Fast friends since middle school, Bob Crowther and Charlie Barr now are neighbors at Maris Grove, Erickson Living's retirement community in Delaware County, Pa.
Bob and his wife Pat, and Charlie and his wife Eleanor, moved last summer when Maris Grove opened Redwood Commons, its third neighborhood.
The couples were ready for a new lifestyle of maintenance-free, vibrant living and on-site amenities such as six restaurants, an all-season swimming pool, two fitness centers, and three arts and crafts studios.
Also, "We moved for our children," says Pat. "My parents lived in a continuing care community, and that was such a gift they gave us. Plus, the new building motivated us."
"We knew we'd be coming in with other new people and with younger people," Bob says.
He and Pat lead a somewhat quiet lifestyle, often getting their evening meal to go and eating together at home. They make friends through sports and participate instead of watching from the sidelines. They surmised younger neighbors would too.
Downsizing to the perfect home
Bob and Pat were the first community members to reserve a Radcliffe-style apartment, an extra-large two-bedroom, two-bath home with an eat-in kitchen. The Barrs were the second to reserve the Radcliffe, and a neighbor of the Crowthers was the third.
"We all came to the same conclusion," says Charlie. They liked the Radcliffe's corner style because its southern and eastern exposures flood the rooms with light. And its floor plan features an eat-in kitchen, two bedrooms, and two full bathrooms.
"I love the daylight and that the bedrooms sit on either side of the living room," says Pat.
"The [bedroom arrangement] lets us each have our own space," adds Eleanor. "That's something you think about when you downsize. With the divided bedrooms, there are times I don't know Charlie is around."
The Radcliffe's second bedroom boasts two closets with an alcove between them. The Barrs use the room as a combination office and guest room; it easily accommodates two desks and a single bed.
In the Crowthers' home, the alcove holds Bob's much-loved desk. It fits perfectly in the alcove with inches to spare.
Downsizing means adapting to less space, and both couples did serious downsizing for their moves.
So Bob, a former draftsman and a talented woodcrafter who has made a lot of the Crowthers' furniture, implemented a simple idea to provide additional storage in both apartments. On the tile ledges above the tub in the second bathrooms, he placed a board long enough to span that space. Voila! An extra shelf, and no tools required.
Activities for every lifestyle
Maris Grove offers community members more than 150 activities and special interest groups.
When the Crowthers moved from their home of 28 years in the 55-plus community of Hershey's Mill in neighboring Chester County, Bob left behind his extensive basement workshop. Now he pursues his projects at Maris Grove's well-equipped and popular woodshop.
He and Charlie golf together, and Bob also plays billiards.
Bob and Pat have taken up square dancing. Pat belongs to Maris Grove's tennis group, plays bocce and shuffleboard, and is considering pickleball.
The Crowthers are also walkers. Walking is a pleasant pursuit at Maris Grove regardless of the season. They can stroll or power-walk its rolling terrain and enjoy the colorful plantings and wooded glens of its 87 verdant acres.
In inclement weather they can walk to and from the three clubhouses and the residence buildings via interior hallways and climate-controlled bridges.
Although the Crowthers and the Barrs socialize in very different ways, Maris Grove suits their individual lifestyles equally well.
In the Barrs' former home at Traditions at Longwood in Kennett Square, "We used to have cocktail parties with our neighbors all the time," Eleanor says.
Now they entertain outside friends and Maris Grove neighbors in the private dining room at Redwood Commons Clubhouse.
Eleanor is active in the campus women's club, and Charlie was recently elected to Maris Grove's Resident Advisory Council. He serves as its liaison to the community's general services department.
His appointment is fitting. Although Charlie spent 28 years at DuPont, his last job was in the elder care industry providing alert response systems.
General Services oversees Maris Grove's security team, who are cross-trained in medical first response. Should a community member pull an emergency cord in their apartment, security will arrive within two minutes.
The community's on-site, full-service medical center and its rehabilitation and continuing care neighborhood provide additional peace of mind.
"We have medical help right here," Eleanor says. "This is our tenth move in 55 years, and we're very happy."