What Are the Age Requirements for a 55+ Community?

A smiling group of seniors pose for a photo at a 55+ community.
Do you have to be over 55 to enjoy a 55+ community?

For many, the answer to “What are the age requirements for a 55+ community?” may seem obvious. You have to be 55 or older, right? No, that’s not always the case. In fact, there are many scenarios where there’s only one resident who is 55 or older. Also, there are rare cases when no residents is 55 or older. 

According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, under the 80/20 rule, the law does require a 55+ community to fill at least 80 percent of units with residents 55+. However, the community has individual leeway to decide what they want to do with the other 20 percent. This could mean reducing the age requirement to 45 for the next 20 percent of residents. Or it could allow grandparents to care for grandchildren (both temporarily or long-term). 

Here is everything you need to know about age requirements for 55+ communities while searching for the right one for you. 

Age Requirements for 55+ Communities

A 55+ mother hugging her grown daughter and sitting on a cozy couch at home.

First and foremost, not every rule and regulation for 55+ communities will be enforced in every community unless it is required by law. For instance, some communities will turn you away if you have minors in your household. Others will allow it as long as they follow community guidelines. Never buy or rent a home in a 55+ community without being familiar with all of their policies—especially those that pertain to age requirements and limitations.

A Deeper Dive Into the 80/20 Rule

As noted, it’s up to the community whether they allow you to live there under 55 after having an 80 percent 55+ occupancy rate. However, it should also be noted that they’re still required to have the intent to house 55+ residents. This includes conveying intent through their marketing, policies and regulations, practices, age verification procedures, etc. 

The concept behind the rule is to protect those under 55 with a spouse 55 or older who passed away. If the 80/20 rule were not in place, the partner under 55 would be vulnerable to losing their home.  

The community is designed specifically for 55+ residents. So it’s unlikely you’ll find one that just lets anyone, at any age, reside in one of their homes. It should also be noted that if you do move in with no members 55 or older, the community can require you to leave if the 80 percent occupancy rate is at risk. This can happen if some 55+ residents leave or pass away (this should be explained in contracts).

That said, no 55 or older community is required to let residents under 55 move in. While they have leeway with the other 20 percent, most will enforce higher occupancy rates—often 100 percent. 

FAQ About Age-Requirements

A happy senior couple taking a walk during the summer in a forest.

Circumstances can vary depending on the age in question. Here are answers to some not-so-obvious questions many people have about age requirements in 55+ communities. 

What if my spouse is not 55?

The law requires that at least one person in each household is 55 or older. If your spouse or partner is not 55, but you are, then you qualify for a home in a 55+ community. That said, some communities still have a limitation on how young your spouse or partner can be, with the most common age restriction being 40 or older. 

What if my child/grandchild stays with me for a while?

Most 55 and older communities welcome grandchildren visiting their grandparents as long as they follow the rules and regulations. After all, most residents in a 55+ community are grandparents who enjoy visits from family. The limit on how long they can visit depends on the community and will vary. 

Can a minor live with me?

It’s not common that a 55+ community will allow children—including grandchildren—to live with residents in their community. This is because it can be difficult to adhere to the needs of 55+ residents looking for peace and quiet while also allowing minors to live within the community. Nonetheless, it’s not illegal, so there are a few communities that accept homebuyers and renters with minors. If you’re 55 or older with minors. We recommend asking about their policy for children before falling in love with the community’s amenities and resources. 

Can my adult children live with me?

There are also cases where adults 55 and older are either taking care of their children or being taken care of by their children. In these cases, it’s common for 55+ communities to allow residents to be under 55, as long as at least one household member is 55+. That said, their children are often required to be an adult 18 or older. Some communities may even require that your child be older, with higher minimum age requirements for household members. Consult potential communities about their age-related policies before committing to a home to buy or rent. 

Where Do I Begin My Research?

As Simon Sinek once said, “The hardest part is getting started. Once you get that out of the way, you’ll find the rest of the journey is much easier.” The same applies to finding the perfect 55+ community to fit your needs and family circumstances. By going to 55places, you save yourself the hassle of searching through Google for answers and only finding a handful of options. 55places will connect you with 55+ communities all over the U.S. so you can consider all your options in one place. It’s easy to get started!

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We’re changing the way people 55 and older are searching for their perfect next place. With a national network of hand-selected real estate experts, plus comprehensive information, unbiased content, and on-the-go insight about thousands of communities across the country, we’re a trusted resource paving the way from here to home. Whether you’re interested in a low-maintenance single-level residence, an active lifestyle or age-qualified community, an intimate enclave, or anything in between, we can help you make your next move the best one yet.

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