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What Are 55-Plus Communities?

A 55+ community, sometimes referred to as a retirement community, is a lifestyle community or apartment complex that is specifically intended for residents who are 55 years of age or older. Communities can feature single-family homes, townhomes, or apartments. The residences may offer aging-friendly design features like one-story living, and communities may offer services like housekeeping and maintenance. Many different types of these communities may have different restrictions, such as having a higher entrance age of 62 or, on the other end, allowing some younger residents to live in the community. 

These communities are tailored to a variety of senior needs, such as proximity to medical facilities, easy entry into the houses, on-site dining options, planned social events, and more. Overall, the primary function of a 55+ community is to create a comfortable environment for seniors where they can live near others in the same life stage as them, and in some cases, access services and amenities that may not be available in a typical neighborhood.


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Types of 55-Plus Communities

A variety of 55+ community types exist, and each apartment complex or neighborhood will have its own unique style. Some of the types of retirement communities you might come across in your search include: 

  • Luxury Communities: For those who enjoy an upscale lifestyle, some communities lean toward luxury amenities such as on-site salons, golf course access, and upscale living spaces. As you would expect, these communities can be expensive.
  • Senior Apartments: Senior apartments are apartment buildings or complexes that require residents to be above age 55 or 62, with some exceptions. The apartments often have an aging-friendly design, but senior apartments offer fewer amenities and services than lifestyle 55+ communities. 
  • University-Based Retirement Communities: These communities exist in college towns, or even on college campuses, and are affiliated with the local university. Residents of UBRCs can take classes and sometimes even earn degrees at their community’s affiliated university. They can also participate in university events and extra-curricular enrichment opportunities, like attending guest lectures at the university.
  • RV Retirement Parks: Seniors who enjoy traveling with their recreational vehicle (RV) can find communities that allow for long-term or short-term RV parking. This can be perfect for seniors who wish to travel and stay in an area for just a few days, weeks, or months before continuing to another area.
  • Golf and Resort Communities: Resort communities offer the look and feel of a vacation property. They commonly feature world-class golf courses that are exclusively available for residents and their guests.
  • Religious Communities: For seniors who identify strongly with their religious faith, a religious community can be a good living choice. Common amenities include religious study events, community chapels, and shuttle service to and from church.
  • Active-Adult Communities: These communities strive to make available a variety of activities, such as golfing, tennis, and other sports. They may also offer fitness classes, an on-site gym, or day trips for hiking, biking, or other activities.
  • Singles Communities: For seniors who are widowed or have never married, a single-only community offers amenities that focus on singles over the age of 55. They typically offer events and spaces that allow seniors to meet each other and enjoy socializing. 
  • Gated Communities: If security is an important factor, seniors may enjoy a community that includes the added security of gated entries around the property. This could be a desirable feature for those who want to feel as safe as possible.

Pros and Cons of 55-Plus Communities

As with any type of senior living, there are many pros and cons associated with choosing to live in a 55+ community. While all communities are different, some of the pros of living in a 55+ community may include: 

  • Senior-specific amenities
  • Easy-access entrance to the homes
  • Proximity to medical facilities and pharmacies
  • Smaller living spaces for easier interior maintenance
  • Exterior maintenance and landscaping handled by the community

Living in a retirement community may not be for everyone, however. Some cons may include: 

  • High cost of rental/ownership
  • Limitations on who can live with you
  • Paying for amenities you may not want or need
  • Smaller living spaces compared to what you want
  • Limited options for home modifications or personal gardening

It’s important to understand exactly what is available and allowed before moving into a 55+ community. Every community operates differently, making it easier to find just the right one for you or a loved one.

Amenities in Retirement Communities

Communities for 55+ residents often feature a wide range of amenities, and each community will have its unique offerings. Common amenities in retirement communities include:

  • Senior-specific fitness classes
  • Pools, gyms, and outdoor green spaces
  • Meal services in common dining rooms
  • Landscaping and exterior repair services
  • Single-story homes for easy entry and exit
  • Shuttle service to medical facilities and shopping
  • Golf courses, tennis courts, and other activity areas
  • Regular events tailored to senior needs and interests 

Each community will have its own unique blend of amenities. Seniors can find a neighborhood that fits their specific needs and budget by considering their desired amenities and what they may need in the future.

How Much Do 55-Plus Communities Cost?

The cost of living in a 55+ community depends a lot on initial fees, monthly costs, and the amenities available. Some common costs of living in a retirement community include:

  • An apartment rental or house purchase cost
  • Monthly maintenance fees or HOA fees
  • Food credits for community dining spaces
  • Fees for fitness center access or fitness classes
  • Transportation fees for shuttle services

Location will also play a major factor in the cost of living in a 55+ community. The cost of living in certain cities, states, and regions can greatly influence the overall cost. Prospective residents should expect to pay anywhere from $1,500 a month to $4,000 a month to live in a retirement community.

How Do I Pay for 55-Plus Senior Living?

Paying to live in a 55+ community typically comes from the resident’s personal finances. In most cases, health insurance and Medicare won’t cover the cost of retirement communities or senior apartments because they do not provide medical care, and thus do not qualify as medical care facilities.

Many people who move into a 55+ community will be leaving another home such as a house, condo, or townhome. Funds from the sale of these types of properties can be used for paying the costs associated with living in a retirement community.

Residents may also find that they need to use other financial resources for covering the regular costs of their new home. Pension plans, 401(k) retirement plans, savings, and checking accounts can all be used to cover the costs of living in a 55+ community.

Is a Retirement Community Right for Me?

Seniors who are considering moving into a 55+ community should consider a variety of factors before deciding to make the move. A few things to consider include:

  • Cost: What is your monthly budget? Is it enough to cover the community’s fees plus any medical or other lifestyle expenses?  How long will you be able to afford the monthly fee? 
  • Housing Needs: Who will  be living with you, and how old are they? How much space do you need? 
  • Location: How close do you want to be to doctors, shopping, and other places and people you frequently visit?
  • Amenities: What amenities would improve your life? Do you want something specific for a hobby, such as a pool, golf course, or large fitness center?
  • Limitations: Are you okay with having limitations on what you can do to your home, such as making modifications? Have you considered the impact of living with an HOA? 

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Those with certain disabilities or diseases have more obstacles to overcome when searching for a quality assisted living home. If you have questions, we are here to help provide the answers. Give our senior care advocates a call and read our guides for specific information and resources related to your or your loved one’s condition.

Those with certain disabilities or diseases have more obstacles to overcome when searching for a quality assisted living home. If you have questions, we are here to help provide the answers. Give our senior care advocates a call and read our guides for specific information and resources related to your or your loved one’s condition.

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