When it comes to senior living options, there are a number of housing options available for today's elderly population. While some seniors will require the care and attention of nursing homes or assisted living communities, there are others who don't require as much care, but who instead want to be in a community of their peers. These retirement communities can provide seniors with a great opportunity to get the social engagement that they need to live the healthy and balanced life they deserve well into their golden years.
Many seniors who choose to live in retirement communities find they deal with less issues related to loneliness, isolation and depression. This is because retirement communities are restricted by age, ensuring only seniors 55, or 65, and older can live in the neighborhood. Some of these retirement communities offer high-rise apartments while others offer townhouses, condos or villas. Either way, one of the major differences between retirement communities and assisted-living facilities or nursing homes, is that many seniors will actually purchase the property that they are planning on living in.
Retirement homes are not assisted living or even independent living communities. They usually don't have a great deal of emphasis on care. However, they typically still have social events, the option to utilize services such as laundry, transportation and housekeeping and they may even have a dining room available.
For many seniors, especially those that have spent years owning their own home, this can seem like an easy transition into new home ownership. However, there are a number of additional factors that may come into play when it comes to buying a property in a retirement community.
Spend Some Time in the Community
One of the reasons these neighborhoods are referred to as "communities" is because there is such an emphasis on the community aspect of these homes. From communal spaces, to group events and socially-driven amenities, one of the main reasons that people tend to choose these retirement communities is so they can spend time with their peers.
With this in mind, it is important for any senior considering purchasing a property in one of these communities to get to know the neighborhood and the prospective neighbors that come with it. They can change the paint color on the walls, but there is no way to change the neighbors that are already in the community.
Seniors should also consider looking in to one of the community meetings before they invest in a property. Since these communities have so many additional features and amenities that need to be taken care of, it is a good idea to ask for meeting minutes from the community board to see what issues have been arising in the community to get a better idea of how these operations are managed.
Look at Local Taxes
Taxes are always a big consideration when it comes to determining the overall cost of any property, but there are actually some states that offer special incentives for retirement-age buyers. The right blend between the property taxes and advantages on income taxes can make or break how affordable, or how expensive a certain property is.
Pay Attention to the Association Fees
Most retirement communities come outfitted with swimming pools, community centers, transportation services and virtually any amenity a retired senior could imagine. Unfortunately, these amenities are not free. HOA or membership fees can range anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars per month. For some communities, all fees are mandatory, while others will offer a membership option where seniors can pay up front for a full membership. Either way, when a community comes filled with amenities, seniors need to expect a coordinating price tag to come with the features.
In addition to browsing the overall price of these association fees, seniors should also pay close attention to exactly what they cover. There may be beautiful tennis courts in the neighborhood, but it doesn't necessarily mean that the community fees cover those tennis courts.
Look into Restrictions
While many retirement communities are filled with perks and amenities, they are often also filled with a number of restrictions. Most communities will go over all of the things that residents can do when they buy a home in one of these retirement communities, but they often fail to go over what they can't do. Before any senior considers buying in a retirement community, they need to go over the fine print of what they are not permitted to do, even as homeowners.
Most retirement communities will have restrictions on resale and rental. Others may not even allow pets, even for those who own the property, while others will ban any type of smoke including grilling and cigar smoke. These aren't the only restrictions either. Some communities will limit flags, leaving cars parked in the driveway, having security signs in the yard, or being on a balcony or patio after dark. There may also be quiet hours in the community and limitations with parking and guests. All of these restrictions should be written out and reviewed before a senior buys a property in one of these retirement communities.
Consider Care for the Future
Different retirement communities offer different amenities and features, and they may even offer some types of care. Planning for the future is always important with any senior housing decision. Pay close attention to whether or not the community can offer housekeeping or meal services should the senior need them in the future, or if this home purchase would require the senior to hire outside professional care in situations where they are no longer able to completely care for themselves.
Retirement communities are extremely popular living options for many seniors, and the option to buy one of these properties can often be a great investment. However, taking a moment to look at some of the particulars of buying one of these homes as opposed to buying a traditional property or renting in an assisted living community can help any senior and their family make the right choice about their upcoming living situation.