Finding Happiness in Retirement

Editors Note Summer 2019

by Kelly Godbey

I remind myself every day just how wonderful and valuable life is. Consistently, I tell people, “Life is good, even when it isn’t.” For me, 2019 has been full of challenges, but I still find joy and happiness in my favorite things, like spending time with family and friends and vacationing to exciting places, or by helping others. I love going to the beach, breathing in the salt air, and watching the sunrise or sunset while hearing the continual roll of waves.

What is the key to happiness? Robert Waldinger, Director of the Harvard Study of Adult Development, said in a 2015 Ted Talk, “Good relationships keep us happier and healthier.” Over 27 million people have watched this Ted Talk for keys to happiness. For almost 80 years (the longest running study on happiness), Harvard studied 724 men throughout their lives to determine what made them happy and healthy. They chose the men from two groups, all roughly the same ages; one group was comprised of Harvard sophomores, and the other group came from some of the poorest neighborhoods in Boston. They found that some of the poorest men were among the happiest, and some of the more wealthy were not. While I do find this study to be fundamentally flawed due to lack of women (wives were added in the last decade), I do agree with the conclusion that good relationships keep us happier.

Unfortunately, in the United States, the happiness factor has been declining. The 2019 World Happiness Report shows the United States is now the 19th happiest country in the world, down from 12th happiest is 2015 based on GDP per capita, life expectancy, social support, freedom to make choices, generosity of people around you, and perceived corruption levels. The U.S. life expectancy has also declined for three straight years. The top five happiest countries in the world are 1) Finland, 2) Denmark, 3) Norway, 4) Iceland, and 5) the Netherlands. We are often encouraged to “lean in,” work more, and be more productive; however, the people who fare the best actually “lean in” to relationships as good relationships keep us happier and physically healthier. 

It’s never too late to start. My advice to live a healthier, happier life in retirement is to remove the conflict from your life. Remove yourself from the traffic, congestion, and long hours commuting; your new life awaits in one of Ideal-LIVING’s 2019 Best of the Best Planned Communities. Each year, we choose planned developments that create an environment to live your ideal life through rich social interactions and healthy lifestyles. Remove yourself from high tax areas, and find your ideal destination in tax-friendly states that also have great weather. We want to help you to spread joy and happiness in the world by finding that new lifestyle that allows you to explore new adventures and make new, lasting relationships.

Venture Out Interviews

Venture Out Interviews

Homeowner Stories Spring 2019

In the Ideal Living Spring 2019 issue, we included postcards from homeowners in the Travel Guide from various locations so you can get an idea of what it is like to live there. Below you can link to the full stories from the homeowners who shared their lives and experiences with our readers. We hope you will enjoy their tales of finding their ideal lives.






2019 Travel Guide: Eastern HeartlandSouthern Highlands

Rock Barn is not a community.., it’s a family. We’ve been here 12 years and it just seems like yesterday that we retired. We have new people who come and re-energize the community and make it so vibrant. I always say that Rock Barn is the place where FUN is always shining. Click here to read the entire story.

Mary Ann and Bill Knox, Rock Barn, Conover, NC




Coastal Carolinas

We bought here three years ago in August. We started off working and traveling to the Bluffs on the weekends. Then we decided the wanted to live this life all the time. We didn’t know how we would adjust to retirement. We haven’t gotten bored once. We have never known as many people as we do here. Click here to read the entire story.

The Clodfelters, The Bluffs on the Cape Fear, Wilmington, NC



floridly sailingFlorida

“It’s like being in a resort at Medley at Southshore. The homeowners association does their best to keep us occupied with all kinds of activities on the calendar. It’s an active adult community that will have a 5-acre lagoon. This was a leap of faith for us. We knew this is where we wanted to live and that this was meant to be. Click here to read the entire story.

Earle Copes, Lennar Medley at Southshore, Tampa, Florida



fishing on the beachThe Lowcountry

Wait until a place speaks to you… I know the moment it happened for me and we have never regretted our move and never looked back. We lived in New Jersey about 30 minutes outside of Manhattan, and we went to an Ideal-LIVING Real Estate Show when we started looking. Click here to read the entire story.

