Assisted living, nursing home—if these are the only options you’re familiar with for senior living, you’re probably asking, what is an active adult community? If you or your loved ones are considering a change in lifestyle and wondering how to move to a new state, it’s worth exploring active adult communities as an alternative.
Rather than a focus on healthcare for seniors, active adult communities are lifestyle-based, offering community amenities, home design, and residential community structures that are ideal for older adults.
The Growing Popularity of 55+ Communities
Though the common age tag for this type of independent living community is 55+, actual age requirements for at least one household member range from 50–65. In the United States, the market size for active adult communities was valued at over $560 billion in 2021, with forecasts of continued growth based on:1
- Advancements in healthcare providing higher energy and fitness levels for activities
- Less stigma in retiring as more adults’ values are less centered on professional lives
- Greater interest in new experiences and social connection than staying in large homes
- Growing population of seniors as baby boomers move further into later life stages
Investors have taken note of this trend, both for developing single-family neighborhoods and multifamily rental units.
Features of Active Adult Communities
The one thing that’s not common to 55+ neighborhoods and buildings is health monitoring—these environments are designed for older adults who live independently. That design incorporates:
Low-Maintenance Homes and Condominiums
Groundscaping and exterior care is handled centrally. Plus, interior upkeep including housekeeping is often available as add-on services.
Accessible and Senior-Friendly Design
Active retirement communities are designed from the ground-up with seniors in mind. This typically includes universal accessibility and step-free options.
Resort-Style Amenities for Active Living
You won’t have to travel to enjoy resort living if you opt for a higher end active adult living community. From tennis courts to spas, you’ll find a mix of community amenities to promote wellness and joy.
Benefits of Living in an Active Adult Community
Moving to an active adult community can allow you to improve your quality of life, physical health, and emotional well-being. Some of the benefits include:
- A vibrant social environment to encourage the connection needed to thrive
- Opportunities for becoming and staying physically active
- Enhanced security, safety, and peace of mind
Choosing the Right Active Adult Community
When weighing the pros and cons of 55 plus communities, cost is certainly a big factor, however, it’s not the only consideration in finding the right community for you. Consider the following elements of an active adult community.
Location and Proximity to Family
The chances are low that your dream community is located next door to your close friends and family. How does that distance enter into the decision-making for you? Examine:
- Whether your family and friends are an important part of your daily or weekly life
- How finances (yours or theirs) may affect visit frequency if you move further away
- If video calls or other technology can help you maintain quality contact at a distance
- How location affects your quality of life in terms of climate, resources, and cost of living
Amenities and Lifestyle Offerings
Independent living communities vary widely in size and type, and finding one to match your values and goals is the priority. Do you already have a vision of your retirement years? How can your environment shape it for the better?
Fees and Financial Considerations
When you’re shopping around, make lists that help you compare apples to apples and consider realistically how much you’d use each amenity. A lower housing price with per-usage fees for each activity may end up being a better deal than a higher all-inclusive price model, or vice versa, depending on your needs.
Be sure you read the fine print and understand all the required and opt-in association and neighborhood fees to make informed decisions.
How a Sale-Leaseback Can Help with Your Transition to an Active Adult Community
There is no magic line in the sand that anyone crosses to move between life stages—or when to move on to a new independent living situation. Your unique preferences, health needs, physical independence, and goals and values are the key to creating your own map and timeline into the future.
A sale-leaseback is one way to help create a bridge from the stage of traditional homeownership to a new way of living. With a sale-leaseback, you close on the sale of your house at the same time as signing a rental agreement to lease it back from the new owners. Like with any transaction, there might be a few rent-back agreement risks you’ll have to consider, but by working with the right partner, the rental price is written into the contract, usually with a lock for multiple years, and you have the right to stay in your home as long as you like.
At the same time, becoming a renter means off-loading the cost, hassle, and worry of covered maintenance and repairs, homeowner’s insurance, and property taxes. It’s an opportunity to combine increased support with security for those who wish to age at home, and it can also be a bridge to allow homeowners to take their time downsizing for retirement and preparing for a move to an active adult community.
- Active adult communities are lifestyle-based, independent living options for seniors, focused on providing a comfortable, social, and active environment.
- These communities typically feature low-maintenance homes, accessible design, and resort-style amenities.
- Benefits of living in an active adult community include a vibrant social environment, opportunities for physical activity, and enhanced security.
- When choosing the right community, consider factors such as location, amenities, fees, and financial considerations.
- A sale-leaseback can help facilitate the transition to an active adult community by allowing homeowners to sell their house and lease it back, providing financial flexibility and support.
- Grand View Research. U.S. Active Adult (55+) Community Market Size, Share & Trends Analysis Report By Gender (Women, Men), And Segment Forecasts, 2022 – 2030. https://www.grandviewresearch.com/industry-analysis/us-active-adult-community-market