Active Adult Communities

1/23/2023 | By Terri L. Jones

After moving to a community full of fellow retirees, freelance writer Terri L. Jones questions the pros and cons of age-restricted communities, of living with peers versus younger people, and of limited age diversity..

My husband and I recently moved to a Delaware beach town. Because of the slower pace, lower taxes, and of course, the beach itself, you’ll find lots of retirees living here. In fact, there’s such a dearth of younger people living here that there isn’t a single swing set in our neighborhood, and last year we had no trick-or-treaters on Halloween!

We’re used to living, shopping, and socializing around people of all ages, so naturally, this lack of age diversity feels a little alien to us; but in many ways, it also feels comfortable and effortless. Lately, I’ve been pondering whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing!

Step out of your comfort zone

Living life surrounded by people our own age or older means we’re on an even playing field with those around us. We don’t feel like we can’t keep up – whether at the gym or in conversations about pop culture and technology.

However, even though younger friends may make us feel a little out of touch by comparison, their differences can also help broaden our horizons. For example, we might push harder in that exercise class or google a term or a name to figure out what that person was talking about. In the end, a little embarrassment is worth a lot of growth.

Friend-finding vs. mind-blowing

Older adults testing out a virtual reality headset, with others looking on, including a teenager. All laughing. Simona Pillola. A writer questions the pros and cons of age-restricted communities, of living with peers versus younger people, and of limited age diversity.

As we lose those built-in sources of friendship like school, work, and the bar scene, living in a 55+ community or, like us, a town primarily occupied by seniors gives us access to a much larger pool of friends. Personally, I’ve met a group of about 15 women in a walking group and a few more at my gym, which, over time, I hope to cull down to at least one or two good friends.

But I must admit that I do miss the younger people from my old life, whose tattoos and piercings fascinated me, whose healthy eating styles inspired me, and whose outlooks and opinions enlightened me. They kept life colorful and interesting.

Quiet storm

In my 40s and early 50s, I lived next door to a 20-something couple. Their parties, which they always held on their front porch, kept me up at night. I’d move to the back bedroom and shove in my earplugs. I even called the cops on occasion. In contrast, the quiet of our over-60 bubble is blissful.

However, at least with young neighbors, the conflict is out in the open. In our new community, the rowdiness has been replaced by gossip and passive aggressiveness over whose dogs peed in whose grass and who didn’t bring in their trashcans from the street.

Related: 10 senior living trends to watch

Deliberate diversity

My conclusion to the pros and cons of age-restricted communities is that living amongst our peers definitely has its advantages, but we can – and should – also deliberately seek out interaction and relationships with people of different ages. The inspiration and enlightenment they can offer adds depth to our lives. Who wants to talk about aching shoulders and senior discounts all the time anyway?!

Terri L. Jones

Terri L. Jones has been writing educational and informative topics for the senior industry for over 10 years, and is a frequent and longtime contributor to Seniors Guide.

Terri Jones