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Marian Schaffer's Blog

By Marian Schaffer | Broker in Illinois

Looking For That “Sense of Community” When You Retire and Relocate?

http://www.southeastdiscovery.com/communities/carolina-colours


Entrance to Carolina Colours, New Bern North Carolina

Many folks who ask advice from Southeast Discovery as they embark on their search for the right area and development to choose for their retirement years (or their initial relocation southward), tell us a real ‘sense of community’ is at the top of their list to find (and feel) when they search to visit developments. 

We understand this concern…and their desire to find it.  After all, these folks realize they will have more time upon 'retirement'…to enjoy many attributes of life that perhaps they were too busy to embrace during their working years and years raising their children. At the top of their list?   Getting to know their neighbors and becoming involved in their community. 

Let us introduce to you, Carolina Colours…located in the quaint coastal area of New Bern North Carolina -
 
“It is truly an honor and a privilege to be associated and reside in Carolina Colours! We have nothing but great people in our community. In my 29 plus years in the service I have never been so welcomed and feel the caring my wife and I have felt here.”    This unsolicited testimonial, from Sgt Maj John Gonzales captured what we at Southeast Discovery have found to be a primary consideration to those looking for a retirement destination—a sense of community, and a welcoming, “reaching out” attitude by those already residing in a community. After all, it is not easy as an outsider, coming into a totally new environment, knowing few if any residents.
 
From our visit to Carolina Colours and our communications with residents and the community developer, Ken Kirkman (who lives in the community), it seems these attributes are manifested in Carolina Colours, a planned community in New Bern, NC, where about 70% of the residents are retired, coming from 29 different states. There is no hesitancy when owners are asked about living in Carolina Colours. “Everyone goes out of their way to make newcomers feel welcome.” “Weekly social events, community recreational activities, good neighbors and friends.” “The residents are friendly, out-going and caring!” “It’s been extremely easy to assimilate into Carolina Colours.” “The thing we appreciate most about Carolina Colours is its sense of community.”   The positive response from residents goes on and on, and prompted Southeast Discovery to try to understand.  Why do some communities, like Carolina Colours, naturally seem to generate positive feelings from residents, including new comers? How do they do this…and do it well? 
 
Carolina Colours Homes in New Bern, NC
We asked Kirkman, the developer with years of experience running other, successfully completed communities, why he felt that the residents  genuinely seem to love living in Carolina Colours community.  Is it by accident and good luck, or is there something more to it?   Kirkman said that “there is no simple answer, but the key is having good people select your community. And while that is part luck, it is more than that. You need to be in the right place, and New Bern is a great small town in which to live.  New Bern is a welcoming place, and attracts welcoming people. It has what many people want. Lots of water, restaurants, an airport, good medical facilities, good access to the northeast, to larger cities, and to the ocean. And a community has to be structured to promote community involvement. This starts before sales begin, by creating a facility and a culture for social interaction, and then providing an experienced person to run it. At Carolina Colours we have been fortunate to be able to operate with few Association employees, but the ones we have are really dedicated, experienced and people friendly.   It is also important to promote communication: open access to the developer and the staff; honest communication, with good and bad news; plenty of opportunity for residents to give input into what they like and don’t like. The residents need to feel like the developer cares; it is not just an investment. Finally, the target market needs to be users, not investors. People that purchase, for the most part, should want to live in the community.”
 
Southeast Discovery generally agrees with that assessment. At Carolina Colours, early on, the residents created Carolina Cares, a network of residents that provides assistance to other residents at time of need—a death in the family, illness or surgery. Instant and structured communication created by residents brings instantaneous response, we are told. Gatherings every Friday night attract from 20 to 50 people, and provide a great way for new comers to meet existing residents, and share interests. Golf, card games, bowling, board games and much more are scheduled, and are open to newcomers. Volunteer activities both in the community and in New Bern abound and many residents are active volunteers.   One resident said that she “never got around to joining the county Newcomer’s Club, as we got too busy to do so.” We also do not think it a coincidence that the developer and all of the sales staff own homes in Carolina Colours.
  
New Bern Waterway in North Carolina - retirement and golf communities
Our conclusion is that what retirees want is often more intangible than tangible; a sense of community that welcomes their inclusion. It goes beyond amenities and a good sales person. It goes beyond today’s special offering, although good values are always important. It goes to the heart and soul of a community and those that run it and live in it.   Our best advice is to talk to some residents, in an informal setting, and, if possible, talk to the developer; look at how the developer operates and how he or she has structured their sales program and their community.   Every developer has some good homes; only a few have what makes that home a great place to live.
 
Southeast Discovery will conclude with this thought…behind every happy, well functioning family is usually a good set of parents. Behind every good corporate culture found in a company is a CEO that has laid that ground work for employees to further cultivate and foster the pleasant environment in their workplace.  Behind every quality development is an astute, well intentioned and talented developer/development team that cares about the community they are creating.  Ken Kirkman, developer and full time resident of Carolina Colours embodies these traits which Southeast Discovery keeps an eye out for when choosing communities to let our readers know about throughout the Southeast.
 
Let us know if you would like additional information on Carolina Colours in coastal North Carolina. Feel free to send your inquiries to info@southeastdiscovery.com or call 877.886.8388 and we will have a Community Packet sent to you.

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