Whole cottage industries have sprung up in places like Arizona, Florida, Texas and California that cater to the active retirement community. (Code word: That’s us baby boomers!) Retirement resorts of all shapes and sizes, geared toward varying income levels and activity interests are everywhere in the warm weather states. All you have to do is look.
We live in Las Palmas, a 55 and over community on the eastern edge of Mesa, Arizona, a suburb of Phoenix. As retirement resorts go, Las Palmas is maybe a little bit more upscale than most, with twelve models of manufactured homes numbering 542 within a sixty acre gated community setting. Within walking distance of every house sits a twenty thousand square foot clubhouse situated in the center of the park, serving as the hub of the neighborhood.
Every retirement resort community here in Arizona has an activity director whose sole responsibility is to keep us as busy as possible. Ours is exceptional. Her name is Camille and she does a wonderful job of keeping us entertained by booking performances, acts, concerts and dinner shows throughout the Snowbird season.
There is never any shortage of things to do at these places. The clubhouse in Las Palmas boasts card rooms, craft rooms, an exercise room and a billiard room. Outside activities include tennis, shuffleboard, pickle ball, horseshoes and a putting green.
When we first started as Snowbirds, people back home would ask us what we would do every day when we were in Arizona. Our response would always be the same, “whatever we wanted.” Within a couple of miles of Las Palmas sits a myriad of restaurants, supermarkets, theaters, shopping malls and flea markets. Our conclusion is that if you are bored living in Las Palmas, it’s your own fault.
With all the activities and attractions encompassing our winter stay in Arizona, our lifestyle would not be complete without the great neighbors we met and all the wonderful friends we made from various walks of life. The activities, shows, restaurants and good shopping would not be worth anything to us, if we didn’t have someone with whom to share it.
The most important thing I’ve learned by being a Snowbird is that relationships matter. They really do! I am finding out that the people I spend time with shape who I am and who I’m becoming. “No man is an island” as they say and in a place like Las Palmas, being an island all to yourself is almost impossible.
Leaving behind family and friends and all that’s familiar to you in order to go and spend the winter somewhere else is not for everyone. Emotional ties run deep and it’s hard to change, hard to break away from tradition. But for me, becoming a snowbird has been my personal renaissance, filling my life with experiences and people I never would have encountered if I had just been content to stay home every winter and watch the snow fall.