Answers to Your 55+ Homebuying Questions

55+ communities offer a unique and enriching living experience tailored to the needs and desires of active adults. This Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) guide is designed to provide you with comprehensive insights into the world of 55+ communities, helping you make informed decisions as you embark on this exciting chapter of life.

Whether you’re curious about the amenities, costs, activities, or any other aspect of these communities, we’ve got you covered. Let’s explore the key questions together and discover the possibilities that await in these age-restricted, resort-style havens.

General 55+ Community Questions

 55+ communities, also known as active adult communities, are housing developments designed specifically for individuals aged 55 and older. These communities offer a range of amenities and recreational facilities tailored to the lifestyle needs and preferences of 55+ adults, promoting an active and social lifestyle. Residents usually need to meet an age requirement to live in these communities. 55+ communities provide a welcoming and fun environment for retirees and empty nesters looking to make the most of their retirement in a vibrant and like-minded community.

What Is a 55+ Community?

An active adult community and a 55+ community essentially refer to the same type of housing development designed for individuals aged 55 and older. Both offer amenities and services tailored to the needs of older adults, fostering an active and social lifestyle. The terms are often used interchangeably in the real estate industry to describe these specialized living communities. Some community developers may use one term over the other, but the concept and target age group remain the same.

The Top 9 Questions to Ask About 55+ Communities

Retirees have a wide variety of communities and living options tailored to their needs and preferences. Some of the common types of communities available to retirees include:

Options for Independent Retirees in a Private Home:

  • Active Adult Communities: These communities are designed specifically for older adults who are generally active and independent. They often offer amenities such as fitness centers, golf courses, swimming pools, and social activities.
  • 55+ Communities: These communities are restricted to individuals aged 55 and older. They often have age-specific amenities, events, and services that cater to the interests and needs of older adults.
  • Age-Targeted Communities: These communities are designed to appeal to a specific age group, such as baby boomers or older adults, while offering age-appropriate amenities and services.
  • Resort-style Retirement Communities: These communities offer luxurious amenities, such as spas, gourmet dining, and recreational facilities, providing retirees with a resort-like lifestyle.
  • Independent Living Communities: These communities provide seniors with their own private living spaces, such as apartments or cottages, along with communal areas for socializing and activities. They offer a sense of community while allowing residents to maintain their independence.
  • Senior Co-Housing: In this model, retirees live together in a community, often in private homes or apartments, while sharing certain responsibilities and resources. Co-housing promotes social interaction and shared decision-making.

Options for Retirees With Health Care Needs:

  • Assisted Living Communities: Assisted living communities are suitable for retirees who may require some assistance with daily tasks such as bathing, dressing, or medication management. These communities provide a supportive environment while promoting autonomy.
  • Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRCs): CCRCs offer a range of care levels within a single community. Residents can transition from independent living to assisted living or even skilled nursing care as their needs change, without the need to move.
  • Memory Care Communities: Designed for individuals with Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia, these communities offer specialized care and support in a safe and secure environment.

It’s important for retirees to carefully consider their preferences, needs, and budget when choosing a community. Visiting potential communities, talking to current residents, and exploring the available services and amenities will help retirees make an informed decision about the type of community that best suits their lifestyle and goals.

Your Guide to Exploring Different Types of Active Adult Communities

In most cases, adults age 19 or older can reside in 55+ communities as long as one of the residents in the home is 55 or older. Additionally, short-term visits by younger individuals are typically allowed for a limited duration. However, there are exceptions, such as the “80/20 rule,” where a limited percentage of residents can be under 55. Additionally, short-term visits by younger individuals are typically allowed for a limited duration. It’s essential to check the specific community’s policies and regulations to understand any exceptions or allowances regarding age restrictions. Also good to know: In some cases, new construction builders will allow buyers as young as 50 to purchase and reside in the community.

55+ Community Age-Restriction Rules: Can My Grandkids Live With Me?

The average age of residents in a 55+ community typically falls within the range of 60 to 75 years old, although this can vary depending on the specific community and location. Some residents may be in their early 60s, while others may be in their late 70s or older.

The age distribution in 55+ communities can be influenced by factors such as the community’s amenities, location, lifestyle offerings, and the preferences of the residents. It’s important to note that while the age restriction generally requires at least one resident to be 55 or older, communities can have a mix of individuals at various stages of retirement, creating a diverse and vibrant environment.

How Important Is the 55+ Age Restriction to You?

