Renate and Richard Bartels of Hellertown, Pa., love to travel and explore, dine at great restaurants, find new golf courses and hit estate sales.

So when Richard was offered early retirement seven years ago from his job as a production manager in the brewing industry, their plan was to sell the family home and buy a lower maintenance and smaller condo, giving them the freedom they sought in their golden years.

But, before Renate, 67, and Richard, 68, could seriously look at places, their daughter, Karen, 44, made them an offer that worked for all of them.

“My daughter suggested that they build an apartment over their garage so we could take off for three or four months at a time and not have to worry about anything,” Renate said.

The offer took the Bartels’ by surprise, but it made perfect sense. They had a close relationship with their daughter and her family and often babysat when their three grandchildren, now ages 22, 20 and 14, were younger.

“My daughter worked as a nurse when they were little and she often worked 12-hour shifts so we would pick them up from daycare and care for them,” Renate said.

So when the Bartels sold their home, they moved into a comfortable and new garage apartment with a separate entrance from the main house. What makes the arrangement work? Renate said the families respect each other’s privacy.

And, as they planned, the Bartels are often on the road throughout the year.

The couple now call the sprawling Sandestin Resort in South Walton County, Fla., home three or four months out of the year. But they don’t sit still while they are here.

Richard, an avid record collector, combs the classified ads for estate sales. The couple hit their favorite local restaurants and often take day trips throughout the region to play golf and visit local attractions. This year they are meeting their daughter and son-in-law in New Orleans for a few days of fun. Biloxi is another favorite destination.

The couple’s son-in-law discovered Sandestin on a golfing junket. He loved it so much that he and his business partner decided to invest in a spacious three-bedroom vacation home there.

Since the families usually only used the property in the summer months, the Bartels were offered a winter home as well.

“I can’t say enough about how generous my daughter and son-in-law have been,” Richard said. “It’s because of them that we get to do all that we do.”

The Bartels both grew up in beach areas – she near the Jersey shore and he on Long Island, N.Y. The couple both said they couldn’t imagine not being near a beach and that the Gulf Coast’s sugar white beaches and emerald green waters are incomparable.

But, soon enough, they will venture home taking their time to, of course, visit destinations along the way. Waiting for them in Pennsylvania is a new family member to love – one-year-old grandchild born to one of their two sons.snowmarch09

Life is grand.