Determining the type of setting and lifestyle that you want during retirement are important decisions that will affect your quality of life. The time and effort required to maintain your house as well as the desire to enjoy a more active lifestyle could make it difficult to continue living in your current residence. In this case, a retirement community may be right for you.

Retirement Communities vs. Assisted Living Facilities

The independent living category includes a number of housing communities. In addition to active adult communities, the sector is referred to as retirement communities, senior apartments or a 55+ community. In these housing arrangements, individuals live without assistance in their residence because they can function independently.

This differs from an assisted living facility where residents may require help with any number of daily chores. Assisted living communities may also provide some type of skilled nursing or other medical care. Some retirement communities have assisted living centers that enable residents to stay in the same community as they age and require additional support with various personal and household tasks.

Know Your Lifestyle

It is important to consider the type of lifestyle you want to have before searching for a retirement community. You should determine if you want an active lifestyle in a place where you can socialize or a quiet retirement where you can just spend time alone with your loved one.

The proximity to amenities that can meet your current and future health care needs is an important factor particularly for those with a history of serious medical conditions. This will alleviate the need to relocate to another area for specialized treatment in the event the ailment recurs.

Accommodations and Activities

Once you determine what you want to do during retirement, you can identify the accommodations and amenities required to support that lifestyle. You can select a condominium instead of a townhome or a single-family residence if you want to reduce or eliminate your lawn care and other home maintenance responsibilities. A condominium complex may have qualified maintenance personnel available to handle various problems. Make sure that the residence is designed to accommodate the accessibility requirements for those with limited mobility if the need should occur in the future.

Your preference for exercise and social engagement will determine if you choose a community with a fitness center, swimming pool, and clubhouse as well as social gatherings and outings. Retirement communities may have on-site spas, salons, and wellness clinics as well as housekeeping services and scheduled transportation to nearby attractions like the beach.

Select a Preferred Location

The location of the community will determine the local weather that can affect your ability to enjoy outdoor activities. Make sure that the humidity and temperature ranges are tolerable if you are moving to a new state. The community should be conveniently located near shopping, restaurants, and entertainment venues as well as doctor’s offices and hospitals. Ensure that at least one nearby house of worship meets your religious needs. Check for access to major highways, public transportation, and airports if you plan to travel extensively. Determine if the community has a high walkability score.

Property Management

Before selecting a retirement community, ask how long the community has been open and request information about its financial health. Because many retirement communities operate as nonprofit organizations, the information should be readily available. Determine the satisfaction rating that residents give to the management and staff. Talk to people in the neighborhood to get a sense for the level of community involvement among residents.

What Is Expected of You?

Make sure that you understand the rules of the community. In addition to noise and pet restrictions, there may be limits on the number and ages of guests as well as the amount of time that they can stay in your home.

You will also need to obtain the rules for parking your car, decorating your home, and performing lawn care. Some communities have an approval process to verify that you are a good fit. Potential requests may include references and financial records.

Pricing and Financing

You should know how much your budget could accommodate in order to focus your search. As you evaluate prospective residences, ensure that the cost includes any additional monthly fees. Determine whether the cost of the property is justified based on the available amenities and services. Depending upon the market conditions, you may be able to negotiate a better purchase price.

If you’re purchasing the property with a mortgage, you should understand your financing options, including the tax implications. Some state and local jurisdictions have more favorable property tax rates than others.

What Is Covered by Insurance or Tax Deductions?

Depending upon your physical condition and the type of property, a portion of your monthly payments or membership fees may be tax deductible as health care expenses. You should also consult your financial adviser to see what if any expenses can be claimed under your health insurance policy or qualify for reimbursement from a health savings account.

Safety and Security

Along with the safety of the surrounding neighborhood, you should also ask management about security within the community. The management team may have a security patrol or trusted staff that can check on your property if you go away on vacation.

The criteria you use when purchasing your retirement residence will differ considerably from those you used to select your first house. You will need to weigh a number of factors that will affect your quality of life. Moving into an active living community can be a complex and emotional decision. An active living community may provide the freedom to spend quality time with other people at a similar point in life. Understanding and evaluating the pros and cons of each retirement community will help you to decide which type of housing is most conducive for your lifestyle.