“We love the Bluffs!” my friend exclaimed when I told her we were house hunting.
We are looking for a small bungalow in an adult retirement community, outside of the city. So far our options have taken us forty-five minutes and an hour from family. Today’s destination is an hour and a half, and overlooks one of the great lakes.
“We’ll need plenty of room for visitors,” I tell Ric on the drive up. “When my parents lived on the lake they had company every weekend during the summer months.”
I have been anxious to make this drive, as living on water has been a dream of ours. The temperature is cool today, and when we head out it is foggy.
“It’s pretty isolated out here in the winter,” Ric warns me.
I remember that from where my parents lived. In fact, it is the reason they moved back to the city – too far from medical care.
“This highway closes down often,” I add.
As the cold air blows over the warm fields, mist rises – a strange phenomena. I wonder what it portends.
We turn off the main highway and follow a road to the lake, where Ric believes the community is located. From a distance, I am disappointed. It is not what had expected, but I try to keep an open mind. When we reach the gated entrance, I realize that this is the wrong place. We enter the intended destination into GPS and discover the place we are seeking is further north.
The signage for The Bluffs confirms we have found the right place. We follow the paved road past an old trailer park, and a RV storage area, onto a road under construction.
“Hope you don’t mind living in constant construction,” I recall someone telling us when we first mentioned considering this community. They weren’t kidding.
We have an appointment, but are early, so decide to drive through the rows of houses, in various stages of finish. These are all one floor, vinyl-sided homes, in shades of greys, browns, blues, greens, and red. Most have front porches with white railings. All have attached garages, and peaked roofs. The spacing between houses is generous, and the road only wide enough for passing traffic – no parking. The last row of homes faces the lake and a large clubhouse which overlooks the water. These houses are all clearly occupied.
The sales office is busy. A woman greets us and we tell her we have an appointment. She informs us that the sales representative is backed up but will be with us shortly. In the meantime, she gives us all the background information we might need to know, as well as a listing of upcoming availability. She also directs us to a few open models, so we can look around.
These homes are larger than our needs, but well thought out. We eliminate one model – just too big – and quite like another. Back at the sales office we ask for the particulars.
My heart sinks as I begin to realize what is happening here. Unlike the other properties we have visited, in which the house comes complete with appliances, concrete driveway and patio or deck, this site considers these necessities as add ons. Air conditioning is additional. Non-carpeted flooring is extra. The list goes on and on. Typically, as far as I can tell, each home needs about $35,000 in upgrades in order to bring it to the standard of a normal new house offering.
Even garbage pick up is an added cost, and lawn mowing and snow removal are not offered.
Option #3, sadly, is not for us.
“It really is too far out,” Ric admits on the drive home.
So now it’s down to the other two options.