Having moved once in retirement already, Tom and Jan O’Hara knew what factors to consider when buying a house in a new community. “It was all about things to do and people to do it with,” Jan explained. “We’re very active. We’re playing golf a lot.”
That desire for an active golf community initially took them from the Washington, DC area to St. Augustine, Florida. While the winters in their beachfront community were great, the summers were unbearably hot. So hot, in fact, that they looked for ways to get out of the state during the peak of the season.
“In the summertime when you live in Florida, you’re always looking for who you can go visit,” Jan says. She jokingly refers to these visits as 'barge trips': “This is where you go and barge in on your friends.”
It was one of those barge trips that brought Tom and Jan to North Carolina and Champion Hills.
Finding the Right House – and a Great Reason to Buy
“We actually have been coming [to North Carolina] for a couple of years visiting friends,” according to Jan. In August 2019, they decided to rent a house for a longer visit to the mountains – just in time for Hurricane Dorian to make its own barge trip to their house in Florida. “We suffered through two hurricanes,” Tom says. “And I told Jan, 'If we get another one, we're out of there.'”
In a stroke of serendipity, a great home had just come up for sale at Champion Hills, just down the street from their rental. “We could see it everyday," Jan says, "and we could see people going through it and then of course, we went through it – and that was it.”
Splitting Time Without Stress
The house itself was move-in ready and had been updated with all of the amenities that you would expect in a home at Champion Hills: stone countertops, stainless steel appliances, fresh paint, and more. The gorgeous long-range views of the Blue Ridge Mountains were the cherry on top.
Jan and Tom are keeping a winter home in Florida, although this time they’re on the west coast of Florida in the Naples area. Luckily, their home in Champion Hills is a cottage-style property where the landscaping is maintained by the Property Owners Association fees – a benefit that will allow Jan and Tom to hit the road whenever they want knowing their property will be ready for their return to Hendersonville.
A Great Community Where "Everyone Wants to Get Together"
For Jan and Tom, finding the right community was much more important than finding the perfect house. “I really think it was the members that made us want to move here,” explains Tom. “It’s not just the location and the homes, it’s really the membership.”
“Champion Hills appealed to us because the people here really are very friendly,” adds Jan. “Most people come here for the destination, so they want to be here and they want to have friends. Everyone wants to get together.”
The "Goldilocks Zone" of Convenience
Many of the places Jan and Tom considered before choosing Champion Hills met some but not all of their criteria: While the community was the deciding factor, climate and accessibility were also important. Champion Hills checked all their boxes.
"Plus, it's in the mountains, cooler but not too remote like we've seen other places,” Tom chimes in. “You know, we visited a lot of places over the last four years or so. And Champion Hills is kind of in that Goldilocks zone where you have the mountain vistas and cooler temperatures, but you're also convenient to Hendersonville, Asheville and a lot of other places.”
That convenience is important to them as they visit family and continue to travel. The Asheville airport is just 30 minutes away and the Greenville Airport is only 1 hour away; both are serviced by major airlines. And if you can’t find the flight you need in Asheville, the Charlotte Airport is a little under two hours away.
Accessibility of Golf
The ease of finding a game and getting on the course was a big factor in their decision as well. Not every golf community struck the right balance of course availability and a vibrant group of players. “We like the fact that we can just get in our cart and drive right to the course,” Jan says.
Champion Hills also has an online system that you can use to see if there’s an opening in the foursome you can just put yourself in. According to Jan, it’s a big change from their previous club, where she says they had to drive to the clubhouse and schedule tee times well in advance: "You get to play with all different people and everybody is friendly about it.”