It is never too early to plan on where you will be spending your retirement. In fact, the earlier you get started, the better your chances are at getting a place that really suits your needs.
Regardless if you’re planning on retiring ten years from now, or after just a month, by following the tips listed below, you will find a retirement community that will make your stay all the more enjoyable.
What Is a Retirement Community
Retirement communities are not assisted-living facilities. They are more like exclusive villages that cater to those of advanced age, but not so advanced that they will need assistance with their daily routines.
How Many Retirement Communities Are There?
Retirement communities are actually experiencing a growth spurt. Currently, there are more than 45,000 of these kinds of communities in the USA, and the number continues to grow at a record fast pace. As you might have guessed already, most of these communities are located down south because of the inclement weather there, but there are still a lot of them in the north and midwest states.
What Should You Look For in a Retirement Community?
Here’s a list of the things that you need to take into consideration when you are out there window shopping for a retirement community:
Just because retirement homes are for the elderly, that does not mean that you are too old for fun. For a retirement community to be considered a success, it needs to have an excellent recreation schedule. This promotes socialization among the residents and also gives them something to look forward to every day.
If possible, speak with some of the residents of the community. Ask them about the recreational activities offered by the community. Ask them about the recreational activities provided by the community, and also if they actually enjoy said activities.
Also, inquire if they offer opportunities for those with varying mobility issues and have other interests.
Look for activities that are held within the community buildings, and some wherein the residents need to go out in public. Check out the local shopping opportunities, churches and their schedules, and the means of public transport if necessary.
Another critical aspect of a good retirement community is that they have more than adequate medical care and that you can have easy access to it when necessary. If you need specialists, find out if there are clinics nearby and if they accept new patients.
Ask your potential retirement home if they can provide you with a detailed list of nearby primary care providers; if you are not satisfied with the information you receive, then consider speaking with another potential retirement facility.
A retirement community is not a prison, you should still live the life that you wanted. If you are a dog or cat lover, find out beforehand what the community’s stance on pets, and how many animals a single resident can keep.
Each retirement community has its own sets of rules and regulations that all the residents need to follow.
You need to find out if they allow pets in the community, or if it is alright to have a family member move in with you long term.
Many retirement communities have stringent, and somewhat strange rules like some places do not allow residents to have a barbecue grill, and some are not even allowed to create a small garden.
You need to learn the rules of the community before you even consider being a part of it.
If you are thinking of getting an apartment or a condo unit in the retirement community, however, you are not at all that handy when it comes to DIY maintenance, check if the community provides maintenance and repair services.
There are some retirement communities where the maintenance of the units are already included in the monthly membership fees, while others will only charge you for services rendered.
There are even some communities where you can ask the managers to check on your residential unit from time to time when you will be going on vacation and won’t be home for a couple of days.
You also need to take into consideration the climate of the place you will be retiring in. Are you interested in moving down south because you enjoy the warmer weather, like Florida, for example.
However, you might love the mild winters in the place, but do take into consideration the hot and humid summers, which you might not like.
As much as possible, you should visit the place that you plan to retire in. Keep in mind that you will be living in the place for the rest of your life, so you need to be happy with the place, you need to be comfortable with the year-long weather.
How are the Locals?
The people who are currently living in the retirement community you’re eyeing could potentially be your neighbors, friends, and enemies, for the rest of your life. So you need to get a good feel of the culture and figure out for yourself if you will be comfortable living there.
How Much Do Retirement Communities Cost?
The most important detail when choosing a retirement community is the cost of living there. You need to find out beforehand if you can actually afford to live in the place.
So, the first thing that you actually need to do before you even start looking for a retirement community is to find out your actual finances. Sit down with someone whom you can really trust, and look at your current financial status, including your bank savings and other assets.
Take into consideration your monthly bills currently, just so you can see what you can afford to pay every month. Living in a retirement home might be a bit more expensive, but you might discover that you are still paying roughly the same amount right now.
You should also factor in if the retirement community you’re eyeing has an entrance fee as well a recurring monthly fee.
You also need to take into consideration any other fees that you might incur. For instance, is there a buy-in fee in the retirement community?
If so, figure out how much of it your estate will get back later. If you can consult with an attorney regarding this issue, this will be a huge purchase, and you need to know if your estate will be getting any of that value back.
Some communities require you to buy-in a condominium unit, but when you no longer need it, your estate will only get back 90% of the buy-in fee.
This will be a major life purchase, so you need to ensure that you are well informed about it and that you are getting a good deal; don’t buy-in if you are feeling pressured into doing so.
Are You Qualified to Live in a Retirement Community?
Entering a retirement community means that you will be signing an agreement stating the things that you can expect from the community, and what they will need to expect from you.
If you have not lived in a condo building or a private village, you might be surprised that they have quite a lot of restrictions that will make you feel limited in a lot of ways. There are rules for parking, how much decorations you can put on your home, and even how many plants you can keep in your garden at home.
Another restriction is the age of the people who will be living in the retirement community. For instance, both spouses must be 55 years old or older to live there.
You might be wondering if these restrictions are actually legal. Still, there is actually an exception in the Fair Housing Act, the “Housing for Older Persons” exception, that allows for this kind of discrimination (somewhat) based on the person’s age.
Be Aware of the Approval Process
Most retirement communities, especially the exclusive ones, will first verify if you’re a good fit for the community before they allow you to buy-in. One does not simply just buy a house in a retirement community.
First, chat with your real estate agent about the approval process of the community, like will you need to show proof of your financial background.
Another option is to talk with the existing residents of the place. If they don’t mind you asking, get details on the kinds of questions the approval committee usually asks potential new homeowners.
You can also ask the management team of the community directly. Send them an email asking about their requirements so that you can prepare for your meeting. Every little bit of information will help increase your chances.
Now it might sound snooty of them to hold “try-outs” for people who want to join their community, but they are just trying to make sure that you will be a perfect fit for the community and that you will also be happy living there. It’s not always a political move, sometimes it is just thinking about what’s best for you and the community.