“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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The drive across the Lowcountry marsh in Beaufort, SC, to Lady’s Island to the 400-acre riverfront community of Coosaw Point is both breathtaking and serene. An unrestricted community, residents enjoy vibrancy with a slower pace as told by the stories of two couples in slightly different phases of life.
Dave and Pam Rimer have lived in many places, but found their favorite place in Beaufort, SC, when they moved into their home at Coosaw Point in 2006. They decided to relocate after their son graduated from high school. They toured the Charleston area and spent several days driving around the Lowcountry until they came upon Coosaw Point, and they knew they had found their place. They downsized from a 4,500 square-foot home and now have more time to have fun than maintaining a large home, though Pam added that you can have as large of a home as you’d like at Coosaw.
“The community was small at that time and really just getting started. It was just a sense of what it was going to be,” said Pam. She organizes the community directory and has seen the community’s growth first-hand. Pam says, “We enjoy the mix of ages and people, from newborns to 90. It’s a vibrant community, full of caring neighbors.”
While Dave is “semi-retired,” they find time to enjoy boating as often as they can. With the warmer climate, they have even been boating on New Year’s Eve. Pam and Dave enjoy the people and Pam says, “You can participate as much or as little as you want.” The Rimers particularly enjoy “High Tide Fridays,” where neighbors meet for happy hour.
Next, meet Dee (48) and Marc (47) Robinson who relocated from Colorado just a year ago with their 16-year-old son. They had vacationed to the coast and knew they wanted to retire by the coast one day. Dee said, “We thought why wait until we retire? Let’s see if we can make this work now.” She found a job in Beaufort, and they couldn’t be happier that they made the move.
They are enjoying the outdoors. “Marc likes to stand-up paddle board, while my son and I like to kayak. So, we kayak to Hunting Island State Park. We’ve seen all kinds of wildlife from deer to dolphin. We are hoping to see the sea turtles hatch.”
“It’s a totally different life than in Colorado. Each are beautiful in their own way. It’s particularly wonderful to see the water so much living here. When you go over the bridges, the views are so amazing with the vibrant greens of the saltwater marsh. It’s breathtaking,” says Dee.
The Robinsons enjoy walking along the waterfront in the quaint town of Beaufort and sitting on the swings in waterfront park. They’ve been finding some good restaurants including Plums, Breakwater, and the Foolish Frog, just to name a few.
Dee says, “We made a good decision to take the plunge. We love the style of houses and walking trails. Coosaw Point has a great mix of people. Everyone is here because they love 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.
This is an especially good year to consider upgrading with a residential solar-power system for two reasons: the cost has never been lower and the 30% federal tax credit starts to disappear in 2020. Understanding how solar systems function will help you to determine the desirability of that investment.
How Solar Works
Every rooftop solar system has four essential components and an optional fifth.
Solar panels have photovoltaic (PV) cells that turn radiant energy from the sun into direct-current (DC) electricity. Each standard-size panel is 65 by 39 inches (5.4 x 3.25 feet), weighs around 40 pounds, and is typically rated for output at 300 watts. To install an average-size residential system that produces six kilowatts (kW) of electricity, you’ll need 20 panels covering an area of 500 square feet and weighing about 1,000 pounds with mounting hardware. All-weather panels are durable for at least 25 years. Rain removes most grime, but annual inspections may include professional cleaning.
A mounting system secures that half-ton array to the rooftop. Most roofs can handle the weight, while older ones may need reinforcement, but this is definitely not a DIY job. Ideally, the roof has a pitch of around 30 degrees, is unobstructed by trees, and faces south because east-west orientations can be about 15% less productive.
An inverter converts that DC electricity into the standard alternating-current (AC) that powers electrical devices. A performance monitor tracks how much electricity is being produced and used. Data is displayed on a wall unit and can be transmitted to an off-site service accessible online or with an app.
The performance monitor also keeps tabs on excess electricity being fed back to your local utility because you’re not off the grid yet, nor do you really want to be. Instead, it’s a two-way street: you’re both a producer and consumer as part of a net-metering system. For every kilowatt-hour (kWh) of electricity you generate but don’t immediately use (typically during the afternoon), you get a credit for sending it out on the wires for redistribution where it’s needed. Those credits are cashed in when you’re producing less than you’re using (morning/evening peaks, all night long and during inclement weather). There’s also an annual cycle of summer production versus winter usage. This ebb and flow results in either a credit surplus that can be carried forward according to utility policy or a deficit requiring a small power bill that’s far less than what you’re paying now on the one-way street of consumption only.
