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According to AARP, there are 78 million baby boomers now reaching retirement age. Like those who came before them, many will sell the house, pick up stakes and head off to retirement communities to live out their autumn years.
For these retirees and soon-to-be retirees, their needs will go way beyond bingo, prune juice and shuffleboard. After all, this is the generation that attended sit-ins and watched Jimi Hendrix perform at Woodstock, and they have brought every last ounce of their vitality with them into retirement age.
These retirees often have specialized interests. As a result, communities are popping up everywhere that offer access to resources for continuing education, sports, the arts and more.
These niche retirement communities — sometimes known as “affinity communities” — cater to the needs of the retiree who truly believes that age is just a number, and who rejects the idea that exiting the workforce equals a compromised existence.
Read ahead to learn about some of the niche retirement communities currently serving the needs of the silver-haired boomer population.
By Daniel Bukszpan
Posted 26 June 2012
The Burbank Senior Artists Colony is an apartment rental community focusing on the arts. It’s in Burbank, Calif., the self-proclaimed “Media Capital of the World” and home to such entertainment landmarks as Universal Studios.
According to the community’s official website, it provides “exceptional independent living in a creative, art-inspired environment.” It features a Hollywood-themed clubhouse, poetry classes, computer classes and anti-aging exercise classes.
The National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC) is the union that represents U.S. Postal Service letter carriers. Any retired member in good standing with this union is eligible to live in an apartment at Nalcrest in central Florida.
Perhaps because Nalcrest is populated by people who spent their professional lives menaced by dogs, the community does not allow pets. Its 500 garden-style apartments range in price from $365 to $395 a month.
Lasell Village is a retirement community located on the Lasell College campus in Newton, Mass. It features a continuing education program affiliated with the college, and although it’s not the first retirement community to have such an affiliation, it is the first to require residents to participate in a continuing education program.
The course work offered by the community is designed to challenge the participants, and the topics covered are exercises in gravitas. Courses include “Contemporary Issues in International Relations,” “Crucial Court Cases in American History” and “Medicine and Dentistry: Perspectives in Art and History.”
Fountaingrove Lodge in Santa Rosa, Calif., is under construction and not projected to open until the fall of 2013. However, it’s already broken new ground. According to its website, it’s “the nation's first lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered (LGBT) independent senior community.”
Its Sonoma County location puts Fountaingrove near forests, rivers and the ocean, making it ideal for anyone interested in the outdoors. The community offers 833-square-foot residences with one bedroom and one bathroom. Entrance fees start at $295,500. The 2,001-square-foot units with two bedrooms and two bathrooms have an entrance fee of $925,500.
Aegis Gardens in Fremont, Calif., is a retirement community catering to Chinese-American retirees. According to its website, “our focus on Chinese culture is reflected in everything we do.”
The community features architecture based on the principles of feng shui, and activities include both Chinese pursuits like tai-chi and mahjong, as well as American standbys like bingo and bridge. The staff is Chinese- and English-speaking and health-care providers include several from China who are fluent in multiple languages and dialects.
NewBridge on the Charles is a retirement community in Dedham, Mass., that’s operated by Hebrew SeniorLife on a simple philosophy. “The key to healthy living,” its website says, “is to never stop learning.”
NewBridge offers residents workshops and classes to advance this philosophy, and goes further by offering multigenerational interaction. The vehicle for this interaction is the Rashi School, located on the NewBridge campus.
Rashi is a school with 300 students that goes from kindergarten to the eighth grade, and the retirees and the children get a mutually beneficial relationship out of the deal. According to the NewBridge website, “the young people bring liveliness and joy into the community, the residents in turn spend hours reading, tutoring and participating in learning activities with the students.”
While some retirees look for communities that offer more than the standard activities for their age group, others are only too happy to conform to the stereotypes. In other words, there are still plenty of retirees who just want to play lots and lots of golf.
The Encanterra Country Club in Phoenix, Ariz., offers retirees exactly that. According to its website, “golf is supremely important here,” so much so that its luxurious course was designed by former Ryder Cup captain Tom Lehman.
Retirees whose interests include golf, golf and also golf will be happy to know that Encanterra is the embodiment of “life the way the golf angels imagined.”
Just about every retirement community features activities and programs that emphasize wellness. The Cedars in Portland, Maine, is no exception. It emphasizes holistic wellness, which many baby boomers have pursued for decades.
The community’s yoga program is taught by Jessica McKneally, who believes that yoga can help alleviate many of the health issues that older adults face.
“Many of the chronic ailments associated with the aging process are the result of stress, imbalance and disconnection,” she says on the community’s website. “Relieving stress, cultivating balance in our lives and reconnecting to our self and others can go a long way towards establishing a healthier, happier, more sustainable life.”
Champagne Village is a gated retirement community in Escondido, Calif. It has sprawling golf courses, perfect weather and every other amenity that one would expect from a U.S. retirement haven. But what makes it truly unique is that it was founded by none other than accordionist, bandleader and entertainer Lawrence Welk, who described it as "a little piece of heaven."
Of particular note are the nearby golf courses. Welk himself was a devoted linksman who made regular appearances at the Bob Hope Classic, and his enthusiasm for the sport is reflected by the courses available at the nearby Welk Resort. Champagne Village residents get a discounted rate on the courses.