55 and Older Communities: Living Your Dream Retirement

55 and older communities cater to the needs of the boomer generation. These communities are the only legal exception to the Fair Housing Act which prevents discrimination based on sex, color, race, national origin, religion, sex, disability or family status.

Typically, active adult communities operate under homeowner or condo associations who take care of the day to day management. Such things include lawn mowing, home maintenance, cleaning, pool and clubhouse maintenance etc. However, not all amenities are covered by the HOA fees. Read the regulations of your dream retirement home before you sign on.

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The homes fit you if you don't need special care and want to live an active lifestyle surrounded by others who share your interests. Age restricted communities as the name suggests are reserved for the older generation. This means that anyone under the age of 19 is restricted from living permanently in an older community.

Adult communities are typically categorized into 2:

  • Age-Restricted Communities
  • Age-Targeted Communities

Age-Restricted Communities - The homes here are targeted at those 55+. The Fair Housing Act under the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) specifies that the housing must include a person 55+ in at least 80% of the occupied units.

As a member of the community you enjoy various amenities that typically include:

  • Libraries
  • Tennis Courts
  • Fitness Centers
  • High-tech Media Centers
  • Tennis Courts
  • Club Houses
  • Basketball Courts
  • Restaurants and Game Rooms
  • Continuing Education Classrooms
  • etc

Age-Targeted Communities - These homes are not strictly age restricted. People in other age groups can live in the community giving it a more vibrant feel.


What to Know About Living in an Age Restricted Community

More amenities usually translate into higher HOA fees. The charges can go over $500 per year in some adult communities.

Some adult communities do allow kids. Despite the set down regulations, sometimes 55 and older communities do allow people in the younger generation. Read the provisions carefully.

No two communities are similar. The amenities and services provided vary from one community to the next. Expand your search to what fits your lifestyle.

Finding a home in a 55+ community takes longer. It's best to start searching for your ideal community early on. Get a feel for different communities before you settle on any.

Take into account the services available as you age. Enquire about fitness facilities, easy access to medical professionals, grocery deliveries etc. These should improve your retirement as the years' progress.


Types of 55+ Communities

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Active-adult communities come in various shapes and sizes. They also cater to different clientèle. Some of the most popular include:

Resort and Golf Retirement Communities

These communities offer a resort-like feel and experience to the residents. Typically, membership is restricted to only the 55 plus generation in terms of renting and staying on vacations.

Luxury Communities

The homes here are typically larger with more amenities and features. The homes are also priced significantly higher. This ensures that mostly affluent individuals live within the community.

Active Retirement Communities

They cater to those of the boomer generation who prefer an active lifestyle. They typically feature hiking facilities, biking, swimming etc. The goal of active retirement communities is to encourage a recreational and sporty lifestyle for the 55+ generation.

55+ Gated Communities

These offer more security to the residents but still cater to the needs of the boomer generation. The homes here are great for those who want more privacy as these communities restrict the people that can visit.

Faith-Based Retirement Communities

The people living in these type of community normally share the same beliefs. They could be religious or otherwise.

University Retirement Community

These communities tend to have direct or close ties with local universities and colleges. This makes it easier for individuals to work and participate in learning activities from the campuses while still enjoying your dream retirement.


Tips for Buying into a 55+ Community

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  • Know the costs of living in the community. For example, what are the HOA fees and what do they cover. The more services and amenities available the more costly it gets. Choose a community that works for and within your budget.
  • Understand what is required of residents. Every community has its rules and regulations. For example, they may rules that apply to house decorating, parking, lawn maintenance, the age of those living in the homes etc. Read the regulations carefully before you settle on a community.
  • What is the cost of living your dream retirement? Different 55+ communities cater to people with different budgets and financial might. Understand the costs associated with the potential community and what they cover.
  • Visit several locations or communities. Go into the search with an idea of what you want your dream retirement to look like. For example, if golf is a passion, opt for those communities with a golf course and other enthusiasts.
  • Understand local surroundings. It's not just about buying a home because it fits a certain profile. Aim to also understand what the local neighborhood is like.
  • Research the approval process. Most 55+ communities need to verify you are a good fit before you can join. The more exclusive, the thorough the scrutiny you have to undergo.
  • Talk to your future neighbors. These will be your future friends and acquaintances.
  • Trust your gut. Ultimately, picking a retirement community comes down to what you feel about the place and the people. Apart from the amenities and services, security and comfort should also feature into your overall equation.

Final Thoughts

55+ communities are a great way to live your dream retirement. You are normally surrounded by others who share your passions, hobbies etc. Take the time before you settle on any one community. Ensure that it caters to your specific needs and also fits within your budget.