No matter who you are, what you do, and how old you might be, it’s never too early to start planning for your future. Knowing that you’re prepared for when the time comes to hang up your hat and move on to greener pastures takes a lot of the sting out of an uncertain future.
Part of this future planning involves coming up with a solution for your living accommodation needs in the future, no matter how far-flung that may be. An increasingly popular option is the completely re-imaged approach to independent living communities. Here’s what this great option offers.
Aging in Place Can Cost You a Bundle
Once upon a time, when people reached retirement age, one of the most popular choices was to age in place. In other words, they would retire and remain in the home they had been living for years or even decades, secure in the fact that their mortgage was paid and their savings were enough to keep them in the green throughout their entire retirement. The new reality, though, is that aging in place is no longer the bets option for many modern retirees.
There are a number of disadvantages to aging in place. First, living in a large house that used to be a family home but has become an empty nest means you’ve got a lot of space to keep clean and maintain. Upkeep on older, larger homes can often be incredibly high. Large projects like replacing roofing or an old boiler can cost thousands, and even little costs like lawn maintenance or heating a big, empty house can become prohibitive. And that says nothing about property taxes! In other words, just because you don’t have a mortgage doesn’t mean that house isn’t costing a pretty penny!
An Old Family Home Can’t Keep Up with Your Needs
Let’s face it: even the most healthy and athletic among us will lose a step or two once we retire. Physical activities that wouldn’t faze you in your youth, like taking a flight of stairs or two every day to get to and from your bedroom, could end up leaving you winded. Likewise, even getting in and out of the bathtub could be potentially dangerous, especially if you’re not careful – one slip and it’s off to the orthopedic surgeon for a new hip.
You can, of course, invest in your own home and make it more accessible. The costs associated with doing so are often prohibitive, though. While it might not be much to put a few grip bars in your bathroom, good luck finding solutions for stairs that won’t cost you an arm and a leg! Just one more reason that spending your retirement in a family home might not be your best bet for retirement accommodations. And don’t get us started on shoveling snow!
Independent Living Communities to the Rescue
So we’ve gone over the many ways that aging in place at your family home might not be the best option, but what about the alternative? This, of course, is where independent living communities come in. These private community developments, often gated to provide higher levels of security, are vastly different from the “retirement communities” of old. They typically come in a variety of living options — from apartments to townhomes to individual cottages and villas — and the best of them provide modern appliances, fine dining, resort-style amenities, cruise-level activities and excursions, and so much more.
Even with that said, there likely remain misconceptions about what an independent living community means. Let’s break it down. Here is what characterizes the average independent living community today:
- Lower Cost of Living: The costs of maintaining a home in an independent living community are often similar to or even less than maintaining a large house, with then the added benefit of all the activities as well as pools, fitness centers, putting greens, and the like. There are no property taxes, most ancillary costs like lawn care, pool care, maintenance, etc. are all included, and at specific communities called Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRCs), healthcare is often included as well.
- Better Accessibility Options: Independent living communities are often indistinguishable from any other gated community, but the truth is that they’re designed specifically to make retirement easy. That includes a campus layout putting social spaces in walkable distances or with shuttles, as well as in-home advantages such as a lack of stairs or built-in accessibility amenities in bathrooms and other areas.
- Built-In Entertainment: Just about every independent living community worth its salt will have on-site amenities that make it easy to get a little entertainment whenever you like. From fitness centers and salons to clubhouses and swimming pools, plus regular events like movie nights and shopping excursions, as well as art rooms, woodworking shops and other opportunities for hobbies and classes.
- Like-Minded Neighbors: Unlike your run-of-the-mill private community, independent living communities are almost always exclusive to retirement-age individuals. If you’re worried you’ll be kept up all night by younger neighbors who like to party, there’s no danger of that here – everyone else living nearby is likely to be as mature and responsible as you are. And also love playing cards, or bingoswimming, horseshoesplaying bocce ball, or spending time on the putting green, or knittingquilting, or any number of similar activities.
Understand Your Options & Live Life on Your Terms
While an independent living community often compares favorably to aging in place as an empty nester, each community is different. It’s up to you to find one that has the right mix of amenities, facilities, and design elements that match your specific wants and needs. Additionally, standalone independent living communities might not cover all your needs. Consider researching CCRCs, as they cater to resident’s individualized needs whether they are looking for an independent, thriving community or are in need of additional medical assistance.
In the end, the independent living community is one of the most attractive choices to keep in mind if you’re planning your future. They’re great ways to make your retirement savings last longer while also enjoying all that life has to offer in a comfortable and welcoming environment. This is why this type of living arrangement has become so popular lately, and why it shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon!
In these uncertain times, Acts Retirement-Life Communities is here to help. There is hope on the horizon and it’s time to start planning your future. Don’t put your life on hold. There are plenty of ways to stay safe while working towards the next exciting chapter in your life. You can conduct research, plan for your financial future, explore virtual tours and community floor plans, and talk to retirement experts all from the comfort and safety of your home. For more information on retirement or how to plan your next chapter, read these articles by Acts Retirement-Life Communities: