If you’re around the age of 55, then you’re probably starting to look at your retirement options, and that’s a smart move. But how can you choose the right kind of retirement community to meet your needs? Here are five important tips to make the process go as smoothly as possible:
Know All Your Options for Retirement Living
Many people in the 55+ age range shy away from retirement planning because they think that traditional care homes and assisted living facilities are their only options. But 55+ community living is a much broader category that offers a wider range of services and independent living options more appropriate for active adults. The number of people moving into these kind of owner-occupied communities has been rising, from only 6% in 2001 to 13% in 2007. And while newer data is difficult to compile, that trend is likely to continue.
Shop Well Before You Plan to Move
Even if you know what kind of retirement or 55 and up community you’re planning to move into, it’s a good idea to shop around well in advance. Some communities may not have units available immediately, and you don’t want to end up living in a 55+ community that’s your second choice because you’ve waited until you’re wanting to move right away.
Ask About Activities and Amenities
Entering retirement doesn’t mean sitting on the couch all day watching TV; Americans over 55 are actually the fastest-growing group of gym members, going up more than 266% since 1987, according to IBIS World. With that in mind, it should be no surprise that so-called leisure activities are one of the factors that attract at least 22% of people moving into an over 55 community. It’s important to remember, however, that over 55 community activities vary quite a bit, and it’s important to ask about them specifically as you’re exploring options in your area. Depending on where you look, over 55 community activities might lean more toward tennis tournaments or more toward game nights (or span both).
Allow Time for the Emotional Process
Especially if you’ll be leaving a home you’ve had for a long time, it’s important you allow time for emotional processing as part of your move -- both for you and for any of your children who may have grown up in that home. Talk through your decision to move with family members early on in the process so they can be more supportive.
Build a Detailed Budget Before You Decide
Buying a home in an active adult retirement community can be a smart investment; after all, if you’re moving around age 55, you’ll most likely be spending decades in your new house. But it’s still important that you sit down and make a detailed budget, including the monthly fees that will cover concerns like outdoor maintenance and clubhouse access.
What kind of over 55 community activities or services are you looking for? Share your thoughts in the comments.