When Peggy and Dick Crebs considered moving into Charlestown, a senior living community in Catonsville, Md., they were already familiar with the amenities available at the sprawling 110-acre residential campus. The Erickson Living community offers seven restaurants, a state-of-the-art fitness center with a swimming pool, and a constant series of continuing learning opportunities.
However, less obvious was something even more important: a new sense of freedom.
"We just got back from a trip to Norway that was mostly a cruise. The month before that, we took a rail trip to the northern national parks," Peggy Crebs said recently. "If we had still been living at home, we never could have done back-to-back vacations. We'd be worrying about cutting the grass and all the other things that go along with keeping up with a house."
Instead, Dick Crebs said, they "just turned the key on the (Charlestown) apartment" -- a one-bedroom with a den that features a sunroom – "and off we went."
Chet Tucker, who moved to Charlestown with wife Susan, also discovered an unexpected benefit.
"What I didn't know coming into Charlestown was the friendships that I'd wind up making," said Tucker, who researched a range of retirement-living options before making a decision. "You talk to folks here and you find out that they've had the most fascinating careers. When you think about it, when you're in a house on a cul-de-sac, how many opportunities are you going to have to make new friends, especially when your kids are grown and out of the house?"
Both couples were faced with a common life choice during their retirement years: the decision to leave behind a familiar residence in order to enjoy the next phase of their lives in the most rewarding fashion possible.
In each case, the Tuckers and the Crebs made their decisions sooner than they expected. Both couples chose to move to Charlestown at a point in their lives when they felt they could enjoy all of the benefits that the community offered.
"We are very happy with our home here and did not want to miss out by waiting," said Dick Crebs.
The Tuckers looked at several 55-plus communities and condos before ultimately deciding on Charlestown. "It occurred to us that making a move like that was just like buying another house," Chet Tucker said.
"And eventually, you'd be moving from that 55-plus community," he added. "So we had to ask ourselves -- do we really want to move twice? You know, they call some of those other places 'active adult communities' and let me tell you, you can't find a more active adult community than Charlestown."
"The Tuckers looked at their future differently than most," said Sherry Parrish, Director of Resident Life at Charlestown. "They identified many things they wanted to do in this new phase of their lives—and house and yard work were not on the list. Now, they are busy building a life of fitness and health with friends, participating in social groups and clubs, traveling and planning adventures with their children and grandchildren without any of their old burdens. I admire their ability to both imagine a beautiful future for themselves and make it happen."
Skipping the extra move has enabled Susan Tucker to make the most of shedding the duties that went along with raising five kids of her own (and then taking on day-care for other children) back when she and Chet lived in Howard County.
"I used to walk at home for exercise but I never went to a fitness center regularly," Susan Tucker said. "That's something that I've started here, going to the fitness center, and I've kept it up because I really enjoy it. We have cookouts and barbecues and I've really enjoyed the social aspect."
Chet Tucker has also found a new pastime, gardening. At Charlestown, residents have the opportunity to cultivate their own garden plots. For the first time, Chet has a vegetable garden with carrots, tomatoes, zucchini and peppers, and it's become an activity he can share with his grandchildren.
"I thought it would be a good thing for the grandkids to see how food is grown," he said.
And even though he's a novice gardener, help is close at hand.
"The thing about Charlestown is that there are always people who know a great deal about something and they're glad to share that information," Chet Tucker said.
Dick and Peggy Crebs previously lived relatively close to Charlestown, about three miles away, in a four-bedroom Cape Cod. It was home for more than 40 years but Dick Crebs said feeling "at home" is about more than just four walls and a roof.
"I like to walk an indoor circuit here at Charlestown, I do about five miles," Dick Crebs said. "And as I walk around, I always have these friendly exchanges and I get lots of smiles."
Not long ago, he was in his old neighborhood and took the opportunity to take a stroll.
"Not one smile," he said. "No one said hello."
"It's a lot different than at Charlestown," he said. "Here, every walk I take serves to cheer me up. It's an automatic attitude adjustment – for the better."