Bob & Barb Denny’s journey to The Arboretum Villas — our luxury retirement community podcast


“We actually visited four communities, and we found some big differences,” said Bob Denny.

Bob and Barb Denny weren’t planning on moving. When they heard about The Arboretum Villas, they immediately reserved their Villa with a fully refundable $10,000 deposit…and then did their homework. “We actually visited four communities, and we found some big differences,” said Bob. In this enlightening episode, Bob Denny does all the homework for you, explaining the top reasons why The Arboretum Villas rose above the rest and will be their next home.


Nitsa Foundos: Hello, welcome to Living Without Limits, our fun and informative podcast about the Arboretum Villas at Plymouth Place in La Grange Park, Illinois. I’m your host, Nitsa Foundos, and joining me today is Bob Denny, one of the future residents of the Arboretum Villas. Welcome, Bob.

Bob Denny: Nitsa, it’s a pleasure to be here. It’s been quite a journey we’ve been on for the last, almost year, and I’m very happy to be here to talk about it.

Nitsa Foundos: I can’t believe it’s 2023.

Bob Denny: Boy. And the scary part is we’re going to be moving in a very short number of months, and I’ve got to get my head around downsizing, but we’ll talk about that.

Nitsa Foundos: Okay. Well, Bob, I don’t think any of the listeners really know who you are. Why don’t you tell the audience a little bit about yourself?

Bob Denny: Sure. I’m a retired chemical engineer, although I’ve spent most of my life in the business side of things. My wife and I have lived 28 years here in La Grange in a single-family home. I got three kids here in Chicago, some grandkids, so we’re not going to Florida, I can guarantee you. We consider ourselves very active. We travel. We go to the theater, we go downtown. We exercise a lot. So, it’s a busy time for us. Our life is full.

Nitsa Foundos: That’s amazing. Well, you know what, I think it’s time to really talk about your journey to the Arboretum Villas. How did you and Barb first hear about us?

Bob Denny: Well, we heard about you from some of your marketing materials just about a year ago.

Nitsa Foundos: So, what led you here?

Bob Denny: Well, I guess the story begins is that we have a second home over in Michigan. So, we had two houses that we needed to maintain, and as we got older, that became a burden of greater and greater amount of work. So, the issue of downsizing became more and more important to us. We thought about what were our options, and we said, “Well, we could sell our house and buy a condo.

We could move to a luxury rental. We could look for a senior rental apartment. Although in reality, there’s very few of those around. We could look for an independent, a living retirement community, or we could look at a Continuing Care Retirement Community or a CCRC. And that combines, of course, independent living with assisted skilled nursing and memory care all in one location.

We had a very positive experience about 20 years ago with my parents as they finished off their life in a CCRC up in Northbrook. That together with the location here in La Grange really said, “Boy, this Plymouth Place opportunity, the villas looked very unique.” So, we decided, well, early March, I guess it was, so not too long ago, to put down a very small refundable deposit and get our oar in the water, and that’s where things started.

So, at that point, I wasn’t at all sure that I wanted to move at all, and I wasn’t at all sure that coming to Plymouth Place, to the Arboretum Villas, was necessarily the right answer. So, at that point in time, we decided to go out and look around and see what other Continuing Care Retirement Communities looked like in the Chicagoland area. So, we actually visited four others and we found some big differences.

Nitsa Foundos: Why don’t you expound on that a little bit? because we were probably the first to put our toes in the water to want to generate interest in a wonderful community that attracted a younger demographic.

Bob Denny: And that is really where we found the differences because our objectives… we expected to live in the independent Villas for really 10 to 15 years before thinking we might consider, let’s call the continuing care facilities down the road. So, we really wanted a place that catered to a younger group of people, not necessarily in age, but in mindset. And when we looked at these other communities, the interesting thing was the units themselves, the villas were all fairly the same. Square footage, the finishes, all very nice. They were all targeting an upscale type of market.

Where the differences were in, first of all, something as simple as the amount of green space and the focus on life outdoors. And one of the hardest parts for us of giving up the single-family home was our yard, our gardening, sitting on our deck, doing all those things.

We really look forward to the landscape here at the Arboretum, the villas, the walking trails, the pond we have at the east end of the property. It’s even going to be stocked with fish. I’m a fisherman and I look forward to wetting a line out there. The outdoors is important to us, and being able to accommodate our needs there is, again, a big difference that this organization has.

So, the factor that made the villas here at the Arboretum, the best fit for us was a focus on this younger, a demographic and the great location here in La Grange. So, in the end, the Arboretum, the Villas became our choice, and here we are.

Nitsa Foundos: Well, I truly appreciate that perspective from you, Bob. And I know that you and Barb have been to several of our Founder events and you’ve gotten to see the mix of wonderful people that have joined this project and are becoming very close, if I might say, in terms of friendships. I think that’s amazing. Can you talk to the audience about the group as a whole.

Bob Denny: Well, the first thing is the gratitude we have of having these events where we were able to meet the people that we were going to be living with, our neighbors in the future. Because a very important part of this community is the social events and the social activities that we expect to have once we live here. And we’re looking for a bunch of people that, quite honestly, are like ourselves so that we can relate to and share activities and be that. So, the social events we have had as Founders over the last eight or nine months have really given us a wonderful opportunity to confirm that this is a group of people that we want to be with, we want to share with.

Nitsa Foundos: Thank you for saying that, Bob. I will tell you what I know about you. You’re a numbers guy and I can tell you that many times we’ve had conversations about the value proposition of the Arboretum Villas. So, for people weighing the costs of living here, what is the value of all that we offer?

Bob Denny: I think the value proposition, you could look at it either from a financial point of view or a non-financial point of view. And I’m an engineer. I run the numbers, I do the analysis. My wife would say to an extreme, my kids would say even more. But anyways, when you look at the overall costs of living in your single-family home, when you add everything in, all the things that you spend on and you have to think widely and then compare it to the costs here at the Arboretum, the villas, I think you find the numbers are very similar.

But, of course, because you’ve got a single predictable monthly fee, I think your financial life, your financial complexity is simplified a great deal. For me, it gives me a lot more time to do other things that I want to do. But I think the value proposition is a lot more than just good numbers. I think it’s things about how you use your time. For me, not having to track down service people, contractors to come in and work on my home is a huge advantage.

My wife and I travel a lot. The ability to leave town in the winter and not worry about snow shoveling, whether the sum pump is going to fail, the furnace is going to fail, the mail’s going to be picked up. Wow. What an advantage to not have to worry about those things.

Clearly, the value proposition relating to location is huge for us. Being close to La Grange downtown, we can walk, we can get to the train, we can hit downtown very easily.

The other thing I value a great deal is the flexibility that’s been afforded by the Villas here, and the flexibility… we may talk in a few minutes about the financial arrangements, but beyond that, we can choose to have meals included in our monthly fee or not. If we do choose to have meals included, we can eat at the venues here on the property, and there are going to be a new nice one in the Center for Healthy Living here. Or we can choose to eat at some of the restaurants downtown in La Grange where we already go all the time. So, the flexibility provided is important, I think, to again, our demographic. And I think that’s a value that the organization has brought.

Nitsa Foundos: So, let’s discuss the advantages of life care and our fee-for-service option that had you not had this heart-to-heart conversation with me. And you said, “Nitsa, we think differently. So, why do I have to take the life care component?” I don’t know. I think you can tell the story better.

Bob Denny: I might just make a comment before I start, is that we talked about the differences in the four locations we visited. All the rest of them stuck to a life care-only alternative. They did not offer the flexibility provided here at the Arboretum, the Villas. But this discussion starts for us many years ago when we decided not to invest in long-term care insurance and alternatively took the risk of we felt we could fund or self-fund this ourselves down the road when and if we need advanced care. So, that was a decision we made probably 10 years ago.

Bob Denny: And if you look at the life care option, the reality is it includes a long-term care insurance component that helps pay for the continuing care down the road. By going to the fee-for-service alternative, this allows us to reduce the cost of our entry fee here at the villas, and that was attractive to us.

When we looked at this move into the villas, we anticipate that we’re going to be in our independent, our living villa for 10 to 15 years before we would get to the point of requiring advanced care, if you will. We reviewed this with our financial advisor and he wholeheartedly agreed with our perspective, just from a financial point of view, to invest money this early for so many years that would pay out down the road he felt was not a good investment.

And the difference is the other communities still have this mindset that people were going to be in independent type of living for only a short time and then would migrate into advanced care and life care was a financial way of dealing with that. But this demographic is different. Our expectations are different.

Nitsa Foundos: And hence the average age of this demographic, and you can only speak for the Villas, is 73. Now, we welcome everyone. We do not want anyone out there to feel that if they’re older than that that they can’t look at the Arboretum Villas. But we certainly appreciate the fact that we’ve been one of the only successful continuing care communities that has drawn some of these baby boomers out of the nest to invest in their future. So, I’m very grateful for that.

All right. So, you chose a specific style of villa. We had nine different floor plans when we began this process over a year ago. So, I’m curious, tell the audience which one you chose.

Bob Denny: Well, we’re in a Linden and we are on the third floor of our building. We’re in the two-bedroom plus den. So, we needed enough room to be able to exercise our hobbies. I’m a photographer. Barb does sewing, quilting, artwork. So, we’re going to use the second bedroom with a Murphy bed as her activity room. I’m going to have the den for much of my activity. The kitchen and the living room is a good-sized, great room where it combines activities, uses space very efficiently.

But the most exciting thing is we’ve got a great outdoor deck or a patio that is unusually large and really is good for us. And the Linden is unique and that it’s got windows all around. It’s probably got the most set of windows of any of the units that are out there, more light, more space, more air. So, we’re excited.

