How to Choose the Right Retirement Community for You


Active adult homebuyers looking to find their ideal 55+ community may have a few questions before packing their bags. Choosing the right retirement community is an important decision and there are a few questions you should ask yourself when considering where you want to move.

Homebuyers have a few different types of active adult communities to consider, such as age-restricted active adult communities, active lifestyle communities that do not have an age requirement, and senior living communities that often provide residents with medical care.

Below, we highlight some of the most important questions to ask yourself when choosing the retirement community for you as well as showcase some of the regions you may want to consider depending on your answers.

1. What Is Your Retirement Budget?

What is the first thing that comes to mind when you think of retiring? The answer for many homebuyers is money.

Your retirement budget will help you decide the style of home you have, the community you want to live in, and the area you may want to be in. Of course, there is no right or wrong way to start your retirement, but it is important to consider your budget, especially when it comes to buying a home.

Are you a snowbird looking for a second winter home that won’t break the bank? There are many communities specifically targeted to active adult homebuyers who wish to live in their community only part-time. Florida is one of the most popular states for snowbirds with many low-maintenance communities that allow residents to have a flexible living style. Some great Florida communities for snowbirds include Palm Cay in Ocala and Kings Point in Sun City Center.

Are you looking for a moderately priced home within a suburban community? Homebuyers looking for a community with modern homes that satisfy their budget might consider communities such as Sunbird in Chandler, Arizona, Pheasant Run at Barnegat in Ocean County, New Jersey, or The Elms of Charleston in Charleston, South Carolina.

Are you looking for your dream home and don’t mind spending the cash it might take to get it? Homebuyers who wish to find their ideal luxury home might consider communities such as Gavilan in Rancho Mission Viejo, California, Sun City Texas in Georgetown, Texas, or Hassayampa Village in Prescott, Arizona.

Depending on what kind of homebuyer you are, the community you choose should not only have a home that meets all your physical needs but your financial ones as well.

2. Do You Prefer to Live Close to Quality Healthcare?

Access to quality healthcare is something that every homebuyer should consider. Active adults who are looking for a community close to a variety of medical centers may have specific medical requirements that should not be overlooked when choosing the right community. Those concerned about being close to medical centers and facilities may want to take a closer look at the community’s surrounding area or seek out the best places to retire for certain conditions, such as arthritis or type 1 diabetes.

A few questions to ask yourself when thinking about your healthcare needs might be, do I have to go to a medical facility often? Does a senior living community make sense for me? What are my specific medical needs?

Thinking of these questions and your health will help you to decide whether or not living close to healthcare providers is important to you.

3. What Do You Want the Weather to Be Like Where You Live?

 /><figcaption><em>If you’re looking for a retirement full of days lounging on the beach, you’ll want to look to places like Florida.</em></figcaption></figure>
<p>Of course, no one can forget the question of climate when considering retirement. Whether you are looking to experience all four seasons during retirement or leave the winter behind and take advantage of a nearby beach all year round, the weather is a major factor to think about when choosing the right retirement community.</p>
<p>Ask yourself, Where is the community located? What is the weather like there? What kind of climate am I personally looking for? Do I want to live in a wooded area, desert, or near the ocean? Since U.S. homebuyers are lucky enough to be able to choose from a variety of different environments and climates, it is a matter of deciding what you want that will help you determine what community is right for you.</p>
<p>If you love experiencing the change of seasons, you might want to live somewhere in the Midwest or on the East Coast, such as <a href=Illinois, Ohio, or Pennsylvania. The Midwest is known for its hot summers and snowy winters, while the East Coast is known for the changing of leaves in the fall and its mild, breezy summers.

If you are looking for a dry, arid climate, you might want to consider a Southwest retirement. Arizona is known for hot summers with winters ranging from the 40s to the 70s. If you are looking for a beachside location in the Southern region of the U.S., the Carolinas are known for humid summers and winters averaging in the high-30s to mid-50s. If you are looking for a more tropical climate, you might consider a Florida or Southern California retirement where the weather is warm all year long.  

4. What Style of Home Are You Looking For?

All homebuyers must ask themselves the question of what kind of home they want to live in, but especially active adult homebuyers. Active adult communities can have exclusively one kind of home or offer a combination of home types, such as single-family, attached, and condominium.

Some questions to consider when thinking about what kind of home you may need might be, how much space do I need? Do I want neighbors in the same building as me? Am I looking for a low-maintenance home? Am I living alone or with others?

Considering your space needs, the style of living you are looking for, and your specific living situation will help you decide what type of home is right for you. If you are looking for a part-time home, you may want to consider a condo home that doesn’t require as much upkeep. If you are moving with a spouse or partner or family, you may be looking for a home that allows you more storage and space. If you are hoping to find a home slightly bigger than a condo but still not wanting the responsibility of a single-family home, an attached townhouse might make the most sense for you.

5. What Kind of Amenities Are You Looking For?

Amenities, social clubs, and various services that a community provides are some of the factors that draw many active adult homebuyers into a community. It is fairly common for an active adult or active lifestyle community to have a long list of amenities and clubs, although this is not always the case. There are also plenty of active adult or lifestyle communities that do not include clubhouses and amenities. Homebuyers looking to buy a home in an active adult community should consider what kind of amenities they are looking for or if they prefer a community without amenities.

Homebuyers looking for a community with amenities will typically find a clubhouse, fitness center, pool and patio, and various sports courts throughout most communities. Some communities have more specific amenities such as a golf course, woodworking or poetry shop, day spa, continuing education center, and much more.

