What are Retirement Communities?

Retirement Communities

The term retirement community has a variety of meanings. Some consider retirement communities to be any type of housing where residents are primarily 55 years of age and older, while others consider upscale resort-style communities located primarily in Sunbelt states to be retirement communities. What they all have in common is a focus on lifestyle instead of health care.

Retirement Community Services

Unlike an assisted living community or a skilled nursing facility where the emphasis is on supporting health care needs and the activities of daily living, a retirement community promotes lifestyle and convenience. Hospitality-like services that are offered typically include:


    - Restaurant-style dining
    - Housekeeping and laundry
    - A fitness center and/or wellness programs
    - Concierge services to sign for packages, arrange ticket reservations, and transportation
    - Life enrichment programs ranging from golf leagues to art classes

Costs of a Retirement Community

The costs of retirement community living vary widely. If the community is a 55+ apartment complex, the monthly rental fee is usually similar in price to upscale apartment living in that area of the country. Some retirement communities require the purchase of a home or villa on the campus and then charge a monthly maintenance fee. Still other retirement communities have a buy-in and then monthly fees to cover meals, activities and other services. It is always a good idea when you are considering different options to make sure you evaluate costs in an "apples to apples" way. One community may look more expensive at first glance, but offer every service for that price. Contrast that with a community that has a lower base fee but charges additional fees for every service and amenity.

Paying for a Retirement Community

Because a retirement community is a lifestyle choice and not a health care one, it is paid for with private funds.

When You Need Additional Help

If you choose to move to an active lifestyle retirement community, you may find yourself in need of a little extra help down the road. Many communities prepare for that by establishing relationships with local in-home care agencies, respite care providers, and adult day centers. That allows residents to age with choice in their preferred setting.

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