Tuesday, September 6, 2011

How to Qualify to Move into a Retirement Community

Over-55 communities have their own rules and requirements. Once Baby Boomers decide that they want to move into one, they have to find out if they are qualified. My husband and I discovered that there are strict rules that are set by federal law, although individual communities can have additional rules that they impose.

Senior communities are the only type of real estate discrimination allowed under federal law. Although age discrimination is allowed in these communities, the communities still must follow the requirements regarding discrimination against people on the basis of race, religion, sexual orientation, and disability. Below are the primary requirements that we had to meet before we could move into our home in Laguna Woods Village, the retirement community that 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

One of the residents 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 can also have a roommate who is at least 45 years of age. (No wonder some of those women in my community look so much better than 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.

If a resident has an adult child who is mentally or physically disabled, they 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 here 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 in a year. Because of this, some couples have moved to our 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 no problem.  I highly recommend that the college age student behave in a low-key, respectful manner while in your community.  Otherwise, your neighbors may start looking for any infraction that could cause your child to be kicked out.

Our Experience with the Retirement Community Qualifications

We were pleased to know that we met all these requirements. As a matter of fact, when we moved in, we did have a daughter who was a senior in college. I guess moving to an over-55 community was one way of keeping her from moving back in with us full-time after she graduated!

We've also had grandchildren visit for a few weeks in the summer. We love it, and our neighbors seem to enjoy having children around occasionally, too.

Personally, we 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.

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.

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

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