Who’d have ever thought there were so many benefits of living in a retirement community! To be clear, we’re discussing progressive 55+ managed communities which focus on an active lifestyle after you retire. Some of the advantages are:
First, let’s address the stigma associated with “retirement homes”. They have a bad rap and no one wants their kids sticking them in one. They sound dreary and the beginning of your final decline.
Nothing could be further from the truth! In fact, this is a lifestyle option that may invigorate and make these the best years of your life. The challenge is finding one which meets your needs.
What is A Good Retirement Community?
What “good" looks like is subject to your desires, needs and budget. Everyone has their own opinion and even where to live is a hotly debated topic. Our post retirement location criteria provides insights into making this important decision.
Many retirees plan on downsizing to something smaller and easier to maintain. With such a major move, they might be considering a 55+ type of community.
This could be in a gated neighborhood or within a multi-story building. Options could include:
This is a choice to live in an environment where you can focus on those things most important to you. The challenge is there are so many options out there and some can get really expensive.
These may be referred to as a retirement community, retirement home, 55+ community or independent living facility.
Adding to the confusion, everyone touts how wonderful their facilities are. The glossy photos portraying happy retirees having the times of their lives. Some are better than others and you’ll also want to consider what you really want / need.
An Example of What "Good Looks Like
As “The Villages” located in Florida are deemed to be one of the top retirement communities in the world, let’s use them as an example. This is a master planned development including a wide range of recreational and commercial amenities.
This might be the “gold standard” for an active retirement lifestyle. With such a large community, they cater to almost every imaginable interest. This is also a golfer’s paradise with 50 courses located nearby.
Although some claim the population is over 130,000, the U.S. Census data for 2019 identified slightly less than 80,000 residents. Other facts include:
I’m not suggesting everyone pack up and head for Florida. However, based on their popularly and growth, it appears they deliver in spades in providing an active and engaging lifestyle.
In this respect, we’re using The Villages as an example of what good might look like. And that leads us to the many benefits of living in a retirement community.
Related article: Disadvantages of Retirement Communities They'll Never Tell You
1. Active Lifestyle
Retirement is the time to slow down and start enjoying this next stage of life. No more job stress or looming deadlines. Instead, being able to look forward to doing the things you enjoy. These could be hobbies, sports or learning new things.
One of the pluses of being in an active lifestyle facility is the multitude of pastimes available.
The better ones provide a daily event calendar catering to a wide range of interests. Expect physical activity classes, fun events and general interest sessions.
Taking a quick peek at The Villages event calendar provides examples of their activities on any given day:
Obviously few retirement homes can offer such extensive daily events.
Of greater importance is having events and activities you enjoy and look forward to. Without this, boredom can set in. In our post the ultimate guide of things to do we provide insights into finding interesting and meaningful activities.
Keeping active and engaged is critical to both your physical and mental health.
2. Social Engagement
The second greatest advantage is social engagement.
Everyone has a need for acceptance and a sense of belonging. In the better run facilities, newcomers feel welcome and quickly feel at home. This is largely due to the daily social events which facilitate interaction and getting to know others.
The fact almost everyone is 55+ means you likely have lots in common with everyone. In contrast, in traditional neighborhoods, seldom do you get to know everyone. Especially with younger and working families.
With the majority of folks retired, they have plenty of free time. They’re also looking for things to do during the day which makes it easier to strike up new friendships.
In our post, how to make friends in retirement, we outline additional strategies to make this feel even more natural.
Without daily social interaction, individuals feel disconnected and are at risk of loneliness. Over time, this can even lead to depression.
3. Wide Range of Amenities
Access to amenities remains a priority for baby boomers. They expect to be able to go shopping, enjoy fine dining or take in a theatrical performance. What they don’t want is being stuck somewhere with nothing to do!
In general, 55+ active lifestyle communities provide easy access to a wide range of amenities. These include:
A few seniors are, either, no longer able to drive or may not want the expense of a vehicle. With amenities nearby, this is a non-issue.
Some might be within walking distance or free or low-cost shuttles may be available. Other options could include public transportation, taxis or ride share services such as Uber.
4. Thoughtful Design and Age-Appropriate Floor Plans
Many folks consider where they’ll live in retirement to be their “forever home”. They desire something manageable which meets their current and future needs. One of the drawbacks of retiring in-place could be extensive renovations.
