Moving to a retirement community can provide a pleasant retirement experience without the upkeep and maintenance requirements of your current home. But which type of living situation is right for you, and how will you know when you find it?
Choosing from the wide variety of communities available doesn't have to be complicated or difficult. Once you know what to look for in a senior living or retirement community, you can narrow down a few candidates and make a decision that suits your needs.
Here are some factors to consider as you look for a new home in retirement.
Find a Retirement Community That Fits Your Lifestyle
Age-restricted retirement communities where you can buy or rent a home, condo, mobile home or apartment are especially popular in warmer climates. Some offer mainly housing and landscape maintenance, while others provide amenities, such as 18-hole golf courses, heated pools and fitness classes.
The terms "retirement community" and "senior living community" are often used interchangeably, but senior living communities — which can offer modest to luxury housing for independent living and many of the same amenities as retirement communities — also focus on meeting long-term health care needs.
As you research community options, check whether each community's amenities would suit your lifestyle preferences. Are you someone who loves to golf, swim or exercise? If so, then you may want to look for a retirement or senior living community with amenities for active residents. Even if fitness and leisure activities aren't your style, you may still want access to a hair salon, theater, library, live entertainment or transportation services.
Consider Long-Term Care Needs
It can be difficult to think about declining health during retirement, but it is worthwhile to consider. Someone turning 65 today has around a 70% chance of needing some type of long-term care or support during their lifetime, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Even if you're in good health now, you may want to consider living in a Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC). To live in a CCRC, you would pay an initial entry fee and an additional monthly fee for an independent or assisted living home or apartment. This payment would cover care in the event that you or a spouse needs access to assisted living or skilled nursing during retirement.
Understand Your Contract or Lease
Before you sign a contract for an independent living retirement community, a CCRC or some other type of senior living community, hire an attorney to review the contract or lease and explain any restrictions, so you're not on the hook later for unexpected costs if your living situation or health condition changes.
Terms to pay special attention to in a senior living contract include:
- Required notice for cost-of-living increases.
- Required notice for moving or canceling housing arrangements.
- Procedures for involuntary discharge due to health-related issues or other circumstances.
- Mandatory arbitration provisions for settling disagreements.
- Monthly fees or fee-for-service prices on services such as housekeeping, meal preparation or assistance with daily living activities, such as dressing, bathing and grooming.
- Refund policy upon death.
Take a Hands-On Approach
Now that you know the basics of retirement communities, you can start to explore your options in greater detail. Consider signing up for in-person or virtual tours of local senior living and retirement communities. Once you have a solid view of a community's amenities and a sense of their resident and staff morale, you can make your decision and settle into your new community for a comfortable and pleasant retirement.