Thursday, March 7, 2013

Advantages and Disadvantages of Over 55 Retirement Communities

My husband and I moved to Laguna Woods Village, a popular over 55 retirement community in California, eight years ago and never regretted the decision.  We enjoy the lifestyle, the activities, and the other people we have met since we moved here.  We feel safe, and expect to live in this community, or a similar one, until we are ready for the nursing home!

However, not all of our friends have made the same decision.  In fact, when I mention to them how much we enjoy living in our community, they are often adamant that they would never consider moving to a retirement community.  On several occasions I have asked them to tell me why they feel so strongly about not moving into an age restricted community, since there are several of them in the area.  You will see their reasons further on in this article.

If you are trying to decide whether an over-55 retirement community for active adults would be the right lifestyle for you, here are some of the reasons people decide that they either want to live in one, or do not want to live in one.

The Advantages of Retirement Communities

Access to a wide variety of affordable activities is the number one advantage mentioned by people who like to live in retirement communities.  Depending on where you live, you may have easy access to golf, tennis, swimming, art studios, woodworking shops, garden plots, live theater, clubs and social activities.

Security is the second most common reason many people give for wanting to live in an age-restricted community.  The majority of retirement communities are gated and many also have private security that is a visible presence in the neighborhood.  In addition, with so many residents home during the day, someone is almost certain to be aware if thieves try to break into a home.

Other reasons given for living in a retirement community include:

They are usually near medical facilities;
Most residents are quiet, without loud teens or social events in the neighborhood;
There are opportunities to meet other people in your age group;
The housing is typically designed to provide easy access for the elderly and handicapped.

The Disadvantages of Retirement Communities

The number one reason people have given me for not wanting to live in a retirement community is that they are happy living in their current home or neighborhood where they have lived for a number of years.  If you have close ties to your neighbors and your community, you may see no reason to move to a new community where you would have to form new relationships.

Another reason people have mentioned is the fact that they have adult children or grandchildren who are living with them, and they know these family members would not be welcome in an age-restricted retirement community.  

Even when they do not have young people living with them, some people like living in a community where there are mixed ages.  They enjoy seeing children in their neighborhood, as well as young couples who are just starting out.

Another group of people, especially those in their 50's and early 60's, have expressed the opinion that they believe the residents of retirement communities are "old" and they do not want to live with all those old people.  Often these people view themselves as too young to live with other people in their 60's, 70's or older.

A final reason I have heard is that the Homeowners Association fees in many retirement communities are a little high.  All that easy access to golf, luxurious clubhouses and "free" amenities does not come cheap.  If people do not play golf, or they do not think they will use the other services, they sometimes feel that paying a large association fee is not worth it.

Where Should You Live After Retirement?

There is no answer that is right for everyone.  Whatever you decide is perfectly valid.  If you are happy where you currently live, or if you live in a household with an extended family, you may not want to move to a retirement community.  

On the other hand, if you want to try some new experiences and live somewhere with enhanced security, then an over-55 community may be the right choice for you.

Look over the reasons that others have used to make their decision, and you will know which choice is right for you.

If you are looking for more ideas about where to retire, use the tabs or pull down menu at the top of this page to find links to hundreds of additional articles.

If  you do decide you want to live in a retirement community, here are a few articles that may interest you:

Over 55 Retirement Communities by Del Webb
Over 55 Retirement Communities by Four Seasons
Sun City Texas is a Premier Retirement Destination
Tellico Village Retirement Community
Laguna Woods Village Active Adult Community

You are reading from the blog:

Phone of clubhouse in Laguna Woods Village taken by author.


  1. Thanks for letting us see both sides of the advantages and disadvantages of 55 retirement communities. I've been considering our options for a relative. Now I think I know what to so.

    1. We live in one now, and do not like it. It is like a mono-culture, and most people do not venture out.. We plan on moving.

    2. It depends on the one where you live how diverse it is. Ours has a lot of diversity, with many Asians who have moved here. However, sometimes people choose a community because there is so little diversity. I'm not judging; that is just what they want.

  2. it is really nice to read your post. Like both the advantages and disadvantages of retirement communities mentioned here. Look to me informative one.

    Thanks for sharing.
    LasVentanasLV | Age Restricted Living Las Vegas

  3. I think you put into words very nicely the advantages and disadvantages of moving into a retirement community. If I had lived in one house for a long time and knew my neighbors well, I think I could be hesitant to move to a retirement community. However, I think I would love the security and all the different activities! I would also like being around more people in my stage of life.

  4. Here's a great resource that breaks down the different types of housing out there in a simplified manner: Click on the "Senior Housing" link for the breakdown.

  5. My dad is about to retire. It's a little weird for me to think of him being at that point in his life. I wonder if he would like to go to a retirement community so he can golf as much as he wants. I know that they would like to live in a place with less stairs since their knees aren't the best anymore. Housing like that generally only has the one floor.

