Shopping for an active adult community online allows you to pinpoint some favorite communities before you plan to visit  in-person.

Community shopping online allows you to pinpoint some favorites before you plan an in-person visit.

While active adult communities are all designed to provide their residents with the best place to retire, there is a multitude of variations from one community to the next. Some communities are sprawling resort-style locations while others provide more intimate neighborhoods.

Each community has its own draw, whether it’s a championship golf course, an active tennis facility, or a cozy clubhouse with a variety of social clubs. And while a search for the best place to retire is, of course, a personal experience, there are some common, practical steps that can help potential buyers along the way.

1. Choose a Retirement Location

The first step is to decide where to live, and there are many considerations when choosing a retirement location. Climate is often a major factor, as well as proximity to family and friends. Though active adult communities have many on-site amenities, the area surrounding the community is equally important. There are communities that are set in small towns, suburbs, or close to urban centers. There are communities located near beaches, mountains, deserts, or even in northern towns.

2. Consider Age-Restricted vs. Age-Targeted Communities

Though active adult communities are generally geared toward residents over the age of 55, not all of these communities are age-restricted. Age-targeted communities, though designed with amenities that appeal to active adults, are open to residents of all ages. Age-restricted communities are often quieter, while age-targeted communities may have a more diverse environment. Children and teenagers may be sharing the amenities and playing within the community’s open areas.

3. Plan Your Budget

The wide range of active adult communities offer homes that meet many budgets. When planning to relocate, consider not only the cost of the home but any community fees as well. While many amenities are usually included in the basic homeowner’s fees, some communities may require additional memberships or fees for golf, tennis, classes, or other activities. Be sure to consider the area’s cost of living as well, particularly in how it compares to your current location.

4. Prioritize Your Needs and Wants

 How do you picture your lifestyle? Do you want to live in a golf community or play tennis every day? Look over several active adult communities to see the kinds of amenities they offer and make our own list in order of importance. Think about desired features in both the home and community amenities. Consider features in the surrounding area as well, such as proximity to medical facilities or airports.

5. List Your Favorite Communities

 When browsing communities online, it is easy to lose track of your favorites. Make a list of appealing communities with a few notes on what you like about each. Revise the list as you research, adding or removing communities until you have a few contenders. Using a spreadsheet or note cards may help track your reactions while visiting each of these communities.

6. Visit Each Community

Make appointments to visit your favorite communities. If you are traveling, be sure to allow plenty of time at each community and, if possible, leave time to go back to your favorites more than once. The community may have a different feel on a Saturday afternoon than it does on a Wednesday morning. Be sure to ask questions while you are visiting, particularly about the community rules.

7. Explore the Surrounding Area

Visit more than the tourist stops when researching a retirement location. While you do want to take note of dining, shopping, and recreational attractions, you should also remember your daily needs. Check out the nearest grocery store, banks, and pharmacies.

Find the closest medical facilities and hospital. Driving through the neighborhoods just outside the active adult community may also give you an idea about the general area. There are many impressive active adult communities around the country, and that can make it difficult to choose among them. Remember, it isn’t necessarily a matter of finding the community with the most amenities, but rather finding the best place to retire for you.