Florida 55+ Retirement Communities Pros Cons

It’s Essential to Know the Advantages and Disadvantages of Living in a 55 and over Retirement Community, to be Able to Determine if They are Right for You or Not.

The Pros/Advantages/Benefits

In no particular order…

Pro/Advantage #1 of Retirement Communities: You’ll be less likely to feel isolated or miss family and friends “back home”.

In retirement communities with a successful social program you can become an instant part of the community with the opportunity to make lots of new friends quickly.

While selling homes in Florida for many years, I was shocked by the high percentage of people who moved to Florida for retirement that after a few years, wanted to sell their Florida home and move back “home”. One of the reasons that many retiree seller’s expressed to me over and over when explaining why they wanted to sell and move out,  is that they never felt so “isolated” as they did after they moved to Florida for retirement. Why did this happen?

  • Most had moved roughly 1000 miles or more from their family and friends.
  • Almost all of them believed it would be easy to meet new friends in Florida after the move, but this didn’t go as planned. Florida can be very hot, humid and buggy much of the year. Many people find themselves spending much more time indoors with their central air protected from the heat, mosquitoes and other biting insects than what they anticipated. It can be tough to meet people when you’re “home alone”.
  • Over time, they found the “once a week” phone call with relatives just didn’t cut it compared to actual in-person family and friend get-togethers that they enjoyed so much before they moved. And when that once a week call doesn’t come…

However, it is almost impossible to feel isolated when you move to an successfully active retirement community.

Many retirement communities have a lot of well attended activities and events such as pot luck dinners and dinner parties at the clubhouse where it’s easy to meet new people and make new friends quickly. In the better active communities, you actually have to go out of your way not to make new friends.

The better retirement communities have exercise classes, golf outings, walking and running clubs and other activities that you can instantly join and become part of an active friendly social scene. The difference between getting out of the house and becoming active while meeting new people and enjoying new friendships and sitting home missing family and friends and feeling unceasingly isolated can make or break your entire retirement plans.

But Be Careful When Choosing a Retirement Community

Why? Because not all retirement communities are successful at creating a fun active community for their residents. I have shown retirement communities where there are hundreds or thousands of occupied condos and homes, yet you hear nothing but crickets when you walk through the huge clubhouse in the middle of the day. There wasn’t a person in sight, quite eerie. I’ve often shown a retirement community’s clubhouse, shuffle ball court or large beautiful sparkling clean pool without anyone residents using them and buyers would ask “where is everybody?”

Sometimes, despite a retirement communities best efforts which can include full-time social directors whose job it is to organize activities and events and get residents to attend, sometimes the magic and fun just doesn’t happen. This is almost always true when the development has just started. It’s kind of sad to know that residents are paying lots of extra money for all of the wonderful amenities the retirement community offers, but few if any are actually using enjoying them.

Bottom Line: If you want to meet new people and make new friends when relocating to an age 55 and over retirement community, look for one that already has an established active social lifestyle that you can become an immediate part of, right after moving in. This alone could end up being the difference between a successful retirement relocation and one that you’ll regret and feel you must remedy by moving again (which is very time consuming and expensive).

florida move guide book cover and discription

Pro/Advantage #2 of Retirement Communities: Safety

The Safety of Living in a Gated Community That Limits Access to Residents and Invited Guests, Helps to Keep the Bad Guys Out of Your Retirement.

Let’s face it, we are unfortunately living in an increasingly troubled world. The last thing you need when you reach retirement age is the stress and worry that living in or near high crime areas can bring. Most retirement communities today can provide the safety and security you desire and deserve after a lifetime of work. Almost all retirement communities enjoy a crime lower than the national average and most are some of the safest places to live in the US.

However, an important factor to consider is how often you’ll have to leave the safety of your chosen retirement community on a daily or weekly basis. How safe is the city or town that you will need go to for groceries, practice your religion or go out for a bite to eat? All of the recommended retirement communities on this website are located in or near places that have crime rates lower than the national average.

Bottom Line: Most 55+ retirement communities offer their residents a safe secure place to live with low crime rates. If you want to enjoy that same safety when you leave the gates of your community, make sure the closest town(s) also offer a low crime environment.