Janet and Bob Gould, Callawassie Island, SC




texasWest of the Mississippi

Bill and I bought at Glacier Club in 2010 for the summers. There is so mach to do there in the summer – we go hiking, and bicycling. We fish, swim, kayak and go horseback riding. Bill and I hike, play pickle ball and golf. The list goes on… Glacier is not only a community with amenities, it’s all about the people. Our life is very social. Click here to read the entire story.

Bill and Marina Siepiela, The Glacier Club, Durango, CO

2019 Spring Travel Guide

2019 Spring Travel Guide


2019 Spring Travel Guide

This ideal-LIVING 2019 Spring Travel Guide challenges you to take a step back and look at the big picture—not just a single place that might intrigue you, but an entire region that’s compact enough to comfortably tour in a week. Within each area, you’ll find popular destinations to explore, festive events to enjoy, and vibrant communities to visit.

Your mission is to design a trip that combines a great vacation experience with a journey of discovery to your possible new frontier. And, make sure has your e-mail address to receive updates on discovery travel opportunities.

2019 Travel Guide: Eastern Heartland

Eastern Heartland

2019 Spring Travel Guide: The Lowcountry

The Lowcountry

2019 Travel Guide: Florida


2019 Travel Guide: The Southern Highlands

The Southern Highlands


West of the Mississippi







2019 Travel Guide: Coastal Carolinas

Coastal Carolinas

Coastal Carolina: 2019 Spring Travel Guide

Coastal Carolina: 2019 Spring Travel Guide

fishing on the beach

Coastal Carolina

An adventure along the Carolina coast can begin on America’s most beautiful barrier islands, include a tour of historic waterfront towns, and conclude at popular oceanfront destinations, with plenty of new residential communities to check out along the way.

Spring 2019 Travel Guide


A series of oceanfront islands with unspoiled beaches and laid-back seaside towns, The Outer Banks of North Carolina feature attractions like the inspiring Wright Brothers Memorial at Kitty Hawk, hang gliding over Jockey Ridge State Park’s gigantic dunes, the North Carolina Aquarium on Roanoke Island, and the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse. You can drive the entire 150-mile stretch, explore the National Seashore at your leisure and linger in oceanfront hamlets, then take the ferry ride from Ocracoke to the mainland.

new bern marina NEW BERN
This historic riverfront town in North Carolina’s Inner Banks region features a delightfully walkable downtown with cafes, galleries, antique stores, gardens, and the drug store where Pepsi-Cola was invented. Tryon Palace tours, boating, and kayaking on the surrounding waterways, and hiking on the nearby Croatan National Forest nature trails are among the New Bern area’s most popular activities.

Beaufort is the hub of the Crystal Coast area and was named “America’s Coolest Small Town” by Budget Traveler magazine. The North Carolina Maritime Museum is located on the Front Street boardwalk, along with restaurants, bakeries, galleries, and pubs, while water taxis take nature lovers to the wilds of the Rachel Carson Coastal Reserve and the Cape Lookout National Seashore.

The historic riverside city of Wilmington and nearby oceanfront towns from Wrightsville Beach to Southport make this area one of North Carolina’s most diverse destinations. Stroll, shop, and dine along the Wilmington Riverwalk, visit the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher, or tour the battleship North Carolina and the 67-acre Airlie Gardens. Historic sites and interactive museums, scenic cruises and watersports, amusement parks, and day trips to the beach are among the most popular vacation activities. Area accommodations range from downtown Wilmington hotels and inns to beach houses and condos overlooking the ocean.

14th Avenue Pier in Myrtle BeachTHE GRAND STRAND
A 60-mile arc of South Carolina oceanfront that stretches from the town of Little River south to Winyah Bay, The Grand Strand includes a dozen distinctive seaside towns with the high-rise hotels and condos of Myrtle Beach right in the middle. Vacation attractions include 100+ shops, restaurants, and entertainment venues each at Barefoot Landing and Broadway at the Beach, and more than 90 championship golf courses that are open for visitor play year-round. For an all-day family adventure, enjoy the outdoor sculptures and nature exhibits at Brookgreen Gardens in the Murrells Inlet-Pawleys Island area.


