Writing about the benefits of relocating for a magazine whose tagline is “Find Your Ideal… Destination, Life, Home” does seem a little suspicious and self-serving. But, seriously, have you heard the latest? Relocating is good for you!
But, having had five moves involving three different states, and knowing those moves were positive experiences for me, I wondered what the literature says about moving. Is (voluntary) relocation good for your health? I decided to take a look and share my findings. The bottom line is it can indeed be a very good thing, for a variety of reasons.
Sharper Brain. With each of my moves, I enthusiastically explored my surroundings, sampling new restaurants, shops, parks, museums, local theater, and volunteer options, and embraced the challenges of fresh career opportunities. I’m not saying every step was easy, but relocating forces you off auto-pilot and out of your comfort zone. Research shows that novel situations enhance memory, and may even trigger the growth of new brain cells.
Move Your Body More. Our environment shapes our behavior. A location with nicer weather invites us to be outside and be more active than a rainy or cold-weather environment. Having lived in Maryland, Ohio, and New Jersey, I find that now (in sunny Florida), I’m outside a LOT: the ocean, walking paths, tennis courts, and my bike make exercising easier and enjoyable year-round.
Friends. Relocating can facilitate new friendships, introducing you to unexpected and fresh perspectives. Those who decide to age in place may have established a good network, but over time find their support group may move away: job transfers, friends, and neighbors who no longer want to live in a cold-weather climate, children who moved away because of career choices, divorce, death, etc. According to research, feeling lonely is equivalent to the risk of smoking up to 15 cigarettes a day. With social media (and cars and airplanes), it’s easy to stay in touch and visit with friends from former locations. Or, bring your “posse” with you! Two friends from my previous location live in my current community.
Adult Children/Grandchildren. Let’s acknowledge that, for many people, moving away from children/grandchildren can be difficult. I have three wonderful, independent, married, working children with fabulous spouses who live in three different cities in two different states, and three young grandchildren (the grandchildren were born after our last relocation). We visit our children/grandchildren several times a year (and they love coming to Florida for some R&R). We are delighted to stay with our grandchildren if the parents want to travel (escape?) as a couple, we get together for major holidays, and when we’re with our adult children, they can go out to dinner and have “couple” time. The family thing (should we stay or go) is a tough decision for many people, but it works well for us. We know, should there be an emergency, that they are only a flight away. However, if/when we are in our “third act” and are no longer independent, we may move closer to them (just for oversight, not to move in with them!).Benefits of sunlight. Voluntary migration patterns are often from cold weather states to those with warmer temperatures. Although the negative effects of too much sun is what we generally hear about (wrinkles, cataracts, and skin cancer), our planet’s almost perfect, glowing sphere of hot gas does remarkable things for our bodies. Here are some of them:
In a complex relay of nerve signals, sunlight stimulates our pineal gland (a pea-size gland within our brain) to make melatonin, which helps protect our skin and regulates our sleep-wake cycles. The precursor of melatonin in the pineal gland is serotonin, the “feel-good” brain chemical.
We’re familiar with Vitamin D, the “Sunshine Vitamin,” which can be made by the body through the action of sunlight on our skin. Vitamin D’s role in the body is impressive, including: bone and teeth health by promoting the absorption of calcium; increasing the body’s nitric oxide production which reduces blood pressure and increases blood flow to the brain and kidneys (by relaxing blood vessels); strengthening our immune system and heart: regulating insulin; and helping control inflammation in the body.
Low levels of Vitamin D are associated with a higher incidence of autoimmune diseases, including multiple sclerosis, Type 1 diabetes, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and autoimmune thyroid diseases. And, SAD (season affective disorder) seems to be triggered by a combination of particular genes and shorter days with less sunlight.
The average American spends 22 hours a day indoors, but we think we spend only 16 hours a day inside, according to YouGov, an international research company. And, a study published in Nutritional Research found that the rate of Vitamin D deficiency in the United States was 41.6%. Perhaps we’ve been too successful touting the downside of sunlight and ignoring its many benefits. Go outside and play!
Forced decluttering. Ah…how good does it feel to go through a closet or a garage, and give away/get rid of all of that stuff you don’t want/need? Relocating is decluttering on steroids. You feel lighter and leaner as you throw off the yoke of all unnecessary belongings. I found that moving to a house without a basement was truly liberating – it forced me to get rid of my Organic Chemistry books from the 1980s, and give away piles of things I wouldn’t use/didn’t need any longer.
