Senior couple with exercise mats talking to each other after yoga class with other people in the background

Considering an Active Retirement Community?

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If you’re approaching retirement (or are already retired, for that matter), you may be thinking of downsizing, moving to a warmer climate, or finding a place to fit your lifestyle as an active senior. Do you envision your retirement years as an opportunity to maintain a healthy and well-rounded lifestyle? If so, you might want to consider living in an active retirement community. Active retirement communities, also known as independent living communities or 55+ communities, are designed to offer older adults the freedom to pursue an active and social lifestyle without the responsibilities and maintenance of traditional homeownership. For many retirees, moving to an age-restricted active adult community surrounded by golf courses, swimming pools, and organized activities is a great way to live their retirement years fully. While the lifestyle and amenities that age-restricted active retirement communities offer are a good fit for many retirees, these places are not for everybody.

Moving to a new home is a multi-faceted decision no matter what stage of life you are in. While your rational side is looking at things like the cost of the house you wish to buy, the amount that your existing house will sell for, and how far you will be from family and friends, your emotional side is considering factors like the opportunity to make new friends the ability to relax and enjoy your new home. Deciding about where and how to live in your retirement years can seem daunting. But remember, you’ve successfully chosen communities that have served you through a variety of life changes: leaving for college and living on your own; starting a family; navigating the complexities of raising children; and becoming an empty nester. As you consider your options during retirement, think about the following seven questions.

Will you enjoy living in a remote, self-contained community? Most retirement developments are located on the outer edges of cities in suburban or rural areas. If the retirement community offers most of the activities you enjoy, it may suit your needs. But if you like to go to concerts and the theater, visit museums, dine in restaurants, or shop in a variety of venues, you might find yourself missing out on things that living in a larger city has to offer.  

Would you prefer to be surrounded by other retirees, or would you rather stay in the mainstream? This is a highly personal choice that you need to make before deciding that an age-restricted community is right for you. When you move somewhere new, having a conveniently located group of potential friends is nice. In active retirement communities, residents are generally in the same life stage and want to enjoy a relaxed retirement, making it easier to find people with whom you have things in common. However, keep in mind that surrounding yourself with people of different ages will keep you better connected with what’s going on in the world and can enable you to stay younger at heart.

Will you fit in, and are your prospective neighbors happy? Try to talk to several people who live in the retirement community you are considering. Ask them what they like most about living there and what they would improve. Try to determine whether they are happy with how the community operates and if they have any complaints. Ask if they get along well with their neighbors. If you are concerned about whether you will fit in, pay close attention to how they treat you. When you visit communities, notice the demographic characteristics of the residents. Try to determine if there are other residents like you since many active retirement communities tend to be homogeneous regarding race, religion, political views, and socioeconomic class.

Are you ready to downsize? Most of these communities feature apartment-style, patio homes, or small houses built close together. Downsizing from a large home to a smaller one requires planning to organize belongings to fit into a smaller one. Are you prepared emotionally to potentially scale back on the lifestyle that a larger home allows? Another point to consider:  since many residents may be retired, your neighbors may have more time to become involved with you, affording you less privacy than you are accustomed to.

What are the rules, and can you live with them? Active retirement communities are usually governed by a homeowners association (HOA). The HOA will have rules that apply to many aspects of your residential experience, such as what pets you can own, how you can decorate the exterior of your home, and how long younger guests may visit. Ask for a copy of the covenants, conditions, and restrictions and read them thoroughly before selecting a specific community. Also, keep in mind that homeowners associations collect dues and fees from community members that are used to pay for community expenses, like renovating shared community spaces and the upkeep of amenities. You should include HOA fees when determining whether you can afford the total monthly cost of the home.

Will the community accommodate your planned visits with family and friends? Many communities restrict younger family members from using the property unless one of the owners is present. In some communities, individuals under age 55 may not be permitted to stay for prolonged visits, which means grandchildren may be unable to visit for extended periods.

Will an active retirement community support your needs in the future? Most active retirement communities do not provide assisted living or healthcare services. Some communities may have contract arrangements with third-party homecare service providers. Still, these communities fall under the same category as “aging at home.” As you age, you may need to seek other senior living options, such as continuing care retirement communities and assisted living.1 If you decide that the community isn’t for you or the need for healthcare services necessitates a move, keep in mind that the buyer market available to you is limited because of the 55+ age requirement.

Final Thoughts

Moving to a new place for your retirement years is an important decision. An age-restricted active adult community introduces additional lifestyle and financial factors that should be considered. Ultimately, the way you want to live your retirement is up to you. Contact us, we’re here to help guide you through the choices that you make to create your retirement adventure.




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