Lake Living is the Life
Lake Living is the Life
By Jamie Penn. Previously published in the 2015 Summer Issue.
Surrounded by natural beauty and an active community, retirees settling into life on the lake find exactly what they’re looking for.
A childhood that has a lake in it is charmed with moments of floating in secret corners of coves; learning to paddle a boat for the first time; catching fish in a fog-covered dawn; jumping waves behind boats; hearing a whippoorwill trill for the first time; or watching a kingfisher dive, like a bullet, for her dinner. Then, one day, those moments become memories. Many are lucky enough later in life to follow those memories straight back to the lake. Others, simply enchanted by the idea of lake life, award themselves the joy of watching their own children and grandchildren make such memories while settling into a lifestyle akin to an endless holiday.
Lake Keowee – South Carolina
Cindy Burbach and her husband Erv are two of the lucky ones. They settled into retirement at The Reserve on Lake Keowee in upstate South Carolina.
“Erv grew up in Wisconsin and his fondest childhood memories are from time spent on Lake Michigan,” Burbach said. “I grew up on the bayou in Louisiana, and I was happiest holding a fishing pole and watching a bobber, fishing with my grandfather. We wanted to be able to give that to our grandchildren.”
Lake Keowee is no ordinary lake though, Burbach said. It’s so clear in places you can see the bottom. Spanning 1,800 acres, it boasts 350 miles of shoreline and fills the valley below the Blue Ridge Mountains. The springs and rivers that feed it create waterfalls in boating distance from the Burbachs’ cove.
The Burbachs have two daughters, one in Houston and the other in Northern Virginia. And, buying a place their girls would flock to with friends and eventually family was no mistake.
“When it was time to retire, we looked at each other and said: ‘Let’s buy bait’,” Burbach said with a laugh. “Someplace they’d really want to come to. And, it worked.”
Their youngest daughter, who in fact lured them there for the first time from Clemson, where she attended college less than 45 miles from the lake, doesn’t miss a year wakeboarding on Thanksgiving weekend, and again, at spring break and as often as possible in between.
“I remember the first time we brought my daughter here while we were building our house. She said, ‘You’re actually going to live here?’ It was just so breathtakingly beautiful.”
The Burbach’s home is situated on two acres above a hidden cove where they “float in the cove” with a group of friends and neighbors weekly when the weather’s right. They have jet skis, kayaks and a motor boat and live a life on the water they dreamed of.
Nestled in the hills below the Blue Ridge, nature is at their doorstep. They’ve seen bald eagles flying over their cove, blue herons stalking the banks on shore, and kingfishers dining from their docks. The vibrant shades of fall that cover the hills around them and decorate the banks in October and November are a Blue Ridge special that’s sure to please. They were looking for tranquil, Burbach said, and they got it.
“We no longer have blood pressure issues now that we live here,” she said, with a satisfied chuckle.
But, retirement at The Reserve isn’t about sitting in a porch rocker reading a book unless you work really hard at it.
“You could participate in something every single night and possibly every hour of the day around here,” Burbach said, adding that it’s almost impossible not to get involved here.
From the dining club, to fitness classes, golf, tennis, yoga, bible studies, book clubs, garden clubs, bridge clubs and knitting groups, there’s no shortage of ways to get involved.
Erv Burbach is an avid golfer and Cindy plays tennis frequently, but they’ve committed much of their retirement to giving back. The Reserve Foundation offers a framework for that.
“The Foundation is focused on ways we can impact our immediate area. This is nice for us. It’s what we want to be doing.”
Aside from volunteering through The Foundation, they also both serve as mentors for children at the local elementary school. One of Mr. Burbach’s favorite pastimes is taking the young boy he tutors fishing on the lake.
Burbach says there’s really not much the lake and surrounding community doesn’t offer.
Watts Bar Lake – Tennessee
Another sweet spot that draws retirees and families is Tennessee National, a gated community wrapped around 3.5 miles of lake front property in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains on Watts Bar Lake near Loudon, TN.
“It feels like you’re on vacation all the time here,” said Barb Pudinoff.
Pudinoff and her husband, Mark, moved to Tennessee National for the tranquility of lake life, golf, and the peace of mind about three and a half years ago.
“We were typical Chicago natives,” said Mark Pudinoff. “We looked in Florida, Georgia and Ft. Myers. But, we couldn’t see dealing with hurricane season, so we refocused. And, we were lucky enough to land here.”
There was little time for leisure, much less golf, in their six- to seven-day work-week when they both worked for the state of Illinois.
“Barb hadn’t picked up a club in her life, and now I can’t get her off the course!” Pudinoff said.
“Lake life is for us.”
Tennessee National dons a Greg Norman signature golf course that keeps them the busiest. Weekly golf dates with friends, and lunches and dinners with Chef Kim Rice at the Club House chocks their schedule full, with just enough wiggle room for neighborhood barbecues, bird-watching and dreams of boating on the lake in the summer in their soon-to-be pontoon boat.
Tennessee National is pretty well suited to most retirees and vacationers looking for a reprieve from the fast life. Miles of hiking and biking trails run through the development. Boating, skiing, canoeing, paddle boarding, fishing, swimming and most other watersports one can imagine can be enjoyed on Watts Bar Lake. Lakeside parks are scattered throughout offering gathering spots for neighborhood gatherings and events. A saltwater pool and a soon-to-be wellness center offer healthful reprieves. As one of the top Tennessee gated communities, there is no lack of things to do and new experiences awaiting residents.
While remote is what many Tennessee National residents are looking for, most also prefer easy access to fine restaurants, shopping and cultural and art events such as offered in Turkey Creek, an upscale retail development 20 minutes away, and in the hip city of Knoxville, with over 850,000 residents and more antiquing, shopping, dining, theatre and art than one could want.
Knoxville is also home to one of the top-ranked hospitals in the state.
“UT [Teaching Hospital] has a phenomenal reputation,” said Pudinoff.
“Tennessee National,” says Pudinoff, “is kind of the perfect package.”
Lake Balboa – Arkansas
Hot Springs Village isn’t your average lake community. There are no crowded fishing spots or hundreds of boats to maneuver around in July. Hot Springs Village is a “community of lakes surrounded by land” open strictly to residents of the Village. There are ten community lakes, Lake Balboa being the largest covering nearly 950 acres, surrounded by land that host nine championship golf courses, 24 miles of nature trails, 16 tennis courts, a five-star fitness center and spa, three swimming pools and a performing arts center.
One would assume that homes here are on the generally unaffordable list, but not so. Price points range from $125,000
to $1 million, offering a diverse range of home and property options.
Lake Balboa, boasting the same crystal clear water of the other six residential lakes, is one of two lake communities offering a marina.
This was a draw for Ruth and Jerry Kosoglow, as were the many golf courses. Both are avid golfers.
But, Arkansas, says Ruth Kosoglow, wasn’t really on the list when retirement became an option.
“A golfing friend of mine invited us up to their lake house,” she said. “We were sitting on the porch listening to the whippoorwills, and it was all just so beautiful and peaceful. I fell in love with it.”
Their one-acre lot is on a peninsula overlooking the lake, and their days are spent boating, kayaking, golfing, lunching at the country club and participating in any number of the long list of social activities and committees they’re a part of there at the Village.
While it’s a short drive into West Little Rock for shopping, cultural activities and great restaurants, Kosoglow says they leave only when they have to.
“I think everyone feels as lucky as we do,” she said. “I’ll call friends and get their answering machine, and their message will say: ‘Please call again, we’re out enjoying paradise.’ And, that’s truly what it’s like here.”