Buying a home in a 55+ community comes with different factors many didn't have to consider when previously purchasing.

At every stage of life, homebuyers have different factors to consider. First-time homebuyers can follow certain steps to buying a home, while those who have been homeowners for decades face different considerations when they’re ready for their next move.

Whether active adults want to downsize from their large family home, need or want a low-maintenance lifestyle, or simply desire to live among like-minded retirees, a 55+ community is often the answer. An age-restricted community opens the door to an ideal way of life for active adults.

They can take part in a variety of exciting activities and events without ever leaving their neighborhood, from golf and yoga to movie nights and wine tastings. With so many enriching events close to home, it’s easy for retirees to meet new people and form meaningful friendships.

Active adults also reap many health benefits by living in a 55+ community, including decreased stress levels, access to better nutrition, more opportunities to stay physically fit, and an array of classes and workshops to help them commit to lifelong learning.

While they might long for the kind of lifestyle a 55+ community provides, many active adults are left scratching their heads when it comes to actually finding and moving to the right neighborhood. They often wonder, “How can I buy a 55+ home?” and “Where can I buy a 55+ home?”

When active adults are ready to purchase a home for the next stage of their life, making that step sometimes proves difficult. Many different types of 55+ communities exist, and they all have something different to offer homeowners in terms of amenities, activities, services, and even level of care.

If a retiree is just beginning a search and wants to know how they can buy a 55+ home and how is it different from buying a regular home, it helps to know the basics.

Homebuying in a 55+ Community

Don't feel intimidated by a 55+ community with an active lifestyle. You can be as social as you want.

“In a 55+ age-restricted community, one member of the household is required to be 55+ or older, and no one under the age of 18 is allowed to permanently reside in the home,” explains Todd Warshauer, Vice President of Sales for Neighborhoods.com and 55places.com.

This doesn’t mean that homeowners in a 55+ community can’t ever have their grandkids come over for a visit. Many retirees worry that kids are never allowed to visit 55+ communities. However, active adult homebuyers should know that this simply isn’t the case. In fact, quite the opposite is true. Many age-restricted communities feature on-site playgrounds that welcome residents to spend time with their grandkids. Other communities contain picturesque walking trails that are perfect for taking toddlers on a stroll or getting some fresh air with the whole family.

In addition to the worry about children not being allowed to visit, Warshauer says another misconception is that a 55+ community is the same as a senior living or assisted living community. Active adult homebuyers should know that a 55+ community differs from other types of communities, such as continuing care retirement communities and assisted living communities.

For example, in an assisted living community, residents can receive help with a variety of daily needs, whether they need assistance with medication or showering. In a 55+ community, residents enjoy convenient access to everything they need, from healthcare facilities to pharmacies and restaurants.  

Some active adults also remain unsure about just how active they need to be in a 55+ community. What if they’re not into tennis or golf or don’t want to necessarily attend all the social events? Warshauer says that’s perfectly okay. In a 55+ community, residents are free to participate however they’d like. They don’t have to be active and engage with all the residents all the time. But when they feel like joining in or trying something new, the opportunities are right there.

Finding the Perfect Home in a 55+ Community

Many active adult homebuyers ask themselves, “Where can I buy a 55+ home?” These active adults are often pleasantly surprised at the abundance of spectacular age-restricted communities all over the country. Whether retirees want to escape the cold and move to an age-restricted community in a warm southern state or they desire to live in a luxury golf community, they can find a neighborhood that suits their specific preference. A browse on 55places.com provides a closer look at the many different options available to active adult homebuyers.

Warshauer recommends active adult homebuyers keep a few key things in mind when considering a 55+ community and their perfect home. He first encourages active adults to consider what’s important to them in a community. Do they want a rich line-up of amenities? Proximity to world-class medical care?

A vibrant social calendar? Warshauer also suggests active adults consider their hobbies when choosing an ideal home and 55+ community. Golfers would be happiest in a golf community while those who enjoy lounging by the pool would relish living in a community with a resort-style pool and accompanying amenities.

Active adults should also consider how active they want to be with the activities available in a given community. If active adults discover an ideal home, the community aspect could end up being an important factor. “Many homeowners feel the community is more important than the home, especially if they plan on spending time outside the home enjoying the amenities and activities of the community or traveling extensively,” Warshauer says. “For many, it’s a second home.”

Moving to a 55+ community is a big decision. Ultimately, it’s up to active adults to do their research and contemplate what’s most important to them. It’s worth taking the time to weigh their options and listen to their heart. “Many folks move to an active adult community to be around people the same age as themselves. That’s an important reason,” says Warshauer. “So is how you plan to live in the community. Consider what activities are important to you and search for a community that meets that criteria.”