Chris and Jack Stoddard are glad they didn't wait to move to a senior living community. They were one of the first couples to move to Lantern Hill, an Erickson Living community in New Providence, New Jersey, when it opened in 2016.
They had not been looking for a retirement community. The couple was looking for a traditional apartment to rent to live closer to their grandchildren in Montclair and Warren.
"We had stopped at Coldwell Banker, in Summit, interested in finding an apartment," recalls Chris. "A realtor advised us that there was nothing available on one level, but she said, 'Why don't you look at this new community being built on Mountain Ave.?'"
That is how they discovered Lantern Hill, in 2014, before construction crews had even broken ground. They took a sales brochure, noted the telephone number and made the call.
Chris and Jack appreciated the benefits of one-level living and held that as a high priority. When they discovered Lantern Hill, with its onsite amenities; restaurants; and one-level, maintenance-free lifestyle, they were hooked.
"We would have moved sooner if we could have," she says.
"One of the big draws for me is not having to cook," Chris laughs. "We've been married 54 years, and every day it was a novelty to have to prepare a meal."
Now, they enjoy meals with friends and neighbors at one of Lantern Hill's two restaurants.
"The best thing about our new home is the friendships we have made," Chris says. "People have welcomed us unconditionally and have become such good friends, whom we love and care about."
They chose a two-bedroom, two-bath apartment home with a den and a balcony, which is "probably more space than we need," she says. "We absolutely love it and frequently enjoy time on the balcony with its spectacular view of the sky, trees, and gardens."
Their apartment easily accommodates grandchildren, who range in age from 4 to 24, and their daughter, when she visits from Manhattan. The younger grandchildren often visit, frolic in the pool, and have meals in the restaurants. They now can visit in 15 minutes rather than the two-hour drive to the Philadelphia suburb, where their grandparents lived previously.
"We feel blessed," Chris and Jack agree, "We felt that this was a gift to our children because we're here for whatever lies ahead, and our children won't have to travel or worry about us." Chris and Jack get to spend precious time with their grandchildren, while still young and active, instead of caring for the house and yard of their former house in Pennsylvania.
"I find that there is such quality of luxury here that it's like living on a cruise ship, but the good thing is you can leave this cruise ship," she says, adding, "You don't even have to worry about mowing grass, raking leaves or shoveling snow. It takes a lot off your mind."
Time spent outside their apartment home is also held at a premium. She joined the women's golf group, and they use the fitness and aquatics centers daily.
"I was tempted to get rid of my clubs before I came, but I'm glad I didn't," she says. "It's great being outdoors in the fresh air with great friends, laughing."
"Chris and Jack are excellent examples of people who are truly embracing the lifestyle here at Lantern Hill. They moved in with the idea of living a more worry-free life, and they're able to do that here," says Executive Director Patricia Swan-Jacobs.
With the on-site restaurants, medical center, fitness and aquatics center, putting green, events, and classroom for meetings and activities, everything they need is at their fingertips. "I'd do it all again," says Chris. "It's definitely worth it."
"Many of our residents have made the same decision as Chris and Jack," says Sales Director Dan Millender. "Why wait? Lantern Hill's unmatched value replaces your cost of living and delivers more amenities and services than your current living situation."
Written by Julia Collins