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The Proximity Formula:
No traffic = no stress


By Larry Gavrich, Founder & Editor,
Home On The Course, LLC



Pawleys Plantation, Pawleys Island, SC
Photo Credit: Larry Gavrich

If you ask retirees, as I have, what they disliked most about their working careers, many will say “commuting to work,” or put another way, “traffic.”  If you are like me, you will drive out of your way to avoid stop and go, or even worse, just plain stopped traffic.  On our trips from Connecticut to our South Carolina vacation home, my wife and I agree that avoiding Washington, D.C., area traffic is worth the extra two- to three-hour drive down the Delmarva Peninsula, over and through the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and Tunnel ($22 toll), and down non-interstate Highway 17 along the Virginia and Carolina Coasts.  That turns the on-paper 14-hour trip down Interstate 95 into 16 hours or more.  It is worth every minute of it to avoid the stop and go traffic and to keep on keepin’ on.

One of the singular charms of our vacation home in Pawleys Island, SC, is that the flow of vehicles outside the gate of our golf community almost never poses a problem.  It takes us about 90 seconds to get to the nearest supermarket, two minutes to a half dozen restaurants, and six minutes over the bridge to one of the finest beaches on the east coast.   And as for golf, that is just four minutes – by foot! – from our condo to the first tee of Pawleys Plantation Golf Club, a terrific Jack Nicklaus design.  A half dozen world class layouts, Caledonia Golf & Fish Club among them, are fewer than 10 minutes away.





Caledonia Golf & Fish Club, Pawleys Island, SC
Photo Credit: Larry Gavrich

Those seeking to retire to a golf community may face the decision between access to all the benefits – and traffic – of an urban-proximate community or a remote location where traffic jams are as rare as an eagle on a par 4, but the trip to the “local” supermarket may take 15 minutes each way; and full-service hospitals may be at least an hour’s excursion.  Smart developers of remotely located golf communities were painfully aware of this proximity problem, and they made sure to build enough amenities and conveniences to keep their residents on property for all but the most essential reasons to leave.

One of the best examples of such a community with traffic-free roadways is Savannah Lakes Village in rural McCormick, SC.  SLV features two excellent 18-hole golf courses, plenty of activities on the adjoining Lake Thurmond, a boatload of amenities (including a four-lane bowling alley), social and recreational clubs, and a fee structure that is about the lowest in the South (and real estate prices to match).




Savannah Lakes Village, McCormick, SC
Photo Credit: Larry Gavrich

Yet for SLV’s more than 2,000 residents, there is only one supermarket choice, a Food Lion in McCormick, that is eight miles from the community.  But given the clear sailing down US Highway 378 to the town, a 20-minute round-trip to pick up the makings for dinner a few times a week is less than a mild irritation.  Couples with medical issues that require occasional or frequent monitoring, may need to consider proximity to hospitals and doctors; the sophisticated small cities of Augusta, GA, and Greenville, SC, are one hour and 1 ½ hours away, respectively.  Both have well-rated hospitals and are also well-regarded food towns; any urge for a good meal outside the home will be tempered with the thoughts of at least a two-hour round trip that might put a damper on alcohol consumption at dinner since much of the return trip will be along dark country roads.

Keowee Key in Salem, SC, is also located beside a lake, in its case Lake Keowee.  Like Savannah Lakes Village, Keowee Key is a good 10 minute drive to a fair-sized grocery store (a chain supermarket is a 20-minute drive).  Real estate prices in the community rival those at Savannah Lakes, which is to say you can find a three-bedroom, two-bath home for under $300,000.  The community’s residents and officials are well aware of the proximity issue and the need to make the 40-year-old community as attractive as possible; they recently began a major amenities improvement that will cost $14 million when all is said and done.  The nearest hospital with an emergency room, is Oconee Memorial in Seneca, 21 minutes away.  Clemson, home to a major university, is 23 minutes.  The nearest city is the aforementioned Greenville, at just under an hour.



Balsam Mountain Preserve, Sylva, NC
Photo Credit: Larry Gavrich

Some upscale golf communities with higher real estate price points are also far form the maddening crowds – and services – such as Balsam Mountain Preserve near Sylva, NC.  Stand on one of the Arnold Palmer designed fairways at the top of the community and look out to the mountains beyond, and you might wonder why you would ever travel outside the gates.  But eat you must, and the nearest supermarket, a Food Lion, is 13 minutes away in the small, quaint town of Sylva.  Asheville, a full-service city, is 48 minutes from Balsam Mountain.  Another rarefied community, Mountaintop Golf and Lake Club, is located in Cashiers, NC.  Homes for sale in the community start well into the seven figures, but folks with substantial net worth will still have to drive about 12 miles round-trip to and from the Ingles supermarket in Cashiers.  Assuming no rockslides along the way, the entire trip should take no longer than 20 minutes total.

Retirement is all about having the time to do the things you have to do without stress.  In retirement, it is possible to live without traffic and, therefore, without stress.



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