The Girlfriend Site Logo
Oh no!
It looks like you aren't logged in to The Girlfriend community. Log in or create a free online account today to get the best user experience, participate in giveaways, save your favorite articles, follow our authors and more.
Don't have an account? Click Here To Register

How I Found Fun — And Friends — After Age 55

It's been an unexpected and wonderful surprise.

Comment Icon
Three friends with a camera outside
Getty Images
Comment Icon

Do any of you love to travel? Then join our closed Facebook group for women who enjoy a bit of an adventure, The Ethel On-The-Go, today.

During the pandemic, I spent a lot of time searching real estate websites for my desert dream home. Even though my husband was not a fan of desert living nor particularly interested in golfing, I was determined to find our second and, eventually, forever home. He rolled his eyes when I showed him pictures on Zillow or Redfin of peaceful mountain views, verdant green golf courses, and my absolute requisite, three-bed, three-bath floorplans, where we could comfortably host visitors, especially our two grown kids.

Our lives in Los Angeles shifted once our children were adults, and our friends' lives did, too. Most have grandchildren who joyfully take up much of their free time (we do not yet). The days when we were family-focused — kids’ activities, high school events, college graduations, weddings and baby showers — are, for the most part, behind us. We settled into a quietly satisfying life but needed something more and staying home during the pandemic reinforced that for us.

In February of 2021, we made the two-hour drive to the desert from our Los Angeles-area home, and within 24 hours, we made an offer on a place, my constant talk of the desert having finally won over my husband. However, I hadn’t thought much about what we would actually do once we got there. I assumed we’d meet people somehow. We had a few friends who also had homes in the Coachella Valley, but mostly, I was just excited about decorating and remodeling our new home and having a place to go for long weekends.

What happened next was an unexpected and wonderful surprise.

Country club living never held much appeal to me. My interest in pickleball, tennis and golf was negligible, so I wasn’t sure how to get to know people. But living in a place like this is easy because people move to communities like ours specifically to socialize and enjoy themselves. We didn’t opt for a golf membership when we bought our home, but my husband began to play and eventually decided to become a golf member. I joined a book group through our club, and before we knew it, we were making friends. Once we had a few friends, we started meeting more and more people. To our delight, we now have an entirely new life that complements our life in Los Angeles. I’m in the desert three weeks a month during the cooler months, while my husband commutes a few days a week back to Los Angeles for work.

I know, I know. Country club living can be expensive, especially for golfers. There are communities in the area that have fees to join as golf members as high as $300,000, plus annual membership dues of $45,000, but there are options that are way more affordable, starting at around $10,000 to join with annual dues of $14,000 (paid monthly). Yes, it’s still expensive. But people who choose not to be golf members can take advantage of the community courses available to anyone who lives in one of the Coachella Valley cities, many of which are as beautiful as some of the club courses.

You don’t have to play golf to enjoy a community like mine — less than half the residents where I live are golf members. Other costs associated with these places include HOA fees, assessments for updates to facilities, and social or club membership for those who aren’t golfers, which are usually much less costly than golf memberships. Many clubs have a minimum annual spending amount, but, at least where I am, it’s not difficult to meet it with a few dinners.

Some say our community is like summer camp, while others liken it to the college experience. It’s a fascinating and fun mix of both. While there’s no age limit (quite a few younger people live here), most residents in our 1,000-home development are retired, and to say they stay active is an understatement. Many are part-timers (about 65 percent) who spend “the season” (November-April) here and then return to their homes across the United States, Canada and even Europe for the summer.

At 62, I’m on the younger side, though there are plenty of others my age and older who are busier, more physically active, and having just as much fun (if not more) as those of us who are late Boomers and Gen Xers. For example, the club has “on campus” bunco nights and card games, leisurely lunches, bocce ball, and themed parties with dinner and dancing. There’s a top-notch theater (only 15 minutes away) with Broadway shows and concerts of all kinds. There are also tons of restaurants nearby. Since I’m still working, I don’t get as much play time as many of my friends do, but I always make it to mah-jongg (my new obsession) and happy hour at the club every Friday, which is a big event each week.

As for my husband, the once-infrequent golfer, he’s become obsessed with the game. He’s having the time of his life and now admits he was wrong about desert living (which I knew would happen). The people we’ve met here are so much more important to us than the mountain views and three-bed/three-bath floor plan — though we love those, too. When my husband retires in a few years, we’ll move here full-time, and we’re looking forward to it. Then, it will be time to learn to play canasta, maybe pickleball and pick up a tennis racquet again. Who knows, I may even learn to golf.

Whichever I do, there will be people to enjoy it with.

For more information on how to live a happier life, go here.

Would you ever want to live in a country club community for older adults? Let us know in the comments below.

Follow Article Topics: Lifestyle