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What are the pros & cons of 55+ communities?

Decide if these communities are right for you

As you get closer to retirement age, you may be thinking of downsizing, moving to a warmer climate, or finding a place that will fit your lifestyle as an active senior.

Buying a home in a 55 and over community is one way to do these things. Before you make your decision, consider these advantages and disadvantages.

What is a 55 and over community?

These communities are similar to other residential developments except they have an age requirement that at least one of the people living in the home needs to be 55 or older.

These residential communities are designed to be friendly to seniors with low maintenance amenities such as pools and clubhouses, and close proximity to shopping, restaurants, and attractions.

What are the pros of a 55+ community?

  • Like-minded people. Since there are age requirements, many people living there are likely to be from your generation and share your interests. This will help making new friends easier.
  • Activities & events. Many of these communities have a clubhouse where you can find social events, games, movies, concerts, speakers, and more. These activities are usually open to the whole community, so you can participate in as many as you want.
  • Less maintenance. You’ll need to pay an HOA fee for the maintenance and repairs, but you won’t need to worry about managing the outside of your property. The fee could also include services such as trash collection, cable, water, and security.
  • Various amenities. Many of these communities have a pool, gym, tennis courts, golf, game room, and more.
  • Transportation. Some communities offer shuttles to shopping centers or health appointments.
  • Quiet, kid-free environment. Besides holidays when grandchildren can come to visit, most of these communities are quiet.
  • Safety and security. Many of these communities are gated with low crime rates. They also have security staff, well-lit areas, updated fire alarms, smoke detectors, and other safety features.

What are the cons of a 55+ community?

  • Lack of diversity. Since at least one household member typically needs to be over 55, most of the people in the community will be your age or older.
  • Less privacy. Most of these communities are apartment-style or houses that are close together. Since many residents may be retired, your neighbors may have more time to see what you are doing.
  • Costs can add up. Lots of amenities are benefits but the fees to pay for them can be expensive. Make sure you can afford the total monthly cost of the home.
  • No health care. These communities are considered "aging at home" so they do not offer assisted living or health care facilities. If you need medical care, you will have to contract with your own homecare provider.
  • Harder to sell. Because of the age requirement, you typically aren’t able to sell your home to a willing younger buyer.
  • Younger family members might be restricted. Many communities restrict younger family members from using the property unless one of the owners is present. If you are buying the home as a second or vacation property, this may limit how your family can use it.

Before you buy, make a list of other questions and ask the HOA for answers. Get a copy of the HOA rules and fees, and make sure you understand them before you make your decision!

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