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What is a 55+ Retirement Community?

Active 55+ Retirement Communities are living communities designed for seniors who wish to be apart of a neighborhood, or society, among other active and independent older adults.  In these communities, seniors maintain their independence and privacy, while enjoying little or no maintenance responsibilities or yard work. Residents in these communities have many opportunities to interact and enjoy themselves with others in the same phase of life, forging friendships and bonds that will enrich their retirement years. Unlike assisted living, the seniors in 55+ communities are able to care for themselves, needing no assistance for everyday tasks such as cooking or cleaning. The main difference between this type of community and any other master-planned community development is the age restriction – at least one of the residents in each of the 55+ community homes must be at least 55 years of age.  If you are over 55, energetic and full of life, a 55+ Active Adult Community may be the retirement choice for you! 

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Cost, Dues, and Fees of Active 55+ Retirement Communities

Golf Course With Sunset

In order to join an age-restricted community, not only is the purchase of residence required (house or condo), but also one must pay a buy-in fee, as well.  Think of buy-in fees similar to those assessed at country clubs and golf clubs.  To clarify, if you wanted to become a member at a country club, you would first have to buy into the club, and then pay annual dues every subsequent year to retain membership.  Similarly, because active 55+ communities are not just residences, but also offer additional services and amenities such as golf, tennis, and other recreational activities, they too require an initial buy-in fee to become a "member".  Buy-in fees can range from several thousand dollars to hundreds of thousands.  Additionally, real-estate prices can have drastic ranges, as well, with condos as low as several hundred thousand dollars to multi-million dollar homes.  Most active 55+ retirement communities are catered towards the upper-class and therefore are considered "lifestyle" communities. 

Maintenance fees and Home Owners Association (HOA)  fees should be expected when living at an age-restricted community.   Often, these communities have outstanding amenities such as tennis courts, swimming pools, golf courses, dining halls and restaurants, locker rooms, etc.  These amenities require regular maintenance and upkeep, and are typically reflected in the monthly HOAs.  Additionally, one of the benefits of living at an active retirement community is all landscaping, yard work, snow shoveling, and roadside and sidewalk repairs are included in the HOAs, and are therefore the responsibility of the community, not the residents.  Furthermore, every several years you should also expect a hefty bill (in addition to the monthly HOAs) for larger projects and repairs that the community has planned.  Typically, these larger projects have been approved by a board of residents.  

One cost to keep in mind is local property tax in the area.  As stated above, most active 55+ communities are in located higher-end neighborhoods, and therefore are subject to high property tax rates.  It is important to take this into account when deciding if an active 55+ retirement community is right for you.

The estimated resale value of a real estate asset always a critical factor when deciding on whether to make an acquisition or not.  When deciding on whether to purchase at an active retirement community, please keep in mind that due to the initial buy-in fee, monthly HOAs, and larger renovation bills, the equity in the home is often misconstrued and hard to evaluate.  Like all real estate markets, there are normal fluctuations based off of supply and demand.  Yes, your home at an active retirement community can greatly appreciate over time, and ultimately become a great asset.  On the other hand, it is imperative to remember that by becoming a member at an active retirement community you are purchasing a lifestyle, not an investment property.  

Do Active Retirement Communities Provide Medical Care?

While 55+ communities generally do not provide any health care related services as would be found in a skilled nursing facility, these communities are most commonly found near medical facilities and hospitals. When the time arises that a senior in a 55+ community needs assistance for normal responsibilities, they will be expected to find their own support.  Depending on what level of service the resident requires, additional support typically is provided by either a home care provider (non-medical) or home health agency (medical).  

Amenities and Services

Amenities offered in 55+ developments vary per community, but most offer at a minimum, a clubhouse, pool, and fitness center. Other amenities and features may include:

Some communities even offer their residents a planned activity calendar with numerous clubs, groups and classes to join such as billiards, bowling, sewing/quilting, line dancing/ballroom dancing, game night, woodworking…. the list goes on!

Types of Active Retirement Communities

Active 55+ Communities can vary drastically in setting and location.  Certainly, most communities are single family homes, however there are other types of venues such as mobile home parks and condos.  Some communities are situated on lakes and golf courses, while others might be centrally located in the heart of the city. 

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