Let’s be honest. Selecting an active adult community to live in can be a difficult task. Not only are homebuyers searching for the perfect home, they’re simultaneously looking for a community in a good location with amenities and a lifestyle that matches their preferences.
With so many factors in play, it is imperative to be prepared in order to ensure that whichever community you join, it is the one that’ll make your retirement all the more enjoyable. Read on to learn some of the best practices for avoiding pitfalls when choosing an active adult community.
Do (Extensive) Research
Obviously, anyone buying a home is going to research the communities that meet their interests. But when making a life-changing decision such as this, it is important to realize that there is no such thing as too much research.
The community’s website is a good start but there are a lot more outlets to gather information from. Check social media channels, like Facebook and Instagram. Often, developers will create social media pages for their communities, sometimes including pictures and tidbits that aren’t found on the main site.
Reviews are instrumental in knowing both a community’s high points and low points. Unlike the developer's page, where the primary goal is to attract homebuyers with a community’s selling points, reviews are for the most part unbiased.
Coming from the people who actually live in the community, reviews will often present a better picture of what the neighborhood is actually like. Every community page on 55places has a review section. On each community page, a reviews tab is available, either for reading other people’s reviews or for creating your own. See what current and past residents are saying about the amenities, the homeowners' association (HOA), and the home quality.
Figure out the HOA Guidelines
Upon retirement, many homebuyers are seeking a low-maintenance home allowing them to spend more time partaking in activities and events that are of interest. As such, it’s good to know what a community’s HOA covers.
Typically, an HOA covers the exterior home maintenance within a neighborhood. Depending on the type of community, residents will pay monthly, quarterly, or annual fees for services that include trash removal, snow removal, lawn care, and security.
Though HOA’s are found in most active adult communities, there are times where they aren’t provided, making it a necessary piece of information to know prior to purchasing a home. An HOA can make or break a community. Developers might build amazing amenities for residents, but it's up to the HOA to keep that standard going after the developer leaves.
Take Time to Visit
If possible, try to visit the community that you’re interested in prior to purchasing a home. Homebuyers won’t get a feel of a community from just photos alone. It isn’t until exploring a community and interacting with its residents that you’ll start to understand how the neighborhood actually operates.
Fortunately, a number of communities offer “discovery packages.” Discovery Packages are designed to let homebuyers test out a community, usually for a weekend, prior to making a purchase. During this time, homebuyers are encouraged to meet with actual residents and take part in social events.
Typically, all of the amenities given to residents are included, allowing homebuyers to actually experience day-to-day life at that given community. Hopefully, by the end of the trial experiences, homebuyers can walk away knowing if the community is a truly good fit.
Make sure to see if a community offers a discovery program. Several Del Webb communities offer the program. Other prominent communities that offer similar programs include Valencia Bay, which is located in Boynton Beach, Florida, and Trilogy at Monarch Dunes, which is in Nipomo, California.
Understand the Area Around the Community
Equally crucial to the community itself is the area surrounding it. Though you’ll spend a great amount of time enjoying the neighborhood, there’ll surely be times where you want to venture outside. Make sure essentials, like grocery stores, airports, and medical facilities are all close by, or, at least at a distance that you’re comfortable traveling.
Also, see what types of entertainment options are available. If a community is near a large metropolitan city, there’ll surely be a variety of unique destinations to check out, such as museums and art galleries. Or, if you’re really looking to take things easy, check to see if there are parks or golf courses close by, assuming the community doesn’t already have one.