Azalea Festival Wilmington, NCAPRIL 3-7
A Wilmington tradition since 1948, this year’s event includes garden and historic home tours, a juried art show and sale, a downtown parade and fireworks display, a street fair with 300+ vendors, musical theater presentations, a shag-dancing contest, and performing artists including 2019 headliner Hank Williams, Jr.

APRIL 22-28
The 15th annual celebration of great food and drink in the coastal town of Beaufort will feature wine-themed dinners in restaurants and private homes, a champagne brunch, a fashion-show luncheon, the Grand Reserve tasting and auction, and the signature Vin de Mer Culinary Village with live music.



A Wilmington tradition since 1948, this year’s event includes garden and historic home tours, a juried art show and sale, a downtown parade and fireworks display, a street fair with 300+ vendors, musical theater presentations, a shag-dancing contest, and performing artists including 2019 headliner Hank Williams, Jr.

MAY 16-19
The region’s finest restaurants, wineries, and distillers combine forces to welcome visitors and locals alike to historic Bellamy Mansion with music, art shows, and unique ticketed events like the Southern Smoke BBQ Cocktail Party, the Corks & Forks Grand Tasting Event, and the Bubbles, Brews & Street Eats finale.


Shell Point Senior Living


JUNE 6-9

Take in three days of the best in country music on four stages along the oceanfront Myrtle Beach Boardwalk, with more than 30 performing artists, family-themed events, a Battle of the Bands, and 2019 featured acts that include Alabama and Dierks Bentley.

Cape Fear Blues FestivalJUNE 23-25
Featuring big-name artists and talented up-and-coming performers for the 22nd year, this summer’s event will feature a sunset blues cruise, nightly shows at The Rusty Nail in Wilmington, NC, a blues workshop, an acoustic blues gathering, a day-long blues jam, and a Saturday night concert finale.



Encore at Briar Chapel (Chapel Hill, NC) features single-story residences for age 55+ active adults by David Weekley Homes, with clubhouse activities, racquet courts, and nearly 25 miles of fitness trails in the Research Triangle area near Chapel Hill.

Carolina Colours (New Bern, NC) features social and fitness activities at the Pavilion Clubhouse, an on-site golf course, racquet courts, woodland trails, and distinctive neighborhoods with water, wetland, and fairway views.

Summerhouse on Everett Bay (Holly Ridge, NC)Summerhouse on Everett Bay (Holly Ridge, NC) offers custom-quality homes and flexible floor plans, as well as community amenities like boat docks with Intracoastal Waterway access in a seaside location near Topsail Beach and Surf City.

River Bluffs (Wilmington, NC) has with single-family homes and sites on the North Cape Fear River, plus healthy-lifestyle amenities that include a fitness center, hiking trails, kayak launches, and community gardens.

Brunswick Forest (Wilmington, NC)Brunswick Forest (Wilmington, NC) is now home to the New Hanover Regional Medical Center in The Villages center. Just minutes from Wilmington, the Cape Fear National Golf Course, tennis/pickleball courts, biking trails, and kayak docks top the list of amenities.

Compass Pointe (Wilmington, NC) is a close-knit community of neighbors in southeastern North Carolina that features the award-winning Compass Pointe Golf Club, wellness programs, and social gatherings at The Grand Lanai Amenities Center.

The Bluffs on Cape Fear (Wilmington, NC) offers waterfront building sites and custom homes with on-site resort amenities and a beach club on nearby Oak Island. A new fitness center with pickleball courts and the Riverfront Park & Boat Launch to open soon.

St. James Plantation (Southport, NC) is located near the seaside town of Southport and has a private Oak Island Beach Club. On-site amenities include an Intracoastal Waterway marina, fitness centers, and member access to four 18-hole golf courses.

Palmetto Creek (Bolivia, NC) features single-family residences by preferred builders and a resort clubhouse, tennis courts, kayak launches, and a unique boardwalk trail. The Southport location is just 10 minutes from the beach.

McLendon Hills (West End, NC) features a full-service Equestrian Center with a new covered riding arena and nearly 10 miles of bridle trails, plus the region’s best fishing and boating on Lake Troy Douglas in the golf-rich Pinehurst-Southern Pines area.