Save Money. Moving to a place with a lower cost of living or downsizing to a smaller house can save you money. And, if you can ditch your car because you can either walk or use public transportation, you may be able to save even more.
You call the shots. Relocate before you can no longer live in your home and are forced to move. Most newer homes are built with “universal design” principles so you can age in place. No more low toilets, bathtubs you have to climb into to use the shower, or door handles that are difficult to turn. Be proactive, not reactive. And, remember – if for some reason it doesn’t work out, nothing is permanent.
We’ve all heard the quote about being more disappointed by the things you DIDN’T do than by the ones you did do. Change is invigorating. Embrace it.
“Three years ago in August of 2016 we sold our home just north of Greensboro, NC and moved to The Bluffs on the Cape Fear in Wilmington, North Carolina. At first we kept working and would just come down on the weekends. But then Bill (64) retired in April of 2018 and I recently retired,” said Lisa Clodfelter (62).
“I didn’t know how I would adjust. We haven’t gotten bored once. We have lived in neighborhoods before, but we have never known as many people as we do here. We enjoy meeting people. They all have their story…they are just great people,” coninued Lisa.
“We fell in love with pickleball and we now have a golf cart. It’s so easy to just text some friends to play pickleball or to play golf,” said Bill.
Lisa said,”We also love to go to the clubhouse on nearby Oak Island. You can even kayak in the lake in the neighborhood. We love to take our bikes to Southport and ride around to the great little restaurants.”
Some of their favorite restaurants are Fish Bites, the Pilot House, and Elijah’s in Wilmington, and the Chesapeake House in Myrtle Beach. In fact Bill loves the local oysters so much, they buy oysters by the bushel and cook them in a firepit in the backyard that backs up to the woods behind them.
Their family loves to come visit and stay for long weekends. It’s a good base camp for their two daughters who live in Raleigh and their nieces and nephews. They love their new home and plan for it to be the last home they own.
The Tennessee Music Scene Attracts Visitors of All Ages
Tennessee was made for music. The Tennessee Music Pathways program illustrates this best.
Perhaps it’s the singular geographical breadth of Tennessee – a 500-mile span that sees the Volunteer State remarkably sharing a border with eight brethren (Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, Missouri, Kentucky, Virginia, and North Carolina) – that literally make it a crossroads, a geographical confluence of culture, cuisine, dialect, and maybe most importantly, an enduring and profound crossroads for American music.
For it is in Tennessee where seven genres of music – country, gospel, bluegrass, soul, blues, rockabilly, and rock – found a home, were nurtured and have flourished, from Memphis and Nashville to Chattanooga and Bristol. And, all of that enriched musical history can be explored through a new program from the State’s tourism folks called Tennessee Music Pathways (www.tnvacation.com/tennessee-music-pathways).
Tennessee Music Pathways
Tennessee Music Pathways is a state-wide driving tour program that identifies, interprets, and preserves a broad perspective of Tennessee music events, locations, and stories, some great and well known, and some less so, yet equally intriguing. Working with the state historian and through internal research at the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development, more than 500 locations, including birthplaces, resting places, hometowns, high schools, churches, and locations of first-known recordings or performances of the musical pioneers and legends, are being incorporated into the driving tour.
“Tennessee Music Pathways connects fans to the people, places, and genres that make Tennessee the Soundtrack of America,” says Tourist Development Commissioner, Kevin Triplett. “From the largest cities to the smallest communities, this state-wide program identifies, explains, and preserves the legacy of music in Tennessee.”
In addition to the seven genres that have found a home in Tennessee, the state has more musicians per capita than anywhere in the world and is home to world-renowned music attractions such as Beale Street, Bluebird Cafe, Birthplace of Country Music Museum, Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, Dollywood, Graceland, Grand Ole Opry, Ryman Auditorium, and the historic Tennessee Theatre.
The State also has partnered with Rolling Stone to offer a program called Six Degrees, a custom online search tool that allows users to enter an artist’s name to see their ‘pathway’ to Tennessee in six degrees or less.
