Home Ownership

Most 55+ communities have a homeowners’ association (HOA) that oversees maintenance of lawns, landscaping and shared amenities. Generally, in 55+ communities, homeowners in single family homes are responsible for maintaining the exterior of the home; whereas homeowners in attached homes or condos have the exterior of their home maintained by the HOA. In almost all cases, residents are responsible for maintaining the interior of their homes. The specific maintenance arrangements vary by community, so it’s essential for potential residents to inquire about the maintenance services and associated costs before making a decision.

6 Ways a Maintenance-Free Community Gives You More Freedom

Maintenance and landscaping services in active adult communities are often designed to provide residents with a convenient and low-maintenance lifestyle. These services can vary depending on the specific community and its amenities, but here are some common services that are may be provided:

  • Lawn Care: This can include regular mowing, edging, and trimming to keep the community’s outdoor spaces looking neat and well-kept.
  • Landscaping: The community may provide landscaping services that encompass planting, pruning, mulching, and general upkeep of the common areas.
  • Snow Removal: In areas where snowfall occurs, the community may take care of snow removal from driveways, sidewalks, and common areas to ensure safe passage for residents.
  • Exterior Maintenance: Depending on the type of housing, exterior maintenance might include tasks like painting, siding repairs, roof maintenance, and gutter cleaning. 
  • Pest Control: Communities often provide pest control services to prevent and manage common pests such as insects and rodents that can affect the comfort and safety of residents.
  • Trash and Recycling: Communities typically manage trash and recycling collection, ensuring that waste is picked up regularly and disposed of properly.
  • Common Area Upkeep: Maintenance of common areas such as clubhouses, swimming pools, fitness centers, and walking paths is usually included.
  • Exterior Repairs: If something breaks or needs repair on the exterior of a resident’s home (e.g., a fence, gate, or exterior light), the community may handle these repairs.
  • Community Repairs: Repairs to community infrastructure, such as roads, sidewalks, and streetlights, are often managed by the community association.

Downsizing means moving into a smaller home. This process often involves donating old or unused items, such as furniture, clothing, and keeping only what you’ll need in your new home. The 55places blog features articles that share advice for active adults who are downsizing to move into a 55+ community.

Downsizing More Than Your Home

You don’t necessarily need to downsize when you move into an active adult community. Many 55+ communities offer a few two-story floor plans in addition to the one-story plans that are most popular with active adult homebuyers. Some of the one-story plans even offer up to four bedrooms. These are perfect for homebuyers who would love to have family or friends visit, or who simply enjoy having a bit more living space.

How to Downsize (After Living in Your Home for Decades)

Many developers of active adult communities build homes in phases. If you move into the first phase of a larger community, you can expect construction to continue in other sections. Even in single-phase communities, homebuyers who purchase homes early on in the sales process may experience some construction of more homes or amenities after move-in.

While the level of privacy varies, many active adult communities are gated, and some HOAs allow for fence or privacy wall construction, both of which help add to homeowner privacy. Be sure to ask your 55places real estate expert about any potential restrictions on fencing and communicate your privacy preferences before choosing a 55+ community.

10 Perks of Living in a Gated Active Adult Community

New construction homes often allow for customization, include modern features and warranties, and may require less maintenance at first compared to resale homes. On the other hand, the limited supply of new construction homes may mean fewer location options, higher prices, construction delays, or half-finished amenities. The benefits of buying a resale home include higher inventory in more locations, higher negotiating potential, mature landscaping around older homes, and occasionally lower prices. The risks of buying a resale home may include fewer warranties, less customization, and a higher likelihood that the home will need major maintenance.

10 Tips For Buying a New Construction Home

The rules and regulations regarding building a fence, pool, or other structures within a 55+ community can vary depending on the specific community and its governing documents. These regulations are typically outlined in the community’s homeowners association (HOA) guidelines, covenants, conditions, and restrictions (CC&R), and other governing documents.

Here are some general steps you can take:

  • Review the CC&R: Carefully read through the community’s CC&R to understand the rules and restrictions related to building fences, pools, or other structures.
  • Contact the HOA: Reach out to your homeowners association to inquire about the specific rules and procedures for building a fence or pool.
  • Obtain Necessary Approvals: If the HOA requires approval for your project, submit the required documentation, plans, and applications.
  • Follow Local Regulations: In addition to the HOA guidelines, you may need to adhere to local zoning and building regulations. Check with your local government or municipality to understand any additional requirements or permits needed.
  • Hire Professionals: Depending on the complexity of your project, you may need to hire contractors, architects, or pool builders who are familiar with both HOA requirements and local regulations.
  • Receive Approval and Proceed: Once you receive approval from both the HOA and local authorities, you can proceed with building your fence, pool, or other structures while adhering to the approved plans.

It’s important to note that every 55+ community can have unique rules and regulations, so it’s crucial to consult the specific documents and guidelines for your community.

This depends on the covenants, creeds, and restrictions document adopted by each homeowners’ association. Many new construction communities allow design customization on new homes, but making major structural changes to an existing home may be restricted in other communities. Be sure to ask your realtor or community representative about any preferences and needs you have regarding your new home’s interior.

Yes, there can be restrictions on outdoor landscaping and gardening in a 55+ community, depending on the community’s rules and regulations, also known as CC&R (Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions) or bylaws. These restrictions are often put in place to maintain a cohesive and aesthetically pleasing environment for all residents. Here are some common types of restrictions:

  • Approved Plantings: Some communities may have a list of approved plants, trees, and shrubs that residents are allowed to use in their landscaping.
  • Lawn Maintenance: Rules may govern the height and appearance of lawns, including guidelines for mowing frequency and weed control.
  • Garden Structures: Restrictions might be in place for structures such as sheds, gazebos, fences, and other garden features.
  • Hardscaping: Guidelines could apply to the installation of walkways, patios, and other hardscape elements to ensure they adhere to the community’s design standards.
  • Water Usage: Some communities may have regulations related to water conservation, including restrictions on the use of sprinkler systems and guidelines for efficient watering.
  • Vegetable Gardens: Restrictions might limit or regulate the size and location of vegetable or herb gardens to ensure they don’t interfere with the overall landscape.
  • Tree Removal: Rules may govern the removal of trees, especially mature trees, to protect the community’s green spaces.
  • Landscaping Companies: Some communities require residents to use approved landscaping companies or follow specific landscaping guidelines when hiring outside help.

In many cases, if you wish to make significant changes to your outdoor landscaping or gardening, you may need to seek approval from the community’s homeowners’ association (HOA) or architectural review committee. This process typically involves submitting plans or proposals for review before making any modifications.

How Big of a Backyard Should I Get in a 55+ Community?

Many communities have comprehensive emergency preparedness plans that outline procedures for various types of emergencies, including severe weather events, hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, wildfires, and more. Communication is key during emergencies and communities often have established ways to alert residents about approaching inclement weather or potential disasters. This can include phone alerts, emails, text messages, and announcements through community websites or social media. Community evacuation plans for natural disaster prone areas include suggested evacuation routes, assembly points, and other procedures. Communities may also have designated points where residents can safely shelter in place during severe weather events.

Many 55+ communities have trash and recycling pickup days provided by local waste management companies. It’s important for residents to be aware of the waste disposal and recycling guidelines specific to their community. These guidelines are usually communicated through HOAs, informational packets, or community websites. Following proper waste disposal and recycling practices not only contributes to a clean and well-maintained environment but also helps promote sustainability within the community.

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