It's the New Year, and many of us have made a promise to ourselves to enrich and improve our lives. We resolve to maintain a healthier lifestyle, to spend time doing things that make life more rewarding, and to spend more quality time with our family and friends.
Sounds easy enough, but research shows that for most of us, by March, no matter how good our intentions, these resolutions will have fallen by the wayside.
A new lifestyle
"I work out at the fitness center a few times a week. I swim 20 laps in the pool just about every day. I play water volleyball three times a week. I also go to concerts here on campus. I have dinner with friends. It's a great place to live," says Keith.
A retired Baltimore County music teacher, Keith moved to Oak Crest in 2017 after he grew tired of maintenance on his Parkville duplex and began searching for an alternative.
"There was always something that needed to be done," says Keith. "I had the basement finished, a fence put up, a new roof put on, the air conditioning and furnace replaced, solar panels installed, and the sewer line dug up and replaced. I spent about $7,500 a year on maintenance and upkeep. That didn't include the mortgage, property taxes, heat, and other costs."
Keith considered moving to a condominium until he attended an open house at Oak Crest in 2009.
"I had known about Oak Crest for years. When I looked at everything, I thought to myself, 'Why would I move into a condo? Why wouldn't I just move here?'" says Keith. "But I was only 52 at the time, so I got on the priority list and I moved in two months after I turned 60, in August 2017."
Music to his ears
Like so many Baby Boomers, Keith opted to move to Oak Crest sooner rather than later so he could take advantage of the maintenance-free, amenity-rich lifestyle.
"I had friends say, 'Why would you move to Oak Crest at your age?' to which, I answered, 'Why wouldn't I?' I think there is a misconception that this is like a nursing home, when it's actually the opposite. It's an active, vibrant community where you come to live," says Keith. "There's just an ease to living here that is worry free."
Oak Crest features more than 200 resident-run clubs and activities, including yoga, dancing, college classes, softball, photography, woodworking, singing groups, bocce, travel groups, and card clubs. Community members also enjoy the convenience of nearby amenities like an on-site bank, fitness center, hair salon, library, seven restaurants, and a physician-staffed medical center.
"Because there are so many activities here, it's hard not to be active," says Keith. "When you are by yourself in your house for hours and hours, you sit around in front of the television and focus on your problems and how bad you feel. Here, you don't feel that way. I'm busy, and I don't have time to sit around and feel sorry for myself."
Instead, Oak Crest's carefree lifestyle has allowed Keith to focus on his passion: music.
"When I retired, I started a small business called Composers for Kids, where I go to school assemblies dressed as Bach or Beethoven and come out of a time machine and play the piano," says Keith. "In 2014, I decided to adapt my show for adults. Now, I play at churches and retirement communities. Last year, I did a concert here, and I'm doing another one this month. I also freelance as a substitute musician for various churches around the area."
His two-bedroom Kingston-style apartment home features a recessed balcony, a guest room for the grandkids, and plenty of space for his keyboard and piano. Best of all, it's maintenance free.
"Oak Crest is really like a condo, but without any of the hassles," says Keith. "Here, if something breaks or goes wrong, I don't have to search for a reliable electrician or plumber, or make an appointment and wait around all day. I just call maintenance, and they come and fix it at no cost."
Now, Keith passes along the same advice he received when he was considering a move.
"I tell people, don't wait. I've met so many people who said if they could do it all over again, they would move sooner. The earlier you do it, the easier it is," says Keith. "Oak Crest is more than just a neighborhood; it's a community in every sense of the word. It's really just a great place to live."