in January of 2024 is pictured above, It is in Kendal Crosslands Community, the Crosslands campus, in Kennett Square PA. Leaves on the Current and I made our second visit to the community on Wednesday, but we had largely made up our mind the day before. On this visit we looked at 3 residences, my wife became very excited by one type, especially when we discovered that for our target date we might well be able to move in around the target date, and if not, we could for perhaps a year or less move in to a smaller residence while keeping our place on the priority (waiting) list for the type residence we want.
She informed her siblings last night of our decision.
If you simply want to explore Kendal Crosslands Community, feel free to explore their website here, and if you do, allow time to do a thorough exploration.
Below the fold I will explain our exploration and our decision.
I first wrote about our exploration in Finding a Final Home back in April. We had first explored mainly in Charlottesville, thought we had found the place we wanted to go, but my wife’s family, which is almost all in the Philadelphia area (Delaware and NJ suburbs) objected, because we would be another 2 hours further away and they were afraid they would rarely see my wife. She is close to siblings and nieces and nephews, Also, if I passed before her and she was not mobile, it would be much harder for her to visit them.
So we widened our search. We looked at what are called Continuing Care Retirement Communities in PA, NJ, and MD as well as the one community where we had registered for the Priority (waiting) list in Charlottesville. We did not originally look at Kendal Crosslands because we thought the wait for an appropriate residence of at least 900 square feet was going to be too long, perhaps 5 years. But before deciding among the 4 places at which we had gotten on the priority list we would choose, my wife wanting to visit Kendal Crosslands and Kendal Longwood both because we knew of people we respected who had retired there and because her mother was briefly in custodial care there, she visited her mom a couple of times, and had been very impressed.
Our agreement was that she would get to pick where, but I had a major say in when. My say was for two main reasons. First, I am more than ten years older. Second, I am the one who understands finances and legal concerns and would be able to figure out how those might impact our decision.
Before our first visit, which was only to the Longwood side of the community, I told my wife that once she visited she was going to fall in love with it. She did, but was still concerned about me, about what I wanted. I refused to express a preference, but would regularly challenge her with issues about costs (entrance fees and monthly fees), the settings, what was nearby, etc., just to ake sure she at least considered all relevant issues. One for us was that we could bring all 3 cats — some places we might otherwise have considered were eliminated because they had a hard 2 pet limit. All those we considered were at least willing to waive for the three we have now but several would not allow to us to replace the first that passed. That was okay.
Other issues included access to hospitals that especially were involved in research on the type of blood cancer my wife has. All of the places on our final group of five had it — in C’Ville through UVa, in the DC area with current providers, and greater Philadelphia through Penn. My wife was concerned about where she would attend church. In C’vllle we found a very nice church about 20 minutes from where we would be living; in the DC area she could continue to attend the church where we were married. and in the Philadelphia area none of the places we considered was more than a hour from the church she regularly attends when visiting one of her sisters, and where as a result she iknows a lot of people and is very comfortable.
In a sense, the final group of Five was really only 4, because we never decided to register for one in NY, although we did not make that decision final until about 2 weeks ago.
For me, there is a Quaker Meeting in C’ville that I have attended in the past, in MD I could attend my current Meeting or there is another about a half hour away from the CCRC, and in PA there would be lots to choose from.
So why Kendal Crosslands? The residences at which we looked are all actually larger than the advertised space, because they all have a 3-season room — a glass enclosed patio space with a skylight (that has a blind that can be closed) — that adds between 50 and 144 square feet of usable space. It is part of complex of four sites (two for 50+ seniors in independent living) on almost a square mile of land much of it still woodlands. It is a Level 2 Arboretum — my wife wants very much a connection with the natural world. It is adjacent to Longwood Gardens, one of her favorite places in the world and for which she maintains an annual membership even though we live 2 hours away.
My wife wants to be connected to the natural world. There are miles of walking trails. The residences at Crosslands have lots of windows looking out on a natural environment.
It is non-profit. Several of the places we considered were managed by Sunrise, although all functioned as if they were non-profit. Kendal has been around for about 50 years — the only older Quaker CCRC is only a few years older, and itself is lovely but was somewhat out of our price range, as to a degree was the Quaker CCRC 4 miles from her sister and walking distance to the church she attends over there.