For instance, enter the name Frank Sinatra and you’ll discover that he was inspired by the rhythmic swing of Billy Holiday, who considered legendary Chattanooga native and Empress of the Blues, Bessie Smith, as her mentor for musical phrasing. Look up U2, and you’ll see that the band from Dublin recorded the hit song “When Love Comes to Town,” featuring legendary blues performer B.B. King, at historic Sun Studio in Memphis.
Additionally, for those looking to relocate or retire, the state has designated 22 rural and urban locations as Retire Tennessee Communities, all of which either include or frame some of the iconic landmarks of the Tennessee Music Pathways, and all provide the resources and amenities needed to be a viable retirement community. You can discover these communities online at www.tnvacation.com/retire-tennessee/communities.
So, how did Tennessee come to be the home of seven distinct, yet intricately related musical expressions? For the country and bluegrass genres, we can look to the thousands of Scotts-Irish immigrants who moved to the southern Appalachian Mountains in the 18th and 19th centuries, bringing their fiddles and folk music with them. Over the decades their lyrical immigrant music evolved, often in isolation, hidden on mountain cabin front porches or in humble churches across North Carolina, Virginia, and east Tennessee.
That is until 1927 when Ralph Peer, a record executive in New York City for the Victor Talking Machine Company, was scouting for recording talent in the southern states. Peer set up a makeshift recording studio in Bristol, in the very northeast corner of Tennessee, and put the word out he would pay $50, a fortune in those days, for individuals or groups to record their music. Peer’s groundbreaking efforts there are reverently known in the music world as the Bristol Sessions.
The Birthplace of Country Music
Roughly 30 miles away, in the shadow of Clinch Mountain in Virginia, A.P. Carter got the word, and he, his wife Sara, and her sister Maybelle drove to Bristol to make a record. You could do a Ken Burns documentary on the colossal impact of the Carter family on American music, but on the afternoon of August 2, 1927, the three sang “Bury Me Under the Weeping Willow,” with Maybelle on scratch guitar and Sara on autoharp. That afternoon marked the birth of commercial country music in the United States. Fittingly, the Birthplace of Country Music Museum is located in Bristol, with Mother Maybelle Carter as its matriarch. Bristol is a Retire Tennessee Community.
The popularity of country music was growing in pockets around America in the 20s, largely through the local radio broadcasts of Saturday night barn dances: staged performances of music, square dancing, and other entertainment. Even Chicago had the WLS National Barn Dance radio show.
But, the granddaddy emerged in 1925 when the WSM Barn Dance in Nashville – renamed the Grand Ole Opry in 1927 – became a sheer gravitational force for country, gospel, and bluegrass talent in 1932. That year, the station boosted its signal to 50,000 Clear Channel watts, allowing most of the eastern and central United States to tune in to the Opry. So important is WSM that in 2001 the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville incorporated the unique diamond shape of the WSM radio tower into its logo.
It’s a bit harder to pinpoint the genesis of gospel music in Tennessee, as the genre covered the southern states like dew, born largely from the music emanating from evangelical revivals. We can, however, look to 1871 when an African-American a capella choir from Fisk University in Nashville first began touring and performing Negro spirituals and gospel music…and they still do today. The Southern Gospel Music Hall of Fame and Museum is located at Dollywood in Pigeon Forge, TN, just down the road from Ms. Parton’s home town of Sevierville.
As Nashville was emerging as the country music capital, Memphis, tucked on the banks of the Mississippi River in far west Tennessee, was doing the same as a home to the blues. Its gravitational force was Beale Street, where blues clubs and juke joints sprouted like wildflowers in the early 1900s. B.B. King moved from Arkansas to Memphis in 1948 and became the acknowledged crowned head of the city and undeniable international ambassador for the blues. The original B.B. King’s Blues Club is located in the heart of vibrant Beale Street. King is also acknowledged as one of the founders of the R&B and soul genres.
From the Tennessee Music Pathways website, “They say Country and Blues had a baby, and they called it rock ‘n’ roll. Stand in the delivery room at Sun Studio and watch it grow throughout Tennessee.”
Indeed, The King of Rock ‘n Roll, Elvis Presley’s first hit recording had the African-American blues song “That’s All Right Mama” on the A-side and the classic Bill Monroe bluegrass song “Blue Moon of Kentucky” on the other. But, the tempo and virility of each song was vastly increased from the original, and therein, Elvis took a giant step in blurring genre lines on his way, along with others, to create a brand new one.