Nitsa Foundos: Well, you’re spot on because out of all of the styles, that one does have the most windows and allows all the natural light and beauty to come in, and there’s truly not any bad view within any of these villas. So, right now, you’re going through the actual selection process.

Bob Denny: We are. You’ve got a Design Center downtown in La Grange where there’s samples of all the different cabinets, all the finishes, the tile, the different options that we have. And since the early part of December, we’ve been in there trying to make our choices. And again, another part of the flexibility that we’ve seen here is a number of us have wanted a few more changes than maybe you were even anticipating. And you guys have been quite flexible in accommodating our needs, but it really adds value to us to be able to customize our units to really suit our needs.

Nitsa Foundos: Well, we knew taking on this project that it wasn’t a one-size-fits-most. It truly is not that. So, moving advice. Now, have we helped you prepare for your move?

Bob Denny: So, the service, of a personal relocation manager has made available to us, and we’ve been in contact with her on a number of occasions. We’ve actually had two realtors out to our home already to give us market evaluations and begin to talk about the strategies for putting our home on the market when the time comes. And that time is getting closer and closer. There’s been a series of meetings to talk about the actual downsizing activity itself.

Where to send things from charitable contributions, where to find the place to throw things away, the dumpsters, the moving companies, all the different places out there to help us in whittling down our number of possessions. And as weird as it is, I’m actually looking forward to reducing my number of things. My mind will be much clearer with less clutter around my house.

Nitsa Foundos: Well, I bet. And we’ve joined hands in partnership with Moving Station and the downsizing processes with another corporation called Honoring Aging. They are a local company, and we’ve had so many positive testimonials from both sides.

But when you’re dealing with experts that know how to time it and be able to organize the process as such, it’s not as… oh, what can I say, cumbersome. And the fact that many people have asked, “Well, what if we sell our home before the Villas are ready? What’s going to happen?” Moving Station also provides a number of different short-term relocation options.

So, in thinking about advice, knowing what you’ve learned all this time with coming forward as one of the very early founders within the Arboretum Villas, what advice would you give someone that is considering this type of move.

Bob Denny: One of the differences between the four CCRCs that we considered was that here at the Arboretum, the Villas, you offer us to be able to put our over the water for a fully refundable deposit. And that is different than the other places that we talked to. So, that allows you a lot of flexibility.

So, my advice to people is to come in and look at the units here at the Arboretum, the Villas, put a deposit down, and then go out and look hard at the other alternatives. There is no right answer for everybody about what’s the best fit for you when it talks about the next stage of your life and where you’re going to live, whether it’s a condo, an apartment, whatever.

I’ll warn you, it takes a lot of time, but you’ve got to be comfortable with your choice. But my recommendation is put the deposit down here first. Lock yourselves in, get a beautiful place to live. And then, it’s fully refundable. If this isn’t the right fit for you after doing your due diligence, you move on and go to that direction that’s a better fit for you.

Nitsa Foundos: We wanted to ensure that people would feel that they had that out, that they could get 100% of their money back if they changed their mind. And we have stood steadfast with that. The deposit, the early depositor proposition is a wise one. Let me remind everyone that’s listening. We are 85% sold. We have four styles available of the nine. We do have a wait list program, but as you know, you’re going to be waiting a very long time as Bob here. Barb and Bob are going to be living with us for about 15 years. So, if you want to wait 15 years, go for it.

But I will say that the first stage is $10,000, and then you have 60 days to convert that to a 10% of an entrance fee. And then, we sit and we wait until your villa is completed. It’s a very small investment, but a meaningful one. Anyway, is there anything else you’d like to add?

Bob Denny: No, it’s been a journey, and it’s been an interesting one. And the people here at Plymouth Place have been just wonderful to work with and honest and credible, and it really bodes well for our relationship with the management here as we come here as residents.

Nitsa Foundos: Thanks for saying that, Bob. Well, thanks so much for joining me. I appreciate all you’ve done to help us make the Arboretum Villas such a success. And I mean that from the bottom of my heart. We do talk quite frequently, and whether it’s through email or by telephone, and I know that I’ve come to rely on you for some marketing expertise, but you know what? I’m keeping your mind active.

Bob Denny: That’s great. I appreciate it. It’s been a treat.

Nitsa Foundos: So, if you’re considering the Arboretum Villas at Plymouth Place, I advise you to act soon. We still have several beautiful villas left, but we do expect to sell out soon. And you can reach us at 708-482-6634 or visit, O-R-G, and check out our events page for upcoming lunch or dinner presentations. If you’d like to see these beautiful floor plans and finishes in person, stop by our Design Center at 26 South La Grange Road in downtown La Grange and say hello to Shelly. We’re open Monday through Friday, 9:00 to 5:30 and Saturday by appointment only.

Thank you so much, everyone, for tuning into Living Without Limits. We look forward to talking with you again. Until then, I’m Nitsa Foundos.

Nitsa Foundos: Good job, Bob.

Bob Denny: What fun.

Nitsa Foundos: That was fun.