Monday, 26 August 2019

It's time to downsize, and you're exploring your options.

You could sell the family home and move to something a bit smaller. Or you could decide to dive right into senior living and purchase a home in a 55+ community, which are also called active-adult, age-restricted, or age-qualified communities.

The smaller space and minimal upkeep of a home in an active-adult community may sound very appealing. But you might be nervous about a hefty homeowner's association (HOA) fee and your ability to resell the home if you want or need to move.

Downsizing can be a challenge at any age. Here are some pros and cons of active adult communities to help you make the best possible decision about this very important move.

What is a 55+ Community?

As the name implies, 55+ communities are neighborhoods of homes owned exclusively by individuals and couples age 55 and older. Depending on the community, housing options may include detached single-family homes, garden homes, condominiums and even apartments.

These communities may offer enhanced security, minimal maintenance and numerous amenities, such as walking trails, community centers, exercise facilities, golf courses and more. Many even have full-time activity directors and offer a packed calendar of programs and events for residents.

Some of these communities may be connected to facilities providing a continuum of care for residents. These are typically called continuing care retirement or life plan communities.

The Pros of 55+ Communities

Minimal maintenance

While all communities are different, in many cases homeowners are responsible for the upkeep of their home, but the grounds and other maintenance is typically covered by HOA fees. This ensures the neighborhood remains well maintained, and homeowners have the time to enjoy their well-earned leisure years.

Plenty of activities and amenities

As mentioned previously, amenities are one of the main attractions of these age-qualified communities and are designed to promote active, engaged and healthy lifestyles.

Quiet neighborhood

If you enjoy watching the kids ride their bikes on the sidewalks or young mothers strolling with their babies, a 55+ neighborhood is not for you. These communities are reserved for empty nesters who want to live among other empty nesters.

Instant community

Again, because you'll be living with similarly aged people, the idea is you'll have an instant community of neighbors with common interests. Activities are designed to bring neighbors together and support the growth of relationships and social bonds.

The Cons of 55+ Communities

HOA Fees and HOAs

Many planned communities have HOAs and HOA fees, and most active-adult communities fall into this category. These fees, as well as other costs associated with living in a 55+ community, can make this type of living very expensive. What's more, HOAs can be restrictive, dictating everything from what color you can paint your home to what types of holiday decorations you can display.

Restrictions on reselling

As with any home, it's important to make sure your purchase is a sound investment. Obviously, in communities like these, you would only be able to sell to other 55+ individuals or couples. There might also be some additional restrictions that could make reselling your home challenging.

Lack of diversity

If you enjoy living among like-age and often like-minded folks, these types of communities could be an excellent fit. However, if you prefer to be surrounded by a diverse group of neighbors, you could find a 55+ community a bit limited. In addition, these communities are frequently built on the outskirts of metropolitan areas, which could make it difficult to stay engaged with the energy and diversity of city life.

Too much socializing

If you're looking for quiet and privacy, an active adult community might not be for you. As mentioned before, these communities are designed to be active, friendly and social neighborhoods. If movie nights, yoga on the green and pot luck dinners aren't your thing, an active-adult community might not be either.

Still not sure?

Downsizing is a big, life-changing step. It makes sense to do extensive research and investigating before making a decision. If possible, it could also be a good idea to rent a home or apartment in a 55+ community to truly determine if the lifestyle is right for you.

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