Retirement Communities: The Definitive Guide to 55+ Communities

55 plus communities

Have you been thinking about moving to a retirement community? Then be sure to read this article, which is (in our humble opinion) the definitive guide on 55+ communities. And no, this won’t be some boring, textbook-style review of 55 plus communities that talks to you like you’re a “senior” or something.

 “Ugh! If only people could get that word out of their vocabulary!” you think to yourself.

What's the Deal with 55 Plus Communities?

NEWS FLASH: You’re not the only one who feels this way. I mean, for one, you’re no senior. If you’re anything like your peers, you live an active, exciting and fulfilling lifestyle.

One where new experiences, travel or doing the things you love, with the people you love most, is what matters. It’s called living the lifestyle you deserve now; the one you rightfully have earned.

That’s what makes us so excited to tell you about today’s 55 plus communities. In fact, we’re about to educate and enlighten you on what you must know about 55+ communities. Before you make any decision, read this article!

Searching for a community to call home? Find out The 10 Best 55+ Communities in the United States.

The Truth About Retirement Communities

In order to know the truth about 55 and over communities, you must do your research. It’s your decision on where to live and how to live; therefore, like any big decision it’s wise to study the subject in-depth before making your move.

To begin, we’re going to briefly discuss what are 55+ communities and then look at the pros and cons of retirement communities. After that, we’ll cover frequently asked questions about 55 and older communities and talk about how to select the right community.

Definition of 55+ Communities

Retirement communities are places where people age 55 and older can live. Typically, the homes, community amenities and lifestyle activities are designed with the person over 55 in mind.

What are the Pros and Cons of Living in a 55+ Community?

Want to know the pros and cons of 55 and over communities?

Empty-nesters and those on the edge of retirement or recently retired make up a large portion of the age-restricted retirement community home buyer market. Therefore, it’s no surprise that developers have altered their design and overall approach when building or updating 55 plus communities.

People today have so many choices on where to live. You’re part of a generation that’s more active, healthier and wealthier than any previous generation. Which often means you have high standards and expectations about the place you reside.

Explore further to discover the pros and cons of living in a 55 and over community. First, we’ll start with learning about the benefits. Dive in!

Benefits of Living in a 55+ Community

One of the most common questions asked is: What are the benefits of living in a 55+ community?

  • Active Lifestyles: On-site sports and hobbies such as golf courses, pickleball, tennis, swimming, hiking and biking.
  • Amenities and Clubhouses: Fitness centers, resort-style pools, spas, clubhouses and country clubs.
  • Secure Gated Communities: Many communities are gated with secure entrances for safety and privacy.
  • Social Groups and Friendships: Get social by joining any number of groups and clubs found in the community.
  • Age Qualification: Move to a place where you’re surrounded by similar-aged and like-minded people.

55 communities

Active Lifestyles

World-class golf courses, dance classes, tennis and pickleball courts, and social clubs make these communities thriving epicenters of activity and create enriched lifestyles for retirees and pre-retirees. Miles of walking and biking paths and access to outdoor nature and recreation in state parks makes life even sweeter and healthier for you.

Secure Gated Communities

Many communities are gated with secure entrances for safety and privacy. When searching for a 55 plus community, look for those that offer a low-maintenance lifestyle in a secure neighborhood. Gated communities are always a good place to start your search. Here you often find a close-knit atmosphere where people are proud to live and respect the neighborhood.

Social Groups and Friendships

Get social and make new friendships by joining any number of groups and clubs found in the community. There are travel clubs, workout groups, hobby workshops and learning opportunities to get involved in.

You will meet a new group of people of similar age and many with the same interests and hobbies. When you live in a retirement community, you will have access to new people to golf with, play tennis with, or simply enjoy a meal and light conversation.

regency in summerlin nv clubhouse

Amenities and Clubhouses

Live like you’re on vacation when surrounded by resort-style swimming pools with sunbathing areas, state-of-the-art fitness centers and lavish clubhouses. Living here you can benefit from amenities designed to promote physical health, social interaction and fun.

Age Qualification

Age-restricted active adult communities often limit membership to the 55 years or older population, so you’ll live among like-minded people of similar age and interests. Social connections can enrich your lifestyle and you’ll have plenty of opportunities to meet with other people and share interests such as golf, travel, dining, tennis, pickleball, cards, social groups, etc.

Plus, you won’t have the interruptions that younger communities have and no loud music to keep you up at night. The age restriction gives residents peace of mind and a quieter setting to live in.

Problems With Over 55 Communities

We’d be remiss if we didn’t discuss the problems with living in over 55 communities. Nothing’s perfect, and age-qualified retirement communities do have some flaws. Here are four drawbacks to consider.

HOA Fees

Always wondered what are HOA fees? A Home Owner Association (HOA) fee is collected typically on a monthly or quarterly basis and goes toward maintaining and improving the community.