Pros/Advantage #3 of Retirement Communities: Senior citizens rarely throw late night parties with the loud thump thump bass that prevents the whole neighborhood from sleeping.

Don’t get me wrong, successful active retirement communities have great social scenes that can include include lots of parties and music. It’s just most people over the age of 55 are old enough to know how to have a great time while respecting the rights of others and without annoying their neighbors. If there should happen to be a new resident that moves in that has not learned how to respect the others, the retirement community’s homeowners association staff will likely be quick to straighten them out on the rules, or force them out. You’ll be far less likely to encounter rude disruptive behavior while living in most retirement communities.

Additional advantages of living is a community where residents are over the age of 55 include:

  • Finding people you enjoy being around can be easier when you’re the same age and have had similar life experiences and therefore have a lot in common.
  • Many people over 55 enjoy similar activities which can be very different than when they were younger. While you may have enjoyed attending “keg parties” while still in school, today you may prefer events such as a community dinner to raise money for a worthy charitable cause.
  • Most seniors absolutely love their children and grandchildren, but they no longer want to be tormented by other people’s kids the way Mr Wilson was on the very old sitcom “Dennis the Menace” (and if you’re old enough to have watched that show, you may well be retirement community material).
  • Many retirement communities take care of lawn maintenance and other tasks that many retirees want to “retire” from also. The Florida sun is stronger, stays out later and frequent heavy rain means the grass can grow like weeds and the weeds can grow like… (continued Below)

The Cons/Negatives/Disadvantages

Cons/Disadvantages #1: Rules, Regulations and more Rules.

Almost every 55+ retirement community has a home owners association or other entity that collects the fees and dues required to run the community (those fees are in addition to the taxes you will pay to the local government entities). This HOA as they are commonly known is also responsible for enforcing the rules and regulations of the community, such as verifying that residents qualify to live there because they are at least 55 years old.

However, there can be 100’s of pages of rules and regulations that you must obey when you buy in a retirement community. The rules tell you what you can do with your home and regulate what you can and cannot do in the community while using the amenities that you pay for. Most seniors will agree with most of the rules. The trouble starts when you don’t agree with a rule, break it and the HOA comes down on you, possibly imposing a “fine”. Even if you read each and every rule and regulation before you first purchased in the community, the rules are subject to change and they usually do.

Bottom Line: Make sure you receive a copy of the rules and regulations of the retirement community and read them before you get to the point you can’t back out of a sale without losing your deposit money, if you find rules you can’t live with.

Cons/Disadvantages #2: The Higher Cost of Living.

Having the use of a retirement community’s clubhouses, pools, shuffleboard and tennis courts along with a wide variety of classes and club actities to chose from is great. So is 24 hour security in a gated community with manicured landscaped grounds. Add pest and weed control and other services and you realize that a lot is automatically taken for you, but this all comes at a cost.

It will almost always cost you far more to live in a gated community restricted to residents over the age of 55, than it would to own in a neighborhood without an HOA. Of course you wouldn’t buy in a community you could not afford at the time, but what if you live on a fixed income and that income doesn’t rise as quickly as your retirement community fees do? The last thing you want to do is be forced to sell later in life because you can no longer afford your “permanent” retirement home. The older we get, the harder and more disruptive moving becomes, especially if we must must long distances.

Bottom Line: Do what you can to determine not only if you can afford the total additional costs of living in a retirement community now, but also how long into the future you’ll likely be able to handle it comfortably.

Cons/Disadvantages #3: Learning that Living in a World with Nothing but Senior Citizens is Really Not for You.

Yes, if you only look at the positives of living in a world of senior citizens such as a safer and quieter life, a retirement community my appear to be a great choice. You think you’d love it, but you never have done it before. So what if after you move in, you start to feel that something is seriously out of balance?

Although young people can somethings do things that annoy us (just like we did we we were young?) they can also add energy and balance to our life that we are accustomed to. What if you find you miss that on a daily basis? Or life where suddenly everyone in your world has grey or no hair seems odd?

