Buying a house in a 55+ community


If you’re getting older and hoping to live among people at a similar life stage, you might be considering looking at 55+ communities. These types of home developments, also often referred to as “active adult communities,” are specifically designed for people 55 or older and typically offer plenty of amenities, activities, and opportunities for socializing.

The phenomenon of communities aged 55 and over is gaining popularity as the population, and particularly the baby boomer generation, ages. According to the Census Bureau, the population of older adults in the United States is growing by leaps and bounds, growing by more than 34% — or nearly 14 million people — in the last decade alone. Curious about life in a community of 55 and over? We have all the details for you.

What is a 55+ community?

Simply put, a 55+ or working adult community is a residential neighborhood in which the vast majority of residents are 55 or older. They are often planned communities that are built specifically for older residents. Some offer residents the option of renting or buying, depending on their preference. They can also be organized around particular interests, such as golf or hiking.

There are many types of 55+ communities at different price points. Some are designed for active lifestyles and others are created for those who need a little more help – some even have different units or areas to accommodate both. Most of these communities have aging in mind in their minds.

“Most people will have health issues at some point where the design of the home will directly impact their ability to move around,” says Rob Krohn, vice president of marketing for Epcon Communities, which develops more than 55 communities across the United States. and showers, grab bars, wide, wheelchair-accessible hallways, single-story design – these are all things that are available in our homes. Although our buyers may not need it today, the goal is to provide them with a home that will allow them to age in place for as long as they can.

Typical housing types

You can find just about every type of home in over 55 communities, from apartments and townhouses to single-family homes, even RV parks. Some developments focus on just one type of accommodation, while others have multiple options. Different types of housing within the same community can provide residents with the flexibility to move to more supported spaces as they age, if necessary.

These developments can also vary in size, from relatively small to massive. For example, Epcon communities tend to have only 60-150 homes. “I like to refer to them as bed and breakfast communities rather than cruise ships,” Krohn says. “Some people like cruise ships, where there are hundreds or thousands of people, they have cruise directors with lots of planned activities, and you are more anonymous. Others like bed and breakfasts, which are more intimate and provide more connection between the people who live there.

Typical amenities

Amenities for 55+ communities vary, but there’s usually plenty to enjoy. Some of the most common offers include:

  • Maintenance and Safety
  • Housekeeping and laundry services
  • Community Clubhouses
  • Exercise facilities, such as gymnasiums, swimming pools, tennis courts, golf courses, and walking paths
  • Organized activities
  • On-site restaurants or meal services
  • On-site medical care or assistance

Are communities over 55 hard to reach?

Being 55 or older does not mean you can buy from any 55+ community you choose. Each has specific rules and regulations, usually administered by a homeowners association (HOA). You will need to ensure that you meet all the requirements of the specific community in which you wish to live.

Then you’ll likely have to go through an application process – and in some of the most sought-after communities, the competition can be fierce. It’s best to find a real estate agent who has experience buying homes in active adult communities, or even the one you’re targeting. They will know how to work within the rules and regulations of the community, and they may know of other communities that might also meet your needs.

If you want to buy in a new construction community, contact the builder to find out how to apply for a spot. For rental communities, contact the rental office for available units and application requirements.

Do you have to be retired to live there?

No, you don’t have to be retired to live in a 55+ community. Restrictions relate to age, not employment status.

Can your children inherit your home if they are not yet 55?

Each community has different rules regarding this delicate situation. The Elderly Housing Act of 1995 requires communities 55 and older to have at least 80% of their residents age 55 or older. This means that 20% of residents could, hypothetically, be younger than that. Some communities over 55 may allow children to inherit a house in their community, but it is up to each community to decide. If you are unsure of the rules for a specific neighborhood, speak to a community representative or attorney to help you figure it out.

Advantages and disadvantages of living in a 55+ community

A community of adults 55 or older can be a great option for mature buyers. However, the lifestyle may not be suitable for everyone. Here are some advantages and disadvantages of living in these communities.

Advantages

  • Neighbors at a similar life stage: Being a resident of a 55+ community means that most of your neighbors are 55 or older. So you can be sure that you will have at least as much in common with your fellow citizens – and probably more.
  • Amenities and socialization: Regardless of the type of development, from luxury resort to RV park, more than 55 communities are designed to meet the needs of older residents. Most have a range of amenities to enhance the lives of their residents, including indoor and outdoor fitness facilities, organized activities and clubs, and often entertainment and dining options.
  • Peace and quiet: Without children or young families in the neighborhood, your neighborhood will inevitably feel calmer and calmer.

The inconvenients

  • HOA fees and other costs: It’s convenient to have many services and amenities in your neighborhood, but it can be very expensive. The fees associated with working adult communities can be high, often costing thousands of dollars a month.
  • Lots of rules: Like any HOA-run community, these developments usually come with strict rules to follow, ranging from the appearance of a home’s exterior to specific quiet times. If you prefer the freedom to live without such restrictions, this lifestyle might not be for you.
  • Lack of diversity: People who enjoy living with other people like themselves will enjoy the 55+ lifestyle. People who like to be surrounded by more age and lifestyle diversity probably won’t.

At the end of the line

Living in a 55+ community can be a great option for people in this age range. If you are considering any of these communities, do your research to determine which locations and amenities are best for you. “Find out what’s out there, where the communities are, what house designs are on offer, and how much the houses can cost,” says Krohn. “But that’s just the beginning. You have to go out and visit communities, enter homes, talk to employees. It’s also a good idea to find a real estate agent with experience in the communities you’re interested in.

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