Cresswind Charlotte welcomes residents age 55 and older who appreciate a location that’s convenient to the Uptown area and international airport, with amenities like tennis/pickleball courts, miles of walkways, and numerous interest clubs.

Cresswind Myrtle Beach is an active-adult community with homes that have big porches and open floor plans, plus a huge pool complex, sports courts, and fitness facilities in the popular Common Market area near the beach.

Logan Homes has been building luxury residences on the Carolina Coast since 1986. Their Build Smart process takes every buyer from design-center consultation and construction-team reports to energy-efficient home satisfaction.

Bill Clark Homes is a featured builder in the finest North and South Carolina communities. For more than 40 years, the family-owned company has offered fully customizable floor plans and total peace-of-mind warranties.


Shell Point Senior Living
The Club Life

The Club Life

The Club Life | Social Networks That Can’t Be Hacked

Once upon a time, retirement communities were built around amenities like golf courses and recreation centers with pools and tennis courts. Social life revolved around the country club or racquet club or other popular activities like boating and gardening.

Today’s active-adult communities offer that and so much more. Baby Boomers still play golf and tennis (or, increasingly, pickeball), but we also like some diversity in the things we do and the connections we make. What may have begun coincidentally in some places—“You collect stamps, too?”—has become a proliferation of “interest clubs” that are changing the dynamics of community social life.

Large planned communities can have 100 or more active clubs, but every community these days has dozens of groups where you can share your writing, learn to play an instrument or sculpt a vase, enjoy sports and games from kayaking to keno, and give something back by tutoring a student or helping the needy. The bonuses are new social networks created and a quality of life enhanced.

Cresswind Active-Adult Lifestyle

Cresswind Communities: Building Relationships

“‘Relationships’ is one of the three core Cresswind lifestyle components,” says John Manrique, Vice-President of Marketing for Kolter Homes. “Clubs are a major part of creating, growing, and strengthening personal relationships in our communities.” Kolter began to develop its Cresswind brand for age 55+ homebuyers in 2010, and today there are eight communities in the Carolinas, Georgia, and Florida. While each site was chosen to enhance active-adult options in its area and offers distinctive amenities, all began the planning process in the same place.

“We design our Cresswind communities around the clubhouse as the social and activity
center for our residents,” says Manrique. “It’s the starting point for each masterplan and then we design the clubhouse itself with a flexibility of space for future uses. Our residents are empowered to create and lead the clubs that they and their neighbors are interested in exploring together. Most have a book club and a cooking club, but we also have clubs for horseback riding, canoeing and kayaking, and even triathlon training. And we’re especially happy when they take the initiative to address a need in the area, so we’ve got clubs that lead food drives, mentor students, build homes, and raise funds for a variety of good causes.

Cresswind offers social clubs like- Art Classes“To accommodate that diversity of interests,” he continues, “we have a lifestyle director at every location to help establish new clubs, schedule events, and reach out to the surrounding community. As interests change over time, we want their opportunities to expand as well. After all, how many pickleball clubs were there 10 years ago?”

For most Cresswind residents, there are no additional dues to pay. “Access to and the full use of all on-site facilities is included with membership in the property owners’ association,” Manrique says, noting that groups like travel clubs set their own budgets for off-site adventures. And while none of the Cresswind communities have their own golf courses, most partner with local clubs that offer access and discounts.

True to the core component of “relationships” in the Cresswind communities, each hosts a monthly cocktail party or potluck dinner in the clubhouse so that new residents can meet their neighbors and find out about existing clubs and activities. Those mixers are appreciated not only by couples, but also by those who are single, divorced, or widowed. “And we recently heard from a new owner in our Cresswind Peachtree City location near Atlanta,” Manrique concludes. “She had decided to move in a few months ahead of her husband, who was finishing up his business back home. She thought it might be a lonely time, but instead was delighted to join several activity clubs and found she was busier and happier than ever. That’s what it’s all about.”

