There are plenty of perks to owning a home, but keeping up with yardwork, maintenance and everyday tasks and responsibilities can quickly become overwhelming and exhausting—not to mention expensive—as people age.
A waning interest in handling housework is just one of the many reasons someone of or nearing retirement age might consider moving to a 55-plus community, which is a housing option for people at least 55 years old. Maybe they no longer need or want a big house, or they want to move closer to children and grandchildren. Perhaps they want to tap into an active community, meet like-minded neighbors or travel without worrying about home upkeep.
These age-restricted communities—often marketed as 55 “and better”—represent a broad range of living options. A 55-plus community can consist of luxury multi-bedroom houses, condominiums, townhouses, apartments, mobile or manufactured homes, or recreational vehicles (RVs) that can be rented, leased or purchased, depending on the location. While these types of communities abound in the warmer climates of Florida and Arizona, there are 55-plus communities all over the country, and the amenities they offer—and how much they cost—vary significantly.
What to Expect in 55-Plus Communities
For many residents, the social aspects of 55-plus communities—such as golf, tennis, shuffleboard or exercise groups—are a major selling point. It can be easier to stay socially connected in communities that encourage interaction and group activities, and those connections can help stave off loneliness and isolation, says Alicea Ardito, a Virginia-based licensed clinical social worker who specializes in care of older adults. In fact, Finnish researchers concluded in a 2021 study that the social activities typical in housing communities designed for older adults appear to support well-being and healthy aging effectivelySenior Housing as a Living Environment That Supports Well-Being in Old Age. Frontiers in Public Health. Accessed 7/20/2022. .
Fewer Kids, Yet More Opportunities for Intergenerational Interaction
For individuals tired of noisy neighborhood children, a quieter atmosphere could be a welcome change. “What 55-plus communities really offer that’s different from other types of housing is that there are no kids around,” says Friedman.
Many communities have limits on how long visitors under the age of 55 can stay, says Andrew Carle, adjunct professor of senior living administration at Georgetown University.
On the other hand, for those keen on living in a more age-diverse setting, an increasing number of retirement communities are being built near or on university campuses. Experts anticipate this trend to continue, as intergenerational interaction appears to provide significant health benefits for older adults, according to research published in Frontiers in Public HealthCommunity Environments That Promote Intergenerational Interactions vs. Walking Among Older Adults. Frontiers in Public Health. Accessed 7/20/2022. .
“Mirabella at Arizona State University is maybe the best example right now,” Carle says. These communities are attached to universities and offer residents opportunities to take classes, attend lectures and football games, and “just be around young people, which we know can make you feel younger,” he says.
Lower Home Prices
Whether you or a loved one are interested in a three-bedroom home or a studio apartment, real estate in 55-plus communities is often less expensive than properties would be in the broader market, says Rande Friedman, a senior real estate specialist in Tampa, Florida.
“They can be very affordable, depending on the amenities. The buyer pool is smaller, which is why they sell for less,” says Friedman. Friedman also notes to be aware that 55-plus communities almost always come with Homeowner Association (HOA) fees, which can be very high.
HOA fees in 55-plus communities typically cover maintenance of the property, including road resurfacing in the community and pool and grounds maintenance. Some communities might include home utilities and internet in their fees as well. Be sure to ask exactly what’s covered because there’s no industry standard, says Mike McClernon, a certified senior advisor and founder of Assisted Living Locators of Long Island in New York.
Homes May Be Smaller
It’s not a given that a home in a 55-plus community will be smaller than what you live in now, but 55-plus communities can be enticing to people looking to downsize. But if you move into an apartment or condo, the storage space available in a 55-plus community may be limited.
A Safe Environment
Many 55-plus communities are gated, which means only approved guests can enter. This feature alone can make residents feel safer. Meanwhile, larger communities might also employ security staff who regularly patrol the community.
A User-Friendly Design
Newer 55-plus housing options are likely to include elements of universal design, which prioritizes functionality, says Carle. Homes in 55-plus communities are likely to be single level to eliminate stairs, have light switches and counters that are lower and accessible for people who use a wheelchair, no-step showers and easy-to-reach cabinets, he says.
“It goes beyond ADA compliance and just makes a better home. It goes to usability,” says Carle.
