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The Cost of Living in a Retirement Community

You may be just beginning to explore other living options as you age. Unfortunately, the cost of living in a retirement community can feel intimidating even for those with a healthy budget. According to the Genworth 2021 Cost of Care Survey, community and assisted living costs an average of $4,500 per month. While that's more reflective of what seniors spend when they're receiving some level of supervision or personal care, it's safe to assume that the cost isn't much less for those living independently in retirement communities. 

Thankfully, there are various senior living options available to you should you choose to leave your home for a retirement community. Furthermore, there are several ways to break down your monthly cost of living in a retirement community to make it a bit more digestible. 

In this guide, we explain the differences between each type of retirement community, as well as what services are typically included in your monthly fee and how to find a community that best suits your lifestyle.

What is a Retirement Community?

Retirement communities can refer to several different types of senior living situations that include basic 55+ communities, independent living communities and continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs). 

55+ Communities

A 55+ community is a block of apartments or condos that are exclusive to adults aged 55 and older. Outside of providing landscaping and property maintenance services, most 55+ communities don’t provide residents with any additional support. Amenities in these communities are often limited, too, with most offering little more than a fitness center, swimming pool or community room.

Who Should Consider a 55+ Community?

A 55+ community is a good fit for you if: 

  • You’re self-sufficient and able to care for your own home
  • You enjoy an active lifestyle 
  • You prefer to live in a quiet neighborhood among your peers

Independent Living Communities

Independent living apartment complexes or communities represent a step up from a 55+ community. They’re usually open to seniors aged 55 and older, although sometimes age requirements differ. Most independent living facilities provide residents with various services and amenities, which may include daily meals, housekeeping, fitness classes, planned outings and on-site services such as spas and beauty salons. 

Who Should Consider Independent Living?

Independent living is a good fit for you if:

  • You don’t require full-time care for chronic health conditions or disabilities
  • You find it difficult to keep up with basic tasks such as cleaning and cooking
  • You want to live in an active, all-inclusive community

Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRCs)

A CCRC can provide seniors with increasing levels of care as their needs change. Known for their continuum of care, these communities can provide any combination of independent living, assisted living, memory care and skilled nursing care — enabling their residents to age in place regardless of their health care requirements.

Who Should Consider a CCRC?

A CCRC is a good fit for you if:

  • You’ve been diagnosed with a condition that’s expected to progress over time
  • You want to move to a senior community and remain there, even if your condition changes in the future

How Much Does a Retirement Community Cost in Your State?

The cost of living in a retirement community can vary exceptionally depending on where you live geographically and the amenities your chosen community provides. 

The Genworth Cost of Care Survey details the average monthly price of different types of senior care in each U.S. state. While it doesn’t provide cost data for retirement living, it can usually be assumed that the cost of independent living and other retirement communities is approximately 25% below the cost of assisted living. 

The chart below features the average cost of retirement living in each state based on this calculation.

StateAverage Retirement Community Cost
New Hampshire$4,450
New Jersey$4,871
New Mexico$3,374
New York$4,313
North Carolina$3,008
North Dakota$2,543
Rhode Island$5,120
South Carolina$2,709
South Dakota$2,513
West Virginia$3,120

What is Included in the Cost of a Retirement Community?

What’s included in the monthly rate at your retirement community depends on what type of community you choose. In a 55+ community, fees may include property maintenance and landscaping, as well as access to some amenities, such as a pool or fitness room — but that’s usually all. 

In independent living and CCRCs, monthly rates are typically all-inclusive. They include: 

  • Meals and snacks
  • Scheduled transportation
  • Housekeeping and laundry
  • Group outings and activities
  • Access to amenities

CCRC Fee Structures

CCRCs offer several contract types for residents: 

  • Life Care communities require you to pay a one-time fee when you move in as well as a monthly service fee. These ensure that you have priority access to all levels of care for as long as you reside within the community.
  • Modified life care has a similar fee structure. However, the care plan is different. Instead of unlimited care, you’re provided with a predetermined number of days of free health care and billed per diem for any additional needs. 
  • Fee-for-service (FFS) communities offer lower entrance and monthly rates. Still, all health care services are charged at full rates. 
  • Rental communities don’t require an entrance fee and instead offer residents month-to-month or year-to-year leases. Any health care services are charged at FFS rates.

Factors That Affect How Much a Retirement Community Costs

There are several factors that can affect retirement living costs. These include:

  • Floor plans: Communities may offer any combination of studio, one-bedroom, two-bedroom and companion suites.
  • Amenities: When a community has more amenities, such as extravagant fitness centers or swimming pools, the price is likely to be higher.
  • Location: Communities in affluent locations, such as wealthier residential communities and waterfront communities, are typically more expensive.
  • Services: Retirement communities with extra services such as housekeeping and concierge services are generally more expensive.

Get Help Finding a Retirement Community

If you’re ready to make the move to a retirement community, or if you’d like to learn more about what they offer, contact an advisor for help at 1-800-748-4024.

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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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