In many ways, Pueblo El Mirage seems to be the dictionary definition of an old-fashioned “retirement community.” It is located in Arizona, second only to Florida as the state that attracts the most retirees. It is gated, well-maintained and for active adults age 55 and above. The amenities are varied and include an 18-hole golf course designed by Fuzzy Zoeller. Its best selling point, though, may be its affordability. The development, situated on 325 acres just northwest of Phoenix, is a “land lease” community with housing prices below the national average. Pueblo El Mirage has, in fact, been named “Land Lease Community of the Year” for 2007.
There are two categories of homes here. The Village Homes are cozy (meaning small), roughly 750 square feet to 1,035 square feet with two bedrooms and two baths. There are six floor plans, and each home comes an attached carport and a fully landscaped yard, which means a combination or rock and drought-resistant plants. These homes are placed fairly closely together along the street and do not have much front yard, but they are low maintenance and an option for those not needing or wanting a lot of space and upkeep. The smallest is The Mesa, and the base price is $75, 881. The largest, The Casa, is $82,720. These residences are found along the golf course and throughout the interior of the community.
The second category of homes is the Fairway Homes, which are larger and primarily located along the golf course between the 17th and 18th greens. Sized from 1,411 square feet to 1,680 square feet with two to three bedrooms and two baths, these homes offer the option of a garage rather than a carport. There are five floor plans, and the lots are larger; front porches face the street, which is further away than with the Village Homes. The smallest of the Fairway Homes is The Scottsdale; its base price is $115,800. With a garage instead of a carport, the price is $127,900. The most expensive model is The Grande; its base price is $131,520 (or $143,570 with a garage).
The real estate prices are low because the land is leased, not purchased with a home. For the Village Homes, interior lot fees are $340 per month; golf course lot fees are $366 per month. For the Fairway Homes, interior lot fees are $448 per month, and golf course lot fees are $566 per month. Pueblo El Mirage estimates that not buying the land upon which a home sits saves the average homeowner $100,000 to $150,000 off the purchase price, which is probably true. There is no HOA fee; the lot fee covers community maintenance and includes use of the clubhouse, golf course, etc. Homeowner property taxes are also less than they would be if land were purchased rather than leased.
The community also provides RV storage; rates range from 3,682.80 to $3,979.80 annually. Daily, monthly and quarterly rates are also available.
The championship, 18-hole golf course that meanders throughout Pueblo El Mirage is 6,600 yards and 72-par. According to Fuzzy Zoeller, it “provides a challenge to the low handicap golfer as well as fun and competition for the weekend player,” and is characterized by long, gentle fairways, sparkling lakes and short tee time waits. Fuzzy could be biased, though.
When not golfing, residents can enjoy the new, nicely sized, but not cavernous, Spanish-adobe-style clubhouse which has a TV lounge, a dance hall, a hair salon, laundry facilities, a gift shop, a library and a number of rooms for activities such as card games, sewing, woodworking and ceramics. There is also a restaurant, a pool and an exercise room. An activities director is on staff, so residents always have plenty of things to do, including enjoying potlucks, casino trips, theater outings and tours. Clubs are many; quilting, clogging, bowling, aerobics and computers are just a few. And with Phoenix just out the front door, all that this large city has to offer, including fine dining, major league sporting events and museums, is close at hand.
Phoenix is in the Sonoran desert. It is hot (100 degrees and higher in the summer is common); the heat is dry, which does help, but it is still hot. During the summer life is simply lived indoors (except for golfers who will golf in nearly any weather). Winters are quite nice with temperatures in the 60s and 70s. The sun shines nearly all the time.
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