Where do you want to go after retirement? After years of daydreaming and planning, finding the answer might be tougher than you think. Maybe you want to move closer to your kids and grandkids. Maybe you want to settle down in a warmer climate or find a home where you can dig deeper into your hobbies.
You might find that an active adult community is the answer to your post-retirement questions. These communities, located all over the country, offer homes and amenities that cater to people 55+. You can opt to buy a home in one of these communities, or you can join the growing trend of people more interested in renting than owning.
What Kinds of Rentals Are Out There?
Active adult communities come in many shapes and sizes. You can find sprawling communities that cover acres and include thousands of homes. Or you can opt for smaller, more intimate communities with just a handful of homes. You also have your choice of finding an attached home (think a condo or a townhome) or a single-family home.
When it comes to the actual rental agreement, you can consider:
- Short-term rental: Short-term rentals offer the ultimate flexibility. With rental terms of just three to six months, this kind of lease allows you to keep your options open. If you decide you want to move on to somewhere else, you don’t have long to wait. If you want to stay put for a while, you can renew your lease for another few months.
- Long-term rental: Long-term rentals typically come with 12-month leases, although you may come across some opportunities with longer terms. You still have the flexibility of renting, but you don’t have to worry about reviewing a new lease every few months.
- Stay and play: Moving to an active adult community can feel like a big decision. Will you like it? Are the amenities as great as they seem? Some communities offer “stay and play” packages. With this option, you can rent a home for just a few days. If you like the experience, you can think about exploring a longer rental or home purchase in that community.
- Rent and then buy: Renting doesn’t have to be a permanent decision. Maybe you want to rent something quickly to give yourself more time to search for the perfect home to buy in a particular area or community. Some homes may offer potential buyers the opportunity to rent and then buy, but this is not a common option.
If you're considering renting instead of buying, it helps to weigh the pros and cons, particularly if you've spent most of your life as a homeowner.
The pros of renting include:
- Flexibility. Renting gives you a ton of flexibility. After years of living near your job, you suddenly have the option to move wherever you want. Maybe you want to use this new freedom to keep your options open. In that case, renting offers more flexibility than a mortgage.
- Price. In many cases, monthly rent is less expensive than a mortgage payment. Plus, you don’t even have to think about a down payment. You may need to put down a security deposit when you move into a rental, or you might be able to just move in and start paying rent. Renting can also be less expensive because you don’t have to worry about property taxes.
- Less maintenance. As a renter, you aren't responsible for the upkeep of your home. If the toilet is on the fritz or the front lawn needs mowing, your landlord is the one to call. With fewer maintenance requirements, you have more time to spend your retirement with friends, family, and your favorite activities.
Any kind of living situation also comes with its downsides. Some of the cons of renting can be:
- Less control. As a homeowner, you have the option to change your property when you see fit. If you’re tired of the wall color, you can pick a new one and paint it. If you want to plant a new flower bed, all you need to do is go outside and get started. But as a renter, you won't get to enjoy very much creative freedom.
- Rent increase. As a homeowner, you have a fixed mortgage rate. As a renter, you're subject to increases in rent. You do have the option to move when your landlord tells you a new lease comes with more in monthly rent, but you might consider that a hassle.
- No equity or tax benefits. Building equity and taking advantage of tax write-offs are some of the major benefits associated with homeownership. If you decide to eschew buying, you'll be giving up those benefits. You pay rent without building any equity, and there are no tax deductions for living in a rented property.
- Uncertainty. Buying a home provides stability. You don’t have to move unless you want to, and you make the rules for your home. When you rent, you're subject to your landlord’s decisions and rules. For example, your landlord can change building policies or increase rent. If you want to stay, you need to comply.
Where Can You Find Rentals?
If you've decided renting is for you, how do you go about finding the right spot? First, you can turn to your social network. Ask anyone if they know about a community you might like. A recommendation from someone you know can be an important factor in making a decision on where to settle down. You might also have luck finding a more flexible rental arrangement through someone you know.
Also, as with any kind of major decision today, hopping online can be your go-to resource. You can search for rental communities on 55places by toggling between the "Communities" and "Apartments" tabs on our state pages. For example, here are the rental communities in Texas. You can search for active adult community rentals near you or on the other side of the country if you're looking for a big change.