Yes, 55+ or active adult communities are legal in the United States under certain conditions set forth by the Housing for Older Persons Act (HOPA) of 1995. This amendment to the Fair Housing Act allows housing providers to establish age-restricted communities.

In order to qualify for the “55 or older” housing exemption, a facility or community must satisfy each of the following requirements: At least 80% of the units must have at least one occupant who is 55 years of age or older; and the facility or community must publish and adhere to policies and procedures that demonstrate the intent to operate as “55 or older” housing; and the facility or community must comply with HUD’s regulatory requirements for age verification of residents.

10 Things You Didn’t Know About 55+ Communities

It depends on the community, some communities allow long-term rentals although the age restrictions still apply. It is less common for active adult communities to allow short-term rentals but there are exceptions. This is a good question to ask individual communities during tours.

Renting Instead of Buying in Retirement: Discover the Best 55+ Rental Communities

Yes, many 55+ communities offer the option to rent before buying a home. This can be a great way for snowbirds (retirees who spend their winters in warmer climates) to test out the community and see if it suits their lifestyle before committing to purchasing a home. Renting allows individuals to experience the amenities, social atmosphere, and overall environment of the community without the long-term commitment of buying.

Before renting in a 55+ community, it’s important to check with the community management or homeowners’ association to ensure that they allow rentals and to understand any specific rules or restrictions that may apply. Keep in mind that rental availability and terms can vary from one community to another, so it’s advisable to research and plan ahead to find a suitable rental arrangement that aligns with your needs and preferences as a snowbird.

The Ultimate Guide to Snowbirds

The type of homes offered will vary by community but generally fall into five categories:

  • Single-family homes are detached houses that offer private yards and living spaces. Single-family homes within these communities might range from smaller, easy-to-maintain residences to larger homes with multiple bedrooms and amenities.
  • Condominiums are individual units within a larger building or complex. They usually feature shared amenities such as fitness centers, swimming pools, and common areas. Condos can be a great option for those looking for a lower-maintenance lifestyle, as exterior maintenance and landscaping are typically taken care of by the community association.
  • Townhomes or villas are multi-level residences that share walls with neighboring units. Many 55+ communities offer townhouses with features such as main-floor master suites and efficient use of space.
  • Some active adult communities offer apartment-style living with age-specific amenities and services. These can range from standard apartments to more upscale options with luxury features.

Home Types for Retirees: Discover Mobility-Style Amenities for Active Adults

Yes, there are 55+ active adult retirement communities outside of the United States. Many countries around the world have recognized the growing demand for age-restricted communities and have developed similar communities catering to the needs of 55+ adults. These communities can be found in various countries, including Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom, Australia, Spain, Portugal, and many others. Each community will have unique amenities, services, and regulations, offering retirees a diverse range of options for their retirement lifestyle.

The Ultimate Guide for 55+ Americans Retiring Abroad

The rules and restrictions for each community are decided by each community’s HOA. There may even be multiple associations within the same community. Each association enacts Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions that govern the type and number of pets a resident may have, permitted and forbidden decorative items, noise and nuisance policies, parking restrictions, landscaping rules, unit occupancy limits, and renting policies.

While not everyone likes too many restrictions, the rules in place in active adult communities are similar to what you might find in other non active adult communities with HOAs and they are meant to allow for residents to enjoy a peaceful lifestyle in a well-maintained community.

Benefits of an HOA: Why 55+ Homebuyers Want a Homeowners’ Association

Many active adult communities are gated, have surveillance cameras, or have security guards, all of which can help restrict access to residents and their expected guests only. While other communities aren’t gated, developers of 55+ communities typically select relatively peaceful sites, allowing for quieter surroundings. Plus, the residents of active adult communities tend to have a close bond with many of their neighbors and typically watch out for one another or alert others if something seems suspicious.

Why Active Adult Communities Are the Safest Places To Call Home

While this depends greatly on the HOA governing each active adult community, commonly used methods for addressing complaints or disputes include informal resolutions reached without the intervention of the HOA, professional mediation services, discussion in resident or HOA meetings, or escalation to the HOA board.

Benefits of an HOA: Why 55+ Homebuyers Want a Homeowners’ Association

Once you’ve found the perfect community and you’re ready to make the move, the first step is to declutter and downsize your belongings. This process involves going through all your possessions and deciding what to keep, sell, donate, or discard. Downsizing is especially important when transitioning to a smaller living space in an active adult community, as it allows you to create a more manageable and organized environment. But downsizing can also help you make space for other items and decorations that you may want to purchase for your new home!

