Nancy Wood first learned of Highland Springs when her aunt Fran MacMannis moved from Florida to the North Dallas Erickson Living community nine years ago.
"I learned so much from Fran while I was growing up," says Nancy. "We're only ten years apart, and she taught me how to knit, sew, and cook."
Nancy, professor emerita of English at the University of Texas at Arlington (UTA), visited Fran regularly at Highland Springs, making the hour-plus drive from her home in Arlington.
"I was impressed by the homelike atmosphere in my aunt's apartment," says Nancy. "She could comfortably entertain six people. I also liked the fact that she was always on the go. It seemed like she had a never-ending choice of activities at Highland Springs."
Taking the next step
When Nancy's husband passed away in January 2018, she waited a year before making any decisions about her own future.
"All the while, I was thinking about where I wanted to live," says Nancy. "I visited a retirement community in Arlington, where a number of UTA faculty live, but it was dreary with not a lot to do."
Nancy kept circling back to Highland Springs, even joining the priority list by putting down a fully refundable $1,000 deposit to reserve her place in line for the apartment home of her choice.
"I knew my aunt was happy here," she says. "I just wanted to be sure it was a good fit for me too."
"One of the perks of joining the priority list is a coupon book we give to members to help them get to know Highland Springs," says Sales Manager Molly Mann. "The coupons are good for meals in our on-site restaurants, they can be used to join off-campus excursions or enjoy a service in our salon."
"One of the coupons," Mann continues, "is good for a complimentary overnight stay in one of our five guest suites. The opportunity, called the Suite Experience, gives prospective residents the chance to explore Highland Springs as they would if they lived here. It gives them an insider's look at the community."
Explore and learn more
As part of the Suite Experience package, Mann matches priority list guests with resident ambassadors who host the guests for meals in Highland Springs' restaurants. She also provides an itinerary of scheduled events throughout the stay, allowing visitors to participate in activities and classes of interest to them.
"The Suite Experience is valuable because it gives priority list members the chance to see themselves living at the community," says Mann. "Often it's a factor in their decision to move forward."
To give herself a sense of life at Highland Springs, Nancy scheduled a Suite Experience stay.
"Katherine Blanc was the resident ambassador who hosted me at meals, and she was marvelous," says Nancy. "We connected right away, and I felt good about the opportunities to make new friends and find common ground with other residents."
Nancy also used the occasion to familiarize herself with the campus.
"I'd been to Fran's apartment, of course, but I wanted to get a feel for the rest of the community," says Nancy. "I really liked the indoor swimming pool and fitness center."
Confidence to move forward
Returning home, Nancy felt confident she could enjoy a fulfilling life at Highland Springs. She reserved a two-bedroom Westwood apartment just down the hall from the swimming pool and moved in January 2019.
"Two of my best friends came to town to help me get settled in my new apartment," she says. "One flew in from California, and the other drove in from Tyler [Texas]. Funny enough, they stayed in the same guest suite where I'd stayed during my overnight visit."
Now that she's settled in, Nancy says the Suite Experience gave her a taste of the lifestyle she wanted at Highland Springs—one that includes daily exercise classes, excursions to see plays and enjoy concerts at the Meyerson Symphony Center in Dallas, and planning trips to visit family and friends.
"This move gave me new opportunities, like teaching English as a second language to one of the line cooks, as well as making it easy to pursue activities I know I enjoy, like working out and joining a book club," says Nancy. "There are so many things to do here. I'm glad to be part of this community."