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From San Diego to Dallas

Extensive research points to Highland Springs

Created date

March 14th, 2018
Sharon Brown is at home in her spacious Endeavor-style apartment at Highland Springs, the Erickson Living community in North Dallas.

Sharon Brown in her spacious apartment at Highland Springs in North Dallas.

When Sharon Brown moved from San Diego to Highland Springs, the Erickson Living community in Dallas, Tex., it wasn’t the first time she’d made the cross-country move.

“I lived in Dallas for 20 years before I retired and moved to San Diego to be closer to my mother,” says Sharon, who worked as a buyer for the Army & Air Force Exchange Service, which has its headquarters in Dallas.

When Sharon’s mother passed away, she left Sharon her San Diego home.

“The house was 30 years old, and things started to go wrong,” says Sharon. “The roof leaked, the water heater died, the sprinkler system gave out, and the sewer system backed up. I realized I didn’t want to spend my time trying to find a handyman, roofer, or plumber.”

Two top priorities

Sharon determined her next move needed to meet two criteria.

“I wanted to live someplace where I could call the front desk when something went wrong, and they’d arrange to have it fixed,” says Sharon. “The other consideration was more long term. I don’t have children, so I wanted to be sure that I’d have care options available should I need them. That was the reason I started looking at continuing care retirement communities instead of senior rental options.”

Sharon began her search in 2010, starting with retirement communities in Southern California.

“I made spreadsheets to compare every community I visited,” says Sharon. “I knew this was going to be one of the biggest decisions I ever made, and I wanted to make it intelligently with facts and figures. I loved living in San Diego, but after touring a few retirement communities, I realized how expensive they were. Most of them offered half the amenities I could get elsewhere for less.”

Sharon broadened her search, this time looking online at communities in Washington State, Texas, and Florida.

“After living in California for 18 years, which has the highest state income tax in the nation, I wanted to live someplace without state income tax,” says Sharon.

Discovering Highland Springs

Already familiar with North Texas, Sharon googled “retirement communities in Dallas.” Highland Springs popped up in the search results.

“I knew what retirement communities in California offered, and Highland Springs appeared too good to be true when I first saw it online,” says Sharon. “Its website included information about amenities, floor plans, and even prices. Up to this point, I’d found that price lists were quite elusive. Most communities didn’t let you see them until you were already in the sales office.”

Sharon decided there was only one way to find out if Highland Springs was everything it appeared to be online.

“One of my best friends lives in Lewisville, so I planned a trip to Texas to see her and visit Highland Springs,” says Sharon, who toured the community with Christina Christie, sales counselor at the time and now director of sales.  “The more I saw of Highland Springs, the more I loved it, but I wasn’t ready to make a decision at that time.”

Sharon visited North Texas and Highland Springs three years in a row before joining the community’s priority list in 2013.

Priority list members put down a fully refundable $1,000 deposit to reserve their place in line for the apartment home of their choice.

“Once I was on the list, I made constant trips back and forth from San Diego to Dallas,” says Sharon. “I saw the progress at Highland Springs as they opened their continuing care neighborhood in 2013 and Willow Ridge [an independent living residence building] in 2015.”

Sharon also took advantage of Highland Springs’ Suite Experience, which allows prospective residents to spend one night at the community, meeting residents, eating in the on-site restaurants, and enjoying the activities and amenities.

“My Suite Experience was the first time I explored the community on my own, without a sales person,” says Sharon. “I made it my mission to ask every resident I met what they liked about living at Highland Springs and what they didn’t. Their feedback was overwhelmingly positive.”

Exceeding expectations

Convinced Highland Springs was a smart move, Sharon told Christie she was ready to move as soon as the community opened its next new residence building.

“I wanted to choose my floor plan and the finishes in the apartment,” says Sharon. “When Christina [Christie] called to say that a new building was under way and scheduled to open in late 2016, I told her to send me the floor plans.”

Sharon studied the options and selected a two-bedroom, two-bath Endeavor-style apartment.

“I chose the Endeavor for its storage,” says Sharon. “It has a pantry bigger than my first apartment, a large hall closet, a generous utility room with side-by-side washer and dryer, two linen closets, a walk-in master closet, and a spacious closet in the second bedroom.”

Sharon packed up her San Diego home, sold it, and moved to Highland Springs in December 2016.

“Life at Highland Springs has far exceeded what I was expecting, and I had very high expectations,” she says. “Coming from out of state, everything I need is here. The medical center, the fitness center, the library, the bank. I don’t have to go off campus to find those things.”

Now Sharon is taking art classes and learning to play chess, enjoying some of the 100-plus resident-led activities at Highland Springs. In 2017, she traveled to New Mexico and New Orleans, La., with a group of her neighbors.

“I did the leg work, meticulously researching communities for years,” says Sharon. “But still, it was hard to be 100% sure I was making the right decision until I actually moved in. Now I can say unequivocally it’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.”