Many younger, but over 55 sellers who wanted out of retirement communities, told me there were too many old people there in their 70’s and 80’s that they did not get along with. Seniors in the 70’s and 80’s also complained about those young whipper-snappers in their 50’s and 60’s, what with their jogging and always winning at shuffleboard.

Bottom Line: As with everything about making a major life change such as moving for retirement, thorough research can help us make better decisions. 

TIP: Renting for a year in a retirement community first, may give you better insight as to whether it’s right for you or not and prevent what could be a costly mistake.

Cons/Disadvantages #4: It May be More Difficult to Sell Your Home in an Age Restricted Retirement Community When You Want or Need To.

OK. So you move to a retirement community and learn it’s not for you. Or your spouse hates it. So he or she is miserable and is now making you miserable. Or you discover that your new retirement state is too hot for too much of the year and you can’t take it any more. So now you want to sell. Easy right? Here’s why it may not be…

  • Only people over 55 can buy your home so all those buyers in the market under that age can’t buy your home and help you escape.
  • If the developer or there are builders are still actively putting up brand new homes, it may be harder for you to sell. I have seen builders sell the same new home, for less than what people have previously paid for it, as the market slowed and they lowered their prices to keep building. What are your chances of selling for what you paid, for your now used home, when the builder is now offering the same home brand new for $10,000-$50,000 less?
  • Check the rules and regs before you buy in the community because when you sell you may not even be able to put a for sale sign in your yard. Many buyers just want the address to drive by a home to see if they like it enough to see the inside, which can be hard to do if they can’t get through the gate. Find out if there are rules which will make it harder for you to sell your home when the time comes.

Bottom Line: Moving for retirement, including into an age restricted retirement community, is a major life change. Thoroughly researching your options and the pros and cons before committing will improve your chances of making the right choices and save you from potentially expensive mistakes.
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Ron Stack

  • Want to be certain if moving to Florida is right for you or your family? You’ll know after reading the Florida Move Guide.

22 thoughts on “Florida 55+ Retirement Communities Pros Cons”

  1. My husband and I are renting in Ave Maria Florida, vacationing and looking for a second home to purchase. We didn’t think we’d like living so far from Naples but actually like the laid back feel of Ave Maria. We are thinking of building a home. My dilemma is that I’m an active 57 and my husband is an active 73. He loves to golf, so we are looking for a community where golf is affordable.
    We’re retired and would qualify to live in a 55 plus community but I’m having second thoughts about doing so. Even though we could build a beautiful new home with pool and golf privileges, I have spent many hours walking through the development and don’t see many people out and about, and really no one my age. I am having doubts, that this route wouldn’t be something I’d enjoy or a good investment in the long run. Any advice you have would be appreciated. Thank you!

    • Hello Denise,

      You wrote: “I have spent many hours walking through the development and don’t see many people out and about, and really no one my age.”

      You mentioned just two of the many “complaints” retirees in 55+ communities often mention in explaining why they want to sell and move out. In the Florida Move Guide I talk about showing homes in retirement communities and showing large beautiful clubhouses in the middle of the day and there is absolutely no one else in sight. Younger and more active retirees often say that everyone else seems older, inactive, or they just stay in their homes. Another common complaint is that the community is too far from away from places you have to go on a regular basis. Buyers don’t realize this until after they’ve bought and spend all day just going to a grocery store or the doctor, dentist, etc. Where is the closest hospital just in case?

      You are luckier than most people. Most don’t rent, they just look at a place and are often sold by the developer or builder’s salesman on the first or second visit, then regret it later.

      In my experience, some communities are just very alive and fun for residents, but many aren’t. People love the ones where there’s always something going on. People move out of the “dead” ones. In new communities, they always tell (sell) you that it’s going to be active, but it’s hit and miss.

      Bottom line? The picture the salesperson paints is the best it could likely ever get. But moving to a certain community, is much like moving to Florida itself: If you have doubts before you even commit, chances are high those doubts will grow into regret. And if an “active” community has nothing going on during the winter months… Good luck Denise.
      _____
      Ron Stack “That Best Places Guy” of Zeus Press Inc

      • Want to be certain if moving to Florida is right for you or your family? You’ll know after reading the Florida Move Guide. Avoid expensive mistakes.

