What You Should Know about Active Adult Communities
1. Many people believe that in order to move into an over-55 community both members of a couple must be at least 55 years old. However, only the husband or wife needs to be age 55 or older. Their spouse can be any age. It is also possible for a resident who is over the age of 55 to have a roommate who is at least age 40, or they can have an adult of any age as their live-in caregiver. There are also special exemptions for residents who have a dependent adult child who is mentally or physically handicapped, although you may have to provide evidence of the adult child's disability. Contact the retirement community that interests you to see if they have any specific requirements or limitations, such as whether live-in caregivers can use the amenities.
2. Often younger people of retirement age believe that everyone in an age restricted community is extremely old. The truth of this may depend on how old the community is. For example, the community where I live was founded in the 1960's. Therefore, there are a number of residents who have lived here for 30 years or longer. Consequently, the median age is 76, although it has been falling in recent years because of the influx of younger retirees. There are thousands of residents who are much younger than the median age. In fact, the Baby Boomers club is the most popular and fastest growing club in our community. If you are looking at a new age-restricted community, the median age may even be under age 70.
3. Sometimes people are hesitant to move to one of these communities because they have the impression that everyone is either a shut-in or that they spend their days sitting on the front porch in rocking chairs. While there are definitely some shut-ins in any retirement community, the vast majority of people are very physically and mentally active. In our community, we have a group of synchronized swimmers, horseback riding classes, tennis courts, two busy golf courses and a wide variety of exercise programs including line dancing, circuit training, yoga, water aerobics, and much more. There is a large group of bridge players and over 200 clubs. There are also regularly scheduled dances throughout the community.
4. Another misconception is that your children and grandchildren will not be able to stay overnight in your home with you. In truth, guests under the age of 18 can legally stay up to 60 days a year. In fact, when one of our daughters moved to Southern California from another state, she and her two young children stayed with us for about six weeks until she found a job and an apartment of her own.
5. Baby Boomers who still have active careers may feel uncomfortable about whether they should move into any place labeled a retirement community while they are still working. However, about a quarter of the people who live in our community have jobs. Some of them work full-time, like my husband, and others work part-time, as I did until I recently retired. Not only do many people work outside the community, but our retirement community also offers jobs to hundreds of residents. These residents hold a wide variety of jobs including positions as gate guards, bus drivers and office clerks. Many retirees find that working part-time for the homeowner's association is a great way to supplement their retirement income. In fact, homeowner's associations in retirement communities may be one of the easiest places for retirees to be able to find part-time jobs.
6. Another mistaken impression some new residents have is that these communities are so safe that the residents do not need to practice good personal security. As a result, it is not uncommon for people to leave their homes unlocked while they go for a walk, leave their cars unlocked when they visit friends, or leave their purses sitting in plain view on the front seat of their cars. (I have frequently observed all of these behaviors.) Good personal security is as important in a retirement community as anywhere else. While these communities usually do have a low crime rate, crime does exist. It isn't wise to tempt outside visitors and workers in the community by practicing lax security.
I hope this has dispelled some of the myths that you may have had about living in a retirement community! If you have other questions, please leave them in the comment section and I will modify this article to answer the readers' inquiries.
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Public domain photo of a golf course is courtesy of www.morguefile.com