  6. I'm finding it hard to justify the yearly cost of the fees. What do you think??

    1. The fees can be high in some communities. Whether it is worth it depends on whether or not you use the facilities. Since my husband plays a lot of golf, the dues we pay are totally worth it. For other people, it might not be worth it, especially if they are not very active.

  7. I live in a retirement community; I'm 61 and work full time; each day is filled with the gossip of who fell, what got broken, who had the paramedics at their house, who died, and who's cheating on who...given the choice again, I would not choose a 55+ community to live in; it's all about 1 step from the grave or assisted living.

  8. I've lived in Sun City, Apple Valley, CA for 9 years now. Originally everyone was open to mingling and getting to know each other. Since then with the advent of new and younger blood things have changed. Cliques have formed and there is no more openness. If you should choose to go to an event alone and do not belong to a clique you probably will feel left out because you won't be asked to join in any existing groups already seated. I don't know what the answer is or even if there IS an answer. It just makes me rethink the idea of being in an active adult community again when the mentality becomes more of a high school one.

  9. Hello there, You have done an excellent job. I will definitely digg it and personally recommend to my friends. I’m sure they will be benefited from this website.
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  10. There are many choices to take into consideration before deciding which community is right for

    you to buy your new home. What type of recreational activities is most important, will this be

    a part time vacation residence,see more : 55+ adult


    Linda Murphy

  11. I live in the UK, and there are these type of communities, but very few people in their 50s live in them. They tend to be housing complexes where those who have no family near wish to be less isolated, but there are few facilities and no sports or other activities. I guess in the UK we just do not have space of money to put into it. The older people tend to wait until they are very old before moving to communal living, and that can be problematic. My friend in Arizona in the States lives in a golfing community, sounds great. I am hoping to see her this year, and will see how it works there, but I think we will not be able to follow the uS example over here. Sadly.

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  14. I took the plunge and signed a contract to build in a age restricted community. I did it because it allowed me to have a house I wanted in a premium lot I liked at a price I could afford. But I prefer to be around young people instead instead of a bunch of whiny old farts:)

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  17. A retirement village seems like a haven from the madness of the modern world to me . Convincing my other half of this is another matter ,you have put the arguement very well -I may show it to him .Thanks

  18. I am glad that the decision worked out well for you and your husband. You present the advantages and disadvantages very well in your blog post. But I'm still not convinced that I would be happy living in a retirement community. Mind you, I live in Texas and we have Certified Retirement Communities. I even see from one of your links that Sun City is mentioned as a “premier retirement destination” and I don't live that far from Sun City. But I'm still not persuaded. Anyway … Happy Retirement! Enjoy your golden years! :)

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  20. I live in an over 55 community so I can talk first hand. (within a month I will be out of here) I love my home but the things I have found with an over 55 community is this. Most do not have a guard up at the gate so the people who live in the community give their code to everyone including the pizza delivery guy. Pretty soon anyone can get in at any time so safety of these communities is out. Gossip, they thrive on it because they have nothing to do. When there are gatherings it because a talk about anyone that isn't there time. The company that owns the land you lease, which by the way is constantly going up, is in business to make money so you will frequently find things broken and not fixed sometimes for months and that includes the pool in the summer months. They tell you its an amenity that they cut your lawn. WRONG, the law states in every state the owner must maintain their lawn and can be turned in if they let it go so its not an amenity at all. Now for HOA . Nothing but a complain session used for people who have had very little control and say and now they run with it. You want your home painted you have to get permission. You want to plant a bush you have to get permission. You want to put a new roof on you have to tell them who is doing it and give them a sample of what it will look like and they will tell you whether you can put a new roof on your home or not. There are way too many cons to living in one of these communities. Some may think I live in a run down place but I don't I am just stating the facts to warn people against these types of communities

  21. I moved to a retirement community three years ago and I hated it from the minute we moved in. We had a lousy realtor who wanted quick cash. We are in our fifties and are sorrounded by people in their 80s. There is literally no diversity, Few people come out and when they to do is only to walk their dogs for a few minutes. We pay association fees so a very small ,spoiled , group of people can enjoy the clubhouse and pool.There are restrictions on who can stay with you and for how long. It’s like our half million plus house it’s not hour, and lastly, there is something to be said about the lack of young people, that can bring life and fun to any neighborhood.

  22. Thanks for writing out your experience; I agreed with the advantages you have mentioned however 1st disadvantage is not actually a disadvantage, people get used to the place or society when they live in the vicinity for more than 3-5 years, if some issues or problem also occur in the vicinity they make themselves compatible to those issues. also moving from a stable society to a new one is a pain, you need to arrange lot many things and you take time to settle down, that actually a human tendency. I would recommend all to at-least explore the 55+ communities as their retirement homes. bluestone creek

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