The Ponds community near Summerville sits in an removed yet vibrant part of the Charleston area close to golf courses, historic sites and amusement parks.
Even with the surrounding perks, the growing village of a few hundred homes including upscale enclaves and an age 55-plus neighborhood boasts its own lifestyle directors that "plan, organize and conduct an amazing array of events — many open to the public," says Cheryl Smithem, founder and principal of Charleston PR & Design.
Starting this spring are Food Truck Fridays, featuring music and multiple vendors. Regular yearly events include The Ponds Conservancy talks and walks focused on the site's history and culture. Resident-only themes consist of meditation, Wellness Wednesdays, Bunco social card game, a fishing club and kids art and dance classes, she says.
At the same time, The Ponds sponsors public fests for nonprofit groups "under century old live oaks," she says, including the Big Event for Dorchester II schools; and the Southern Flame Festival touting barbecue and live music and benefiting the Summerville Miracle League.
"Real estate developers enhance homeowners' lives by creating communities where a full-plate of activities take place," Smithem says. "Residents have events right on their doorstep to which they can bike or walk," she says.
The amenities-rich South Carolina community fits a national trend, in which developers load up neighborhoods with attractions such as swimming pools, clubhouses, tennis courts and walking and jogging paths.
"Hike and bike trails. Cultural arts centers. Waterparks. An observatory. Sounds like the features of a high-end resort? Not quite," says Seve Kale, in a article for NewHomeSource real estate advice guide. "Today's leading master-planned communities offer more community amenities than ever before. If you're considering moving into a new home community, give some thought to the lifestyle you want for yourself and your family. Odds are good that the perks of your new home extend well beyond your property lines," she says.
Kale cites communities nationwide with scores of attractions. Savannah by Huffines Communities near Dallas touts a waterpark; the Candelas village from Century Communities in Arvada, Colorado, offers a 20-year lease on a solar energy system.
For homebuyers with children, some master planned communities showcase sports complexes and aquatic centers, Kale wrote. Developers build splash pads and “tot lots” designed with small children’s safety and fun in mind, she says, while "Junior Olympic-sized pools attract youth swim teams and casual lap swimmers."
The National Association of Home Builders in an extensive survey found "the majority of buyers — regardless of age — are looking for the same features in a community."
The study on Housing Preferences of the Baby Boomer Generation surveyed 4,300 prospective home buyers and compares boomers born between 1946 and 1964; seniors from before 1946; gen-Xers, 1965 to 1979; and millennials born after 1979.
"Among the top four most-wanted amenities, three were the same for every age group: They all desire to live in a community that's typically suburban, with close proximity to a park area, and that has access to walking/jogging trails," the NAHB says. A swimming pool, lake and exercise room also proved popular across the board.
Retail space ranked high for every group but millennials, who favored playgrounds.
Neighborhoods geared to seniors also see a multitude of attractions.
According to Elliot Crumpley in a 2016 piece for Chicago-based 55 Places (www.55places.com), "Active adult communities are often filled with amenities to keep residents socially active and physically fit." He cites five benefits for the attraction treasure-trove, including:
- Creating a sense of community, with neighbors meeting in "spontaneous or planned social interactions" in a park or clubhouse. It also helps newcomers avoid "new town blues," he says.
- Rekindles a long lost passion, such as playing tennis but never having lived near a court, taking advantage of an outdoor chess set or using a work-working shop on site.
- Finding a new passion, from bocce ball to a game of poker. "Homeowners generally find that when they pay into a monthly fee that maintains certain amenities, they want to get their money’s worth," Crumpley says.
- Keeps you in shape. "Whether it’s a modest exercise room or elaborate gymnasium, having an on-site fitness center gives you no more excuses for skipping on a workout."
- It makes your home more valuable. "According to a recent study, being within 1,500 feet of natural areas — common in 55+ communities — can increase a home's value by an average of $10,648 than comparable properties farther away," Crumpley says. Living near a golf course will raise the property value by $8,849, he says.