How to find a good retirement community

It’s normal to do some soul-searching as you edge towards your retirement years. If you saw our last blog about the best retirement communities, you may be wondering if a retirement community is right for you. More importantly, if it is right for you, how can you find a good retirement community? Before you go down a Google rabbit hole, consider what kind of retirement are you hoping for. More specifically, where do you want to spend your leisure years?

There has been a boom in communities specifically designed and marketed to the 55+ market across the United States. They’re often called retirement communities, but they’re also referred to as “age-restricted communities”. This typically means at least one household member must be at least 55 years of age to purchase a home.

Age-restricted communities come in various forms, so we thought it would be a good idea to list some important things to look for when you’re looking online or touring communities in person.

Consider how the community describes itself

Read the website or brochure. This gives you a first taste of what the community is like, and what its focus or niche is. If your kids are picking a university, sporty kids will look for universities with successful sports programs, other kids want specialized academic programs, and some kids just want to find the campus with the best parties.

Choosing a place to live in retirement is no different. Some communities offer a variety of sporting facilities, others offer social, educational, and cultural programs. Then there are the golfing estates, equestrian communities, and communities near lakes where you can bring your boat. Just a few things to consider when you are wondering how to find a good retirement community!

There are sure to be communities that will suit your interests and lifestyle – consider what you want to find a good retirement community for your unique needs!

Remember: location, location, location is vital to find a good retirement community!

Let’s talk about the three golden rules of real estate that should be one of the first answers to how to find a good retirement community. Location is important! Where do you want to be? Just because a particular community has all the features you want, it won’t help if it’s across the country from the grandkids.

Or in a small town far from the nearest airport or hospital. Also, just because you buy in a retirement community doesn’t mean you’ll never venture beyond the gates. Do you like the surrounding area? Are there things to do nearby?

Consider the type and size of homes available in the retirement community

Age-restricted communities range from high-rise condos to detached homes on leafy streets. Think about the type and size of home you want to live in. Perhaps you are looking to downsize in retirement, or perhaps you need space for hobbies or visiting grandkids.

When you begin your research on how to find a good retirement community, you should have an idea of what size of space you are looking for. Remember, if you do decide to downsize, but want to keep a few mementos or specials items for family members, be sure to place them in a secure storage unit for long term!

Design and safety features to help you find a good retirement community

You do want to think about getting older. Ideally, you want a home for the long term so that you’ll be able to live there independently for as long as possible. Keep an eye out for the design and safety features offered.

Typical features are no-step entries, single-floor construction with no level changes within the home, wider doorways and hallways that accommodate wheelchairs or mobility scooters in case you’ll need this one day.

Other important details include plug points at higher levels, safety features in bathrooms, lever door handles instead of knobs, and the list goes on.

What are the available amenities offered?

One thing you’re sure to see on the website, or in the brochure, of any retirement community is attractive photos and tempting descriptions of every possible amenity. Make sure to read the fine print, and ask a lot of questions, to know which amenities are included in the price of the home and the HOA fees. If you have to pay extra for everything, living in a particular community may end up costing a lot more than what you were expecting to pay.

There may also be other unexpected things that cost money or impact your lifestyle. For example, some communities charge for overnight guests or limit the length of time that guests can visit. Tell the consultant about the lifestyle you would like to have, and ask specific questions about what is allowed or not.

Is there easy access to healthcare?

Maybe not the most important thing while you’re relatively young and healthy. But as you get older, access to healthcare will become extremely important in your search for a good retirement community. Some communities have medical services on-site such as a doctor’s office, a nursing station, or EMT teams on standby. Beyond this, look at what hospitals and medical facilities are nearby and inspect where they rank in geriatric care.

Pro tip: take advantage of tours and trial stays

Buying a home in a retirement community is a big decision! Most communities will offer tours. Some offer trial stays where you can rent a model unit for a few days to really experience what living in the community is really like.

Especially if you’re moving to a new part of the country, or to a city you’re not familiar with, the more time you spend getting a feel for the area and the retirement community, the more certain you’ll be about your decision.

It can be hard to know what to look for in a retirement community, but we hope these suggestions put you on the right track. Wishing y’all happy searching for your perfect living option! Here’s to finding the perfect place to settle down and enjoy your retirement years!

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