My husband Mike and I have been on the hunt — “Operation ReloSouth” — for the perfect retirement location. We want to live in a less-expensive, more relaxed area of the country near water. With better weather (no snow) than what we have here in Northern New Jersey. This is our story. Our first stop on our ReloSouth tour was in Wilmington, NC at Landfall, located about 15 minutes from Wilmington International Airport (ILM) and 20 minutes from downtown Wilmington, a fun, small college city with great restaurants, neat waterfront and a wonderful national historical district neighborhood of homes). Landfall is also close to Wrightsville Beach (I know that the Landfall web site says 5 minutes away, but I swear it took us 20 minutes to get there); it’s a public beach (no beach fee, but you pay to park) and it reminded me of a Jersey Shore beach – gray Atlantic Ocean with surfable waves and yellow sand – without The Sitch and Snooky of Jersey Shore TV infamy (in other words, the people we saw/talked with looked and acted what we consider “regular.”). Note: You should know your “must haves” as far as your ”must have”/easily accessible amenities before you start your ReloSouth adventures.
The community of Landfall is about 15 years old; 1500 homes are already built out of a planned 2000. This means you could walk in and fairly easily buy a resale home, or if you’re like us, you could purchase a lot and build a custom home. Since we’re looking to build a new home we didn’t tour any homes for sale. The neighborhoods within Landfall, like many other planned communities, cover the bases from condos to small homes to gigantic homes. You may be restricted as to exterior style of your new home by the neighborhood you choose. Note: You should know what you want (resale or land/build) before you start your ReloSouth adventures. Landfall is a 24/7 gated community of about 2200 acres; when your friends (not neighbors) come to call, they have to be buzzed in through security, a good thing if you don’t like surprise visits, but a bad thing if you do. If you have children you will need to get them to the area where the school bus picks them up; it’s at the front gate, a nice area. The security is a nice feature for many people. You know who belongs and who doesn’t. And Landfall has a regular security detail that patrols the private roads within the community. Note: You should know how you feel about a gated community versus a non-gated one before you start your ReloSouth adventures.
With 2 golf courses, 2 clubhouses, a sports center with 14 tennis courts, a 1,600-square-foot fitness center with exercise equipment, a 1,150-square-foot aerobics room and an Olympic-sized swimming pool with snack bar and café Landfall has some very good amenities. That said, it doesn’t have the resort-like feel Mike and I are seeking. The pool, the single pool, is small-ish for the number of people it serves, the exercise facilities were similar to our local Y, only smaller, and we don’t play much golf so that’s not a draw for us. We do, however, love to boat and fish and Landfall has easy access to both fresh and salt water fishing opportunities. Note: You should know what you’re willing to pay for and approximately how much you’re willing to pay. Many communities have buy-in fees (some can run into the tens of thousands) then you pay an annual fee(s) to use the facilities. The above suggestions can help you get started thinking and dreaming about what you want/need in a new community prior to beginning your ReloSouth adventure. Our Opinions: The Good Things:
- Gracious, mature landscapes and common areas within the community with easy walking sidewalks.
- A short drive to both city and shore (I gotta get better at calling it the beach if we’re moving south!).
- Easy access to the Intracoastal Waterway and Howe Creek for great fishing and boating.
- Very close proximity to quality shopping for everything from gourmet food to paper clips.
- A great selection of non-chain restaurants that are fairly priced and have yummy food (and all the chains you might secretly desire).
- Quality medical care and facilities very close by.
- Utilities we like (natural gas, water/sewer, ATT phone/cable/DSL)
The Not-So-Good Things:
- Expensive community by any measure.
- High ongoing costs (3 levels of fees: POA, HOA, CC; CC requires buy-in plus annual fee for any of the 4 levels of membership).
- Larger percentage of working folks to retirees so we might not have enough people to play with when we do retire.
- Country club feel to the folks we met and we are not country club folks by any stretch.
Bottom line? Landfall felt like an upscale NJ community to us, and an expensive one at that. We can afford to live in Landfall, but we won’t; we’re looking to spend significantly less on our housing and amenities. Movin’ On!