Sometimes referred to as “active adult communities,” “retirement communities,” or “senior living communities” 55+ communities are residential communities that require at least one resident to be over the age of 55. These low-maintenance locales are designed for active older adults who can still take care of themselves, as opposed to an assisted living facility that offers onsite dining and healthcare services.
Residences range from single- and multi-family homes to condos, apartments, and townhomes. While most residents own their homes, some communities offer renting options. They’re often conveniently located near shops, restaurants, parks, and other attractions. When deciding whether an age-restricted is the right move for you, it’s important to weigh the advantages and disadvantages, which we’ve done for you below.
HOA dues pay for certain communal amenities that offer opportunities to socialize and exercise. Such shared facilities can include a pool, golf course, tennis court, clubhouse, fitness center, and games like shuffleboard. Many 55+ communities also offer a wide variety of social events, which can include classes, clubs, activities, and volunteer groups.
Con: Higher cost of living
All of these amenities don’t come for free. Residents pay monthly fees to the HOA or condo board. These fees can range from a couple hundred into the thousands. In addition to amenities, monthly fees cover maintenance, security, expenses like insurance and trash removal, and the reserve fund which covers large-scale maintenance or renovation projects.
Costs can add up quickly. The more affordable your retirement home is, the less likely it is that you’ll have to up and move later on. Speak with a financial advisor and plan a budget based on your income, factoring in association fees, fees for real estate services, the (hopefully refundable) deposit, property taxes, and utility costs, plus personal expenses like medical care.
Pro: Living amongst peers
Living in a 55+ community offers you the opportunity to instantly become part of an active friendly social scene through social programs, activities, and events. These can include dinner parties, exercise classes, and club get-togethers. It can be easy to find companions when you’re surrounded by folks with similar life experiences.
Con: Lack of age diversity
While you probably won’t have to put up with loud late-night parties, the lack of youngsters running around may bum you out. By the very nature of a 55+ community, you are surrounded by older adults. If you’re used to interacting with people of all ages in your neighborhood, the demographic homogeny of a 55+ community can get old.
Pro: Safety & security
The majority of retirement communities are gated and located in secluded areas with low crime rates. While gates ensure that only approved residents and guests are admitted on the property, many communities also have private onsite security staff to ensure residents’ protection. Plus, a lot of residents are home during the day, which deters crime. Other safety features include well-lit parking lots and common areas, fire alarms and smoke detectors, posted emergency evacuation maps, and clearly-marked exit doors.
Con: Rules & regulations
Not only does the HOA collect fees, but they also enforce the rules regulations of the community. And there can be a lot of rules–pages of and pages of them–from what you are allowed to display outside your place, to the use of shared amenities. The biggest rule at a 55+ community is also the easiest to follow: At least one resident must be over the age of 55. Become very familiar with the community’s bylaws before signing on the dotted line, because if you violate them, the HOA can impose a fine.
Pro: Low maintenance
Downsizing in general means you’ll have less house to take care of, and at an age-restricted community, residents are only responsible for interior maintenance/daily upkeep. The HOA takes care of the burden of building maintenance, chores, and repairs. Usually, this covers lawncare, shoveling snow, painting, and roof, and gutter upkeep.
Con: Harder to sell
In the event that you should want or need to sell your condo or apartment, keep in mind that the market shrinks to those over the age of 55. You can pass this real estate investment down to your family, but they may not want to live there or their age may bar them from doing so. They too may have a hard time finding a buyer due to age restrictions.