How to Choose a Senior Living Community

Jun 16, 2023 4 min read

Depending on where you are in life, planning for your retirement years may or may not be something on your mind. Usually, you think about financial stability because of the quickly changing market and how it’ll affect your retirement years, but have you thought about where you’ll be living? Looking at senior living options can help you define your retirement lifestyle and what senior living community may best fit what you’re looking for. Every living situation will have pros and cons that you should consider.   

Types of Senior Living Options

There are many types of senior living options available and that can be overwhelming. This guide can help give you a general idea of what you may be looking for in the future.  

Independent Living

Many older adults will usually age in place and choose to stay in their homes, which is the most common living arrangement for seniors. But there are others that prefer to live in a residence alone that feel they are capable of taking care of themselves, and will look to downsize or prefer independent living. A few housing options to look into can include senior apartments, subsidized senior housing, studios or condos. Independent living allows an individual to have their own living space while still being involved in social gatherings within the retirement community. 

Traditional Retirement Communities

For some, a traditional retirement community may be the first and most obvious option.  A traditional retirement community will usually be age-restricted and allows older adults to live alone with the option of having community activities or care amenities. Adults who are looking into this type of living situation will generally have to be 55 years or older to reside in these types of active adult communities. 

Assisted Living, Nursing Homes and Care Facilities

When an older adult needs help to get through regular daily tasks, it’s best to pick a living facility that will have long-term care services to better assist them. 

Assisted living and care facilities will usually allow the adult to live in their own space but will provide help if they need it. A nursing home will usually be a larger living facility where there is constant medical supervision or assistance. Someone who needs skilled nursing care or help with memory care will prefer a nursing home where they can receive that assistance. 

When touring nursing homes, prepare a list of questions you want to ask or need in order to find the right fit. 

Should I Rent or Buy?

Everyone’s situation is unique and different, so there is no right or wrong option when choosing a retirement living option. 

First, decide if you are wanting to rent or buy while in retirement. Many people will generally have their homes paid off, but property taxes on your current home may be too expensive to maintain during retirement. Once you decide on renting or buying, other factors like price, location, services and amenities may also be important when deciding. 

When visiting or researching the different types of retirement communities, be sure to ask more questions regarding staff, community environment, food options and additional fees. 

Benefits of Living in a Retirement Community

A few benefits from retirement communities can include:

  • social amenities
  • lower property taxes
  • little to no maintenance 
  • lower cost of living 
  • socialization opportunities
  • a safer community

Landscaping and maintenance work on the property is also taken care of by the housing community which, for some, can also be a benefit. 

Disadvantages of 55+ Communities

Some disadvantages of senior living communities:

  • HOA fees and other fees
  • Community rules/restrictions
  • No onsite medical care
  • Must be 55 or older
  • Less privacy

You may also run into a lack of age diversity when it comes to these communities because of the age restrictions. There can also be less privacy because you are living in a larger building with others and around staff members. 

What to Look for in a Senior Living Community

Look at these questions when deciding what your non-negotiables are when finding the right community for you!

1. Where Do I Want to Live?

For most, proximity and access are important when it comes to where you want to live when you retire. If you’re someone that has family, finding a place that is close to them may be on your list. Depending on what hobbies or interests you have, location will play a big factor. If walking or biking is something you enjoy, you’ll want to make sure that where you choose to live during retirement has close access to enjoy these activities. 

2. How Much Am I Willing to Pay?

Pricing and fees will differ by location as well as the type of retirement living you choose. Some locations may charge a move-in fee, monthly fees or HOA fees. Be sure to ask about what fees you may be charged before signing your contract. Setting a budget can also help you determine what you are willing to pay for your living expenses and if you have any room for additional fees that may come up. 

3. What Are My Current and Future Care Needs?

Will you be needing assisted care later? A nursing home or assisted care facility will provide a wide range of services and amenities depending on your levels of care. It’s always important to inquire about anything specifically you may need prior to choosing where you want to live. 

4. How Much Space Will I Need?

Depending on how much space you may need, it’s best to scope out different options such as a senior apartment, townhomes or retirement homes. If your current living arrangement is too big, downsizing your home could help with lowering your monthly cost and having less space to take care of. 

5. What Accessibility, Security and Safety Measures Are in Place?

Safety features when choosing to move into a new community is important for everyone, especially as an older adult. Some older adults tend to live on their own and knowing that their community is safe can make it more enjoyable to reside there. A gated community may provide a better sense of security because these areas tend to have a security guard working and monitoring the neighborhood making it much safer for the residents. If the actual living space has some updated safety features that can help make the maintenance of the home easier on the aging adult.

6. Are There Opportunities to Socialize?

Older adults can still enjoy a fun and social environment. Some retirement communities provide social events for their residents.  You’ll want to look for what recreation and activities are available wherever you choose to live. 

Let’s talk!

If you’ve got questions about your retirement financial plan, reach out to your Farm Bureau advisor to get started today! 

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