A well-designed 55-plus home likely includes these sorts of accessibility features, adds Friedman.
At the very least, most 55-plus communities handle grounds maintenance, but some offer resort-like amenities, such as a limousine service, nightly activities in the clubhouse and gourmet meals, says McClernon. In addition to typical offerings like golf, tennis and pickleball, maintained dog parks are an increasingly popular 55-plus amenity, he says, and some communities offer art studios, classes and on-site lectures for residents to attend as well.
Other communities also offer health and care services such as assistance with daily tasks.
HOA and Membership Fees
Fancy resort-style living doesn’t come cheap, says Carle. In many cases, HOA fees can exceed $800 a month. What’s more, some communities might have additional fees on top of HOA fees, such as membership to an adjacent country club.
Rules and Regulations
HOA rules in a 55-plus community are no different from what is common in non-age restricted HOAs, says Friedman. They could forbid painting your home certain colors or dictate what you’re allowed to keep outside on your patio. Other communities may have rules about how long an RV can be parked in your driveway or how long a visitor under the age of 55 is permitted to stay in your home.
People who might dislike needing to get approval for everything they want to do to the exterior of their home might not be a good fit for a community with stringent rules, says Friedman. He also notes that there are no rules regarding how high HOA fees can go or what rules HOAs can impose on residents.
The Community Might Not Provide Enough Assistance
“Probably the biggest downside of a 55-plus community is that people often don’t consider that they might have to move again in the future,” says McClernon.
For instance, someone who didn’t consider a senior living community until they experienced a life event that caused a need for additional help might find their assistance needs change more rapidly than they expect. These types of events can be extremely hard to predict, he adds.
Some older adults might want to choose a community that offers various levels of care on the same property, he advises, so you can start off in an independent dwelling but easily move to a different area that offers more assistance, such as memory care or skilled nursing. These are commonly referred to as Life Plan or Continuing Care Retirement Communities.
Types of 55-Plus Communities
Many 55-plus communities offer similar amenities, such as the protection of a gated community and activities like golf, tennis and pickleball. a few examples of 55-plus living categories include:
- University retirement
- Niche or lifestyle-based
Some 55-plus communities are designed to appeal to specific interests or lifestyles. For instance, one community in Florida offers vegetarian meals, another appeals to party-minded “parrotheads” (Jimmy Buffet fans), another focuses on artists and another prioritizes the interests of boaters.
Is a 55-Plus Community Right for You or a Loved One?
Searching online for a community that appeals to you is a good place to start. You can also enlist the help of a senior living advisor or a realtor who specializes in senior housing.
The best way to gauge whether a 55-plus community is right for you is to experience it in person, says McClernon. Many offer opportunities to pay to stay overnight for up to a few weeks to see if the community is a good fit.
“Don’t buy anything based on what the website or brochure says,” says Carle, who recommends visiting three to six communities before making a decision. “It’s a big move, so you want to make the right decision.”
You might love golf, for example, but if you don’t mesh with your neighbors for whatever reason, playing with them might not be much fun.
“The biggest mistake people can make is not checking a community out before buying,” says Carle. So, before you make any choices, take ample time to try and ensure it’s a good fit for the long-term.
In short, the 80/20 rule provides that at least 80% of the occupied homes have one resident who is 55 or older, and the community must continue to show intent to provide housing for adults 55 and older. The 20% is there as a cushion, allowing some flexibility in age requirements.What is the 80 20 rule in a 55 plus community? ›
In short, the 80/20 rule provides that at least 80% of the occupied homes have one resident who is 55 or older, and the community must continue to show intent to provide housing for adults 55 and older. The 20% is there as a cushion, allowing some flexibility in age requirements.What is the largest 55 community in the US? ›
The Villages Florida - World's Biggest Retirement Community.How much does it cost to live in a 55+ community in Florida? ›
If you're new to the process, the price tag associated with assisted living can be somewhat surprising. Looking specifically at Florida, the average monthly cost of assisted living in 2021 is $3,811, according to data from Genworth.Can someone younger than 55 live in 55+ communities in Arizona? ›
The simple answer to "Can someone younger than age 55 live in a 55+ community?" is yes, "but." While the Fair Housing Act stands against discrimination, there are age-related exceptions through HOPA. Generally, age-restricted communities have one major rule: residents must be 55 or older.What is the most effective way to apply 80-20 rule? ›
- Identify all your daily/weekly tasks.