      _____

  2. I am considering the 55+ community in Jacksonville, can you automatically decide to just rent first and then decide if you want to buy or are you contracted to rent only if you are going to buy? Do many places let you rent only?

  3. Hi Ron,
    Boy you sure point out Alot of things to think about for retirement places. I am looking at retiring in the Cape Coral ,Fl area soon. Now after reading this, I just had to order your book and Not sure if I want to go to Florida ,as I will be leaving all family and friends behind and will be all on my own. But I do thank you for your knowledge and wisdom .Just 1 question ? What do you think of Cape Coral/ Fort Meyers area. Your opinion could sure help.
    Thanks, Cindy Q

    • Cindy
      Fort Myers has never qualified for any of our best places lists due to its crime rates.

      Cape Coral has has made it onto many of our best places lists, year after year and would be a good choice for retirement. If fact, it’s on our current best places for retirement list. The article and Cape Coral video can be found here.
      _____
      Ron Stack “That Best Places Guy” of Zeus Press Inc

      • Want to be certain if moving to Florida is right for you or your family? You’ll know after reading the Florida Move Guide. Avoid expensive mistakes.
  4. I am 57 and a single woman. I am thinking about moving to a 55 community near Tarpon Springs, FL. Can you recommend a safe, pleasant community? I am looking for something under 50,000. I realize I would be buying the home and not the land. I am concerned that if the land owner wants to sell the land to another developer to use as something else, what happens to the homes on the property?

    • Hello Patty,
      I know you wrote “near” Tarpon Springs, but I just want to be clear that Tarpon Springs doesn’t qualify as a recommended place because it’s violent crime rate is higher than the national average. One of the requirements to be considered to be named as a best place on this website, are crime rates lower than the national average with preference going to places where residents enjoy the safety of far lower crime risk.

      To answer your question, I offer this…
      People can do what they want, but I would hire an attorney to look over all documents I would be required to sign before buying in any 55 and over community, or for that matter any condo, co-op, HOA, etc. I want to know exactly where I stand before parting with my money. This is especially important if you won’t own the land your home is located on. Retirement community documents are prepared by the developer’s lawyers who are representing them, not you, and the docs can be very different from community to community. So what could happen to you after a sale by the developer of a specific community, can be explained by your attorney. Only lawyers are licensed to give legal advice. I would never rely on salespeople working for the community or real estate agents to explain the parties rights in such documents. Sales people tout the pros of the retirement community, but there could be many cons buried in the documents you must sign to get in.
      _____
      Ron Stack “That Best Places Guy” of Zeus Press Inc

      • Want to be certain if moving to Florida is right for you or your family? You’ll know after reading the Florida Move Guide. Avoid expensive mistakes.
  5. We’ve been living in a 55+ community in Arizona for about a year and a half now, and it’s a mixed bag. Yes, the area is lovely, our views are incredible, there are great amenities, but those aren’t exclusive to a 55+ community. When you go through the sales office, see the gorgeously-appointed models, get a tour of the community and the indoor and outdoor amenities, even go for a dinner with a resident couple, you really don’t get a feel for what your life will really be like.

    We are finding that we’re awfully far from restaurants, shopping, the downtown area of the closest urban hub, our church, etc. You really have to drive those things before you buy.

    We also find that we are on the younger end of the age continuum here — many people are our parents age, they aren’t really “active” adults at all, would probably do better in an assisted living community at this point. So many people are working longer that they are retiring in their 70s, which means they’re not up for triathalons or marathons or hiking or road cycling, mountain biking, etc. Many of us 50-somethings are still really into those things. I was yelled at for running in the street (there are no sidewalks) by an old woman who said her vision wasn’t what it used to be, so my presense endangered her!

    Retirement communities can be cliquish and gossipy. There are a lot of people with nothing to do buy spy on others, complain, report, etc. Also, every amenity has some self-appointed know-it-all who has designated him or herself the boss of everyone else.

    Drinking/alcoholism is a real problem. Boredom, isolation and depression among seniors is probably the driver of this, but I’ve seen way too many people who have obviously been drinking since breakfast tooling around in golf-carts here. They think it’s okay because they’re not driving, but it’s really a safety hazard, plus it’s kind of sad to be around.

