Tom Purcell, 12/8/2008 [Archive]

Trouble at Sunset Acres

Trouble at Sunset Acres

By Tom Purcell

"Let me get this straight. You moved into a gated retirement community and you're only 45?"

"That's right. The wife and I paid 40 grand for a unit that was worth 120 grand two years ago! It's the best decision we ever made."

"Ah, yes, I read about the trend in The Wall Street Journal. As the economy sputters and more people postpone retirement, many retirement havens are struggling."

"Struggling?"

"Due to a spate of vacancies, property values have tanked. What's worse, stock portfolios have plummeted. At the same time retires have less money to spend, their costs are soaring. Because there are fewer retirees to cover community maintenance fees, those fees have shot up."

"That's the breaks, I guess."

"Desperate to reduce vacancies and spread costs, some retirement communities are doing the unthinkable: allowing people as young as 45 to move in. That is causing quite a hullabaloo at retirement communities across America."

"Hullabaloo?"

"Letting younger people move in could put local tax breaks at risk. Whereas retirees place a small burden on local municipalities, younger people often have children. Children require schools, new roads and other high expenses -- not to mention that children are noisy."

"Funny you mention that. The wife thinks it's about time we start a family."

"There are cultural differences, too. Retirees prefer to be around people their own age -- people who share similar interests. They seek a slow and quiet existence."

"Hey, it's not my fault I have to honk at slowpoke drivers several times every day."

"Younger people, however, are at a different place in their lives -- they enjoy different activities that could annoy older neighbors."

"You got that right. All my neighbors do is complain about my racing bike and rock band. Still, the wife and I love the perks."

"Perks?"

"We enjoy free movies in the community center every Saturday night. And the wife has been making a bundle in the bingo hall. Apparently, some of the other players can't hear so well."

"How delightful."

"I have to admit, too, that it's a lot of fun to be the strongest guy in the fitness center. And I don't mean to brag, but let's just say I haven't met a centenarian yet who can beat me on the ping pong table."

"I can imagine."

"The wife and I are saving money, too. So many of our neighbors go to local restaurants for early-bird specials, the establishments are dead during regular dinner hours. We get big discounts just for showing up -- even bigger discounts if we sit around the bar later into the evening."

"I have to admit that you can't be faulted for taking advantage of the bad economic conditions. This is what recessions are all about. Those who made good decisions prior to the recession are in a position to be rewarded. Those who made risky decisions are being punished."

"And here I was being mocked for keeping my money in a jar in the yard."

"Your story is also a reflection of how unpleasant corrections can be. Too many of us lived and borrowed way beyond our means and the bill has come due -- now many unpleasant adjustments must be made. Still, I hope you can understand why some retirees are resentful to have you as their neighbor."

"Resentful? I'm helping them cover their maintenance costs and build their property values back up. They should be thanking me."

"There's some truth in what you say."

"Besides, I'm plenty old enough to live in a gated retirement community. In this economy, 45 is the new 65!"

© 2008 Tom Purcell. Tom is a humor columnist nationally syndicated exclusively by CagleCartoons. For more info contact Sales at (805) 969-2829 or email sales@cagle.com. Visit Tom on the web at www.TomPurcell.com or e-mail him at Purcell@caglecartoons.com.

RESTRICTIONS: 'Tom Purcell's column may not be reprinted in general circulation print media in Pennsylvania's Allegheny, Beaver, Butler, and Westmoreland Counties. It may appear only in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review and its sister publications.

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