Is An Active Adult Community Right for You?
As Americans reach retirement, many of them wonder whether they should continue living in their pre-retirement home or move to an active adult community. For some retirees, the decision is easy. They love where they live, they can afford to stay there, and they have no reason to move anywhere else.
On the other hand, a growing number of people decide to move to one of the active adult communities which are springing up across the nation. They may prefer to live in a gentler climate or desire a home nearer their children and grandchildren. Sometimes they need to downsize for a more affordable lifestyle.
What are Active Adult Communities?
Sometimes called over-55 retirement communities, these neighborhoods are designed especially for retirees. However, more and more people are moving into them while they are still working. There are specific state and federal rules which govern these communities.
In general, at least 80 percent of the homes must be occupied by at least one resident who is age 55 or older, although they can have a younger spouse. Some associations require that 100 percent of the homes are occupied by someone age 55 or over. The 80 percent rule, however, was established by Congress to allow a younger adult to remain in their home if their qualifying spouse should die.
No children under the age of 18 can reside full time in an active adult community. They can stay for 30 to 60 days a year, though, depending on the rules of the community. This allows for new college-age children to spend holidays with their parents or for grandchildren to come visit.
Each individual community may also have additional rules regarding the income, financial security or criminal background of the residents.
Advantages of Over-55 Retirement Communities
There are a number of reasons why people may choose to move into an active adult community:
- Most have a wide variety of activities available to residents, often at little or no cost to residents. These may include golf courses, tennis courts, swimming pools, art classes, live performances, clubs and social activities.
- The activities are often geared towards a more mature age group. Residents can feel more comfortable wearing a swim suit, playing sports with other people their age, or attending social events with people who have common interests.
- Security is a significant reason people choose to live in these communities. Many of them are gated and some also have a private security force. In addition, with so many of their neighbors at home during the day, it is much more difficult for thieves to break into a house.
- Many of these communities are located near medical facilities.
- The communities tend to be quieter than typical suburban neighborhoods, without the presence of teenagers or young adults who might hold loud parties.
- The homes are typically designed with senior citizens in mind, often with all the living area on one floor or with a downstairs master bedroom.
Disadvantages of Over-55 Retirement Communities
These communities are not the best choice for everyone, however. In fact, the majority of Americans still prefer to remain in their pre-retirement homes. They have a number of good reasons for making that decision. Here are some of the reasons retirees decide NOT to move into an active adult community.
- They are happy living in their current home. They love their neighborhood and they have strong community ties and see no reason to make a change.
- They have grandchildren or adult children who live with them. There are still many multi-generational families who live together in the United States. These living arrangements are not generally permitted in active adult communities.
- They may prefer living in a community with families of mixed ages. It brings them joy to have trick-or-treaters at Halloween and see children in the neighborhood.
- They do not want to be thought of as “old,” which is what they fear will happen if they live in an active adult community. Sometimes, people in their 50s and 60s think they are too young to move into one of these neighborhoods. Others, however, have discovered that many of these communities are full of other people in this age group.
- They are concerned about the homeowner’s association fees, which are sometimes unusually high because of all the included amenities. With so many other costs related to retirement, saving on association fees can be important.
How to Find an Active Adult Community
If you think you may be interested in living in a senior community, how can you find the best one for you?
You should start by checking out the websites of the major developers of these communities, such as Trilogy, Del Webb (which includes the various Sun Cities), K. Hovnanian, Kolter, Shea, Robson, The Villages, and Four Seasons. These websites will give you more information about the amenities available in different communities.
If you have an active adult community near your current home, go visit it and discover what these communities have to offer. Finally, travel to the region where you would like to live and visit the active adult communities in that area. After completing your research, you should have a good idea whether or not one of these neighborhoods will meet your retirement needs.
About the Author
Deborah Dian is the author of Baby-Boomer-Retirement.com which contains over 500 helpful articles for retirees and Baby Boomers, both before and after they retire. She and her husband are both Baby Boomers and currently live in Laguna Woods Village in Orange County, California, an over-55 retirement community in Southern California. Like many other senior citizens, she works part-time as a freelance writer and her husband continues to work full-time from home. Follow her award winning retirement website which is free to read, easy to navigate, and a great resource for anyone who plans to retire someday.