    Rent before you buy, seriously. We are rethinking our decision, may be moving out before we’ve even been here two full years.

    • Nadine has brought up a point that really needs to be emphasized. I believe that calling these places “55+” is a complete misnomer and anyone who thinks that a sizable part of the population in these places is somewhere between 55-65 years old is just fooling themselves. Most people in that age range are still working and not living in a retirement community. A more accurate moniker for these places would be 67+ and the 67 year olds would probably be part of a very small minority

      • 55+ Retirement communities are called that because of some requirement, such as at least one of the owners or occupants of a property must be at least fifty five years of age, to live or rent in the community. It’s a fairly common complaint of younger seniors that most of the other residents in some of these communities are their parents age. This is particularly true of communities located in counties where the median age is the highest among Florida’s 67 counties. In these counties you’ll see older retirees everywhere, not just inside the 55+ gates. The Florida Move Guide strongly recommends paying attention to who and how many are using a communities “amenities” when you take a tour. What should you think if the clubhouse(s) and pool(s) are beautiful, but there’s no one in sight using them at 1:00 in the afternoon? Visit more than once at differing times of the day and ask questions before plunking down that deposit…
        _____
        Ron Stack “That Best Places Guy”

        • Want to be certain if moving to Florida is right for you or your family? You’ll know after reading the Florida Move Guide.
    • Thank you so much for your feedback .
      I live here in Westchester in the suburbs and I can’t take the winters anymore so I was looking to buy something for the winter months and thats my reason why I was looking for the 55 plus places is because I am a swimmer and I have noticed that their pools are huge versus these condos with a small pool to swim , I’am 64 but very active and I would be going solo, this was not plan for retirement ! I had planed to travel and live in Portugal for a few months and then the winter months go to south America but due to this pandemic it changed for everyone.
      I also heard that these communities they vacinate everyone. I was concerned that in some places in Florida they might not believe in being vacinated and I was afraid of getting exposed

  6. After reaching 55 years old, I realized that I should consider moving to a 55 plus community because I do see that some seniors get more safety measures as you have stated which can help me live out my life with more ease. I hate noise now, and I agree that senior citizens rarely throw late-night parties as you mentioned which can really help me sleep soundly at night after all these years. As long as the community I choose to go to is nice and friendly, then I do believe that you mentioning that I’ll be less likely to feel isolated will be true.

  7. My parents are considering moving into a 55+ community, in great part because they want to be closer to people who are their age and are in the same place in life, as you said. They haven’t been able to connect well with the neighbors they have now, and that’s in great part due to that age gap. The fact that a community would take care of the lawn care and general maintenance that they can’t handle anymore would be fantastic for them, as well, and I think that moving to a community would be a great choice.

  8. Thanks for bringing to my attention that you want to make sure the retirement community you move to is active. My parents are getting pretty old, and I know they get bored sometimes just sitting around at home. I’d like to connect them with a community where they can make friends, so I’ll definitely research various retirement communities they can move to.

  9. It sounds like my father would enjoy living in a senior community. I feel like he might appreciate it since you said that it’s a safer and quieter life. He’s a bit fan of quiet living.

  10. I think someone needs to proof tead this article. Way too many typos.

    • How embarrassing. Your typo criticism has a typo in the first sentence. hehe

      • perfect

  11. Hello, I’m curious to know what you think about On Top of the World, Retirement Community. My husband and I have visited the community and were impressed with all the activities, shops and learning center in the community. The homes also seem to be built well and can be built/purchased at a reasonable price. We had visited a couple of the Del Web Retirement Communities but, only loved the one in Georgia on Occone Lake. It appears that the homes in OTOTW are built better, more solid. There’s more upgrade in the homes and the land cost is included in the price of the homes. That’s a separate price in Del Web. In OTOTW, it’s not to BIG, yet not to small of a place to live and when we were visiting there were people out and about in the community. We have planned to go do a 3 day, 2 night visit soon. Is there any advise you have for us or questions we should ask when we go to visit? We are living in Jacksonville, Florida now and looking to retire in about 2 years so at this point, we’re just shopping. We didn’t want to be to far from our home base as we have my elderly mom living here in Jacksonville and our grown children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Since Ocala is just about a 2 1/2 hour drive, we were thinking maybe it would be close enough to go back and forth to special events and family happenings yet far enough to have some sweet time just being a retired couple and enjoying life too! I would greatly appreciate your feed back. I thank you in advance, Janice H

