Pros and Cons of 55+ Communities

What are the Pros and Cons of 55+ Communities?

Cons of Living in 55+ Communites

Pros of Living in 55+ Communites

Live among contemporaries/like minded people Communities could be too mature for some tastes
Shared interest in activities/events Exposure to a smaller group of people to establish friendships with
Possibly a quieter living experience Could be too quiet, or slow paced for some
Sense of community with neighbors looking out for one another Could be few secrets in a small community
Some provide for a wide variety of planned daily activities and events There may be established cliques that could be challenging to penetrate
Could have less foot and vehicle traffic, depending on street/community layout Smaller pool of buyers when wanting to resell  – but, does allow for very focused marketing
May provide resort-style amenities like pools, spas, gyms, tennis, bocce, golf, workshops, etc. . . If not used, residents may feel that they’re spending money for amenities that don’t benefit them
May be easier to cultivate new friendships and, or relationships Exposure to a smaller group of people to establish friendships with
Possible heightened sense of safety with neighbors looking out for one another, or in some cases, community patrols may be in place Possibly too much familiarity for some tastes
Restrictions on number/breed of pets and on visitations/stays for those under 55 years old Some people may not like restrictions or being told what they can, and cannot do
Homes may be designed with aging-in-place in mind – more senior friendly Some homes may be in need of updating
May include desirable service such as exterior maintenance, landscaping, water, sewer, trash, cable TV, etc, in HOA fees May come with significant monthly Homeowners Association fees
May include RV parking areas May NOT include RV parking, or if it does, they may not have vacancies
May require less maintenance for lawn and home care You may not have a choice of landscaping plants or designs
May provide some transportation services to shopping and, or healthcare This transportation may be limited to a few days of the week
Homeowners Associations, in addition to services, keep the community looking attractive With Homeowners Associations may come politics
Generally made up of smaller homes that may require downsizing Parting with accumulated personal items that you may have possessed for 40+ years

Is a 55+ Community Right for You?

As seniors begin to plan for their retirement years, many, including their well-meaning children, may think about downsizing their homes and simplifying their lives.

The act of downsizing your home and simplifying your life will have a profound effect on your daily activities. You may feel as if an enormous burden has been lifted from your shoulders – possibly the first time you’ve ever experienced this. You’ll suddenly find yourself with more free time to enjoy the things that you always dreamed of doing.

The new challenge will be creating the habits to actually do what’s necessary to fulfill those dreams, instead of sitting idle wondering how to fill your newfound free time.

In addition, as we age, we come to place a higher value on peace and quiet, in and around our homes. It is no longer tolerable to live near college students who enjoy weekend parties late into the night. We’re more easily aggravated by skateboards rattling down our sidewalks, or the young family who lives behind us with the colicky baby. All of these minor – sometimes major – nuisances make us begin to dream of life on a quiet street, with neighbors who share the same values.

For many, this leads them to consider senior living communities, mostly known as age-restricted 55+ communities.

55 and older communities are not retirement homes, senior care or nursing homes, nor are they assisted living facilities – far from it. These retirement communities are populated with seniors who love life, value their independence and wish to remain as active as they can possibly be. Indeed, spending time around the clubhouse in an active adult community watching residents at play, may make you think that you’re watching high schoolers instead of retirees!

Living in an active 55+ retirement community will give you plenty of options to remain active, physically, mentally and socially, which could lead to a longer, healthier and more fulfilling life. Seniors must ask themselves if aging-in-place in their current home or moving into a non age-restricted neighborhood would offer them the same opportunities that could lead to a higher quality life.

Even though these are thought of by many as retirement communities, you’ll find a number of senior residents who are still active and engaged in the workforce. In larger retirement communities there are often residents still active in trades and services that benefit their particular senior community. You’re also likely to find a great many senior volunteers who assist local nonprofit organizations.

Like all choices in life, there are tradeoffs for each decision. It is best to carefully consider what may work best for you in the long-term, and investigate options thoroughly before making a commitment.

Part of this consideration must include visiting and spending a bit of time in 55+ retirement communities that appeal to you. Walk the streets, talk to residents, check out the clubhouse and community’s amenities. You’re likely to find many agreeable residents who’ll happily describe what life is like in their community. Doing so might change your thoughts from “I don’t want to live with old people” to something much more positive.

Take yourself deep into the senior living community, away from the hustle and bustle of the clubhouse to gauge what everyday life looks like in the neighborhood. In some communities, you’ll see plenty of people walking dogs, getting exercise and being social. In other 55 years and older communities, these same neighborhood streets can be deserted most of the day.

In addition to retirement homes, it would also be wise to consider non age-restricted homes that will facilitate aging-in-place gracefully as well. These types of homes would include single story homes, homes with elevators, and single level condominiums. Adding these to your future home possibilities may allow more flexibility in choosing a home location that may be more walkable to shopping, restaurants, healthcare services or public transportation. This option may not address the peace and quiet that you seek. But it will allow for more social diversity.

Another option could be senior apartments, if your desire is for a rental property instead of the other senior living housing mentioned above.

In order to assist would-be senior buyers, we’ve compiled the pros and cons comparison above so that you might proceed with any eyes-wide-open approach.

The items herein are by necessity, only generalities, as 55+ communities are as diverse as the experienced residents who live in them.

If you find a 55+ community that interests you, ask your real estate agent to provide you with the community’s Homeowners Association telephone number.

Set aside a little bit of time to call them to ask some important questions about their restrictions.

You’ll want to know about these sooner, rather than later.

  • What are their pet restrictions?
  • What are their v-isitation restrictions for people under 55 years old?
  • What about spouses under 55 years of age?
  • What are their parking restrictions, if any?
  • What does the monthly HOA pay for – are there any services like water, sewer, cable TV, etc included in the fee?
  • Do they provide RV parking? If so, is there an additional fee?
  • Ask questions that are important to you. Such as, can you put up a fence, change landscaping or put an addition onto the house?

Do not rely on your real estate agent to ask these questions. It is much better for you to talk to the HOA directly, as often one question naturally leads you into another related question. By talking directly to the HOA, you’ll be able to get all of your questions addressed directly from the source during a single phone call. Perhaps, you’ll also get a preview of what it might be like to deal with this particular HOA, should you end up buying your retirement home there.

Downsizing and simplifying can start a wonderful new chapter in your life. An active adult 55+ community should present many opportunities to make new friends, play and thrive throughout your golden years.

If you are already a resident in a 55+ community and have additional pros and cons that you feel would benefit our readers and should be included on this list, please submit them at the bottom of this page for consideration.

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