Retirement communities have come a very long way. No longer is retirement living barely more than a skilled facility. Today there are many retirement communities to pick from, although they'll be different than staying in your old house and neighborhood.
There are quiet, safe neighborhoods where the main differences are less work, almost zero crime, and lots of peace and quiet. And there are retirement communities where activity buzzes round the clock, just the way residents want it to. No matter what your retirement dreams, there is probably a community out there just waiting for you to find it.
Some Retirement Communities Cater to Special Interests
Niche retirement communities are on the rise, says Sarah Stevenson at A Place for Mom. These specialized neighborhoods and condos offer targeted activities for people with very specific interests. Maybe you’re an artist, or perhaps golf is your thing. You can find communities that cater to people who love motorcycles, RV enthusiasts, vegans and vegetarians, and even astronomy buffs. (Read: Picking Retirement Locations is Really Hard)
Watch out for the costs, though. The more a community offers in the line of amenities, the higher the price tag. Stevenson says some condos start out in the $400,000 range, and property can go as high as over $1 million for a home with three bedrooms.
Another perk of living in a retirement community is the lack of crime. One community in Florida boasts no crime, and a population of over 100,000, according to Toluse Olorunnipa for Bloomberg News. And some like the fact that the lack of youngsters running about makes these retirement communities a quieter place to live.
Retirement Communities Aren’t Just Rural
If you live in a big city, you might not want to relocate to suburbia, even if it does come with broad paved streets and beautifully landscaped grounds. Maybe you like the hustle and bustle, and want a community close to where you live now. (Read: Home and Heart: New Hampshire & New York City)
Retirement condo communities are a definite option for retirees who love city life. And there are major benefits, too. In a city, you’re close to everything you need, including public transportation, shopping, and health care. The best part might just be that you’ll gain a new community of neighbors without losing any of the culture you’ve come to love.
Many retirees actually move back to cities, from the suburbs where they raised families, once the kids are grown. That’s according to Vanessa Grout, Forbes contributor.
Retirement Homes Aren’t What They Used to Be, Either
If you need a bit of special care, a retirement home might be a better choice than a community. These, too, have grown in unexpected ways.
Some of the better homes have full-service restaurant dining, shopping on-site, golf courses, and fully-appointed apartments where you can live with your spouse and even entertain family and other visitors. Some even incorporate family recipes into the restaurant menu, according to Planetree and Picker Institute.
Decidedly not a typical nursing home, these facilities also offer skilled nursing when residents need it and privacy when they don’t. It can be the best of both worlds. It’s independent living, but with a nursing staff close enough to respond if the need arises.
Points to Consider When Looking for a New Home After Retirement
There are a few ways you can prepare for a big move, and also protect yourself against big surprises. Be sure you know what the weather is like year-round, and get to know the neighbors as well as the neighborhood before you buy.
Don’t buy the first opening you find, even though some communities are tough to get into. And consider the cost of living. It might be different from where you live now. Learn whether the community is based on membership fee, dues, and even food and beverage minimums. These add-ons can really increase the cost of what might otherwise be an affordable community.
Almost as important as anything else is learning just how maintenance-free your community really is. Are you expected to keep the lawn trimmed? Who is responsible for repairs if the heating or air conditioning systems go out?
Retirement living isn’t what it used to be, and neither are the communities that many retirees call home. Some are upscale models of suburbia, and others are kitschy artistic villages where like-minded people flourish. Still others offer a higher level of care for those who need it, while offering a real home that just happens to be close to medical assistance on call.
Choosing a place to live after you retire might be one of the most challenging decisions you make, simply because there are so many attractive options.
Are you thinking about retirement and planning your next big move? We’d love to hear any pointers that you’ve got to share!