We’ve only scratched the surface here of the vast depth of Tennessee’s musical legacy, iconic landmarks, songwriter inspirations, countless performing arts sites, and renowned music festivals. The 500-mile breadth of Tennessee awaits to share with you and your family the Soundtrack of America.
“After all of those years of working, this is what life is all about. We feel like we are on vacation the whole time,” says Debbie.
Debbie and John Lane relocated to Brunswick Forest, just 10 minutes outside of historic Wilmington, NC, in September 2015. Set on 4,500 acres of heavily-wooded land only 30 minutes from area beaches, Brunswick Forest is one of the nation’s top master planned communities with abundant amenities including golf, kayaking, fitness center, and a town center with retail, dining, medical, and professional establishments.
In 2011, the Lanes embarked on a five-year plan to retire and relocate. They had lived in Herndon, VA, for 22 years, where John commuted to his job at the FDIC in downtown Washington, D.C. Tired of the traffic, they knew they wanted something different for retirement.
“We attended two trade shows [Ideal-LIVING Resort & Retirement Shows] held in Tyson’s Corner, VA, and met with the representatives from several East Coast communities from Georgia to Tennessee. We also talked to the various builders that were there, and it really got us thinking about retirement. The information was very helpful. Ideal-LIVING gave us the opportunity to narrow our choices. We had vacationed to Duck, NC, for 15 to 20 years, and knew we liked North Carolina area beaches. We knew we wanted to be off of the beach, but still beach accessible. Brunswick Forest checked off a lot of the things we wanted—golf and a riverwalk close by in downtown Wilmington with lots of restaurants. We moved into our new home built by Kent Homes in September 2015, a year ahead of schedule!!” said John.
“We really like the 100 or so miles of hiking and biking trails at Brunswick Forest. We love to ride our bikes around the neighborhoods and still love to tour through model homes in the community. Sundays are our day to tour through model homes and we even met friends from Chicago doing the same thing. Now we go to dinner with them and play golf with them.”
The Lanes take advantage of Brunswick Forest’s Cape Fear National Golf Course. John has been on the board of the men’s golf association and plays two to three times a week and Debbie also plays a couple of times a week. Debbie said, “Little did we know we were going to need a budget for golf.”
Extremely active in their retirement, they also love to kayak and now own two kayaks. They play cards a lot, are involved in a wine tasting club, frequent area beaches, and enjoy attending cultural events in Wilmington. The Lanes are also avid travelers. Along with friends they have made at Brunswick Forest, they have taken a river tour from Switzerland to Amsterdam, a cruise from Rome to Barcelona, just returned from Banff, Canada, and will be going on a cruise from New Zealand to Australia this year. John even went to Scotland with three golf buddies for a golf trip.
“We never thought retirement could be so busy. The people all came here for the same reasons. We tell people it’s not a question of being busy, it’s more difficult just to learn when to say NO. We sometimes need just a day to relax.”
Brunswick Forest, the Coastal South's fastest growing community, is located on North Carolina's Cape Fear coast, just minutes from historic Wilmington. This 4,500-acre retreat features a wide array of neighborhoods and lifestyles, 18 holes of golf at Cape Fear National, a Clubhouse, River Club, Fitness & Wellness Center, parks and more than 100 miles of walking, biking and nature trails linking residences and amenities.
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When Mary Lou Shannon decided to move to the Traditions of America community of Saucon Valley near Bethlehem, PA, she had three things in mind: being closer to family, pursuing her passion for gardening, and finding a vibrant group of friends. “I was a real estate agent for 32 years in the Washington, D.C. area, and I decided that I wanted to live closer to my son and daughter-in-law in Bethlehem,” Mary Lou says. “I loved the concept of customizing my home and moving into a community when it was new. I knew from my real estate work that that first group of homeowners was pretty tight, and I wanted to be a part of that closeness wherever I ended up.”
Mary Lou’s search initially led her to Traditions of America at Bridle Path. The community was almost sold out, but construction on Saucon Valley was just beginning, and Mary Lou already knew she loved the area. “I’d driven through Saucon Valley when I was visiting my son. I loved the farmland and yet it was close to a great shopping center and the highway. I surprised my family, and came up for Mother’s Day weekend … I’ve never looked back.”