The Ultimate Guide to Moving When You’re 55+

To choose the right 55+/active adult community, identify your priorities such as location, amenities, and housing options. Research online and visit potential communities to experience their atmosphere and talk to current residents for insights. Consider the cost, available services, and community rules. Trust your instincts and select a community that aligns with your preferences and lifestyle, ensuring an enjoyable and fulfilling living experience.

How to Choose the Right Retirement Community for You

Visiting a 55+/active adult community is an important step in determining whether it’s the right fit for your lifestyle and needs. Here are some key things to look for and consider during your site visit:

  • Location and Surroundings
    • Is the community located in a desirable area that meets your preferences for climate, proximity to family/friends, and amenities?
    • Are there shopping centers, medical facilities, parks, and recreational activities nearby?
  • Community Amenities
    • What amenities does the community offer, such as a clubhouse, fitness center, swimming pool, golf course, walking trails, or hobby rooms?
    • Do these amenities align with your interests and desired activities?
  • Housing Options
    • Are there various housing options, including single-family homes, condos, or townhouses, to choose from?
    • Do the homes have the features and layouts you’re looking for, such as single-level living or accessibility features?
  • Community Rules and Regulations
    • Understand the community’s rules, restrictions, and policies, including age requirements, pet policies, and any restrictions on home modifications.
    • Make sure these rules align with your lifestyle and preferences.
  • Social Activities and Clubs
    • Inquire about the range of social activities, clubs, and events available for residents.
    • Are there opportunities to engage with neighbors and participate in activities that interest you?
  • Maintenance and Services
    • Learn about maintenance services provided by the community, such as lawn care, snow removal, and exterior maintenance.
    • Are there any additional fees associated with these services?
  • Costs and Fees
    • Understand the costs involved, including HOA fees, membership fees for amenities, and any other recurring or one-time charges.
    • Compare these costs with your budget and financial goals.
  • Transportation and Accessibility
    • Evaluate the community’s proximity to public transportation, major highways, and airports.
    • Is the community easily accessible for you and your visitors?
  • Security and Safety
    • Inquire about security measures in place, such as gated entrances, security personnel, and emergency response systems.
  • Talk to Residents
    • If possible, strike up conversations with current residents to get their perspective on the community’s pros and cons.
    • Ask about their experiences, satisfaction, and any challenges they’ve encountered.
  • Future Plans and Development
    • Inquire about any upcoming development plans for the community that could impact your living experience or property values.
  • Visit at Different Times
    • Try to visit the community at various times of day and different days of the week to get a comprehensive sense of the atmosphere and activity levels.

Remember that each person’s preferences and priorities are different, so take your time to thoroughly evaluate the community based on your own needs, lifestyle, and goals before making a decision.

What to Look for When Touring a 55+ Community

When transitioning to a 55+/active adult community, several moving services can be beneficial to ensure a smooth and hassle-free relocation. Here are the best types of moving services to consider:

  • Senior Move Managers: Senior move managers are professionals who can help older adults with decluttering, downsizing, packing, coordinating logistics, and arranging for movers.
  • Professional Packing Services: Hiring professional packing services ensures that your belongings are packed securely and efficiently. They can also unpack items in your new home.
  • Full-Service Moving Companies: Opting for a full-service moving company means they will handle all aspects of the move, from packing and loading to transportation and unloading.
  • Storage Solutions: Storage services can securely store your items until you’re ready to have them delivered to your new home.
  • Specialty Movers: Some moving companies specialize in senior moves or relocations to active adult communities.
  • White Glove Services: White glove services go beyond standard moving assistance. They may include furniture assembly, electronics setup, and other personalized services to make your move more comfortable and convenient.
  • Coordination With the Community: Some active adult communities have partnerships with moving companies or offer recommendations for trusted movers.

Homebuyers thinking about moving into an active adult community often consider what kinds of amenities are present in the community, which interest groups and lifestyle clubs are available, what types of restrictions are placed on residents by the HOA, how many homes are in a given community, and the community’s location. Examining these factors can help you determine if you’re ready for 55+ living. Other considerations include financial readiness, health status, social and emotional factors, and level of desired engagement. Visiting a 55+ community and even taking advantage of a “stay and play” program can help you figure out whether or not you are ready to make the move to active adult living.

