By 2030, seniors will comprise more than 20% of the U.S. population, up from 16.9% in 2020.1 Active adult neighborhoods are among the highest growing type of lifestyle communities, as the baby boomer generation look for retirement living situations that meet their values and interests.
If you’re tired of maintaining the family home and looking for ways to stay active in retirement, a 55+ community may be a better fit than aging in place or downsizing on your own.
Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of 55 plus communities to see if they’re right for you.
What Are 55+ Active Adult Communities?
So, what is an active adult community? Unlike a senior facility with built-in healthcare services, active adult communities are designed for seniors living independently and typically without the need for on-site medical care.
They are most often neighborhoods with single-family homes that you buy into along with a set of HOA fees and restrictions. They can also be apartment or condo developments for rent or purchase.
Note, although 55 is used to describe this lifestyle, the age minimum for at least one household member in different communities ranges from 50 to 65.
The Pros of 55+ Active Adult Communities
Staying physically active, nurturing social connection, and learning new skills or hobbies are all proven ways to maintain and extend seniors’ health and quality of life. Finding a community that promotes all of these is key to aging in style.
There’s a wide range of communities in terms of features, size, and cost, but common benefits include:
- A like-minded social network
- Age restriction for peace and quiet
- Access to transportation to shopping and appointments
- Smaller living spaces for less upkeep
No more snow shoveling, hedge trimming, or lawn-mowing. Outdoor and indoor maintenance levels are often included in 55+ communities, depending on whether you rent or buy into an active adult community. You may be able to:
- Opt in to neighborhood-contracted housekeeping
- Rely on centralized handyman services for repair and maintenance
- Switch to simpler, modern appliances and HVAC features if coming from an older house
Amenities and Activities Galore
“Active adult” is key to what sets these lifestyle communities apart. Fitness-related amenities and social activities may include:
- Multi-surface tennis and pickleball courts
- Pools and saunas
- Fitness classes
- Golf courses
You may also find luxury features such as:
- Spas with health and beauty treatments
- Fine dining restaurants and bars
- Live entertainment and cinemas
- Parks with gardens, walking trails, and outdoor games
- Social clubs, events, and outings
Safety and Security Features
Social environments are designed from the ground up with seniors in mind. You’ll find:
- Step-free entrances and buildings
- Interior and exterior walkways that are wide and provide secure railings
- Bathrooms designed for accessibility including handholds and walk-in showers
Many are gated communities with on-site security located in low-crime areas.
Potential Financial Benefits
If your needs and goals align with an active retirement community, the cost may be lower than pursuing it alone. Save on:
- Adapting your current home to a universal design or step-free environment
- Multiple club, golf course, and fitness center membership fees
- Travel and service costs for spa, wellness, and entertainment
The Cons of 55+ Active Adult Communities
If the pros sound too good to be true, keep in mind that a retirement community with high-end amenities tend to have high-end price tags. Additional cons to active adult communities include:
- Limited diversity in age
- Restrictions on younger family members
- Resale challenges
Homeowners’ Association (HOA) Fees and Rules
Even if you’ve lived in a neighborhood with an HOA, you may find the rules more restrictive and the fees higher in some active adult communities to create a living environment with specific active lifestyle goals.
Limited Healthcare Services
While some may be organizationally tied to facilities and services connected to late-life needs, the majority of active adult housing communities are single-family home developments similar to other HOA-restricted neighborhoods. They don’t include:
- On-site health monitoring
- Assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs)
- Memory care facilities
Distance from Family and Friends
Depending on what you’re looking for, you may need to consider a long-distance move to find the community that’s right for you. While you can find them nationwide, the majority of active senior living community developments tend to be built in locations with:
- Year-round sunshine
- Low property taxes
- Nearby major medical centers
Some of the top active independent living community developments are located in:
- Las Vegas
- South Carolina
- 55+ active adult communities are designed for seniors living independently and usually don’t offer on-site medical care.
- Pros of 55+ communities include a like-minded social network, low-maintenance living, various amenities and activities, safety and security features, and potential financial benefits.
- Cons of these communities include limited age diversity, restrictions on younger family members, resale challenges, and potentially higher HOA fees and rules.
- Most active adult communities don’t provide on-site healthcare services or assistance with daily living activities.
- Top active independent living community developments are primarily located in areas with year-round sunshine, low property taxes, and nearby major medical centers.
- Statistica. Share of old age population (65 years and older) in the total U.S. population from 1950 to 2050. https://www.statista.com/statistics/457822/share-of-old-age-population-in-the-total-us-population/