Fairfield Glade Boatlife

Fairfield Glade: Amenities Abound

Located on Tennessee’s Cumberland Plateau between Knoxville and Nashville, Fairfield Glade is an established community with a 50th-anniversary celebration planned for 2020. It’s also a vacation resort, which means that Fairfield Glade has amenities that include five 18-hole golf courses, a Racquet Club with indoor/outdoor courts for year-round play, and meeting facilities at the Conference Center, which is adjacent to medical services the Wellness Complex.


Shell Point Senior Living


“Our monthly fees are a fraction of what you’d pay for most other homeowners associations with amenities we have,” says Fairfield Glade’s director of marketing and events, Mary Jo Paige. “We use a ‘pay-as-you-play’ model where our residents and members get a reduced rate for what they actually use. Guests pay a different rate and those fees help to keep member dues low.”

Fairfield Friends of the Trails The abundant facilities are an obvious draw, but a half-century of experience has taught Fairfield Glade that interest clubs are the heart and soul of community life. “We have more than 50 different active clubs today,” says Paige, “representing just about everything imaginable. In addition to our golf and racquet clubs, we have groups for fishing, birding, cycling, chess, softball, card games, quilting, kayaking, photography, and writing, to name just a handful. And since all are organized by our residents, new ones are created every year. In addition, we have an events team that plans and manages more than 130 community events every year.

“We’re especially proud of our spirit of volunteerism that supports charitable activities,” Paige continues. “The Fairfield Ladies Club is one such organization with nearly 500 members. And Fairfield Glade hosts our “Get Involved Expo” every year, where over 40 local non-profits can inform our residents about their good work and recruit new volunteers.”

Fairfield Glade KayakingPaige also cited an example of a Fairfield Glade interest club that has, literally, branched out into the surrounding area. “Years ago, a group of residents started a ‘Friends of the Trails’ club to promote hiking and trail building within the community,” Paige says. “Today we have more than a dozen great hiking trails in Fairfield Glade, which the club members maintain.” Many Fairfield Glade residents have gone on become “Friends of the Cumberland Trail,” putting their experience and enthusiasm to work in establishing what’s well on its way to becoming a 200-mile Tennessee trail.

Regular items on the Fairfield Glade schedule are the newcomers’ events that acquaint recent residents with available clubs. “Our residents come from all over the country and bring with them a diversity of backgrounds and interests,” says Paige. “Our activity clubs get and keep them engaged socially and, most importantly, having fun.”

Compass Pointe, Grand Lanai Amenities Center

Compass Pointe: A Club for Every Interest

Compass Pointe is a master planned community on the North Carolina coast near Wilmington that offers residents an impressive amenities package and membership options.

The Compass Pointe Golf Club features a centerpiece 18-hole course that opened for play in 2016. Membership also includes access to the nearby 27-hole Magnolia Greens Course. The separate Grand Lanai Amenities Center is open to all, with a recreational lawn out front for bocce ball, a central building with flexible meeting space, a resort-style pool, a new indoor pool and lazy river, tennis/pickleball courts, and a wellness center with fitness facilities.

Compass Pointe Interest ClubsAmanda Marks is the Vice-President of Operations at Compass Pointe. “All property owners pay a monthly association fee for access to Grand Lanai amenities, plus common areas like the dog park, walking and biking trails, and lakes and ponds for kayaking and fishing,” she says. “Residents can also enjoy our golf course and restaurant on a ‘pay-as-you-go‘ basis or they can choose a full golf membership plan, which gives them unlimited play, access to members-only events, and significant food and beverage discounts.”

While new members are joining the golf club every month, community clubs that meet at the Grand Lanai are growing, too. “We now have more than 30 active interest clubs at Compass Pointe,” says Marks. “They’re all formed and run by residents. Our tennis club is huge with more than 250 members and our bocce club has 200 participants. We also have clubs for for everything from gardening, bowling, and knitting to card games of all kinds and Bible study. One of our more unique new clubs is ‘Professionals Without Walls’ for residents who work remotely and benefit from the interaction and networking opportunities.

Compass Pointe Cooking Club“Giving back to the community is a big theme at Compass Pointe,” she continues. “For instance, we have groups that raise money for breast-cancer awareness and volunteer at local community theaters and animal-rescue centers. We also have a very active Veterans Club that organizes patriotic events and fundraisers, and our Culinary Club awards a scholarship every year to a local student studying to become a chef.”

