While we have so many wonderful friends in the New Jersey area we’d come to realize that we wanted something in a warmer climate that offered us an active lifestyle where our money would stretch a bit further. We visited many, many properties that we thought were wonderful, in beautiful areas including Sarasota, Florida, Asheville, NC, Sawgrass, Florida and Lake Oconee, Georgia all of which we seriously considered. We really didn’t see a place we didn’t like, yet we began to get a strong feeling of where we could actually “live” and not just visit.
Almost immediately we were smitten with the historic city of Savannah, Georgia that was unlike any other area we visited. There was something quirky enough but with the kind of sophistication we’d come to enjoy here in the towns we’ve lived for 38 years. There is an abundance of restaurants owned and run by skilled and passionate entrepreneurs. And a welcome lack of strip malls and chain food establishments. The city is small enough to walk, eliminating the need to drive everywhere, and it’s laid out in a grid which is oddly reminiscent of in a small way to New York. We felt comfortable immediately. There is a strong sense of community and diversity; something that we are very familiar with. They are welcoming of northerners with none of the “southern” snobbery we felt in some other coastal cities. It’s a city with a sense of humor, whimsy and just plain fun. “To-go” cups are legal.
And then. We drove just 15 miles from historic downtown, over Diamond Causeway and across the Moon River on to Skidaway Island and The Landings. We were in love. Set on about 4500 acres, the community is pretty much the entire island they share with a preserve park. Gated, it has a deep water marina at each end and 6 premier golf courses winding through hundred-year-old live oak trees covered in Spanish moss mixed with palm trees. Georgia coastal living at its best. Most of the 4000 properties are single homes each on a half-acre so there is such grand and gracious space we never thought we’d find at this stage in our lives. The community has 4 gorgeous clubhouses plus a fitness center, tennis center and playgrounds. This is not an “over 55 community” (although that is the majority of the population as the island does not have its own schools and for families with children it requires private school options). It’s spectacularly gorgeous and we felt at home from the start.
The housing stock is varied both in price and size and sit way back on the lots which we loved. So we started visiting regularly and quickly made friends. Soon we discovered a cousin of mine from Pittsburgh was moving there and a sorority sister from Ohio had lived there for years. We know couples from our golf club in NJ who live there and dozens of other couples where we have much in common. For Doug the golf at the Landings is stellar. Six championship courses all for one membership. Four clubhouses with a dozen dining choices. The community is completely private with no developer or builder left on the island and that was extremely important to us. It’s all owned by the member-driven and well-run association with a healthy financial reserve and no corporation in the way. This, we discovered, was a rare find in our hunt. Financially stable, member run. We’d made our decision. We listed our NJ home in February, 2016 and closed in June and then moved to a temporary apartment in NJ. I sold my 27-year-old magazine in New Jersey and we began the search for our new house. Full steam ahead.