What is the average age of the residents? It is a question that almost everyone considering a move to an active adult or retirement community wants to know. Although the question may sound like a simple request in a casual conversation, the bottom line is that the person asking the question really wants to know, “will I fit in?”
On one hand, the young and physically active 55+ crowd seems to fear nothing more than being surrounded by a bunch of “old” residents, whose idea of activity is a marathon bridge session followed by a trip to the early bird happy hour and then off to bed.
After all, the younger subset of the 55+ age bracket often faces questions and doubts from their friends and family when they say they are moving to a retirement community. “Aren’t you too young for that?” “Do you really want to be surrounded by a bunch of old people?” Many 55 year olds may have faced these questions when they made the decision to move to an age-restricted community.
On the other hand, the older half of the 55+ population is often hesitant to move to a community that is marketed as “active adult.” They see photos of tennis players, weight lifters, and avid golfers and wonder if this lifestyle is really what they are looking for. Concerns about finding people who share similar interests weigh on the minds of those who want to stay socially, but not necessarily physically, active.
Every Active Adult Communities Is Unique
Of course, the great thing about most 55+ communities is that they are made up of a very eclectic mix of couples and individuals. There are younger residents, older residents and everything in between. There are some who are very physically active in sports while others prefer to stay mentally stimulated with social clubs, intellectual games, or attending classes and lectures. And still there are others whose idea of activity involves relaxing at home or lounging by the pool. For those already living in a 55+ retirement community, you know that there are 80 year olds who are as physically active as most 40 year olds and vice versa.
A Community's Age May Be A Good Indicator
Still, for most people, "fitting in" means finding a community with people their age. Aside from census figures from the government, there is little information in the way of average ages for a particular subdivision or neighborhood. Try asking a Realtor and you may get a vague answer.
Real estate agents are bound by a code of ethics not to steer clients to one community versus another based on criteria such as race, gender, and age. A good rule of thumb to keep in mind when trying to find a retirement community where you match the average age of the residents is to consider the age of the community. Generally speaking, the age of population in a retirement community is correlated with the age of the community.
When a community first opens for sales, the majority of home buyers in that community are going to be the younger subset of the 55+ age bracket. These people are just reaching their retirement years, they often desire the newest and latest home upgrades and community amenities which are most often found in new construction communities.
In time, the community will eventually sell out of new construction and another, newer age-restricted development will likely pop up somewhere nearby that will attract the latest crop of retirees. Throughout the life of a retirement community, some residents will move out and new residents will move in but, overall, many of the original home buyers at the community will continue to age with the community. Therefore, if you are a younger retiree looking to be around younger, more physically active residents, you will likely find that a newly constructed community will fit you best.
On the contrary, if you are somewhat older and would prefer a community where the activities lean more towards social activity and less towards physical activity, communities that have been established for a number of years will
likely be more your style. Of course, before making such a big investment decision, be sure to do your research. Travel around the community, stop in the clubhouse, and even talk with residents. If there is an activities director in the community, see if you can meet with them to discuss what is important to you and see if there are activities in the community that meet your needs.