In addition, Compass Pointe has organized a Singles Club for residents who appreciate companionship when attending Wilmington-area events. “Clubs are such an important way for people to make friends, especially when they’re new residents,” Marks says. “In fact, that sometimes happens before they move in: When our agents tour prospective buyers around on Sunday afternoons, they always stop at the rec lawn where the bocce club plays. Many times our guests will join right in and that’s how they make new friends who may soon become their neighbors.”

Return to Features.

Life on the Ranch | Sarasota, FL

Life on the Ranch | Sarasota, FL

Life on the Ranch, Lakewood Ranch FL

Life on the Ranch

Lakewood Ranch, the second best-selling planned community in the nation, turns 25 this year. How did they get here and where are they headed?

Travis Allen Hall, born and raised at Lakewood Ranch (LWR) in Sarasota, FL, experiences most palm-tree-lined, 78-degree days as though he’s looking through a colorful kaleidoscope of moments pulled from those sprinkled across a 25-year timeline. Hall’s family was one of the first 25 families to move into Lakewood Ranch.

“There were literally cows just beyond our backyard,” Hall says. “There were only three other houses when we first got here.”

Hall says that during his daily drives along Lakewood Ranch’s bustling Main Street, that years of memories are readily accessible—playing basketball with friends on courts that projected laughter and sound for miles, of riding bikes and playing outside until dark with no sign of people or even houses, and of his first days on the tennis courts shortly after they were laid.

“We’re all still here for a reason,” Hall says. “My parents have retired here, and my brother and I certainly aren’t going anywhere. It’s where we’ve made our best memories.”

25 years later, Hall’s mother and father live in the same Summerfield house he grew up in, in what would become Lakewood Ranch’s first neighborhood. Hall’s brother, Colby, lives with his family in Greenbrook, also a neighborhood in Lakewood Ranch.

Lakewood Ranch Nature TrailsBut, memories aren’t the only reason they’re all still here.

“My parents believed in the founders’ vision,” Hall says. “To be honest, my mom was not too happy when we first got here. She literally looked at my dad, and was like, ‘Where in the world have you brought us?’ It truly felt like we were in the middle of nowhere. All you could see was land and cows. But, deep down she believed what they (the founders) were telling them. She and my Dad knew that we were becoming part of something big. And, they were right. Lakewood Ranch is what they all promised it would be, and then some.”

Grand visions of a four-house neighborhood becoming a veritable resort town and the impetus for growth and development of an entire region somehow didn’t seem unlikely to the Halls. But, the speed with which it came did surprise them.

“People have always flocked to Sarasota,” Hall says. And, while the development of surrounding rural areas was the inevitable next step in this region in the mid-90s, no other community that cropped up during that time took off as quickly nor grew to the extent that Lakewood Ranch has.

Lakewood Ranch offers many pools in the community By the time Hall was ready for high school, just a few years after they moved in, Lakewood Ranch High School had just opened to 9th graders only. Subsequent grades were added the following year. Hall was enrolled in the first freshman class and graduated from the first graduating class at Lakewood Ranch High School. In the summers, he and friends fished for blue gill and bass in nearby ponds and lakes, spent mornings and evenings on one of a dozen tennis courts and basketball courts, and days in one of many pools.

By the time he graduated high school, groceries, and shops had popped up along Main Street. Clydesdale-led parades barreled along the intimate streets lined with Floridian architecture that now wind through Lakewood Ranch Town Center. And, by his 20s, entertainment, shopping, schools, and a bustling business district characterized Lakewood Ranch as a veritable town.

“My parents had us volunteering for everything in the beginning—every event, every community project,” he says. “We’ve always been invested in this place.”

Lakewood Ranch Golf Courses, FLAnd, the return on that investment has been far greater than they dreamed. Lakewood Ranch now has a tennis center complete with 20 har-tru clay courts, six world-class golf courses (plus one under construction), homes ranging from $180k to $10 million, schools for pre-school to college, and 1,500+ businesses, including bio-tech companies, health care facilities, and the area’s top-ranked hospital.

