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.
I got distracted by Hurricane Sandy in October 2012, which was when I first fleshed out this blog post on The Landings on Skidaway Island, Georgia. If you are on a ReloSouth retirement search you might benefit from my thoughts.
The first stop on our Fall 2012 ReloSouth tour was on Skidaway Island, minutes from the historic city of Savannah, Georgia. The gated community, called The Landings, is located an easy 45-minute drive from Savannah International Airport (SAV). The Landings is on an island surrounded by salt marshes and the Intracoastal Waterway, giving residents easy water access; a strong attraction for us is the variety of birds (eagles!) and natural beauty. While we were on a terrific boat cruise of the area with Captain Joe Dobbs (see below) we saw the original pair of eagles who had settled in the area years ago. With 7 different neighborhoods – 4 of them very large – The Landings is home to families with kids (school busses driving through the neighborhoods) and couples without; we saw many, many retirees and worker bees. The four large neighborhoods (where we focused our attention) have a total of six gorgeous (and very different) golf courses (designed by Fazio, Palmer, Byrd and Hills) and four clubhouse/restaurants that offer tasty bites; during our visit we ate in the Marshwood & Magnolia Club (lunch; quesadilla was a classic bite) and Oakridge (dinner; steak with choice of sauces and sides was perfectly grilled). In addition, the community has 34 tennis course, 40 miles of trails — a real plus for my runner husband — pools and activities galore for the young and young at heart. “The Village,” located in Deer Creek, includes banks, a bar & grill, hair studio, nail salon, food store and more. You could live out your days without ever leaving The Landings! Note: You should know your “must haves” as far as amenities you “require” before you start your ReloSouth adventures.
Homes in The Landings range from huge mansions to patio homes and town homes. In addition, even though the community is “older” lots are still available for sale/resale so you could build to suit. We stayed in a patio home that backed onto a golf course in the Oakridge neighborhood. When we sat outside the only sounds were heard were birds and bugs; I am a magnet for mosquitoes and Skidaway Island has plenty (I’m not surprised since we were surrounded by water). Note: You should know what you want (resale or land/build) before you start your ReloSouth adventures.
Every Landings neighborhood has wide sidewalks that wind through trees and past golf courses and other amenities and out into the larger community; golf carts appear to be the preferred mode of transportation within the community. Walkers, runners, bicycle riders and golf carts share the same sidewalks. When Mike and I went out for a run I learned that golf carts are very quiet as they zoom by; although it can be startling, most folks driving carts gave us wide berth. The neighborhoods were peaceful and quiet as we ran through (and got totally lost in) them.
It’s important for me to tell you about the people we met. The Landings has an “Ambassadors” program; people who live in The Landings volunteer to meet/talk with prospective new residents like Mike and me about living in the community. We enjoyed wide ranging conversation about life and hobbies and what makes us tick with our Ambassadors couple over dinner one evening. It’s a great program, in my opinion. Most people we met/talked with are older than Mike and me. They hail from all over the United States with more than a few from New Jersey. All are avid golfers. And all are civic-minded. Many volunteer their time in and around the city of Charleston; we met people who (1)tutor and mentor in the public schools, (2)advocate for the disabled in the area, and (3)support and fund raise for charitable organizations like the symphony. The residents we met are vibrant, curious and welcoming.
As part of our visitor’s package we enjoyed a boat ride with Captain Joe Dobbs; his boat leaves from the Delegal Marina on the east end of The Landings. If you tour The Landings, be sure to book a cruise with this man; he’s a walking talking book of information and you’ll learn a lot about the area, wildlife and more.
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.
The Good Things:
Gracious, mature landscapes and common areas within the community with easy walking wide sidewalks and running trails.
A short drive to Savannah, a lovely city with many special features.
Easy access to the Intracoastal Waterway and salt marshes for great fishing and boating.
Close proximity to quality shopping, including two large malls, for everything from fine food to paper clips.
A great selection of restaurants nearby — from fine dining to ethnic to bargain fare.
Quality medical care and facilities, including three well-regarded hospitals very close by.
Lovely, lovely people.
The Not-So-Good Things:
Mostly older homes so even if you build you are mostly surrounded with older builds.
High buy-in costs for all 4 levels of membership (golf, tennis, social, national) plus annual dues and fees for each.
The age range of people skews older, by a significant number of years, than we are.
Golf seems to rule (and why not with the kinds of courses available on site; it has one of the largest women’s golf associations in the nation!) and we are not golfers.
Bottom line? The Landings felt like an older community with an older age skew to us. We can afford to live in The Landings, but we won’t; we’re looking for less golf and more socializing with people closer to our own age.