Retiree wraps heart around Soleil community

Gerri Radell took a unique approach to buying a place in Soleil Laurel Canyon. She joined the community’s coral group — the Soleil Singers — and got to know future neighbors before moving there.

Radell, a former teacher, chatted about her decision to move to metro Atlanta and purchase in the active adult neighborhood.

Q: Where did you move from?

A: I was teaching for 35 years in southern Florida, and when I retired, I decided to move out of Florida to an entirely different setting. My daughter, Lauren, lives in Sandy Springs. I wanted to be closer to her and also be closer to the mountains. I love the cool weather, and I wanted to get away from the heat, the crowds, and hustle and bustle of Fort Lauderdale.

Q: How long did you search for a community and a home?

A: I started looking for a place about a year before I retired. I have always been active, and I knew I wanted to live in a retirement community that would provide the activities I needed. I searched on the Internet and found information about Soleil at Laurel Canyon, in Canton. I requested one of their magazines, and in it, learned there was a community chorus. Since I sang in a chorus for 25 years, I wanted to find out more about it. I called Sandy Schnee, who started the group, and spoke in length about what a wonderful community Soleil is.

Q: How did you get involved in the community?

A: Before my house was ready, I rented an apartment in Dunwoody. I came to Soleil every few days, so I wouldn’t miss chorus practice or some of the other activities that were going on.

Q: How has living in Soleil changed your lifestyle?

A: Since I moved in, I have participated in many other activities and clubs. I am in a book club, a travel club, Soleil Players (an acting group), Optimist Club, taking drawing and painting lessons, piano lessons, and have learned to play Mahjong and Canasta. I also try to arrange plays and dinners for the single people who live here, and at least three or four times a week, I try to do water aerobics. My friends tease me that I am never home. I am very happy I moved here and feel like I found my niche. I am finally doing things that I enjoy in a wonderful part of the country, and in a great community.

Q: Does your home have any features that you haven’t had in past houses?

A: I have a fireplace and wood floors, which I never had, and I can open my bedroom windows and can hear the birds and wildlife outside.

Q: What is one tip you would give other buyers?

A: I would recommend to anyone who is considering making a move, whether for retirement or any other reason, to spend some time in the place you are considering, so that you can see for yourself if it is the right fit for you.

At a Glance

Gerri Radell’s new home in Soleil Laurel Canyon in Canton has two bedrooms, two baths and 1,596 square feet. She purchased it in February 2011. Homes in Soleil Laurel Canyon range from the $200,000s to the high $400,000s.

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