As you get wiser in your years, the time may come when any old regular community just doesn’t make the cut. Whether you need some living assistance, want to be around people closer to your age or just want to be some place quieter, it may be time to look into a retirement community.
But what is the difference between a retirement community and a regular community?
“A retirement community offers a plan for the future,” says Jessica Page, director of sales and marketing at Inverness Village in Tulsa, Okla. “There are services and amenities that help maintain well-being longer. It is purposefully designed with a focus on whole-person wellness that nourishes six components critical to good health: physical, social, emotional, intellectual, vocational and spiritual.”
To make sure those components are met, most retirement communities offer extras like lectures, cultural events, workshops, household maintenance assistance and exercise classes. Some may even offer expert care and support for those who need it. This kind of peace of mind isn’t always available in a regular community.
Starting to sound appealing? Here’s an in-depth look on how to find the retirement community that’s right for you:
Suiting Your Needs and Age Range
When considering retirement communities, it’s important to consider the needs you have in mind and your age, as the majority will have age limits on who can buy a home in the community.
“Needs vary substantially depending on health, physical abilities and age-related needs,” says Art Koff, the 80-year-old founder of RetiredBrains.com, a website that provides content and advice for people who are planning retirement. “The age range can be from the 50s to 90s, as there are younger retirees who need a great deal of assistance and retirees in the 90s who require little.”
Whether you’re just looking for a place where you don’t have to mow your lawn anymore, or a place you can meet others in the same stage of life as you, there are options for everyone.
“Residents seek retirement communities for a variety of personal and social reasons,” says Joan Woodworth, senior vice president of sales and marketing at Front Porch, one of the largest retirement community providers in California. “However, most residents are tired of keeping up their homes and want freedom from household chores and are interested in more social interaction — and the peace of mind of knowing they will have care when they need it.”
Live Your Lifestyle
Next, it’s important to consider the type of lifestyle you want to have in your retirement community.
Are you looking for an active lifestyle and a place you can socialize, or a quiet home where you can just relax alone or spend time with your spouse?
“Lifestyles that are full of vitality offer a variety of ways to stay connected to others and engaged in life,” Page says. “From group fitness classes to lifelong learning programs, living as part of a community helps you stay connected and feeds your soul.”
Whatever your lifestyle may be, it’s important to ask questions before deciding on your community. A community’s sales representative will be happy to discuss their available benefits and levels of care so you can decide which place is best for you now and later on down the road.
When you’re touring prospective retirement communities, don’t forget to take a peek at the amenities. If you’re going to be living there, it’s good to know which place gives you the most bang for your buck.
Here’s a list of common amenities retirement communities can offer:
- Fitness and aquatic centers
- Wellness clinics
- Salons and spas
- Dining venues
- Social centers and activity programs
- Housekeeping and linen services
- Scheduled transportation
- Exterior maintenance and landscaping
- Emergency protocols
- Spiritual services
- Assisted living services
And don’t forget to check and see which utilities are included in the monthly bill!
Where to Look
With so much to look into and to take into consideration, starting your search may seem overwhelming. But it doesn’t have to be!
Many great websites can help you find your next home, including FrontPorch.net, RetiredBrains.com and, of course, NewHomeSource.com.
“The key is to choose a community and setting where you are comfortable,” says Woodworth, noting that most retirement communities can be found in metro and surrounding areas.
But how can you tell if the community is actually worth your hard-earned time and money?
“You should seek out a community that has a reputation dedicated to delivering excellent service and performance while making sure each resident’s life is touched in a meaningful way,” Page says. “You can often find this information on the community’s website, educating yourself about their history and researching state and national ratings, as well as any accreditations.”
However, Koff warns not to let a community oversell you with all their bells and whistles, as this is a major life decision you are making and it can have serious implications on your life. He suggests preparing a checklist of must-haves and questions for each community you consider under the following categories where applicable:
- First impression
- Living area and accommodations
- Moving in, contracts and finances
- Health and personal care services
- Social and recreational availabilities
- Dining facilities and options
Taking all of this into account, you shouldn’t have any problems choosing the perfect retirement community. Go ahead, live that life of retirement you’ve been dreaming of. You deserve it!