With apologies to Barb Taub, who would make this tale a really funny story.
A lot of my friends have been asking me what it’s like to live in an over-55 community. We moved here about a year and a half ago and were the first people to move in. The houses are very close together and look pretty much the same, which is standard for such communities.
Reminded us of Pete Seegar’s song about Little Boxes:
Little boxes on the hillside
Little boxes made of ticky-tacky
Little boxes, little boxes
Little boxes all the same
We chose our lot next to a patch of trees (not on our property) so we would have some greenery around us for the birds. And the first lot coming in so we have neighbors on only one side. Keeps us from being claustrophobic. The rest of the community, like us, has no trees in the yards. And thus no shade!
Hubs and I countered our lack of trees by planting an olive, a sunset maple, and a camellia in our tiny backyard and are contemplating what else we might add to help our bird neighbors. Our backyard is full sun almost all the time, so we have to be careful in our choices. In our front yard, we have a pink and green Japanese maple.
and another red one just outside my window — they are both dwarfs so they were approved. Still no shade. Everything we plant has to be approved by the construction company’s HOA. We’ve been told they will cede responsibility for running the community to the homeowners in 3-4 years when the additional community they plan to build behind us is complete.
This is our Ghost tree, permitted, and this is our sunset maple.
In the meantime, aside from the approvals necessary for plantings, no one is permitted to 1) Walk on the common areas (large swathes of grass scattered around the community) or use them for gatherings
2. Have more than one wreath and no front yard decorations at Christmas (a rule which everyone broke last year)
3. Have perennial flowers (a rule also broken by some, which I noticed on my daily walks, much to my delight)
4. Keep our humongous, city-issued garbage containers outside of the garage (even if there are decorative plantings outside to hide them (which we did have until we were ‘caught’), and I can tell you the garbage in our garage stinks by the end of the week, especially in hot weather.
5. Have patios in the backyard, so no hot tubs or fire pits. And so on.
6. Initially, there was a rule against having bird feeders and birdbaths, but we countered by putting them on our patios, which are the only outside areas over which we have control (except for fencing and umbrellas).
The minute we take over the Homeowners Association, things are gonna change!
I lived in the Czech Republic when it was under Communist control, and that was a breeze compared to this. Except all our Christmas decorations there were stolen.
Luckily we have a great community, people-wise, and we spend a lot of time figuring out how to subvert all the rules. Which is a lot of fun. And we have regular get-togethers (Happy Hour once a month), a wading pool (which we were told would be a swimming pool) for your grandkids, and various clubs (book, whiskey, outreach activities, etc.). I do love getting cool by the pool (as they advertised) up to my knees. The rest of me stays hot.
You might ask why we stay here. It’s a logical question. Right now it’s impossible to move because of the housing market, and we now have an extra reason to stay because my daughter and her family are moving to a bigger house about 5 min away by car. Our house is indeed quite nice and roomy inside, with enough space for both me and Hubs and our activities, and it has a workable galley kitchen with new appliances. That’s it in the background. We do end up walking around and around the island because there’s not enough space for the two of us to pass each other when we are working.
We are convenient to shopping and doctors’ offices. Joining a local country club has provided me with a real pool for laps in the summer. Ka-ching.
So despite all the rules, our community is managing to find (nefarious) ways around some of them and we expect to survive together until the Great Takeover. Can’t wait.
There are not a lot of flowers and colors in the community yet. So Hubs has been on a crusade. We have a ton of pansies, roses, and azaleas in our front yard and azaleas along the side of the house. Everything is in bloom now so we have color! Here is a sampling, none of which can even hope to compare with Geoff LePard’s backyard, but we are small scale.
I’ll have a follow-up for all y’all when we take over the HOA. It’s going to get interesting.