It’s no secret that senior housing is expensive. Housing is seniors’ biggest cost of living, with the average senior spending more than 30 percent of their total monthly income on housing alone. Surprisingly, even with the high price of senior housing at places like assisted living homes and older adult communities, that cost might not even meet seniors’ needs.

Finding affordable housing as a senior is difficult – but it doesn’t have to be impossible. While assisted living facilities, nursing homes, and retirement communities can be expensive, there are ways older adults may be able to live comfortably on a budget. The key is to look for less traditional options.

The following are a few ways seniors can look for housing options that meet every need, from comfort to community to budget.

Consider Different Housing Options

The first – and most important – step in finding affordable senior housing is considering every option. While many seniors and their families turn to assisted living, nursing homes, or even long-term care facilities, there are actually many more housing choices available.

When you’re trying to find senior housing that works for your budget, here are a few different types of apartments, condos, homes, and facilities you can consider.

Low-Income Senior Apartments

If you qualify for low-income housing, you’re able to look at specific apartments, condos, and homes in your area that are reserved for low-income seniors. For example, the Good Samaritan Society offers low-income apartments and condos for seniors age 50 and older (must be able to show proof of low income). Section 8 HUD housing is also an option for seniors. This is a government-controlled low-income housing option for apartments, condos, single-family homes, or townhomes.

In order to take advantage of low-income senior living options, you’ll need to apply and qualify for specific low-income programs like those mentioned here. Each will have different income limitations and requirements, and this can vary from region to region.

Virtual Retirement Communities

It might sound futuristic, but virtual retirement communities are actually an option for seniors of every age. A virtual retirement community is an excellent “in between” choice for seniors. You can age in place at home yet access some community and accessibility services. With an approximate monthly cost of $400, virtual retirement communities provide services like transportation, grocery shopping, and group outings for seniors in various areas.

Adult Family Homes

Also called adult foster care, adult family homes are a form of collective senior living. A group of seniors live together in one home, and they are helped by counselors, nurses, dietitians, and social workers. Seniors can get daily assistance or live more independently, making adult family homes a good choice for those who are still mobile and don’t require specialized care.

Adult family homes are typically approved, licensed, and monitored by your local Department of Family Services. You may need to meet certain requirements in order to apply for this type of senior housing.

Move in With Your Kids

Instead of moving into a new facility or home, you may also consider moving in with your children. Many seniors have children who’ve started their own families or purchased their own homes. And they may be able to provide living arrangements for you. If you move in with your children, you won’t have to pay rent or a mortgage. You’ll be surrounded by others, which can prevent loneliness and keep seniors active.

Of course, you’ll want to set guidelines and boundaries if you’re considering moving in with your adult children. Seniors and their families can set up an arrangement that works for their needs.

House Sharing

If living with family members isn’t an option, you can also consider moving in with other senior friends. Called house sharing, it’s the same as renting an apartment with someone else and splitting living costs. House sharing is a great idea for seniors, as it can reduce your expenses, provide company, and encourage freedom. Costs will depend on the cost of living in your area, but sharing rent with another person can potentially spell big savings.

Look Into Medicaid to Help Make Costs Affordable

When you’re considering senior housing options, it’s also a good idea to look into what Medicaid might cover. Medicaid can, in some states, provide services or coverage that may make senior housing more affordable. 

Medicaid coverage varies from state to state. However, Medicaid is the leading government assistance program for those who need long-term care. Medicaid covers many healthcare costs, but it also can be used to pay for certain types of long-term care.

In order to have some of your senior housing costs covered under Medicaid, you’ll need to meet eligibility requirements that include:

  • Allocation of almost all of your existing assets going towards your care.
  • Be a low-income individual or have medical-related care expenses exceeding your income.
  • Reside in the state where you’ll be receiving benefits.
  • Be a permanent resident or a U.S. citizen.

Make sure to check with the specifics of Medicaid in your state. You may be able, depending on the type of housing you’re considering, to reduce your expenses and costs if you meet the requirements. 

Search for Affordable Senior Housing Near You

The search for senior housing is difficult. It’s hard to find a facility or home that meets your health needs and your budget. And trying to balance your finances with your need for comfortable housing is a true challenge.

As you search for affordable senior housing, it’s smart to look everywhere you can. Research and look for rental boards online that show available senior housing. Check online senior living directories to see different options. You can also apply for affordable housing options for low-income seniors if you meet those requirements. 

With some searching and the right knowledge about different senior housing options, you can make your search for the right living space easier.