Adapting to Change: Tips To Transition to a Retirement Community

When you’re moving into your new home, contacting utility providers is an important step to ensure that essential services are up and running.

  • Electricity: Contact the local electricity provider in your new area. Provide them with your move-in date and new address to schedule the setup of electricity services. If you’re transferring from another location, inquire about transferring your current account to your new address.
  • Water: Get in touch with the water company or local municipality responsible for providing water to your new community. Arrange for water service setup or transfer, ensuring that water will be available when you move in.
  • Gas: If your home uses gas for heating, cooking, or other purposes, contact the gas company to set up service or transfer your existing account to your new address.
  • Internet and Cable: Research internet and cable service providers in your new area. Schedule the installation of internet and cable services on or before your move-in date.
  • Phone: If you have a landline phone or need one for your home security system, contact phone service providers to arrange for installation or transfer of service.
  • Service Setup or Transfer: When contacting utility providers, they will guide you through the process of setting up new accounts or transferring existing ones. They may require your personal information, identification, and the exact move-in date to ensure a smooth transition.
  • Service Activation: On your move-in day, be prepared for utility technicians to visit your new home for service activation.
  • Update Contact Information: Inform the utility providers of any changes in contact information after the move, so you receive bills and notifications at the correct address.

The timeline for buying a home in a 55+ community can vary based on several factors, including the specific community, the local real estate market, your personal circumstances, and the complexity of the purchase process. Here is a general overview of the steps involved and an estimated timeline:

  • Research and Exploration (1-3 months): This phase involves researching different 55+ communities, understanding their amenities, rules, and costs, and visiting the communities you’re interested in. It can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months to gather information and narrow down your choices.
  • Financing and Pre-Approval (1-2 months): If you require a mortgage, getting pre-approved for a loan can take a few weeks. This process involves submitting financial documents to a lender and receiving a pre-approval letter indicating the amount you can borrow. It’s a crucial step before you start actively looking for a home.
  • Home Search and Offer (1-3 months): The time spent searching for a home can vary based on availability and your preferences. Once you find a suitable property, you’ll submit an offer to the seller. Negotiations and back-and-forth can take a few days to a few weeks.
  • Purchase Contract and Due Diligence (2-4 weeks): Once your offer is accepted, you’ll enter into a purchase contract. During this period, you’ll conduct inspections, review homeowner association (HOA) documents, and ensure all aspects of the property meet your expectations. This due diligence phase typically takes a few weeks.
  • Mortgage Underwriting and Approval (2-4 weeks): If you’re obtaining a mortgage, your lender will review your financial documents, the property’s appraisal, and other details before issuing a final loan approval. This process usually takes a few weeks.
  • Closing (1-2 months): Once your mortgage is approved, you’ll schedule a closing date. During the closing process, you’ll sign the final paperwork, transfer funds, and officially become the owner of the property. The time between loan approval and closing can take a month or more, depending on various factors.

In total, the process of buying a home in a 55+ community can take anywhere from a few months to around six months or more. Keep in mind that unexpected delays can occur, such as negotiation challenges, inspection issues, or financing complications. Working with a real estate agent who specializes in the 55+ market and has experience with the specific community you’re interested in can help streamline the process and provide guidance along the way.

Demystifying the Homebuying Process in a Retirement Community

It’s recommended to start planning the move about 2 to 4 months in advance of your intended move-in date.

  • 6 to 8 Weeks Before Move: Book a moving company and confirm the moving date. Start packing non-essential items and label boxes for easy unpacking.
  • 4 to 6 Weeks Before Move: Notify important parties of your change of address. Arrange for transfer or installation of utilities and services at your new home.
  • 2 to 3 Weeks Before Move: Continue packing, focusing on essential items last. Defrost and clean refrigerators and freezers.
  • 1 Week Before Move: Confirm move-in arrangements with your new 55+/active adult community. Pack an essential box with items you’ll need immediately after arriving at your new home.
  • Moving Day: Supervise the moving process. Conduct a final walkthrough of your old home to check for any forgotten items. Arrive at your new home before the movers to oversee unloading.
  • After the Move: Unpack essential items first and gradually unpack the rest. Take time to settle into your new community and enjoy your new living environment.

When Should I Start Planning My Move to a 55+ Community?

