Active Adult Communities

Active adult communities are low-maintenance residences, often found in planned neighborhoods, designed for people at or nearing retirement age. They offer services and amenities aimed at giving residents a more carefree lifestyle. These communities are usually managed by a homeowners’ association.

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What Are Active Adult Communities?

Active adult communities include the various types of low-maintenance residences designed to make life easier for people at or near retirement age. These communities are either age-restricted or age-targeted, and are usually managed by a homeowners’ association (HOA).

Age-restricted neighborhoods limit residents to those aged 55 and older, but the age restriction can vary by community. Age-targeted neighborhoods, on the other hand, cater to a certain demographic, often around age 55. They offer age-targeted amenities, services, and activities, but do not require a minimum age.

These communities are primarily private and located in upscale areas designed and built with active retirees in mind. Though they are typically their own neighborhood, some are within larger planned communities including single family homes while others are part of a Continuing Care Retirement Community campus.

What Do Active Adult Communities Look Like?

Active adult communities are often a neighborhood of single story homes with a variety of amenities and well-groomed landscapes. Many are gated, with security guards and 24-hour surveillance systems, allowing residents to travel for long periods of time without concern of home safety or home maintenance.

Types of homes in these communities can vary in size and price point by neighborhood, and can include one of the following, or a combination of these styles:

  • Sprawling custom-built homes with first floor living
  • Single story cottages
  • Condominiums
  • Duplexes
  • Townhouses with a downstairs master
  • Manufactured homes

They generally offer first floor living, leaving a second story (if there is one) for guest bedrooms. Each unit is designed to be low-maintenance and easy to navigate with open floor plans: the open design of the floor plan is intended to allow for aging in place with wide doorways and accommodations in case mobility needs change over time.

Most neighborhoods are equity based, meaning that these homes are purchased and owned by the resident. There are, however, a few neighborhoods that offer rental options.

Amenities vary by neighborhood, and may include:

  • Swimming pools
  • Golf courses
  • Clubhouses
  • Recreation centers
  • Walking, jogging, and biking paths
  • Pickleball Courts
  • Tennis Courts

In addition to on-campus activities, communities are often located near shopping centers, libraries, hospitals, pharmacies, and churches to foster a walkable lifestyle. Many also offer shuttle buses going to and from shopping areas.

What Is It Like to Live in an Active Adult Community?

Low angle view of a tennis player bending forward to pick the ball

While active adult communities may feel almost resort-like – especially since yardwork isn’t a concern – residents typically maintain their interior spaces, cook their own meals, and run their own errands. Some communities will offer housekeeping and butler services, while others are appropriate for the more price-conscious consumer. Some residents choose to work full- or part-time.

Lifestyle

Without having to worry about yardwork or exterior maintenance, residents have the freedom to pursue their own hobbies and interests. Many communities offer social activities such as:

  • Cooking classes
  • Arts and crafts sessions
  • Book clubs
  • Card tournaments
  • Exercise groups
  • Travel groups

Active adult communities aim to foster a social environment, regularly offering planned social events and gatherings. Many neighborhoods accommodate a variety of communal spaces, which can be made available to residents (though sometimes a small fee will apply). And because these communities are filled with residents of similar lifestyles and interests, friendships often form easily. Furthermore, outside friends and family can come by at any time.

Services

Since active adult communities are designed for the comfort and leisure of their residents, many services related to homeownership are covered in the monthly homeowners’ fee; these are typically higher than a single-family community HOA fee.

The services covered may vary, but generally include:

  • Trash and recycling pickup
  • Exterior home maintenance
  • Lawn care
  • Security and surveillance
  • Cable or satellite TV
  • Wi-Fi
  • Transportation

Cost of Active Adult Communities

The cost of active adult communities can vary greatly among neighborhoods. Similar to conventional real estate, these factors are often based on:

  • Community location
  • Location of the residence within the community
  • Type and size of residence
  • Amenities

Whether accommodations are shared or private

When evaluating whether a neighborhood is a good fit, it may be helpful to review the covenants and historical board meeting minutes. These documents will provide insight to the priorities of the community board, and the culture they are facilitating. Reviewing the financials of their reserve fund and ongoing operating cost may also be insightful.

Questions to Ask When Researching Active Adult Communities

  • Are there a variety of floor plans within the community?
  • What activities and social clubs are available? 
  • What other amenities are offered?
  • Is everything included with the cost, or is there any à la carte pricing?
  • What is the surrounding area like?
  • How close is the community to places you frequent, like church, gym, or family?
  • What is the monthly HOA fee, and what services does it cover?
  • How frequently does the fee schedule increase? Are there any anticipated special assessments planned in the next two years?
  • What is the resale process?

Is an Active Adult Community Right for Me?

Consider the following statements:

  • I am in good health and completely independent
  • I like having my own living space
  • I want a home that’s easier to maintain than where I am now
  • I want to live in a community with people my own age
  • I would like to travel for long stretches of time, and not worry about my home
  • I want to move to make life easier 
  • I want to maintain my comfortable lifestyle
  • I’m comfortable with an upfront fee to invest in my peace of mind
  • It would be refreshing to dine with others on a consistent basis
  • I would like to have hobbies and social gatherings within walking distances

If most or all of the above statements apply to you, then an Active Adult Community may be a good option. You could also consider the following living options:

If you need a bit more help with day-to-day living, some more supportive options may be a good fit for you:

If you need more hands-on care, the following options may be a better fit for you:

Still not sure? Take our Care Assessment to see what care level may be best.


Ready to start the search? Find Active Adult Communities options in your area:

Determine to live your life with flair and laughter.

– Maya Angelou