More & More Americans are choosing to move to Life Plan Communities. Which Type of Community is Right for You?
As many of us navigate through the 60-plus age range, well-meaning inquiries about future living arrangements come more frequently from our families and friends. High on the list is the inevitable question: Will you be selling the house and downsizing?
Naturally, the answer varies with each individual’s set of circumstances, and is dependent upon multiple factors including health, timing, resources, activity-levels and personal interests.
But the fact is that many Americans in that age range do eventually opt to move to a community that offers lifestyle choices that suit their particular wants and desires. The key to making the right decision is determining which type of community is the best fit for you.
Planned 55+ communities come in two basic formats:
1. Standalone Communities
Often billed simply as 55+ communities, this lifestyle choice is essentially like buying another home, albeit with less grounds maintenance because yard work and snow removal are handled by a community association. There is likely to be a club house with beautiful amenities and associated fees.
As is the case with home ownership, if appliances break down or repairs are needed to the dwelling itself—like a new HVAC system, new roof or other high-ticket items—that comes directly out of the homeowner’s pocket. Property taxes are also an annual obligation of the owner.
Another probable reality is that at some point, the homeowner will move again. And that means selling a home (again), looking for another community (again), and facing the possibility of an unfavorable real estate market. The next generation that will be looking to buy homes in standalone 55+ community is almost 20 million people smaller than the current generation. That means lower demand, lots of inventory and lower prices, which also means it may be difficult to sell and not lose money.
Another constraint may be changing health needs. No one likes to think about that, but it is a reality. Standalone 55+ communities are not equipped to provide what is needed as we get older. Having to make moving decisions in the midst of health issues, combined with potential financial uncertainty, can create considerable emotional upheaval for us and our families.
2. Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRCs), also known as Life Plan Communities
This choice offers the freedom-focused lifestyle amenities of the 55+ community format, but also relieves residents from the worries of ANY unexpected home expenses or annual property taxes. Because the community ultimately maintains ownership of your home, when something breaks or needs to be updated or replaced, the community takes care of it. The same is true of property taxes. That falls to the community.
Another benefit of a CCRC is that they are built for people to age in place, which means we avoid many of the stressful challenges described above. Addressing the changing needs of the community members has already been accounted for and there is no need to sell real estate if you need to move to a higher level of care setting.
Some CCRCs, like Moravian Village, make the transition even easier. For example, with this type of CCRC, if you were to choose a cottage, you may decide at some point to downsize to an apartment so you can focus more on traveling. Making that move is seamless and gives you control over both planning and timing.
CCRCs also provide peace-of mind to you and your family in meeting changing health needs. The community is built with the understanding and promise that you have priority access to the healthcare services offered in the community. Your future needs are accounted for.
Before choosing between the two types of communities, you and your loved ones should consider these questions.
- What fits your life best now?
- What will fit your life best in the future?
Answering honestly will help you make the best choice possible.