TheShortList: 50BestMaster-Planned Communities in the United States
BY BRENT STOLLER with an introduction by Annette Fuller
See PDF of article here.
JANE SUNDERLAND has a ritual that brightens her days in the Brunswick Forest master-planned community in Leland, NC. “My neighbor and I sing, ‘It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood’ when we see each other, because that’s how it is,” she says. She and her husband, Gerry, both 60, moved from Massachusetts to North Carolina in 2015. Their retirement relocation inspires Jane to sing the “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” theme song on a routine basis, bringing a recurring smile to both her and her friend. Isn’t it nice when everyday living leads to breaking out in song?
A superb transplantation, like the one Jane and Gerry made, requires a move to an advantageous and nurturing spot, so here is our list of the 50 best master-planned communities across America. Every other year in the July-August issue, we bring our readers a comprehensive look at the best of the best. This time around, the developments are in 18 states, in towns that are stunning in the viewfinder. Check out locations on the coast, in the mountains, near low-humidity deserts, by rivers and lakes and in proximity to major cities.
Our staff has been working on this issue for nearly a year. It is our 10th listing; our first such feature was in 1999. We evaluated hundreds of communities, but chose only established neighborhoods with enough acreage to build at least a year’s supply of homes. With every 50 best issue, we see trends, such as an emphasis on fitness through pools, trails and exercise equipment. Other enticements are dog parks, communal gardens and green home options. Of course, many have golf courses and tennis courts.
For years, people choosing a master-planned community had to decide whether they preferred an active-adult or all-ages neighborhood. A new trend combines the two, with a 55-plus section inside an all-ages development, so that your inner circle is people of your own age, and your outer circle includes families, teenagers and tykes. (See our story on page 44 that gives the pros and cons of all three options.)
Retirement relocation means the logistics of selling and then buying a home. But a year after uprooting yourself, your thoughts about the success of the move most likely will be based on more than paint colors, kitchen countertops and closet space.“We will never ever leave, because it’s so wonderful,” says Kris Close, 59, who moved from Minnesota in 2015 with husband Kerry, 62, to the Sugar Mill Pond community in Youngsville, LA. “We came for the house, but we’re staying for the people.”
A quick preface to this feature: The 50 communities are listed alphabetically, by state and then by development name. This is not a ranking, so they are not numbered. Each has a short description, including interviews with residents. A databox shows home prices, websites and more. Note that costs fluctuate; use them as a guide. Lastly, the chart on pages 98 and 99 lists all 50 as well as a rundown of amenities, making comparisons easy.
THE LURE Temperate weather, mountain vistas and a welcoming atmosphere foster a sense of tranquility in Cummings Cove. This gated development features a 6,415-yard golf course framed by verdant forests, a fitness center and multiple athletic courts, including two for bocce that were added in 2016. A former farmhouse is the social center, complete with a library, sitting porch with rocking chairs, picnic area and outdoor space for volleyball and horseshoes. Locals attend Broadway-style musicals at Hendersonville’s Flat Rock Playhouse Downtown and enjoy rafting and tubing along the French Broad River, which runs adjacent to the community.
WHAT RESIDENTS SAY “We are sitting at our dining room table and we can see out to the Great Smoky Mountains and Blue Ridge Mountains,” says Charlie Faure, who retired here with wife Annette Dubrouillet. “It is another beautiful day without a cloud in the sky.” Since they relocated from New Jersey in 2016, Charlie has enjoyed
hiking and playing pickleball, while Annette has joined a book club and hopes to start a knitting group. Though they were not looking to move to a master-planned community, the couple, both 69, are thrilled they landed in this one. “It’s a balance of beautiful scenery, a wonderful climate, happy people and great activities,” Annette says. “It has far exceeded our expectations.”
DEVELOPER Cummings Cove Co. LLC
PRICES $320,000s to $1 million for condos, villas and single-family homes
MONTHLY HOMEOWNER FEE $84
STATUS 330 homes built of 650 planned on 675 acres
AGE-RESTRICTED No, but the development is targeted toward retirees
INFORMATION Cummings Cove Golf & Country Club, 20 Cummings Cove Parkway, Hendersonville, NC 28739, CummingsCove.com or (800) 958-2905
“It’s a balance of beautiful scenery, a wonderful climate, happy people and great activities, it has far exceeded our expectations.”
— Annette Dubrouillet, who moved to Cummings Cove in 2016