Select 55-Retirement-Communities, A Personal Lifestyle Choice

As the name implies, 55-retirement-communities are retirement communities restricted to those persons who are 55 and over. There are many different types of retirement communities that are for those who are capable of independent living. Such communities can vary from retirement subdivisions of single family homes or congregate apartments or a combination of both to communities consisting entirely of mobile homes.

Many of these communities include a wide range of programs and activities designed for the active retiree. Some offer no more than a home in an age restricted community. Activities or programs are offered by a resident club or association and/or a management group.  These amenities are designed with the needs and wants of retirees in mind. Such amenities may include:

  • A wellness center some staffed with a certified exercise physiologist.
  • Club activities such a golf group, fishing club, euchre club, tennis club, travel club, etc
  • A club house for social and educational activities and public information events.
  • Restaurant style dining facility.
  • On-site theater facility with current movie productions
  • A swimming pool
  • Retail outlets or community store and on-site banking services.
  • Clinic services some including physician and dental services.
  • Emergency response services.
  • Free scheduled transportation services.
  • Access to golf courses some free such as at the Villages in Florida.

The choice of retirement housing will be driven by the retirement lifestyle that we as individuals want to live. Generally, 55-retirement-communities composed of single family residences with fewer amenities are less restrictive than those that have a more structured program. And they probably represent less of a change from your pre-retirement lifestyle. On the other hand a more structured environment may be best for you if you need or anticipate needing more support. The decision should be based on your needs as determined by you.

Ten things to consider in selecting housing in 55-retirement-communities would include:

  1. Your assessment of your personal lifestyle preference and needs including health care, the importance of freedom, family support, existing friendships and community.
  2. What area of the country or world do you want to live in?
  3. Location of the community relative to health care services, public transportation, shopping, drug store, grocery stores, and cultural resources.
  4. Housing units designed to accommodate your changing needs and large enough for comfortable living. Design considerations for older persons such as wide hallways, barrier free entry, and skid proof floors.
  5. Safety and security is a consideration. What kind of security is provided for residents? Is the property location in a safe area?
  6. Mobility and your car. Is covered parking available and at what cost?
  7. Cost of living in the area and in the retirement community. What is included in the rent, purchase price, and/or maintenance fee?
  8. Cost of amenities and health care. Are there separate fees for meals, utilities, healthcare, etc.? The total cost of living in the chosen community needs to be quantified.
  9. What is the policy on guests? Are there amenities for friends and families to visit and enjoy? What are the restrictions if any?
  10. Housing units in 55-retirement-communities may be offered on a rental basis, a life lease, a membership privilege, a life contract endowment fee or on an ownership basis. Do you want to make a long-term commitment or would it be better to simply rent? If you pay for a life lease, life contract endowment or purchase price, what are the refund policies, or resale opportunities? When there is an upfront cash requirement, you should seek the advice of your financial consultant or accountant. And regardless of the financial requirement there is always a written agreement that should be reviewed by legal counsel representing you.

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