Senior Living in Stylish Communities

Active Adult Retirement Communities

adult retirement communities
••• © Big Stock Photo

Visit any active adult retirement community for senior living, and you're more likely to see residents zooming by on motorized golf carts than chugging along in a wheelchair being pushed by a caretaker. In fact, if you don't swiftly move out of their path, these happy-go-lucky golfers just might run over you. This is not your grandfather's retirement community.

Today's retirement communities are as popular as Beatlemania in 1964, and seniors living in these communities know all the words to Love Me Do. I would not be surprised to see them out-Karaoke the best of us. Many adults over the age of 55 are living life to the fullest, and their lifestyle reflects that energy.


What is an Active Adult Retirement Community?


Retirement communities are age-restricted and often located near metropolitan areas or nearby suburbs. The minimum age is typically 55, with one member of the household qualifying. Some communities restrict ownership to those age 62 and older, and all occupants must be at least 62. Driving by, though, you might think it's just another subdivision, until you look closer.

You might surprised at how nice these communities are. Many are gated and private. Homes are spaced closer together and lot sizes are often smaller, which means less yardwork. Most of the homes are based on successful models, so they might tend to resemble each other. Almost all offer a laundry list of activities and amenities.


Senior Living in Style: Amenities


Home owners in active adult retirement communities pay into a homeowner's association, which cares for the grounds and handles maintenance. Part of the homeowner association fees pays for such amenities as:


  • Club House
  • 18-Hole Golf Courses
  • Libraries
  • Fitness Centers
  • Swimming Pools and Spas
  • Arts & Crafts Centers
  • Billiards and Card Rooms
  • Tennis Courts
  • Basketball Courts
  • Continuing Education Classrooms
  • Hiking & Biking Trails
  • High-Tech Media Centers
  • Banquet and Ballrooms
  • Restaurants
  • Game Rooms

The list is endless and limited only by your own imagination. Retirement is a time to play and, for many, a time to enjoy meaningful work. Seniors over 55 know how to have fun and enjoy the social aspect of being surrounded by friends who like to do the same things that they do.


Benefits to Seniors Living in a Resort-Like Community


Why move out of a perfectly comfortable home that has served you well for a decade or more and into a retirement community filled with strangers? There are plenty of benefits that lure seniors into these 55-plus subdivisions.


  • Single-story living.
    One level means those facing troubled knees or aching bones aren't forced to climb stairs. The homes are designed to be wheelchair accessible.
  • Birds of a feather.
    Your neighbors are unlikely to be screaming teenagers on skateboards; they are people just like you. People who like to read, garden, entertain and travel, among hundreds of other hobbies and interests.
  • Little or no yard maintenance.
    The homeowner association mows lawns, waters gardens, trims trees, sweeps walks and, in areas where it's needed, provides snow and ice removal. Some offer areas for the gardener in your family to tend.
  • Resort living.
    Fun-filled activities are located within walking distance or an easy commute. All fees are included. There is often no need to leave the grounds when every activity you desire is located within the community.
  • Mix work with play.
    Many of today's seniors are not ready to live a life of 100% leisure and want to continue working or perhaps start a new career. Homes in retirement communities generally include an office, den or separate workspace.


Buying a Home in an Active Adult Community


Buying a home in a newly built senior living complex or subdivision is no different than buying from a builder. You might want to hire your own real estate agent to represent you, an experienced agent who understands 55-plus communities. Remember, if you visit an Over 55 community without an agent, they might not let your real estate agent help you. Always ask your agent first before visiting to register you.

Here are more tips:

  • Arrange your own financing. You might get a better deal over using the builder's lender.
  • Get a home inspection, even if the home is brand new.
  • Talk to the neighbors before you buy.
  • Come back on the weekends. Sometimes visiting guests such as grandchildren can be noisy.
  • Question the homeowner association documents and read Meeting Minutes.
  • Ask about utilities and other associated costs of ownership.
  • If you have questions about seller disclosures, hire a lawyer.
  • Consult with a tax accountant to determine if the purchase fits your retirement plans.

Although the majority of home buyers over the age of 62 pay cash for a new home, you might want to later consider a reverse mortgage. Be careful, though, and seek legal advice before signing any financing documents for a reverse mortgage. Sometimes the benefits are not worth the drawbacks.

At the time of writing, Elizabeth Weintraub, CalBRE #00697006, is a Broker-Associate at Lyon Real Estate in Sacramento, California.