Both Travis and his brother still spend portions of their days “investing” in Lakewood Ranch. Colby Hall is the Sports Director for the Lakewood Ranch YMCA, and Travis has been a Lakewood Ranch YMCA tennis coach since he graduated from high school.

His parents are settled into retirement, living their best life in the most popular planned community in Florida.

“Yeah, they wouldn’t be anywhere else,” Hall says.

When asked if he would ever consider leaving, Hall easily responds, “No, we’re not going anywhere. This is our home.”


Lakewood Ranch, Sarasota, FLSo, what of this vision? How do you create a vibrant, business-friendly community that attracts retirees as quickly and seamlessly as it attracts young people and families? Yes, it was rooted in palm tree-lined streets, expansive parks, and tight-knit neighborhoods. But, it takes a slightly more expansive vision and innovative thought process to drive this kind of growth—to create whole towns from scratch with such distinct and varied neighborhoods in 25 years. How did Schroeder-Manatee Ranch, LWR’s parent company, seamlessly surpass their goal of creating a self-sustaining, independent community/city now recognized as the second largest and fastest-growing planned community in the country? Multi-generational living is definitely one of the secrets.

There are age-targeted neighborhoods within Lakewood Ranch, including Del Webb and soon-to-open Cresswind. And, the allure for residents of each, says Leslie Rothschild, realtor and Live Sarasota co-owner, is that while they have easy access to a larger, multi-generational community, they also have the luxury of being surrounded by neighbors who desire similar lifestyles. Rothschild and her husband chose Del Webb for what she calls its “cult-like” following.

“Once you know what it’s like to live in a Del Webb community, you can’t live anywhere else. Seriously, it’s heaven,” she says.

At Lakewood Ranch, Rothschild says, there is a place, a home, an activity, and an overall feeling of well-being for every age and stage, and that’s what makes it so special.

Lakewood Ranch YogaPeople thrive here from every walk of life. Families grow together in a multi-generational environment which creates a vibrancy and security that has become foundational here. Twenty-somethings can buy their first condo or home here, empty nesters settle into the home and lifestyle they want, and seniors can stay close to those they love and receive support from.

Rex Jensen, president and CEO of Schroeder Manatee Ranch, the developer of Lakewood Ranch, says that this drives a more innovative approach to development.

“This is a community with multiple dimensions and a good share of that springs from these multiple generations and their contribution to our lifestyle,” Jensen says.

Another key component of LWR’s success is that Jensen and his team have always incorporated preserving LWR’s roots into their mission. Once a ranch, always a ranch, and while developed, preservation has been integral to the LWR’s design. In fact, 40 percent of the land is set aside for nature and recreation.

Lakewood Ranch Community CenterRothschild says that there is as much if not more undeveloped land on LWR’s 50 square miles as developed land. Aside from miles of bike paths, natural trails, and endless parks, the Ranch is still just that.
“This is still very much a working ranch,” she notes. “And, we actually have cows out there!”

“This is what’s so attractive about this place,” Rothschild says. “It’s a part of the land. Its history is still right here. Preservation is inherent in a place like that, because residents are reminded every day.”

And, then, there’s business. With thriving businesses comes growth and an overall sense of security. And, the fact that LWR is home to 1500+ successful companies is a clear sign that LWR has it all figured out. But how? One of LWR’s favorite business models is to “create it and they will come,” trusting that the right person or company will appear. The Premier Sports Campus and the Sarasota Polo Club are both great examples of this. LWR engineered, designed, and built both, then subsequently sold each. This method has been key to LWR job growth and economy building.

And, as Rothschild says, “There’s really no reason to have to leave Lakewood Ranch. Everything you love to do, all of the people you want to be with, whatever you need, it’s all right here,” she says. “And, that’s a good feeling.”


Patricia (Pat) Collins, born and raised in the Canadian Rockies near Alberta, Canada, and her husband Mark, born in Britain, have been watching Lakewood Ranch since its Grand Opening in 1995. They moved to Atlanta, GA, in the early 90s for work. And, while Pat says she’s tickled to be where she is now, that she left her home in Canada kicking and screaming. “I truly loved where we lived,” she says.

