Active Adult vs. Independent vs. Continuing Care Retirement Communities: Which One Is Right for You?

An older woman looks out the window of her home in a retirement community.
A senior Caucasian woman leans against a window frame while looking outside thoughtfully.

Your retirement is one of the biggest decisions you can make. After all, you’ve done your time weathering the grind. Retirement is all about you and finding the right community to pursue your passions and live your best life.

For some, that’s one of many “all-inclusive” retirement communities with manicured spaces and the busy work of homeownership taken care of for you. Others might prioritize the quality time gained from downsizing, so they can pursue their interests and adventures such as horseback riding, fishing, yoga, and general wellness. Whatever your perfect dream retirement community looks like, we’re here to help you find it.

So what exactly is the difference between active adult, independent, and continuing care retirement communities? We’ll take a closer look at the highlights and nuances of each so you can make an informed decision on your next big move.

Active Adult Retirement Communities

Mature friends in a 55+ community sitting around a fire and taking a selfie.

Adventures begin at retirement. Active adult retirement communities are built for 55+ adults who need little to no assistance in daily tasks. In addition, they cater to those who enjoy the outdoors. These communities are often built around a specific interest. These may include equestrian or sailing retirement communities. The perfect fit can be found anywhere across the U.S.

Studies report that:

"...the U.S. active adult (55+) community market size is estimated to reach USD 805.0 billion by 2030. And, it's expanding at a CAGR of 4.01 percent from 2022 to 2030. The growing interest of older adults below 65 years of age in a maintenance-free lifestyle, structured activities, socialization, and a sense of community are the major factors driving the market."

Like-Minded Neighbors

Have you always dreamed of living on the coast? What about exploring the best golf course communities in PhoenixNo matter where your adventures take you, there’s a retirement community for you.

Hiking the trails, playing a round of tennis, swimming, yoga, and everything in between make up the heart of these dynamic retirement communities. Active adult communities make it their mission to draw together like-minded mature adults with a common interest. This creates the kind of neighborhood people love coming home to.

No On-Site Medical Services

Unlike other retirement communities discussed in this list, active adult communities do not typically include services such as on-site health care or medical support. They tend to be designed for those who prefer to handle their own daily tasks such as laundry, meals, and maintenance around the condo or townhouse. So while you might not find access to an on-site buffet, you will enjoy an endless repertoire of activities and adventures.

Get back to nature, unwind, and explore in an active adult retirement community.

Independent Retirement Communities

Happy senior men and woman using a laptop while sitting at table in a nursing home.

Live life on your own terms without the hassle of property management. Independent living communities are exactly what they sound like; a dynamic space for mature residents prioritizing “me” time.

Many 55+ tenants are selling their homes and downsizing. Getting rid of extra stress can leave you feeling lighter and less hassled, not to mention the benefit of additional savings to spend on pursuing what you love instead of maintaining property.

The All-Inclusive Retirement

Independent retirement communities support mature adults in their goals by taking care of daily housekeeping, maintenance, security, and so much more. Think of independent retirement communities as the all-inclusive, resort-style option for a more easygoing way of life. Independent retirement communities have tons of amenities you might not expect such as on-site dining, transportation, events, and entertainment.

Health Care and Education

Added benefits to being a member of an independent retirement community include on-site or nearby health care services. This isn’t just a convenient amenity. Accessible medical facilities cut down response time in an emergency. This gives residents more peace of mind to continue doing the things they love without worrying about the what-ifs. 

Continuing education is another common on-site benefit. Never stop learning and challenging yourself. From picking up an instrument to learning a new language, continuing education is a great way to enhance your memory, build knowledge, and continue to grow and develop.

Residencies vary by community, so you can find one that fits your lifestyle best. From large cottages to sleek condos and minimalist studio apartments, there’s a dream living situation for everyone. Communities are tight-knit and lots of fun. If a curated retirement experience sounds like your ideal retirement, then independent living may be your perfect fit.

Continuing Care Retirement Communities

A senior woman sitting on a bench and talking with a nurse in retirement home.

A continuing care retirement community (CCRC), also known as a life plan community, is ideal for those who require extra care and support throughout the day. This encompasses a higher level of on-site amenities and wellness-centered living than an independent retirement community. These kinds of communities prioritize accessibility and offer a continuum of care. Services include supportive health care, assisted living, and memory.

Medical Care and Socialization Opportunities

CCRC’s are flexible based on the needs of each resident. In addition, if you’re moving in with a partner, continuing care retirement communities are able to meet both levels of needs seamlessly—a significant benefit for mature spouses.

A typical CCRC might look like luxury condos, cottages, duplexes, and studio apartments. A hassle-free lifestyle can be enjoyed by all residents with cooking, cleaning, upkeep, and more taken care of by friendly, competent staff.

In addition to providing a carefree way of life, continuing care retirement communities build strong social networks for seniors. Activities and neighborhood gatherings are common, and residents often enjoy the closeness of a cozy community.

Is a Continuing Care Retirement Community Right for You?

A few items to consider when looking into continuing care retirement communities are:

  • Prerequisite health requirements are often mandated
  • These communities may or may not be age-restricted
  • Monthly service fees typically apply

While it’s important to consider the finer details before deciding on where to retire, most agree that continuing care retirement communities are well worth the commitment. These communities support their residents in maintaining their ideal lifestyle, even when physical and cognitive considerations must be taken into account.

Let Our Experience Guide You

So where will your retirement take you? With so many options to choose from, mature living communities are growing by the day. You can be a part of the experience. We’re ready to help you find your perfect retirement vision. Contact our team today to learn more!

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
Details here.

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 Message/data rates may apply. I also agree to’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.

Retired woman enjoys swimming in her active adult community.

Your Guide To Exploring Types of Active Adult Communities

If you’re considering downsizing and upgrading to a more carefree lifestyle, you may be surprised to find how many types of active adult communities there are. Explore the right active adult communities for you with our guide.

A boat pier at sunrise in Lake Placid, Florida.

Lake Placid Living: A Look at 55+ Communities in This Central Florida Gem

8 minute read Located in the heart of Central Florida, Lake Placid offers the best qualities of small-town America. Surrounded by scenic lakes, nature preserves, and cultural attractions, the “Town of Murals” is perfect for active adults. With two 55+ communities in Lake Placid—Covered Bridge and Tomoka Heights—the area’s affordability makes it an appealing option

Relaxed 55+ adults camping with friends and drinking a cup of coffee while enjoying retirement.

How to Choose the Right Retirement Community for You

Choosing the right retirement community is an important decision. There are questions you should ask yourself when considering an active adult community. These are some of the most important questions to ask yourself when choosing the retirement community for you, as well as some active adult communities to consider.

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