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Golf and Waterfront Living: Live, Play, Relax


With today's planned lifestyle communities, golf and boating enthusiasts have an opportunity to purchase the home of their dreams just a chip shot away from the green or stone's throw from the marina. In addition to an ideal home setting, golf and waterfront community residents enjoy an active and diversified lifestyle experience complete with first-class golf courses, marinas, beaches, spas, clubhouses, recreation areas, fine dining and countless other amenities.

Out of the 10,000 master planned communities across the United States, over 2,500 are built around golf courses and pristine waterfront property. Making sense of all the options can be mind boggling. If you are thinking about relocating to one of these golf and waterfront communities, it is imperative to be able to distinguish one community from the next and more importantly, know what to look for before you buy.

In the past, golf and waterfront master planned communities catered to distinct segments of the housing market, namely middle to upper income empty nesters and retirees. Things have changed. Today, golf course and waterfront developments are designed to accommodate budgets of all levels and generally fall into one of two categories: multi-generational and age restricted.

The construction of multi-generational communities represents a recent trend in planned community home building. The underlying idea is to attract a diverse population of families including retirees and young professionals of varying income levels and backgrounds in order to establish a robust and vibrant community. After decades of building age restricted communities, builders and developers have recognized that the traditional elements of planned community living such as security, on-site amenities and low maintenance housing appeal to home buyers of all ages.

Most new communities are multi-generational developments. Vistancia situated in the beautiful Sonoran desert outside of Peoria, Arizona is a recently opened golf community attracting individuals and families of all ages. Since home sales began in March 2004, almost 500 families have moved into this scenic development with 1,700 total acres of open space and a 900-acre mountain preserve.

Conversely, age restricted planned communities are developed for the +55 home owner with amenities and facilities for today's discerning empty nester and retiree. Typically, the age restriction requires one household resident to be at least 55 in order to qualify for home ownership. Over the last decade, an evolution has occurred with the age restricted community model of yesteryear making way for contemporary activity based developments complete with lavish amenities and world-class recreation areas, not to mention the conventional facilities required by the +55 demographic.

The undisputed leader in age restricted master planned community development is Del Webb. Since the 1960s, Del Webb has constructed numerous age restricted golf and waterfront communities across the United States. Del Webb's Sun City developments are arguably the most recognizable line of age restricted communities stretching from coast to coast with Sun City Hilton Head in North Carolina and Sun City Lincoln Hill in California.

The most important criterion in selecting a traditional home is location and the same is true when deciding on a golf and waterfront community. The old adage "location, location, location" aside, one has to consider whether the new property will serve as a primary residence, second home getaway or retirement abode. The final location decision is generally based on three primary factors: home use, surrounding area and local weather.

For most of us working folk, our primary residence is located within an hour or so of a major metropolitan center. Don't fret, there are hundreds of golf and waterfront communities centrally located within driving distance from most major metropolitan areas. If by chance you live near Dallas, you have several options to choose from including Stonebridge Ranch in north Dallas and Black Horse Ranch which is only 25 minutes from downtown. Washington D.C. commuters are also in luck with conveniently located golf and waterfront communities in Virginia, Maryland and Delaware. Belmont Country Club, a Toll Brothers property, is a mere 40 minutes from Washington D.C. in Ashburn, Virginia. These examples represent only a fraction of the actual number of suburban golf and waterfront developments.

The location decision is a bit more complicated and not as clear cut when one considers purchasing a second home retreat or retirement residence. In this situation, other factors come in to play such as the activity and cultural richness of the immediate area and of course, local weather. If you are looking for a second home, would you like to be nestled in the woods away from the hustle and bustle of the city, located in a more suburban area or some in between?

Climate is also an integral factor to take into consideration when purchasing a home particularly if you are feeling abused by recent harsh winters. This may clearly point to a direction that takes you out of your home state or even to another part of the country. Conversely, the summer's never ending heat may drive you to consider the cooler climates up north. Fortunately, there are 2,500 golf and waterfront communities spread out across the United States from Minnesota to Texas and California to Massachusetts.

What is clear in the case of retirement homes is that good local health care and transportation facilities are a must. For most retirees, living over 60 miles away from the closest hospital or airport is just not an option. In the end, it comes down to striking a balance between modern necessities and the beauty of the great outdoors.

Once you have settled on a geographic location, the next area to focus on is amenities. These can vary greatly from one golf and waterfront development to the next. Typically, these expanded 'goodies' fall into two categories: conveniences and lifestyle enhancements. Conveniences include such things as security services, home maintenance, gardening services, concierge service, on-site retail and office space, cable television and high-speed internet.

Lifestyle enhancements relate to recreation activities and rest and relaxation befitting an enhanced life of leisure. One can find a mix of facilities at planned communities which support numerous activities like tennis, hunting, boating, skiing, and hiking. To balance the rigors of recreation, planned communities provide residents with rest and relaxation amenities such as spas, clubhouses, wilderness preserves, pools, beaches and fine dining.

With real estate opportunities for every budget, isn't it about time you looked into moving to a golf and waterfront community that offers unbelievable vistas, year round activities, low maintenance living and first-class amenities?

Robert Flournoy is a staff writer for Golf Home Connect. Visit http://www.golfhomeconnect.com to find information on vacation and retirement real estate.


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