Active Adult Community Versus Retirement Home – What’s the Difference?

The residents who choose to live within active adult communities have moved beyond raising their own children and are simply interested in living among other adults who are in the same phase of life.
The residents who choose to live within active adult communities have moved beyond raising their own children and are simply interested in living among other adults who are in the same phase of life.
The residents who choose to live within active adult communities have moved beyond raising their own children and are simply interested in living among other adults who are in the same phase of life.

The Difference Between the Two 

When some people first hear the term “active adult community,” they imagine some common misconceptions. Active adult communities are often confused with elderly care or senior living when in reality they are more like country clubs or living at a resort.

Although active adult communities are geared toward older residents, and often have a specific age-restriction, they are very different from retirement homes. Active adult communities promote an active social life, but they are not a collection of group homes. They may be close to excellent medical facilities, but they do not offer assisted living.

In many ways, active adult communities are like any other master planned community. They offer varied housing options including condos, attached villas or townhomes, and single-family homes. They have community amenities like swimming pools, recreation centers, tennis courts, and golf courses. Their biggest difference is that residents may be restricted to child-free households which have at least one resident who is over the age of 55, or whatever the community’s own age restriction may be.

Retirement Homes

In contrast, retirement homes are designed for elderly or disabled residents who can no longer live independently. Retirement homes or retirement communities provide some level of care, or various levels of care to accommodate different residents. They are likely to have a group dining hall or meal plan, and on-site medical staff.

They may be called retirement communities, senior living communities, continuing care facilities, assisted living facilities, or a number of other euphemisms for a retirement home, but they are not active adult communities. Some people consider active adult communities to be a step between general, open-age communities and a retirement home, but that is not entirely accurate. Homebuyers who choose to live in an active adult community may stay there until they one day move to a retirement home — but those years could easily span decades.

The residents who choose to live within active adult communities have moved beyond raising their own children and are simply interested in living among other adults who are in the same phase of life. Today, more than ever, adults in their fifties, sixties, and seventies enjoy an active lifestyle, whether they are retired or still working full or part-time jobs.

Active adult communities come in many different sizes and styles. The smallest may be neighborhoods with less than 100 homes, yet sprawling developments could include well over 10,000 residences. The largest active adult communities include Country Club or resort-style living with golf courses, sports courts, state-of-the-art fitness centers, swimming pools, art studios, bike trails, and much more.

Because active adult community residents are either childless or have already raised their families, they have more time to pursue their own interests. That might include joining a variety of social clubs, becoming involved within the community’s governance or taking classes at a local learning center. If you have mistakenly assumed that active adult communities were synonymous with retirement homes, you aren’t alone. But now that you know the difference, it might be a great time to check out the exciting amenities available at many active adult communities throughout the country.

Can you spot the $207,744 difference between these identical homes?

Financing is the difference!

Get the details in The 62+ Loan Homebuyers Guide.

55places Mortgage is a joint venture between Mutual of Omaha Mortgage and 55places.com.
Details here.

Share this post:

We're here to help! (800) 928-2055

Call us to speak with a customer service representative.

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Get Weekly Updates

I agree that 55places and its affiliates, partner providers or agents may call, text, or email me about my inquiry, which may be made with automated means. I understand that my consent is not a prerequisite for buying a property. I may revoke my consent at any time by contacting [email protected] Message/data rates may apply. I also agree to 55places.com’s Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.

The Best Places to Snowbird in 2021

We’ve gathered 25 of the best places for snowbirds, including cities in Florida, Arizona, California, Texas, South Carolina, and Nevada. For each entry, we’ve also provided a list of recommended 55+ communities in the area. If you’re ready to find your own winter retreat this season, here are some of the best places to consider.

A woman drinking her morning coffee on a balcony overlooking Downtown Miami.

Urban 55+ Communities: You Can Retire in These Cities

There are many benefits to living in a city, from having easy access to daily needs like grocery stores and pharmacies to having an assortment of cultural amenities and entertainment options nearby. Still not convinced? Here are some cities with urban 55 communities that just might pique your interest.

Happy mature couple dancing together in the kitchen at home in a 55+ community.

Top 10 Benefits of Living in a 55+ Community

Living in a 55+ communitiy is so much more than just convienent for active adult retirees. The right community will help them downsize, manage their finances, increase their activitiy, and meet new people. Check out all the benefits of living in a 55+ community.

View of Downtown Provo, Utah during autumn at dusk.

The Best Cities for Aging in Place

Deciding on where to retire is always a challenging question. What do you look for when searching for your ideal place to age in place? There are a variety of factors that come into play when looking for that perfect spot such as health care, wellness, general livability, transportation, or community engagement, just to name a few.

Closed up on a tiny wood home model on green grass with sunlight background.

This Month in Real Estate: A Housing Market Summary

The new year is showing that the predicted changes coming to the housing market were accurate and kept with the trend for 55+ homebuyers. If you’re just entering the housing market as a homebuyer, make sure you’re aware of the changes happening so you’re prepared to make the best purchasing decision. 

Aerial view of a picturesque olive plantation in Bakersfield, California.

The Cheapest Places to Live in California

With almost year-round sunshine, some of the world’s prettiest beaches, world-class shopping and dining, and a never-ending list of recreational and entertainment opportunities, it’s no wonder California is such as sought-after state to settle down in.

A sunset over Huntington Beach Pier in California.

The Active Adult Travel Guide to California

California is known for its diverse regions and cities. This means if you’re an active adult looking to vacation in the Golden State, you’ll have a lot of options. We breakdown the state into its three main regions and find everything you should do while on vacation.

About 55places

We’re changing the way people 55 and older are searching for their perfect next place. With a national network of hand-selected real estate experts, plus comprehensive information, unbiased content, and on-the-go insight about thousands of communities across the country, we’re a trusted resource paving the way from here to home. Whether you’re interested in a low-maintenance single-level residence, an active lifestyle or age-qualified community, an intimate enclave, or anything in between, we can help you make your next move the best one yet.

Scroll to Top