A big plus with retirement homes are the age-appropriate floor plans. In most situations you’re moving into a modern and well-designed living quarter. This could include:
In our post, pros and cons of downsizing, we share how close friends of ours went from a sprawling acreage into their dream condo. They were able to negotiate with the builder to include several upgrades customizing it to perfection.
Another aspect to consider include the windows and skylights, to ensure lots of natural light. The environment you live in has impacts on your mood, health and overall well-being. All this translates into a comfortable and inviting living space.
Related considerations might include access to a swimming pool, green spaces and walking / biking trails. This also means being able to enjoy these things without being caught up in all the maintenance.
5. Low Maintenance Life
Another one of the benefits of living in a retirement community is little to no home maintenance.
No more yard work or trying to keep your grass as green and lush as the neighbors. In fact, home ownership is filled with maintenance and general upkeep. Not to mention major expenses such as a new roof or furnace / AC.
At this stage in life, now’s the time to let someone else do the heavy lifting. All those day-to-day chores can be maintained for you.
This frees you up to do all those things you’d rather do. Such as improving your golf game, participating in daily activities or spending more time with friends and family. If travel is on your mind, it’s comforting to know everything is being taken care of.
6. Safety and Security Measures
Safety and a sense of security are fundamental human needs. Let’s put it this way, there’s way too much crime right across the country. And, as we age, we can feel even more vulnerable.
With the news sensationalizing the latest shooting or violent crime, people become apprehensive. Particularly for seniors, with some afraid to leave their homes.
The 55+ communities strive to provide a safe and secure atmosphere. To accomplish this, they implement numerous safety and security measures:
Technology underlies many of these deliverables.
Another big factor are the residents themselves. They’ve gotten to know their neighbors and tend to look out for each other. That sense of belonging creates awareness and reporting suspicious activity.
All these factors help create a safer area to live. According to the FBI, The Villages have the lowest rate of crime in all of Florida.
Another aspect is the atmosphere of peace and quiet. Typically located on the outskirts, you’re less likely to be bombarded with heavy traffic noises or sirens. Pace of life slows down without the stresses of an overly busy outside world.
As an example, going for a walk will feel more leisurely and safe. Most villages are designed to make sure you’re taken care of, safe and have a happy place to spend your golden years.
7. Independent Living
Retirement homes support independent living through all the services they provide. All the benefits we’ve discussed thus far make it easier for the residents.
While the majority of folks are active and healthy, they appreciate the convenience of their new lifestyle. In fact, one can argue this improves their quality of life.
A study from ProMatura found residents of retirement communities are overall happier and, sometimes, healthier than their counterparts.
In fact, 55% identified their quality of life improving over the past year. Keeping active and engaged promotes longer healthier lives.
To retain independent lifestyles, some individuals may require additional support. For instance, they might have a handicap or mobility issues. They don’t require assisted living and personal care, just a little more help.
Examples might include:
Depending upon the facility, these services might be included or offered at an additional cost. The primary point is this might make the difference in retaining independent living.
8. Travel Flexibility
An estimated 70% of retirees plan on traveling more.
One of our biggest hassles is getting someone to look after our place. If we’re gone for longer than a week or two, someone needs check on things every couple of days and, possibly, be shoveling snow.
This is a little easier when you’re in a 55+ facility. Your home is taken care of and you can go anytime / anywhere you want.
My wife’s aunt booked a month-long senior’s excursion to Spain and Portugal. This was through the management of her home and at a fraction of the cost we would pay. Talk about an amazing deal!
Needless to say, she’s excited and it’s perfect for her as she’s traveling with all of her friends. She also rattled off at least a dozen other excursions she was interested in.
Closing Thoughts on Benefits of Living in a Retirement Community
Prior to doing my research, I had no idea there were so many advantages to being in an active lifestyle facility. Not only will it keep you busy and engaged, it could very well improve your quality of life.
While it may not be for everyone, it's certainly worth looking into. We often refer to retirement as our “golden years” and this option might be exactly what you’re looking for.
Having said that, you’ll want to do your homework before making any major decisions.
For instance, as absolutely wonderful as the Villages sound, golf really isn’t my thing. Nor would I do well in the extreme summer heat.
Each of us has different needs and expectations. There’s no better time than now to think about what your future will look like.