While she learned to love or at least like wherever she was, luckily for her, either good fate or a happy accident brought her to the blissful state she lives in now.

“My husband was in Sarasota on business. He runs marathons … well, he did back then,” she says. “And, after running across the Ringling Bridge in Sarasota, he said he just knew that this was where we’d end up someday. He started looking around a bit and discovered Lakewood Ranch.”

They continued to visit the Ranch through the years and were fortunate enough to watch it grow into the vision that the founders laid out in the early days.

And, 20 years later, give or take, when it was time to retire, Lakewood Ranch decidedly became their destination.

After five years in, she says, she’s still pinching herself.

Lakewood Ranch Community Actives“I can’t say enough about how much fun it is here,” she says. Most Fridays and nearly every Sunday, the majority of their Leopard Creek neighborhood in Country Club East, also known as “Party Creek,” head into Friday concerts on Main Street and up to the polo fields for Sunday polo matches and a little tailgating. Pat says they have found their people. “This is what we worked so hard for, to sit back and enjoy all the stuff we dreamed of doing while we were at work.”

They’re involved with groups that go kayaking, biking, running, and of course, partying. “We’re kind of known for finding any excuse to throw a party around here,” she says with a laugh.
And, what’s not to celebrate?

“We always say we’ll never miss the shoveling, scraping, or shivering.
In Florida, even when it’s cold, it’s not cold.”

Overall, she said, you have to work pretty hard to have a bad day at Lakewood Ranch.

Much to Love

Lakewood Ranch, a Family CommunityCharlene and Bob Schmitt have seen it all at Lakewood Ranch. Not only were they one of the first 50 families, but their daughter, Kirsten Schmitt, was the first to be born in Lakewood Ranch.

“And, not too long ago, our son-in-law bought her engagement ring right here at Vanessa’s Fine Jewelry on Lakewood Ranch Main Street,” Charlene points out, with a noted fondness in her voice.

“We have everything we could possibly need or want here,” she says. Aside from all the amenities that made raising children so much more carefree and enjoyable- fitness centers, pools, the YMCS, the Lakewood Ranch Hospital, the movie theatre, and town center—now, in retirement, the Schmitt’s are as active and involved as ever.

Among Charlene’s favorite activities are polo matches.

Lakewood Ranch Polo Fields“We love tailgating with friends next to the polo fields. I’ll never get tired of the sound of clomping hooves and the ground thundering,” Charlene says. “We also happen to have good friends who are referees, which is always fun.”

Don and Faye Downing, also among the first 50 families at Lakewood Ranch, say that they, too, are in it for the long haul.

“You really can’t find another place like this,” says Don.

Retirement has been good to them, and he says golf has been the key for him. He works with the First Tee program in the Sarasota area, and plays at least twice a week.

“Golf days are definitely my favorite days,” he says.

“We are pretty lucky to have such beautiful courses right here in our backyard.”


Lakewood Ranch WatersideLWR’s newest village, Waterside in Sarasota County, will feature over 5,000 homes in 12 walkable neighborhoods connected via water taxis and trails to a vibrant, lakefront town center—Waterside Place. Waterside is being built around seven lakes, with more than 20 miles of shoreline, acres of nature preserves, and an 8-acre waterfront park, which will be home to concerts, festivals, and farmers markets. Waterside Place, the village center, with an estimated completion date of 2020, will include apartments, restaurants, retail shops, professional offices, and the Players Centre for Performing Arts, all within walking distance of every residence.

“Yeah, there’s always something new coming up at Lakewood Ranch. It’s pretty amazing to watch how quickly it grows and adapts, even after all these years,” Hall says.

“Everybody’s pretty excited about Waterside,” he adds. “My sister-in-law is actually planning to move there next year.”

And, so it goes. Families and retirees flock to Lakewood Ranch for a more ideal way of life. And, generations and family trees later, they’re still there.

Return to Features.


Failed to connect to MySQL: Connection timed out
Your Information Request for your selected properties

By submitting this form, you agree to allow to provide your contact information to the selected communities.
Subscribe To Newsletter
Be the first to get latest updates and exclusive content straight to your email inbox.
Stay Updated
Give it a try, you can unsubscribe anytime.