Senior Retirement Communities

Ken Teegardin Written by Ken Teegardin
SeniorLiving.Org Expert on Chief Editor | Caregiver

As seen the above infographic, the term retirement community is a broad term covering many varieties of housing options for seniors. There are active senior communities, age-restricted (e.g. 50+, 55+ 62+) communities, and independent living communities.

Retirement Communities

Though these communities vary somewhat, they are all tied together by their residents: those seniors who wish to remain as independent as possible.

Retirement communities have different levels of amenities such as fitness clubs and medical facilities. And within each of these broader communities, there are sub-categories, catering specifically to lifestyles such as resort and golf communities, RV living, singles, etc.

No longer is a retirement community just a neighborhood for seniors in Florida or Arizona. Today, specialized communities covering every stage of senior living and every lifestyle have sprouted up from Alaska to Alabama.

We’ll look at what you can expect from retirement communities in general. And we’ll look at some of the more specialized communities out there.

Retirement Community Basics
Do you want to live in a single family home, condo, apartment, modular home, RV or share a home with other single seniors? You’ll find all of these retirement community offerings.

Retirement communities are designed with seniors in mind. That means conveniences, ease of use, and amenities. Conveniences could be a neighboring hospital, shopping center or on-site restaurant. Homes are often fitted with easy to reach cabinet doors, higher toilets, open, single-level floor plans and other ways to make senior living easier.

Amenities include fitness centers, craft classes, billiards rooms, walking trails, indoor/outdoor pools, tennis courts, golf courses, religious services, local transportation, security, and many other ways to stay active.

Independent Living Retirement Communities
Simply put, it’s a community for active, healthy seniors who are able to live on their own. You can live in a home, townhouse, condo, and even a mobile home or motor home. You can own or rent or live as part of a cooperative. Think of it like living in your old neighborhood except these communities have age restrictions—usually over 55—and most offer amenities like clubhouses, gyms, yard maintenance, housekeeping and security.

Independent living communities also typically offer transportation, laundry service, group meals, and social and cultural activities.

Age-Restricted Retirement Communities
These communities are often marketed as 55+, 60+, etc. There is a distinction within these retirement communities. Some communities—marketed as “age-qualified”—require at least one person who is 55 in at least 80% of the occupied units. These properties are regulated by the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) and the Housing for Older Persons. Also, those under 19 cannot be permanent residents.

The communities that are marketed to a certain age group but don’t have the same age restriction are called “age-targeted”. These communities focus on their senior demographic with amenities and conveniences, but anyone can live there regardless of age.

Lifestyle Retirement Communities
With 76 million Baby Boomers beginning to retire, the demand for retirement communities is greater than ever. Your senior living options based on your lifestyle are also greater than ever. Here’s a sampling of some specialized retirement communities

  • University and College-based retirement communities for those seniors whose thirst for knowledge only increases with age.
  • RV retirement parks
  • Faith-based retirement communities
  • Golf retirement communities
  • Boating retirement communities
  • Artist retirement communities
  • Gay and lesbian retirement communities
  • Manufactured/Modular home communities
  • Luxury apartments in the city
  • Singles sharing homes a la the Golden Girls.

Beyond the Marketing Brochure
Finding the right mix of conveniences and amenities and an affordable price is the surface stuff. Factors below the surface, the ones that aren’t mentioned in the marketing, are just as important. These things can go a long way to making your retirement years enjoyable.

    • As your tour the different communities, talk to residents. Are they part-time or year-round? Are they happy with where they live? What do they dislike about the community? Were there any surprises? Is the property management company responsive to issues or requests?
    • Ask the residents about the homeowner’s association (HOA). Do they attend meetings? If so, how are the meetings run? Do residents get ample time to speak?
    • Is the developer financially solid? Are the resources in place to resolve any construction issues? What are their plans for further development? Have they built other communities? How are those communities functioning (i.e. financially, build quality, etc.)
    • Is there a reserve fund (aka “sinking fund”) for maintenance? This is set aside money for things like roof replacement, air conditioning replacement, etc. This fund is typically a line item on the HOA’s budget.
    • If there is surrounding, undeveloped property, who owns it and how will it be used in the future? Is it commercial property? Mixed use? You probably don’t want a shopping center or airport built in the adjacent land.  
    • Get a copy of the HOA's bylaws. Are there any rules you couldn’t live with. Some communities won’t allow any changes (e.g. painting, modifying, etc.) to the exterior of the property without HOA approval. Others won't allow any flags—even the American flag—to be displayed outside.

    Other Senior Retirement Options:

    • Independent Living : Many are like living in a resort with 5 star customer service.
    • Continuum Care: Many are like living on cruise ship with daily activities that are perfect for keeping busy
    • Assisted Living Facilities: For seniors that need help with daily activities of life.
    • In Home Care: Often the least expensive option for seniors who don't long care over 4 hours a day.
    • 55 Plus Communities: A easy transition into the senior living when you own your home.

Updated: Sep 02, 2011

Comments

[5] Comments... Read them below.
Linda On Jan 5, 2014
What are the prices on the apts.?

susan boodoo On Jan 29, 2013
would like to know any 55 plus places north of boston. I am 55 and husband is 68. willing to go further up north if we have to . we live in revere ma now.

joe On Dec 20, 2012
hi i'm 52 and my wife is 52 were looking for retirement places in florida that will let us live there most i called said no you have to be 55 just wondering if you could email me some places that will accept us thx joe

Brian Childs On Sep 17, 2012
I am looking for an independent/assisted living group home for my 51 year old brother who has trouble walking and Neurofibromatosis. He also cannot see very well and is on a limited income. He only needs 1 bedroom/1 bathroom and he wants to find one ranging from $600 - $1,000.00 per month in the West Houston area.

Sandra K. Bondell On Apr 16, 2012
Did NOT list or show HUD retirement apartments,,please send info, with address and phone numbers to call,,,,,