Adult Retirement Communities: A Social Opportunity

With the average human life expectancy increasing while the typical retirement age is decreasing, today’s “seniors” are getting younger and younger. This has caused a big shift in the way senior living communities are designed and marketed.

Unlike your grandparents’ retirement home, today’s adult retirement communities are specifically built to cater to the needs of the active adult retiree, often providing recreational facilities, such as clubhouses, golf courses, swimming pools and trails.

Types of Adult Retirement Communities

While all adult retirement communitiesprovide accommodations specifically for seniors, there are several different types of communities, each of which provide varying levels of service depending on how engaged with the community a resident wants to be and how many luxury amenities they wish to receive.

Independent LivingIndependent living communities are the most typical adult retirement community. They provide not only housing, but also meal service, housekeeping, transportation and more. Most independent living communities resemble luxury apartment complexes or hotels with their own gym, pool and other community facilities.

55+ Community55+ communities provide age-restricted housing in either stand-alone, single-family housing developments or in more densely populated, apartment-style buildings. At least one resident of each home must be 55 or older to live in a 55+ community. Many of these communities provide communal services such as landscaping and clubhouse facilities. There is often a monthly or annual fee charged to all residents to cover these services.

Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC)CCRCs are a special type of adult retirement community that provides a lifetime home, offering all levels of senior care from independent living to assisted living to skilled nursing care. Active seniors who enter CCRCs at the beginning of their retirement enjoy the peace of mind of knowing they will never need to move should their physical or mental health decline.

Senior ApartmentSenior apartments are very similar to regular apartments except that they are exclusively inhabited by mature adults. There are typically no services provided by the community other than normal cleaning and maintenance. However, senior apartments may be designed to accommodate elderly residents with features such as step-in showers, safety grab bars and no stairs.

Here is a chart that highlights the differences between each type of adult retirement community:

Independent Living 55+ Communities Continuing Care Senior Apartments
# of Residents 10+ 10+ 10+ 10+
Age Restrictions 55+ 55+ 55+ 55+
Resident Health Level Good Good All Levels Good
Resident Activity Level Very Active Very Active All Levels Very Active
24-Hour Care No No Yes No
Help with Daily Activities No No Yes No
Medical Care Provided No No Yes No
Alzheimer’s Care No No Yes No
Meal Service Maybe Maybe Yes No
Housekeeping Maybe Maybe Yes No
Planned Activities Yes Yes Yes No
Avg. Cost $2,633/month Varies Buy-in + Monthly Fees Market Rental Rates
Covered by Medicare No No Skilled Nursing Only No

A Possible Obstacle: Costs

Adult retirement communities are not the cheapest retirement solution. Entering a community means incurring not only new housing costs, as either a large down payment and/or monthly apartment rental fee, but also the costs of community membership and fees.

Many housing units at adult retirement communities are priced at or above local real estate market value, an important factor to consider if you are thinking of moving to a more desirable geographic location.

Financing a Move Into an Adult Retirement Community

The costs of moving into an adult retirement community are usually covered by life savings. Solutions offered to seniors planning to buy real estate in such areas are the same as those offered to the general real estate market.

In case of necessity, most banks would be able to provide a mortgage plan to cover the buying of a house. For other expenses, like memberships, courses and activities, the cost will rest entirely on the retiree, who must rely on personal savings to meet the costs.

Find Adult Retirement Communities

Adult retirement communities offer you the opportunity to enjoy your retirement years in better comfort than your working ones. Browse our comprehensive online directory to Find Retirement Communities across the United States!

Written by senior housing writer Jacqui Howell.