By J.V. Lakshmana Rao
Chicago: Life is stressful for a retiree who has no home of his or her own. The problem is acute for the middle-income and low-income immigrant Indians. One may have realized one’s dream of getting an employment and raising the family. But by the time one retires, most of one’s savings are spent and the Social Security amount is hardly enough for one to live on.
To help such Indian immigrant retirees, 12 thoughtful Indian immigrant entrepreneurs led by Iggy Ignatius, devised a novel plan and launched a project called Shantiniketan, a retirement gated community consisting of 54 condominiums, a clubhouse, a community kitchen and a dining hall, at Tavares, a weather-friendly retirement village in the State of Florida. Tavares is located just 35 miles from Orlando. It enjoys an excellent weather neither cold nor hot. That is why more retirees prefer to move on to sunny Florida, says Iggy Ignatius.
Speaking to India Tribune over phone from Tavares, Iggy Ignatius says: “It took almost 12 months for 12 of us to conceive the Shantiniketan plan and launch it. We purchased a seven-acre land in February 2008 and by the end of that year, we were able to secure all the approvals and permits.”
He says that Shantiniketan is a not-for-profit organization. “Shantiniketan has recently announced that it has slashed the price of its two-bedroom, two-bath and one-car garage condo to $130,000 keeping in view the foreclosure property prices in Florida.”
Stating that although the construction of all the 54 condos will be completed by October 2010, he says that a soft opening with about 20 condos is slated for February-March next year.
Speaking about the salient features of the Santiniketan, he says that the clubhouse with the kitchen and dining hall in the middle is connected with a corridor passing through the three wings in the north and three wings in the south. Each wing will have nine condos thus the six wings will have 54 condominiums. Each condo is directly connected to the clubhouse complex with a covered corridor.
The condo owners have the choice of preparing their food in their kitchen or ordering their food in the common kitchen. They are served three meals a breakfast, lunch and dinner for as little as $200 per person. Guests are also served food for an additional nominal cost.
While the price is applicable for common Indian vegetarian menu, those who want to have non-vegetarian dishes have to order separately for a small additional cost. The kitchen and dining facility is incorporated in the plan considering the age of some couples who will not able to cook their food in their condos. The cost of food is kept very low with a view to enabling the retirees to live within the means of their social security income. This also applies to the price of each condo minium.
The monthly association fees will be about $250 and the property tax will be about $150 per month. The property tax is kept low by the village administration because the Shantiniketan is located in an “active adult community” where there are no schools. However, a big hospital is just located one mile away from the Santiniketan.
Regarding the purchasing plans, Iggy Ignatius says three choices are available for an individual. The first choice is that one can outright purchase a condo for $130,000 and obtain the title. The second choice is called “Money back” plan. Under this plan, one deposits $130,000 for a condo. One does not get the title but one can live in the condo as long as one wishes, and get back one’s deposit money of $130,000 at any time if one wants to move away from it. The third choice is called “Rental plan.” Under the plan one pays a rent of $1,000 per month. Thus a couple pays $2,000 per a condo a month. Any additional member, a guest or an attendant will be charged $200 a month.
In addition to these three plans, Iggy Ignatius says Shantiniketan has launched a novel and revolutionary plan called “One square foot plan.” In fact, he says, he has written a book on it. The “One square foot plan” is an innovative way in which people of all age groups can plan for housing during their retirement years. It basically allows one to plan the purchase of one’s retirement home just as one would save for one’s retirement in an IRA account.
He says: “The American government offers Social Security and Medicare, but a program for retirement living does not exist. There is no guarantee of housing for the elderly. Keeping this in mind, the ‘One square foot plan’ was conceived and developed.”
For more information about Shantiniketan, please call Iggy Ignatius at (517) 214-5667, send an e-mail or visit the Web site: WWW.onesqurefootplan.com
By J.V. Lakshmana Rao