August 22, 2017

Finding A Retirement Community

If you’re at a point in life where you feel a retirement community would be a good fit for your living needs, the process of finding the right community can seem daunting.  You might wonder, “Are they all the same?”  The answer is definitely no!  Think of it as finding the right neighborhood for your lifestyle and you’ll be off to a good start.  Just as your living needs change over time as you marry, start a family, raise children, and see your children off to start lives of their own, after retirement your idea of the perfect home can certainly change.  When you start to look at retirement communities, it’s best to ask a lot of questions so you can learn which would be the best fit for your lifestyle.

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One important consideration is the age of the other residents in a retirement community.  If you are in your mid-50s and the current residents’ ages average in the mid-80s, you may want to keep looking.  The types of activities offered in the community can give you a good idea of the habits of your potential neighbors.  Is there a focus on physical activities, or more sedentary hobbies?

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Visit a community several times and look closely at the little things.  Is the community well maintained, open, and friendly?  Facilities should be tidy and clean and residences should look as if they have been cared for and kept updated.  The community should look neat but not be uncomfortably restrictive on details.  For example, everyone may be required to have the same mailbox or keep their yard maintained within certain guidelines but be able to plant the flowers they love best or keep a vegetable garden.

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You should also ask yourself if a specific community will encourage you to stay active and young or will contribute to a slower, more isolated lifestyle.  With this in mind, consider if the community is close to your family and friends or other favorite places.  Will you still be able to easily pursue your favorite hobbies or live with a cherished pet?  Does the community sponsor a wide variety of events, activities, and social opportunities that appeal to you?  When you visit, do your potential neighbors seem friendly or reserved?  If the feeling of a community isn’t right for you, keep looking!

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If you plan to have grandchildren visit often, it’s a good idea to ask about a retirement community’s policies regarding children.  Some places limit the amount of time children can stay with residents or may not have facilities where children can play and keep themselves entertained.  A community that tends to cater to residents who prefer peace and quiet over the pitter-patter of little feet may not be right for doting grandparents.

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While none of us like to think of the days when we may not be totally independent, it’s important to look far down the road when choosing a retirement community.  Try to find a balance between having your wants and needs met today as well as twenty or thirty years down the road.  Does the community have resources to help seniors get around once they are no longer able to drive?  Are the homes or apartments going to be accessible to you in the future if your mobility is decreased?  What other facilities or features does the community offer to those residents who are older and need a bit more assistance?  It is important to think long-term when selecting a retirement community.

Last, but not least, be sure you are aware of all costs associated with a retirement community.  Most retirees live on a fixed income; knowing what monthly expenses to expect is very important.  Don’t assume your association dues cover all of the perks!  Activities and classes may be extra or some fees may be in addition to regular dues.  Make sure to read all of the details and speak to other residents in order to avoid surprises down the road.

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