What is it like living in a retirement community in Arizona, where the average ages are 70 among men and 68 for women?
My husband and I tried it, and we made some discoveries. First, Sun City is not a little, quiet, retirement community. It is a city of about 48,000 people, with several neighborhoods.
Secondly, the people who make up this "old folks" retirement city are not old" by any standard other than the number of years they've lived. Most are vigorous, motivated, involved people who have been professionals, executives, or skilled craftsmen. Many were renowned individuals before they came to Sun City, many have traveled extensively and many are continuing their educations at one of the nearby colleges.
One reason for Sun City's popularity is its climate. For those who hail from cities in the north, it offers escape from the long, cold, damp winters.
What do they do in July, August and September, when daytime temperatures may reach 110 degrees and even the nights are warm? "That's when we go to visit our children or other family members back home. That's the time we take trips and sight-see," one resident explained.
Another said, "It's really not that bad. We do everything in the mornings when it's nice and cool -- play golf, go swimming, exercise, garden. After that we stay in our pleasant, air-conditioned homes, visit back and forth or go to the activity centers. Besides, the humidity is so low you don't feel the heat like you did back home."
Many move to Sun City for health reasons. Persons who have arthritis often find relief in the warm, dry air, and some heart disease patients report tremendous improvement. "The very fact you can get outdoors in comfort year-round makes exercising a plus," one said.
The number of bicyclists on the streets attests to that. Lawn bowlers fill the courts all day long. Exercise and dance groups fill the halls of community centers. The swimming pools, both indoors and out, are filled. Men and women take pride in looking good. Pot bellies and sagging muscles are few around the pools of Sun City.
Other people said they went to Sun City because it offered a more relaxed life style, or to find freedom from obligations and business responsibilities and to make new friends.
Almost everyone agrees that the decision to leave children, grandchildren and friends was a difficult one. "But if your grown children are empty-nesters and the grandchildren have moved away, the decision to leave isn't nearly so agonizing. As for our friends, they find us -- especially in the winter months," one resident explained.