves we were looking “for later.” It didn’t take long for us to realize we had serious misimpressions about residential living communities.
At open houses, we met residents who were friendly, engaging, and fun. They showed us that retirement communities were not only for people who need help but also for people who want to live engaged lives without worrying about home maintenance and potential future health needs.
A year after we began our search, we stopped saying “We’re not ready.” We were not only ready but eager to move to Galloway Ridge in Pittsboro, N.C. Nestled into a charming, walkable community, Galloway Ridge offers streams, walking and hiking paths, and a village center with shops, restaurants, and an independent neighborhood bookstore.
Over the four years since we came to Galloway, our decision to move has been validated again and again. We love not worrying about home maintenance and, instead, spending time on what we enjoy. Some evenings, we stroll with neighbors to a village that abuts our community to enjoy beer and wood-fired pizzas, accompanied by live music. Other nights, we join friends for dinner at one of our homes or a dining venue in Galloway.
And we continue parts of our lives that we valued before we moved; in fact, now we have more time for these activities than before we moved. We travel and attend games and community events. I continue to write books and volunteer with an animal sanctuary, and my husband still works with environmental groups and treks in the Himalayas and across England. Recently, we adopted a puppy who loves having an extended family of other residents and their dogs.
For us, moving into a retirement community has expanded, rather than contracted, our freedoms.