Are retirement communities worth the cost?


As we age, we begin to need more and more help with tasks that we have always done on our own. At the same time, we can find ourselves a little isolated as the children leave the house and we lose contact with old friends. Retirement communities are a way to get the help you need while having plenty of opportunities to socialize with your neighbors.

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Typically, these are 55+ communities that will have you living in a communal setting, such as an apartment or condo. These communities allow you to reduce your lifestyle and in some cases the costs may be lower.

But the choice to move into a retirement community is not necessarily obvious. Like most decisions in life, there are pros and cons, and there are also costs to consider. Be sure to keep all of these things in mind before deciding what to do.

Affordability

While cost isn’t the only consideration when moving to a retirement community, it’s often one of the first things that comes to mind. Staying in a retirement community can be affordable, but it can also be expensive. The cost can vary greatly depending on factors such as the type of community and its location.

Costs in retirement communities may be lower than other lifestyles, but it depends on the type of community. For example, luxury retirement communities are usually more expensive than your typical community. If you need to live in an assisted living facility, it will likely cost more than an independent living community.

Where you live can also make a big difference. Retirement communities are much cheaper, on average, in states like South Dakota and Minnesota than in states like Maryland and Massachusetts. This is according to data from SeniorHomes.com. The national average monthly cost is $2,432 based on this data.

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There is even more to think about in terms of cost. Retirement communities may have HOA fees, and some have one-time move-in fees. Make sure you are aware of all fees in advance.

Finally, if you are enrolled in Medicaid, this could cover some of the costs. However, not all types of installations are covered in all states and restrictions apply. Check with your state to find out what is covered.

Approvals

Retirement communities can have a variety of amenities, depending on the type of community. There are more than 55 retirement communities, assisted living facilities, retirement homes, co-living communities for the elderly, etc.

However, some of the amenities you may find in your retirement community include:

  • art lessons
  • fitness classes
  • Basketball courts, volleyball, etc.
  • swimming pools
  • Fitness centers
  • Golf course
  • Dog parks

These are just a few examples, but there are countless amenities that can be included. Of course, retirement communities with a higher monthly cost will tend to have a wider range of amenities.

Socialize with neighbors

One of the biggest benefits of living in a retirement community is the ability to get to know your neighbors. Transitioning to the later stages of life can be difficult, especially if you are naturally outgoing. You may have lost most of the social circles you once had, and if you have children, they may have already moved on, leaving your home empty.

Fortunately, retirement communities often offer plenty of opportunities to socialize with your neighbors. “From a community perspective, look to see what events, gatherings and services they have that bring people together,” says Jay Zigmont, founder of Childfree Wealth. “Some communities offer communal meals, entertainment, and more,” Zigmont says.

Zigmont also mentioned that these opportunities are great if you’re a people person, but not everyone fits that mold. “If you’re pretty introverted and won’t participate, the community may not add value (and may actually take away what you want),” he said.

Safety and security

Safety is a concern regardless of your age. The good news is that retirement communities are often set up in a way that makes them safe. For example, they can be closed and allow only authorized guests to enter the premises. Compared to living in a neighborhood, you can generally feel safer with this setup.

Medical care

Meeting medical needs can be a plus or a minus for retirement communities, depending on what they offer and the extent of your needs. As with other types of services, there are different levels of care for different types of facilities. For example, assisted living facilities and nursing homes offer daily care to those who need it.

Other types of facilities may not have medical personnel on site, but may provide transportation to nearby medical facilities. Generally, you will pay more for more extensive care. So while some types of retirement communities may not provide the level of care you need, the costs in those communities may also be lower.

Advantages and disadvantages

We’ve gone through some of the pros and cons of retirement communities. Here is a brief overview of the pros and cons:

Advantages

  • Cost of living can be lower than living alone
  • Some offer lots of amenities
  • Allows you to socialize with neighbors
  • Can be very safe
  • Some have medical staff on site

The inconvenients

  • There may be unexpected charges, such as an HOA
  • Lack of age diversity
  • Houses can be smaller than detached houses

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This article originally appeared on GOBankingRates.com: Are retirement communities worth the cost?

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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