Downsizing Decisions

Downsizing Decisions

By Rick Koze

There are many questions to ask yourself when considering how to transition into your golden years. Should you move out of the area to a warmer climate? Should you get a small home or townhome locally and travel or buy a second home? Should you move into an apartment or condominium? Do you want to stay in a single home and if so, what type of community do you want to move to?

Perhaps the biggest decision, aside from whether to move out of the area, is whether to live in an active adult community, otherwise known as a 55+ community, or to live in another type of a community. If you are certain that you want to be around only your own age group, having access to planned events and group socializing, and are not as concerned about the monthly fees, then a 55+ community might be best for you. If you are not absolutely certain of this then consider the following factors.


It is important to get a feeling of peace and tranquility when you drive into your community and drive up to your home. Ask yourself what type of environment makes you comfortable. Beware of monotony. Some communities may feel unwelcoming if they do not have a variety of architectural elements. If the homes are on top of each other and do not contain a mix of façade types, different masonry types and different colors the community may begin to have the feel of an army barracks.

Also look for variety in the terrain. Many new home communities and 55+ communities are located on flat lands which are cornfields that have been converted to home-sites. A builder can eliminate the monotony commonly found in new home communities by using a variety of architectural designs and colors and by selecting sites that have hills, scenic vistas, trees and flowing streams.

Open Space and Flexibility 

Many of the 55+ communities are much more densely populated and contain little open space. In non-age restricted communities, the developer must allow for more open space which can mean more on site recreation area. Kay Builders’ Trexler Field community has over 80 acres of conserved open space with a 1.5 mile walking trail and a planned butterfly preserve while two of its other communities are located immediately adjacent to large park areas. Some cluster communities (such as 55+ developments) will often have a walking path through or around the perimeter of the premises that are rarely used and since the homes are often very close to each other, there seems to be a lack of privacy. Gardening and construction of most outdoor recreation areas are hardly ever permitted around the home.


A first floor master or ranch home is typically much more affordable in a non-age restricted community because customers in 55+ communities pay for amenities such as a clubhouse and pool. In addition, monthly homeowner’s association fees can top $300 per month to pay for ongoing maintenance and staffing of the amenities as well as fees for activities directors. Some would rather have more discretionary funds to spend on travel, hobbies and activities they enjoy. For others, these activities are important for a homeowner.

Real Walkability and Access to Amenities 

Site location is one of the most important aspects of any new home community. As people age convenience becomes the highest priority. Access to recreation areas, country clubs, stores, coffee shops, the gym, food shopping and healthcare become increasingly important. Our area has been slow to adopt an intermediate solution between downtown urban living and full suburban living. At Kay Builders we have been focusing on the intermediate solution for a decade now. A site will not be chosen for development unless it is within two miles of most of the amenities mentioned above.   We believe in locating our communities within a very short drive to all amenities or better yet within short walking distance. Our two newest communities, currently in the planning stage, are located within a several block walk of most of the amenities above. Imagine not having to get into the car every time you need something without having to live downtown.

Rick Koze is the president and owner of Kay Builders, Inc. ( a leading homebuilder and developer operating exclusively in the Lehigh Valley. The company has four active communities locally. A graduate of Emmaus High School, Koze holds a B.A. in Economics from Yale University. He has more than 15 years of experience working with Fortune 500 companies (in addition to his construction business expertise).

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