Retirement Communities

4/5/2022 | By Megan Mullen

Finding the best living options for your senior years can be quite a maze to navigate. But when you also need affordable senior living options for a tight budget, the search gets even trickier. An awareness of the options can help you reach the center of that maze and find the best possible housing arrangement for your financial needs and your lifestyle.

Do you need all the frills?

Start your journey to find affordable senior living options by looking at the amenities offered by high-end senior living communities. Then, ask yourself if you really need or even want all of those extras. They’re pretty awesome, but so is flying first class. If there are amenities you like, ask yourself if you can achieve them without the comprehensive packaging and pricing.

For example, if you want exercise facilities, you can join a YMCA or similar facility nearby. If you desire prepared meals, consider an inexpensive meal-delivery service (and even services like Meals on Wheels, if your budget is really tight). You can also find services for housecleaning, yard maintenances, and other chores that have become more challenging.

In other words, it can be relatively easy and affordable to meet modest needs without high-end expenses. And if you’re struggling with finances, government programs such as Supplemental Security Income can help with living expenses, food, home energy, and other benefits. Check to see what your state and locality offer.

Affordable senior living options

Alternatives to the more expensive options, like CCRCs (continuous care retirement communities) and resort-style senior living, range from staying at home to lower-frill communities. Some affordable options involve government and nonprofit programs.

Choices include:

Aging in place

Knowing the options for affordable senior living can help you find the best housing arrangements for your financial needs and your lifestyle. couple sitting on bench.

Many seniors simply want to stay in their familiar, comfortable home, with its memories and spirit of independence. If you choose that option, you’ll want to consider the aging part of aging in place by installing grab bars, shower chairs, and other assistive technologies.

If you become less independent, with greater needs, you can hire people to provide a range of care services: companion care, housework, physical and mental health check-ups and assistance, and other types of assistance. It can simultaneously quell lonely feelings and provide practical support.

Adding adult day services to your routine goes a step further by getting you out into the community regularly. You can socialize, receive health check-ups, enjoy hot meals, etc. It also takes a burden off any caregivers at home.

Moving in with family

This option, hiding in plain sight, could work if your family is close. Your retirement income can help with some family expenses, and family members may be in a position to supplement, too. In fact, you might also be able to chip in on household chores such as babysitting, cleaning, gardening, and cooking. But it’s not the right solution for everyone.

Sharing a house or apartment

Perhaps you have room in your home to include a roommate or two – sort of a Golden Girls or Odd Couple concept. Or maybe you can find someone looking for a roommate. In either case, dividing expenses can ease everyone’s burden.

Think of people you know who are single, divorced, or widowed and with whom you get along. It would save both of you money, and you might enjoy the companionship.

Housing co-ops and congregate housing provide other alternatives to less structured shared communities. While co-ops often include residents of all ages (a plus for many people), congregate housing is generally for older adults without children living with them.

Subsidized senior apartments

Older Couple Holding Hands Photo By Ammentorp Dreamstime. Knowing the options for affordable senior living can help you find the best living arrangements for your financial needs and your lifestyle.

With costs increasing for all living arrangements, from mortgages to rental costs, many state, county, city, and nonprofit housing interests have come together to repurpose old or unused facilities, like empty shopping malls, schools, and other larger buildings for low-income seniors.

In one example, Rochester, New York’s PathStone Corporation, in collaboration with the Rochester Regional Health medical and healthcare organization, began converting unused space in the former Medley Centre mall in suburban Irondequoit into one and two-bedroom 55+ apartments as well as a community center.

Although not all senior apartments are this innovative, many have other unique charms.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development offers resources for helping seniors find housing options, from federal housing programs to information on finding affordable rents. In addition, HUD’s Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher program helps low-income families, the elderly, and people with disabilities afford rental housing in the private market. To find HUD housing where you live, check out the HUD guide to U.S. states and territories for specifics.

Megan Mullen

Megan Mullen is a freelance writer, librarian, and former college professor. Senior life is one of her niches (and a personal interest). Megan enjoys using her writing and research skills to create well-crafted web content and other publications.