So why can’t you just keep all the power you create, use it as needed, and get entirely off the grid? With current technology, electricity is much cheaper to produce and distribute than it is to store. Hence, the optional component of your system: solar batteries. Until there are major breakthroughs in storage capacity, current batteries serve as little more than emergency back-ups and can add 50% to your total price.
HOW MUCH SOLAR COSTS
The good news is that the declining price of solar panels plus a growing number of competing installers have combined to make residential solar-power systems more affordable than ever. As an example using nationwide averages, the 20-panel/6-kW system described above has a gross cost today of around $20,000, including all equipment, permit, and installation charges. Deduct $2,000 for the rebates offered in many states, subtract the 30% federal tax credit from that subtotal and another $1,000 for state credits where applicable, and you’ve got a bottom-line cost of just $11,600.
OK, that’s a big chunk of change, but consider this: you’re paying $100 or more a month for electricity now, which is $1,200+ a year or more than $30,000 over 25 years. But, if your system hits the sweet spot of producing roughly the same amount of power that you consume annually in a net-metering system, your monthly bill will be $0—a total savings of about $18,400. And, several recent studies have shown that a residential solar system can raise a home’s market value by up to 4%; for a $300,000 property, that’s an increase of $12,000 on day one. If you can’t afford the entire up-front cost, there are financing options and even leasing plans. But, under current law, the 30% federal tax credit available in 2019 will decline by 4% each year in 2020 and 2021, expiring altogether for residential solar in 2022 unless the program is renewed, which is ironic because rooftop solar systems are renewable-power sources that enhance American energy independence, create skilled jobs, and may help to save the planet.
Scotch Hall Preserve is a North Carolina waterfront community set on a prominent headland where Salmon Creek and the Chowan River flow into Albemarle Sound. Native Americans called the area “Avoca,” meaning “the meeting of the waters.”
Lois and Richard Gobbi are originally from California but moved to Maryland 20 years ago because of his engineering work. As they neared retirement age, the Gobbis began a search that eventually brought them to North Carolina.
“We were looking for a water view where we could build our dream retirement home,” Lois said. “We looked extensively in Maryland and Virginia and found places that just didn’t suit us at much higher prices. The value of the property here was a definite attraction.”
The Gobbis found that perfect view at a Scotch Hall Preserve homesite overlooking the sound and moved into their dream home in 2017. But, like many couples who move to warmer climes these days, they didn’t both retire right away. Lois had finished up her work in a high school counseling office in 2016, but Richard still consults for a government contractor from his home office.
“Working from home allows him to enjoy the beauty of Scotch Hall and continue his career,” Lois said. She also has a home art studio for a hobby that has become a new calling as she’s gotten more involved in community life. “I’m on the HOA Advisory Board and Architectural Review Committee,” she said, “and I’ve organized art classes for the residents. My love is for painting and helping others learn to paint is something I’ve always wanted to do.”
Scotch Hall is such a special place, not just
because of its beautiful surroundings, but because
of the wonderful people in our community.
— Louis Gobbi
Scotch Hall’s Arnold Palmer Signature golf course also proved to be irresistible. “With the beautiful course right outside our door,” Lois said, “we have both taken up golf, which is new for us.” Other outdoor recreations have also become part of their lifestyle. “The swimming pool is a big attraction for us and our family and friends,” she continued. “During the summer, I do water aerobics classes three days a week. We also enjoy jet skiing and tried kayaking with the family recently. We’re going to buy our own kayaks and maybe build our own dock in the future.”
And, the Gobbis have found a lot to like just beyond the Scotch Hall gates. “We really enjoy trips to Edenton, which is 20 minutes over the bridge from our home,” Richard said. “Edenton has become our local town where we attend church, shop at the farmers market, and frequent the local stores and restaurants.”
“We also love to go to the Outer Banks, which is a little over an hour and a half away,” Lois added. “We always stop at Manteo, a quaint town on the water with shopping and restaurants.”
“And, we’re planning to explore more of North Carolina,” Richard said, “especially west toward the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Asheville area.”
Closer to home, the Gobbis have made new friends and hosted holiday dinners for their neighbors. “Scotch Hall is such a special place,” Lois concluded, “not just because of its beautiful surroundings, but because of the wonderful people in our community.”
At “The Meeting of the Waters,” Lois and Richard Gobbi have found just the right balance for the ongoing adventure of their lives.
“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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