Over-55 Retirement Communities Offer Many Activities

Golf Course in Laguna Woods, California
Credit: Photo taken by author, Deborah-Diane

Should You Move or Should You Stay Where You Are?

As people near retirement age, many of them are faced with deciding whether they should stay where they are and age-in-place, or whether they should move to an age restricted, over-55 active adult retirement community.  At one time, these types of communities were primarily limited to Florida and Arizona.  As the decades have gone by, however, they have become available all over the United States.  No matter which decision you make, there are both pros and cons to consider. 

Advantages of Over-55 Communities

Over-55 communities are regulated by Federal law.  The regulations require that at least one person in the family be at least 55 years old.  A spouse can be any age.  Children under the age of 18 are not allowed to be permanent residents in the home, although college age children or grandchildren are allowed to visit for a few weeks each year.  The community might also have additional regulations including income requirements and limitations on the number of people living in the residence, whether or not you can have unrelated roommates or caregivers, restrictions on pets, etc.

What are the advantages of living in one of these communities?

The homes are usually designed to make it easier to age in your home.  The majority of houses in these neighborhoods are typically one-story.  They often have handicapped accessible showers, grab bars in the bathrooms, and other features that make it possible for people to remain in their own homes as long as possible.

The neighborhoods typically provide the residents with a variety of affordable or free activities.  Depending on the community, there could be a golf course, tennis courts, swimming pools, art rooms, exercise facilities, garden plots, live theater, meeting rooms, clubs, ballrooms and a wide variety of social activities. 

Security is a priority.  Many of these neighborhoods are gated.  Some have private security patrols.  In addition, with so many neighbors home during the day, the frequency of home burglaries is much lower.

They are usually located near medical facilities.  While this may not be true of all retirement communities, it is one of the advantages of most of them. 

They are often located near other high priority destinations.  In addition to the amenities within the communities, they are often near other golf courses, colleges, lakes, rivers, sports venues, restaurants and shopping malls.  It is not unusual to be able to take classes such as yoga, water aerobics, and computer classes either in the community or nearby.

There will be other newcomers to the community, too.  While you may feel lonely and uncomfortable when you first move to one of these communities, most of the other residents will also be people who relocated from somewhere else.  Therefore, it is usually easy to make new friends.  With all the social activities, it is even easier to get to know people. 

The neighbors tend to be quiet.  Of course, any individual neighbor might prove to be the exception ... throwing frequent parties or playing their television loudly.  However, in general the residents will not be very noisy.

This Book Will Help You Find the Best Retirement Communities in Your Area

50 Fabulous Planned Retirement Communities for Active Adults: A Comprehensive Directory of Outstanding Master-Planned Residential Developments
Amazon Price: Buy Now
(price as of Aug 13, 2016)
This book lists some of the top neighborhoods in the United States for those who hope to have an active life after retirement. Learn which ones have the types of activities, climates and housing that appeal to you.

Disadvantages of Over-55 Communities

Moving into a planned community is not the right choice for everyone.  As with everything else, there are a few disadvantages that you should consider before making a final decision.

You may not want to move to a new neighborhood or part of the country.  While the idea of moving somewhere new may seem exciting at first, it can also mean moving away from your current neighbors, friends, religious institution, doctors and other connections that are important to you.  Are you prepared to start over someplace new?  If you have relatives in your current city, you may be particularly reluctant to leave behind aging parents or your grandchildren.

You might not yet have had all the young people in your family leave the nest. Most of these communities are not open to people who have adult children or grandchildren living with them.  If you still have children or young adults living in your home, you may have to wait until they are independent or are in college before you move to an age-restricted community.

You might not want to live only with senior citizens. Some people may prefer to live in neighborhoods with a wider variety of age groups. Others may feel uncomfortable being surrounded by people who have lived in the neighborhood for a long time and are now getting frail.

The homeowner's dues in these communities can be expensive.  This is an important issue you will want to consider.  All those "free" and low-cost activities are not cheap.  They often are accompanied by expensive dues.  In addition, there may be fees to play certain golf courses or to engage in some of the activities the community offers.  You need to investigate the area thoroughly before you make a final decision about whether this is where you want to spend the rest of your life.

Are You Ready for Retirement? This Book Will Help!

The Five Years Before You Retire: Retirement Planning When You Need It the Most
Amazon Price: Buy Now
(price as of Aug 13, 2016)
The vast majority of people in the United States reach retirement and discover that they are not very well-prepared. There are so many things to consider ... finances, housing, Medicare and more. This book will help you understand the various programs and issues and get ready for a satisfying retirement.

About the Author

Deborah Dian is a retired Baby Boomer who lives in an over-55 community in Southern California and is the author of Baby-Boomer-Retirement.com, a comprehensive blog that covers a variety of retirement topics including where to retire, common medical problems, financial issues, Social Security, Medicare and more.