It's a shame more people don't attend to this site. Anthem@Merrill is among a very short list of communities were examining for our move to AZ in early 2016. Anthem keeps popping up as a real value in many ways. I understand there are many homeowners from Canada snow birding there. Are Canadians bailing out due to currency values? Is there a regular odor of "cows"? During our visit last summer we noticed it and haven't heard anyone talk of it.
Our Visiit to Anthem@Merrill Ranch
There was a post on another board which I think is very important to consider as you read this or any other thread on the web. The writer wrote "it isn't about one community being superior to another, it's finding the community where you are comfortable, that best fits your lifestyle. This isn't one community competing against another."
We began our visit to Phoenix area 55+ communities, our third in the past year, just a few days ago. We're staying at Sun City Festival using their Guest Program. Our itinerary is 4 nights at Festival, 3 nights in Green Valley at Quail Creek and ending our stay with 2 nights at Sun City Anthem@Merrill Ranch. However, there needed to be a change.
We had enlisted the services of a Realtor at Anthem and she would be on vacation at the time of our scheduled stay. She ask if we could meet her earlier in our visit. We agreed to make the 2 hour drive from Festival so we could see some homes with her. We made that drive Saturday (yesterday). It was productive but not pleasant.
First, I'd like to comment on the experience with the Realtor. On our way to Anthem our GPS indicated we'd probably be about 10 minutes late for our 10 o'clock appointment. We thought it would be courteous to phone the Realtor and advise her of our late arrival. Being late for appointments I believe is disrespecting someone else's time. We made that call 30 minutes prior to the scheduled appointment time. At the very end of our drive the Realtor called and said,in a rather curt manner, "How far away are you?". We explained we were about 1 minute away. We were meeting her in the parking lot of the Safeway at the community entrance. As we pulled in we could see her waving from her car window. We pulled up beside her. She didn't get out of her car. We exited our car and got in her car. She was professionally friendly but certainly not warm nor, we thought, not genuine.
She showed us 4 homes in just over an hour asking us as we completed the showings "do you have any questions?" then took us back to our car. Off we went for our two hour return drive to Festival. It seemed to us after adjusting our schedule to meet hers, making a 4-hour round trip drive, she should of at least gotten out of her car on our arrival to greet us. At every other realtor or community visit we have been offered cold water or some kind of drink on these days topping 110 degrees. This realtor experience was not good and while she is supposedly a top listing agent and lives in the community, we would recommend AGAINST her services. There are realtors who treat clients with much more respect and genuine curtesy. Now about our impressions of the community.
We visited Anthem@Merrill (I'll refer to it simply as 'Anthem' in this writing) one year ago. I wrote about that visit on the city-data.com blog in a thread titled "Our Retirement Community Visit" in the Arizona--Phoenix pages, June, 2014. In that posting I commented on the second day of our stay we were having morning coffee on the patio when we noticed having to swat big flies buzzing around us. There was also a distinct and rather strong smell of cow manure in the air. We retreated to inside our guest villa because of this unpleasant odor. Later in the morning we ask about the odor at the community sales center. The staff looked at us with blank faces and said something like "really?, maybe they're fertilizing the golf course. We didn't smell anything." Uh, okay, but the smell was very noticeable. We sort of filed that away. Now we know much more.
The house offerings at Anthem are considerably less in cost than any other new community we've investigated and we've looked at many. We love the facilities developed in Del Webb communities and Anthem is no exception. The club house, fitness center, swimming pool is first rate. They just opened a new grill which is very handsome. We did not try the food so I can't comment on that. We also love the floor plans offered in Del Web communities over those of Robson and other developers. Again, Anthem is no exception. Grading this community I would say houses A, facilities A, overall community design A. But there are other factors that downgrade the community for us.
It's been written on other pages that Anthem is "way out there, not close to any shopping beyond the grocery store at its' entrance, too rural". Yes, these comments are accurate but the location can easily be a plus for some. We actually like the idea of being away from the Phoenix metro area and out of traffic and busy shopping centers. Perhaps the night sky is more visible than it is in communities in or near cities. But the location has one very, very big downside for us.
To get to Anthem we drove down I-10 turning onto state highways 287/87 heading east over to the Hunt Highway and Anthem. On this 20 mile drive we passed two huge cattle feed lots. The second feed lot with hundreds of Angus cattle is within a few short miles of our destination at Anthem. THAT explains the manure smell of a year ago. We noticed it again as we got out of the realtor's car at a couple of the showings. This had a major impact on our decision.
As we drove by the first feed lot we began thinking we would not give any further consideration to Anthem. As we passed the second huge feed lot and within 2 miles made the turn onto Hunt Highway and the location of the community we knew it was over. This community may be a great buy but it has this huge environmental negative for us. We were eliminating it from further consideration before seeing one house. However, we were fearful we were rushing to judgement so we continued our short, and inconvenient, visit to meet with the realtor, drive around the community and see the homes. Nothing dissuaded us from our judgement.
The community has many strong points not the least of which is pricing of homes. But maybe this is a reason it is so inexpensive compared to other new communities. We do not want to live in a community where, on certain days, you can smell cow sh*t. Sorry. End of evaluation. End of story. Done.
We returned to Festival knowing that our first impressions a year ago were accurate. We spent recent months taking another and very serious look at this community from our home near the Twin Cities. Just seeing it online made it seem more attractive. It casts doubt on our initial impressions made during our visit in June, 2014. Our second in-person look in June, 2015 was a reality check. This community is NOT for us.
Last edited by Rusco; 06-21-2015 at 07:46 AM.
Good Morning Rusco. I very briefly skimmed your note on the other board yesterday evening.
What aggravates me most is that they lied to you last year about the smell coming from the greens. I mentioned this to DH who does not read or post on any of these boards, (but does frequently drive the I-10 for work), and he mentioned the cattle ranches. This place wasn't even on our radar in July 2012 so we have never been there.
Personally, I think you'd do best in either Sun City or Sun City West. That was our final two, and from that, (for us anyway) the decision was easy.
BTW, you mentioned Snooker? I never heard of it until I moved here. There are three billiard rooms in Sun City. Bell, Lakeview and Fairway. We have played 8 ball at all three.
I hope you enjoy the rest of your vacation.