What to Consider When Choosing Your Retirement Community, Part 2

This is the 2nd in a series of articles designed to aid in your considerations when choosing a home in an active adult (aka retirement) community. In our first blog-post we examined the importance of medical care access. Secondarily, many active adults seek convenience when choosing a community. The long-established communities northwest of Phoenix have raised convenience to a new level.

For many families jumping in a car to make a run to the grocery store, post office or any of the big-box stores has been a way of life. In two of the nation’s major retirement communities found here in the west valley area you can say good bye to the car as your major mode of transportation. Say hello instead to the golf car or, if you prefer, the golf cart.

There are nearly 40,000 golf carts registered in Arizona. About 30,000 of them are here in Maricopa County. About half the residents of Sun City’s 27,500 homes use these carts as their primary mode of transportation. It is easy to go from your home to the doctor’s office, grocery store or any of this communities scores of business’s in a golf cart. Same applies to Sun City West. It is common to see a golf cart going down city streets at their top speed of about 25 miles an hour. Law restricts use of street legal golf carts (meaning they are licensed and have proper stop and turn signal lights) on streets with a speed limit of 35mph or less. Trust us, you can easily run errands in a golf cart in these two mega communities.

While our discussion thus far has centered on Sun City and Sun City West our other favored communities also feature this fantastic mode of transportation albeit at a lesser degree. Sun City Grand has some shopping via golf cart available. Primarily restaurants, banks, and a drug store. Sun City Festival and Corte Bella do not offer in-community shopping however golf carts are still a way of life as transportation to visit recreation centers and neighbors.

So, what are the economics? Residents of Sun City and Sun City West tell us they are downsizing from two cars to one saving money on gas, insurance and maintenance. Each family has their own financial scenario but some say they save between $3,000 and $4,000 a year by switching from a regular vehicle to a golf cart. And they give up no convenience in accessing most all their shopping needs. Add to this money saving scenario the addition of extra space in the garage for other storage. And the cost of a cart? This question requires some examination.

To answer the “cost” question is not unlike answering the question “how much does a car cost?”. The short answer is: it depends. It depends whether you want to buy used or new, from a dealer or private party. It depends whether you want gas or electric. What’s the least amount you will pay? Probably between $1,500 and $3,000. What’s the most? Between $6,500 and $15,000. We’ve seen lots of good used carts selling for $3,000 and lots of brand new carts loaded with accessories available for around $7,500. Given today’s regular car prices this might seem like a bargain when it comes time to replace your vehicle. On the other hand, spending $3,000 to $4,000 on a used cart would buy a lot of gas for a regular car. So, we come back to our short answer to these questions: it all depends!