Active retirement communities can help you meet your retirement budget.
Posted April 13, 2013
If you’re getting ready to retire, you’ve probably already given consideration to the cost of retirement communties. For those just beginning their search, the prospect of can seem daunting: retirement communities have the reputation of being expensive, with huge entry fees and exhorbitant monthly charges. But the first thing you have to ask yourself is: what kind of retirement community are we talking about here?
Communities that provide any level of health care can be expensive, it’s true. But active retirement communities, sometimes called 55+ communities or age-restricted communities, are a different matter altogether. An age-restricted community is really simply a planned, usually gated community that allows residents only from a narrow age range. Beyond that, pretty much anything goes, and these communities differ in price and amenities as much as any others.
The best will offer amenities such as on-site recreational facilities—golf courses, tennis courts, fitness centers, swimming pools and the like. They may provide social and cultural services like restaurants, spas, theaters, and craft centers. They might have full- or part-time staff to plan community events; and they will almost certainly provide some level of yard and/or home maintenance. For all these things you will pay a monthly fee—but in the absence of health care, that fee will likely be nominal, and no more than you would ordinarily pay for such services in “the outside world.”
Of course, the biggest expense will be the house itself, and it’s here that active retirement communities differ most widely. Some offer luxurious homes, carefully crafted to provide for the limitations of aging bodies. Others will offer far more modest, but comfortable, manufactured homes. The entire range in between those extremes will be well represented.
So the question of whether or not you can afford to live in an active retirement community is really much the same as asking whether or not you can afford to move to a new home, period. You will still need a house, and all the services that go toward maintaining your home, plus the leisure activities that keep you physically, mentally, and emotionally healthy—and all those things will come with a certain price tag. It may very well be, however, that it will be less expensive to purchase them as a package deal.
Also, consider that there may be other economic benefits. States and locales vary in the their costs of living; some states will have no income tax; others will have very low property taxes. And of course, some have more amenable climates than others. Can you afford to move to a retirement community? Depending on where you live now, where you move to, and how much your present home is worth, you might very well find that life in an active retirement community saves you money, rather than costing you money. In fact, if your object is to cut down on your retirement costs (and it probably is), it’s likely that you can do so by making the move to an active retirement community. There are communities for every price range, for all interests, for every preference.