Being finicky about how you want to live your life after you’ve retired is vital for you to enjoy your life more than when you were younger. Retirement communities are popular options nowadays. Knowing how to choose a retirement community will ensure you would live the life you want with minimal or no difficulty transitioning from your hardworking days to retired life.
So how do choose a retirement community that’s best for you or your loved one? There are multiple crucial factors you need to consider based on your needs and lifestyle. The most fundamental ones are type, location, services, amenities, programs or activities, pet policies, and visitations.
Let’s discuss each of them in detail, including the benefits and drawbacks of living in a retirement community and how much a retirement community costs. All of these will help you decide better if moving to a retirement community will be best for you or your loved one.
Living in a Retirement Community Pros and Cons
What is a retirement community? It’s a place where retired people who are still capable of taking good care of themselves can live. Unlike living in their own homes and neighborhood, though, they don’t have to do certain things anymore.
There are a few benefits to gain from living in a retirement community, but some of the most ones are:
A retirement community is like a private subdivision, wherein you’ll have easy access to facilities that provide basic services or more. You won’t usually need to own a car to move from one place to another since you can find most of them within the community.
Better Social Life
Whether we like it or not, being around people of the same age or close to our age is more fulfilling and less stressful because we understand each other better. Not socializing can also lead to certain mental health issues. In a retirement community, it’ll be easy to find someone who has the same hobbies and interests as you are. Even individuals who would understand what you’re going through physically, mentally, and emotionally.
Peace of Mind
In relation to mental health, you and your family will have peace of mind because you’ll be safe within a retirement community. Most, if not all of them, have 24/7 security, healthcare assistance, and more.
Maintaining a home is one of the challenges of living not just for the oldies but also for the younger generation. Although you can pay someone to do that, it would be costly to do so repeatedly. When you live in a retirement village, not only are your basic household chores taken cared of, you also won’t have to worry about lawn mowing, plumbing, snow clearing, and more.
Some of the things you need to make a note of when choosing to live in a retirement village are as follows:
No matter which retirement community you choose, you would lose some of your independence. The staff has access to your quarters, and at times, there are scheduled activities that won’t work for most people.
Yes, we live in a world where we need to follow specific laws. In a retirement community, though, there are more rules you need to follow. They usually have curfews, visitation hours, and home decoration restrictions. You might not even be allowed to have your grandchildren and children sleepover.
Although minimalism is a good thing, some of you might not be happy to know that you would need to give up some or most of your things you’re used to having. That’s because you need to fit your things in your own quarter or small apartment.
Living in a community with people of the same age or close to your age might be advantageous but can also be a disadvantage. You would usually see most of your neighbors pass away, which can be depressing. The lack of a younger generation can also make you age faster than usual.
What Should I Look for in a Retirement Community?
If you’ve finally decided to live in a retirement community, you should make sure you find the right place. Consider the factors below when searching for the best retirement community for you or your loved one.
To narrow down your choices, you must learn about the different types of retirement communities in the US. The kind of community you would opt for will also be related to the other factors discussed below.
Where the retirement community’s located is one of the most important factors to consider. You have to think about its distance from your family. Do you want to live close by or move to another area?
You must also think about the climate you prefer and accessibility to malls, parks, restaurants, and areas that you still want to frequent. Most importantly, how near is it to the hospital, considering the fact that as we get older, we’re more prone to a lot of or even already have illnesses.
Another best way on how to find a retirement community location is by looking at its history. Most of the time, the longer it’s been in existence, the better. That shouldn’t be enough, though. Research on the management’s reputation by looking at how they treat their employees and how long their staff has been with them.
It’s also ideal to ask the “residents” of the community and their relatives for they have first- and second-hand experience with the place. Reading online reviews will also help, but don’t only focus on what people say about the community. It’s also great to check how they respond to negative reviews or comments.
Safety and Security
As noted, retirement communities are as safe as they can be; in fact, you can even find gated communities staffed by security guards or have technologically advanced security systems. Of course, the level of security and safety will depend on each village.
It’s also best to look around the community to see if you or your loved one will be safe from earthquakes, floods, and other natural disasters. Checking out the rooms or apartments if they’re equipped with certain devices like bed rails and SOS systems will also ensure safety.
As noted earlier, retirement communities offer essential services such as meal preparation and laundering. However, the difference is in how the community’s management and staff provide them. For instance, some communities have skilled chefs who can prepare meals that meet specific dietary requirements.
Healthcare or medical-related services are also among the most crucial factors to look at when choosing a retirement village for you or your loved one. That can include on-site therapy, medicine management, emergency response, and healthcare staff availability and credentials.
In relation to health, you must also look into the community’s wellness and entertainment services. That can be yoga and other fitness classes, social gatherings, massage, and more. Additionally, you would want to consider if the community will let you practice your religion or offer spiritual services.
Transportation services are also essential since there would be days when you would want to get out of the community. Retirement villages with shuttle services or those in partnership with ride-hailing companies are perfect choices.
Considering the services provided by the community, the best retirement village must have a clinic, wellness center, and dining areas. In addition to those, some communities also have music rooms, theaters, salons, libraries, parks, gardens, swimming pools, and more.
Programs or Activities
Related to the amenities and services, when it comes to what to look for in a retirement community, you must also check what programs and activities are available for you or your loved one to enjoy. Some will have regular movie nights, lectures or classes, outings, cultural events, and social gatherings.
Some of you might have lived with cats or dogs and even considered them part of your family. Others might need these pets for emotional and physical support. Hence, you would want or need to bring your pet with you as you move, especially since you’re making a significant transition in your life.
Keep in mind, though, that not every person would want to be around pets regularly. That’s why it’s best to check the community’s pet policies.
Will they allow you to bring a pet with you or roam around the community? Will they let your pets visit you, have a facility where they can stay or are pets completely restricted from the community?
Another critical factor to look into in terms of what to look for in a retirement community is visitation. These communities definitely have visiting hours, but some might also have visiting days.
It’s also worth considering if the community would let your visitors stay overnight or for a certain period. This is a crucial deciding factor if you have young grandchildren who would want to spend or have been used to spending time with you.
What Is the Average Cost of Living in a Retirement Community?
Apart from the key factors you need to consider in terms of how to choose a retirement community, you must also be aware of the average cost. That way, you can decide better if living in a retirement community is doable.
Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRC)
For all-inclusive retirement communities or CCRCs, the cost will depend on the type of contract you have with them. According to data from the US Government Accountability Office, the entrance fee cost will be around $1,800 to $600,000.
For an assisted living community, you would expect the cost to be between $1,500 and $6,500 per month, while for skilled nursing, it would be from $1,500 to $10,700 per month. On the other hand, the monthly charges for memory care communities will depend on the location.
Looking at the question, “how much does a retirement community cost,” it’s more cost-effective for most of you to live in it rather than stay in your home. To make your home conducive for living as you age or your body weakens, you need to make costly modifications.
You might eventually need to purchase a wheelchair and portable ramps and install railings, change your doors, add more safety features on your stairs, and more. Plus, you would need to pay for lawn mowing, gardening, laundering, and other services that you used to take care of regularly when you were younger.
How to Choose a Retirement Community – The Conclusion
There is no perfect retirement community, but you can definitely find one that works best for you or your loved one. When choosing the place, prioritize safety, security, and health by looking at how available help is when it’s needed. Also, ensure that what they offer won’t completely change the life you were or your loved one was used to, such as enjoying hobbies and being with loved ones. Lastly, weigh in the pros and cons.