Operation ReloSouth: Mike-Style Research Is Exhausting

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.

My husband Mike and I just returned from a trip to North Carolina, land of low taxes and a relaxed lifestyle. We took five days to visit three different communities to see <drumroll please> if we’d like to relocate to one of them. Now don’t get too excited. We are in what Mike calls the research phase of the process. For those of you who know us well you know that Mike will beat this phase to death exhaust ever possibility and me before we move to the next stage. If you need a reminder of just how deliberate Mike is in the research phase, please check here.

Anyway, the day before we left I wrote three blog posts, figuring I’d post one or two of those if I didn’t have time to write about what we were exploring in North Carolina. Well, I was so tired at the end of each night that I fell into bed, exhausted; I never turned my beloved laptop on while we were away! Yes, what I’ve dubbed Operation ReloSouth took almost every minute of every day, except for the times we were boating, eating fine food and watching sunsets. It’s tough being the CEO of Operation ReloSouth!

We checked out Wilmington, Leland and Southport, North Carolina, during our first foray as Operation ReloSouth.

This first trip we visited Landfall in Wilmington, NC; Brunswick Forest in Leland, NC; and St. James Plantation in Southport, NC. And we learned a lot. Mike and I are good at ferreting out details and paying attention to how things work. Are you thinking about relocating because the area you live in has gotten exorbitantly expensive like our Northern NJ suburb? Are you thinking about living a slower paced but no less interesting life? Mike and I are interested in both … and a more temperate climate. I’m tired of shoveling snow (but we’re gonna be careful because I don’t want to trade snow for, say, living in Hurricane Alley). Would you like me to keep you up to date on our thoughts on the areas Mike and I visit in this research stage? Let me know!

We flew USAir from Liberty International Airport in Newark, NJ to Charlotte, NC, changed planes and flew into Wilmington International Airport (ILM), a gem of an airport with no lines and very pleasant people who work there. Cost? Under $300 round trip, not a deal breaker for family and friends who’d want to visit us if we relocated there. We rented a very inexpensive car via Priceline.com (Mike is a wizard at bidding on cars and getting us a real deal; check it out for yourself!); we got our car super fast right on site, plugged in our GPS and headed out of the airport proper.

The road we travelled to/from Wilmington, NC airport!

Soon we were tooling down a two-lane road toward our hotel. After about five miles of driving I realized that we weren’t going to get cut off; we weren’t going to get horned because we didn’t accelerate fast enough at a traffic light turned green. I realized that the people I saw behind the wheels weren’t in white-hot rages and anxious to get to wherever they wanted to go.  My shoulders relaxed and I started to look around.

If you arrange for a formal talk and tour with a realtor lifestyle consultant know that it will take at least 3 hours by our experience. You are trading the deep discount on hotel/condo (arranged through the community you are planning to visit) and the meal/other vouchers for your time; you’ll learn far more by spending the time with your lifestyle consultant than you would wandering around by yourself anyway (and wandering is out of the question in the gated communities, unless you plan to break in!). It’s the cost of doing business, as Mike would say. And if you can get a referral for a specific lifestyle consultant that you’ve heard is good, please do! We talked with a few different couples looking to relocate and our experience was different than theirs in any number of ways because of the differences in the experience and approach of our lifestyle consultants.

For the tour,

  • Wear comfortable shoes.
  • Bring your camera and take photos of what you like and what you don’t like.
  • Talk to people walking by, eating in the club, exercising, hanging at the pool; it helps if you ask the people you meet at the different communities the same questions so you can compare answers across the board.
  • Take notes. If you are visiting more than a couple of communities during one visit you will not remember the differences between them unless you do write them down. Trust me. It can all blur together.

So do you want to find out what we think about these three planned communities? Stay tuned!


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8 Responses to Operation ReloSouth: Mike-Style Research Is Exhausting

  1. Lisa Tognola says:

    I will stay tuned!

  2. Pingback: Operation ReloSouth: First Stop Landfall in Wilmington, NC | Adventures of a Middle Age Mom

  3. Joyce says:

    I’ll stay tuned…we’re beginning to look too. We’ve lived in the south, hubs is born and raised there, so we definitely want to get below the Mason Dixon. We do love the Eastern Shore of Maryland too which is kinda on the border : )

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  7. Audrey says:

    I stumbled upon this blog post, which is now over a year old, and I’m dying to know if you settled on a place! My husband and I just returned from checking out St James Plantation and Brunswick Forest and are pretty set in making coastal NC our home. We currently live in PA.

    • Hi Audrey,

      We have visited a couple of more communities since this writeup. We did buy property at one. I guess I’d better get busy and write “The End!”

      We explored a bit further South, a couple of communities in South Carolina, near Savannah: Hampton Lake (Bluffton SC) and The Landings on Skidaway Island. I guess I should go ahead and write up our findings on both!


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