For couples considering a move to an age-restricted community, the number of choices is larger than ever before. Interest in age-restricted communities is strong. In fact, according to Next Avenue’s article “How to Choose a 55+ Active Adult Community,” builder interest in these communities hasn’t been this robust since 2008.

How can you determine which is the best for you?

There are small, city-based apartment complexes, single family houses on gated golf courses and mammoth communities with more than 9,000 residents. Many are owned by their occupants, but an increasing number are rentals. At least one of the owners or occupants must usually be at least 55.

You’ll need to know exactly what you can afford. In addition to rent or a mortgage payment, most communities have a homeowner’s association or community fee. They can be around a hundred dollars a month or more.

While some communities have restaurants on site, fees don’t cover meals or health care. The monthly fees go towards maintenance of facilities and general exterior care, like lawn care, snow removal and community facilities, like a club house or a pool.

Run the numbers to be sure the costs of a new home will work with your retirement budget.

How active is the community? Some communities have club houses, organized activities, and busy social schedules. Some take big trips, like cruises, with residents. Others have few structured activities. Take a look at the schedule—if everything looks like fun, then you’re looking at the right place.

What about your changing needs? You may arrive in the community as a healthy young retiree, but over time your needs will change. Does the home feature “universal design” that will be manageable as you age? This includes no-step entries, single-floor living, wider hallways to accommodate wheelchairs and a walk-in shower.

Take a look outside of the community as well. Are there things that you want to do in the area, like bicycling, shopping, visiting a museum or seeing a live performance? If travelling is important, how far is the community from major highways or an airport? For many retirees, living near a college community is an added boost for the ability to audit classes and attend shows, lectures and festivals.

Another way to future-proof your retirement home is considering where your children and grandchildren are living. Today’s retirees aren’t necessarily looking for golf courses and tennis courts. They want to be near family, and that often means moving to where their children live. Some couples wait to make relocation decisions, until they know that their children are staying put.

Reference: Next Avenue (June 12, 2019) “How to Choose a 55+ Active Adult Community”