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55-plus or CCRC?

Fitting your next home to your age and lifestyle

Created date

July 20th, 2016
Personal Moving Consultant Suzanne McAllister with Maris Grove community members who moved from 55-plus communities. (From left) Suzanne Barton, McAllister, Janice Houser, and Betty and Ross Zelesnick.

Personal Moving Consultant Suzanne McAllister with Maris Grove community members who moved from 55-plus communities. (From left) Suzanne Barton, McAllister, Janice Houser, and Betty and Ross Zelesnick.

Should you move to a 55-plus community or to Maris Grove, Erickson Living’s retirement community in Delaware County, Pa.?

It depends on your age and your lifestyle, says Maris Grove Personal Moving Consultant Suzanne McAllister. 

She and her partner Charlie, who is age eligible (55-plus), downsized from a 2,800-square-foot house to their custom-built home in a nearby 55-plus community two years ago. 

Like most of their neighbors, they work during the week. But their weekends are open because the 55-plus community handles yard care. 

With children no longer at home, they golf, ski, take frequent trips to Florida, and travel to sports tournaments because McAllister plays competitive tennis. 

They also do inside chores, including windows, letting McAllister feel the responsibility of home ownership.

“The 55-plus is less work,” she says, “but it’s not zero work.” 

Its independent lifestyle comes with responsibilities of a different sort: Because there’s no staffing, says McAllister, residents are on their own at the pool and fitness center, must call 911 if they have an emergency, and rely on friends or family if they’re ill.

“For someone who wants or needs additional services or wants more security, a 55-plus community wouldn’t be the right choice,” McAllister says. 

Maris Grove offers the same freedom and independence but provides the support of on-site staff and services such as 24/7 security and maintenance, grounds care, an aquatics and fitness center, a rehabilitation and continuing care neighborhood, and a medical center staffed by full-time Maris Grove physicians. 

Maintenance-free lifestyle

Each 55-plus community is different, so potential residents should compare them to one another and to Maris Grove. 

For Suzanne Barton, Traditions at Longwood in Kennett Square was the ideal fit for a while. She was in her 50s when she and her late husband moved there. “He couldn’t do all the yard work,” she says. “I worked full time and didn’t have time to do it.” 

And there, they maintained a much smaller home than their 2,900-square-foot house in West Chester. 

But after Suzanne became a widow and her home began needing repairs, she decided to move to Maris Grove. She loved the beautiful grounds and buildings, vast array of activities, and extensive on-site amenities. 

She says when she first walked into the sales office, she felt she was home. 

Each staff person she met was nicer than the last, and they provided exceptional, step-by-step guidance for every phase of her move. She didn’t have to worry about a thing. 

Suzanne lives maintenance-free and does as she likes, returning regularly to Kennett Square for classes at the Y. She also works two days a week as a birthing nurse. After work, she picks up dinner to go from one of Maris Grove’s restaurants. 

On trash day, she simply opens her door and sets out her trash. 

“Life is ten times easier at Maris Grove,” she says. She’s raved about it so much that four of her Traditions neighbors plan to move there.

Close-knit community

For Janice Houser and her late husband, moving to Brittany Hills in Avondale, Pa., meant maintaining their independence and continuing their active lifestyle. They took trips with their neighbors, attended community dinners and parties, and traveled extensively on their own. 

When she was widowed and moved to Maris Grove, Janice realized that her husband would have preferred it to Brittany Hills.

He’d have found poker and fishing buddies and bonded with fellow vets at veterans club meetings. 

“You have a good time at a 55-plus community,” Janice says, “but Maris Grove is more closely knit. People of all ages come together here to share their experiences, which I think is valuable. If I’d known I could have had both the on-campus and the off-campus world and as much freedom as I wanted, we might have moved [straight here].”

She recommends moving to a 55-plus community in your 50s and to Maris Grove before you need to, maybe in your late 60s. 

True independence

Ross and Betty Zelesnick moved early from New Jersey to Fox Hill Farm in Glen Mills, Pa. They were young, working, and full of energy.

“You could be as involved as you wanted there,” says Ross, and they wanted to be involved. They joined committees, organized events, and set up and cleaned up for clubhouse parties. They even helped build the bocce court. 

Then they heard about plans to build Maris Grove. 

“We’d never considered a retirement community,” Betty says. But she was developing vision problems and was about to stop driving. She’d need to rely on someone else to get around.

When they learned about Maris Grove’s planned on-site amenities, the couple realized a surprising truth: Maris Grove offered Betty real independence. 

“Everything is within reach,” she says. “I’d been taking community transit to get to doctors’ appointments. Here I just go downstairs.”

As energetic as ever, the Zelesnicks are now staunch cheerleaders for Maris Grove and take leading roles in a number of clubs and programs.

They’re also official pioneers, people who moved to Maris Grove when it opened and helped make it the thriving community it is today. 

“We didn’t move because of what Fox Hill Farm didn’t have,” says Ross, “but what Maris Grove did.”