Narrowing down your options when selecting a specific region or location for a 55+ community involves careful consideration of various factors. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you make an informed decision:

  • Lifestyle Preferences: Consider whether you want access to cultural amenities, entertainment, outdoor activities, or recreational facilities.
  • Climate and Weather: Consider your tolerance for extreme temperatures and weather conditions.
  • Proximity to Family and Friends: Think about how important it is to be close to family and friends. Being near loved ones can provide a strong support system and enhance your overall quality of life.
  • Health care Facilities: Consider the proximity to quality healthcare facilities, including hospitals, clinics, and medical specialists.
  • Cost of Living: Compare housing costs, property taxes, transportation expenses, and other essentials to ensure they align with your budget.
  • Recreational and Cultural Opportunities: Explore the availability of recreational activities, cultural events, and leisure opportunities in the area.
  • Transportation and Accessibility: Consider the proximity to airports, major highways, and public transportation, as well as how easy it is to travel to and from the area.
  • Community Amenities: Research the amenities offered within the 55+ communities you’re considering. These might include golf courses, fitness centers, swimming pools, social clubs, and organized activities.
  • Future Planning: Consider your long-term plans. Will the chosen location meet your needs as you age? Think about factors such as accessibility, medical care, and support services.
  • Visit and Explore: If possible, visit the regions you’re considering. Spend time in the area, interact with locals, and get a feel for the atmosphere.
  • Consult with Real Estate Professionals: Seek guidance from real estate agents who specialize in 55+ communities. They can provide you with in-depth knowledge about the regions and communities that match your criteria.

By carefully assessing these factors, you can narrow down your options and select a region or location for a 55+ community that aligns with your preferences, lifestyle, and future goals.

Mover’s Guide to Narrowing Down Your Out-of-State 55+ Community Options

How Climate, Location, and Local Facilities Affect Retirement Living

Making the decision to move to such a community is a significant step, and it’s important to thoroughly evaluate your needs, preferences, and lifestyle goals before making a decision. Here are some resources that can help you assess your readiness:

Online Guides and Articles: Many websites, including real estate platforms and retirement-focused websites, offer articles and guides that discuss the benefits, considerations, and factors to consider when deciding to move to a 55+ active adult community. These guides often cover topics such as financial planning, lifestyle preferences, and the pros and cons of community living.

Community Websites: Research the websites of various 55+ communities that you’re interested in. These websites often provide detailed information about the amenities, services, housing options, and lifestyle that the community offers. They may also provide virtual tours and videos to give you a sense of what life in the community is like.

Retirement and Lifestyle Magazines: Magazines that focus on retirement and lifestyle topics often feature articles about 55+ communities, including tips for evaluating your readiness and making the right decision for your future. Subscribing to these magazines or accessing their online content can provide valuable insights.

Financial Planning Resources: Assessing your financial readiness is a crucial aspect of moving to a 55+ community. Financial planning resources, such as retirement calculators, budgeting tools, and advice from financial advisors, can help you determine if you’re financially prepared for this transition.

Retirement Planning Workshops and Seminars: Many communities and organizations offer workshops and seminars on retirement planning and transitioning to a 55+ community. These events can provide you with expert advice, insights from current residents, and the opportunity to ask questions.

Community Visits and Tours: If possible, visit the 55+ communities you’re interested in. Take guided tours, participate in community events if allowed, and speak with current residents. This firsthand experience can give you a better understanding of the community’s atmosphere, amenities, and overall lifestyle.

Online Forums and Social Media Groups: Joining online forums, discussion groups, or social media communities related to 55+ living can connect you with others who have similar questions and experiences. You can ask questions, share concerns, and learn from the experiences of those who have already made the transition.

Personal Reflection: Take time to reflect on your current lifestyle, your social preferences, your health needs, and your financial situation. Consider how the amenities and services offered by 55+ communities align with your needs and desires for the future.

Consultation with Professionals: Seek advice from professionals such as financial advisors, real estate agents, and legal experts who specialize in retirement planning and senior living. They can provide personalized guidance based on your unique circumstances.

55places.com Content: Our website and blog provide a wealth of information on various aspects of getting ready to move to an active adult retirement community. Read articles and watch videos about pros and cons of various locations, financial aspects of buying a home in a 55+ community, detailed descriptions of individual communities, and more.

Our Top Real Estate Tips for First-Time 55+ Community Buyers

The Ultimate 55+ Homebuying Guide

Our guide provides valuable insights to help you navigate the homebuying process.

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