From the very beginning, Mary Lou knew that connecting with her new neighbors mattered to her—so she volunteered to host a friends-giving event for her first Thanksgiving in her new community. “I got to know a lot of people doing that. Our clubhouse was finished by then, and we had a lovely candlelight sit-down dinner for 70 people,” Mary Lou says. “Then I got on the social committee. I got to know people and know what was going on in the neighborhood. That was important to me and has a lot to do with my happiness here.”
Mary Lou began playing bridge and joined a book club. “You have to put yourself out there in a community to get the full benefit of it,” she says. Then, she started getting her hands dirty. “I have a lovely garden already. It’s my second summer gardening here, since I moved in two years ago … I have a variety of plants. The lettuces are in now … I’m planting things that are low-maintenance, hostas and native plants.”
Her life at Saucon Valley has been everything she hoped for, but Mary Lou wanted to expand her horizons beyond its boundaries as well. “I told myself when I retired that I wanted to do hospice volunteer work and take a master gardener program. I signed up for both of those before I even moved up here. They’re an important part of my life, because I’m meeting people outside of my area but I’m also giving something back to the community,” she says.
Mary Lou has always loved to garden, and the master gardener program has given her new insight into one of her favorite hobbies. “It surprised me how much I didn’t know. There’s an emphasis on native plants, protecting the environment, the connection in the natural environment of plants, insects, birds, and woodlands. I’m finding that fascinating.”
She was eager to share what she’d learned with her neighbors. “I wanted to encourage more people to garden with a perspective to the natural environment, so I arranged a lecture from a naturalist on attracting birds to our gardens, and then I asked for a shelf in our community library,” she says. “I’m trying to encourage people to use less pesticides and grow some native plants.”
As much as Mary Lou has given to her new home, she’s gotten a great deal from it as well. “Downsizing and establishing yourself in a new community are easier to do sooner rather than later,” she says. “What this community offered is way beyond my wildest expectations for friendships and support.”
“Downsizing and establishing yourself in a new community are easier to do sooner rather than later,” says Mary Lou Shannon.
“Before retiring, we filled our days with working. Now we fill them by being active and making new friends … it’s wonderful.”
The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) began creating dams and lakes for hydro-electric power starting in 1933. Over the decades, the TVA has generated 11,000 miles of pristine shoreline framing nearly 300,000 acres of reservoir land, its newest coming in the early 80s with the creation of Lake Tellico in eastern Tennessee, wrapped by the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains and just 30 minutes from the university town of Knoxville.
In 1986, the lake became the crown jewel of a 4,600-acre planned retirement community called Tellico Village, home to three golf courses, five marinas, a myriad of other amenities, plus an uncommon spirit of engagement embodied in its homeowners. With the original developer long gone, today Tellico Village is entirely managed, governed, and invigorated by its residents.
Originally from suburban Chicago, Jan and Dennis Dougherty never knew how active they could be when they completed construction on their 2,600-sq.-ft. age-in-place retirement home at Tellico Village just last April. Says Jan, “Before retiring, we filled our days with working. Now we fill them by being active and making new friends … it’s wonderful.”
The Doughertys are about to enter their second and final year as New Villagers, residents who may choose to be introduced to the community, and scores of activities and clubs, at monthly socials. There are specific New Villager activities, but there are also hundreds of Home Owners Association activities, 300 formal clubs, plus programs outside the community, and the freshmen couple from Chicago take advantage of all of them.
Jan is in three different hiking groups—one called Muddy Boots—and does water aerobics and a power walk every day. She also is an event coordinator for Dine Outs (which lure up to 40 folks out to different area restaurants), has joined a couple of book clubs, is a member of the Purdue Alumni club, and is a Litter Angel, residents who volunteer to pick up litter to keep the main parkway beautiful. And as a former teacher, she also tutors first-graders weekly at the local Boys & Girls Club.
Dennis, who has a degree in physics, helps organize Astronomy Club “sky parties” for the residents. He also raises funds for both the local library and the fire department. The couple are both in the Illinois club, the motorcycle club, and a couple of wine clubs. They play in the weekly golf scramble, kayak on the lake, play pickleball, and go to sporting and cultural events in Knoxville.
Tellico Village is a lakeshore community in east Tennessee that offers a unique combination of natural beauty, mild four-season climate, outstanding recreational facilities and close proximity to Knoxville and the Smoky Mountains.
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