OCEAN PINES -- Barbara and Ed Weitzel looked in eight states for their retirement home before they concluded, like Dorothy in "The Wizard of Oz," that there's no place like home.
The former Ellicott City residents spent a decade looking in Florida, Georgia, the Carolinas, Virginia, Pennsylvania and Delaware. By May 1994, they had almost decided to buy in Bethany Beach when they found their townhouse in Salt Grass Cove at Ocean Pines.
"We had an argument at dinner over the house," Mrs. Weitzel recalled of the near-purchase in Bethany. "And I told him, 'I can't do this in a hurry! I am not going to make a mistake.' " The couple had sold their house in Ellicott City, and had only about a month to find something else, she said.
The next morning, Mr. Weitzel told his wife, "Let's ride over to Ocean Pines." They did. And when they walked into the 2,200-square-foot townhouse that was the model, Mr. Weitzel turned to his wife and said, "This is it." She replied, "You're absolutely right."
So they bought the model on the spot -- "I've spent more time buying a tie than I did buying this house!" Mr. Weitzel said -- and 15 months later, they say they've never had a doubt or a regret.
"All the things we were looking for were here," Mrs. Weitzel said. The Weitzels were perhaps a little more persnickety than many: Both have real estate backgrounds. He retired in 1983 after a career as a real estate site developer for McDonald's restaurants; she worked in real estate in the Baltimore area and now works three days a week for Long & Foster.
What they wanted: A home they liked in a community with a population that wasn't all retirees. "I don't want to be where everyone is 75 years old!" said Mrs. Weitzel, who is 56. Her husband is 68.
Salt Grass Cove has provided them with a wide range of amenities that can be purchased individually, including tennis courts, pools, a golf course, access to the beach and a yacht club. "It's everything we want, as much as we want to do, or as little as we want to do," Mr. Weitzel said.
The location offers proximity to Berlin and Ocean City without the bustle of city life, she said. And another factor for them: Four married daughters, two in Maryland, one in Virginia and one in Pennsylvania. The couple say their three-level townhouse, "The Egret" model in the 16-unit development by Steen Associates Inc., is the right size for their needs.
An upstairs bedroom has been converted into Mr. Weitzel's music room, and the central intercom system also serves as a stereo, so Frank Sinatra and Benny Goodman can be heard in every room.
The master bedroom, with a small deck overlooking the marshland and Manklin Creek, has a bathroom with a Jacuzzi and a water view. The first floor has a spacious kitchen, a powder room, a living room and a large deck. Below it, on the ground level, is the family room, which also does duty as a guest room, Mrs. Weitzel says. That room also has a full view of the water, a bathroom and ample closets.
"This is a very different lifestyle for us, and it suits us," Mrs. Weitzel said of the relaxed atmosphere. Cocktail parties can be attended in casual clothes and there's never a suit in sight, she said.
"We both always had to wear suits to work," she said with a smile. "This is so relaxed."