HOA fees are frequently brought up when weighing whether or not to live in a 55 and over community. Most communities charge a monthly or quarterly fee, which can range from under $100/month to over $500/month in high-end luxury retirement communities, to help pay for services and improvements for residents.

Homes Can Be More Expensive

Some people are surprised when they start looking at 55+ communities and see that non-age-qualified homes can be less expensive. This can usually be traced back to the old adage: location, location, location! In life you often get what you pay for. Homes are oftentimes built by award-winning developers and home builders on valuable pieces of land. Combined with added amenities and luxuries like clubhouses, pools, golf courses, parks and courts exclusive to the community, you can see why the real estate can be more expensive.

Neighbors are Less Diverse in Age

Retirement communities may not be the best choice for those who like to experience life around all ages and enjoy interacting with younger neighbors. In retirement communities you’re surrounded mostly by people in your age group. However, this doesn’t mean you can’t have friends and family come to visit!

Stigma of Moving into a Retirement Community

Let’s face it, some people still think of 55 plus communities as stuffy places where senior citizens live together. That’s not really the case anymore. What they’re probably thinking of are senior living centers or assisted living. Very much different from active adult retirement community living. Nonetheless, when people first hear about you considering moving to a retirement community, some may feel the need to question your decision.

55 and older communities

Where Are the Best 55+ Communities?

Top states for 55+ communities include Arizona, Florida, California and Nevada. Several of the most popular cities and areas for retirement communities include Phoenix, Orlando, Las Vegas and Palm Springs.

10 of the Best 55+ Communities

  • Sun City Anthem – Henderson, NV
  • Latitude Margaritaville – Daytona Beach, FL
  • Sun City West – Phoenix, AZ
  • Robson Ranch – Phoenix, AZ
  • Sun City Summerlin – Las Vegas, NV
  • On Top of the World – Ocala, FL
  • Sun City Shadow Hills – Palm Springs, CA
  • The Villages – Central Florida
  • Sun City Texas – Georgetown, TX
  • Regency at Summerlin – Las Vegas, NV

Frequently Asked Questions About 55+ Communities

Should I live in a 55+ community?

Only you can make this decision and determine what's right for you. That said, deciding to live in a 55+ community can mean joining the new generation of active adults who are choosing age-restricted communities in part because of their gated neighborhoods, quality homes and resort-style amenities.

Can I live in a 55+ community if I'm younger than 55?

What many don't know about age-restricted communities is that there's some flexibility with age of residents. The typical guideline followed is the 80/20 rule, where at least 80 percent of homes in the community must have at least one person aged 55 and older. That means some younger residents can be allowed, generally on a case-by-case basis. Be sure to check with the community you select to verify what their rules are.

Can a child live in a 55+ community?

It depends. There are 55+ communities that allow residents over the age of 18 to live in the community, if at least one person living in the home is over the age of 55. Not all communities allow kids to live with you, so it's best to check with your real estate agent or the community directly about your child living with you.

What's the rule on visitors?

Retirement communities generally welcome visiting friends and family, with few exceptions in cases of long duration stay or closing certain amenities to underage visitors, such as an adult-only pool. Each community may set its own guidelines on length of stay however, which can affect people who plan on having children or grandchildren visit for extended periods of time.

What's the difference between senior living centers and 55+ communities?

  • 55+ Communities: For anyone ages 55 and up who want to live independently in a home, condo, townhome or an apartment.
  • Assisted Living: For people who need daily assistance with personal care.
  • Memory Care: For people who have cognitive impairment and need living assistance.
  • Nursing Homes: For people that need skilled nursing care services and frequent healthcare aid.

Are 55+ communities a good investment?

In many cases, yes. 55+ communities can be good investments for home buyers or investors who buy in the right location at a fair price and allow time for appreciation to occur. But remember there's no such thing as a "sure thing" when investing money. Be sure to work with an experienced real estate professional who understands your goals and risk tolerance.

How to Choose a 55+ Active Adult Retirement Community

So, you’ve made up your mind that 55+ active adult retirement communities are right for you. That’s great, congratulations! The benefits of living in these communities can definitely outweigh living in a typical neighborhood for many.

But when it comes time to determine the best 55 plus community for you, there are several aspects you must look into and decide if it works for you. Then be sure to take your time and tour a variety of 55+ communities to help make your decision.

What to look for in a 55+ Community?

  • Community Location
  • Home Types & Prices
  • HOA Fees
  • Activities & Amenities
  • Rules & Regulations
  • Healthcare Options
  • Overall Lifestyle

Ready to Find Your 55+ Retirement Community?

There you have it. The definitive guide to 55 plus communities. Whew! We made it. Now it’s time to figure out what’s next.

If you’ve ever wanted to retire in a place where there’s amazing retirement communities, hot sun and lots of fun (yup, we said it), consider Las Vegas.

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