Tribune Print Share Text

The value of the priority list

It’s never too early to secure your future

Created date

March 14th, 2017
Bruce and Louise Netten’s Washington-style apartment home at Brooksby easily accommodates Bruce’s electric organ.

Bruce and Louise Netten’s Washington-style apartment home at Brooksby easily accommodates Bruce’s electric organ.

Bruce and Louise Netten were both in their mid-fifties when they saw a television commercial advertising Brooksby Village, the Erickson Living community in Peabody, Mass.

“I’d never heard of anything like it,” says Louise, who was teaching French and Spanish and serving as a department chair for Wilmington Public Schools. “I had no idea that communities like Brooksby existed.”

Intrigued, Louise drove from the couple’s home in Stoneham during a school vacation to tour the Peabody community.

Nestled on 90 picturesque acres just 20 minutes north of Boston, Brooksby offers spacious, maintenance-free apartment homes, all with indoor access to the community’s abundant amenities, including restaurants, a fitness center, an aquatics center, a medical center, a pharmacy, a bank, a salon, a woodshop, and a convenience store.

The community’s on-site continuing care neighborhood offers assisted care, memory care, post-acute rehabilitation, and nursing care services.

“After I visited Brooksby, I brought Bruce back with me to tour the community that following Saturday,” says Louise. “We both thought Brooksby would be a good move for us at some point in the future.”

Benefits of the priority list

Bruce and Louise joined the priority list at Brooksby in June 2001 by putting down a fully refundable $1,000 deposit to reserve their place in line for the apartment home of their choice.

“For those who see themselves moving to an Erickson Living community, joining the priority list is the best way to secure your favorite apartment when the time is right,” says Sales Counselor Jane Kiegel. “The day you join the priority list becomes your priority date, giving you preference over everyone who joins after you.”

Priority list members enjoy an array of benefits at the Peabody community, including invitations to exclusive parties and open houses, early announcements about special offers and new construction, and access to Brooksby’s medical center with full-time physicians specializing in senior health.

“Joining the priority list was like taking out an insurance policy for when we were ready to move,” says Bruce. “That’s how we felt about it.”

For the next fourteen years, Bruce and Louise attended events planned especially for priority list members.

“We came for open houses, downsizing seminars, luncheons,” says Louise. “We learned a lot about the community, had the opportunity to visit with residents, and were able to tour a number of apartments. Getting to know the floor plans was most valuable because it helped us identify which ones we might want.”

Narrowing their search

By the summer of 2015, Bruce and Louise had narrowed their preferences to two-bedroom floor plans, possibly a Lancaster or a Kingston. They told Kiegel they were getting closer to a move and asked her to keep an eye out for one of their preferred floor plans.

Laurie Phillips, Brooksby’s personal moving consultant, visited Bruce and Louise in their Stoneham home in August 2015 to talk about which furniture pieces they would like to bring with them to Brooksby and to formulate a moving plan.

Phillips, whose services are complimentary for anyone moving to Brooksby, provides coordination of moving services, including referrals to preferred real estate agents and moving companies.

“We knew we wanted to bring Bruce’s electric organ if at all possible,” says Louise. “We’d seen pianos in other residents’ apartments, so we knew the organ would fit in certain floor plans.”

Bruce, an engineer by trade, moonlights as the town organist in Stoneham, the only town in America with an organ in its town hall. Bruce plays the organ before town meetings.

“My electric organ doesn’t have nearly the sound quality as the pipe organ in the town hall, but it allows me to practice,” says Bruce.

The couple had one other request when it came to location within the community: they wanted an apartment that didn’t require elevator access. 

“I don’t like riding in elevators,” says Louise. “I wanted an apartment that we could walk to from the hallways leading to the clubhouses.”

The ideal apartment

In September 2015, Kiegel called with the news that a two-bedroom, two-bath, Washington-style apartment on the second floor, accessible via walkway from the McIntosh Clubhouse, had just become available.

“We toured a Washington shortly after we joined the priority list, but we hadn’t seen one in years because there aren’t many of them at Brooksby,” says Louise. “My first reaction was that I didn’t want a Washington because it has a big kitchen, and I didn’t want to do much cooking. Still, we said we’d take a look.”

The moment Bruce and Louise walked into the apartment, with windows on three sides just above the tree line, they knew they were home.

“I realized that if we didn’t take this apartment, we wouldn’t be happy with anything else,” says Bruce. “The panoramic views out the windows were breathtaking.”

Bruce and Louise listed their Stoneham home with a real estate agent recommended by Phillips.

“We used all the services Laurie [Phillips] recommended,” says Louise. “It was a very easy transition because we knew what to expect and had all the resources we needed.”

As they settled into their new home, Bruce and Louise drew from ideas they’d gleaned looking at other apartments through the years. 

“We made the master bedroom into a den and use the second bedroom for sleeping,” says Bruce. “That was one of the benefits of seeing so many apartments. We got creative ideas for how to use the space.”

Bruce’s organ found a new home in the couple’s living area.

“We wouldn’t have this beautiful apartment if it wasn’t for our place on the priority list,” says Louise. “I know of some people who’ve waited years for the apartment they wanted, both in terms of floor plan and location within the community. If you want something special, join the priority list.”