- Identify key tasks.
- What are the tasks that give you more return?
- Brainstorm how you can reduce or transfer the tasks that give you less return.
- Create a plan to do more that brings you more value.
- Use 80/20 to prioritize any project you're working on.
You can use the 80/20 rule to prioritize the tasks that you need to get done during the day. The idea is that out of your entire task list, completing 20% of those tasks will result in 80% of the impact you can create for that day.What is the best place to retire? ›
Apart from Florida, U.S News & World Report states that among the best places to retire in the United States are names like Harrisburg, Allentown, Reading and York in Pennsylvania, and Ann Arbor in Michigan. Lancaster, Pennsylvania, tops them all, bestowed with the honor of AARP best places to retire in 2023.Is Sun City for seniors only? ›
Since Sun City AZ is an age-restricted community, residents must be 19 years of age or older and at least one member of the household must be 55 years of age or older. With no schools in Sun City AZ, this means there are no taxes for such.What state has the most 55 and over communities? ›
According to 55places.com, Florida has the most age-restricted communities with more than 375 communities, with New Jersey coming in second with more than 230 age-restricted communities.
- Pelican Preserve. If you're looking at retiring in Florida, Pelican Preserve should be on your radar. ...
- Del Webb Nocatee. ...
- Mattamy Homes - WaterSong at RiverTown. ...
- Royal Highlands. ...
- Del Webb Sunbridge. ...
- Del Webb Spruce Creek.
There is a reason why Punta Gorda has recently topped the list of fastest-growing retirement communities in the country. It is a simple, laid-back type of retirement that many retirees are looking for. When planning your retirement in Florida, many people are quick to seek out oceanside communities.What is the HOA fee at the Villages in Florida? ›
The Villages doesn't have an HOA and technically there are no HOA fees. Instead, residents pay CDD fees. According to The Villages, average CDD assessments (including the bond, maintenance fee, and fire protection) range from $129 to $220 per month.What is the 80 20 rule for 55 communities near Mesa Arizona? ›
If you've been researching 55+ adult communities, you've probably stumbled upon the “80/20 rule.” It means that in accordance with the Housing for Older Persons Act of 1995 (HOPA), at least 80 percent of the occupied units of an age-restricted community must include one resident age 55 or older and the community must ...What are the rules for 55+ communities in Arizona? ›
- At least 80% of the units must be occupied by at least one person 55 years of age or older. ...
- The association must intend and operate its facilities for persons 55 years of age or older, and must publish and adhere to policies and procedures demonstrating this intent.
“The people who migrate in to our state tend to be slightly older than the people who migrate out of our state,” said Jim Chang, Arizona state demographer. “The median age of people who move to Arizona is around 33.5, and the people who move out of Arizona to other states are about 30.5, a three-year difference.”What is the 80-20 rule in groups? ›
The 80-20 rule, also known as the Pareto Principle, is a familiar saying that asserts that 80% of outcomes (or outputs) result from 20% of all causes (or inputs) for any given event. In business, a goal of the 80-20 rule is to identify inputs that are potentially the most productive and make them the priority.What is the 80-20 rule for 55 communities near Mesa Arizona? ›
If you've been researching 55+ adult communities, you've probably stumbled upon the “80/20 rule.” It means that in accordance with the Housing for Older Persons Act of 1995 (HOPA), at least 80 percent of the occupied units of an age-restricted community must include one resident age 55 or older and the community must ...What is 80-20 rule in housing? ›
The 80/20 rule in 55+ communities is that at least 80% of units must be occupied by at least one person 55 or older. The remaining 20% of households in the community may be available for persons of any age, if the community so chooses.What is sometimes referred to as the 80-20 rule? ›
The Pareto principle, also known as the 80/20 rule, is a theory maintaining that 80 percent of the output from a given situation or system is determined by 20 percent of the input. The principle doesn't stipulate that all situations will demonstrate that precise ratio – it refers to a typical distribution.