We had through an acquaintance of my wife been put in touch with a couple who were very gracious to us in an extended phone call. The wife had looked up Haverford graduates at Crosslands and there were two I knew, both like me soccer players, one of whom I had overlapped for a year, and the other with whom I played on an alumni soccer team for more than half a dozen years in the 70’s (including the game where I got the serious head injury that put me in a hospital, which just happened to be the first ime my then girl ffiend and now wife saw me play soccer). We actually spent an hour with that gentleman last Wednesday and also stopped by and met his wife and dog and saw their cottage.
There are real financial reasons for choosing PA — which is why two of our final five were in the Commonwealth. None of the states puts state tax on Social Security. But both MD and VA tax pensions, as well as taxing withdrawals from the federal Thrift Savings Plan, contributions to which are made pre-tax. In addition, just with our pensions we would be in a 5.75% tax bracket in both MD and VA. PA has a flat state income tax of 3.03%, but does not tax Social Security, Pensions, or the federal Thrift Savings Program withdrawals, so effectively we would pay no state income tax.
The choice of the beginning of the year is partly for financial reasons, about which more anon. But we will have significant downsizing to do, which neither of us can do while we are both working — there are not enoug hours and neither has enough energy (I am after all in my 77th year). As far as finances, there are two reasons. It will be much simpler to deal with taxes if we do not have to allocate some of the earning to VA and some to PA. Of greater importance, a good chunk of the entrance fees is considered to be a prepaid medical expense, which means it is federally tax deductible insofar as it exceeds 7.5% of adjusted gross income. By making the move in January we would reduce our income for the year to pensions and Social Security, thereby maximizing the amount we could deduct. There is a small caveat — I would stop teaching in June but be paid through the end of August. That would mean we would be still paying on our mortgage while I would have 4 months of less income, but I have run all the numbers and this is still financially very much to our benefit.
I am 76. I am finding it very draining to do the kind of teaching that has justified my staying the classroom that long. That is one reason I have rarely posted recently (although still read a lot here). I have also had to put a lot of time and energy into researching all of this. I do not claim I am now an expert, but I have become quite knowledgeable about a lot of issues.
We still have more to do — we will be working with a financial advisor on a number of issues to maximize our financial resources over the next 15 months or so. We will do what we can about downsizing issues in the meantime — I have already started that with books and music, and next Saturday the baby grand piano will depart — which may upset the cats who like to sleep on a blanket on top of it.
But I actually have not really gotten to the most important reason for this decision. I had been through just about all of the extensive material on the Kendal Crosslands Communities website, sharing some with my wife, The more we read and watched on video, the more impressed we were, the more convinced we became . On Tuesday evening I asked her not to try to calculate, but having considered everything, all issues, etc, what did her gut tell her. She said she felt most comfortable about Kendal Crosslands. That included what was available outside in the greater Brandywine Valley. I then said that she had decided where she wanted to be. She asked if I were comfortable with the decision, and I explained that the questions I had raised were to make sure she did not overlook anything, we agreed that were we comfortable with what we saw when we visited Crosslands that would be our decision, although would maintain our spots on priority lists elsewhere until we actually moved (ine required no deposit, and the others will refund all or most of our deposit.
When we walked around with our contact from marketing, we noted how much she greeted residents and staff by name. People we encountered briefly among the resident were friendly and warm. In fact as we were parking my electric vehicle, one resident came up to us to ask about our experience with it. He was parked next to us with a gas-electric hybrid that he explained was reaching the point of replacement. He pointed us at the chargers in front of the community center.
One encounter we had was with two men doing landscaping work, both residents. One had gone to Swarthmore, where my wife’s father taught for years, and both of his sons went to my alma mater Haverford.
There is very much of a Quaker ethos. A majority of the board are Quakers (all Kendal communities are run independently under the umbrella and with assistance from the Kendal Organization.
Wednesday was September 21. That was already one of the most important dates in our year. On that date in 1974 a 17 year old young woman I knew slightly walked past me at the Bryn Mawr PA railroad station. I called after her and we talked, waiting for our train to Philadelphia, which was late which meant she missed her connecting train out towards Media PA where her home was in Wallingford, the penultimate stop on that line. Because she had almost an hour to kill until the next train, I took her out for a cup of coffee and a pie a la mode. That was the start of our relationship, although our first date was not until the following Friday evening, after I had gotten the permission of her parents who already knew me. We did not get married for more than 11 years, in 1985, but we date our relationship from that date. Somehow it seems appropriate that we made our decision for our final home on that date.