Tuesday, September 6, 2011

How to Qualify to Move into a Retirement Community

Have you thought about moving to a retirement community.  They can be a lot of fun and are sometimes more affordable than the homes in the surrounding communities.  As a result, they are very appealing to many Baby Boomers and older people. However, do you know if you are qualified to move into one?

Once Baby Boomers decide that they want to move into a senior living community, they have to determine whether or not they are qualified. My husband and I discovered there are strict rules which are set by federal law.  In addition, the individual communities may have additional rules which they impose.

Senior communities are the only type of real estate discrimination which is allowed under federal law. Although age discrimination is allowed in these communities, the communities still must follow federal law regarding discrimination against people on the basis of race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and disability.

Below are the primary requirements we had to meet before we could move into our home in Laguna Woods Village, the retirement community we chose.  The requirements in your community may be slightly different, although generally they will be quite similar.

Typical Qualifications for Living in a Retirement Community

According to federal law, one of the residents in each home must be over the age of 55.  A resident may have a spouse of any age. Apparently, trophy wives and husbands are welcome! In addition, a resident who is at least 55 years old may also have a roommate who is at least 45 years of age. (No wonder some of the women in my community look so young to me!)

A couple or individual may have a live-in caregiver in their home, as long as they have at least two bedrooms in their home or apartment.  In our community, the caregiver also has to be approved by the homeowners' association.  In addition, the caregivers are generally now allowed to use the community amenities, although they are sometimes allowed to participate with their patient in certain activities, since they need to accompany their patient to community events, classes, etc.

If a resident has an adult child who is mentally or physically disabled, that adult child may also be able to live with the residents, if they have the approval of the homeowner's association. I know of at least one mentally challenged woman who lives in our community with her mother. She loves to go to the stables and feed the horses, and sometimes even goes on a trail ride!

Minor children or grandchildren may not live with you, although they can visit for up to 60 days a year. Sometimes couples have moved into our retirement community while they still had a child who was finishing up college. As long as their college age student only visits during school breaks, there is usually no problem.  However, it is recommend that the college age student behave in a low-key, respectful manner while in any senior community.  Otherwise, the neighbors may start looking for any infraction which could cause the child to be kicked out.

Our Experience with the Retirement Community Qualifications

My husband and I were pleased to know we met all these requirements. As a matter of fact, when we moved into our community, we did have a daughter who was a senior in college. Moving into an over-55 community is one way of keeping your adult children from moving back in with you full-time after they graduate from college!

It is also common in our community for residents to have grandchildren visit for a few weeks in the summer. We love it, and our neighbors seem to enjoy having children around occasionally, too.  Our community allows grandchildren to take horseback riding lessons and one of the pools is open to children for a few hours a day.  We also are located just four miles from a beach and are surrounded by parks, so there are plenty of ways to keep visiting grandchildren busy.  Not all retirement communities may be as welcoming to grandchildren, which is something you may want to ask about before you move into one.

In addition to the federal laws, your community may impose additional restrictions on their residents.  For example, our community does a credit check and criminal background check before allowing residents to either purchase or rent a residence in the community.  It also has income and asset requirements as a way to reduce the risk that people will move in and then be unable to pay their HOA dues.
Personally, my husband and I have had no issues with our homeowner's association.  However, the rules could be stricter wherever you live.  You need to check them out thoroughly before making the final decision about whether a specific community will meet your needs.

If you are looking for additional information about where to live when you retire, financial planning, changing family relationships, health problems or more, use the tabs or pull down menu at the top of the page for links to hundreds of additional articles.

You are reading from the blog: http://www.baby-boomer-retirement.com

Photo of Laguna Woods Village Clubhouse taken by author, Deborah-Diane

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