Betsey and Neil Cullen moved into the Brandywine Valley after living and working in Andover, MA at Phillips Academy. Betsey worked in the Development office, and Neil was the Chief Financial Officer. Retiring from Phillips meant the Cullens would need to find a new home. After exploring places to retire near Boston, they shifted to the Chadds Ford area to get closer to Betsey’s mom at Kendal at Longwood. The Cullens made a move to Coniston in 2004, which is a 50+ retirement community offering maintenance-free living and is a part of Kendal-Crosslands Communities (KCC). Coniston provided the desired independence and proximity to Betsey’s mom, along with a fabulous meadow view.
16 years in Coniston
“Coniston provided the privacy of a close neighborhood in a rural setting,” Betsey said. “Residents have their own life, friends and activities, coming together from time to time for community gatherings. As a smaller KCC community, Coniston residents can, but not everyone does, participate in the committees and social life at Kendal at Longwood or Crosslands.”
After 16 years at Coniston, Betsey and Neil decided in 2020- despite the pandemic- to make a move. Careful planners, they knew the transition to either Kendal or Crosslands would meet their long-term healthcare needs.
The Priority List and Making the Transition
In the late nineties, Betsey and Neil joined the KCC waiting list, and realized moving to the Priority List would ensure they had a better chance to get the home they wanted. When the right home came up at Crosslands, they decided it was a good time to make the change. “We thought we might wait until we were a little older, but knew we wanted to make the move when we could make new friends and participate in the community. When our present home became available, we seized the opportunity,” Neil said.
Although Neil and Betsey dreaded downsizing again, they knew the more they postponed the decisions the harder the eventual move would become. “It’s a really good feeling to have that behind us,” Neil said. Betsey added, “We had an interior decorator help us plan our move, and hired the moving company recommended by Kendal Crosslands Communities- it made the move simple! They helped us pack, and set up here, so when we came, we were already home!”
Customizing their New Home
The process of getting their new home ready to move into went smoothly. “We worked closely with the Renovations Team, and were able to renovate our home within the designs offered by KCC. It was fun! Other than hanging our artwork, everything was ready the moment we moved in.”
“Our daughter, who lives in the New York Area, came down and spend some time with us before we moved, helping us make hard decisions about what our kids wanted and what we would keep. It’s a gift to them, really, that all these things have been dealt with already, so there won’t be issues later on,” Neil mentioned.
Exploring Talents and Dealing with Change
Betsey has become a poet, and spoke of a poem she wrote called “The Ready List” about the difficulty in deciding when to make a move. “I really didn’t feel ready,” she said, “but life moves on.” The couple initially thought they would wait until they turned 80, but decided a younger move would be better, in order to enjoy and participate in the Community.
“Part of moving to Kendal or Crosslands is about living in Community,” Betsey said, “Now we’re very independent, able make friends and share common experiences. That’s important to both of us.”
Both Neil and Betsey have been involved in the Osher Lifelong Institute at the University of Delaware, taking and teaching classes. They share this spirit of lifelong learning with many Crosslands residents. Betsey has published a second volume of poetry since the move. She also plays tennis and works on the Flower Arranging committee. Neil took his time before diving in but now serves on the Board for the Crossland’s Resident’s Association and plays in a bridge group.
Betsey and Neil felt comfortable moving to Crosslands based on the loving care that Betsey’s parents received at Kendal. They moved to Kendal in 1987, and her mom lived there for over 20 years. “My mom experienced all the layers of healthcare, and the care she received made our choice to move to Crosslands a no-brainer,” Betsey said. “When my mom needed higher levels of care, Kendal enabled her to make the necessary moves and welcomed my moral support. Now, Neil and I know that if we travel a similar path, Crosslands will support us. Fortunately, at the moment, we lead active lives and enjoy our new community, and our children know that Crosslands will continue to oversee our healthcare.”
Benefits of Planning Ahead
Clearly, Neil and Betsey live full lives and feel they have made the right decision to move into Crosslands early enough to engage fully in community life, sharing their interests with friends in the community. Their choice to move to Crosslands has offered more opportunities to explore their interests with others, and the support of nearby friends helps build a stronger community together. Betsey and Neil travel and participate in their favorite hobbies and activities much as they did when living in Coniston, but they have the security of Life Care to fall back on should the need arise. By planning ahead and getting on the Priority list early, the home Betsey and Neil wanted was available when they were ready to move. They can enjoy the community, and know support is there, if and when they need it in the future.
Want to Learn More?
If you’d like to learn more about Kendal-Crosslands Communities and why lifelong learners like Betsey and Neil decided it was the perfect community for them, download our digital brochure by clicking on the link below!