    • Hello Janice,
      The first qualify of life factor we look at when considering places for our best places lists, is crime rate. Most people who at are at or near retirement age are very concerned about the safety of where they live, shop, etc. This is one reason many retirees desire the safety that a gated retirement community offers, although there are gated communities that are not age restricted that offer the same piece of mind. All cities and towns must have property and violent crime rates below the national average to be considered further to make our best places lists. In the case of retirement communities, the closest town that most residents will be leaving the gated community for shopping, dining, going to the dentist, doctor barber/stylist, etc., must also meet the same low crime standards, for the retirement community to considered as “best” on this website.

      Ocala Florida’s violent crime rate is almost twice the national average and the property crime rate is more than twice the national average. Because of those crime rates (from FBI reporting), retirement communities in the Ocala area do not meet our criteria as best for this websites lists, with one exception. As far as what questions you should be asking, remember, sales people are trying to sell something so sometimes even though you ask, the answer you receive may not be entirely accurate. I’m not talking directly about any particular place, but I’ve been in the real estate sales business for over 30 years and I have seen salespeople give an answer like they are the expert but they really didn’t have a clue of what the facts were. Others knew better but the answer they gave could be considered contrary to the facts. I would get a copy of the Community documents, HOA rules and regulations and read them. If I had any questions on what’s in there, I would email my questions to a representative of the community so I would have a copy of their response in writing in their email reply. Also after reading the communities documents that they are required to provide, ask yourself, if there is any rules or reg’s that you can see that might interfere with enjoying any property you might invest your hard earned money in? If I were shopping retirement communities I would would learn the advantages and disadvantages and ask myself if a retirement community is what I really want. If so, then I would learn the pros and cons of any particular retirement community I was considering and ask myself if this is the one that best meets my needs.

      Oh by the way, the 1 retirement community in the Ocala area that is on our best places list, because it has shopping, restaurants, pubs, doctors, etc right in the community so you never have to leave the gates because anything you can find in a city you can find there (except high crime rates), can be found in this article. Good luck Janice.
      _____
      Ron Stack

      • Want to be certain if moving to Florida is right for you or your family? You’ll know after reading the Florida Move Guide.
      • Is there a better state to relocate to or a better retirement lifestyle for you than moving to Florida? You’ll know after reading How to Retire Happier.

  12. I am looking at 2 bedroom condo in a decent 55+ community in Delray Beach. This would be for use a second home for winters only.. I am not interested in renting it out at least for now. Prices are very good. Any opinion?

    • Hello David,
      Delray Beach is not on any of our best places lists because property and violent crime rates here are much higher than the national average, according to FBI public reporting. Worse yet, crime in Delray Beach increased substantially year over year, for the latest years reported.

      You wrote: “Prices are very good. Any opinion?”
      As of right now, prices are still high (but close to bubble burst time) everywhere in Florida that’s in demand (desirable). So you have to wonder why prices “are good” in any area right now especially if it’s right near the beach. The first thing I look at when I see low prices in an area that I think should probably should probably be higher, is crime rates. People flee high crime areas if they can do it financially, and they don’t move into high crime areas unless they have no other options, if they are aware of what the crime rates are. We know the higher crime areas to avoid if we lived somewhere for years, but if we have just vacationed somewhere we normally don’t. Personally, I would not invest in any area with crime rates higher than the national average and climbing because my “investment” will likely decline in value as crime increases.

      55 and older retirement communities tend to be safer than average. But if crime becomes a problem in areas surrounding a community, demand and therefore prices will suffer. Good luck David.
      _____
      Ron Stack

      • Want to be certain if moving to Florida is right for you or your family? You’ll know after reading the Florida Move Guide.
      • Is there a better state to relocate to or a better retirement lifestyle for you than moving to Florida? You’ll know after reading How to Retire Happier.

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