Jim Gibb grew up in Connecticut and spent his summers on Nantucket Island. But when he and his wife, Catherine, went looking for a retirement home, they chose Sea Oaks, an age-restricted golf course community a stone's throw from the beaches of Long Beach Island.
"We couldn't afford the $5 million for a house in Nantucket," Jim jokes.
Actually, the couple just wanted to downsize.
"We had a big house on two acres on a lake in Trumbull, CT.," Jim says. "But it was getting to be too much work. We wanted a smaller house all on one floor in a place where we just paid the maintenance fee."
Jim and Catherine learned about the 376-home Sea Oaks development five years ago from Where to Retire magazine, which listed Sea Oaks among its "100 Best Master-Planned Communities."
"My wife was reading the magazine at the hairdresser," Jim recalls. "We gave them a call and decided to drive down here. We had never even heard of LBI. But we loved it."
Jim, who worked in the financial industry, knew a good deal when he saw one.
"The builder was closing out the development and our house was one of the last three to be built," he says. "He threw in a lot of extras and we didn't have to pay as much of a premium for a lot on the golf course."
Built by K. Hovnanian, the house is located directly across the street from an undeveloped tract of woodlands and the back yard borders the 9th fairway of the prestigious Sea Oaks Country Club in Little Egg Harbor Township.
"We're just off the tee so we never get hit by golf balls," Catherine says.
The all-stucco house, a one-story Sanibel model, has three bedrooms, two full baths and about 2,400 square feet of living space. It stands at the end of a blacktop driveway that leads to a two-car garage. While the builder threw in some of the upgrades, Jim and Catherine paid outside contractors for others. They had hardwood floors installed throughout the house and removed a half wall between the kitchen and family room to open up the floor plan.
"We didn't want a closed-in look," Catherine says.
Catherine personally designed the kitchen, which features a center island, custom 42-inch cherry cabinets, granite counters and Italian porcelain tile backsplashes. The couple also added a door from the master bedroom to a paver patio that spans the width of the house. From the patio, the lush fairway is clearly visible through a screen of ornamental shrubs and pine trees.
The family room has a large dining area, a gas fireplace and sliding glass doors to the patio. A formal dining room with crown molding opens into the formal living room. There's a laundry room off the garage and a hall bathroom with a walk-in shower and a tile floor.
The upgraded master bath has a ceramic tile floor, a corner whirlpool tub, furniture-grade vanity and a glassed-in shower. The large walk-in closet is equipped with custom shelves and drawers.
A stairway in the garage leads to a storage area and a second-floor craft room where Catherine paints and makes jewelry.
Other amenities include 9-foot ceilings, a security system and a sprinkler system. Homeowners at Sea Oaks have access to two clubhouses, an indoor and outdoor pool and tennis courts.
"It was a big selling point to us that we were on a golf course with access to a country club with a restaurant, bar and a motel," Catherine says.
When they sell the house at Sea Oaks Jim and Catherine plan to move 10 minutes away to a waterfront home at the Ocean County Golf Course at Atlantis.
We're rebuilding an older house and trying to reproduce this house as much as we can," Jim says. "We've got a boat and we wanted to get another place on the water."
An open house at this property, which is listed for $384,500, will be held Sunday Sept. 30 from 2 to 4:30 p.m. For more information and directions call Kim E. Hanadel of Bayshore Agency, 609-713-8906 or visit Khanadel.BayshoreAgency.com.
Where: Little Egg Harbor Township
Location: On Sea Oaks Country Club
Size: 3 bedrooms, 2 baths
Taxes (2010): $6,391