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