Some questions to consider when thinking about amenities might be: what are your interests? Are you looking to utilize your athletic skills? Or are you hoping to have more hobby-focused amenities? Do you want a community with a spacious clubhouse or a more simple design?

Communities such as The Villages in Florida and Watermere at Southlake in Texas offer a plethora of amenities with elegantly designed clubhouses. Communities such as Saddlebrook Farms in Illinois and The Tapestry in North Carolina have a more concise list of amenities and social clubs.  

Another thing to consider for some homebuyers might be social clubs. Some active adult communities have their own lifestyle director that is in charge of organizing events for residents, while others do not. Do you want a community that has a long list of clubs and gatherings to participate in? Or are you more interested in focusing on how to cultivate your retirement independently?

Whether you are looking for a community with several amenities or none at all, it is important to consider what life is like throughout your community in order to make the best decision for you and your interests.

6. Do You Do a Lot of Traveling?

 /><figcaption><em>If you like traveling, there’s no reason you can’t prioritize that in retirement.</em></figcaption></figure>
<p><a href=Active adults who love to travel may be looking to spend the least amount of time as possible at home. Frequent travelers might consider a lock-and-leave style community. Or you may simply need to live in a community near an airport.

A lock-and-leave style community allows residents to own a home without having to worry about the maintenance that typically comes with traditional homeownership. This option is especially attractive to snowbirds who may live in their community for only part of the year.

Some questions to consider if you do or plan to do a lot of traveling once moving to your community might be, how often will I be at home? How far am I willing to drive to the nearest airport? Do I need my home taken care of while I am not there? Am I living within the community part-time?

Figuring out what specific requirements your living situation might have will help you decide the kind of maintenance you should look for within your community. Maintenance varies from community to community with some taking care of everything from lawn care and snow removal as well as gutter cleaning and trash removal, while some communities may just focus on lawn care.

7. Do You Have Pets?

Many active adults have pet companions and want to be in a community that welcomes their furry friends. If you are an active adult homebuyer with pets, it is important to find out whether or not the communities you are most interested in allow pets or not.  

Every community is different and there is certainly no universal rule when it comes to pets. Many single-family home communities allow pets. There are also many condo communities that allow pets but may have restrictions.

Something else to consider when looking into a condo community is if each building within the community has the same restrictions or rules. Often times a community with multiple unit buildings will have a different set of rules for each building. Some may allow pets and some may not, while others may allow cats and not dogs or vice versa.

If you currently have a pet or are considering getting one, be sure to clarify with your agent or a community representative on the restrictions for pets.

8. Do You Want to Live in the City or Country?

The surrounding area of a community is another important thing for active adult homebuyers to consider. Though you may love spending time within your community, what do you want to experience when you venture outside?

There are 55+ communities all across the country that come in a range of sizes and are surrounded by a wide variety of settings. When looking to find a home in a retirement community, you should ask yourself if you wish to retire to an urban area or a more peaceful country setting. Or are you looking for something in between?

If you want to live in an urban area, consider moving to a community within a major city or just a few miles away. Some popular urban areas for retirees include Phoenix, Arizona, Washington D.C., and Portland, Oregon.

If you want to live in an area that is not too close to the city but not too far, some regions you might consider are St. George, Utah, Grand Rapids, Michigan, and Charlotte, North Carolina.

If you are looking to get away from the hectic lifestyle of the city and suburbs, some secluded country regions you might consider are Idaho, Central Pennsylvania, and Delaware.

9. Do You Want to Live in a Big or Small Community?

 /><figcaption><em>In a community like The Villages, it’s like living in a town populated entirely by active adults.</em></figcaption></figure>
<p>Many active adult homebuyers struggle with deciding what size community is right for them. While there is no perfect answer, consider what you want from your retirement community. Are you looking for a community with a lot of neighbors and plenty of opportunities to meet new people? Or do you want to live in a more intimate community with fewer homes?</p>
<p>Active adult communities come in a range of shapes and sizes so you have plenty of options to choose from. Homebuyers looking to live in a community with a plethora of homes and people around may be interested in communities such as <a href=On Top of the World in Florida, Sun City in Arizona, or Laguna Woods Village in California.

Homebuyers who are leaning toward a more cozy community may enjoy communities such as Villas at Southbury in Illinois, Water Crest on Lake Conroe in Texas, or Lone Tree in Arizona.

10. Do You Have Family Visiting Often?

Every homebuyer should consider their family when thinking of moving into a new home. This is especially true for active adults, as many 55+ communities may have certain restrictions when it comes to an overnight guest or visiting family.

Though each community varies with their rules, much like pet restrictions, it is important to obtain all the information available before making your decision on where you want to retire. Some active adult communities have no restrictions on overnight guests, while others only allow guests to stay for a night or two.

If you have family members that will be visiting for a long period of time or moving in with you temporarily, check with the community’s homeowners’ association to make sure your needs will be able to be met. Guests that are under the age restriction of the community may or may not be able to visit or stay with you.

Active adult homebuyers with grandchildren should consider an active lifestyle community, which is a community without an age restriction or a community where the rules are more flexible. Active adult homebuyers who wish to be in a community without children should consider a strictly 55+ community that has restrictions on guest and visitors.

Whether you are ready to move in today or need some time to consider what it is you want from your retirement community, it is important to consider these questions and all the different prices, environments, amenities, home styles, and restrictions that can be found in 55+ communities across the country.

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