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A new way to look at retirement life

When most people in Michigan think about retirement-living communities, their brains tend to conjure of images of retirement homes with bland food and décor that appears to have hit its stride 30 years ago. But with new ideas about what retirement life should really be like sweeping the nation in recent years, this common image could become a thing of the past.

In states across the nation, developers are reinventing what it means to be a retiree by offering an almost resort-like atmosphere that is said to boast "an activity list that would exhaust even a teenager." Forget shuffleboard, many of these facilities are offering state-of-the-art gyms, salt water swimming pools, and even age-modified Zumba classes for the more active retiree. From dog parks to on-site chefs that can make just about any meal at any time of the day, many of these communities feel more like an all-inclusive hotel than your own personal living space.

But commercial properties such as this come at a premium to tenants, one couple even explaining that they paid just under a million dollars to live in their 2,500-square-foot villa. Despite the seemingly enormous cost, the demand for such luxurious living is increasing and developers are rushing to build more units in new communities across the country in hopes of cashing in on the generation of baby boomers.

By 2020, the portion of households 55 and over in the United States will rise to a staggering 46.6 percent. And with more people wanting an active retirement, this seems to be the right to build now.

Source: The Wall Street Journal, "A New Senior Moment," Dawn Wotapka, March 28, 2013

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