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The concept of 55+ senior living community is simple: people 55 or older live in a planned community with a variety of amenities that cater to the senior resident. These residents usually live an active and healthy lifestyle so the amenities are geared toward that. The reality is that there are many variations of this concept. For instance, some communities require only a minimum number of residents must be 55 or older, leaving the possibility that young families may become your neighbor. And that’s fine for many seniors. It’s just something to be aware of. Deciding if a 55+ community is right for you is like any other major decision. You’ll need to do some research, explore your options, and recognize potential pitfalls. And ultimately, you’ll want to visit the community you’re interested in.
A 55+ community is a type of location designed to accommodate people that are at least 55 years of age or older. In general, the atmosphere, layout, and amenities are meant to provide for the needs of this age group, rather than, for example, young families. The area may have very specific stipulations on who can live within the community with the goal of keeping the residents in this upper age limit.
So why do people choose a 55+ community? The well-designed communities have all of the residents’ needs in mind. You should be close to hospitals, shopping, dining, and local attractions. Some like the physical security that a community provides whether it’s a gated neighborhood or on-site security patrols. Others like to live with their peers without children in the neighborhood. Many communities have conveniences (the amenities mentioned below) that seniors find irresistible. Another convenience is that all of your expenses — taxes, insurance, utilities, etc – are wrapped up in one fee. The maintenance and care of your property is basically eliminated: no more mowing the grass, raking leaves or replacing a leaky gutter.
In general, 55+ communities are for active adults desiring to live with their peers. And while many communities offer general amenities in a suburban setting, others are more focused on a particular lifestyle or location. Here are a few examples:
A luxury 55+ community is just that. Generally, the homes will be larger with more amenities and features. They tend to be significantly higher priced as well. Luxury communities may offer more services to residents including more onsite amenities. Most importantly, the higher price ensures that more affluent individuals live within the community.
One of the fastest growing sectors in this type of retirement community is the university 55+ community. Here, the community generally will have direct ties with local universities and colleges. They help to make it possible for individuals to work or participate in learning activities at these locations while providing for the individual’s needs at home.
Some individuals prefer to be less set in stone when it comes to their living area. They want to travel. An RV retirement park, geared towards those who are over the age of 55 is a solution to this. Here, the individuals are able to live for as long as they like with others who share the similar interests and ages.
Golf and resort communities offer a resort-like experience for those who are older. While they are not open to the public, in terms of renting for a vacation, these locations allow individuals over the age of 55 to enjoy all of the vacation like amenities the area has to offer. Golf communities are often on or near some of the most prestigious golf courses in the area.
Many people prefer to live around those who share the same beliefs as they do. There are a variety of religious 55+ communities that can provide that type of safe haven for those who live there. Those who live in the community share the same viewpoints and beliefs.
Active communities are just what they sound like – they are designed to encourage an active lifestyle. Some offer accessible golf while others offer more access to hiking, biking, and swimming. The goal here is to keep everyone active and enjoying sports, recreation, and a busy lifestyle as they age.
Singles 55+ communities allow individuals who are unmarried to come together in the same area. They may (but not always) offer opportunities for meeting others. In many situations, though, the goal is to provide individuals with an opportunity to enjoy the company of others who are single.
Gated communities offer a bit more security, but still off the benefits and specializations of a 55+ community. In short, the area does not allow just anyone to visit. Individuals who want more privacy, less bothersome visitors and limited sales people will enjoy this type of community.
The kinds of amenities you’ll find vary greatly from community to community. But in general, most will have a clubhouse and exercise facilities, indoor/outdoor pools, hobby and craft clubs, security and maintenance. Others offer golf courses, marinas, tennis courts, on-site health care, restaurants, professional entertainment, walking trails, billiards rooms, card rooms, library/media center, bocce courts, lakes for fishing, and many other lifestyle related options. For seniors needing some assistance with living, there are communities with this option.
You’ll find many variations of age-restricted communities such as 55+, 62+, and 65+. The U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) and the Housing for Older Persons Act, which says that housing must include at least one person who is 55 or older in at least 80 percent of the occupied units, regulates these communities. This means one spouse can be under the required age. Also, those under 19 cannot be permanent residents. These communities are usually noted as “age-qualified in their marketing brochures. Then there are those communities that are marketed to a certain age group — “age-targeted” — but are not age-restrictive. This means that younger couples with kids are permitted to live there. And for many seniors, that’s just fine.
As you research locations and community amenities, also consider other aspects that won’t be mentioned in the glossy brochures.
There is no limit to what they can cost. The type of community, the size of the accommodations, and the location all play a role in this. Generally speaking, some of the higher end locations can be just as expensive, if not more so, than owning a home.
Some 55+ communities are neighborhoods with walkable streets and single-family homes. This is ideal for the active, healthy individual who still wants to have the freedom of living in a home.
It is possible to buy a home in this type of community. Buying a house in a 55+ community allows the homeowner to maintain ownership of the property and land. While individuals still need to meet the homeowners association requirements, they still have most of their freedoms here.
Some of these communities offer renting options. Here, you would not own the home – a third party generally does – but you can live in it and enjoy the community’s amenities. For those who may not be ready to buy or those who do not want a long-term commitment, this is a good option.
Not everyone wants a lot of land or space to live in, which is where 55+ apartment communities come into play. In these locations, individuals have a smaller space, often in a shared building with others.
Buying an apartment or a condo in a 55+ community allows you to own that space. You do not own the land or the building’s shared features, but you do have an ownership stake in the property itself. This is excellent for those who want to maintain ownership and plan to live in the area long term.
For others, renting an apartment in this community is better. It allows for those who live there to be able to live along their own goals. And, it can provide an opportunity for seniors to move into a 55+ community without having to make a formal purchase. Paying on a monthly or annual basis can be more affordable in rentals.
Purchasing or renting a home in 55+ senior living really comes down to your own personal finances. Most seniors can still obtain a mortgage to purchase any type of home in this area. In other cases, it may be best to use cash reserves or investment income to make these purchases. There is no outright financial support for living in these communities. Medicare and Medicaid do not, in most cases, provide for these services. If the location is a 55+ community with assisted living services (which some communities are now offering at an increased rate) then there may be some allowance for additional financial support for just those services. However, they generally will not pay for housing expenses in this type of community.
Most areas offer one or more communities like this. Finding them may seem like a challenge, but more so than ever, 55+ communities are marketing themselves. This means it is getting easier to locate these locations. For those who may need them and be unable to find one easily, consider during to senior centers, religious organizations, and even medical providers for additional advice on locating these fantastic communities.
It is also important to note that each location is very different. Do not assume that any one location is going to offer all of the services desired. It is also worthwhile to visit and see these locations first hand before making the buying decision.
If you would like assistance in considering your options or finding a community that meets your specific needs, please use our search directory or call us. We would be happy to help you with any questions you may have.
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