Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Top Over-55 Communities in U.S.

Although many people decide to stay in their current homes when they retire, others choose to move into private, age-restricted retirement communities.  These over-55 communities, which now exist throughout the United States, must comply with federal guidelines and may have additional special requirements of their own.  For many retirees and those who are nearing retirement age, life in an over-55 community can seem like a dream come true.  Some people even describe them as "summer camps for adults."

What to Expect in an Over-55 Community

The amenities in over-55 communities vary, depending on the location.  They nearly all have swimming pools, exercise facilities, meeting rooms and art studios.  Many of them have golf courses and tennis courts.  Some have more unique facilities such as fishing lakes, hiking trails, garden centers or equestrian facilities.

Over-55 communities are NOT skilled nursing or assisted living facilities.  The people who live in these communities are able to live independently.  The properties may consist of single-family homes, attached homes, townhouses, condominiums, apartments or a combination.  No matter how the housing is designed, the communities are full of people who want to remain active and involved in a variety of physical, social, artistic and intellectual activities for as long as possible ... years before they are ready for assisted living.

Some people are able to remain in their over-55 communities well into their 90's, especially if they avail themselves of private or community help in the form of caregivers, meals-on-wheels, taxi vouchers and other assistance that makes it possible for them to remain in their private homes.

However, not everyone in an an over-55 community is elderly.  Only one person in the home needs to actually be age 55 or older.  Their spouse can be any age, so it is not unusual to see a wide range of adults living in these communities.  Children under the age of 18 are not allowed to live in the home permanently, although they can enjoy visiting their grandparents, even for a few weeks, in most cases.

Which Over-55 Communities are Ranked the Highest?

The list below shows the top choices from the website 55Places.com.  All of the communities listed below are well worth checking out. Of course, everyone should thoroughly investigate any community before moving there.

Even if a community is not listed below, but it is in a town where you would like to live, you should look it up online and personally visit it.  New communities are being built continually and many established ones are very nice, even if they did not make it onto the "top" community lists.


Recent Recommendations by 55Places.com

The Villages - The Villages, FL
Sun City Hilton Head - Bluffton, SC
On Top of the World - Ocala, FL
Sun City Summerlin - Las Vegas, NV
Solivita - Kissimmee, FL
Sun City Carolina Lakes - Ft. Mill, SC
Sun City Huntley - Huntley, IL
Sun City Texas - Georgetown, TX
Laguna Woods Village - Laguna Woods, CA
Sun City Center - Sun City Center, FL

You'll notice that the communities mentioned above include locations in Florida, South Carolina, Illinois, Nevada, Texas and California ... giving retirees options from coast-to-coast.  The communities have also been built by a variety of developers.


Websites to Help You Learn More About Over-55 Communities

There are several websites that list the over-55 communities in every state.  People who are looking for a community will want to read the reviews on these websites, look up the community's website and do additional research, including paying a visit to the locations they are considering.  They will also want to compare several communities that interest them.  Lower in this article you will find a list of questions you should ask.

In addition, it is important to do a Google search on the community to see if people have posted anything negative online about it.  Nearly every community will have some detractors.  However, it is smart to know the potential problems before you fall in love with a location and then discover that it is in a part of Florida where sinkholes are common or in a part of Arizona where water shortages are becoming an issue.

The websites below will help you find a variety of over-55 communities in the states that interest you:

http://www.bestguide-retirementcommunities.com/
https://www.55places.com/
http://www.retirenet.com/top100/
http://www.privatecommunities.com/private-active-adult-communities.htm
http://www.boomerplaces.com/live/

What to Know When Considering an Over-55 Community

When investigating different retirement communities, you may discover that some locations mentioned on the sites above are not actually age-restricted communities.  Make sure you understand whether you are reading about an actual over-55 community or simply a subdivision that is open to anyone, but is especially popular with retirees. 

Occasionally, you may see lists that recommend small towns and neighborhoods that are very appealing to retirees.  Frequently, these neighborhoods have a large number of retired residents, but they also have residents in all age groups.  It is important to know whether or not the community you are looking at is age-restricted.  There are advantages and disadvantages to both, but there are differences in what you can expect in the form of amenities in each kind of neighborhood.  You want to know what to expect, especially if you are traveling a large distance to visit the location.

Questions to Ask When Visiting an Over-55 Community

Another issue you need to consider are the size of the homeowner's dues and which amenities are included or discounted for residents.  For example, if you are comparing two communities and you like to play golf, you will want to know if the cost of playing golf is included as part of your homeowner's dues in the communities that interest you.  If not, are the golf course fees discounted?

What about other activities such as exercise or art classes?  Are they free or low cost?   You will also want to know which home maintenance costs are covered ... exterior painting, grass mowing, and similar services, for example. Prospective residents need to look at the total cost of living in their new community in order to fairly compare them and so they can be sure they will be able to afford to live there for the rest of their lives.  Some newer Sun Belt communities even include solar panels in the purchase price.  That can save the buyer a substantial amount of money each month, especially in hot climates.

You will also want to consider the amenities that are available nearby, but outside the community.  Is there a college in the area that offers interesting, low-cost classes for senior citizens?  If your new community does not have a golf course of its own, are there affordable ones within a short drive?  Are there a variety of restaurants?  Are there stores or a mall within a reasonable distance?  How far will you need to drive to buy groceries?  Is there bus or taxi service available, should it become difficult for you to drive?  How far away is the nearest hospital?  Will you be able to find the types of entertainment that you enjoy ... movie theaters, live theater, sports venues, museums, etc.?

You will also want to know if there are any special rules for residents, such as financial requirements, or restrictions on visits by grandchildren.

Once you have considered all the above items, you should be able to narrow down the choices and find the best over-55 community for you!

If you are interested in more information about where to retire, financial planning, common medical issues, Social Security, Medicare and other common retirement issues, use the tabs or pull down menu at the top of the page to find links to hundreds of additional articles.

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

Photo credit:  Photo of Laguna Woods Village golf course taken by author, Deborah Dian

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